Tuesday, August 19, 2014


If You Are Going To Pray, 

Be Prepared For HIS Answer!!


Let us not pray to be sheltered from dangers but to be fearless when facing them.                                             Rabindranath Tagore


 The Importance Of Prayer

 Prayer is essential to Christian life. We pray for strength, for help, for forgiveness, we are quick to turn to God in times of trouble. Sometimes our prayers are to complain and ask to be delivered from our troubles, sometimes they are self-centered as we pray for gains. We pray to give thanks, to seek guidance, to ask what path we are to take. Hopefully, in prayer we reaffirm our dedication to God, our total and complete willingness to follow Jesus, our desire to serve.

Then we come to the really hard part.......We Must Listen............we must wait patiently, wait for God to answer in His time. AND we must also understand that His answer may not be the answer we were hoping for, we were counting on, we were so sure we would get.


The problem with prayer, with declaring that you will follow wherever He leads you, is that He may lead you in a direction in which you do not immediately wish to go.
Then what? You have a dilemma. Do you use your free will to go in the direction you wish to go, even though you are certain He is leading you elsewhere? Do you wait an inordinate amount of time debating which you will do, paralyzed by indecision, until both the path to the opportunity He was leading you to and the one you preferred are closed, and now you are left with neither? OR do you take a deep breath, offer up a prayer saying "Heavenly Father, I hear You. You know that in my heart this is not the path I wanted, You know my fears and anxiety, but I trust in You. Thank you for the blessings You continue to bestow on me. I know that You have a purpose for sending me down this path and I will follow wherever You lead.

My Own Prayers For Guidance, and God's Answers 

Over the course of the past two and a half years my career has involved moving quite often. Make no mistake, I did pick this career path. Truthfully, I picked with very little prayer at all. I was eager to make some changes in my life, and this career choice definitely involved change.....lot's of change, and often.

My first assignment was at St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, NY. At that time I did not pray so often, and I selected this job on my own. It was far enough from home to be a fresh start in life, but close enough for an easy drive home to visit on days off if I wanted. I loved St. Peter's. I loved the place, loved my co-workers, it was an awesome experience and I stayed there a year. If St. Peter's had not been such a good experience, my career as a travel nurse may have ended right then and there. There are staff and patients there who made a lasting impact on my life. I miss my friends at St. Peter's Hospital, and would gladly work with them again.

 In this position, I am faced with a possible move every three to six months. I do have some choices to make each time, I do have some say over where I will, or will not, go. With each impending move I start to pray, A LOT. I seek guidance from Him, and I try very hard to listen attentively. As I pray, I tell Him that I want to serve, that I want to go where He leads me, and I also pray about what I think I need from the upcoming job.

In the late summer of 2013 I was praying for His guidance, I would go wherever He sent me. After a misstep, when I thought the right job had come along and then it feel through, I asked that He make it crystal clear what He wanted me to do. I did have needs, besides a need to serve, I needed a job that would pay enough to prevent me from going further into debt. I asked for one that would allow me to start to catch up from some time I had had to take off. Along came Calvary Hospital, in the Bronx, with a job offer. I had not interviewed with Calvary, and they were offering a rate above my stated minimum. Calvary Hospital is a very special place. The hospital provides palliative care to cancer patients, a whole hospital dedicated to giving excellent care to end of life cancer patients. Offering patients and their families comfort, compassion, dignity, and excellent nursing and medical care. I did not want to go there. I had never cared for cancer patients, not beyond the occasional cancer patient on a medical/surgical floor that is. I had never worked in palliative care either. AND my mother had been diagnosed with stage III inoperable lung cancer. I really did not want to go, but I did.

In the spring of 2014, as I was preparing to leave Calvary Hospital, I prayed for a job closer to home. I sensed that moms health was going to get worse, and quickly. I wanted to be close to home, I wanted to spend more time with mom. My only prayers were: Please God, get me closer to home. Get me as close to home as possible. The rest of my prayers during that time were focused on comfort and peace for mom, strength for mom and family and friends as we faced whatever was to come together. Along came Glens Falls Hospital, in Glens Falls NY. In the time I had been working for my agency, they had never had a med/surg job posted for Glens Falls Hospital. It was a 45 minute drive from my moms home. There was no way I was going to get a job any closer to home. It was clearly a blessing from God, an answered prayer!! I did not want to go. It was a day shift position, I had not worked day shift in a long time. What if I couldn't keep up with the pace? It was also float pool, I didn't want to do float pool. Never knowing what floor you were going to be on, what if I wasn't up to the challenge? I really did not want to go, but I did.

