“I Do” and I’m glad I Did!!!

Forty-one years ago, on September 2, I married my high school sweetheart and best friend, Terry Carlson.  We dated for five years and couldn’t wait to begin our life together as husband and wife. Terry was 20 and I was 19 years old…but we were both very mature…haha!

Planning the wedding was a blast!   I really didn’t know what style I liked or what colors I wanted so I picked out the first material I saw at the fabric store and my mother-in-law sewed most of the bridesmaid’s dresses.  Back then there were no smart phones or a computers but with pen and paper I checked off each item on the list of all that needed to get done before our big day

*Order wedding cake from Scandia Bakery.               *Ask my cousin, Kathy and our friend, Mich to sing.
*Ask our high school English teacher to play the organ.
*Order wedding invites.
*Order flowers.
*Ask friends to be bridesmaids and groomsmen.
*Ask my nephews and nieces to be flower girl,   ringbearer, Jr. bridesmaid and Jr. groomsmen.
*Buy wedding dress.
*Reserve church and Son’s of Norway for reception.
*Choose songs to be sung during ceremony.
*Find photographer.

Everything checked off and our day finally arrived!  As I waited anxiously in the cry room, guests took their seats in the nearby sanctuary.  Organ music softly  played through the walls of the cry room.  This was the moment Terry and I had dreamed about, talked about, planned for and saved for.

The music paused and I heard Mich and Kathy begin to sing our song, Baby, by John Denver.  I was overcome with emotion and began to cry.  We changed a few of the words to make it a wedding song.  The lyrics of the chorus goes like this:

“And the wind will whisper your name to me
Little birds will sing along in time
Leaves will bow down when you walk by
And morning bells will chime.”

We changed morning bells to wedding bells will chime. ( I know…the lyrics seem cheesy today but 41 years ago  it was romantic.)

You can hear the orginal song if you click here:

https://www.bing.com/search?q=john+denver+song+baby&form=EDGTCT&qs=PF&cvid=e15f1b8bd5504d78b8de78042b100dc8&refig=f51aa0cb61994ff7e47a98afa63fa6d3&cc=US&setlang=en-US

I could not stop crying. I didn’t wear any make up, and it’s a good thing because it would have all come off.  I’m not saying a few tears were shed…I’m saying I was full on UGLY, cannot stop, crying.

After all my bridesmaids arrived at the altar, I anxiously took my Dad’s arm.  The “old traditional”, Here Comes The Bride began and all the guests stood.  I tried to quit crying but, oh no, there was no stopping it.  Terry took my trembling hands as we stood in front of the pastor.  He repeated his vows and then it was my turn…I could barely breathe.  I began to repeat my vows, took a breath which burst into a loud snort!! Our ringbearer and flower girl began to cry…Years later I found out they cried because they thought weddings were sad.  Several guests were in tears, too. We made heartfelt vows of “I Do” before God for better or worse, for richer or poor, in sickness and in health…til death us do part.  And we lived happily ever after….ha ha!!!

Terry and I didn’t know Jesus personally when we got married but He knew us!!! God’s Hand was on us. He knew the plans He had for us and we would accept His gift of grace and salvation five years later by acknowledging our need for Him and proclaim Him as Lord and Savior.

Have we lived “happily ever after”?  Some days…sure. But honestly, no, not really. Would I marry Terry all over again?….YES, YES, YES!!!  But in real life we walked through seasons of good and bad. Seasons of great times and seasons of hard times and losses. I used to think love was a feeling and if you lose that feeling…uh oh.  Love is oh, soooo much more than that.

I’m so thankful to God for Terry.  Is he a perfect husband?  Uh…noooo!  But he’s the perfect husband for me.  Does he ever irritate me…Uh, yessss!  Does he have some habits that truly annoy me…Oh yeah!!  Oh, please quit fidgeting and flush the toilet even when it’s just yellow!!!!

We are experts at pushing each other’s hot buttons. Some days we don’t like each other at all.  We are two imperfect persons God continues to change and grow and love on…not sure we will ever reach perfection… haha!  One verse God keeps bringing to mind when I feel like being snitty…“A gentle answer turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” Proverbs 15:1.  It actually works, if I choose to apply it.

Looking back, 41 years ago!!  Wow!!!  We didn’t even know the meaning of love, but we humbly continue to learn from God through the Bible how to love, honor, trust, respect and stay committed to each other even when times aren’t great.

The Lord has allowed very tough things to come our way in our forty-one years of marriage.  As John Denver’s song said, I’ll walk in the rain by your side.  Boy, that was more than prophetic. We lost our family home and most of our possessions in the flood of 1990.  We tore the remains of our home down to the studs and began to rebuild.  For thirteen months our family weathered that storm together and faithfully walked in the rain by each other’s side.  We made a flood video of the year documenting the faith filled journey God took us on. We laugh now at the end of that video when we all decided to celebrate by rapping a grand finale song.

