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

Saturday, May 28, 2022

Seek Truth

 

As a child, one night I was awakened by our barking dog. No one shushed him. I listened and heard sounds coming from the kitchen. At first, I thought I must be imagining it, maybe it was a remnant of a dream. But the sounds continued, the dog growled, and the rest of the house remained silent. I waited, hoping someone would wake up and check it out, but no one stirred except my sister in the bed next to me. She was no help. She pulled the covers over her head and pretended nothing nefarious was going on. I wished I could convince myself she was right.

The noise continued and I couldn't stand it any longer. I had to know. I got out of bed and opened the door that led into the hallway. 

Someone was there! I could hear them. I shouted, "Who's there?!"

Footsteps ran toward the front of the house and charged out the front door with our barking dachshund in hot pursuit. And then the household woke up.

That is a snapshot of me. I have to know. It's easier for me to handle challenges if I know what I'm up against. That's how I've always been. And will likely always be.

However, recently when an MRI came back revealing a growth on my left kidney, I found myself wanting to avoid calls from my doctor. Did I really want to know the truth? No. I wasn't ready to know.

After a CT scan had been done, I actually ignored the first call from the doctor's office. I wasn't ready yet. However, I answered the next call and was told I have a tumor, which I've since discovered is cancerous. We - the doctor's, God and I are going to take care of it.

That incident got me to thinking. We believe we want to know the truth about circumstances in our life, including the truth of God's Word. But do we really? Would we rather pull a blanket over our head and refuse to see? 

Sometimes the truth is hard to look at. But ignoring it never serves us well. At the very least, if we're unable to act upon whatever it is we discover, we will know better how to pray.

I have been dealing with a good deal of frustration about how so many people seem unwilling to look at what's happening in the world these days. I have had little empathy for those who refuse to see. But this incident with my doctor has reminded me that sometimes we just need to be patient and wait until a person is ready to hear. 

Most of you very likely know that something is weird in the world. Things are off. Something IS wrong. And you have not looked to see what it is because you're not yet ready to know. But what is happening is truly dire and we all need to know. Now, possessing a little more compassion, I am praying that you will pull the blanket off your head and seek the truth.

Do not be faint of heart. God will not fail you. Really. 

Like the cancer growing in my kidney, if I ignore it ... it will destroy me. Why would I allow such a thing? 

Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Saturday, May 21, 2022

A Word to the Church

 


I decided it is time for me to reread the book of Revelation. Right off, God set me on a personal evaluation. 

Revelation 3:22 says,

    "Anyone who is willing to hear should listen to the Spirit and understand what the Spirit is saying to the churches."

This is the last line of the first four chapters in the book of Revelation. It is repeated seven times in those four chapters. Clearly it is important. 

What does the church need to hear? And who is the church?

In each of the seven churches John addresses their strengths and their weaknesses. He gives only one answer to correct their course - listen to the Spirit. 

If we look at the church in these challenging days, it seems clear that many have lost their way. Too many focus on things like appearance, number of attendees, money and building projects, and even trying overly hard not to ruffle feathers. There are additional sins, some too horrible to mention here, though they may soon come to light.

I am no better than any other. I am a sinner, found by my Lord and lifted up out of a pit of despair. He set me on solid ground. I am forever grateful for His mercy toward me. 

God wishes that none, no not one, would be lost. He extends the gift of eternal life to all. But the choice to grasp his outstretched hand is ours to make. When we accept His gift, we become His children. That is so amazing! It is a miracle.

As children of God, we are part of the church. When we first stepped into the new us we were overjoyed and excited to learn all we could. But, as in the Church of Ephesus, over time some became distracted and lost their first love. What a great personal loss and a loss to the world, that looks to the church for direction, encouragement, hope and love. 

Even if we have been distracted or disheartened, we are not lost. The Lord will renew His Spirit within us and then we, the church, can do much to reveal light to the world. We can't conjure up the light - truth is light. We need to know the truth and let it rule in our hearts. And then as it says in Matthew 5:15, "No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket." 