Towards the end of my assignment at Glens Falls I started praying again. I want to go where you send me God. I want to serve. But I also am further in debt again and would like to catch up. My health is feeling the impact of little or no sleep, stress and worry. I need to get back on track so I can be there for my patients and my family. I feel so weak and drained right now, please help me. Please guide me. Along came Mayo Clinic Health System - Franciscan Healthcare in La Crosse, WI. It's not anywhere I had ever considered going. My agency contacted me, knowing I needed more pay, and asked if I would be interested in going to Wisconsin. It seemed that I would be able to get my license quickly and the job paid much better than any of the others that were currently posted that I was qualified for. I am smart in some areas, geography is not one of them, I had to look at a map to see where Wisconsin was. It was God directing me again. I did not want to go. Mom had died just over a month prior. I did not want to leave family and friends so soon after. I did not want to go somewhere so far, knowing I would not be able to come home for a visit, but I did. 

How Gracefully Did I REALLY Follow When HE Lead Me Where I Did Not Want To Go??

I see no point in being anything but honest. That I went kicking and screaming is what comes to mind. Clearly, He was not physically dragging me, and I was not physically kicking and screaming.....but I was complaining......lots!!

The entire time I was preparing to go to NYC, for my assignment at Calvary Hospital, I complained. I admitted I felt I was being called there. I admitted that it was actually the only option I had at the time, but I told my entire family that I didn't want to go............repeatedly! I told them I didn't want to work somewhere where they did palliative care oncology. I hadn't done either before, maybe I wouldn't be any good at it. Plus, I felt it would be too hard emotionally considering moms diagnosis.

As soon as I met the staff, and saw the interactions between the staff and the patients, I started to think this is a wonderful place and I am blessed to be here. I became excited to learn the routines and protocols for the hospital, I was eager to do a good job, to provide the best care I possibly could for each and every one of my patients. And then the inevitable happened, there was a night when two patients died, and then another night when three died. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I held it together at work, but when I went home I could not sleep. I could only sob. Through prayer, and through counsel with my Reverend at home, I was able to develop ways to cope with the loss. I still felt it deeply, but I was no longer incapacitated by it. In the end, I LOVED my time at Calvary Hospital. I learned so much, as a nurse, and as a Christian. I was deeply touched by patients, their families, and by staff. I don't know if I made any lasting impact on their lives, but they certainly did on mine!! I miss my friends at Calvary, and would gladly work with them again.
So, the move to Glens Falls Hospital went smoother.....right? After all, I was getting a job close to home, the only thing I had asked for. Wrong..............more complaining. I complained about working day shift. I have severe allergies, some foods I have a reaction to just being around them. I complained about the increased risk of reactions working days. I fretted over keeping up with the pace, as I had been working nights for quite some time. I fretted and complained about being in the float pool, and there were other complaints as well. In the end, I floated to the T3, the oncology floor, a couple of times and loved it, I also floated to the renal floor a couple of times. The rest of the time I was on T6, the cardiology floor, and 3E the Rehab floor. Both were busy floors, in much different ways, and I loved both. The staff on both floors were great to work with, and staff on both floors exemplified team work. On the rehab floor, the doctor, mid levels, nurse and therapists all worked closely together to maximize patient outcomes. The Scheduler and staff in the staffing office were pleasant and easy to work with. Nursing leadership was supportive and available. I loved my time at Glens Falls Hospital. Again, there are staff and patients there who made a lasting impact on my life. Again, I miss my friends at Glens Falls Hospital, and would gladly work with them again.

Then there was my move to WI..........yep, I complained. Working for Mayo was going to be a great opportunity, so what's to complain about?  Well, mostly that I didn't want to be so far from family after the emotional upheaval of moms death. Honestly, if I could have, I would have convinced family members who have moved away from home to move back. I felt the need to be surrounded by family, to try to keep everyone I love safe, and healthy and well. As if that is even within my power. I know now, and knew then, that the very best thing I could do for them is/was to pray and to have faith that God would be with each and every one of them. I cannot explain my irrational need to have them all close, but feelings cannot always be explained. Know what? I have met some great people here! Staff I really like, patients who have touched me deeply, and people outside of the hospital too. 

Notice The Theme?

