Friday, December 30, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Rejoice In The New Year

In two hours it will be a new year--a time of new beginnings. We might even want to call it a do-over, if we're not happy with the last year. After the ball drops in Times Square I usually spend time thinking on the good and the bad of the year I've just traveled through, and I contemplate on the year to come.

The big question for me this year is, "Where does God want to take me?" And, "Am I willing to go there?" I don't know what will be required of me, but I do know that whatever God has planned is the best. He knows the beginning and the end. He sees it all. I can trust Him.

I've decided that this year will be marked by praise. I will rejoice.

Even during the dark days my future is bright because God is there. He will never forsake me. I am His. And therefore my life is His to do as He wills. And I will do my utmost to trust and to do as He asks.

And so, I begin with prayer.

"Father, may you always be before me. Do not allow me to become distracted by the cares and worries of this world. I pray that my heart and mind will remain focused upon you. I long to know you better, to be fully committed to your calling, to be the kind of person who loves the unlovely. May the fruit of the Holy Spirit flow from my spirit--that I would demonstrate love, joy, peace, patience kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control in all that I do. As this year begins I place my life, once again, in your capable hands. Hands that hold, nurture and discipline. Hands where I can rest. Help me to shine a light upon you. Give me courage. I am weak and afraid, yet I know that with you I have nothing to fear. Thank you for your mercy and your love. There is none other like you.


I encourage you to begin this year with a prayer. Seek The One who offers the only way to real change. And again I say REJOICE!

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Fifty Year Resolution

Last evening I attended a 50th wedding anniversary party for some dear friends. There were stories, photographs, songs, prayers and reminders of what it took to reach a fifty year anniversary. This couple was committed. They resolved to remain together. They resolved to be faithful. They resolved to do their best to help the other be their best. And most importantly, they resolved to make Christ the core of who they are as individuals and as a couple.

With the New Year approaching I got to thinking about resolutions. Many of us make them. Few of us uphold them. Our world is full of broken promises. Too many of us take promises lightly. And so, I have resolved to make a New Year resolution . . . but I'm going to think on it, pray about it and it's going to matter. I could come up with a list of needed resolutions, but I'm only choosing one, but that one must hit me at my core and promise true change within.

What is it? I don't know yet. I'm still praying about it. But just the idea of determining to make a promise to myself and to God and resolving to keep that promise is exciting and intimidating.

My husband and I have been married forty years. I'll be honest--it has nothing to do with me. It's God. The day I walked down the aisle I wasn't even certain I wanted to marry my fiance and I remember thinking, If it doesn't work out, I can get a divorce. That's pathetic, and I am grateful to God for holding us together.

A lot has happened since that day. I've grown older and fatter and I'm not so pretty any more, at least not on the outside, but in my core there is a place where my Lord lives and He continues to mold and change me.

This year's resolution is one more step in my growing up. And though I don't know yet what it will be I'm certain it will make life better and my relationship with God richer--because it's for Him and about Him.

And so, congratulations to my dear friends. Your fifty year commitment to each other has touched the lives of so many. Your resolution blessed us. Now it is up to us to play it forward and bless others with our own resolutions.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Saturday, December 24, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- A Baby Changes Everything

It is Christmas Eve. Every year I take time on this holy night to reflect, remember why there is Christmas.

In the midst of the excitement of Christmas preparations and my new book news it's easy to lose sight of what this day is all about. Emmanuel has come. God is with us! HE IS WITH US! How do we get our minds and hearts around this unbelievable gift?

What kind of love gives everything? God gave His only Son, He offered Himself. He came in the form of an infant, placed His life in the hands of a man and a woman. And then, ultimately, He sacrificed his life for ours.

My word for this year is WORSHIP. How precious it is to bow before the Lord and remember all that He has done. I long to know Him more deeply, more intimately, and to love, obey, and worship Him. If only I could walk every step with Him in mind, grateful for every breath, every moment, every opportunity. I pray my heart will be filled with the kind of love He offers to us.

This Christmas, remember Him and . . . Rejoice!

Grace and peace to you from God,



I intend to write a Christmas note tomorrow evening, but today I cant' wait to give you the news. The first book in my Sydney Cove Series, TO LOVE ANEW is NOW FREE on Kindle, Nook and other places. There's still time to download it for Christmas! And if Santa leaves something special just for reading under your tree I'd be thrilled to introduce early Australia and John and Hannah to you on your new Nook or Kindle!


Tuesday, December 20, 2011


Recently while visiting a friend she shared a wonderful piece of cowboy poetry with me. I want to share it with you. By the way, she wrote it.

The old man rose from the table,
Said, "Thar's somethin' I gotta do."
T'weren't no question 'bout what it was.
The family, they all knew.

His wife's fine feast sat before him.
And she'd outdone herself, o'course.
Sure, his mind was on his belly,
But his heart was on his horse.

The old woman sittin' beside him
gave his wrinkled worn hand a squeeze.
She knew where the old man was goin',
It touched her old heart.
She was pleased.

While the man made his way to the pasture.
The old woman went on with her prayer.
She blesed the food there before them.
And the heart of her old man--out there.

The gelding he loved was old now.
The years, they'd left their mark.
But that somethin' tween the two of'm
Was more than just a spark.

His outstretched hand stroked the muzzle.
The other held a bucket of grain.
He pondered once more, 'bout days gone by.
With feeble fingers, he patted its mane.

"Thanks for givin'," the old man began.
"Yer all, to th' likes of me.
I'm grateful fer yer gut n' grit,
Fer th' price ya paid, tweren't free.

"Thanks fer givin' when th' days was hot,
And when th' rain soaked m'saddle through.
What got th' work done, th' two of us knows,
Weren't my strength at all, it were you.

"Thanks fer givin," the old man went on,
"When th' sun set an' we was half done.
When them beeves, jist fer spite,
splintered ever' which-a-way,
Kept us both movin' hard on th' run.

"Old friend, ya been more than faithful,
And see'd ever' job clean through.
Ya gave me yer all when youth was yourn,
Now I'll be a-caring fer you.

"Lord, take care o' this ol' buckskin.
See'm right through ta his end.
Cause thar ain't never been a more faithful mount.
No better a faithful friend.

"He deserves it, ya see, dear Father,
Done worked hard beyond his due.
How and when he meets his end.
I'll be leavin' that, Lord, up to You.

"Jist give'm greener pastures
Fer helpin' me make m'livin'.
Remind'm now and then fer me.
Jist tell'm 'Thanks fer givin'."

The old cowboy stood a-starin',
Allowing nostalgia near,
A-way out in the pasture,
Where no one else could hear.

"Thanks fer givin," he stroked him once more.
"I'll be a-headin' back now.
Enjoy yer grain, eat it nice n' slow
An don't be a-runnin' them cows."

His contented look as he sat back down,
Brought a smile to those sittin' there.
The old man had tended to busines first.
Without fanfare he spoke out a prayer.

"Lord, thanks fer givin' ta them gathered here,
"Fer good health, an our way a livin'.
"Thanks fer loanin' ol' buckskin to me.
"An bless'm, dear Lord . . . fer givin'."

Written by my dear friend, Deborah J. Note of Eagle Point Oregon

Thank you DJ for helping us feel one of the souls God's givin'.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Thursday, December 15, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Don't Forget To Sail

When I was young I never imagined that as I aged that I'd be tempted to skip out on special events. After all, they made life richer. What I didn't understand then, but do now is that for some of us going out can be a challenging process of--taking it easy during the day so that we have the energy we need and the physical ability to attend a party, picnic, concert or whatever. Once you arrive at a happening stairs can be a problem, seating another challenge, the number of steps you'll have to take . . . And if you have allergies you will pray that the person next to you isn't wearing the "wrong" perfume or that they are a smoker.