Terry and I were blessed with three beautiful children:  Katie, Jaymi and Michael.  Terry walked by my side in the season of being a mother of preschoolers.  I thought everything would come naturally to me, but it didn’t.  By God’s grace, through His Word in church, Bible study and MOPS, He blessed us as parents. Now we enjoy our ten grandchildren and are very excited to meet #11 this February.

Through years of chronic illness and chronic pain, Terry has been by my side. He’s been my tour guide on many expensive, painful dental vacations…we both would have preferred Hawaii or the Bahamas. He has loved me through:

*Eleven painful root canals.                                 *Mercury toxicity.                                                        *Chronic fatigue syndrome.                                       *Eleven teeth extracted because of the root canals. *Years of horrific tmj pain.                                      *Kidney infections.                                                     *Chronic neck pain.                                                               *All teeth extracted.                                                  *Adrenal fatigue.                                                  *Depression.                                                                *Surgeries for bone grafts and dental implants.

Through it all, Terry is still loving me despite me having no teeth, failing bone grafts, failing implants and another bout with heavy metal toxicity. I look like Grandma Pitypoo, but Terry sees my beauty. (I think his eyes must be going bad!) I know his hearing is…we play Scrabble quite often with each other and we each drew our letters to see who goes first.

Terry got up and told me, “I got the letter C and I have to go pee.”

I drew my letter and yelled to him, ” I got the letter T.”

He said,”What?”

I repeated loudly, “I got the letter T!”

His response was, “Well use the other bathroom then.”

He has hearing aids but doesn’t wear them around me…hmmm!

I once told Terry he should have looked into my mouth before he married me. He may have changed his mind when he saw my teeth. He said, “You never look a gift horse in the mouth…and you are a gift to me.” AWWW!! So Sweet!!!

I’ve walked by his side through:                               *Many painful job transitions.                                 *Two kidney stones.                                                           *A heart surgery, stroke, and a botched stent surgery.

But, by God’s grace, today we love each other even more and remain best friends. He will finish my sentences before I do. I will finish his thoughts before he speaks them. I couldn’t have picked a better Daddy for our kids. I wouldn’t want to be an Ama/Grandma with anyone else…what a joy it is to enjoy grandchildren together. I wouldn’t have wanted to go through or grow through life with anyone else by my side, than you, Terry.  I love you!!!  Happy 41st Anniversary to you!! And I thank you Jesus for giving us the strength and power to walk through each storm you permit in our lives. We could not do it without you!!! I pray you will bless us with many more years together!!!

If you would like to join our blogging family, please fill out the following form.

Small Talk Is A Seed Which, When Watered, Can Grow Into Something Beautiful

“Small talk is an informal type of discourse that does not cover any functional topics of conversation or any transactions that need to be addressed.  Small talk is conversation for it’s own sake.”

The author of the above definition appears to believe ‘small talk’ is overrated as a means of communication.  Ellen DeGeneres agrees.  She says, “I hate having to do small talk.  I’d rather talk about deep subjects.  I’d rather talk about meditation , or the world, or the trees, or animals rather than small, inane, you know, banter.”

I have to admit, for most of my life I agreed with Ellen.

My mother likes to tell the story of the conversation she tried having with me after my very first day of school.  She asked a series of the usual questions every mother asks their child like, “What did you learn?…Did you have fun?…Did you make any friends? and…Was the teacher nice?”   

I didn’t say a word so she asked why I wouldn’t tell her how my day went.  As she tells it, I answered her by saying, “If you’d quit asking so many questions, I might be able to tell you something.”

In high school I could have cared less about who was breaking up with whom, who won the beer chugging contest over the weekend and guessing who had recently lost their virginity.  It all seemed so childish and pointless.  Whenever I was in a group, I secretly longed for someone to carry on a deeper conversation with.  So instead of joining in on the current conversation, I often stood silently by, pretending to show interest.

Looking back on those days, at worst others thought I reeked of a giant superiority complex and at best thought I seemed aloof.  I fooled many though into believing I was a great listener but I was actually only bored out of my mind unless someone pulled me away from the crowd to share a meaningful, one-on-one conversation.  This rarely happened because I was waiting for someone else to make the first move.  It wasn’t until years later that I discovered it was up to me to make the first move and it often involved beginning with small talk.

My wife, Karen became my full-time instructor on the art of small talk.  I learned that small talk is often a warm up to deeper conversations.  Slowly but surely I bought into this way of thinking but still often found it uncomfortable around strangers.