Shine brightly. Be good to yourself. Take time for renewal. Read God's Word and be quiet before Him.

Close your eyes. Quiet your breath. Open your heart. Whisper His name - Jesus. Listen. 

He will speak. He is in you. 

Remember ... we are the church.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie


Saturday, May 14, 2022

Are We Called?

 


Recently I connected with a Christian who felt it was her responsibility to make sure I understood what it looks like to obey Christ ... to follow through with what God had asked of me. Interesting thing is that God hadn't spoken to me about this, at least not in the way this person expressed. It's possible I might not have been listening, I'm an imperfect Christian. But when considering what had been said, I believe the Holy Spirit was not speaking to me through this individual.

God says, "Be wary. Be wise. Be attentive."

God has called each of us to our own unique walk of service. In these troubled times there is great need. Sometimes I feel overwhelmed. But then I am remined that God is the one who places my steps. My path is not the same as anyone else's. He will guide me. He will not overburden me.

The person who confronted me implied that taking a vocal stand about the leadership in this country was not a Godly way to serve. That the only avenue for someone like me was to display quiet "Godly" behavior. Paul immediately came to mind. What would have happened if he'd remained quiet? What about Stephen? And there's Peter ... plus a long list of other saints who strive to serve humanity and Father God.

Many are called to be prayer warriors. I would hate to think what our lives would be like without them. And there are others have been directed to take a more public stance. There are many ways we can stand up to the enemy, but they each must begin with The Father. Do not conform to common thinking, that's not what God is asking of us.

Do not be afraid. Seek God. Spend time in His Word. Listen to Him. Pray. 

And then, do what it is that He is asking of you. It could bring conflict but go forward anyway. God will not send you out alone. He is with you. He is your strength and your power. 

We are called to battle. Ephesians 6:10 - 20 says it perfectly. 

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God's armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. And pray for me, too. Ask God to give me the right words so I can boldly explain God's mysterious plan that the Good News is for Jews and Gentiles alike. I am in chains now, still preaching this message as God's ambassador. So, pray that I will keep on speaking boldly for him, as I should.

When the scripture says, "Put On all of God's armor" it is not a suggestion. It is a command. After we have done so then we can stand and do battle.

There are many different battlefields. In them all, may we stand together ... in the mighty power and in the love of God. I am praying for all of my Christian brothers and sisters. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie 

Friday, May 06, 2022

A Powerful Weapon



 Study the picture above for a few moments. Look at each face, each smile. 

Did anything happen?

No. Really. Did you feel anything? 

Did you find yourself smiling? I did. I felt happier inside and, without even trying, a smile settled on my lips. Isn't it amazing how wonderfully made we are?

For many months our smiles have been hidden behind masks and in some places they still are. I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and everyone in the office had to wear a mask the entire time we were in the building. Needless to say, spirits weren't so high, and everyone was quiet. 

We are in a war, a war of good against evil. Did you know that? Have you felt it?

There has long been a battle waged in the heavenlies, but this is a bit different. The enemy is threatened, and he is doing all he can to destroy the lives and eternities of people around the world.  This could be described as World War III, though the fight isn't typical. It's a war of ideas, it's technological and uses mind control to bring about changes in our core values. We need to win this war.

It's not easy to stand up to the pressures brought down upon us by the government and even our family, friends and neighbors. In order to win we need to carefully consider how to go about doing that. It begins with our hearts and our spirits. We need to be right with God and trust His Holy Spirit to guide us, to give us courage, wisdom and strength.

We need to know the truth. Seek it. Do all you can to gain knowledge.

