Beautiful Gate

Last weekend I asked God to lead me into a new ministry. On Sunday evening, Derrick and I visited our friend Rose’s church in Silverlake called Beautiful Gate. When Rose visited me in the hospital after hip surgery in December, she described her new place of worship with such love and exuberance. I told her we would definitely check out a Sunday evening service in the near future.

I loved the message given by the pastor, Samuel Theophylus and his wife Priya’s testimony was so touching. She talked about her first encounter with Jesus and how it changed her life forever. They are a lovely couple who moved here from Hyderabad, India over seven years ago. As Samuel spoke about the culture in India and his upbringing, it brought to mind the story of Abraham. Genesis 12:1: Now the Lord said to Abraham, Go for yourself away from your country, from your relatives and your father’s house, to the land that I will show you. How inspiring it is to meet true disciples of God who are willing to leave their country and completely trust in God to lead them to a new land!

I desire to spread the Word of Jesus more often and one day declare that I am also a true disciple of Christ. This life is flying by so fast and I want to grab every opportunity that comes my way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Hipper Christmas!

I woke up this Christmas morning praising God for my incredible life! I was able to shower and get dressed completely on my own for the first time since hip replacement surgery on the 15th of December. I’ve cried out to Him every day and night to help me get through the pain because the procedure has taken a toll on my emotions as well as my physical self.

I’ve had many entertaining moments along this road to recovery as well. Two days after returning home from the hospital, I had an allergic reaction from my blood thinner pills and tiny bumps appeared down my entire back. My stepson was keeping me company and had the bright idea to rub some alcohol on them to stop the itching. As he rubbed the cotton soaked liquid on my back, I yelled out that it was hurting even more. He then proceeded to blow on my back to calm down the burning sensation just as his dad walked in the door. I started laughing at the entire scenario and they joined in. Finding humor in the midst of a storm will definitely lift up your spirits!

Listening to my customized iHeart radio station compiled of Christian praise songs also got me through this season; especially during the nights in the hospital when I needed a nurse to assist me with every small task. I played my uplifting music almost 24 hours a day to drown out any thoughts of self-pity for my temporary condition and to share my love for Jesus with all of the staff.

I had to spend one extra night in the hospital due to a serious drop in my blood pressure. It occurred when the Occupational Therapist escorted me to this tiny shower room. There was little air in the confined area and I could simply not breathe. They rushed me back to my room and gave me oxygen and proceeded to order an EKG. I was then wheeled down to Cardiology for an ultrasound. At first I was disappointed when told I would be staying an additional night for observation. But when my sister, Lyn asked me if I was upset over the news, I told her it was in God’s hands.

To my surprise, I actually enjoyed that final night thanks to a nurse named Mercy. When she arrived for the nightshift, she came to my room to introduce herself. I responded by saying that her name was beautiful and it made me think of God’s mercy. She smiled and told me her father in Nigeria had given her that name. We had heartfelt conversations throughout the next twelve hours and I knew that I had stayed if only to meet her and share our faith.

Jesus was born on Christmas morning and made the ultimate sacrifice for all of us. Let’s focus on all of our priceless gifts from God this season and be a blessing to each other! Hallelujah!

 

 

 

 

The True Gifts of Christmas

IMG-20151205-WA0006.jpgThroughout my entire life I have anticipated the holiday season with a focus on gift giving, decorating cookies, and celebrating Jesus’ birthday. I hold onto fond memories of my sisters and I waking up at the crack of dawn and running down the stairs to discover what gifts Santa left under the tree. Later that morning, we would eat the anise cookies pressed into  shapes of gingerbread men, candy canes, and wreaths that our sweet Grandma Ruby helped us to bake on Christmas Eve.

I have a completely different perspective on Christmas this year. In a world filled with chaos and uncertain times; my thoughts and prayers  turn to friends who are battling life-threatening diseases, and for those who are broken-hearted over the loss of a loved one. This life is a fragile and precious gift that can be taken away in an instant. All the more reason to be grateful to our omnipotent Father who pours out his love on us daily in every imaginable way.

The true gifts of Christmas are the Father, Son (Jesus Christ), and the Holy Spirit. And the good news is that we don’t need to wait until Christmas morning to receive them. Have a blessed and beautiful celebration!

 

 

War Room Is #1 In Our Marriage

I invited my husband to see the faith-based indie film, War Room last week. This drama demonstrating the power of prayer fought its way to the number two spot at the box office after receiving negative reviews from movie critics. I chose to listen to a few close friends who loved the film and highly recommended that Derrick and I see it.

War Room definitely impacted us as well as the trailers we viewed of several Christian films being released this year. Actually, we had a couple “God” encounters that evening as well. In the theater lobby, we met a woman, Stacy who has a ministry for married couples in her home. She was accompanied by an entourage of teenage girls, including her own daughter. They actually sat right next to us during the film and responded favorably to its message. We engaged in a spirit-filled conversation and before we parted, the woman spoke “unity” into our marriage.

We then drove to a quaint italian restaurant in our neighborhood for dinner. As we sat on the outdoor patio, I struck up a conversation with a gentleman who sat down at an adjacent table. To our amazement, he mentioned that he owns a bike shop called “Go Green” in the Burbank area. Being an avid cyclist and spin instructor, Derrick lit up when he revealed this tasty tidbit! They talked about frequented bike routes, trails, and everything under the sun related to biking. Of course, I praised the film and suggested he watch it and then spread the word as well.

It was an anointed evening for the both of us! We have agreed to pray together more often after being woken to the realization that it will greatly impact our marriage and create a stronger relationship with God and each other. Now that the film has climbed to the #1 spot, I pray this will become the new direction for our nation.