They say “practice makes perfect” and driving for Lyft and Uber has proved to be fertile soil to plant my ‘small talk’ seeds.  Every day I drive, I pray for divine appointments…riders who I can share words of encouragement with.  These are opportunities to water my seeds and see what grows.

Some riders also feel the same amount of disdain for ‘small talk’ as Ellen and the seed I plant can’t penetrate the layer of  rocky soil they place over that seed.  Other’s are open to small talk but won’t allow it to grow so eventually the conversation withers and dies.  Then there are those who God has given to me as the answer to my daily prayer.  These conversations start out small, but continue to grow until they blossom into the most beautiful flower imaginable.

For example: I picked up a young woman recently who was open to carrying on a conversation.  She asked me how I liked driving for Uber and I answered by explaining how ordinary small talk often led to extraordinary conversations and I told her a story.

While driving in Seattle I picked up a young women who was crying as she sat in the passenger seat of my car.  I asked her if she was okay and she responded by telling me she had just broke up with her boy friend.  I understood her feelings having raised two daughters who each went through break-ups of their own.  I shared some stories which made her laugh but she then feel silent and began to cry once more.

I asked her if there was anything else she wanted to tell me.  Without looking my way she told me she found out earlier that day she was pregnant.  She told her boyfriend who responded by telling her she had to get an abortion or he would break up with her.  The girl finally looked at me and said, “I won’t get an abortion so I broke up with him.”

I asked her if she had told her parents yet and she slowly shook her head.  “I’m afraid to tell them,” she said.  “I have two older sisters who are both the black sheep of the family but I’m the ‘good’ girl.  My parents will be so disappointed in me.”

She told me she loved her parents and knew they loved her so I explained how they probably would feel disappointment but that their love for her would soon push away that feeling and be her biggest supporters.

After a few more minutes of asking me for advice, she asked if she could change her destination.

“Sure.” I answered.

Her new destination was her parents house.

The girl in the backseat was quiet for a few moments and then said, “I think I’m your ‘divine appointment’ for today.  I can’t believe you decided to share that particular story to me because I’m going through something very similar.”

For the next thirty-minutes she talked, asked questions and by the time she exited my car to go to work,  she was smiling while telling me she hoped  to be one of my divine appointments again.

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Ephesians 4:29

 

 

 

 

 

 

It’s Easier To Give Than To Receive…Just Ask Me.

Esther and Grandpa

It’s easier to give than to receive.  I know this all too well from personal experience.  You see, I am a giver.  I’ve always enjoyed giving gifts.  Over the years, I have volunteered to coach my brother’s baseball teams, then my nephew’s, my son’s, both my daughter’s, and now my grandson’s basketball teams.  I have refereed and umped numerous youth league basketball and baseball games.   I’ve taught Sunday School, led different Bible studies, and helped my wife as we traveled around the Pacific Northwest talking to churches about the Mother’s of Preschooler’s program.  Karen and I have financially given to our local church and to missionaries…both short and long term.

Please don’t misunderstand why I’m telling you this.  I’m not seeking your praise or a pat on the back.  I personally know many people who give far more of their time, talents and money than I ever will.  I enjoy giving.

The opposite side of the coin to giving is receiving and I find that to receive is far more difficult than to give.  I’m not talking about receiving birthday or Christmas gifts…I’m talking about receiving from the reality of experiencing a great need.  I hate feeling needy.

You see, I suffered a stroke on September 26, 2016 which began a long chain reaction of events which drained Karen and I physically, emotionally and financially.  (For more detail on this, please read my blog post… Job, You And I Have A Lot In Common.  http://desiretoinspire.life/dear-job-we-have-a-few-things-in-common-suffering/

Karen in the meantime had needs of her own.   In March of 2017 we got a refinance loan to pay for implants in her lower jaw.  The procedure was a success.  The bone in her jaw grew around and cemented itself securely to the implants.  Several bone grafts from her lower jaw were placed in her upper jaw were bone was insufficient for future  implants.

As August approached, the time arrived to plan for the return trip to Utah to have the ceramic posts inserted and to pay for the $17,000 procedure.  I hadn’t received a paycheck from the school district since June 1st and had used up all our savings.  We couldn’t borrow any more money and were wondering if we were even going to be able to complete the final stage of Karen’s dental journey.

Our three adult children, Katie, Jaymi and Michael asked us if they could start a Go Fund Me website to help pay for the completion of Karen’s need for dental implants in her upper jaw.  We thankfully agreed but inside we both struggled.  Our needs and perceived weaknesses would now be on public display like wild animals in a zoo.

The website started on August 13th and over $600 was raised within the first two weeks.  It was a very humbling experience to watch as $25, $50, $100 and $150 donations from family, friends, acquaintances, strangers and anonymous givers pour in.  Every day we prayed for God’s blessings on those who were giving so generously.