No war against tyranny was ever won by complying. Therefore, we must NOT comply. Don't wear your mask. Don't cover your smile. When you are out and about, look at those around you and offer them the beauty, encouragement, strength, and joy that can only be shared in a smile. It's a beautiful way to connect. We are humans and we need to be reminded every day that we are significant. We are one species, yet we are individuals with no other just like us. When we link arms and stand together, we are stronger.

Let's remember to look at each other and keep smiling, keep connecting, the way God intended. 

On so many of the trips I've made into town over the last two years I found myself deeply disturbed by what I found and what I felt. As I walked through stores people were often silent. They didn't look at each other. They didn't talk or laugh. It was incredibly sad. Fear was palpable. That's not how we are meant to interact. The enemy knows us well, but God has created us to overcome.

It's not easy to go against the flow, to stick out. And I'm not here to toss guilt toward anyone. However, I want to remind each of you how special and wonderfully made you are. God created each of us and He knew what we needed in order to thrive on this planet. One of those things is each other.  

I do not know what the coming months will bring. God does. We can trust Him. He is our strength. 

What I do know is that we will fare much better if we keep our eyes on The Father instead of on problems that arise or even our government authorities. 

I am not one who disobeys laws. In fact, I tend to be a rule-follower. However, in these special days there too much at stake to simply go with the flow. I urge you to use discernment, reach deep inside, seek God, listen well and obey the higher authority. He will guide you. 

And for today, use that beautiful smile God gave you. Share it liberally as you go about your day. It truly is contagious and good for the soul. And God knows we need more of that.


Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 29, 2022

The Holy Huddle

 




I once heard Sunday church referred to as the "Holy Huddle". The pastor explained that Christian brothers and sisters get together on Sundays for the huddle. Just like in football, we go through the plan, get the instructions, maybe even slap a few butts (give lots of hugs), and then execute the plan by going out into the world to share the hope and beauty of God's Word.

Hebrews 10:25 says this. "And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. 

The Apostle Paul would not have mentioned our gathering together if it wasn't important. 

I love Sunday Church - meeting with God's people, my Christian family. We get together and share the news of the week, the struggles and triumphs. We share in worship and prayer. We get quiet and attentive and soak in God's Word as it is taught by dedicated leaders. In my little country church, that is usually our much-loved pastor. It's our Holy Huddle.

But church is more than just a Sunday meeting.  Sadly, there are many who believe it to be something menacing, to be feared and avoided. Tragically that is true in some circumstances. But mostly I believe the enemy satan is trying to persuade people to stay away from what will make their life better, richer.

I've heard many negative comments about the church, especially during the last couple of years. Christians have long been targets of the world, but it seems more so in these difficult days.

There was a post on FaceBook by a person who had tried going to church, only to find people who cared more about looking holy rather than being holy. Some parishioners were more interested in what someone else was wearing rather than what the pastor was saying. And those visitors saw the people in that church as fake Christians. We can't know a person's heart, only God sees that, but let's be real ... There is a lot of hypocrisy in our world and that includes the church.

I have been blessed to experience the best from my Christian brothers and sisters. There have been dark times in my life that I'm not sure how I would have made it through without them at my side. I am forever grateful for my Christian family.

The church isn't perfect. It's made up of people from all kinds of backgrounds, but one thing we all have in common is we were lost before we were found.

From time-to-time, I've seen poor behavior from fellow Christians, but honestly not very often. My personal experience has been that of sharing life with good, honest, caring people. People who love me just as I am and who will come alongside and help when I am in need. They work hard and have a heart to be all they can for Christ. They understand how great a price was paid for them.

Church, the family of God, is like a sanctuary for me. I feel safe and protected among those who share my faith. I can be myself and enjoy being part of the family. We look out for each other.

If you don't have a church family, please get one. It might take a while to find a good fit, but there is a family waiting. God picked them out just for you.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 22, 2022

In the Details.


 

We often take things like flowers for granted. They are simply a part of the "ordinary" world we move through every day. But let's stop a moment and consider the perplexity and beauty of one single flower and then multiply that by a world full of flowers. Who did that? How is it that each is special, an intricate design?

