When God Arranges A Quiet Surprise

Saturday morning had an unexpected blessing for me. It was the kind of morning one walks away from and just says, “Thank you God.”

I went to my church for my Saturday morning group expecting to teach my ESL reading group and maybe meet some beginning English learners from Brazil to do a lesson. What happened was a pleasant surprise.

My new friends from Brazil came but instead of lesson time we had a get to know each other conversation. The surprise?

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We spoke in Portuguese the whole time. I had not had a conversation in Portuguese in a long time. I was a little rusty, but we had a good conversation. I found out they are Christians and we shared some about our faith. We also  talked a lot about their 21 year old daughter who has a disability and needs an electric wheelchair. They wanted to come to make sure the building would be okay for their daughter.

The last time I was in Brazil was June/July 2015 and due to economic problems in Brazil we do not have many students from Brazil at the university here. I also went through a 2 year period of struggling with problems with Celiacs until it was diagnosed and one of those problems was what is called foggy brain.

So Saturday morning’s surprise blessing for me was God giving me an opportunity to see that I have not lost my Portuguese with all I have been through. It was a boost to my spirit.

After my Saturday morning groups, I came home thankful for that conversation. I also have a renewed desire to return to Brazil to see friends and hopefully serve in ministry there. It was a quiet surprise, but it got my attention in a positive way.

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

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When God Knows Just What You Need

You know how sometimes we just need a little pick me up? a bit of encouragement?

God knows us better than we know ourselves, so he knows just what we need and when we need it.

The past several weeks have not been so great for me, but my attitude is to soldier on so to speak. When we go through a valley period, it can be easy to start to feel like a failure. That was were I was at. Yes my classes had started again, but that valley was still there.

Then along came my friends Tingting and Johny from China. They are back visiting for a few weeks.

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I met Tingting her first night in America. I had gone to the small Lincoln airport to pick up a friend and saw four young people at the ticket counter that had come in on the flight. I realized something was wrong and went over to help them. I helped them fill out their luggage forms because their luggage didn’t come. The next day I saw her at a welcome dinner and she was smiling. Her luggage had come. That was the start of a wonderful friendship. She calls me dad.

Johny came here after Tingting. The ended up getting married and after they graduated moved back to China. They now have a 14 month old baby boy.

Last night I went for coffee with them. As I was talking with Tingting, I felt a prompting in my spirit. Memories of sharing my faith with her and seeing her come to faith filled my mind. We talked for a few hours. I played with her baby off and on.

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It was kind of an Elijah under the broom tree moment. The time when Elijah was down and under a broom tree. An angel came and said, “What are you doing here Elijah?” The angel fed Elijah and let him sleep.

Sometimes we just need to be refreshed and encouraged. Last night was an under the broom tree moment for me. I told Tingting they came here at the right time. Seeing how well they are doing and how successful they are was a boost for me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Your Story Isn’t Over Yet and with Jesus Never Will Be

I watched a video by a young woman, Rachel Stevens from Australia, on youtube titled Your Story Isn’t Over Yet. She struggled with anorexia and depression and recovered and now makes inspirational videos with her spoken word poems. I thought about her message Your Story Isn’t Over Yet and what the message is for those who have Jesus.

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We can get bogged down in difficulties and struggles in this life. Life’s valleys come and go. I can certainly relate because I have had so many valleys in my life. It can seem like our life stories are just one unending dark tunnel at times. If we only look at our circumstances, it can be dismal at times.

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Jesus is greater than any trouble we have. He is eternal, so he is with us now and in the future at the same time. He is the Lord of all and has promised to always be with us. He is always with us even in the valleys of life.

With Jesus there is always hope for us. The story of our lives are never over because we will live forever with him. In this life, we don’t know the future, but Jesus does. It isn’t always easy to do, but we need to look to him and not focus on our problems. By looking to Jesus, hope is renewed in our spirits. The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 121:

I lift up my eyes to the mountains where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip— he who watches over you will not slumber

Even the faintest prayer to ask for help, phone call to a trusted friend in the church, bible verse embraced, or other small acts on our part helps us to look to the Lord. Our stories are never over and always unfolding guided by the hand of the Lord of all who calls us friend.