Miraculously, $9,785 was raised by September 3rd.  On faith, Karen made an appointment with the dentist in Utah on September 5th to have the ceramic posts embedded in her upper jaw.  We didn’t know where the additional $7,215 would come from but on September 4th we drove to Bountiful, Utah.

After the surgery, the dentist had both good and bad news.  Dr. Baker was planning to place six or seven post in Karen’s upper jaw.  Some of the bone grafts hadn’t taken so he was only able to insert five.  He told us four is the minimum he would do for dentures to securely attach so five is at least one over the minimum.

We spent that night in our hotel and prayed for the money to come in because the next day we had to pay the piper.  The next morning we checked our Go Fund Me account….$9,785…it hadn’t changed.  We arrived at the dental office and Karen was whisked away to the one of the back rooms to have a follow-up to the surgery while I was told my financial options by a woman at the front desk.  Really there was only one option…we had to finance the bill.  It was interest free if we could pay it off in two-years.  I swallowed hard as I signed for the loan.

The refinance loan we took out in March of 2017 raised our house payment an additional $150 per month, was now paying close to $200 per month for medical insurance,  was required to purchase  a newer car to drive for Lyft which was $280 a month and now we had just taken on another loan of $256 per month.

I was so happy for Karen and hopeful that her long road of dental pain would soon be over.  I was so thankful for all the donations which came in.  To be perfectly honest, I hadn’t expected that much.  I thanked God for these two answers to my prayers but felt disappointed in myself for now feeling the tremendous weight of debt pressing down on me.

I was working an average of six days a week driving for Lyft and still had to drain our remaining savings over the course of the summer just to make ends meet.  Our savings was now gone.  I wouldn’t start driving school bus for another couple of months and even then, I figured I would have to work three or four nights a week and all day on Saturdays just to break even.

Where would I find time to blog and finish the book I’m writing?  Would I have the time to help coach my grandson’s basketball team again this winter?  Where would the time come from to take the long walks with Karen that I enjoy and need so much?  I felt burdened and helpless and I hated feeling this way; where was my faith in God in light of the financial blessings I had just witnessed?

Karen had a follow-up appointment the first of October back in Utah.  In the middle of the fourteen-hour drive, we received a phone call from our daughter Katie.  A couple from their church had just donated over $7,000 to our fund.  That was enough and more to pay off the dental loan.  Relief poured over my parched soul like a thunderstorm in a thirsty desert.

Then it hit me.  All the people who gave so generously were just like me.  They loved to give.  It made them feel good to help meet a need.  But to be able to give, there had to be a receiver.  Without a receiver there would be no one to give to.

Then an old realization hit me in a new way.  We are all in need…why?  Oh, we all have our earthly needs but they are all different and temporary. No, we have all sinned and fall short of the glory of God.  We have a need for a Savior who will pay the debt of sin for us.  You see, God is the ultimate giver.  While the world was in opposition to God, he sent his only son to die for us.

Are you in opposition to God?  Financial debt leaves one in bondage to a creditor.  Sin leaves us in bondage to Satan.  Every breath you take is a gift from God but do you take that same breath and exhale your acknowledgment that Jesus is not only your savior but also Lord of your life?  Jesus gave his life for you.  He’s looking for people to accept that gift just like Karen and I accepted the financial gifts of so many people.   Their gifts removed some of the weight of financial debt from my shoulders.  Jesus can remove a debt we as humans can never remove ourselves.

I want to publicly thank all of those people who sacrificially gave to help Karen and I.  Now please consider turning your lives over to the One who sacrificially gave His life for you.  As Karen would say, CHEWS JESUS…Taste and see that the Lord is good.

[ninja_form id=4]

 

 

Honey, I’m Home. By The Way…I Invited A “Divine Appointment” To Spend The Night With Us.

Papa and Hannah

Divine Appointments…I pray for them every day as I drive my Camry down the streets of Seattle, waiting for my smart phone to ping announcing a person in need of a ride.  A few weeks ago I was driving down I-5 heading toward Seattle when Gloria (an affectionate name I’ve given my cell phone) informed me I had a customer waiting for me on Hwy 99, west of Lynnwood.

Gloria’s temperamental and sometimes unreliable GPS system (which I have recently dubbed Don Quixote) led me to a run down motel.  A sharply dressed young man shuffled out from the bowels of the lobby, dragging two black garbage bags stuffed with what I hoped wasn’t a couple weeks worth of dinner scraps.  I pulled the lever to open the trunk to my car and got out. He moved slowly toward me with what seemed like the weight of the world thrust upon his hunched shoulders.

