Archive for the ‘Christian Living’ Category

Quarantine Introspection

Monday, January 4th, 2021

quarantine-introspection

Never could we have imagined what 2020 had in store one year ago, while ringing in the new year. Never could we have known the whole world would shut down over microscopic particles, that the economy would bankrupt thousands of companies, that looting and prejudice would rise up, and that politics would be so divisive.

This year has had it all. And yet of all years, this year I have learned to be more of a Mary at the feet of Jesus rather than any other year. Instead of doing for the Lord, I was being more in the presence of the Lord. Yes, there was still plenty of ministry, but it seems like I sat in the presence of God way more this year than any other year because of the pandemic.

As we move into the new year, here are 5 Scripture verses that God brought to my mind to prepare our hearts for 2021:

Looking back over 2020, here are some things we’ve done as a family to pass the time productively during the quarantine:

  • Going for walks around the neighborhood for exercise
  • Putting together a world puzzle & learning about different countries
  • Creating a backyard oasis and vegetable garden
  • Reading books and doing creative writing, including poetry
  • Deepening relationships over the phone and through Zoom

To get a picture of a productive activity that you can do during a quarantine, here is a video of my daughter and I, on a walk during the pandemic. My daughter has the goofiest conversation that she makes up on the spot:

I would like to leave you with a poem I just wrote:

The Quarantine: A 10-Minute Freewrite Poem

hunkered down inside a house
with curtains drawn
waiting for the plague to pass
examining our hearts
looking up to the Almighty
setting our houses in order
wondering if the next fatality
will be someone dear
afraid to hug, to be near
separated by distance
never quite connecting
alone in a pile of thoughts
inactive and desensitized
waiting for things to get back
to normal, to the expected
but life will never be the same
fragility of life is in the forefront

May this New Year bring more of the presence of God into our lives, and may we prioritize the things that matter!

New Look, New Life

Monday, February 4th, 2019

new-look-new-life

A huge change happened in my life at the end of September 2018, and my main ministry friend thought I should change my outer look to match the change that had happened inwardly. She said that highlights in my hair would lighten my look to give it youthfulness, and she found a picture of just what she was talking about. I loved it!

Normally I don’t cut my hair for years (except for trimming my own bangs) because of the monetary cost of hair cuts. But now my ministry friend was telling me that God wouldn’t let her accept the money from cleaning the pirate’s house (the man in the wheelchair) because she said the money was supposed to be for me. So I suddenly had the money to get my hair cut and highlighted.

We prayed about it, and God prompted us to go to a specific Walmart about ten minutes from my house, and God also chose the day. It would be Friday morning. I didn’t even know that Walmart cut hair, but there is a Regis salon in many Walmart stores. I drove to Walmart and asked for an appointment for the specific time God had indicated during our prayer time.

Come to find out, God was making an appointment with a hairdresser. I love how He does that. The woman who cut and highlighted my hair prayed to receive Christ that day, after talking with her about the Lord for several hours. She was ready. Only God knew that. It’s so funny, because I never get my hair cut, much less highlighted, but we needed the time. My ministry partner came with me, of course, because this morning had nothing to do with me. It had everything to do with the hairdresser.

The three hours that we were there, the first two hours were spent leading up to her stopping to pray to receive Christ. And the last hour was spent equipping her for what her life would be like now that she was filled with the Holy Spirit. My ministry friend had said things about the hairdresser’s life that she couldn’t have possibly known—about her heart and her circumstances. She was stunned like all the people are when my ministry friend speaks to people. I’m so glad that we each have different gifts in the Spirit, and they all work together in the body of Christ. We are all valued.

I was surprised at how young and flirty I looked after going to the salon! I loved the curls, too. My ministry partner told me to start wearing lighter colors. That’s hard for me to do because my entire wardrobe is dark.

It’s interesting that even though my situation has not changed (and yours may not either), God supernaturally brought a breath of fresh air by showing me a new perspective on life. Instead of life’s impossible challenges and deep suffering causing us to despair, we can ask God to give us new eyes. Our own suffering doesn’t matter any more compared to the glory that is to be revealed in the people that we are able to reach for Christ, who will be in heaven with us forever just because we didn’t give up in the middle of our suffering.

Friends, if you love Jesus and are in despair, it’s because the enemy wants you incapacitated. The enemy tailor-made your circumstances to be your worst nightmare. And if you suffer deeply for many years, you eventually feel that you can’t go on.

