Sunday, October 29, 2017
Monday, August 21, 2017
In the early mornings, I sit down with God and rock a while––with a puppy on my lap. A puppy at our age? What were we thinking? It was inevitable that we'd eventually decide to get another dog one day because one of our Goldens had recently gone over the Rainbow Bridge and his brother would join him sooner than later––he had cancer.
But, we didn't plan on coming home with a puppy the day we went to buy Jake a sweater because he'd lost all his hair from chemo treatments. It was winter in Bolivia, and Jake shivered in the mornings. So off we went to the marketplace on a sunny, brisk morning to find him a sweater.
My warning to my husband that morning ––"Don't look at the dogs for sale." I should have warned myself! There she was, a Shih Tzu. Our Shih Tzu, Kelsey had been gone six years. She celebrated her 18th birthday and a day later went over the Rainbow Bridge. Never again another little dog turned into right now, this little dog. And so we brought her home to Jake. He loved her, and Zoey perked him up for a few weeks. But, then the dreaded day came for him to go over the Rainbow Bridge to join his brother, Max. We all cried, even Zoey.
But this morning, I have a puppy on my lap. Zoey joined our family at just the right time. I'm thankful I didn't listen to my own advice--"Don't look at the dogs." And, as I sat rocking with Zoey this morning, (she sits on my lap while I read my Bible in the early mornings) I read this in my devotions:
Luke 10:38 - 42 says, " As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet listening to what he said. But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!"
"Martha, Martha," the Lord answered, "you are worried and upset about many things, but few things are needed––or indeed only one." Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her."
So here I sit, with a puppy on my lap. Every morning, Zoey chooses to sit on my lap and rock for a while just to be near me. Maybe she knows I won't be sitting much the rest of the day. Dogs are smart, you know. When I finish my reading, she goes about her day playing, napping, and going outside for the necessities of life. But first, she chooses to be with me. Yes, she chooses what's best before other things––not that the other things are wrong, but the best is first.
Isn't that what Mary did? She chose to let the unimportant things go for the most important thing--time at Jesus' feet. Maybe Martha, like us, was overwrought because of going overboard with preparations, unimportant things. Yes, food was necessary but maybe not a six-course meal, maybe a light lunch instead so she could sit at Jesus' feet along with Mary. Maybe her sister tried to tell Martha she was too caught up in the little things to see what was important. But Martha couldn't see it––the most important thing, Jesus.
It's about our choices not our schedules or to-do lists. Seek ye first the kingdom and all these things will be added unto you. We try to add the things and then seek the kingdom. Let's heed Jesus words and seek Him first. Maybe our priorities will change and what we thought to be important will become dim in the light of His face. We can learn from a puppy and first rock with Jesus and then make the right choices daily, so we aren't frazzled in our work like Martha.
Puppies know the better! Come rock with the Master in the mornings.
Today's promise: Jesus will not take away from you what is better for you! Luke 10:42
Today's (puppy) lesson: Let's not be distracted like Martha and settle for good when God wants to give us the better! Let's choose the better as Mary did.
Saturday, August 19, 2017
Have you experienced an undeniable God moment? For me, one such moment came in a phone call. The proof of this call is visible upon entering my living room because there she stands—a cow. You can’t miss her. She claims her corner spot––ten years and counting. At every glance her way, she reminds me of God’s incredible love. Proof of His love—a cow in my living room. Her story is recounted to curious visitors frequently. How did she end up at my house? Love––God’s love.
I first saw the likes of her at a friend’s home and immediately fell in love with her. So, I set out to find a cow just like her to travel to Bolivia with me. We’ve carried many things back to Bolivia after furlough––but a cow?
My quest began in my hometown area in the beautiful mountains of western Pennsylvania where ski resorts welcome visitors from near and far. Little specialty shops lure visitors with their crafts and homemade delicacies. The aroma of freshly baked cinnamon rolls seeps into the rows of novelties as you walk the stores’ aisles. That’s where I found her standing in a corner. Just one problem stood in the way of the purchase—her price. Her delicate material and hand stitching by a local lady explained the exuberate price. No, my cow doesn’t have bristly hair and a cold rubbery nose or give milk. Her soft material invites caressing, and her button nose—literally a button nose––is pure cuteness. She’s a vacuum cover.
I walked away after checking the price tag––$70. My prayer, “Well Lord, if you want me to have a cow, I will.” I started down the stairs to the main level of the store––glancing back a few times wondering if I could sew her myself.
At the bottom of the steps, my phone rang. It was my friend, Alice. She only spoke a few words, “You have your cow; don’t bother looking for one.”
Stunned, I glanced at my husband. With tears dripping, I mumbled, “I have a cow!”
God loves me that much to care about a vacuum cover––my wondrous cow. He provides our needs and our wants. He loves us all that much.