With a deep sigh, he slung a black leather duffle bag from around his neck and let it drop to the sidewalk.  He was dressed in slacks and a form fitted, button down shirt revealing a physic I was envious of…yet when I opened the trunk he gazed at his belongings as though the thought of having to pick them up was beyond what he could bear.  I quickly put his bags in the trunk and welcomed him to sit in the front passenger seat next to me.

He gingerly climbed in and let out another long sigh.  I asked him if he was okay and he turned his head toward me.  He looked exhausted.

“I don’t feel very well,” he said with a slight accent I couldn’t quite place.

I told him to close his eyes and relax while I drove him to his destination.  In a few minutes, we arrived at a public storage facility.  While I helped carry his things inside, he asked if I would be so kind as to wait for him.  Shortly, the front door of the business opened and the young man began slowly dragging his belongings back toward the car.  I met him half-way and once again put his bags in the trunk.

He slumped into the front seat and put his hands over his face.  “They want $50 more than what I was quoted over the phone.  I can’t afford that.”

“Listen,” I said.  “I’ll take you free-of-charge anywhere you want to go…within reason of course.”

With his head still in his hands he replied, “My girlfriend kicked me out of her apartment and I don’t have anywhere else to go.”

“What about your family or friends?” I asked.

“They aren’t in a position to help me.  I gave up my job and college to follow my girlfriend out here from Houston.  I’ve only been here a few weeks and now I’m homeless.  I never thought I’d be homeless living in America.”

Earlier that day in church, the sermon included the message of the Good Samaritan.  In Luke 10:25-37 an “expert in the law” asks Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life.  It’s a rhetorical question because he already knows the answer and only wants to test Jesus: He says, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength and mind and love your neighbor as yourself.” When Jesus acknowledges that he answered correctly, the Jewish lawyer tries to justify himself by asking Jesus another question:  “Who is my neighbor?

Jesus then tells the story of a man who is mugged by robbers and left to die along the side of the road.  A priest and a Levite, both highly respected religious leaders of the time, ignored the dying man by moving to the opposite side of the road while walking past him.  Then a Samaritan came upon the injured Jew and took pity on him.  He cleaned his wounds, put him on his donkey, brought him to an inn and paid for the innkeeper to take care of him.

Jesus asked the lawyer who he thought the neighbor was to the injured man.  The expert in the law replied, “The man who showed mercy.” 

Jesus then told the lawyer to, “Go and do likewise.”

As I sat silently with the heavy-hearted stranger beside me, the lawyer’s question echoed in my ears: “Who is my neighbor?”

God gently answered, “This young man is.”

A moment of panic welled up inside of me.  “God, I don’t know him.”

“Show him mercy,” God replied.

“Karen won’t understand.”  (It never hurts to try to pass the buck onto someone else.)

“Show him mercy.”

I turned to the dark-skinned stranger.  “How long has it been since you’ve eaten?”

“Two days ago.”

At that moment, my heart melted.  “I want you to come home with me.  My wife will make you some dinner, you can spend the night and we can come up with a plan.”

His eyes brightened.  “Really?  Thank you,” he said.  “Thank you.”

He slept all the way home while I fervently prayed he wasn’t a serial killer or a terrorist.

Karen stood on the deck to greet me when I pulled into our driveway.  Her eyes grew wide as she saw the young stranger get out of the passenger side of the car.  “We need to talk,” was my only words to her as I pulled the young man’s belongings from the trunk of the car.

While the young man got settled in the upstairs guest room, I explained the situation to Karen.  She was surprised but agreed this was the right thing to do.  When he joined us downstairs, we began to get to know him.  For example…While preparing  a ham dinner for our guest, we found out he was Muslim and politely told us he couldn’t eat pork.  While momentarily awkward, this revelation actually allowed us to have an in depth conversation with him about our beliefs.

When it was time to go to bed, I grabbed a hammer and put it on my nightstand.

Karen looked at me like I was crazy.  “What’s that for?”

“I’ve been praying that he’s not a serial killer…but you never know.”  I pointed out to the kitchen.  “Do you want me to get the butcher knife to keep under your pillow?”

“No!!!!” She replied.

The next morning I woke our guest up at 9:30.  He told us that was the best nights sleep he’d had since arriving to Washington.  We fixed him bacon for breakfast (Just Kidding) and had another fascinating conversation with him.  He said he was born in the Congo during that countries civil war and escaped with some of his family to America when he was eight-years-old.  He then told us that he talked to his girlfriend and she agreed to let him stay with her until he began his new job and could pay for a place to stay.

I dropped him off at his girlfriend’s apartment later on that morning.  After saying our goodbyes, we hugged and he pulled out his bags from my trunk.   While I drove away I thanked God for this divine appointment and prayed for others as I turned on my Lyft App to start another work day.

