Life Happens.

My husband lost his job right before the holidays in December 2007.  His job defined him and thought he’d one day retire from it but God had other plans.  When the dreadful recession of 2008 picked up steam, jobs dried up.  It was all we could do to keep making the mortgage payments on our dream home.  Little by little his retirement fund vanished and desperation set in.

Finally, he landed a short-term contract more than 2,500 miles away.  I stayed home and prepared our home for sale while I worked part time.   Before he left for South Carolina, we painted the shutters and door and planted beautiful flowers to give our home the curb appeal it needed but, in a market where there were thousands of homes for sale, the prospect of selling seemed bleak.  Room by room, I sorted, packed and pitched. But I kept praying.  Praying for favor from buyers and wisdom for the sale.

My husband remained stubborn, and he refused to sell even though it was the only way to keep us from losing everything we worked for.  His South Carolina job was not what was advertised, and he wanted to come home. He couldn’t stand being alone.  I gave him an ultimatum. He could come home but he had to do two things:  put the house on the market and find another job.

In July, he made that long trip back, and we put the house on the market. It took months to sell the house, but it sold when no houses were selling and most of them were selling for less than the owners’ mortgage.  This was a miracle given the Sacramento area was one of the most hard-hit of recession areas.  When our house finally closed on December 31, 2008, we were overjoyed because it sold at a profit.  Unheard of.  We knew God showed us favor in the house sale and He’d continue to show favor with a job.

We moved into a small apartment and put most of our belongings into a storage POD.  During the sale period, my husband received an offer to work for a company that worked for the military in Germany. Neither he nor I was keen on living in Germany.  Neither of us were getting any younger.  He turned it down.  Once.  Twice.  Three times.  The employer told him the job would be his if he wanted it.  After the third time, my husband said, “I don’t know how many times God has to hit me over the head. I think we should take this job.”

I wasn’t thrilled with picking up and moving across the world to a foreign land but if God wanted us there, we’d go.  We had valid passports and no house to sell.  A perfect situation for us and his future employer.  But we could only take so much with us. Our decision to rid ourselves of all the gardening equipment housed in the storage POD meant we had to dispose of it.

We traveled the short distance to our old neighborhood and gifted our old neighbor, Chuck, with the gardening tools.  When we arrived at his home, not only was his home on the market but so was the home right next door to our old house.  Chuck had the same house as ours.  The one next door to our old house was a little larger.  Both owners were short selling their homes.

When we unloaded the gardening equipment, he said to us, “You were very lucky. Your buyer overpaid for your home big time.”  And I said, “That wasn’t luck.  That was the power of prayer.”

My husband and I rejoiced all the way to our tiny apartment and looked forward to the adventure God had in store for us when we moved to Germany.


Today’s Blog post: Freedom!

Freedom.  It seems appropriate for America’s 243rd birthday tomorrow on the 4th of July.  This great country has weathered countless wars.  We seem to remember the major wars:  The Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, the Mexican American War, World War I, World War II, Persian Gulf Wars and the War in Afghanistan and many, many Indian Wars.  In the almost two and a half centuries since our great nations was founded, many have sacrificed their lives to keep us a free nation.

Our flag, when flying high and proud, makes us think of those who fought and died so we can have the freedoms listed in our bill of rights.

Sadly, there are those who don’t see our flag as a symbol of patriotism.  They want it banned.  They burn it. But then, they have that right to denigrate our flag because it’s their freedom to do so.  I don’t agree with it but that’s my opinion.

So today I want to celebrate the stars and stripes but most of all I want to thank ALL the veterans of every war who fought and died for my freedom.  Their sacrifice and the sacrifices of their families touch my heart.  May God bless those who serve along with their families and may He bless those who have lost loved ones and are still grieving their loss.  I grieve with you.

So if you see a service member in uniform, whether or not you know that service member, walk up to him or her, thank them for their service.  They are not thanked enough and should be.  My heartfelt thanks on this, America’s 243rd birthday.

Birthday Blessings

It seems fitting to write a blog today about birthdays. Yes, it’s my birthday but I won’t tell you how old I am. Those of you who know me…family, classmates, and friends, know how old I am so I won’t bore you with the details.

I want to talk about a few things concerning birthdays.

A toddler doesn’t really know what the big hub-bub is about. They smash cake into their mouths, play with the many toys but do they know it’s their birthday and they are a year older? Surely not! Then when that child gets older, he or she looks forward to their birthday. There’s cake, ice cream, friends and family and sometimes even something special like a pony ride. As that child progresses, birthdays are fun and they may even extend to a birthday “week” rather than just a single day but when a person reaches a certain age, having a birthday seems like it’s just another day. But it isn’t, really. Being remembered makes all the difference in the world.

