Jun 23, 2017

February 12, 2012 Journal Entry. My first unanswered prayer.

Dear Heavenly Father, for the first time during this exciting journey with You, I am beside myself with sorrow.  I’ve just heard back from the animal rescue. The receptionist shared with me that the wounded dove passed away during the night. “Yaweh, Your Word says whatever I ask in prayer, believing, I’ll receive. But, I asked, believed and still, You didn’t heal the sweet wounded dove.
So with trepidation, sadness, and teary eyes,  I run to You now for comfort. I suppose my dashed hopes are probably my fault.  Therefore Father, please help me not to wallow in this discouragement.  I want to learn to trust You with everything, even my unmet expectations. Please, LORD, help me to remember that You have a divine purpose for everything. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”

Jun 22, 2017

February 11, 2012 my journal entry: When Guilt Consumes You.

        Father God, one of the most personal and precious gifts I’ve received since I got saved has been the presence of a graceful and gentle dove. I’ve loved the sound of their cooing from the start. Without fail, during moments of great sadness and those of triumphant joy, a dove has appeared by my side bringing me comfort and confirmation of Your faithful presence. Such a divine reminder that You are with me!
        Perhaps that’s why I am taking what happened today so hard. It began when Travis watched a special on television demonstrating how to turn a pine cone, peanut butter, and birdseed into a gourmet snack shack for birds. At one point, the special caught my attention and I immediately began to think, "What a great way to show our appreciation for my faithful snow white friends.” Soon, we decided to search for cones and seeds. At the local pet store, we learned that doves like to eat their food from the ground. So, when we returned home, we enthusiastically covered the ground in front of our apartment with a quarter pound of bird seed. Unfortunately, I hadn't considered the possible consequences.
        In fact, I had completely forgotten about the homeless cat we’re also taking care of. She (I think she’s a she) had just shown up at our apartment one day. My heart filled with compassion for her skinny frame. We named our new friend "Hope." Right away, I began feeding her and tucking her into to bed, a box with blankets, on our porch each night. Then, before I’d lay my head to rest each night, I’d pray that Hope might find a good home. It’s hard to say now, which animal I hold more dear, the homeless cat or the doves.
        Imagine my shock when the children in our neighborhood pounded on my door. "Come quick! The black cat just attacked a bird!" I ran outside and scooped up a helpless and dying dove. Then, I shooed the kids away and instructed my son to fetch the phone while I held the sweet soft bird close to my heart. The dove bled profusely while I cried. I prayed to You LORD, "Please spare this bird! I am sorry I hurt Your special gift. Please forgive me." While my heart filled with guilt, I grabbed the phone and called every animal rescue organization in the area. Then, I impatiently waited for a return call. Meanwhile, I gently and compassionately held my wounded friend. I kissed the dove and said, "I'm so sorry!" The bird warmly nestled his head to my chest. I felt heartbroken. The pain in my chest mounted while tears overflowed. I sobbed! Then, I carefully placed the frail bird in a shoe box and wept some more.
        I blamed myself. In my mind, I had destroyed a beautiful gift from You. But how could I have known what might have happened?

Later, I received a return call from the local wild animal rescue organization. So, I frantically drove an hour from our home and then tearfully said goodbye to that beautiful reminder of Your presence. “Oh LORD, please LORD, heal this sweet little bird and fix what I have done.” In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Jun 21, 2017

February 10, 2012 Will God answer another prayer?

El Shaddai, God of all things, I know You hear my heart and that You respond to my prayers. Over the past two years, including how You recently answered my prayer for snow in Texas, not one prayer has gone unanswered. Perhaps that’s why I am still praying with all my heart, that in four days, on February 14, those who do not know You will glance at the sky and see the glorious message of, “John 3:16.”  I just know You will answer my prayer! 