I pray for guidance and direction. God answers my prayer. I go, but complaining all the way. Once there (wherever He has lead me), it turns out to be a great experience that changes my life or my perspective for the better. I end up loving the people I am working with, and the place I am working. Each time I have experiences that make me feel closer to Him. Repeat............

What Will I Pray For Now?

I will still pray for guidance as to where I should go next. I anticipate that someday He will lead me home to a place where I will settle, but that will be in his time. I will pray for Him to watch over my family and friends, and keep them safe, healthy and happy. I will pray to be of service. I will pray for jobs that will help me to resolve financial affairs. And now I will pray to have the strength to face fears and anxiety about new jobs and locations without all of the complaining.


Sunday, March 2, 2014

What Does Mission Mean to You? How Are You Being Called?

The spirit of Christ is the spirit of missions. The nearer we get to Him, the more intensely missionary we become. --Henry Martyn, missionary to India and Persia.

He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose. --Jim Elliot, missionary martyr who lost his life trying to reach the Auca Indians of Ecuador.

I do not know how it is with those of you who have lived your whole lives following Christ, since you were youngsters at your parents knees. For me, finally ready to follow Christ in my adulthood, I made the conscious choice with great joy and much jubilation. I was so eager to find ways to serve, was so eager to share the good news, and yet so unprepared!!!

I knew little of scripture, knew little of anything actually. I had so much to learn, and I still do. In fact, it has become clear to me that I can spend the rest of my life learning and growing in Christ and I will still have so much more to learn!!

The word mission, in my youth and young adulthood, would have only evoked thoughts of secret agents, mystery, intrigue, excitement and danger. I would have envisioned being the female version of 007 James Bond, or maybe of Simon Templar, The Saint. In reality, I would have been much more likely to be like the goofy, accident prone, Maxwell Smart who was only able to accomplish the goals of his mission through luckily stumbling into positive outcomes.

As I began to open my heart and mind to Jesus, I began to think about completely different types of mission. I wanted to go out into the world and serve, to share Gods word, to find a way to help others. Aren't we suppose to help others, aren't we suppose to share the love of God, certainly I had to do something. I sought out different ways to do this. I found many things that I just wasn't suited to. Serving on committees just isn't me. I get frustrated when it takes too long to get things done, I don't like endlessly discussion to decide the simplest of matters. I know this isn't always the way it is, but sometimes it is, and that is too much for me. I always want to say "Let's make a decision and get it done!" and if others won't, then I will. I tend to take on too much because I just want to "get it done"!

Along the way, I found I am much happier and better suited to being in a more active role. I enjoy, and am good at, serving at meals. I was happy volunteering for Habitat for Humanity with a church group. I am happy lifting, and carrying and setting up for meetings, events, dinners. I am also happy when I can discuss God with others, when I can hear about their journey or tell them about mine, when we can read and study scripture together, and form relationships. I am always looking for new opportunities, to find ways that the gifts He gave me can be used. I am always asking Him to guide me to whatever it is He wishes for me to do.

Next week, I am going on a mission trip with a group from home. I believe I am being called to this, only time will tell. I have prayed about it often, and I am very excited about the trip. When I return, I will share more details.

The thing is.....we are all called to mission, we are all disciples, we are all meant to go out into the world and share the word of God and the love of God. We are meant to do that, and so much more. It may be a mission trip, it may be working at a soup kitchen, it may be teaching Sunday School. The possibilities are endless. They can be in our church, in our neighborhood, in our town....well, you can see where this is going. It can be as close as our next door neighbor or as far as the most distant village on our planet. Talk to God about it, pray for guidance, pray for discernment, and then go out into the world!!! How can we, in good conscience, fail to share the good news, through word and deed. If we truly believe in His unconditional love, if we truly believe in His total forgiveness, if we truly believe in eternal life, then how can we not want to share that news?

Heavenly Father, please guide us and show us how we can carry Your word out into the world. Help us to know how best we can serve You, how we can use our God given gifts to bring all glory to God. In the name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Post 6 in 7 days, taking a new direction today.....

Today has been a day of rest for me! I have been exhausted, and it finally caught up with me. Since I am fully committed to the 7 posts in 7 days, but was at a loss to find energy today, my daughter suggested that my post could be a quote. As I looked at a great many possibilities to quote people of great faith, and of great knowledge, I seemed incapable of even choosing who to quote.

