Food — Diane’s English writing journey-By A Budding Writer in Venezuela

Food is love.Food is fuel.Food is a peacemaker.Food is an excuse to see you. Some food can harm.Some food can heal.Some food gives you pleasure.Some food gives you more years. Your food is a reason to love you.Your food shows me you care.Your food represents you.Your food can take you back in time and place. […]

via Food — Diane’s English writing journey

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Snowy Sunday Morning- Should I Stay or Should I go?

Waking up to another snowy Sunday morning is getting old. It means another Sunday of the people who would normally come to my Sunday morning group messaging me that they will stay home. I don’t blame them because they are from countries with warm climates. Snowy days never used to bother me, but for some reason they are this year.

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This winter I have referred to going places as traveling across the Arctic Realm to the warm places. 🙂

As I write, I am listening to worship music. I am also thinking about the fact that my church does have its worship services online, so if I stay home, I can watch the service and listen to the message. But it is not the same as being there.

Compounding my dilemma is the fact that as I write, I have a heating pad on my shoulder. It feels good.

The fatigue I have been struggling with adds to my dilemma. Last Sunday I ended up taking a 3 hour nap and was still fatigued.

So the question should I stay or should I go arises in my mind?

Well time to eat breakfast. After another cup of coffee, I think I will get ready.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

God Is Always at Work Even in Boring Winter

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Valentine’s Day has come and gone, so the last of the winter holidays is history. Yes, St. Patrick’s Day will be here in a month in the U.S., but that is not much to get excited about for me. It seems like we are entering that time of year known as BORING winter.

Even in the midst of boring winter, God is at work. God is always at work and if we pay attention he will guide to some fun adventures.

Due to my injured shoulder a few things have been difficult. One of them is cutting my finger nails. No problem because I know several people from Vietnam who work in nail salons. Yesterday I went to one. It was weird to be the only man in there, but I felt God was leading me to connect with someone.

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For several years I had a group of young people from Vietnam I helped with English and mentored in preparing for college. I enjoyed my time with my young Vietnamese friends and have felt it would be wonderful to help others.

Yesterday as the young woman was cutting my nails, I had an idea. There is a coffee shop I like that is in the same shopping center as her nail salon. She has only been in America for eight months and wants to improve her English. So I offered to meet her at the coffee shop before she works starting next Saturday to help her practice conversational English. She was happy about the idea, so next Saturday we will meet.

My hope is to help her and also that by helping her it leads to more connections with young people from Vietnam.

God is always at work. I love what Isaiah 43 says:

“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”

Winter can feel like a wasteland, but not when we follow Jesus. He is always at work.  The only real question is are we paying attention so we can join in on the adventure. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Snowy Day Fun- A Blogging Party- Let’s Have Fun

Another snow is coming this weekend actually starting today.

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Realizing it will mean none of my international friends will want to come to my weekend groups, I think a trip to the bookstore should be on my agenda today.

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So I want to do something fun in my blog today to make another snowy day a bit cheerier. Time for a blogging party. I have seen one of my favorite bloggers Becoming His Tapestry do this and thought it was fun. You can find her blog at becominghistapestry.com

Here is how it works. You can leave a link for your blog and a brief description of your blog in my comment section to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I am adding a little something extra and asking you suggest a book for me to read.

I am also  doing this in celebration of going over 300 followers last week. So join in the fun and share your blog and a book suggestion. 🙂

Thank you for following my blog and for reading and all the likes and comments this past year. God Bless 🙂

My Mornings with 20 Moms- Valentine’s Day Edition

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Each month the moms in my Family Literacy Class make a new wall calendar and of course since this is February, it has a Valentine’s Day theme to it.

Each year the days before Valentine’s Day, the moms make Valentine’s cards to give to teachers in the school. First they make one for their child’s teacher where the mom goes for  PACT Time, Parent and Child Together. During PACT Time, the mom watches her child in the classroom to better understand her child’s education. The classroom teachers are so gracious and the moms take extra care making the cards.