So my friend, if you are in the midst of a trial, please remember there is always hope in every situation because of who we look to- JESUS.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

This is the video of the young woman I watched.

 

Being Supportive of Others

I read a blog yesterday that caused me to reflect on Moses in Exodus 17. Israel was in the midst of a battle and as long as Moses’s arms were raised up, Israel was winning, but when he got tired and his arms lowered, Israel started losing. So 2 others, Aaron and Hur, held his arms up and the result was victory for Israel.

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The reason I thought about Moses needing support from Aaron and Hur was because of reading a post by a woman named Jennifer who adopted a little boy that lived through trauma the first years of his life and how she needs to draw from the Lord to nurture her adopted son past the effects of the trauma. Her blog is Beauty From The Ashes. The link for the post is Hope in the Struggle. After you read it, please pray for her and her son. It is wonderful that she would adopt a small child who went through trauma in life.

She is being Jesus to her precious little boy even though it is hard at times. It makes me think about the need all of us who follow Jesus have of support from each other. Living for Jesus and especially seeking to serve him these days is not easy.

We all need the prayers of each other in the body of Christ. There are other ways to come alongside people. Practical things like a phone call to check on someone, taking someone for coffee, meeting the needs of others, or even kind words of encouragement. As Paul wrote in Galatians 6:

“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, especially to those who belong to the family of believers.”

There are times we need the support of others just like Moses did and there are times we need to support others like Aaron and Hur did. In the body of Christ there are no lone rangers.

We need each other in Christ’s family.

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As a blogging community we can pray for each other. If we read about someone the Lord has freed from addiction, we can pray for that person for strength to continue. If we read about someone struggling with depression or anxiety, we can pray for that person to experience the Lord’s presence. If we read about someone grieving the loss of a loved one, we can pray for God’s comfort. The list goes on and on.

Please join me in praying for Jennifer and her precious little boy this week. Let’s look for ways to encourage those around us in our churches. Let us not grow weary in doing good. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless

 

 

Do We See Them?

There is a commercial on TV for a psoriasis medication that asks the question, “Do you see me?” meaning do we see the person or do we see their ailment. That question reflects what is on the mind of anyone who is suffering.

I am sensitized to the suffering of others because of my work with refugees and hearing their stories of loss and living through turmoil.

But there are so many around us who are suffering. Children and teens in foster care or living in families  where they are neglected or abused. People who struggle with depression and anxiety, People who are grieving the loss of a loved one. People who are struggling with sickness. People who are struggling with addiction.

The question is, “Do We See Them?”

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Do we have a heart like that of Jesus that we read about in Matthew 9?

“When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

If we see them like Jesus saw the crowds as being harassed and helpless, then there is a response that Jesus is looking for from us which is to reach out, to pray for them, to be his hands on earth.

Do we see them as Jesus saw them or do we see them as a nuisance in our path as someone to ignore?

I recently watched a video on youtube by a young woman named Alison who shares about a terrible day and time in her life. She is a sweet young woman and looks like the girl next door, The kind of girl anyone would want to hang out with.

The thing is though, that there was suffering going on in the life of this sweet young woman. Such is true of many people we come across. There is suffering we may not be aware of unless we take the time to get to know the person. I try to think of this- If Jesus brought them across my path in life, there must be a reason. Do I see them? Do I see Jesus bringing me an opportunity to show his love?

Here is Alison’s video. Watch it to the end and you will find out how she was able to cope with the worst day in her life. It may inspire you to reach out to people. Thanks for reading. God Bless.

Peace That Jesus Gives

When we hear the word peace, we usually think in terms of there being peace after a war or a calm on the streets after rioting breaks out.

