Music Mondays- Color by Ellie Holcomb

I love this song by Ellie Holcomb, It expresses how with Jesus our lives are full of things we could not have imagined before knowing Jesus. She uses color to express the beauty Jesus brings to our lives.

We do not feel worthy of Jesus and all he gives us, but because he loves us to immensely, we are worthy to receive from him.

No matter what has happened in our past, struggles we have now, or uncertainty about the future, nothing can separate us the love of Jesus.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Birthday in Brazil

My first trip to Brazil was in 2013. I landed in Rio de Janeiro on my birthday that year. The travel time from leaving my place to go to the airport to when I landed in Curitiba Brazil, my final stop, was about 24 hours. One thing about international travel is that I cannot sleep on planes. So there I was waiting in the Curitiba airport for an hour for my ride to Rio do Sul which was a three hour drive.

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I was exhausted as we approached Rio do Sul, so I asked the pastor if I would be going to my host home. He told me he needed to stop at the church first. We stopped there and went to the back and saw there was cake. They had two kinds of cake for my birthday. It was also the first time I drank Guarana which is a soda made from a berry that grows in Brazil and by the way has a lot of caffeine, After two pieces of cake and a few cups of Guarana, I had a caffeine/sugar buzz going which allowed me to stay for an hour. But then the crash came and it was time to go to my host home.

As the group of brothers and sisters in Christ I had just met sang Parabens to me, Brazilian birthday song, I thought best birthday ever to land in Brazil on my birthday.

What is one of your favorite birthday memories?

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

1 Day-2 Doctors

Yesterday was a double header with doctors for me not exactly the kind of double header a person wants. It wasn’t too bad though.

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The first one was a visit to the orthopedic surgeon for an injection in my knee. It was the first of a three part series of something I can’t pronounce. I call it hydraulic fluid lol. It seems to help my knee though. He was kind enough to answer a few questions I have about a few other issues.

The second one was the moment I had been waiting for. It was full circle for me. What started with me telling my GP I thought I have Psoriatic Arthritis which led to a string of various specialists, I received the diagnosis. I actually do have Psoriatic Arthritis. He prescribed a medication for me to take which is a DMARD-Disease Modifying Anti Rheumatic medication.

So after almost five years, thousands of dollars, and other chronic issues being diagnosed- Celiacs and Fibromyalgia, a Rheumatologist at the leading medical center in my state diagnosed me.

We will see how the medication goes. It feels a bit anti-climatic, but now I know. Such is the life of a Spoonie-person living with chronic illness.

I can’t imagine going through all of this without Jesus. My prayer times with Jesus in the mornings have made a difference.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

When God Wants Us to Pay Attention

Yesterday after my citizenship class, I hung out at the coffee shop. I know that surprises you. Hanging out at a coffee shop is part of my normal routine. God will at times try to get our attention even in the normal routines in our lives. When he does it once, it gets our attention. When the scenario repeats, it as if he wants us to pay attention to something.

I shared in my post- June Is Here-Now What?– about my idea to make short films out of my short stories. The next day I joked with a student in the coffee shop that homework is fun. That led to me finding out she is a film major at the university in my city. The idea of making short films our of some short stories I wrote in my other blog- encounterswiththeancients.com keeps coming to mind. The young woman liked one of my stories and wrote down some suggestions.

Yesterday when I was in the coffee shop, I saw a different young person studying. I joked with her that homework is a lot of fun. That led to me finding out she is also a film major at the university in my city. I shared with her about my idea of making short films. She read two of my stories and liked them,

She had some helpful ideas and seemed interested in helping make the short films along with a few of her friends. We sat and talked for about an hour. We talked about possible locations for filming, how to edit them etc.

Similar scenario with two different people. I believe God wants me to pay attention.

Thank you for reading, God Bless.

Story Time- A Surprise That Was Not a Surprise

In 2008, my birthday was on a Sunday. My Sunday group at that time had a young couple from Brazil, a young couple from Germany, a young couple from South Korea, a married couple of an American husband and his wife from Vietnam, a woman from Belgium, a businessman from Japan, two young men from Congo, a young woman from Ukraine, and three young people from India.

They were busy students that weekend preparing a surprise for me. Their plan was to be in the room with the lights off and yell surprise as soon as I walked in at 9am.

Only one problem- one of the young men from Congo, Olivier. I had a meeting at 8:25 at the church, so I asked Yoshio from Japan to pick up the two young men from Congo. When I arrived at the church at 8:20, Olivier came out to the parking lot, shook my hand, and took my book bag and carried it in for me.

As soon as I saw Olivier, my first thought was, “why is Olivier here at 8:20. He came with Yoshio. Yoshio is always about 5 minutes late.”

It did not take me long at all to figure out what was going on, but trying to be a good teacher when I walked in the door and they yelled surprised, I acted surprised. I did not want my friends to feel bad. One of them came up to me after class and whispered, “Were you really surprised?” I just smiled.

Memories like this one are ones we treasure for years. We remember the people, place, and everything that happened.

Do you know who remembers all of the things you have done for him? God. Hebrews 6:10 says:

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them

God remembers everything little thing we did to love him by helping his people. He remembers things we have forgotten. Even something as little as helping someone with a ride. No action performed out of love for God and others is ever forgotten by God.