Jun 20, 2017

February 4, 2012 God answers my prayer and makes it snow in Texas

Wonderful, Glorious God, Immediately when I woke up this morning, I glanced at my prayer board. Underneath the puffy cloud shaped “John 3:16,” I noticed my biological dad’s name. I smiled. Another reason to praise Your name.
 As You know, a little under two years ago, You reunited me with the man I called “Dad” as a child. Today, I find myself pondering how rapidly and effortlessly we connected after not having spoken one word to each other for 23 years. And, I am convinced that it was You Who orchestrated that treasured moment.
One day, a thought popped into my head. “Your dad is probably on Facebook.” Then, all I had to do was type his name on the computer screen before I found myself staring at my estranged biological dad’s picture online. The ease of finding him after all the failed attempts throughout the years leaves me feeling baffled.
In that very moment, I reached out to him. Over the computer, I wrote a few lines at best. He immediately responded. Soon, we were on the phone, chit chatting and making up lost time. I was amazed to hear that he had experienced a heart attack just a few months prior. I wonder, “Was I sent to proclaim the Gospel to him?” What perfect timing!
Like all the other hurting souls You had led me to before, my biological dad did not know You. Perhaps that is why You seemed to waste no time in displaying Your power and might.
 I remember one particular moment well. It arose from a light banter email. I had inquired about the weather conditions in my dad’s home state.  I asked, “How are you doing? Any snow?” He replied with a quipping remark, “Snow?  Right now, it’s 88 degrees and sunshine.  The coldest we have had is two days under freezing around 5 AM in the morning.  I think the last time we had any measurable snow was last year, so we are good for another 29 years.” 
I laughed at his sarcasm. Then I thought, “What if I prayed for snow? Surely, then he’d believe in You.”  So, I prayed, “Loving Father and loyal friend, my dad doesn’t seem to know You. Could You please make it snow in his hometown? I do not pray this for my glory, but so that he may come to know You as I have, powerful and mighty to save. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
A few days later, I received another email from my biological dad which said, “Well, I guess that He is making His presence known in a way that can't be ignored. The forecast was for a light dusting of snow, but as you can see in the pictures, it’s not that light.  Haven't seen something like this in Texas in the last 20 years, and from what I understand from the weather reports, we are due for more of the same next week.  I realize that I am stubborn about some things, but I don't believe He needed to go to this extreme to make His presence known in my life. In view of what has happened over the last few months, the many changes, our connection, and the uncertain future, I can believe that I cannot do anything alone anymore.”

I began to cry. Could his heart be yielding to You?  My soul responded to the moment causing me to fall to my knees. I bowed to You in humble adoration, and began to weep. “You are a mighty Father! What a glorious God I serve!” I prayed.

Jun 19, 2017

February 2, 2012 Journal Entry. Sometimes Ministry Keeps me TOO busy

Dear Father, the month of January rolled by much too quickly.  How easy it is to become incredibly busy, even with ministry! I praise and thank You for the many opportunities You have orchestrated in allowing me to share Your love with others. Yet, I must admit, I’ve missed You. In fact, it is only now while sitting here quietly at Your feet that I realize just how much. Today, I am just thankful for the opportunity to find rest at Your feet and to hear Your Word, spoken gently to my heart.  

Jun 18, 2017

January 26, 2012 Journal entry. My child-like prayer to God

Glorious God, while glancing at my prayer board this morning, I felt inspired!  So, with a red dry erase marker, I enthusiastically drew “John 3:16” in a puffy cloud-like formation. Then, I began praying nonstop throughout the day. “Please LORD, hear my prayer.”

I’ve also started telling others about my magnificent prayer. “God will answer. He always answers!” I proudly declare. I’m sure they too think I’ve gone off the deep end. But I don’t care. I’ll show others that having faith in You can make the impossible, possible! I love You, LORD. Amen.

February 4, 2012 Journal Entry. How God reunited me with my Dad after a 23-yr estrangement