The Patience of a Saint!

The most common response I hear from others when I tell them I enjoy working with children who have special needs is, “Wow! You must have the patience of a saint!”  I admit that I do have patience when it comes to teaching those young minds and am proud of their progress throughout each school year. It’s not surprising that my favorite pastime growing up was playing “school” and I was always the teacher. I coerced my younger sister, Lyn to be my student in our makeshift classroom (a desk in the laundry room of our childhood home).

In other areas of my life, I don’t regard myself as an overly patient person. When I pray to God asking Him for guidance or an answer to a question, it can be painful to wait for a response from the Holy Spirit. Especially when my heart is hurting and it seems as if the inner turmoil will continue unless I make an attempt to heal the situation on my own. Opening my Bible and reading verses about the truth of God’s love can sustain me in these moments and keep me from making a move in the wrong direction. It’s also a huge blessing to have prayer partners who can intercede for me and lead me to meditating on certain scriptures.

I am so thankful for my relationship with my Father in heaven and the prayer warriors in my life. I don’t understand how anyone can rely on their own understanding in this crazy world.

Eternally Grateful

Every morning I start the day by thanking God for my healthy body, my marriage, and numerous blessings. That is how I prepare myself for another day of life in this chaotic world. Also taking a few quiet moments during the day to reflect on my life and express my gratitude allows me to remain joyful and positive. It is also a wonderful way to commune with my Father and keep my eyes focused on Him.

Above all, I am eternally grateful to Jesus for making the ultimate sacrifice and dying on the cross for me. What are you grateful for in your own life?

Questions for God!

I believe that one day I will have the opportunity to ask God specific questions that I have pondered throughout my life. When in prayer, it seems natural to call out to my Father when I cannot understand or accept a certain situation. While I trust in Him completely, it would be a great comfort to know the answers to these questions:

1.  After my mom was diagnosed with ALS, she believed and proclaimed many times that you would heal her from this disease. She passed away six months later. Why didn’t you restore her to perfect health?

2.  Why are innocent babies born with leukemia or life-threatening diseases? Is it to strengthen the faith of those closest to them?

3. “Bad things happen to good people” seems to be true in our society. Why is it that the righteous ones leave this earth sooner than mean-spirited people? My theory is that unkind people have more lessons to learn about loving others and they require more time here.

Thank you, Father for surpassing all understanding and loving me as I am!

Time After Time

When we are little children, time seems to stand still and move at a slow pace. We count the days until our next birthday in anticipation of hitting those significant numbers of 18, 21, 30, etc. As we mature, time seems to fly faster and faster and we wish that it could slow down to better enjoy those precious moments. Every Monday morning that I wake up it seems that I blink and it’s already Friday! This seems to be generally true for most of us. The exception for me is when I am suffering from emotional or physical pain. I find myself praying for those days to move at a quicker pace and would choose to place them on fast-forward if that was an option. Then I would not have to endure those uncomfortable and painstaking challenges even though I know they cause me to transform into a stronger woman.

One year ago I underwent surgery to repair a labral tear in my hip caused by one of my students with special needs who intentionally shoved me in my back.  The months of physical therapy were not pleasant; although I did bring a lot of laughs to the staff at the rehabilitation center. I always try to make the best out of any situation and have remained active by taking restorative yoga classes.

Tonight I am delighted to report that I took my husband Derrick’s spin class for one entire hour without any pain! This is an important day and more exciting to me than my birthday this month! I am so thankful to God for healing me from this injury and to my incredible husband for giving me continued love and support as we just celebrated our 9 year anniversary! Hallelujah to both achievements!

Lack of April Showers

It has been cloudy for the past few days with the slightest chance of rain in the forecast. I counted three tiny raindrops falling from the sky this afternoon and have been praying for more to follow. Our state is entering into its fourth year of drought and all residents must conserve water. Most recently, a local park in Sherman Oaks broke ground for several new synthetic soccer and baseball fields. I cannot imagine living without that awesome aroma of fresh cut grass! This is a photo I took of some colorful flowering succulents planted by my husband this year in our side yard.

Not only is there a serious drought in California, this Spring has been a dry season when it comes to miracles and revelations in my own life. It has been a turbulent month filled with constant prayer for several friends of mine who are  battling cancer and another with a debilitating neurological disease. It’s interesting how your priorities shift when someone close to you is enduring tests and procedures that will reveal whether they will live to a ripe old age … or not. I am reminded that our bodies are fragile and am thankful to be close to God.

I send healing prayers and blessings out to every precious child of God!

Priceless Expression of Love

20150225_134032-1As each month passes, it becomes clearer why God transferred me to this new school. We have a core Christian group of staff members who meet on Tuesdays and/or Thursdays at lunchtime for a Bible study. We share our personal struggles, triumphs, pray for one another, and sing uplifting songs. One of the more proactive members pushed through a “Follow Jesus” program to be available for students to attend on campus on Thursdays.

Recently, one of the Physical Education teachers who has taught at the middle school for 30+ years revealed that her father was in the hospital suffering from congestive heart failure. Many of her co-workers prayed for God to comfort the entire family. Her dad passed away a few days later peacefully with his family around him. The following morning she shared this news with me and a student, Freddy when she saw us in the hallway. We both hugged her and expressed our condolences. I asked Freddy if he’d like to make a beautiful card for her to show our support and love.

This young man created an artistic pop-up card (pictured) and presented it to this woman grieving for the loss of her father. There were over fifty people who signed the heartfelt card. She was so overwhelmed with emotion when he handed it to her. It was such a genuine expression of love and compassion. I know it meant the world to her as it lifted her spirit up and gave her a sense of peace.