At this point in my life, I cried out to God in my bed, almost a primordial scream. I just said, “Jesus! Help!!!”

Shortly thereafter God sent me my ministry friend. God changed my perspective through this woman who has a completely different background than I do. And we began our ministry, leading people to Christ, praying for people, and ministering to hurting Christians. My life is more worth living now than ever.

You can choose to cry all day and give up (and Satan wins). Or you can rebuke the enemy, rise up, put on some praise music, and dance before the Lord (even if you’re a klutz like me!) Then ask Jesus what you should be doing, and obey Him. You will gain energy as you do His work, and you will once again be glad to be alive.

Surprised by a Pirate (a true story)

Monday, January 28th, 2019

surprised-by-a-pirate

As I stooped over to open the pirate chest full of treasure, I sighed. Memories flooded my mind, from a treasure hunt in the backyard for a pirate party after reading Treasure Island, to painting the chest gold to transform it into King Tut’s treasure back when we studied ancient Egypt. We shoved that treasure chest into a closet under the stairs as a tomb for my toilet-paper-wrapped kid in a cardboard sarcophagus. Fun times.

My kids are now teens. Having outgrown the treasure box, I put it up for sale. A man claiming to be a pirate contacted me. He wanted to buy the treasure chest, and he needed me to deliver it because he had only one leg. My son Stephen drove me with the treasure chest over to his house, where he lifted the pirate treasure one last time. The man with the one leg not only gave me the $20 I was asking for the box, but he paid me another $20 for delivering it just ten minutes down the street from my house. Since I needed the money for groceries, I burst into tears and hugged this wild gray-haired man in his wheel chair.

There was something about his eyes that tugged on my heart. His appearance matched his description of himself as a pirate (he really did look like a retired pirate, with the personality to go with it). The surprised but happy look he gave me when I hugged him was priceless. As I drove away, I pondered how I could go back. I knew the compassion in my heart was from Jesus, and I wanted to make sure he knew that he was loved.

He was too interesting a person to just pass by and move on. I couldn’t let him sit there all day in his wheelchair, house-bound, just waiting to die. Yes. I said it. That’s what I saw in his eyes. I saw it because it was a mirror of my own soul, longing to be set free from the suffering, sorrow, and evil of this world.

I sat at the computer, pondering the meaning of life. Since I sold the treasure chest through Facebook, I clicked through to his profile. Without any thought, I pressed the button to add him as a friend. Within the hour, he mentioned that he needed a housekeeper. For some reason I sensed danger. Not knowing if the danger was real or imaginary, I asked my ministry friend if she would like to come with me to clean this man’s house. She said yes.

The fact that I hate cleaning became obvious when I wrestled with cleaning the walls of a shower that had a seat attached to the middle of the tub. There was no space. My ministry friend did not want to touch the bathroom with a ten foot pole, so she sang sweet songs about Jesus as she swept and mopped the living room. She asked him if it was okay for her to sing, and he seemed pleased with it. I prayed for his soul as I struggled to keep my balance.

Kicking at the grime, my back aching from the scrubbing, I sighed a bit too loud. My pirate friend laughed, shouting to my ministry partner that I was cussing in the bathroom. “No, I’m not. Are you trying to get me in trouble?” I responded, laughing.

We finished up, and the pirate paid us way more than seemed right, so I put some money back, returning it to him. He pressed me to take it and I said no.

I’m actually glad that I said no because after two times of cleaning his house, he said that he had run out of savings. This was after canceling the third time of cleaning due to going in and out of the hospital. I was sad for some reason, not just because I needed the money, but because there was something about the pirate’s eyes that was compelling. When I went to return his key, I told him that Jesus loved him, even though it seemed like He didn’t because of his amputated leg. I was sad that he had to suffer, and I told him that Jesus is with us in our pain. I didn’t know what else to say, so I hugged him one last time before I drove away.

Events Leading to the Missions Trip to Texas

Monday, December 3rd, 2018

events-missions-trip

This is part 4, a continuation of the wonders of God in reaching the city of Spokane for Christ. God has been sending me all over the city to specific places to pray with people and to encourage them in their walk with Jesus. God does not only send us to people who need salvation, but to believers who need a word of encouragement or of exhortation. Or He gives them vital information that they need.