Then the moms make cards for other teachers in the school, the two school nurses, and office personnel. It takes a few days during our large group time, but it is great way to build a sense of community and include the moms in the process.

Our awesome volunteer Kathleen came yesterday. She patiently helped our newest student to make a card and also sat in group work with her. The students made a Valentine’s card for her and at the end of class I gave it to her. The moms each gave Kathleen a hug and wished her a Happy Valentine’s Day because she is one of their favorite people. One thing refugees and immigrants appreciate is someone who genuinely cares and they know Kathleen does.

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One of the moms is a young widow. She is in her thirties. Her husband died one year ago from a stroke. She works evenings and comes to class in the morning. We had a small world moment when the President of the School Board came to visit our class. Her family owns the company where my student works in the evenings cleaning. My student recognized our visitor. Being the sometimes sneaky person I am, I will find a way to make sure the School Board President knows my student’s story.

This morning I might surprise the moms with a little candy. They were excited yesterday when I told them we would go to the Computer Lab with Kelly the Technology Coach for the school. The moms love time with Kelly. They have learned a lot from her. It will be a good Valentine’s Day class for the moms with candy, computers with Kelly, and maybe some hot chocolate.

Those are my only plans for Valentine’s Day because if it wasn’t for my students, I wouldn’t care about it. But Happy Valentine’s Day to you. Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

A Love to Remember This Valentine’s Day

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The picture of the heart cut out of the bush is not a typical image for Valentine’s Day. There is a reason I chose it. Creation is one of God’s huge I love yous to us. He created everything we see and placed us here to enjoy it.

On Monday I shared about the different kinds of love in the bible. Agape is unconditional love. God loves us unconditionally to the point that he sent Jesus to be our Savior which Jesus shared in John 3:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

While God loves us unconditionally with Agape love, it is not possible for us to love God unconditionally because our love for him is always in response to him loving us first which we see in 1st John 4:

We love because he first loved us.”

God loves us unconditionally which empowers us to love others with God’s love. It is interesting that in the verse both words for love are derived from agape. It is because God loves us that we can show God’s love to others.

So tomorrow and this week as people are celebrating romantic love and friendship/family love, which are all okay by the way. my encouragement to my readers is to also take in God’s love.

Look at creation around you such as the stars at night that show how immense God is and how immense his love for us is.

Even as people give flowers, remember they would not exist if God had not created flowers in the first place.

Think about Jesus on the cross dying for us because of his love for us.

Think about the moments in our lives that God has been there for us including ones when it seemed he was the only one there.

The list could go on and on of the ways God shows his love to us.

Remember what John wrote in 1st John 4:

Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him.”

So yes celebrate Valentine’s if you plan to. But remember God’s great love as you do so.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

 

Rest and Spoons???

This past weekend was not exactly a productive one for me. One issue that has been a constant battle for me is fatigue. Fatigue is part of living with autoimmune issues. By Friday evening I have to admit I was wiped out as in NO ENERGY.

One of the janitors at the college, I love talking with the janitors 🙂 , asked me last Thursday what was wrong with me because in his words, “I looked like a raccoon” because of how dark the circles were around my eyes.

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So Friday night I actually managed to sleep nine hours. Saturday afternoon I took a three hour nap. Saturday night I slept eight hours and took another three hour nap Sunday afternoon.

Rest is important for all of us. There are different kinds of rest. There is having recreation time to do something we enjoy. There is chill out time to just relax and do nothing. There is also physical rest which is something people living with autoimmune shouldn’t ignore, but, well. I do.

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Spiritual rest is taking time with God. I do fairly well with that spending time with God each day. Spiritual rest is so important. One often overlooked verse due to being sandwiched between two miracles in Luke 5 is:

“But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”

Last weekend I needed physical rest big time. I kept seeing the term Spoonie on videos in youtube and wondered what that was all about.