There are a whole list of issues I never considered years ago. I just went where and when I pleased. And I loved it. These days I stay home more than I want and I sometimes feel like I've been shut out of the fun.

Last evening our local public school held its annual Christmas band and choral concert. I probably wouldn't have attended, but my grandson plays a trombone in the Junior High band. How could I miss?

The entertainment began with the elementary school band, moved on to the Junior High and then the High School bands and closed with the High School choir. Parking was crowded, but my husband dropped me off. There were stairs, but I climbed them without difficulty. I had to take a special chair to sit in, but my daughter carried it for me and set it up.

The school gym was alive with the sounds of the band preparing for their parts, parents were armed with cameras, friends visited and youngsters skipped from place to place. I felt as if I'd been planted in the midst of a river of community joy, and I was smiling.

The bands played and the vocalists sang and my heart soared. I was so thankful to be there watching the struggling beginnings of the very young and the progression of talent and ability as the program moved onward to the older musicians. It was beautiful to see what happens when youngsters grab hold of something they love and don't let go and continue pressing on through the years. They are blessed and so are all of us who are witness to their special gifts and talents.

Yesterday morning while reading from one of my devotionals I found a quote from Oliver Wendell Holmes. "I find the great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving. To reach the port of heaven, we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it, but we must sail, and not drift, nor lie at anchor."

I've spent too much time in port. Last evening's performance helped me to sail. And reminded me that I don't dare lie at anchor too often or for too long. There's so much still to see and to do in this world. Last evening the students in my community and their music teachers uplifted my spirits and imprinted another beautiful memory in my mind. They gave me a gift. And I thank them.

And to those of you who find yourselves at anchor more often than you do sailing find the time, the way, and the heart to get out and to soar. Do something you love or discover something you didn't know you loved. Become a part of your community as much as you are able. There are blessings waiting for you "out" there. And we have much that we can give to others when we sail rather than lie at anchor.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Monday, December 12, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Tis The Season

How is the Christmas season for you this year? Is your head full of Christmas carols, gift lists, things to do? Are you singing while you drive along the highway or spending lots of time in the kitchen baking Christmas goodies?

Or are you saying "Tis the season . . . NOOOT?"

For some, this isn't a happy time. In fact, expectations often drag us down. Family time isn't what we'd expected. There's not enough money for "just the right" gift or maybe we have no money at all and there will be no gifts. Some are spending the holidays alone and are lonely. Illness can erase the joy of the season. And often when we most count on family, this is the time when conflicts arise. Christmas can be a sad, sad time.

That's not God's fault. He never intended that we have a commercial Christmas. The Christmas we know is man made. I want to clarify that I'm not a Grinch or a Scrooge. I love Christmas with all it if its beauty and wonder, including good food, gifts, caroling and family gatherings. I love it all. But if we strip away man's version of Christmas we will see the true wonder and beauty of the season. A new born babe. Christ the Son of God. God in the flesh. The Sacrificial lamb. The Savior of the world.

Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of The One who came to save mankind. He went to the cross out of obedience to His Father. And because of Him, we who believe, look forward to an eternal heavenly reward with our Father God.

Remember the Baby Jesus and you will find joy. Remember Him, the Lord Jesus Christ. Remember those who are without Christ and tell them of God's mercy and grace. Tell them that Christmas is about more than gifts and sparkling lights.

It is a time to celebrate.

Joy to you and to all the world.


Monday, December 05, 2011

Making A Difference - Mistie Shaw

This months very special person is Mistie Shaw. It is a pleasure to introduce her to you. Everywhere she goes, she touches lives just because she is who she is. She can't help but make a difference.

Mistie, we’ve known each other for less than a year. There’s much I don’t know about you, but I do know that you make a difference in peoples’ lives wherever you go. Could you share a little about yourself and your background?

Thanks for asking me to share on your blog, Bonnie!

At the age of six, I asked Jesus to change my heart and make it new and clean. My parents’ commitment to God and missions meant many of our family trips were to Mexico where my dad preached and we helped at an orphanage. I worked at a mission hospital in South Africa the summer I was 18. Except for my career in the Air Force Reserve, I was a stay-at-home mom when my three kids were young. That gave me many opportunities to do local “missions” things: cook for a half-way house, teach Bible studies, start small groups and write. My skits, monologues and several musical dramas were produced by our church. After three semesters of music theory at the local community college, I was finally able to write the music for the songs. . .that was in my 40s.

When I was 50 and my kids were grown, I sensed God calling me to a deeper walk and full-time service. Christian mentors said I needed to go to grad school and, in a funny chain of events, God “tricked” me into enrolling.

You’ve done a good deal of traveling, but I understand that you have a special love for China. Why China? Can you give us a glimpse into the people and the place?

After a painful divorce in my mid-50s, it seemed like the doors of opportunity kept slamming in my face. Finally, I was accepted by the Peace Corps, but at the last minute they asked me to wait a year, “Due to unresolved major life issues.” I was ready to go and it seemed like God had another plan. I followed my heart via the Internet and became an ESL teacher at a university in China.

I’m not a missionary. China doesn’t allow people to proselytize. I just live there and love people. Some friends helped me put hands and feet to that love by starting a non-profit that benefits students.

When I left China, my students were stunned and shocked. Even though they knew my beliefs, many of them told me that there was no God. Sharing my cancer story on Caring Bridge at, I told them to read it to see how God made a difference in my life. God has used this time of healing to help me grow!

I’d describe China several ways:
• If Mexico is two-dimensional, China is three (re: crowding)
• High tech in the 1930s (I’ve seen farmers harnessed to plows, pulling while they talked on their cell phones)
• Beauty inside (the people) and out (the historical artifacts).

You arrived in Roseburg earlier this year because of illness. Can you tell us a little about that battle and what kind of effect it has had on your life? How are you doing today?

The autumn of 2010, I was moving into a new, greatly-anticipated apartment. In prayer, I confessed my sense of comfort and told God how much I loved my life. Suddenly I found myself in tears, asking God not to use me but to use me up to make a difference in my students’ lives. Shortly afterwards, I discovered a lump in my breast. An American doctor diagnosed it as breast cancer – later determined to be Stage 3 – and told me to return to the states immediately. I was able to start treatment at the VA hospital in San Diego, where my parents and two of my children live. While going through chemotherapy and radiation treatment, I needed a more permanent place to live so went to stay with my sister in Roseburg. It was a very good move!

Last month, a bone scan revealed no cancer. My passport has a visa and there's a January 13, 2012 ticket to China with my name on it. :D

I know how you’ve longed to return to China and I am cheering you on. It will be exciting to hear what’s happening with you and the people and place you love.

How would you answer the question, “Who is Mistie Shaw?”

Life offers nothing more beautiful, exciting, satisfying, or rewarding than serving God. I am a very flawed but passionate Christ-follower who is joyful because God uses Christians who are available and willing. People look at our outsides and make judgments about our worth, our abilities and even our natures; God sees what we really are like and then makes us whole. For a long time one of my most fervent prayers has been that people would see Jesus when they see me.

He has answered that prayer.

In the months I’ve known you, I’ve witnessed your close walk with Christ. You are not typical. Why do you think that is? And can you share your favorite scripture and why it’s your favorite?

I don’t use the word typical because God sees each of us as unique, created for specific purposes. Time and again, I’ve seen how some crazy habit or little talent is used by God. . . .because of a willingness to try.

One day, during devotions – writing “I love you, God” in my journal – and eating chocolates, I sensed God asking me if I loved Him more than chocolate. Nonchalantly, I answered yes. Then God said something like, “Show me.” Would God really ask me to give up my very most favorite food? After a lot of hemming and hawing while I finished the two-pound box of candy, I said, “Okay, but you’ll have to do it because I can’t and don’t even really want to. . .”