Right away I got a ping.  I picked up two African-American women.  The first woman seemed to have some sort of social impairment but we had a fun conversation before dropping her off at a home in Everett.  The second woman was dressed for work.  While driving her to the Everett train station she asked if I was a Christian.  I told her I was, and asked why.  She told me that she could tell by the conversation I had with her socially awkward friend.  I then proceeded to tell her about my prayer every day for divine appointments and about my new friend from the Congo.

“I don’t believe it!” she exclaimed.  “You just gave a ride to a young man from the Congo?  I grew up in the Congo.  What a coincidence.”

It’s no coincidence…It’s another divine appointment.

[ninja_form id=4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WWJD? When A Stranger Told Me She Was Addicted To Sex and Other UpLyfting Tales From Inside My Camry

Papa and Hanah

If you have read my past posts, you know that on September 26, 2016 I had a stroke which has prevented me from driving school bus for an entire year.  For nine-months I had fun pretending to be retired until the school district I work for quit paying me.  I would not see another paycheck from June 1st until the end of October.  Eventually I’ll drive school bus again, but what could I do in the meantime to pay the bills?

My daughter, Jaymi suggested I go to work driving for Lyft.  What is Lyft you ask?  Just think of Uber without the scandals.  Still confused?  I use my own car to take strangers where they want to go.  It’s like taking a taxi only much less expensive and ,my riders could experience the privilege of having me as their driver.

The choice between driving around in my car listening to music and sports talk on the radio verses flipping burgers at MacDonald’s or break-dancing on the sidewalk, while flipping advertising signs around my chubby body, was a no-brainer.  Becoming a Lyft driver came with one big hurdle – I had to purchase a newer car.  Image is important, so Lyft requires their driver’s use vehicles no older than 2008.  Not only does Lyft want their cars young, they must be ravishing beauties free from blemishes both inside and out.   Karen and I had a 2004 Toyota Corolla and a 2003 Camry.  They were aging poorly.  The Camry’s bumper was held together with duct tape while the Corolla’s paint job revealed many unsightly age-spots.  Both were incontinent, leaking fluids to the point of me wishing Kimberly-Clark would produce a Depends product for the geriatric automobile.

We didn’t have thousands of dollars sitting in our bank account, just waiting to plunk down on a newer car.  Shoot – we just borrowed money to help Karen get the dental implants she most desperately needs. That $20,000 loan only covered half the procedure.  After much research into what I could realistically make with Lyft and then much prayer, we decided to pull the trigger and look for a newer car. We eventually bought a 2014 Camry Hybrid.  It was pricy, but the hybrid drinks less fuel than its gas guzzling older brother also named Camry but without a last name.  The hybrid was more spacious than most other hybrids.

I started driving for Lyft on June 4th and have never regretted it.  I enjoy talking to my customers.  Not all of them want to carry on a conversation, and that’s okay.  I can tell right away if someone wants to talk or not.  I always welcome my passenger and ask them a question like, “Tell me about your day?” or “Are you a long time Washington resident or just visiting?”  If they grunt a one word response or are hypnotized by their cell phone I know to shut up, turn on some music and enjoy the ride. 

Some of the conversations I’ve had with the ones who do want to talk have ranged anywhere from relatively mundane small talk about sports, the weather, traffic and their jobs to more spicy topics such a politics and religion and has at times even escalated to emotional exchanges of grief over lost loved ones and painful admissions of addictions.

One man shared how hard life had been the past few years while recovering from an automobile accident but shared how his life was now looking up after a victory in court.  While exiting my car, he thanked me for listening and handed me a $100 dollar bill. 

I asked a Chinese student who is getting her engineering degree at the University of Washington if she was going to stay in the United States after graduation or return to China.  She sat silently for a moment.  A melancholy smile appeared and she began to nod.  “After experiencing all the wonderful things your country has to offer, I very much would like to live here.  I come from a very rural and poor area in China which desperately needs the skills I am developing to make life easier for my community, so I must return home.”

A grieving middle-aged woman tearfully shared how the image which dominates her mind is of her holding her mother’s ashes.  In her mind she couldn’t see her mother’s face – only her ashes.”

And just the other day a conversation which began with a thirty-eight year old woman telling me she’s a sex addict, led to her admitting to being a drug addict yearning to turn her life around so she could be a better mother to her young daughter but isn’t sure she’s willing to take the steps necessary to make that a reality.

These are only a few of the many conversations I have with my passengers, many of whom allow me to pray for them.  God is amazing.  Before I leave my driveway each day, I pray God would bring people my way who I can encourage somehow. Almost every day He answers that prayer.  I don’t have all the answers to improve these stranger’s lives.  What I can do is listen intently, show empathy when needed, give my opinion, from a Christian point of view, when asked and offer prayer. 