I am guessing I am not the only one who has ever had a day of indecision. Nor am I the only one who has ever had a day where creativity seemed blocked. In the end, I have chosen to share a poem. It is a little rhymey, but you never know what is going to speak to your heart on a given day. Some days it is great music, great literature, great quotes......and sometimes it is just a rhymey little poem. I hope that it speaks to a few of you as well. In the meantime, wishing you all many blessings from God.

No Greater Love

Redemption comes through Him alone

No greater love have we ever known

He died on the cross to save us from our sins

Three days later He rose again

 He taught us all how we should live

Through faith and love, our lives we give

When, in the end, we are called home

We bow before Him on His throne

When we are given passage through Heavens door

We will live in joy, peace and love forever more


Friday, February 28, 2014

What Happens When You Figure Out Gods Plan?

Have you ever realized that you have figured out God's plan for you? Maybe not the blueprint for you entire life, but the path for the immediate future with regards to a specific area. For instance your career path, or a plan for mission work, or your personal life and relationship?

I have, many times. I am not talking about the dreams I had regarding my blog, the experiences that I had that were totally unlike anything else I had ever experienced. I'm talking about the times when I felt so strongly about someone or something, when I wanted something so badly that I couldn't see how anything could get in the way of me and my desired goal.

These times, hopefully all in my past, these are the times when I have decided that I must have figured out Gods plan. It is easy to rationalize, easy to visualize the plan and the outcomes. Easy to say that "I wouldn't want this job so bad, feel so strongly and desperately that I MUST have this job, unless God intended for me to have it. God must be calling me to this, otherwise why would He let me want it sooooo much?"

Yes, sadly, this has also been a thought process I have followed with regards to relationships. I have had times when I "figured out" the reason why God put friends into my life. They were going through a particularly painful time that was similar to one of my life experiences, or they needed a friend who could support and encourage them. In some cases, I have made lifelong friends. In others I responded to the fact that the new "friend" desperately needed someone to listen, help or support them and only realized much later that the relationship was not really a friendship at all. Or at least by my definition, as the relationships were so one sided, but it would take me a very long time of being emotionally drained before I would realize this.

In another instance I feel head over heals in love, the first and really only time in my life. He was the perfect man......no, I didn't really believe he was perfect at all. What I did believe is that he was the perfect man for me. We went through a series of roadblocks and speed bumps, and each time I felt so incapable of letting go. I felt so emotionally connected, so madly, desperately, completely in love. With each problem along the way the depth of my feelings for him were unchanged, I was convinced that this was a sign that God intended for us to be together. There were other things I took as signs of this. A call that came through on my cell phone when I was in a location where I had no cell signal, a time when I prayed "if I am suppose to hang on, and we are suppose to be together, please do ......(don't remember specifically what)....to give me a sign that it is meant to be. In the end, I had to face some very hard truths. Things did not work out between us, he made choices that lead him in a different direction. I have accepted that, and yet there will always be some kind of connection between us.

These instances were all before my baptism, before I declared my intention to follow Jesus. The times when I "knew" what God's plan was were some of the hardest lessons on my faith journey. Clearly I was choosing to believe what I wanted to, or needed to, and then finding ways to "prove" it was what God wanted. As a species, we are so skilled at building a case for believing we are justified in having our own way.

Also worth mentioning, even if God did intend for someone to be "our destiny", he also gives us the gift of free will. It is important for us to remember others can choose to accept that destiny, or choose to follow a different path.

After many mistakes, I now know this.......I will follow where God leads me. I will be prayerful, and will try not to fall into the trap of guessing what His plan is. I will accept that free will allows people to follow, or not follow, Gods plan for them, and if their choice leads them away from me.......well, I will have faith that God has something different planned for me.

Trust in Gods plan for your life, don't try to second guess it. Live in the moment and listen for His message!!

Heavenly Father, please help us to listen for Your message. Help us to live in the moment, without dwelling on the past or guessing at the future. Thank You for Your wisdom, for Your grace, and for Your unconditional love. Thank You for the opportunities You give us to share Your love with others. Thank You for knowing our needs, and the concerns of our hearts, even when we do not have the words to adequately express them. Amen

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Being called to Calvary, being called to a new understanding.

1 Peter 4:10-11

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God's varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies - in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.

I was called to Calvary, as surely as I was called to write my blog, for a multitude of reasons that I have still not fully understood. During my time here, my understanding has been slowly evolving. Little by little, I become aware of a new lesson learned, a new level of perception, and yet I am forced to acknowledge that I will never fully understand God's plan. This is hard for me, as I am a person who likes to analyze, and over analyze, everything. I like to know the why behind things, and I like to know the plan from beginning to end.