That little step of faith, and the results it brought, inspired me to find other ways to trust God. Americans are so independent, we don’t truly need God for life’s essentials. So, creating artificial ways of requiring myself to have faith helped it grow stronger. For example, I gave up the car radio (temporarily), and alarm clocks (permanently). Faith has made a huge difference in my life.

In trying to understand God’s plan, I found comfort in Paul’s writing. “All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too.” (II Corinthians 1:3-5, The Message)

Is there anything you’d like to add? How can we best pray for you?

All that I am and anything I am able to do, is through the strength and power of Jesus, for the glory of God. It is God making a difference and I’m thrilled to be a part of the action.

Please pray for my family. As daughter, mom and Grammy, my stateside responsibilities sometimes seem overwhelming from 6,000 miles away.

Thank you for the chance to share my heart and my passion!

And thank you for sharing with us, Mistie. Though the circumstances of your coming to Roseburg were not what most would have chosen, I'm so thankful you came. Grace and peace to you from God.

You can read more from Mistie at

Monday, November 28, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Roots of Love

This morning, feeling heavy-hearted, I picked up my devotional and my Bible. I prayed the Lord would meet with me. And of course there he was, waiting. He knows my thoughts before I speak a word of them. He knows every sorrow, every worry and all my joys. He's amazing Father God whose love never fails.

I read and prayed and then rested in His gentle, capable hands. And then I went to a section of scripture that has comforted me many times--Ephesians 3:16 - 19. "I pray that from His glorious, unlimited resources He will empower you with inner strength through His Spirit. Then Christ will make His home in your hearts as you trust in Him. Your roots will grow down into God's love and keep you strong. And may you have the power to understand, as all God's people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep is his love."

Years ago, while my children napped I sat on my back porch and read these same words. I remember stopping to ask God to help me understand more completely. I set my Bible in my lap and looked out at a valley below my home. It was broad and deep and long and I knew that God's love would fill it and more. He gave me a glimpse of how great His love is. It is beyond human comprehension but it is real and will never fail us. It is His love that gives us strength and empowers us to stand against the storms of life, to trust and to forgive and to love. But first we must plant roots in God's love. Only then will we have the ability to rely on Him and to know the reality of a greater love than our own.

Trust in His love, not man's wobbling version of it, for God's love will never fail us.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Topic Of The Day-- At A Dead Stop?

While going through some of the photos recently taken while on a trip to Seattle I came across one I took while stuck in a traffic jam. It reminded me of my life.

We'd been zipping along on the freeway when all of a sudden we were forced to a stop, surrounded by cars on every side. The freeway had functioned perfectly until it reached a certain threshold of numbers -- too many cars had created a log jam of vehicles.

Sometimes life is like that. We are moving along just fine until we pile on too many obligations or allow others to overload our lives with responsibilities. Have you experienced that place where you feel as if you're stooped beneath the weight of those obligations?

I have. And when it happens it's as if I'm stuck in traffic. I'm not making headway. My work isn't getting done, there's no energy for family or for fun and not even for God. Burn out can be more destructive than we realize. We believe it's only for a time, but sometimes we are unable to climb out of the weariness, the malaise.

The holidays are right in front of us. They contain the perfect recipe for burn out. Before we ruin our favorite time of year by over extending ourselves let's take stock of what really matters. Do what we want, not what's expected. And decide what really matters to us. The rest needs to be left to another time . . . or maybe never.

The house doesn't have to be spotless. Our tables don't need to look like something we've see in Good Housekeeping and we don't have to attend every outreach program or party we're invited to. Say no and find the joy in the season. Remember why we celebrate.

May you all have a holiday season filled with love, joy and peace.

Grace and peace to you,


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Random Thoughts

My daughter Sarah and I just returned home from one of several trips to Washington. My eighty-six-year-old mother had open heart surgery six weeks ago. It wasn't what we expected.

Random Thoughts

Mom should be home -- Instead she's still sick, but she hasn't lost her smile.

I think staph infections are evil.

A Wound Vac is brutal but can save lives. I hope it saves my mother's.

Thank you God for doctors and nurses who care.

Mom wants to go home, but which home? You know God.

Why is it that when I remember and smile I also cry?

I love my mother's smile and her sweet disposition.

Mom loves to tell stories and I love to listen.

Love is powerful, healing and lasts forever.

I thank you God for my life -- It's been full of love and wonderful stories.

Memories are treasures.

I'm grateful for my mother--she taught me love and forgiveness.

I don't like cities--it's wonderful to be back in my peaceful country home.

Suffering is not necessarily bad, but I hate it.

We don't always have to understand why we feel the way we do.

Trust God -- He'll carry us home to heaven when the time is right.

Thank you Mom for loving me the way you do and for the many precious memories.

Grace and peace to you from God,


Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Topic of the Day -- The Death of Bookstores?

Bookstores are dying off--a bitter pill for readers, bookstore owners and writers to swallow. Why aren't we gathering together in protest, carrying our signs and demanding that someone save our our beloved stores?

Okay . . . protests may be a bit much, but we aren't helpless. We don't have to allow the stores to fail and drop by the wayside. We do have power. It's time to stand up to the bookstore slayers like Amazon and say, "Enough is enough."

Here in my town, we've already lost our bookstores. It's hard to believe.

Have you envisioned a world without bookstores? Will our only local choices be Walmart or Fred Meyer? That would be ugly -- best sellers only and almost no Christian fiction.

What can we do? First take a look at Ann Patchett. She did something. You can read her story at

Hooray for Ann! And there are others of you out there who are able to follow in her footsteps. Please don't wait. We need independent bookstores. The world just won't be the same without them.

If you're in the market and are managing a successful bookstore teach others how to do it. If you're struggling reach out for help, study the market, work smart and get creative. If you do "Readears will come".

And readers, we must band together. Buy books at your local stores. Remember how it used to be--a friendly local merchant chatted with you and often recommended just the right book, we used to get together with other readers and compare best reads, aisles filled with books, the smell of ink. Buying a book with the click of a button is easier but at what cost? Think about it before you click again.

I'm not anti kindle. After all, as a writer I make money off ebook sales. And I sometimes purchase books online, usually used books that I need for research, but I do shop online from time to time. Maybe there's room for both the hometown store and the online store. I'm just asking that you remember your local stores and don't turn your back on them. The owners work hard, they've made a huge investment of time, money and heart. And I have trouble with mega stores that have too much power and too much control over what we read. And personal? I don't think so.

Give it some thought. Here in my town we miss our local stores. The nearest full service bookstore is now ninety miles from my home. Such a sad outcome for me and other local readers. Ninety miles is a long drive to buy a book.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, November 08, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Heaven Waits

Heaven waits for us. God's Word tells us that His children will spend eternity with Him there. And God doesn't lie. These days I cling to this promise more and more.

My mother had open heart surgery four weeks ago. At age eighty-six we were uncertain that she'd survive the surgery, but she did. We were grateful, but the weeks that have followed have been harrowing and full of physical suffering.

I spent a week with my Mom when she had the surgery. When I felt that she was stable I returned home. Last weekend I made the trip north again to see her. She's been staying at a rehab center for three weeks and will remain there until she is strong enough and healthy enough to return home. It's been grueling for her.

While I was visiting last week, Mom's health declined and she developed an infection in the wound where her chest had been opened. Uncertain what was causing the pain and swelling in her chest she was rushed to a nearby hospital emergency room where doctors proceeded to poke and prod in search of an answer. It was torture for my mother and for those of us who love her. To make matters worse, we were told that she might have to face another surgery.