Do you ask God for divine appointments?  If you don’t, I challenge you to give it a try.  I guarantee you won’t be disappointed or bored – only blessed.

[ninja_form id=4]

DWELL, REST AND TRUST

Don’t you  love it when God’s Word or a certain scripture keeps showing up from different sources?   God always amazes me when His Spirit is faithful in getting my attention.

I’ve been dwelling and chewing on these three words for a little while now:  Dwell, Trust, & Rest.  I don’t know about you, but these three words makes me want to pause and take in a deep breath and say ahhhhhhhhhhh.

In Psalm 91: 1-2, He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God in whom I trust.”

My first thought was, what does it mean to dwell?  I looked it up in the dictionary and it says “to think, speak or write at length about.” Our minds are a battle field.   That’s why God tells us to renew our minds.   We do so when we memorize or familiarize ourselves with God’s Word.  His Word is Truth.

Colossians 2 says to “Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

The Lord knows how easy it is for our minds to dwell on things that are negative and not true.  Especially when I’m extra tired and my pain is at it’s worst, I’m often tempted to become fearful or worry.  It becomes easier to dwell on the “what if’s”.  The “what if’s” rob me of my strength, peace, joy and my presence of today.

I’m learning, as it states in 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV
“to demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ”.

How about you?  Does it come easy for you to Dwell, Rest, & Trust in God?

Hopefully, one of my songs, My God In Whom I Trust, will encourage you today.

IN WHOM I TRUST   (CCLI #3356416)  Copyright 1993

05 Track 5

[ninja_form id=4]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be Shy – Use Your Talents, Don’t Bury Them

This past Sunday in church,  our four-year old granddaughter, Brooklyn, walked in with her family wearing leopard print eye-glasses.  They were adorable on her but I didn’t know she was needing to wear glasses.  She proudly walked down the row of seats to where Karen and I were sitting and said, “Papa!  I now have glasses just like you!”  Throughout the worship time I couldn’t take my eyes off her.  She looked so darn cute in them.

Between songs Jaymi, Brooklyn’s mommy, leaned over to me and whispered in my ear.  “Dad, those aren’t real glasses.  This morning, Brooklyn told me she wanted to wear her pretend glasses to church.  I asked her why, and she said they were her singing glasses.”

I wish I had singing glasses that really work.  I don’t have confidence in my singing.  While trying to make a joyful noise during worship, I’m afraid others around me will mistake it for an awful noise.  My mother was sitting next to me in church and after the service complimented me on my singing.  But isn’t that what mother’s are supposed to do?  Aren’t they notorious for giving undeserved praise to their children?

Anyway, I know God didn’t bless me with an awesome singing voice.  Maybe I’ll get new vocal cords when I get to Heaven.  But until then, I’ll continue to sing the best I can and know God doesn’t mind.  To Him, I sound like Frank Sinatra.

God has blessed each of us though with certain gifts and abilities.  God gave me the gift of creativity.  I love to write, take pictures, draw and create.  I’ve even learned how to take these talents and use them to glorify God by helping others with my gifts.

Karen and I developed our ministry, Desire To Inspire, with 1 Peter 4:10 in mind. 

God has given each of you some special abilities; be sure to use them to help each other, passing on to others God’s many kinds of blessings.”

Our goal is to encourage people to use their God given gifts to glorify God.  We are not focusing on the spiritual gifts of speaking in tongues or Prophecy.  We want to focus on God given talents, such as hospitality, empathy, teaching, serving, giving, encouraging and so on.  In Matthew 25, Jesus gives the parable of the talents.  The talents Jesus uses as an example in this parable not only represents a denomination of currency but also the opportunity each servant had in using his God given talents to help his Master.  Two servants used the resourcefulness God had blessed them with, the 3rd did not.

Are you using your God given gifts to help others or do you have undeveloped talents and abilities just waiting for you to tap into?   Just like the three servants in the parable, God wants us to use our gifts and not bury them.  God can even use us when we don’t have confidence in our abilities.  Remember, Moses told God that he couldn’t speak well enough to confront Pharaoh and lead the Israelites out of Egypt.  God used a few fishermen, a tax collector, a doctor, a cupbearer, sheep herders, and others not educated in journalism or creative writing to author the sixty-six books of the Bible.

While borrowing Brooklyn’s “singing glasses” unfortunately won’t help me sing any better, seeing the world through God’s eyes will bring into sharp focus the need to use our special talents so we can be the image bearers of Jesus.

WOW MOM –It’s Mother’s Day

Today our four year old granddaughter, Brooklyn, was over and we were coloring with markers.  She has been introduced to the alphabet by her older sister, Maya, and asked me to write the letter M.  I wrote MOM, turned it upside down, and showed her it said WOW.  Brooklyn was impressed.  Whatever season of life of motherhood you may be in, may you feel WOW–CELEBRATED and LOVED!!!