The following year, there was no attempt at a surprise. But we still had fun. 🙂

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Wellness Wednesday- Waiting

Waiting is something that could be a bit frustrating at times. I am not talking about waiting in line at a check out at a supermarket or waiting for someone to get ready. The waiting I am talking about is waiting to go over test results with a specialist.

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Anyone who has seen a doctor specializing in any area of medicine knows what I am talking about. It can be stressful to wait.

I saw a specialist last Wednesday. He left me a voice message saying he wanted to discuss next steps with me. I had been waiting for a week to do so but wouldn’t you know it, I was teaching when he called. Hopefully we can connect today so I can get the next steps. I would much rather wait to get thorough results that have a quick answer.

Waiting on God is not the same. In Isaiah 40:31 says

but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.

The phrase ‘who hope’ is sometimes translated’ who wait’. Waiting on the Lord does not mean we nervously wait wondering what the answer or results will be. Waiting on the Lord in Isaiah means spending time in the Lord’s presence hoping in the Lord. If we do that, we will be refreshed and renewed.

So this afternoon I am enjoying time with Jesus while I wait for the doctor to contact me.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Jesus Cares about Us in Our Difficulties- John 11

Any experience we have in this life can be an opportunity to learn from Jesus about himself, God the Father, the Holy Spirit, and ourselves. John brings that to our attention in chapter 1:

No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is himself God and is in closest relationship with the Father, has made him known.

Jesus came to make God known to us. He did so through his teachings and miracles. Even in our worst of times, Jesus is at work. in our lives.

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Last week we explored Why Jesus Sometimes Delays while looking at the account of Jesus and Lazarus. Jesus received word that Lazarus was sick, but Jesus waited two days before he left where he was to go to Lazarus. He told the disciples

“Lazarus is dead, and for your sake I am glad I was not there, so that you may believe. But let us go to him.”

After Jesus arrived in Bethany where Lazarus lived with his sisters Mary and Martha, Jesus not only comforted Mary and Martha, he taught and sought to build Martha’s faith through the ordeal and his interaction with Mary showed his great compassion..

We see Jesus teaching Martha even in her grief.

Martha came out to meet Jesus expressing some faith.

“Lord,” Martha said to Jesus, “if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.”

Jesus responded knowing what he was about to do.

“Your brother will rise again.”

Martha thought of the resurrection on the last day.

“I know he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”

Jesus revealed a truth about himself to her;

“I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.”

He called out the faith in her.

“Do you believe this?”

Martha responded with faith.

“Yes, Lord,” she replied, “I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, who is to come into the world.”

Martha went and got Mary. Mary ran out to Jesus.

When Mary reached the place where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet and said, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.”

Then we see the compassion of Jesus. Jesus is not some detached unemotional guru like we see in movies. He deeply cares about what happens to us even though the hard times somehow fit into his big picture plans for us and others.

When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in spirit and troubled. Where have you laid him?” he asked

and the shortest verse yet very powerful

Jesus wept.

When we go through difficult experiences, we need to trust Jesus. It helps to know that Jesus cares deeply about us. Yes he has the big picture of how everything fits into God’s plan, but do not mistake that for Jesus not caring. He has the eternal perspective. He knows this life is temporary for us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Music Mondays- I’m Not Alone by Riley Clemmons

I thought my worth was lost but my worth was not lost on you

If we ever wonder if God thinks we are worthwhile, we only need to stop and think about Jesus. Jesus on the cross was God reaching out to show how much he loves us.

Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Out of all creation, we are what he values most. No matter what pit we are in, depression, divorce, family problems, health problems, financial problems, memories of past trauma or abuse, we are worth so much to God that he sent Jesus.

God loves you. That means you are worth so much to God.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.

Weekends with My Spanish Speaking Friends

It has been a wonderful blessing to have my weekend groups going again. I am starting small which is intentional on my part, so there is flexibility if the whole COVID situation changes. My groups have five friends who speak Spanish, two from Cuba and three from Mexico.

We have bonded quickly as a group. We have a lot of fun studying together and laughter fills in the room. They are people who normally would not be able to go to a class during the week due to work schedules, so being able to come Saturday and Sunday morning means a lot to them.

Yesterday we went out for lunch after our morning class. One would think it would have been at a Mexican restaurant, which would have been great for me, but they wanted burgers, so off we went to Red Robin and had burgers.

This morning after we practiced English for 45 minutes, I read a bible verse to them in English and then in Spanish. It is a verse from John 17 where Jesus tells God the Father that he wants us to be with him in heaven.

“Father, I want those you have given me to be with me where I am, and to see my glory, the glory you have given me because you loved me before the creation of the world.”

“Padre, quiero que los que me has dado estén conmigo donde yo estoy. Que vean mi gloria, la gloria que me has dado porque me amaste desde antes de la creación del mundo”

Then I shared the music video What A Beautiful Name with them first in English and then in Spanish. They have asked me to remember to pray for them, which I happily do

I shared a closing thought with them that I want to share with you based on the verse in John 17. Jesus wants us, wants you in heaven with him for all eternity. It is the reason he came and died on the cross for us and defeated death for us. If we trust in him, have faith in him, he shares eternity with us.

Thank you for reading. God Bless.