“To him alone who does great wonders, His love endures forever” (Psalm 136:4 NIV).
My cow testifies to His love and great wonders for me.
Friday, June 23, 2017
This morning while still in my jammies, I snuggled in my comfy chair to enjoy my cozy reading nook with my Bible in hand and opened. As though from the heavens, I heard this loud and clear. “What do you want?"
I could almost feel the vibration of God’s voice speaking to me through His Word. Reading in John Chapter 1, I wondered why Jesus turned around and asked this question to the two disciples who followed behind Him, "What do you want?" Don't you wonder, too?
A few years ago (when I had no fear of walking my neighborhood in the dark) I walked outside to check on things before bed. The quietness eased my soul as I enjoyed stars twinkling overhead as if they danced to music. The wind rustled the bushes, and nearby barking dogs aroused my curiosity. Unafraid of the darkness, I opened our gate and checked around. Looking back, I wonder what I was thinking. If there had been a danger I would have found myself smack in it–– unprotected and alone.
Nevertheless, I walked the road and found relief that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. At the time, no streetlights illuminated the road and neighbors were few and far between. Bolivia seemed to be untouched by things going on around the world like theft and murder. Times changed. The internet arrived, and yes, TV programs from outside this ancient Quechua culture flooded young minds. In our neck of the woods, outside the city lights and noise, we’d seldom seen or heard of these dangers. Those days are gone.
But, that night, one thing robbed my peace and safety––the wind. While on the road, a rushing wind blew our gate shut with a bang. We had no doorbell because kids rang it then promptly ran away––usually at 1 am. Doorbells were a novelty (and still rare) in this remote village and hard to resist. We didn’t hesitate to disconnect the modern menace.
Alone, unafraid but frustrated, I jumped with a kangaroo spring to my feet and screamed for help at the top of my voice until hoarse. Why I don’t know. My husband had long been asleep upstairs, and even if he’d been awake, he would not have heard my voice from afar. So what to do? Our wall was too high to scale. And, to enter from the back of the property was out of the question. We only had barbed wire around the property, but I’d have to climb a path of bushes and thorns and who knows what animals or creatures lurked in the dark. So I decided to walk the dirt road to our classrooms and attempt entry from there.
The darkness hugged me, and the brisk air chilled my bones. Garbed with only my PJs, I walked the lonely road. Suddenly, I became aware of footsteps behind me. Who walked behind me? What did they want? A moonless night left no clue to the one who followed me.
Out of the darkness came a voice, “Dona Margarita, what are you doing out here in the cold and dark all alone?” Relief, a familiar voice. Hernan, a teen boy who attended our classes, shined his flashlight. He walked to his home up the mountain each night after special classes at the school near us. We approached our classrooms, and his robust voice awoke our ministry helpers who lived near our classrooms. They opened the gate, and I basked in the safety and comfort of home.
At first, I’d thought about shouting to the follower behind me, “What do you want?” But, I hesitated. Jesus didn’t hesitate to ask His followers what they wanted. We shouldn't hesitate to tell Him what we want. That dark and cold night, I asked God for an open door and thanked Him for how it opened.
Two disciples were following Jesus when he turned and asked the question. “Turning around, Jesus saw them and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV).
Two disciples were following Jesus when he turned and asked the question. “Turning around, Jesus saw them and asked, “What do you want?” (John 1:38 NIV).
Have you thought about what you want from Jesus today? How about making a list of those things? We can be honest with Him and tell Him what’s on our hearts. He wants us to talk to Him.
Maybe Jesus asked the question of His followers because He wanted to know if they were following out of curiosity, personal gain, or purposes other than His purpose. Yes, He already knew, but did they know? Are we following Him for our purpose to advance our cause and or to accomplish His purpose and cause?
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Do you ever wish for more time in the day? God can do that––He did do it. The Bible says so. "The sun stood stood still, and the moon stopped, till the nation avenged itself on its enemies" (Joshua 10:13 NIV). God still does miracles today--maybe the sun won't stand still, but we can find more time. He can do a miracle in our life without the sun standing still. He can shine through us, so others see God's miracles in us. How?
Realize--What is our spirituality?
It is God in us–-serving each other and the world. How many miracles have we missed because we don't believe and trust the Lord? Worse yet, we don't always realize the miracles God performs for us because we aren't aware of God in every aspect of our life. Joshua believed God to defeat the enemy. He realized God existed. He believed. We can start the day defeated before hitting the floor––hurried, frustrated, and miserable before the day starts because we don't first recognize Who brought us through the night and Who gives us another day to live. Or, we can thank God for another day, pray for our day, and give Him first place in our first thoughts and daily life. What if we just say good morning to God and realize He wants to be a part of our day from beginning to end?