We waited, prayed and took turns sitting with her. When I sat with her I watched the monitors and her uneven breathing. She's so thin I could see the undulating rhythm of her heart through her chest wall.

When she stirred, I stood to check on her. She gazed up at me and a smile touched her lips. Her hazel eyes were alight with love and she said, "I'm so thankful you're here. I love you so much." I rested a hand on her cheek, then smoothed her forehead and told her what a wonderful mother she was and how much I loved her. It felt as if we were saying good-bye.

Even now when I think of that moment my eyes fill with tears. But they aren't tears of sorrow, though I feel that, they are tears of gratitude. How blessed I am to be loved so deeply and to love someone the way I do my mother. She blesses me and makes my life richer. To see her in the midst of suffering and yet be filled with gratitude and love is an amazing thing. Death was close, but Mom was not afraid for she believed God's promise of heaven.

Mom is still with us. She's better, but far from well. I don't know what the days ahead will bring. I do know that we each have a certain number of days on this earth, and then we will die. It is my prayer that my mother will have more good years here with us, but one day she will go home to God where many loved ones wait for her.

God's gift of His Son soothes me with peace in these difficult days. I think of heaven and imagine what it will be like to have all of eternity to share with those I love.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, November 04, 2011


I’m thrilled to introduce a new feature to my blog – MAKING A DIFFERENCE.

The first week of each month I will introduce you to someone who is making a difference in their part of the world. We’ve all crossed paths with someone who has altered our lives for the better. I'd like to share some of these special people with you and give you an opportunity to meet someone new and I hope take time to pray for them.

This month I’d like to introduce a special young woman whom I’ve known since she was a girl. Nicole Lewis serves as National Director of Student Led Movements in Italy for Campus Crusade for Christ.

1. Can you tell us a little about yourself, where you grew up, your family, church, things like that. And can you briefly share your spiritual journey?

I grew up in the small and wonderful town of Glide, Oregon. My parents are Oregonian transplants. My Mom is from Montana and my Dad grew up in New York City. This made for a very fun and culturally diverse household. I think it actually has had a great impact on where I am today, living in another culture that is not my own, yet I feel at home.

I came to faith at a young age through a vacation bible school at my home church. I grew up hearing about Jesus, but it wasn’t until that point in my life where what Jesus did on the cross and a desperate need to understand how to be forgiven for the things I was doing, even at a young age, that I heard the message of the gospel and knew it was the answer I had been looking for. I was right, I was a sinner, but what I hadn’t realized is that Christ came to rescue me from my sin and shame through the cross and to reconcile me to God, when I got that, it changed everything for me.

Even as a child, I had a deep hunger and desire for Christ and God spoke into that desire through the community of my church, through men and women who showed me what it meant to walk with Jesus in a way that made me want to live like that. He spoke to me through worship, teaching me biblical truth, the scriptures we sing as praise to him and he guided me through pastor’s who opened up the Word of God and showed me things there that made me want to know more and more.

It was in my junior year of college though that an incredibly significant change took place in my relationship with God. I went off to Oregon State University and as I got to know young believers my age, and one in particular named Zach, that I began to sense a great gap between the kind of faith they lived and the kind of faith I lived. It was uncomfortable for me and a little frustrating, this Jesus zeal they had and expressed all the time to me and to others. The frustration wasn’t the zeal itself it was that in my soul I knew there was something missing from my life that I both envied and couldn’t stand in theirs. What I later realized, and where the Lord brought me to through Revelation 2 “I hold this against you, you have forsaken your first love,” was that though Jesus was the Savior of my life, I had never let him be Lord. I was still sitting on the throne of my life and what he was asking me to do was to surrender that to Him. One of my life verses that expresses the change in my heart, and the thing I saw in the life of my friend Zach and others like him, are the words of Galatians 2:2 “I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me and the life I live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.”

Nicole, I remember those days and praying for you. I knew God was working in your life, but wow—amazing!

2. You work and live in Italy. How did a country gal from Oregon end up living in such a distant part of the world?

My journey to living in Italy began with the cultural diversity I grew up with in my home but also an influential trip I took to Europe when I was 15 with my High School Basketball coach. In Junior High my best friend and I decided that for our high school graduation we wanted to go to Paris. I am not even sure how we chose Paris, but we bought posters of the Eifel Tower and were determined to go. But when we were 15 our High School Basketball coach offered us the opportunity to travel with him and his wife for the summer in Europe. Seven of us went on the trip together, including my best friend and I. For two months, we traveled all over Europe, experiencing life overseas, getting to play and coach basketball and to see our beloved Paris. When I came back from that trip I was convinced that one day I needed to live overseas.

The other piece of the answer is part of my journey of growing as a follower of Jesus. My junior year in college, when the Lord radically changed my heart and I made Him the first love of my life, I think my decision to move to Italy was in a sense already made. When you lose your life for Christ’s sake and realize that it now belongs to Him, these life choices become part of our journey of faith. When I joined staff with Campus Crusade for Christ, the organization that I work for, I knew that I could have the possibility to live and work overseas doing student ministry, so I took every opportunity to see what life and mission overseas in the student world was like. When presented with the opportunity to move to Italy to help re-launch the student work there I said yes.

3. Many of us are insulated from the great big world that we live in. I’ve never been to Italy and would love to know more about the country and its people. Can you share some of its unique qualities?

Italy is an incredibly charming and beautiful country. I am sitting on a train right now traveling from Florence (Firenze) where I live, to Rome (Roma) and as I look out the windows I am reminded that I live in a beautiful country. There are parts of the Umpqua Valley where I grew up that look similar to Tuscany, the region that Florence is in, so in some ways it is foreign and yet also a familiar beauty. In some ways it is hard to explain Italy, because Italy is old. In America something that is aged is 200 or 300 years old. In Italy you could live in a building that was built in 1700 or you might live next door to a church that was constructed in 1200 or in Rome by the Coliseum that was built before the time of Christ. For American eyes it is a wonder, but for Italian eyes this is normal. I love that about Italy. In Italy there are many simple things that people enjoy—taking the whole month of August off for vacation to go to the sea or the mountains, new olive oil and wine in November that have just been harvested in September and October, meeting friends after work for appetizers and meals that last 3 hours because nobody is in a hurry to end their time of just being together as friends and family.

One thing that has surprised me about Italy that took me a long time to understand is that the concept of Italy and Italians is not something easily defined. Italy has 21 regions and each one is unique from the other. If you were to meet an Italian and say where are you from, they would not first say “I am Italian” they would say either the region or specific city they come from and then the country. It might sound insignificant but there is a great difference between a Florentine and a Milanese. Each city has its own dialect, different accent, regional and city pasta’s and desserts, different ways of seeing the world. It makes life fun, because you are constantly challenging yourself to understand what people are like and it also means that you get to sample a wide variety of very good food every time you travel. The pasta’s you eat in Florence are not the same pasta’s you will find in Naples. I like that a lot, because food is part of my enjoyment of the culture.

Italy sounds like a place I'd love to visit one day.

4. What does a typical day look like for you?

Oh wow, I wish I had a typical day. I work basically from 9-5 each day. But like today, I am traveling to Rome to be part of a conference of youth workers from all over Europe who are coming together to share best missional practices to reach teenagers. Last Thursday, I was working in my office on a project for our Italian Staff Training and then met with a student for coffee, who’s still processing the gospel. Then I went to our student Bible Study Thursday night, which usually lasts about 4 hours, but includes, of course, dinner. In Italy, ministry and food are inextricably bound. So when I’m in Florence my days are usually spent in combination working at my office and meeting with students. I also travel because of my role in the cities where we have student ministries where I meet with the staff, see how they are doing and help them move toward building movements among students in the University campuses.