Wonderful, Glorious God, I woke up this morning and immediately glanced at my prayer board. Underneath the puffy cloud shaped “John 3:16,” I noticed my biological dad’s name. I smiled as I contemplated another reason to praise Your name.
 As You know, it’s been just under two years since You first reunited me with the man I called “Dad” as a child. I am still amazed at how rapidly and effortlessly we connected after not having spoken one word to each other for 23 years. I am convinced that it was You Who orchestrated that treasured moment.
One day, a thought popped into my head. “Your dad is probably on Facebook.” All I had to do was type his name on the computer screen before I found myself staring at my estranged biological dad’s picture online. The ease of finding him after all the failed attempts throughout the years is mind boggling.
In that very moment, I reached out to him. Over the computer, I wrote a few lines at best. He immediately responded. Soon, we were on the phone chit chatting and making up lost time. I was amazed to hear that he had experienced a heart attack just a few months prior. I wonder, “Was I sent to proclaim the Gospel to him?” What perfect timing!
Like all the others You had led me to before, my biological dad did not know You. Perhaps that is why You seemed to waste no time in displaying Your power and might.
 I remember one particular moment well. It arose from a light banter email. I had inquired about the weather conditions in my dad’s home state.  I asked, “How are you doing? Any snow?” As usual, he replied with a quipping remark, “Snow?  Right now, it’s 88 degrees and sunshine.  The coldest we have had is two days under freezing around 5 AM in the morning.  I think the last time we had any measurable snow was last year, so we are good for another 29 years.” 
I laughed at his sarcasm. Then I thought, “What if I prayed for snow? Surely, then he’d believe in You.”  So, I prayed, “Loving Father and loyal friend, my dad doesn’t seem to know You. Could You please make it snow in his hometown? I do not pray this for my glory, but so that he may come to know You as I have. Through Jesus, I pray. Amen.”
A few days later, I received another email from my biological dad which said, “Well, I guess that He is making His presence known in a way that can't be ignored. The forecast was for a light dusting of snow, but as you can see in the pictures, it’s not that light.  Haven't seen something like this in Texas in the last 20 years, and from what I understand from the weather reports, we are due for more of the same next week.  I realize that I am stubborn about some things, but I don't believe He needed to go to this extreme to make His presence known in my life. In view of what has happened over the last few months, the many changes, our connection, and the uncertain future, I can believe that I cannot do anything alone anymore.”

I began to cry as my soul immediately responded to his yielding heart. In fact, I fell to my knees, bowed in humble adoration, and began to weep. You are a mighty Father! What a glorious God I serve!