Reflect––Who do we reflect?
So many verses talk about God's face shining on us. The Psalmist asked God to teach him His decrees. "Make your face shine upon your servant and teach me your decrees" (Psalm 119:135 NIV). He wanted to be close to God and learn about Him and His ways. When we spend time in the Word, we learn of God's teachings––His decrees. But, applying those teachings changes our life. It's then we reflect His shining face and others see Christ in us. When I apply moisturizer in the morning, my face shines. But as the day progresses, it looses its shine––applying more brings back the shine. If we keep reading and applying God's Word, our lives shine continuously. It's then we reflect and shine The Light in this dark world.
Rest––He can do the rest! Rest assured!
We have a free will to seek God or not. He doesn't force us to love Him and serve Him. But, He will do the rest if we trust Him and obey His Word. Yes, He will give us rest and peace, and He will carry our burdens, and He will give us all we need to serve Him and accomplish His will. We'll find the time we need when our priorities match His. He promises us not just life but abundant life. So rest assured, He keeps His promises. Apply God's moisturizer all day (His Word) and let Him shine!
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Don't you love a Spring shower? Refreshing. Relaxing. Rejuvenating. But, what happens when it doesn't stop raining. Flooding. Only one kind of flooding refreshes, relaxes, and rejuvenates––the reign of God flooding our heart. How do we know He reigns in our heart?
1. When He reigns in our heart, His praise flows from our lips.
The Lord reigns, let the earth be glad:" (Psalm 97:1 NIV). Our great God overflows from his creation. How are you doing at telling about God's greatness? We can see His greatness through his creation. We are His creation. If He reigns in us, He flows through us. Not only do we experience refreshment, but others also feel refreshed by our testimony––what we say about Him. Everyone should praise God's great and awesome name because it symbolizes His persona and His nature. Our best witnessing happens when our hearts overflow with appreciation for what He has done. God has chosen us to declare his marvelous works.
2. When He reigns in our heart, we want to evangelize the whole world.
"...let the distant shores rejoice" (NIV 97:1b). How will His Word spread to distant shores so others too can rejoice in His presence?" Only if God's ambassadors take His Word to those distant shores will they know of Him and rejoice with us.
3. When God reigns in our heart, we worship Him and respect His name. We give Him praise by both our words and our life.
"The Lord reigns, let the nations tremble; he sits enthroned between the cherubim, let the earth shake" (Psalm 99:1 NIV). God's holiness is frightening for sinners but a wonderful comfort for believers. God can not tolerate sin. But for believers, God's holiness gives comfort. And, because we worship him, we are lifted from the mire of sin. When we believe in Him, we are made holy.
Have you seen these three examples flowing from your heart, soul, and lips?
You will if you let Him reign!
Thursday, April 6, 2017
When Easter nears, I think of Easter baskets and how to communicate the Easter story to little ones. God tells us to think like children. “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3 NIV).
· In my children’s books, Really Rare Rabbits, the little rabbits hear someone teaching about Jesus. They listen. They press their ears to the window to hear more. As adults, are we too busy to listen to God’s voice?
· Do we press our ears to God’s heavenly window and listen to His voice or have we come away from God’s window and only hear the world’s noise?
· Even a child can hear the story of the cross and believe. It’s a simple message of love. Jesus came to earth to die for all that we might live with Him in heaven for eternity––if we only believe.
Easter is a time of renewal and reflection. Let’s reflect on all Christ did for us on the cross and lean our elbows on heaven's windowsill daily. And, let's determine to press our Easter ears to His window and listen to His voice on Easter morning and always––with our ears pressed like the little rabbits in my stories.
Really Rare Rabbits is available on Amazon.com
Barnes and Noble.com and at local book stores by order
also available in Spanish
Sunday, March 19, 2017
If you come to my house for dinner, what would I prepare for you?
I would certainly prepare a banquet for you after traveling so far just for dinner––to Bolivia. And, for sure I’d serve a Bolivian meal. Our family loves Bolivian food, and one of our favorite Bolivian meals is Picante de Pollo (translation, spicy chicken). It’s a chicken dish cooked in a spicy tomato sauce. And, the sides are uniquely Bolivian. The chicken is served with rice, a salad of tomatoes and onions, boiled potatoes, and a unique potato called chuño. It’s a potato harvested in the Altiplano—the high flatlands of Bolivia. This location in the Andes has freezing temperatures much of the year.
Chuño is a freeze-dried potato product traditionally made by the Quechua and Aymara communities of Bolivia and Peru and is know in other countries of South America, including Argentina and Chile. It is made in a five-day process, obtained by exposing a frost-resistant variety of potatoes to the very low night temperatures of the Andes Altiplano, freezing them, and subsequently exposing them to the intense sunlight of the day––this being the traditional process. The word chuño is a Quechua word meaning ‘frozen potato’ and in some dialects means ‘wrinkled’.