With social media, birthday reminders are always popping up on my screen and I try to wish all of my family and friends birthday wishes and they reciprocated today with an outpouring of words of encouragement and even telephone calls. Birthday presents? I can do without them. When I watched the number of Birthday wishes increase today, I told my wonderful husband how loved I felt. I still do.

But then I thought about God and His role in my birth. The psalmist David said in Psalm 139:13-18 (NKJV):

For You formed my inward parts;
You covered me in my mother’s womb.
I will praise You, for am fearfully and wonderfully made;
Marvelous are Your works,
And that my soul knows very well.
My frame was not hidden from You,
When I was made in secret,
And skillfully wrought in the lowest parts of the earth.
Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed.
And in Your book they all were written,
The days fashioned for me,
When as yet there were none of them.
How precious also are Your thoughts to me, O God!
How great is the sum of them!
If I should count them, they would be more in number than the sand;
When I awake, I am still with You.

And another verse about how God loves us in Matthew 10:30 (NKJV) the Apostle said:

But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.

I can’t even comprehend that kind of love…that He numbered every hair on my head…and yours too! His unconditional love is awe inspiring and I want to thank Him for my life today and I pray I can measure up to the person He wanted me to be.

These verses prompted me to do a little study on birthday verses from the Bible. These verses have also lifted me up today. I hope you will print out these verses and have them to bless you on your birthday…an

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Eph 2:10 NKJV

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jer 29:11 NKJV

For by me your days will be multiplied,
And years of life will be added to you. Proverbs 9:11 NKJV

You will show me the path of life;
In Your presence is fullness of joy;
At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 NKJV

May He grant you according to your heart’s desire,
And fulfill all your purpose. Psalm 20:4 NKJV

So teach us to number our days,
That we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 NKJV

With [a]long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation. Psalm 91:16 NKJV

Delight yourself also in the Lord,
And He shall give you the desires of your heart.
Commit your way to the Lord,
Trust also in Him,
And He shall bring it to pass.
Psalm 37:4-5 NKJV

Through the Lord’s mercies we are not consumed,
Because His compassions fail not. They are new every morning;
Great is Your faithfulness. Lamentations: 3:22-23 NKJV

And finally Psalm 139:1-6 NJKV
O Lord, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
And are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue,
But behold, O Lord, You know it altogether.
You have hedged me behind and before,
And laid Your hand upon me.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
It is high, I cannot attain it.

No matter when your birthday is, I’m wishing you a very Happy Birthday with God’s love and peace in your life.

What makes a person rise above their circumstances?

Never underestimate the power of the human spirit!  There are those who, when burdened with an overwhelming life event come through it stronger and more able to stand against the next crazy life event that could have them crawling on their knees. Then there are others who, when dealt a crushing blow, are devastated to the point of immobility and can’t rise above the situation.

When a person has a life-threatening health crisis, like latter stage cancer, does that person stand up and fight it with their last breath or do they resign themselves to their bed to die?

For the health crisis, we never see those who have lost their battle to cancer without a fight.  Some retreat into themselves to waste away and die with their family and friends dismayed they wouldn’t fight to live…not only for their family and friends but for themselves.  Some give up when their friends and family never wanted them to give up.  Others fight until their last breath. Even though they lose the battle, they have fought.  Even through death, they have risen above their circumstances. If you’re suffering with cancer, fight the good fight, be strong and give your family hope!

A couple of great examples of high-profile individuals who had fought the fight to their last breath.  Farrah Fawcett looked for every known cure and Patrick Swayze continued to work throughout his treatment.  Both lost their battle with cancer but did so with dignity and strength.

What about when a kid is bullied?  Does he constructively fight back or does he retreat into himself possibly committing suicide?

We often hear about kids committing suicide because they were bullied.  Sometimes it’s a genuine wish to shed light on bullying and how awful it is for the kid’s family and friends.  But oftentimes, it’s a political entreaty to advance someone’s agenda which is totally not cool.

But what about the kids who rise above the bullying?  Why don’t we hear about those kids?  Today I watched a video of an 11-year-old kid who took free violin lessons because the kids at school bullied him because he had cancer.  Kids can be cruel and merciless.  They have no filters or have not been taught any filters.  But this boy made my heart sing.  He appeared on America’s Got Talent and blew everyone away with his violin playing.  He made it to the television show.  What an example of how the human spirit can overcome.  This boy chose music to overcome his heartache over being bullied. Other’s may choose sports or some other positive way to overcome.

What about when a person has lost every possession to hurricane, tornado or flooding? Does the person retreat to a homeless shelter never to be heard from again or does he take action and rebuild his home and his life?