Clearly typical does not describe your life--surprising and diverse seem more appropriate.

5. What do you love most about what you do? And what is your least favorite part of your ministry?

I love influencing the lives of others, and I love pointing people to Christ. The thing I have always loved is sharing what Jesus has done for us, with someone for the first time or watching a young believer grow in their faith. One of the most satisfying moments for me is when I watch that young woman or student I have been investing my life in begin to invest their lives in others. It is the sweetest joy.

Some years ago I met a woman at a student conference who I realized had discipled the woman who discipled the woman who discipled me. My great grandmother, if you will, in the faith. I had fun sharing with her about the women I was investing my life in and thanked her for the influence she’d had in the lives of those who were helping me grow. I shared that with the girls I was discipling at the time and I remember when one of them proudly introduced me to my own spiritual grandchildren. Oh Bonnie, it was such a thrill! I don’t even know how to express in words my thanks to the Lord for allowing me the privilege of investing my life in women and being part of the process of how God is changing them to be more like Jesus.

My least favorite part? For me the two hardest things are, first the bittersweet reality of meeting amazing people who change your life and then having to say goodbye to them when the Lord leads them out of the story of your life and into another chapter of their own story. You thank the Lord for the time you had to be woven into the story of each other’s lives, but there is grief at saying goodbye. It is a moment when I am most aware that what I am longing for is eternity where there will be no more goodbyes. I am anxious for it. The other hard thing is to see those you love walk away from the lovely One. I imagine it must be similar to what a parent feels, though I am not a parent so I can only guess and I would assume it is much deeper, when they see their own children making decisions they know are not the best, but you have to let them make their own choices, Experience brings growth. But there is deep pain in watching that happen, deep pain and prayer.

I love your image of spiritual grandchildren. There is nothing more thrilling than watching Christ come alive in the lives of others and to know God included you in the process.

6. Do you have a favorite song, book, scripture. . . why is it a favorite?

Oh man favorite song…there are too too many. I would argue that song is the language of my heart and so there are so many songs that have touched me deeply. I will give you two that are in my mental favorites “playlist”. The old hymn Be thou my Vision and one that the group Selah sings that might be called Before the throne of God Above. Oooooh Books, I love books! My most recent favorite is The Pursuit of God by A.W. Tozer. Since I live in Italy, I’ve read two books whose theme is the persecution of the Christians under Nero, The Martyr of the Catacombs and Quo Vadis, which have totally come alive to me here, along with Ben Hur. When I am in a light mood, I love reading the classics, Jane Austen, Wilkie Collins or Nick Hornby and Alexander McCall Smith.

Favorite Scripture--OK, this is one I can answer fairly easily. Though there are several verses that capture different seasons of my life and how the Lord is transforming me, but my all time favorite scripture is actually the 21st chapter of the gospel of John. I love this sweet story of Jesus and Peter meeting once again at the sea of Galilee. I love it because of the question Jesus asks Peter “Simon son of John do you love me?” Three times, the same question and it cuts me to the heart “Nicole, do you love me?” I think that is one of the most significant questions God has ever asked any man, and Jesus and I meet here often. John 21 is our early morning garden walk, it is our coffee bar, it is our sunset stroll and I have come back here with Him time and time again to talk about that question.

A powerful verse. I will meet more often with my Lord over this one as well. Thank you for the reminder.

7. What is your greatest need? And how can we pray for you?

I would say first, please pray that I would not forsake my first love. In Italy, Jesus is everywhere and nowhere. He is painted on walls of buildings and cathedrals but He is like white noise, and people don’t even notice him anymore. The greatest risk for me could be that Jesus becomes the white noise of my own life and heart and at that point I have nothing left to offer. I want and need to love Jesus more passionately and deeply each day. So that would be my first prayer request.
The second is for patience in the process of transition in Italy. We are becoming more and more an Italian led movement. But cross cultural transitions are not easy. We share a common Christian vocabulary, but that does not mean we always attach to those things the same meaning. So pray for me and for my team and our movement as we form a cross cultural identity that in a country that has a long history of division, that we would not let the enemy divide us.

I will add this little vulnerable prayer request, but If it is God’s will, would you pray for a Godly Man, who is Crazy about Jesus to fall deeply in love with me.

Kisses, Nicole

Thank you, Nicole, for giving us a glimpse of your place in the world. And thank you for all that you do for the glory of God. I am and will continue to pray for you, dear one.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, November 02, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- It Takes Spirit

My granddaughter Olivia and grandson Ezra both had surgery three days prior to Halloween. Ezra had repair work done on both of his ear drums and Olivia had her tonsils removed. Halloween arrived and both of them were feeling miserable. Ezra had started to rally a bit and was excited about the evening's fun. Olivia had been running a fever for two days and that afternoon it was steadily holding at 101. She couldn't eat or drink and was clearly dehydrated and suffering.

Olivia was so sick she had to return to the hospital where she was put on IV fluids and an IV antibiotic. When she was released she should have gone home to bed but . . . it was Halloween. She'd brought her costume with her to the hospital and after being rehydrated she was determined to go trick-or-treating. Managing to find her smile she joined in the fun, at least for a little while, before having to retreat to the comfort and warmth of the car.

It was "only" Halloween, but for my grandchildren it was an important day. Under awful circumstances, they both dug down inside and found the strength to do something that mattered to them. Even though it was "only" trick-or-treating they grabbed hold of their desire, spirit, perseverance and courage and went out and had a good time. The smiles on their faces inspired me.

My grandchildren are always teaching me lessons. They live full out, refusing to allow adversity to stop them . . . and they've had more than their share of troubles I can assure you.

Maybe we can do more than we think is possible. I don't know about you, but the next time I'm thinking about giving up I'm going to remember Olivia and Ezra and the lively spirits that carried them through their pain and exhaustion on their special night.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Walking a Tightrope--Do You Dare?

This week, while working on a Bible Study I was reminded of an inspiring incident that took place years ago while at a retreat. There were four speakers scheduled that weekend, with the last speaking on Sunday morning. We had a great three days filled with fun, words of wisdom, tears and laughter. We had a front row seat at God's production. I love retreats not just because it's an opportunity to build friendships and to grow in our faith, but God always surprises me in some way. That particular retreat was no exception.

On Sunday morning my sister Myrn was the speaker. She stood before the group, notes in hand. She'd worked hard to prepare--spent hours in prayer and more hours crafting just the right words. As she stood there a smile broke out on her face and then she shocked us all by tossing her notes over her shoulder where they fell to the floor. Wearing a playful expression she looked out at our surprised faces and said, "I had something prepared, but that's not what God wants me to talk about this morning."

I want that kind of faith and courage--to listen so closely to God that I hear Him even when He asks me to do something that makes me quake, to do what I know is beyond my own ability. He'd been speaking to Myrn throughout the weekend and by Sunday morning she knew He had another message to deliver other than the one she'd prepared. She did just that and quite eloquently. When we hand ourselves over to God He shines.

Often we rely on "us" instead of Him. I'm not saying we should always expect something dramatic, nor that we ought to ignore the wisdom and knowledge God has given us. But there are moments when God has something greater for us to do than what our small minds have conjured up--times when we have to toss away our grand plan and exchange it for God's.

Do we have the courage to move out of our comfort zone and take a risk? It may feel as if we're stepping onto a tight rope. But we have no reason to fear. Even if we fall, God will catch us.

I'm a planner. I rely on notes and calendars and lists. Letting go isn't easy for me. And yet, God has honored me by including me in His plans many times. The apostle Paul said to the Corinthians in the book of 1 Corinthians, "I came to you in weakness--timid and trembling. And my message and my preaching were very plain. Rather than using clever and persuasive speeches, I relied ONLY on the power of the Holy Spirit. I did this SO you would trust not in human wisdom but in the power of God."