The wonder is all about God's detailed creation. He is involved in the details of life, including our everyday existence.

I was reminded of this the day my husband and son were in a terrible accident. Those of you who follow me know the details so I will spare you here. But there is something more that happened on that day that has stayed with me. God was not surprised. And He was in the details.

At one point, the car my guys were riding in as it rolled down the embankment, hit a fallen tree. God made sure of the exact placement of that tree. It hit the car exactly between my husband and my son and crushed in the roof. If it had hit on either side, one of my loved ones would almost certainly have died instantly.

And then there are some little things. When my daughter-in-law heard what had happened, she knew she had to get to her husband. She grabbed up the first pair of boots sitting on the front porch and pulled them on. They fit her perfectly, making it possible for her to run the mile down our snow-covered road to the scene of the accident and once there she was able to direct the EMT's. Without her it would have taken much longer for the firemen to locate the car, which had gone down a 300-foot embankment.

When I arrived at the spot on the road where Greg and Paul had gone off, I realized my cell phone was nearly dead and I didn't have a way to charge it. I needed an adaptor. One of the men who was there helping, Micah Long, pulled one out of his coat pocket. He held it out to me and said, "I saw it on the counter when I was leaving this morning and put it in my pocket. I didn't know why." God knew.

Cell phones mattered that morning. My son had put his phone in his coat pocket. He doesn't do that, except on that morning. When the car stopped rolled, he was still conscious and called 911 to get help to him and his father. If he hadn't had that phone the situation would have been much worse.

And then there's the little detail about my husband and wearing his seat belt on our road. He doesn't like to put it on until he gets to the highway. But that morning he was wearing it. Thank the Lord!

There are more details including some I'm sure I don't even know about, but I think you get the point. God knew what was coming, and He made sure that everything and everyone was in place to bring about a happy ending. I am grateful for His kindness toward us.

You may wonder why God allowed it at all. I can't answer that. But I do know that we all have learned much from this experience and we are walking closer to our Heavenly Father. And once again we are reminded of His presence in our lives.

We are not alone. God is with us.

Thanking Him for His goodness and His mercy.


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Friday, April 15, 2022

What's Good About Friday?

 


Good Friday is a day to commemorate the death of my Savior, Jesus Christ. It is the day he went willingly to the cross. He was betrayed, beaten and executed. He gave up His life for me ... and for you.

This Good Friday is extra special for me. 

Just five days ago my cell phone rang. It was my son, and he was calling from his car, which had tumbled down a 300-foot cliff. He and my husband were still inside and alive. Paul had already called the EMT's and was waiting for rescue. 

They had gone off the road about a mile from our home. My dear daughter-in-law sprinted down the snow-covered road to help and to be with her husband. My daughter Sarah and I quickly got dressed and drove down the hill to the crash site. 

When I arrived at the scene, and peered off the edge of the road, I was stunned at how badly damaged the car was, which now sat on a flat spot 300 feet below. My husband had just been loaded into an ambulance and my son was still inside the car. A thump of apprehension went off inside me. I'd been praying, but now my prayers became more specific.

Everyone who has seen the wreckage has no good explanation for Greg and Paul's survival --- except for God's love and intervention.

That morning, since getting the phone call, I had been a bit discombobulated, and yet I felt peace in my core. And the only reason for that stillness inside of me was because of The Cross. Because my Lord had gone to The Cross I had no need to fear for my loved ones. Even if they were to perish that day I knew they were well. Because for a believer to be absent from the body means he is present with the Lord.

I don't want to lose my husband or my son and if that had happened I would be deeply grieved. But I would also be comforted by God's promises to me. 

And so on this Good Friday I am so especially deeply grateful for Jesus sacrifice. He made a way. All we have to do is to trust Him. His love covers all of our sin.

If you haven't met Jesus He's waiting for you. He loves you and is holding out His hand to all who will accept His gift of redemption.