Jun 17, 2017

January 23, 2012 How I Went from Attending A Catholic Church to a Calvary Chapel

Good morning my LORD. This morning, as I sit in our new home church building, waiting for our worship team to play their first song, I begin to meditate upon Your ways. It seems curious to me, that I spent much of my life searching for You in a grand and glorious cathedral. I searched for You there, each Sunday morning between the walls of stained glass windows, high ceilings, marble altars, freshly polished pews and a rolled out, red carpet. I wonder now, “Were You there?”
In contrast, today, 38 years later, I find myself sitting among walls that display fine lines of aging. A cool breeze whirls inside this historic and quaint little chapel. My seat is dimly lit, causing me to struggle in recognizing each church goer’s face.
I pause for a moment to share a thought with You.  “Oh LORD, why did it have to take me so long to find You? Thank You for beckoning me to this place that I am sure, I would never have thought to seek on my own.”
Yet here I sit, restlessly waiting for the preaching of Your Word.  I watch as a modest amount of church members trickle in, bringing with them, warm greetings and smiles. I instantly feel at home as I sit up straight in my seat and smile. Soon, the worship team begins their warm up session. With time to spare, I try to remember the first time I walked through the doors of this sweet little chapel. Then, I remember.
 It was just a few weeks after my release from jail, just a little over four years ago. Travis and I had just moved into our new little apartment one hour away from the church we had been attending. For several months, I had commuted back and forth each Sunday to a church up north. Although Travis had turned four-years-old, I was still laying him down for a nap each day. However, by the time we returned home from Sunday 10:00 am service, it was too late to press the issue of a nap. Unfortunately, Travis wouldn’t sleep during the car ride home. So, each Sunday evening, I ended up with an overtired 4-yr-old on my hands. After several months of struggling, one morning, I decided to search for a church closer to our new home.
I conducted a quick online search and found a large, popular church located just 20 minutes away. “Next Sunday.” I thought as I readied my heart for the change. The following Sunday, I dressed Travis and myself in clean modest clothing. On a tight budget, it was the best we had to wear at the time. Then, I excitedly drove to the church. We took our place in a long line of cars being ushered into the parking lot. Right away, I noticed that the parking lot attendants were all dressed up in three piece suits. I glanced down at what I was wearing, took a second look at my son’s outfit in the back seat, and almost immediately I filled with anxiety. Just then, one of the men in suits approached my car. Looking down at me with a scornful expression, he said, “Can I help you?” My heart skipped a beat and all I could say was, “No thank you,” before I made a U-turn and left the church parking lot. A tear fell from the corner of my eye as we headed back home. “I guess we weren’t welcome there.” I thought to myself.
As we pulled up to our apartment, I said a little prayer. “Father, please direct me to a church where I can learn more about You and Your ways. Help us to find others who love You as much as I do. In Jesus’ name. Amen.”
The following Sunday, I decided to attend whatever services were available at the charming little chapel located just down the street. So first thing in the morning, I conducted another online search. Right away, the church website popped up on my screen. Soon, I was determined to attend the next available morning service at Calvary Chapel Nipomo. 
I remember that first morning well. Mostly likely because the experience was none like any I had had before. I knew something was different the moment I pulled into the unpaved parking lot. I parked our car near a few other lonely cars.  No fanfare. No proud parking lot attendants. No church bells ringing. Just a quiet, modest little chapel with friendly welcoming faces. I followed two elderly women up to the tall skinny chapel doors. There a sweet woman named Leah waited to greet me. I shook her warm hand as she handed me a small folded piece of paper with her other hand. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but the warm greeting made me instantly feel at home.  
Once inside, I was greeted by another member who walked with me and Travis over to Sunday school. There, Travis was greeted by the only other child in attendance, the Pastor’s grandson. We learned later that day, that Miles, had been praying for a child his age to attend church with him on Sunday.  Travis would be God’s answer to the sweet little boy’s prayer.
Once Travis settled in, I returned to the chapel. The minute I stepped inside, I smelled the sweet aroma that had completely filled the room. Throughout the service, that same sweet smell of fresh BBQ blew in from the well-known steakhouse, slash bar located directly across the street.
That first service was longer than I was used to. But the Pastor knew his Bible.  I found myself frantically trying to keep up with him as he quoted Scripture, turning from one chapter to the next. All the while, my heart stirred with conviction.  After the service, I shared my redemption story with the Pastor and his wife. “My husband and I are still struggling,” I said. Without hesitation, they both took me aside and prayed with me. How could I have known that such a kind and welcoming beginning would turn into years of constant encouragement and the sound teaching of Your Word? Of all the churches I have attended over the past 38 years, none has ever touched my heart the way this little-known, all but forgotten chapel has.
Sweet memories soothe me now, as my thoughts return to present time. My Pastor begins his sermon by sharing a story. “A congregation in the foothills of the Smokies wanted to build a new sanctuary. But days before opening, the building inspector noted that the church would not be able to add the addition until the church parking lot had doubled in size. With limited land space all around, the only way to provide additional parking would be to move the nearby mountain. The members of the church prayed. The next morning the Pastor was visited by a construction foreman. He said, 'We’re building a new shopping mall in the next county and we need fill dirt. Would you be willing to sell us a chunk of that mountain behind the church? If we can have the dirt right away, not only will we pay you for the dirt, but we will remove and pave all the exposed area free of charge.’ ” [1] I immediately think, “Just imagine!”
By the time he had finished his sermon, I was all fired up. With reckless abandonment, I begin to think, “I want to pray like that!” 
A Little Later 
After the service had ended and everyone had left the church building, I giddily approached our Pastor and shared my excitement with him. I must have sounded so childlike when I innocently blurted out, “I’ll pray with all my heart that on Valentine’s Day, God will write ‘John 3:16’ across the sky in big puffy clouds for all to see.”  For a moment, my Pastor looked at me with a surprised expression. Perhaps he thought I had gone mad. I didn’t let it bother me. Instead, I marched right out of church feeling courageous and bold!
Them, for the rest of the day, I allowed the Scripture shared during service to penetrate my heart. “…for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.”[2]
I was ready to pray, even just for the possibility.



[1] APA: A Small Congregation In The Foothills Of The ... text ... (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.sermoncentral.com/illustrations/sermon-illustration-paul-wallace-stor
[2] Matthew 17:20 “So Jesus said to them, “Because of your unbelief; for assuredly, I say to you, if you have faith as a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move; and nothing will be impossible for you.” (NKJV)

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