Anyone who has struggled with anxiety can understand the battle within in our minds and spirits as conflicting thoughts and worries race through our minds while physically things happen like heart pounding, feeling dizzy, short of breath etc.

Worry is not exclusive for people with anxiety problems. We all worry at different times in our lives such as going to the doctor, thinking about bills etc.

Anxiety can be a temporary thing due to such circumstances, or it can be more serious due to physiological causes.

Jesus once said, “ Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.”

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When Jesus spoke those words, he was talking about inner peace in our souls. That is the kind of peace Jesus longs to give us that inner calm in the midst of the storms in life. The reassurance that he is with us in every situation.

When Jesus spoke those words it was in the context of him reassuring his followers that even though he was leaving, he would ask the Father to send another helper, a comforter, The Holy Spirit.

When I hear the word comforter, I think of that large blanket that keeps us warm in the winter. It feels good to be covered by a comforter. God wants to cover us in his presence and give us peace in our souls.

A wonderful blog I follow is by a woman who struggled with anxiety and depression after her baby died. Her blog is titled The Peaceful Nest and in her about section she shares about how God helped her to have peace in her spirit after she struggled with anxiety and depression. To see her story you can click on The Peaceful Nest

Please understand and take to heart that someone battling a depression/anxiety disorder may need medication and should consult with their doctor. There can be physiological causes, and we Christians should understand and come along side our friends with depression and anxiety.

Whether we have a struggle with anxiety or we simply experience worry due to circumstances in our lives, Jesus is always with us, The Holy Spirit is in us, so we are not alone.

For those with anxiety disorders, Jesus knows and his arms are open saying, “Come to me all who are weary…” He knows and his hands are reaching out to you. It’s okay to tell him you have anxiety or depression.

Thank you for reading. God Bless 🙂

 

 

God’s View of Us-Music Mondays/You Say by Lauren Daigle

Last week I wrote about perception and whose perception do we want to go by in Whose Perception Do You Want to Go By?

On Saturday I saw a new video by Lauren Daigle one of my favorite singers. The song is about how we are what God says we are.

There are so many opposing voices we contend with in this life. There are voices from our past mistakes telling us we are not good enough. There can be memories of things spoken to us that drag us down. There are dark voices from the evil one seeking to pull us down.

Fortunately, there is the voice of God speaking things to us like:

You are my child.

I love you.

I forgive you.

I am always with you.

This new song by Lauren Daigle is a wonderful reminder of who we are in Jesus and to listen to his voice. I hope it blesses you like it blessed me. Thank you for reading. God Bless 🙂

 

When God Lets You Know He Is There

Any good parent has their way of letting their children know they are there with them. It might be a look and a smile. It might be a hand on the shoulder. Good parents have their way of communicating and reassuring their children. They know they children better than anyone else except for God.

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When Jesus talked with his followers, he constantly referred to God as, “Your father in heaven.” God reveals himself to us as father. Good fathers know how to let their children know they are there for reassurance, guidance, and relationship.

I think of Elijah when he was exhausted and feeling down. God sent an angel to feed him and tell him to rest. God has his way of  letting us  know he is there. He knows how to get our attention in ways that speak to us because he knows each of us individually and what makes us tick.

Yesterday afternoon I was walking to a bus stop. I had taken a bus to church, but the stop is four blocks away from my church. Sometimes walking causes pain in my knees, but I wanted to meet with my student who had just started her first week of college. After we finished, I walked to the bus stop. About halfway there a friend from China I had not seen in over a year pulled into a driveway and asked me why I was walking. I told her I was going to the bus stop. My friend insisted on giving me a ride home. We talked and caught up with each other about our lives since we last saw each other.

When God wants to get my attention, he often brings an international friend across my path in life in unexpected little surprises.

God knows us each individually and how to get our attention.

God is father and he wants us to know he is there with us. We are never alone. My friends whatever you are going through, you are not alone. Stay open to God’s messages that let you know he is there with you.