I didn’t appreciate my mom until I grew up and became one myself.  One Mother’s Day, when I was a child, I asked my mom, “Why is there a Mother’s Day and there isn’t a children’s day to celebrate me”?  I didn’t like her response then, but it makes me smile today…she said “Everyday is children’s day”.

WOW–what a privilege and responsibility it is to be a MOM.  God has entrusted and gifted you in such a way to love, nurture, and raise the children He has blessed you with.  Is being a mom easy?  Absolutely not.     Becoming a mom is a life changer…On the job training, requires multi tasking of various responsibilities which include managing a household, organizing a budget and show casing your culinary expertise (or lack there of).

Whatever season of life and MOM-hood you are in, take time to enjoy!  Being a mother is more like a marathon than a sprint!  I hope you realize how much God loves you this Mother’s Day.  If you are a mother of a preschooler and feel like you are in this season alone, get connected with a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) Group.  http://www.mops.org/

WOW MOM!!!  To each of you Mom’s out there, Happy Mother’s Day or Happy “WOW MOM Day”!

After, I wrote this blog, I found this video clip which hopefully will encourage you and cheer you on.

[ninja_form id=4

 

 

 

 

To See or Not to See Through God’s Perspective

I went to the eye doctor this week for my annual exam.  I am legally blind without my contacts.  The doctor told me to let him know when I begin to see letters in a line.  I frantically thought, “there are letters in a line?”  All I could see was white fuzz.  Thank God for contacts and eye glasses to help me see.

I skimmed through facebook last night.  A video of a young boy who was colorblind, caught my attention.  He opened a gift of eye glasses that enabled him to see color for the first time.  As he put on the glasses, a huge smile spread across his face.  Tears of joy began flowing from eyes seeing color for the first time.  His world changed.

Today I was praying about a situation I was struggling with.  I thought I wish I had a pair of God glasses I could put on.  To be able to see things in His perspective on everything.  I realize that is why He gave us His WORD so we can, through the Holy Spirit, be learning His way in everything.  But I still would love a pair of God glasses!  My faith would be sight!

1 Cor. 13:1  Now we see things imperfectly like puzzling reflections in a mirror but then we will see everything with perfect clarity.  All I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely.  NLT

Do you need to see things clearer, through God’s perspective?

[ninja_form id=4]

 

 

 

Not ToNight, not ToMorrow, ToNow!!!

Our sweet two year old granddaughter, Esther, coined a new word.  It’s now part of my vocabulary.  When she doesn’t want to wait for something, she will say ToNow.  She doesn’t want to wait for ToNight or ToMorrow, she wants it ToNow!!  Her innocent childlikeness makes me smile.  I can so relate.  If we are honest, don’t we want everything ToNow?

Technology is such that ToNow is becoming more expected in this world we live in.  With voice command on Echo you can tell Alexa what song to play and how loud to play it.  Drones can deliver meals or packages to our doorsteps.  Robots are beginning to take the place of baristas, making our expressos and lattes faster than ever before.

Waiting is a part of life but can feel like a waste of time.  We wait in grocery lines, post office lines, stop lights, lines for our expressos and lattes.  Without a Disneyland fast pass, you may wait an hour or two to go on a ride that lasts a few minutes.

Some waiting is exciting and hopeful: anticipating a baby or a grandchild to be born, a vacation you’ve been planning, to get together with family you love, or waiting for winter to be over and spring to arrive.

Waiting can be stressful and not always pleasant.   Like lingering in a waiting room at a doctor’s office, a surgery waiting room, or waiting for another procedure in the dreaded dental chair.

Some situations you are waiting in may be life altering:  Awaiting results from a pregnancy test, a loved ones cancer diagnosis or a job interview.

I used to hate to wait!  Like Esther, I’m a ToNow kind of girl.  God is teaching me to be more patient.  I’m learning to listen to His Spirit while waiting.  I’m learning to be present in that moment, not wishing or waiting for it to be over.  I am learning to rest in God’s waiting room.

Are you praying about something that you want God’s answer ToNow?   Be confident, God loves you. He is sovereign and knows the reason for making you wait to answer your prayer.  What will you do while waiting?  Look to Jesus and be encouraged.  Psalm 27:14 “Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

Lamentations 3:22 “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness, I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for Him’.”

James 5:7 “Be patient, then brothers, until the Lord’s coming.  See how the farmer waits for the land to yield its valuable crop and how patient he is for the autumn and spring rains.  You too, be patient and stand firm, because the Lord’s coming is near.”

[ninja_form id=4]