My job at Calvary Hospital came at the end of the months of unemployment spent home in Vermont, it is seeming to me like so many of my blogs, so many of my experiences on my faith journey, relate back to that period of time in some way. Which says to me that I am still learning how important that time was, it was a time to focus on faith, growing in my relationship with Christ, learning, and evolving, as well as being an important time with my family. I think I could easily write a dozen posts about what I learned during that time, but that is not my focus for this post.....so, back to the point!!

Calvary Hospital is different from any hospital I have ever experienced. The focus of Calvary Hospital is palliative care for end of life cancer patients. The hospital has an excellent reputation, and does a very good job within their specialty. I have never done palliative care or hospice care before, and was surprised that this job was offered to me with none of the usual interview process. There were a whole series of events surrounding this job offer that made me feel very sure that God was calling me to come here, although I could not fathom the reasons.

Initially, I struggled with the different mindset, and skill set, that was required for the day to day needs of palliative care nursing. Soon I was struggling with much more!! I have dealt with death and dying throughout my nursing career, every nurse had, but I was not prepared for the emotional implications of knowing that all of my patients were approaching their final days. Nor was I prepared for the impact of caring for end of life cancer patients when someone very close to me was actively battling cancer. It was evident, early on, that Calvary did an excellent job of managing the needs of their patients, and that their patients comfort was the priority. And yet....I took every death personally, I was use to doing everything possible to save patients, to extend life.

While they were infrequent, there were nights when we would have two patients on our floor pass, and on one occasion there were three in one night. I would find myself coming home from work and sobbing, or on occasion I would find tears streaking down my cheeks when I left the floor for my break. I frequently sent tearful and emotional messages to my Pastor back home in Vermont. I would say that God bestowed many gifts on that man, and that he probably had to draw on many of them during this time frame to help me through this emotionally charged period of my life!!

My Pastor came up with an excellent suggestion to help me deal with the emotional and spiritual drain I experienced with so much loss. He suggested that I have a private ceremony to say my goodbyes, to release the pain I was experiencing, to let go. He expressed it so much more clearly, he was more eloquent in his words, but this expresses the essence of what I took away from the conversation. He also suggested possibly incorporating elements of fire, air, water.

Since I was lucky enough to have an apartment on the water, I decided that the beach would be the perfect place for my ceremony. Every Sunday I would walk on the beach, say a prayer for patients who had passed on, and then I would throw a flower out onto the water for each patient who had passed that week, speaking each of their names as I threw a flower. The calm, the sense of peace, the relief that this simple ceremony brought was amazing!!!

After a period of a couple of months I had gradually become aware of my changing perception that these patients were going home, were being embraced and welcomed by God, and were beyond any suffering. I started to see their passing as their ultimate reward, I began to wonder why it had taken me so long to understand this. While I still would shed a few tears at their passing, there were times when I would have been very pressed to determine if they were tears of sorrow, joy or relief. I decided I no longer needed to have my ceremonies. I had finally come to a point of being able to care for patients as they passed without feeling such a personal drain.

What a mistake that was!! After a couple of weeks I noticed I was feeling down, was unhappy, something just wasn't right. I couldn't figure it out. I examined my feelings closely, and I was sure that it wasn't the passing of my patients that was making me feel this way. It took me a while to realize that, towards the end of my weekly ceremonies, my prayers had slowly started evolving. My prayers had become less about my patients and more about praying for God to provide their families with comfort, strength and peace as they dealt with the death of their loved ones. You see, in this setting, the families also become our patients. I immediately resumed my ceremonies, this time with the families as my focus, and the relief was instant!!

I suspect God brought me here for many reasons, the list of lessons and growth is long, but I suspect that very lesson is one of the most important ones. That grief is more about those of us left behind, missing our loved ones, wondering about the unknown, addressing our own faith and mortality, than it is about the ones who have passed. I also suspect I should have known this all along, I experienced a lot of loss at a relatively young age, but some of us learn more slowly. Maybe, just maybe, He knew I wouldn't start learning and understanding until I experienced a larger volume of loss in a short period of time.

Revelation 21:4

He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Deliverance Ministries, Unlocking Roadblocks Along My Faith Journey

 Ephesians  1:13
And you also were included in Christ when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation. Having believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit.