God chose the foolish things of this world to shame the wise. We don't have to be wise or strong in ourselves, we only need to believe in The One who is wise, who is powerful. He will give us strength and the words to speak so we can tell others of His great love.

Try stepping out onto the tight rope of faith and see God shine.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 22, 2011

Topic of the Day--Gal Pals

This is my last evening in Bend. I've spent a weekend with my future daughter-in-law's (Brandi) friends and family. Her friends wanted to do something special for her upcoming wedding to my son (only eleven days away) and so they arranged a time for Brandi and friends to lounge and pamper themselves at a local spa. Last night Brandi prepared a delicious meal for my husband and I, our son Paul, and members of her family. This evening a group of friends and family shared a meal in downtown Bend, followed by more revelry.

This has been a weekend of fun, relaxation, memories, laughter and good food. Best of all of all has the company. I got to spend time with quality people and dear women who are true friends to Brandi. Friends are a special gift. But I sometimes think we take our friendships for granted and don't realize how important it is to pour time and love into one another's lives.

I witnessed healthy friendships this weekend and I was inspired by them. There was a time when my friends and I regularly got together. We were gal pals who used to shop together, go to the gym, walk, saw movies and joined for Bible study. Years passed and we became bogged down in parenting, careers, church activities and a multitude of other responsibilities. We're still friends, but sharing the celebration of sisterhood has slipped away. We rarely get together these days.

I think it's time for a change. We need each other. We need to share our joys and sorrows. We need to laugh, cry and get silly and remember life is a great big adventure to be shared.

If you feel like me and want to rebuild some of those friendships jump into the fun and share your ideas about how you're going to do that. I'd love to hear.

Maybe it's time to make a date with a gal pal.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Topic of the Day -- A Little Bit of Sunshine

Mom made it through surgery and though the days following were rough she's getting better and better. Today she was released from the hospital and will spend several weeks in a rehab center. I'm thankful.

The strange thing is that when I should be smiling and doing a jig, I'm feeling down in the dumps. I chatted with my sister today and we talked about how I'm feeling. She knows quite a bit about the human psyche and explained that while I sat with my mother as she went through her trauma I went right along with her. And so I've had my own trauma I'm working through.

God knows all things even "down in the dump" days. And so He sent me a little bit of sunshine today--my granddaughter, Olivia. She spent the afternoon with me. As always, she was full of smiles and hugs. We baked cookies together and when it was time for her to go home I felt better. I'd found my smile again.

I'm grateful for my sister's helpful words. And especially thankful my little sunshine girl, Olivia, was here with hugs for her grandma. And thank you, God, for loving me even though I don't deserve it.

Grace and peace to God.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Suffering

I don't know anyone who likes to suffer. I certainly don't. But because God created us and because from time to time pain and suffering is part of our life I figure there's a purpose for it. In fact, I can come up with a long list of reasons fairly quickly.

However, several days ago while sitting with my mother after she'd had open heart surgery I couldn't think of one. All I wanted was to release my mom from the agony. Instead, I sat beside her holding her hand feeling helpless. That night I cried myself to sleep.

But God's Word says, "Suffering produces perseverance, perseverance character and character, hope."

Mom is better. I thank God.

As to pain, well it will continue to be part of life. Physical pain protects us from injury. Our lives would be short if we never felt the weaknesses in our body. Suffering is a teacher. Travails of the soul draw us closer to God where He waits to catch us and pull us into his embrace.

Though I sometimes rail against it, I cannot deny that pain is good. I am grateful for it.

Praise God in all things.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, October 09, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Living Out Our Faith

I want to introduce you to my mother--an incredible woman. Though she often felt as if she lacked faith she has lived a life full of faith. During my growing up years, she was the neighborhood savior--always willing and able to help in a crisis--she was steady when it counted. And to this day, I don't think I've ever met anyone who has a more grateful heart. Though she's had her share of tragedy and lives a simple life with few frills she's thankful for each day and never fails to thank God for her "wonderful" family.

Tonight Mom waits in a hospital. She's having open heart surgery in the morning to repair or replace a valve and to repair an artery. She's eight-six years old and understands the risks, but as always all she can talk about is how blessed she is. When she set off for the hospital earlier this evening, all I saw was faith and peace. She knows God has her in His hands and no matter the outcome of tomorrow's surgery all is well.

I am blessed. She lived out her faith and that faith changed my life.

In the days to come would you please pray for my mother and for the family who loves her?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Sarah Palin Says No.

Sarah said it's a no-go. She's not going to run. There have been several "No's" recently--Sarah, Chris Christie, Marco Rubio and others. Palin and Christie both sighted family as part of their reason for not running. Is there something that's keeping good people out of the race? Could it be intolerance, unfair practices by the press and a toxic public atmosphere? Could it be ambushes, assaults and outright lies that hold good candidates back?

What happened to Sarah Palin from the day she stepped into the race as the vice presidential candidate in 2008 until this day is abuse, plain and simple. Where were the voices of reason and honor? Why was the brutality allowed?

I don't blame Sarah Palin for staying out of the fight this time around. But it makes me sad that someone who could have brought another dimension to the election was bullied out of it. Frankly, the fetid atmosphere in American politics makes me sick to my stomach.

We've all watched it blasted over the television news and listened to it on the airwaves. Bashing others seems to be the new normal. I understand how it happens. We think we're right and they're wrong and we get so wrapped up in our own view that the end justifies the means. It's easy to be dragged into the fray and start blasting others. No one is immune.

Please don't misunderstand. I'm all for peaceful protests and showing up at town hall meetings where we can ask our questions or share our perspectives. Honest disagreement and discussion of real issues is good, in fact we need to do more of it. But when we wade into the cesspool of deceit, verbal brutality and treachery we become the enemy and that is not the way to win a war. We need to be smarter, more determined and committed to what is right.

We must hang on to our integrity.

Our job is to pray, be informed, pray, discuss the issues, pray and then pray some more. 1 Corinthians 3:18-19 says this, "Do not deceive yourselves. If any one of you thinks he is wise by the standards of this age, he should become a 'fool' so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in God's sight. As it is written, He catches the wise in their craftiness."

Be wise in the spirit. And then on election day cast your vote. It is the reasonable thing to do and it is one of the greatest privileges we possess as Americans. I'm proud to be an American. How about you?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Saturday, October 01, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Fight. Fight. Fight.

I love the movie, You've Got Mail. One scene in particular stands out for me at this time in my life. Meg Ryan is speaking to Tom Hanks (who plays her nemesis) online. She tells him she's losing her business. His response--"Go to the mattresses", which is a term from the movie the God Father that means go to war. Meg cutely punches the air and says, "Fight. Fight. Fight".

She goes to war, fighting to save her small bookstore from being eaten up by a large chain store. In the end, she loses the battle. It's sad. She's loved the bookstore, which had once been her mother's.

There is a lesson here. What is it? That we don't fight? I don't believe that. However, we do need to question what's worth fighting for and, if we choose to fight and still lose God may have a special purpose for the loss. Perhaps it's something as simple as learning the lesson of acceptance and yet being thankful. I've recently been contemplating these concepts. Acceptance can be a hard pill to swallow. But sometimes we can't move forward until we accept where we are.

In the movie, the character of Meg Ryan grieves the loss of her beloved bookstore. Of course she would. It's what she knows and so much of her life has been about the store. However, another life awaits her and if she hadn't been forced to relinquish the old she'd never have discovered the new--one richer and fuller than she'd known. The key to discovery, for her, was a willingness to release the past and move forward.