And to top off the meal, I’d serve a traditional flan for dessert. I promise if you don’t want to try the chuño, I won’t be offended. It’s the only Bolivian food that I don’t miss while on furlough in the States. As for the rest of the meal, I have no doubt you’ll find it deliciosa (English translation, delicious––some words in Spanish are similar to English). I’m sure you’ll find it a meal to remember when you return home.
Picante de Pollo originated from western Bolivia
and is characterized by its aroma and spicy taste of chuño (dehydrated potatoes).
*Chuño is the dark potato at the left of the photo.
Monday, March 13, 2017
Molly and Me
Molly helped sign my contract. Okay, she didn't sign, but she did help me write my new children's series. She inspired a story about adoption and a forever home. My new four-book series to be published by Pix-N-Pens Publishing will release quarterly in 2018. Yay! Lots of work ahead but fun too. More details will unfold in the next few months. Look for them.
I look back over the last seven years and marvel at how God led in my writing journey. First, my children's book series, Really Rare Rabbits found a publisher. Then, my first non-fiction book, a devotional for adults of all ages, Dancing Like Bees released in October 2016, and now, four more children's books.
I am never bored for sure and extremely blessed to be used by God in this writing ministry. I delight in writing for God, and I'm going to keep on writing it down––whatever God gives me.
Then the Lord replied: "Write down the revelation and make it plain on the tablets so that a herald may run with it" (Habakkuk 2:2 NIV).
Thursday, March 9, 2017
"I the Lord do not change" (Malachi 3:6 NIV).
Tumultuous circumstances jolted me out of my usual schedule this week. My routine changed drastically on a rainy, Sunday morning. A call from our neighbors woke me from a deep sleep. "Your classrooms are flooding." Torrential rains caused the river over the mountain to rush into the valley irrigation ditch that runs behind our property and overflow downward directly into our classroom building––narrowly missing the house.
Shocked at the sight of 6 inches of water in the classrooms, we splashed our way through and commenced the task of cleanup. The back of our building is partially underground. While the rain pummeled, we gazed in disbelief at the water reaching halfway up the windows outside. It slowly seeped through the cracks flooding the room. Focus. Where do we start? What is most important?
All changed that day, week–-our plans, our meals, and our priorities. We focused on the task of cleanup. We worked hard and swished the water out of the building with mops and brooms––room by room. Then the scrubbing began, and the airing out and checking for damage. What a lesson for my life. Cleanup my life daily and focus on priorities.
I'd been busy with things––people, problems, and goals. My focus had changed to earthly things not eternal things in the past weeks. Suddenly, everything changed, and so did I. But one thing hadn't changed–-God. He controlled all things, and He controlled the flood waters. Lessons come in all forms and all circumstances. God uses circumstances, His Word, and others to teach us His ways––or bring our focus back to Him. Now, water will always remind me to focus on God and His plans when hard things flood my life.
The buildings shine once more but more important, my focus changed. First and always, we should strive to focus first on God because unlike circumstances, people, or possessions that change, God never changes.
We get distracted from time to time, and we're out of focus. But, just looking to the One who never changes puts everything back in focus. Let's adjust the lens of our lives daily, so we stay focused on God's vision––a fresh focus every day. Where do we start, and what is most important?
Saturday, January 21, 2017
"And the special gift of ministry you received...keep that ablaze! God doesn't want us to be shy with his gifts, but bold and loving and sensible" (2 Timothy 1:6-7 (MSG).
What secret talents do you have?
I think my secret talent is related to my hair––blonde with streaks of white. Can hair be a secret talent? Maybe. But, maybe it’s not my hair at all that’s a secret talent, but maybe it’s what my hair can do––attract little girls like a magic magnet. I noticed this secret talent a few years back when little girls started to stare and smile at me. Living in a country where blondes are not seen often, I accredited my attraction to little girls to my hair––and being a tall, blonde––a site rarely seen in Bolivia. When I first noticed this secret talent, it to opened doors to ministry with little girls, especially during Sunday School hours.
When my daughter was a small child, her hair attracted attention on the streets of Bolivia. People constantly touched her long, curly blonde hair whenever we walked around the city where we lived. Since my aging brought with it bottled blonde hair with white streaks, I too became a rarely seen site. But then, something else entered into my secret talent. On furloughs, I also noticed this happening in the States where blonde hair is not unusual. Being a children’s writer, I’ve always felt I connect with children, but not in such a magical way as I do with little girls. When I meet or talk with little girls, I automatically talk on their level and so love being with them. I truly believe God has given me a special gift of ministry with children (a secret talent)–– especially with little girls. It’s so much fun! What's your special gift of ministry?