On September 20th and 21st of last year I was lucky enough to go to Towson, MD for an Unbound Ministy Conference, courtesy of my lovely daughter Sarah. Ever since, I have been meaning to write about it. Now, after several months filled with varied experiences along my journey, I am finally ready.

On the first day of the Unbound Conference, or first evening more accurately, I must admit to having mixed feelings. It had been a while since I had read Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance. I was tired, as I had just driven from a small town in central VT to Towson, MD. I was also mostly excited about spending the weekend with my daughter, and getting a chance to meet a couple more of her friends. This opportunity came towards the end of my 12 week period of unemployment and, while I was glad to know I would be starting a new work contract on September 30th, my mind was on the move I would be making to NYC on my return to VT.

Author Neal Lozano, who is also a pastor and teacher on deliverance, began speaking about deliverance ministries, Unbound, the experiences he and his wife  Janet had shared along their journey, his team, and what we could expect of the Conference. He also spoke about the five keys to the Unbound process. And referenced the quote we have all probably heard, that life is 10% what happens and 90% how we deal with it......but this time it was referenced in regards to how we deal with things being potential roadblocks to our faith, and our personal relationships with God.

It is important for me to recount what was going on in my life at the time, as I am certain it had everything to do with my initial response to the Unbound experience. I am ashamed to say that, as I sat there listening on Friday evening, I am fairly certain that I mentally rolled my eyes at least once. In fact, I can remember thinking something along the lines of "this sounds like so much of the psycho babble that was spouted so often in the 70's". I consoled myself with the fact that my daughter and her friend Becky were there with me, and that it would be a bonding experience for us.

Saturday morning, after a good nights rest, some breakfast and a good cup of coffee, I felt much more open to the experience. We began to learn about the five keys more in depth. We heard about specific cases, and we heard testimonials from previous program participants. As we went from one session to the next it all started to make sense, I started to become excited about learning more, I could see that deliverance ministries had brought, and could bring, people to a much closer relationship with Jesus. This had brought emotional and spiritual healing to so many, and I could see the potential for thousands to be similarly effected. By the time we went to lunch I was excited and energized...........

I also started to become anxious. You see, there had been sign up sheets for conference participants to sign up for individual sessions with ministry teams. I had signed up for one. We had been told that there would not be time for everyone to have an individual session, and that those who traveled the farthest would be given priority. Arrangements were made for local people to have the opportunity at a later date. There were sheets to write down the things you would like to address with the team, but I could think of nothing. We had discussed forgiveness, and the possibility that for our freedom we may have people we need to forgive. We had discussed a whole host of blocks to our own faith, our own relationships with Christ, and I did not see myself in any of the scenarios.....did not think I had issues with any of the things discussed. And then something happened. We were practicing one of the methods for renouncing specific sins. Initially, I was just repeating the phrases and feeling nothing.....these issues were not problems for me. Then something struck a cord, it was discussion of believing you are not good enough, discussion of being undeserving of love, discussion of not being able to forgive myself......basically not forgiving myself for being incapable of protecting everyone I love from ever experiencing anything bad, and also for making some bad choices in my life.

As the time for my session drew near, I became more and more anxious. What if the things I brought to the team weren't important enough? What if I wasted their time when someone else who could really benefit from the session did not get the opportunity? What if we addressed what I brought forward and then I didn't "feel" anything different, or didn't experience the freedom that other participants did?

As I sat in the waiting room, chatting with other participants, I started to feel more relaxed. Then a young man came to escort me to my session, he was one of the team members who would be involved in my personal ministry session. As I left the waiting room, I started to feel that it was difficult to breathe. With every step closer to the room my session was to be held in, it became more difficult to breathe. I entered the room to find that Neal Lozano himself was to be the leader of my ministry team. At first all I could manage to say to him was that I felt like I couldn't breathe!!!!

The team was very patient, and soon I was able to start bringing my thoughts forward. With love, respect, caring and skill Neal coaxed thing out of me that I had not even realized were buried in my heart and mind. As soon as they were exposed to the light of day, I did recognize them as deeply held thoughts and feelings that had been with me for years. The entire team was so loving and supportive, it was such a safe environment. I answered questions, brought forward some of my concerns, and sobbed uncontrollably through the first part of the session. I don't know if this is everyone's experience, I am admittedly a crier!!