My husband and I are humbly celebrating this exceptional day together.

Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie

 

  

Friday, April 08, 2022

Take A Chance






 


In 1979 Greg and I drove through Douglas County Oregon on our way to visit family in California. In May it was breathtakingly beautiful in Oregon. We returned home to Washington State with Oregon in our heats.

We lived in a new home in a lovely neighborhood, and Greg had a great job. We were not unhappy, but a longing for change grew in our soul. We knew we belonged in Oregon and couldn't see ourselves living any other place.

The country was in a deep recession at that time. And Douglas Couty had an incredibly high unemployment rate. Jobs were not just few and far between, they almost didn't exist. But we were certain Oregon was where we belonged, so we prayed for guidance and made plans for the move.

Our friends and family thought we'd lost our minds, but we were confident and courageous ... and a bit foolish. After all, we were young. 

We decided to make a trip down to search for property but didn't find just the right place so we returned home with our dreams a bit bruised but intact and we still hoped that one day we would become Oregonians. 

Not long after that a property opened up that we were interested in, and we made a deal.

Our home sold quickly, and soon all was in readiness. We headed south with our three-year-old son and newborn baby girl. It was a new beginning.

Forty-two years later I am still enchanted by the beauty of my hometown with it's warm and friendly residents. I can still drive down the highway or step out onto my deck and be captivated at God's handiwork and feel deeply blessed that He has allowed me to live here.

In this place, we've experienced deep joy and wretched sorrow. We've raised our children and have lived alongside our grandchildren. We've celebrated birthdays and heavenly home-goings. We've cheered for local athletes and been impressed by the talented folks in our little town. We've also shared the deep sorrow of a community that felt as if it had lost everything only to discover we were not undone ... that God is with us.

All those years ago, Greg and I could have done the "sensible" thing. We could have stayed put where we were comfortable and "safe". I am so thankful for the young, confident, courageous and yes, a bit foolish, us. I'm glad we didn't allow fear to keep us from stepping out and daring to live a different life, the one God wanted for us. 

Here I am gazing upon the beauty that surrounds me and praying I still possess that same spirit of adventure that helped me to take a risk. I would hate to miss out on whatever God still has in store for me.

How about you? Are you ready to step out? 



Grace and peace to you from God,

Bonnie Leon

Friday, April 01, 2022

An Offering

 

Sometimes we cannot see what stands right before us. Secrets, uncomfortable realities, hidden emotions ... and even things of beauty we keep hidden behind walls we've built to protect wounds.

A few weeks following the Archie Creek Fire, which charged through our community destroying property, homes and people's lives, my husband and I took out our side-by-side to explore what had become of neighboring properties. We started on our neighbor's timbered ranch where the fire had burned hot as it destroyed the lush woodland.

The experience was a painful gut punch. We drove through, stunned at the devastation--blackened trees, scorched earth and stones. At first glance it was hideous, with no evidence of its previous beauty. But upon closer inspection we could see things we didn't know existed like the unpredictable and unsettled terrain. Before the fire it was all a tapestry of heavy, green timber. The hillsides and hollows had been hidden, and we'd never seen the rocky meandering stream beds or perfectly balanced stacks of boulders. 

The fire had burned so intensely hot everything that had been a shield had been burned away. All that was left was char.

Sometimes that's how it is with us. A life storm sweeps through and leaves us wounded and charred. What we've kept hidden from sight is suddenly exposed in our emotional vulnerability. Afraid that what others will see will only prove what we knew to be "true" - We are unlovable. We are ugly. We are unfit for this world. Oh, how our hearts lie to us. 

Now what do we do? We have been exposed by the storm.

What the world can now see God already knew. Silly us ... we thought we could keep it hidden from Him, but that's not possible. God sees it all. Knows it all. And still, He loves us.