I do not have this all figured out, but this story encourages me. Though I've been in a battle, I am presently doing all I can to open my arms and accept difficult circumstances and to be thankful for them. God has not lost sight of me. I know that. He and I have been close for a long time. He knows what lies ahead. I've laid down my arms for now and am learning acceptance. I may be called to battle again, in fact I'm certain of it. Until then I am resting in my Lord.

What are you fighting for or relinquishing or accepting? Whatever it is, trust in God's greater knowledge and wisdom. He truly knows what is best for us.

Grace and peace to you,


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Don't Be A Wallflower.

Do you like to dance? I do. I remember my very first dance. My mother had sewn me a pretty new dress and I'd taken extra time with my hair and make up. I was only thirteen and remember that my nerves were tightly strung. I didn't know what to expect, but I remember being afraid no one would dance with me--back in those days girls waited for the boys to ask.

When the music started the kids hung back, too afraid to step out and be the first one on the dance floor. I pressed my back against the wall, wishing I hadn't come. I wasn't the only one.

Gradually a few boys made the long walk across the gym floor to ask girls to dance. One handsome young man boldly asked me. I could have said no and remained safely in my place, but I wanted to dance and gratefully allowed him to escort me onto the dance floor.

A scripture shared in church last Sunday brought this memory to mind. The verse is one that sits quietly among many. You might not even notice it if you didn't stop to ponder on it. I'm thankful my pastor loves to ponder God's Word. Mark 10:32 says, "They were on their way up to Jerusalem, with Jesus leading the way, and the disciples were astonished, while those who followed were afraid. Again he took the Twelve aside and told them what was going to happen to him."

Jesus pushed on, knowing what He faced. The cross waited for him and yet he continued on, hearing the call of His Father and of His a destiny that only He could fulfill. In obedience He made his way toward Jerusalem and the cross. When I think upon that I feel the sting of tears. His obedience and love are beyond my ability to comprehend.

There is something else that stands out. The disciples followed. They must have known their lives were also in jeopardy, but they pushed forward, not knowing what would happen.

I think about myself and how cautious I can be--afraid of what the future holds. I could easily be a wall flower--too afraid to step out and heed God's leading. Fear, if allowed, kills boldness. If we focus on the possible pain or embarrassment that sometimes follows obedience we will remain on the periphery of life. We'll never dance.

Instead, shall we trust and yield ourselves to the Lord?

Don't be a wallflower. Dance.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, September 23, 2011

Topic of the Day -- What Do You See?

What do you see from your front porch?

I watched a movie tonight in which a man spent hours sitting on his front porch. He watched the world outside his home, observing the people but not really seeing them. He couldn't look beyond his own pain and prejudices. However, as the story progresses, against his better judgment he begins to connect with his neighbors. Strangers become friends. And by the end of the movie he loves them so deeply he gives his life for them. A man can do no more than that for another.

I got to thinking about what we see. Or if we see at all? Is it possible that we look through a veil of self interest, fear or prejudice?

I feel especially blessed because I live in the forest. When I look out from my front porch I see God. His creation surrounds me. The sights, sounds and smells are things he made with His own hands. But I am sometimes oblivious to His creation. I forget about God and His wonders, forget to be grateful. With forgetfulness comes spiritual blindness.

I've sometimes thought it would be so nice to live in town where I could watch the world go by--children getting on or off a school bus, a couple strolling down the street or a young man jogging. I'd enjoy feeling connected to the world, but even as I say that I wonder why I sometimes feel separate from it.

We are all linked to one another. We are created by the same God. And when we place our trust in Christ God becomes Father. We're all part of one family--God's awesome and amazing gift to us.

What do you see from your front porch?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Monday, September 19, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- The Gift of Wisdom

This morning while reading my Bible I came across several verses about wisdom. Wisdom should be part of every Christians box of gifts that we receive when we believe. It's a thing of beauty to be treasured. Sadly, there are some who do not open the gift.

The world views wisdom differently than God does. It believes that wisdom comes from knowledge and is possessed by scholars or by those who have lived long lives. Though I do believe knowledge is good and life has much to teach us, God's Word says the world's view of wisdom is foolishness.

Psalm 19:7 says, "The statutes of the Lord are trustworthy, making wise the simple." And 1 Corinthians 1:18-21 adds, "For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, 'I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate.' Where is the wise man? Where is the scholar? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know Him. God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe." And verse 24 says, "For the foolishness of God is wiser than man's wisdom and the weakness of God is stronger than man's strength."

If we believe God's Word is true why then do we go to the great minds of the world for guidance? Have we accepted the world's standards rather than God's? If so, why? He is The One who knows all and sees all. He is our provision. His Word will feed our hungry spirits. When we place our trust in Christ only then does the Holy Spirit reside in us and only then can we see the whole truth.

We must seek wisdom if we wish to fully possess it. God's Word instructs and teaches. And God places us in circumstances where His Word can be worked out in us. He places us where there is nothing to be done except rely on Him. Though His instruction can be painful, walking through fire refines us. We become stronger and wiser.

Seek God and you will grow wise. Do not be afraid. Cherish the gift.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Great Review!

Now, this is the kind of review I like! Just had to share. : - )

It was a long wait, but Bonnie Leon is back with the second book in the Alaskan Skies series, Wings of Promise. I'm more in love with her writing after this volume than ever before. If you're looking for a book with love, loss, forgiveness, reunions and more then this is for you. We meet up again with female Alaskan bush pilot Kate Evans. Her reputation precedes her and she's still trying to break down walls as a female in a male dominated profession. Her relationship with Paul grows into something more serious and life seems almost too perfect for Kate.

We all know that when it seems perfect is when the bottom falls out. Kate is shaken to the core and has to make decisions that will push her forward or send her packing back to the mainland.

From the back cover:

Her spunk has always gotten her through tough times. But does she have what it takes to go the distance?

Kate Evans may be a woman in a man's profession, but as Alaskan bush pilots go, she's one of the best. If only her personal life wasn't so complicated. Torn between her affection for fellow pilot Mike Conlin and doctor Paul Anderson, Kate longs for clarity in her heart. But when a terrible tragedy occurs, her mind may be made up for her.

Full of high-flying adventure and tender personal moments, Wings of Promise will sweep you away to the Alaskan skies.


It's true! Heart pounding action is in the pages of this book. This was very hard to put down and I recommend it 100%

Thanks, Bonnie, for this CLEAN READ.

By Rares Reviews

Grace and peace to you from God.


Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Our Final Day

It has been six years today that my beautiful niece Crystal was snatched from us. She died in an auto accident.

The last time I saw her I didn't know it would be our final conversation, our final smiles exchanged, our final hug. There was no sign pasted across her forehead telling me, "Make the most of this moment. It is your last."

Isaiah 40:6-8 says, "People are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the Word of our God stands forever."

We forget our time here is short. In our busyness we lose sight that any moment may be our last. Make the most of the moments. Do not waste time on trivial ambitions. Forgive others. Love one another. Desire God.

Savor the moments you've been given.

Grace and peace to you from God.


We miss you Crystal.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- One Of Those Days

I woke up this morning with my back screaming at me. "Why? This is not fair! What did I do?" No answer. I'm frustrated and angry. I did my exercises anyway . . . barely. It's not easy to do them when my back is yapping. When I finished, my attitude still stunk. I needed God. Before settling into work mode I sat down with one of my favorite devotionals, "My Utmost for His Highest." Oswald Chambers came through again.

I will begin with the scripture, Luke 14:26. "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes his own life also, he cannot be My disciple." This sounds harsh. Christ can't really mean that, can he? He does, but maybe not in the way we think. He doesn't want us to hate. But the people we love, including ourselves, cannot compete with our relationship with Him. Christ must come first if we truly want to be His disciples. We must hand our lives over to Him--be fully His.