As we progressed through the process, I gradually realized I wasn't crying anymore. I began to feel lighter, less weighed down. I asked Neal to stop at one point because I felt positively giddy, I felt like laughing and felt light headed. When I was ready to continue I noticed that I continued to feel lighter, happier, I felt free. There was an overwhelming feeling of joy, contentment, a sense of well being that I cannot adequately describe. When Neal asked how I felt my initial, and immediate, reaction was to say "I can breathe".

Once back with Sarah and Becky, I was telling them about the session. We went for dinner shortly thereafter, and enjoyed some time relaxing together before returning for the end of the program. We talked about the fact that people would be invited to give testimonials about their experience, and I adamantly stated that I would never do that!! And yet, once it was time for testimonials, who do you think ended up in front of the crowd giving a testimonial???? Yep, me!!! Afterwards I wished I had planned on it all along, because there are things I wish I had said but didn't.

I have deliberately steered away from specifying what the five keys are, from using much of the language of Unbound Ministries, from sharing specific testimonials or even experiences or credentials of the team. There is a reason for this. The reason is that I am hoping that someone will read this and be encouraged to read the book, Unbound: A Practical Guide to Deliverance by Neal Lozano. I am hoping that someone who reads this will seek out the opportunity to attend an Unbound: Freedom in Christ Conference. I would also encourage you to check out the website, at: http://www.heartofthefather.com/

James 5:16
Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective.

"As a pastor and teacher on deliverance, Neal Lozano knows that many believers struggle with the same sin areas time after time. Yet victory can be as simple as tapping into the potent power of the gospel. By focusing on Jesus and his work, rather than on the intimidating aspects of evil spirits, readers can reset their mindset about their spiritual struggles. In Unbound, Lozano shows readers how to do just this. He also shows them how to find and close any doors they may have opened to evil influence and, consequently, Satan's underhanded strategies. Balanced and full of hope, Unbound is a practical, thorough, and easy-to-follow guide to deliverance and freedom. It also includes practical instruction on praying for others to be set free."

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

What does it mean to find Jesus??

Proverbs 16:9
The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.

We've all heard people say "I found Jesus". I have always wondered what that means, what are we implying by that statement? Did Jesus wander away, was he distracted? Or maybe he briefly gave up on us and turned his back on us, leaving us needing to search for him once we were ready to invite him into our lives?

It could be argued that at the very core of this phrase is our need to feel self directed. It is true that God gave us free will, we can chose to follow Christ or we can chose to turn away. Sometimes, in our knowledge of our right to free will, we feel so full of self importance that we seem to feel that the existence of God is dependent on our belief. How very arrogant of us!!

God is with us every moment of our lives, the teachings of Christ are constant and consistent regardless of our willingness, or our refusal to, learn or follow. His love for us is true and unconditional, even when we chose to ignore it. Why would we chose to ignore such a great and unconditional love? Despite the fact that Jesus died to save us from sin, despite the fact that all we need do is ask and we are forgiven, declaring our intention to follow in Christ's path comes with an expectation that we will try to improve, try to move away from our sinful path and towards God, it takes effort, it takes sacrifice, it takes self denial at times.....and we are a people and a culture that tends to embrace self gratification in many forms!!

When I attended my Walk to Emmaus, I heard a rather good analogy. A husband and wife, married many years, were traveling down the road in their truck. The wife said "Why don't you sit with your arm around me when you are driving, like you use to?" The husbands response was "I haven't moved." I didn't get it at first. As usual, I was over-thinking things. I wondered, Is the husband implying the changes in the relationship are all the wife's fault? I went quite a ways down the path of thoughts about emotional distance in relationships being based on many factors, and not being the fault of just one person, before I got one simple fact. The husbands position in the truck could not have moved, he is driving......the steering wheel is in the same place, the brake and gas pedals are in the same place, he could not have moved!! Therefore the wife had clearly moved away from him.

God never leaves our side. He is there waiting to give us total forgiveness, to let us experience his unconditional love. It is we who move away.......We are as close to God as we chose to be!!

Revelation 3:20
Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Tonight, I say to you, I have not found Jesus!! Rather, I have finally opened my eyes and seen He was there all along.....waiting for me!! "I once was blind, but now I see......." Thank you Heavenly Father for the amazing grace and mercy you have shown me all of my life!! Thank You for waiting until I was ready to open my eyes and see it!! Thank You for the blessings you bestow on me every day!! Amen!!

Monday, February 24, 2014

I've Proclaimed My Intention to Follow Jesus, It Should Be Easy Now.........Right????