Greg and I continues to explore the desolated forest, my heart breaking. I struggled to hold back my tears. It all seemed so bleak, but just as God knows everything He knew this too. He had created it.

Somewhat in awe I began to see the beauty. 

The huge stones were remnants of a catastrophic explosion of a nearby mountain many centuries before. They had been strewn across our countryside as a reminder of the power and beauty of nature. And though the stones in the stream bed looked lifeless I could see the future transformation as water returned to the stream when the rains would come and wash them clean to reveal the array of colors and textures in the stones. And there were valleys and hills that created a contour to the land that I had never seen before. 

I especially loved a stack of stones - a large boulder with smaller stones balanced perfectly on top, displaying the precision of nature, God's creation.


Even the blackest of trees held a surreal beauty. They stood like specters on the scorched earth, a reminder of the forest that had once been. 



Just as our own hearts can heal and again radiate hope and love so too will our beautiful forest return ... one day. May the scorched earth and its revival serve as a reminder to us that God stands ready to revive that which seems dead. He sees it for what it really is, and it is His pleasure and His joy to renew every living thing. Just as our forest waits for renewal, so do we. And when it is done, we will be a beautiful, fragrant offering to the world.

 



Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie


Saturday, March 26, 2022

Trust Your Heart?

 How many times in your recent memory have you heard a statement similar to this? "Just trust your heart. It will tell you the right thing to do."  Or, "If it feels right, then it must be."

That sounds good, right? But is it? 

We can easily be drawn into believing our feelings. And I don't think we should dismiss them, but we ought to take a closer look at what we are feeling before trusting those emotions. In truth, our hearts often mislead us and can draw us into danger. Caution is a key word here. Test your emotions.

I think it wise to consider what kind of heart we are placing our trust in. Is it ...
  • A broken heart?
  • One that is heart sick?
  • A heart whose needs are unquenchable?
  • A heart that has been betrayed?
  • The heart of a lost soul?
  • The heart of the Godly?
We have felt these and more. The condition of one's heart has a powerful ability to impact feelings and decisions.

This topic came up in our homegroup this week and it has stayed with me. Many times I've gone along with the inclination of trusting one's heart in decision-making, believing a person can trust his heart. But, scripture doesn't say that. What it does say is shocking. 

Jeremiah 17:9 puts it this way ...

"The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?"

Wow! So, my heart will lie to me? And I won't be able to comprehend truth? It would seem so. 

If this is the case, then what can we do? Are we destined to be tossed to and fro, never knowing which path to follow, what our next move should be? I'm confident that our God is full of mercy and would never abandon us to perplexity. 

There is a difference between a heart that is full of the world and one that is full of the Holy Spirit. 

I found this in Matthew 12:35. It says, "A good person produces good things from the treasury of a good heart, and an evil person produces evil things from the treasury of an evil heart."

Clearly a person's spiritual condition makes a difference in what the longings of their heart may be. Scripture says that God gives us the desires of our heart, meaning that he planted those desires within us. In light of that, it seems to me believers should listen to what their heart is saying.

If only it was that easy. Of course it's not. 

Here's the issue. Even with the love of God and the filling of His Holy Spirit, we still remain human. And humans are imperfect and sinful creatures. We can't be trusted. 

So, now what? 

Dear family, we are not lost. We have many tools at our disposal to enable us to walk wisely and trust what our heart tells us. I encourage you to take your heart's desires and see if they line up with the Word of God. If not, then you need to spend more time deciding what to do with them. Take those thoughts, needs and questions to the Lord. Talk them over with Him. Seek insight and wisdom from others whom you trust. And then, make sure to listen. And never cease praying. 

God wants us to step out in faith and fulfill the desires He has given us. He wants us to be successful in all we do. But He made it clear that caution is a wise step in our walk. 


Grace and peace to you from God,


Bonnie

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Commissioned

 


Oh, how I love God's Word! It is a gift given to mankind. How silly we would be to not open such a precious gift. It is an inspired instruction manual that provides all we need to live.