Christ is not speaking about our salvation in this verse. He's talking about discipleship. To be all in, so to speak. To be His and not mine. For me that means I have to hand myself over completely, including my back. If that's part of who He wants me to be, then so be it. I will serve Him because I love Him not because He's handed me everything I want in life.

I'm all in. How about you?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Friday, September 02, 2011

Topic of the Day -- Labor for Labor Day?

Labor Day is always on the first Monday in September. Greg and I usually take the day off and spend time with family or friends. We rarely travel because of the stampede to the campgrounds and resorts. We save our vacations for quieter seasons. Labor Day was created by the labor movement to set apart a time to honor the social and economic achievements of American workers. I like that. The people of this country work hard and most do a good job.

However in these troubled economic times there are many who can't find a job. They don't want to rest, not even on Labor Day. They'd rather be working. Some have searched for a job for a year or more, but there aren't any to be had. Our country is shipwrecked. I know that 9.1% unemployment doesn't sound all that bad, but the real numbers are much higher, and for those who can't find work the percentage doesn't matter.

What's happening in our country is a tragedy, but we can make it better. During the Great Depression of the 1930's hardship created innovation, softened hearts, and brought about dependence on God and on one another. I can't fix the financial crisis in this country. On our own, as single individuals there's little we can do, but if we work together we can make a difference. Let's not get political--that won't help. In fact, I'm convinced our government can't fix this problem. So, let's focus on what we can do.

How can we help those in our communities? Look inside yourselves and think about your gifts and abilities. Where do they fit in the bigger picture? How can you reach out to others? Off the top of my head, there are lots of places to plug in -- homeless shelters, food pantries, the Salvation Army. Is your neighbor in trouble? Are they losing their home? What might they need? Churches can help. Do you have a "needs" ministry in your church? If not, maybe you can start one. Get involved.

Unemployment, we know, is high. Do you own a business? Is it possible that you could hire just one more employee? Imagine if small businesses across the country added just one more person to the payroll. That would put huge numbers back to work. I know it's a stretch and some can't do it. But can you?


Though I've listed it last, prayer is where we need to begin. Pray for our leaders, our country, our neighbors. Pray for discernment and generous hearts. And ask God what you can do. If we all do a little it can create a tsunami of aid.

To coin a phrase, "Just do it!" Become part of the wave. And if you have a suggestion please leave a comment and let us know.

Grace and peace to you from God.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- Wonderment

Nature reminds us of our Creator. Sometimes it's something spectacular like the Grand Canyon or Niagara Falls, but often He reveals Himself to us in the simple things of life--like an egg or a worm. God's creation is everywhere, but we often miss The Creator in what we see as something insignificant. Children give us sight because they see Him. In their eyes the world is new and interesting. They see the wonder of His creation.

Today my granddaughter, Olivia, reminded me of God's wonder. While picking black berries she was thrilled over each plump berry, dropping them into our bowl and eating one every now and then. To her they were more valuable than gold . . . maybe they are.

Along our way, we stopped at the hen house to gather eggs and discovered a tiny egg--the very first one laid by one of our young hens. Olivia was overjoyed at the little hen's accomplishment and thought the small egg was extra special. We congratulated the hen and went on our way to the house.

Before we could wash the berries, Olivia spied what she thought was a small stick, but when she went to pluck it off the berries it moved. She was fascinated by the stick that seemed to be alive. Upon closer examination we discovered it was a tiny worm. When he felt threatened he held completely still and looked just like a stick. I explained that it was his way of hiding so creatures like birds wouldn't eat him.

Olivia was enthralled. We watched him for a few minutes as he moved over the berries. When Olivia put her finger close to him he'd straighten and go into his stick costume. Olivia wanted to show her brothers and her mother and so she set off with her rare find. As she hurried out the door, she talked to the little worm, reassuring him she wasn't a bird.

I enjoyed the berries, the egg and the worm so much more than usual because I saw them through the eyes of a child. They are truly a wonder. We're surrounded by God's amazing creations. There is so much to marvel at. But we've got to look if we want to see. It helps to have the eyes of a child.

Have you seen something recently with fresh eyes?

Grace and peace to you from God.


Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Quiet Moments With God -- See What I Will Do

I've had many memorable days with my sister, Myrn. She and her husband, who live in Alaska, have been here on vacation.

I cherish time with my sister. She lives in a remote area of Alaska and we don't see one another often. While she was here, the weather was spectacular. We had lots of good chats, we ate too much, reminisced, laughed and cried. I'm feeling a bit sad today because she's on her way home.

After saying farewell, my thoughts stayed with my sister and others in my family. And when I read from the devotional, Jesus Calling, the words on the page spoke strongly to my spirit.

"Entrust your loved ones to Me; release them into My protective care. They are much safer with Me than in your clinging hands. Watch to see what I will do."

I do cling to my loved ones. I'm afraid to let them go and to trust them to God. In my family, it seems we are always have some sort of crisis or other. I pray and ask for God's guidance, His help, His will. And then I worry or come up with a plan to "fix" everything.

Oh how I love the Lord, but I sometimes wonder what happened to trusting Him? I know He loves my husband, children and grandchildren, mother and father, brothers and sisters. And that He knows their every need. They could not be in better hands.

The Lord tells us to pray. What a privilege it is to stand before the throne of God. But too often when my prayer is done that is when my difficulty begins. I want to cling, to manipulate, to come up with a plan rather than trust God to do His work. When I interfere I rob the people I love most of God's specific solution, His gentle and exquisite touch.

Listen for the voice of God. He sometimes asks us to be part of His solution, but often we are to do nothing other than pray and restrain ourselves from interfering. It's glorious to watch God bring about His will in ways we never dreamed possible. I'm convinced God loves to surprise us.

Have you been surprised? Can you tell us about it?

Grace and peace to you from God,


Saturday, August 13, 2011

Topic Of The Day -- Can Your Marriage Last?

Today, my husband and I celebrate forty years of marriage. Often people are surprised to hear we've been married so long. In today's world long marriages seem to be the exception rather than the rule. I think that's sad.

So, how did Greg and I make it this far?

It wasn't us. It was God. Without Him we wouldn't be together. Thirty-six years ago, we separated and Greg filed for divorce. He told me he didn't love me and never would. Life was awful. I cried a lot and thought I'd never find happiness.

Greg and I were a wreck of a couple, even from the very beginning. The day of our wedding, I walked down the aisle thinking, "If it doesn't work we can always get a divorce." Clearly I had little faith in us.

But God had plans.

Grieving and trying to learn to live on my own, I found Christ. I started praying that God would restore my marriage. Greg, for reasons he didn't understand, would stop by to see me . . . more and more often. Over several months friendship was restored and Greg discovered that he did love me after all. One surprising day he asked me to return to him. I was scared spitless, but knew that being at Greg's side is where I belonged. We were reunited and only two months later, Greg gave his life to Christ. Since that day, we've followed a Christian path together. There have been valleys to walk through and mountains to climb, but we've stuck together.

There is no magic formula. It's Christ. He is at the heart of our relationship. And when we chose one another for the second time we made a commitment to never throw in the towel. The "D" word was not allowed in our home.

Today, I look back over the years and see a long list of things we've done wrong, but so much of our life has been filled with richness and joy. We love each other more today than we did on our wedding day forty years ago. Greg is a good man and I'm so grateful God placed him in my life. And thankful for God's mercy and His greatness.

Every couple struggles--expect it. But don't give up. Instead give yourselves to God. He's in the business of restoration. Believe in Him and know that He can do it.

Grace and peace to you from God.