Proverbs 20:9

 Who can say, "I have kept my heart pure; I am clean and without sin"

As Christians, we declare our willingness, or more accurately our desire, to follow Jesus. We know he was sent here to sacrifice his own life for our salvation. He was also sent as a Rabbi, Messiah, Prophet, Teacher.....for without his teaching we would not understand the enormity of that ultimate act of self sacrifice. Nor would we recognize or understand the unconditional love that was at the root of this very act.

Some of us are baptized in our youth, we learn about Jesus and his teachings all throughout our lives, our faith is a part of our past, present and future. For others, like me, we come to our faith later in life, we are baptized as adults. As an adult coming to faith in Christ, I experienced excitement, eagerness and a hunger to learn. I knew I was a sinner and I was eager to renounce sin, eager to follow wherever God lead me, eager to share The Word, and prayed often for direction.

While I didn't believe that there would be an instant and complete transformation in my life, I did believe it would be relatively easy to renounce sin, to seek God in all things, to discern what it is he wanted from/for me, to find my path. In many ways it has been easier.....but easier does not actually equate to easy!

There are times when I feel so filled with The Holy Spirit that I feel energized, motivated, excited, hopeful and eager to share that feeling with everyone I can. There are also times when I fall back into old patterns of self doubt, loneliness, indecision, and even fear. These are sins as surely as the more obvious sins of greed, anger, hate, lust, and lies. Indecision and fear, particularly fear of making a wrong choice and therefore not making a choice at all, keep us from using the gifts God gave us to do the work God calls us to. Feelings of loneliness keep us inwardly focused, focused on our personal needs rather than our calling, keeps us from seeing the needs of others in the world and from acting to provide comfort, care, safety and love to our fellow brothers and sisters. And self doubt...........

Self doubt is the sin I am battling recently, and have off and on throughout my life. How can self doubt be a sin? I don't doubt God at all, or that he is guiding my life every single day. It is my ability to "live up to" the path and work he is calling me to that I doubt. So again, I ask, how is that a sin? Well, here is what I finally realized. If God is calling me to a particular path, and He knows my every strength and flaw, then He knows more than I what I can and cannot do. By doubting myself, am I in effect doubting His judgement in calling me to a task? I would say to you that I am still not doubting His judgement, but doubting that I am accurately discerning His message to me. I have, in the past, convinced myself that if I want something as badly as I do then it must mean that it is what God wishes. There are times when that certainly could be the case, except there is a flaw to that rationale.

You see, I wrote a blog post last November about my calling to write this very blog. The manner in which I received Gods message was so unique, so completely outside of the realm of anything I had ever experienced in my entire life, that there was not....and is not.....any doubt in my mind that it was a message from God!! I was so excited to have received a message from God, to know at least a part of the path He wanted me to take. I couldn't wait to write about it. I wrote more consistently for a while after that, but I have always been a results or goal driven person, and I did not see any evidence of my writing accomplishing everything. Soon I was feeling self doubt, maybe I didn't write well enough, maybe I was choosing the wrong topics, maybe I should wait to write another post until I had the time and motivation to write an enthralling and perfectly composed post...................and so I stopped writing completely while I waited for that motivation.

My daughter, who writes her own blog: http://greatjesusexperiment.blogspot.com/, encouraged me and tried to help me with motivation, And I would feel encouraged and motivated right up until I booted up my computer, has now challenged me. How smart of her!!! If there is anything that motivates me as well as specific goals it is being challenged!!!!

The challenge is to write 7 blog posts in 7 days. This is going to challenge me in so many ways. I have to write about something, so I will have to pick a subject and commit regardless of doubts that it might not be the "right topic". I cannot write a piece and then save it and revisit it, making edits, for a couple of days before publishing, regardless of doubts about "not writing well enough". The posts will be shorter than my normal posts, there may be spelling and punctuation errors, they will not be perfect.....but they will be representative of what is on my mind for the day, and they will be honest and truly from my heart.

I am reminded of that voice in my head saying "Do not be afraid. It matters not if anyone reads what you write. If you spend the rest of your life writing about your faith, and only one person reads it and invites Me into their life then that is one person who receives My grace and Mercy. And do not be mistaken, you are not writing for yourself, you are writing for ME." To read more about my message from God, and the experience surrounding it, refer to the blog post: Do not be afraid.......   
written on Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Philippians 2:13

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.