This morning, I went to the first four verses in Psalm 139. This is what it says ...

     "O Lord, you have examined my heart and know everything about me. You know when I sit down or stand up. You know my every thought when far away. You chart the path ahead of me and tell me where to stop and rest. Every moment you know where I am. You know what I am going to say even before I say it, Lord."

Incredible words. Inspiring message. But I must admit that it does set me back for a moment. He really knows everything ... about me? My goodness.

That could be a bit intimidating. There is no one else who knows everything. I couldn't safely tell anyone about all the dark places within my soul. With God, I'm completely exposed, unable to hide. And yet, He still loves me. And promises to stay with me. I never need to fear that He will abandon me or turn His back on me. Never. 

I went on to read from 2 Corinthians 1:21 - 22. It says something amazing. "It is God who gives us, along with you, the ability to stand firm in Christ. He has commissioned us, and he has identified us as His own by placing the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the first installment of everything He will give us."

There is so much beauty in those words, but I will focus only on a couple of things. 

We have been living in curious and frightening times. But we do not need to be afraid. God states clearly that we possess the ability to stand firm ... if we stand in Christ. And not only that, but God has commissioned us. I find that rather incredible ... being commissioned by God.

I believe He's telling me/us that we have a duty to share the good news of Christ with the world. It's hard to imagine God, the creator of the universe, asking someone like me to do something that important. Because of Him we can do it. We can fulfill this calling as we go, as we live out our lives. So, we live out our faith as we walk through life and then open our mouths and share God's truths when the opportunity is set before us. What an honor to be called one of God's children. 

There's something more in 2 Corinthians that caught my attention. In verse 22 it says God has placed the Holy Spirit in our hearts as the FIRST INSTALLMENT of everything He will give us. Wow! Does that mean He gives me more and more of Himself? I think so. I pray we will not shut down the work of the Holy Spirit but be open to listen to what He is teaching us, even when it is something new or uncomfortable. I have no idea where the Holy Spirit will lead, but I would be heartbroken to discover that I had ignored something special that He had in store for me. How do you feel about that?

This is an exciting time. I think, we are approaching a huge moment in history. And I trust that God has equipped us to not only survive this change, whatever it is, but to thrive and introduce people to the One True God, who loves us beyond any ability to measure.

I encourage you to be excited. Spend time in God's Word. He speaks to us there. We just need to listen. Find alone time with God every day. And whenever you think of Him reach out. He loves our visits.

Love one another as God has loved us.


Grace and peace to you from God.


Bonnie



Sunday, January 30, 2022

Is He Good All the Time?

You've heard it said ... 

God is good. God is good. 

He is good all the time ... 

Is He?

Is God still good when your best friend dies? What about when your child is diagnosed with a chronic illness? Or your spouse walks away? Was He good at Auschwitz?

When someone thankfully announces answered prayer and says, "God is good." And those within hearing say. "Oh, yes. God is good all the time." I wonder what would they say if God didn't answer the prayer the way they wanted? What if the outcome was tragic?

Some days we struggle to believe. That's not being a sinner, that's just being human.

Believing in a God who is good all the time is a matter of faith and more. It is also history, our history and how He was with us through it all, the good and the bad. It is also seeing the beauty He created. When we look up into an azure blue sky He is there. We look to the hills or a brilliant sunset and know He thought of us when He created them. We can hear him in a quiet stream and know He is nearby. 

When we hold a newborn child and smell their newness and see their beauty, He is there. When we look back and remember how he guided us through our darkest day and held us when we felt we could no longer stand, then we remember He is good ... all the time.

We were brought into a world tinged by evil and will not come through unscathed. This was not the world God intended. No. It is the one mankind chose. And it is the goodness of God that guides us through and carries us when He must and then one day calls us home.

Yes. God is good ... all the time.


Grace and peace to you from God


Bonnie

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