What are ways God lets you know he is there?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Whose Perception to Go By?

The past several days had been really hot in my home city. We had temperatures close to 100 degrees Fahrenheit/38 Celsius several times and the evenings did not cool down much. So yesterday when I went for a walk, it felt cool outside to point it seemed like an early fall day. The temperature was 84 F/28C, but it felt cooler than that. I had gotten used to the hot weather. A day of 84F/28C in October would feel hot to me, but yesterday it felt cool and refreshing.

Perception changes depending on our situation.

The question is whose perception do we go by?

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Those voices that tell us we aren’t good enough are always there trying to pull us down. They might come from others but many times they come from within ourselves. It can be from beating ourselves up mentally/emotionally. Memories of past mistakes seem to haunt us at times telling us we aren’t good enough. Messages stored in our minds from being mentally/emotionally abused taunt us.

As if that isn’t enough, there are spiritual forces that try to weaken us and enjoy piling on. Whispers into our minds from the dark forces telling us we aren’t good enough, we aren’t worthy, and there is no hope. They are reminiscent of C. S. Lewis’s book The Screwtape Letters.

So whose perception are we going to listen to?

Along comes Jesus and he says:

You are my beloved.

You are a child of God.

You are my friend.

You are heirs of all of God’s promises.

It can be a struggle to embrace Jesus’s perception of us. It takes some work to change our perception to match his. We renew our minds by reading his word-the bible. We renew our spirits by spending time in prayer. We are safeguarded by the friendships of others who follow Jesus.

For those who grew up in abusive homes or neglectful homes the struggle can be life long. I know because I grew up in such a home. But the truth of God’s word can never change because God never changes. Whatever he says is eternal truth that we can count on.

So whose perception do we want to listen to? Voices from the past, voices of spiritual darkness, or the Voice of Jesus The Good Shepherd who said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Friends let’s try to practice listening to the voice of Jesus, the voice of God, so we are not deceived and so we are not torn down.

Whose voice do you want to listen to today?

 

July 1995- The Dividing Line In My Life

There are events in life that can be pivotal in our lives such as graduations, marriage, and for those who follow Jesus the big one of coming to faith in Christ. That certainly was huge in my life, but something happened in July 1995 that for me is a dividing line in my life. Everything before July 1995 for me is before and everything since is after.

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Starting in 1993 until that day in July 1995, my health was declining. The slow but steady progression of my physical decline meant walking around on feet swollen from edema for almost a year, my hands being swollen with edema for half a year, What I was experiencing caused me to talk slow and also caused memory loss.

One night in July 1995 I was at home alone in my small apartment. I was in so much pain that I thought that was the night I would go home to be with the Lord, so I prayed something along the lines of, “Jesus if tonight you want to take me to heaven that’s okay, but there are more people who need to hear about you and more people who need help.”

When I finished praying, I felt his presence surround me and felt a hand on my shoulder. The pain stopped, but I was still sick.

The next day I went to the doctor and was sitting in the exam room. He wanted to hospitalize me because my tests for heart, liver, and kidney were all way off. He was at the door of the exam room leaving when I blurted out, “I am tired of feeling cold.” I should explain for those in other countries that July in Nebraska is one of the hottest months of the year. He turned around and said, “Now you have told me something.” The nurse came in and took another blood sample. They finally found the cause. It wasn’t anything exotic like a rare disease or critical like cancer. In fact it is almost embarrassing to say that it was hypothyroid, It is easy enough to take care of, but the problem was that I had walked around for two years with it getting worse, so by the time they found it, I was close to dying.

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My health turned around and I got my memory back, but it is difficult to explain the difference. It is kind of like my memory before that time was in black and white and everything else was in color. It was like being reborn into a completely different life as I emerged from that experience.

So for me my life is divided into two parts, before July 1995 and after July 1995. July 1995 was pivotal in my life.

Thank you for reading. God Bless 🙂