When a person loses everything, it is total defeat. They have nothing.  No clothing, no memorabilia, no means of personal identification.  They become lost.  How do they come back from such a devastating life event?

Personally, I trust in the Lord when some life event brings me lower than dirt.  I know it works.  It gives me peace and strength.  God gives us what we need when we need it if we call on Him to help in our time of need.

Several years ago, my 61-year-old husband lost his job.  I was afraid at first then I realized God had it all in the palm of His hand.  I told my husband we’d pray about it and let God lead us.  And lead us, He did.  My husband got a job offer not three weeks later.  To say it was a miracle is an understatement.  Who hires a 61-year-old man who is almost ready to retire in a few years? God can do anything, even heal the sick and restore a home.

I don’t know if any of the people described here trusted in the Lord but I believe the Lord gives us strength and power to overcome.  It comes from within.  It comes from Him.



Reading Romances

When I look back at all the romances I’ve read over the years, it seems to me they have changed.  No longer do readers want “just” a romantic movie or book where the central theme is a love story and there’s a satisfying end to the story.  Most of the time that means “lives happily ever after”.

No, today’s reader wants something extra.  Whether it be the amount of heat, that’s in a book or a movie or something suspenseful, today’s romance has a secondary and sometimes a tertiary plot running through the novel.  Then there are sub-genre: paranormal, western, Amish, inspirational, contemporary, historical, young adult, erotic or suspense.  A veritable smorgasbord to choose from!  And each person who romance has a different perspective on what they like or don’t like.

These days the category or series romances are popular.  Personally, I love them because some of the same beloved characters show up again in another story!  Or sometimes it’s the setting where all the stories take place. It doesn’t matter, readers love them.

While researching what surprised me was the number of men who read them.  A whopping 18% of all readers are men.  The men I know wouldn’t touch them unless they were being forced to as is the case with my husband who gives me feedback on dialogue.  Perhaps men who read them are secure in their own masculinity to do so.

The statistics on the age of readers today were also surprising.  I would have thought it would be more baby boomers, but it wasn’t.  Very frequent readers were under the age of 34!  And only 64% were e-book reader which also surprised me.  Personally, I use a service with my iPad mini to read as many as I can in a month for a small monthly fee.

There are other statistics regarding romance readership but these were the most interesting.

Are you surprised by the statistics?


When God Answers Prayer

Prayer is a Faith builder.

When I first learned how to pray effectively, I was (and still am) in awe of how God answered prayer.  Sometimes it happened immediately and sometimes He was still working out the answer.  Many times God answered the prayer in an unexpected way.  Not bad, just different from what I had expected.

I learned early on there are only three answers to prayer: Yes, No and Wait.  While we rejoice in the yes answers, the no answers don’t keep me down because it only means He has something better for me and my family or He was protecting me from something I didn’t know about regarding that prayer. And the wait…well, that’s the hardest answer to bear, particularly if it’s crucial like a physical, financial or emotional need.  And our family has had them over the years.  Big time.

What’s exciting about it is that I’m in an expectant mood to see how He will answer it.

Some people think prayer is private and often it should be.  Each person should sit with their creator and work out the details of their lives with Him.  God loves us and He wants to hear from us.  Whether it’s just a few words telling Him about your day or if it’s a more in-depth conversation about life events or personal issues. He wants to hear every detail of our lives, no matter how small.  Remember He has the hairs on your head counted so if that isn’t detailed enough, I don’t know what is.

Over the years, my husband and I have prayed hundreds of thousands of prayers.  Some corporately and some individually.  But we try to make it a priority every day.  It doesn’t always work out that way but we try.

Most of the time my prayers begin by giving Him glory. I move on to asking for forgiveness because I know I need it every day.   The prayer then turns to the needs of my family and friends, then my own needs and finally for global issues.  God has been faithful over the years to answer my prayers so I will continue to pray to Him.  Sometimes it’s daunting but I know God has called me to be a prayer warrior so that is what I will do.

Just this past Sunday we prayed for an individual who had severed a tendon and needed surgery. My husband and I prayed, and we were specific in our prayer: the surgeon would be a believer in Christ, that the surgery would be scheduled quickly and that the recuperation period would be minimal.  The next day, I received an excited call. The surgeon who would do the surgery is, in fact, a believer along with his physician’s assistant and the surgery would happen today.  Specific answers to specific prayers. This morning we prayed for God’s own hands to guide the doctor’s hands and that the surgery would go well without issue.

I could fill thousands of pages talking about how God answered prayer, sometimes, unbelievable answers!  I try to remind myself on occasions of all the times He was faithful even when I was not.

These answers to prayer are what I call God Stories.  I pray you have an abundance of your own God Stories.