One evening God sent me into a grocery store. He told me which grocery store, and we had to drive across town to get to it. I had to go to the bathroom, so I went into the restroom. When I exited the restroom, I saw people sitting in the deli area of the grocery store, where there are tables and chairs. God amplified a couple of women sitting in one corner and prompted me to ask them if they went to my church. I did not recognize them whatsoever, but since God gave me those words, I said them.

The lady I was looking at said no, and the lady beside her looked white as a ghost. She said she had been wanting to go to this church I mentioned because a relative had recommended the in-depth women’s Bible studies. She was not a computer person, and when I asked this gray-haired lady that she could google the address of the church, she said she didn’t know how to do that. I left my phone in the car, so I asked the Holy Spirit for the address, and He gave it to me. I wrote it down on a piece of paper. God prompted me to add, “You are going to make it” on the scrap of paper. She asked how much the Bible study cost, and I told her the price, but that if she came, I would pay the price for her books.

Every expenditure I’ve made (including gas to drive around the city) has been exactly what God wanted me to do, out of obedience to God. Since we don’t have any savings and we have two kids in college, this ministry has been a financial strain on our family. Obviously this affects my husband more than anyone else, and his concern is legitimate.

I’ve always been extremely frugal, but one day when I picked up a woman who had been physically beaten by her husband, I took her stuff in my car to her mom’s storage unit so she could move in with her mom. God showed me a clothing store and amplified it to me, to get this trembling woman a new outfit. When she walked into the store, she saw a woman who had been involved with her abusive husband, and it was too much for her to bear. This is why God took us to this exact store.

We had a wonderfully healing conversation, and God caused a restoration to occur. God prompted me to ask her to pick out any outfit she wanted, and that Father God would pay for it. She couldn’t believe it. She got a pair of jeans that fit her and a beautiful blouse. Her abusive husband had led her to believe she had no value, but God said differently.

I called my husband and asked if we could take her out to dinner, and he said yes. I’ve noticed that my husband has the gift of giving; he’s helped people for years, including last year when took three beggars off the street in the middle of the night to get pancakes at a restaurant and filled their car with gas and talked to them about Jesus. In reality my husband and I have the same heart for missions and for being selflessly giving to the point that we are always broke.

The worst expenditure before the trip to Texas (which seems ludicrous based on the fact that we have no money!) was an overnight stay at a hotel for a prayer vigil in the heart of the city of Spokane. My ministry partners and I were specifically led to a hotel where we later found out a Christian women’s conference had just taken place. We prayed and sang praise songs and interceded for revival for the city of Spokane the whole night long. It was exhausting. I did not choose the hotel—God did. He said the name of the hotel loudly into my spirit, in the same way that He has been leading us to other divine appointments throughout the city to lead people to Christ or encourage them. We felt something break through spiritually over the city that night. Because of our obedience (and other people’s prayers), our city is beginning to experience revival.

The morning after the prayer vigil, we were prompted to go to Shari’s Restaurant for a divine appointment. While we were eating, one of my ministry partners pointed out the back of an oriental man, and told us that was the man we needed to speak to. I gathered my courage and asked the Lord what to say. When he returned to his table with two other men, I asked if anyone needed prayer. They said no. Then I asked if this oriental man would pray for us. He said yes and came over to our table. We told him about our upcoming road trip that God had put heavily on our hearts, and I gave testimony of all that God was doing through our ministry for the past month in Spokane.

Even though I didn’t recognize him, this oriental man was a missions leader at my church, he knew my parents who were missionaries, and he knew a board member from a Christian group where I was a board member for two years. He had so many connections in common with me! (This is why God commanded us to go to this specific restaurant, even though we had been fasting all night and normally don’t eat at restaurants and could have gone straight home.)

We asked this oriental man how to get our church to back our ministry financially. Even in the city of Spokane, it was costing my husband a lot of money in gasoline and other incidentals, money we didn’t have. And the cost of a road trip to Texas seemed prohibitive. But he told us we didn’t need money, and that we should just go and stay in people’s houses (and bless them), or shake the dust off our feet of those who reject us. He used lots of Scripture to back up what he was saying, and this random man confirmed what God had put in our hearts to do.

This was just one of many confirmations that led to our short-term missions trip to Texas. Thank you to all who prayed for us!