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It comes from a true story from a young woman, Christine Miserandino, living with Lupus and a creative way she thought of how to explain to a friend what it is like living with Lupus. She used the analogy of spoons to represent how people with autoimmune have a set number of spoons, energy, each day. It is an enlightening story. You can read it by clicking on- Spoon Theory.

So have I learned my lesson. Maybe not.  But March is coming which is my half month because most of March I only teach in the morning or in the evening due to two different spring break schedules.

If you are living with a chronic illness or with depression/anxiety, check out Christine’s story about the Spoon Theory.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

Music Mondays- Build My Life by Amanda Cook

With Valentine’s Day coming this week, there will be much focus on love, romantic love.

In English we only have one word for love. In the original language of the New Testament in the bible, Koine Greeek, there were four words for love. Agape, Philos. Storge and Eros. Eros being the one for romantic love which is the focus for Valentine’s Day Storge and also Philos being friendship or family love will also be celebrated on Valentine’s Day as family members exchange cards or gifts and friends likewise. Philos was also used for the deep brotherly/sisterly love between fellow Christians.

Agape is the word for God’s unconditional love. God loves us unconditionally. He showed us his love even though we did not deserve it. He showed it by Jesus coming as Jesus said in John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life”

There is nothing wrong with romantic love if expressed in the right way, the way God intended. Family and friendship love are wonderful. However, God’s love is eternal and the one we can always count on. The other kinds of love may fail at times. Boyfriends and girlfriends can break up. Marriages can fail. Family and friends can disappoint. But God’s love never fails and never ends.

I love the lyrics for the song Build My Life

“I will build my life upon your love

It is a firm foundation

I will put my trust in you

I will not be shaken”

So this week as people celebrate Valentine’s Day, my focus will be on God’s love. Nothing wrong with celebrating the other kinds of love with each other, but my focus will be on God’s love.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

 

My Lost Decade

Rereading a book that meant a lot to me, Tortured for Christ, caused me to reflect back on what I think of as my the lost decade in my life, my 30s, because I originally read the book in 1990.

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Anyone who has gone through a serious health struggle understands the issue of loss. When we have a health crisis or a chronic condition, what comes with it are things like major life adjustments, testing, doctors appointments, treatment, timeout from life, etc.

My struggles with autoimmune issues began with asthma in my early thirties. That was not what sidelined me. In 1993 I was living in Minneapolis studying for the ministry. I began to feel tired and drained. I was always a high energy level person before that. I kept getting bronchitis too. By April 1994, I could not continue with my studies and returned to my home city. My symptoms progressively worsened slowly in the months to come. I had tests and doctors appointments, but nothing was diagnosed. It wasn’t until July 1995 that my problem was diagnosed. It was so simple to treat, but it wasn’t tested for earlier because I did not fit the profile for someone with hypothyroid. It is normally something women in midlife are diagnosed with or so I was told and I was a man in his thirties. My doctor told me my case was the worst he had seen in his career of over 30 years.

What that health crisis meant for me was leaving the school where I was studying for the ministry, relocating back to my home city, losing friends, and having my life basically decimated. Wow even as I write it, it seems depressing.

BUT

Even though it took another year to recover and then a few  more years to finish my education, God was at work the whole time.

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God can make sense out of situations even when it seems like they are full of twists and turns on our paths as Romans 8 promises:

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

What was a lost decade in my life in the eyes of others and the world and admittedly in my eyes at times, was not lost to God.

Often when I visit my refugee friends in their homes, or teach my ESL classes, I think about how if I had not lost that decade of my thirties, I would have never met my refugee friends. I would have become a pastor in a church in a different city. I am not a super Christian. Please don’t get me wrong. I don’t thank God for losing that decade. It would still feel crazy to me. But I am thankful God has led me through that time to have a ministry for people from all over the world.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.