A Warning!

A few days ago, I received a text from a friend asking me if I wanted to meet her for coffee at a local restaurant. I thought that was great and we set up a time for the next day. After setting it up I suddenly became consumed with thoughts about running into a woman, I will call her Jane, while there. The thoughts came out of nowhere. I haven’t seen Jane in almost two years and what makes matters worse my last encounter with her was not pleasant. In terms of our personalities, Jane and I are opposites. She is very aggressive, and I am not. So, my thoughts of running into her in the restaurant were focused on seeing her and finding myself in a difficult, challenging, aggressive conversation; something I most definitely didn’t want to do! But at the same time, I had no reason to even think that she would be there. Yet, for some reason, I was consumed with these thoughts. It seemed like every thirty minutes I was thinking about her and praying over both of us.

As I tried to figure out why I kept having these thoughts, I tried to come up with some sort of a logical reason or connection for the thoughts. I had never seen her at this restaurant before, I didn’t know whether she even went to this restaurant. I did know that she worked about two miles from the restaurant. So, I attributed my thoughts to a figment of my imagination triggered by the location of the restaurant.

The next day when I went to meet my friend, I arrived at the restaurant about 20 minutes early. I sat in a chair near the door so I would be able to see my friend when she arrived. But as I sat I became consumed with thoughts about running into Jane. I began to wonder if I should move away from the door, out of sight. After giving it some thought I decided that I had an overactive imagination and I would stay put. My friend arrived and we found a table near some windows facing one of the several walkways to the front door. After chatting with my friend for about a half-hour I looked up and saw Jane walking up the sidewalk to the front door. My heart almost jumped out of my chest. I did a double-take just to make sure, and it was her. I turned my attention back to my friend, but from the corner of my eye, I saw her glance over at me. I did not see her once she arrived in the restaurant. The restaurant has various walls and corners, so I didn’t know where she sat.

While talking to my friend I was only half engaged in our conversation. I kept thinking about what happened the day before and being consumed with thoughts of Jane. As I talked with my friend, I realized that God knew she was going to be there. Then it hit me! He was warning me. He was preparing me for the encounter. When I saw her, I did not have any negative feelings towards her, and I did not feel any anxiety. Knowing that He warned be about having a negative, or challenging conversation with Jane, I made it a point to focus my attention on my friend. I did not want to open the door to a potential negative encounter with Jane so I decided it would be to my benefit to avoid her.

 Praise God for the warning! I pray if the Lord warns you that you do not ignore Him as well.

12 When it was time to leave, they returned to their own country by another route, for God had warned them in a dream not to return to Herod. Matthew 2:12

Blessings,

Sandra

Ahhh Man!

Every day before I start my morning devotions, I say a quick prayer asking the Lord to help me to forgive those that I need to forgive. As the year ends it is still one of my top prayers. It is at the top of my list because I’ve learned that sometimes I thought I forgave someone only to find out that I didn’t. I keep the prayer at the top of my radar because I found I would unexpectedly tighten up with the mention of someone’s name I thought I had let go of ill feelings towards. It was because of those times that I will begin this year as normal with prayers to forgive and to be forgiven.

This reminder to not lose sight of harboring unforgiveness popped up a few weeks ago. During my morning prayer time, I asked the Lord to bring forth to my mind anyone in my life that I had not truly forgiven so I could forgive them. Now let me step aside and just be real. Here is what happened. Immediately after saying the prayer the Lord whispered a name to me. He said, “Jane Doe.” And in the blink of an eye anger rose up in me and I blurted out, “That is a despicable person!” Also, in response to this mean statement my hand instantly flew to my mouth as if to stop the words from coming out, but it was too late. My shoulders slumped and I said, “Ahh man, Lord I am so sorry! Forgive me.” I shook my head in disbelief. How could I say that? I thought sure I had let go of all anger. Though I realized the Lord had simply done what I asked; He brought forth someone in my life I had not truly forgiven, it was still a very painful experience.

I stopped right then and asked for forgiveness for the anger I felt, the words I spoke, and for the Lord to change my heart towards this person. As the year ends, I encourage you to do the same. You may be surprised who the Lord brings up. What has been your experience with forgiveness? Please comment below.

12 and forgive us our sins, as we have forgiven those who sin against us. Matthew 6:12

Blessing,

Sandra

Seek Him!

As a part-time instructor, I’m often challenged with pushing through times when I’m not teaching. As a contracted employee I get paid only when I teach. So, keeping your name on the schedule is extremely important. When I first started teaching over 20 years ago, I was very proactive about getting on the schedule. I was constantly sending emails to the scheduler and letting them know I was ready to teach. As a new instructor, I saw and did what my peers did. They said, “If you want to teach you need to establish a relationship with the scheduler and stay on their radar.”

Though I understood the importance of being on the schedule I found it extremely stressful. Not only did I feel like a pest, but I was also consumed with checking my email and flipping through my calendar. It seemed like I was checking my email every five minutes. When I wasn’t on the schedule, I also spent hours looking at my calendar. I kept thinking, OK, I need to get a class on this date, so I can get a paycheck on this date so that I can have the money to pay this bill on this date. As the days passed, the stress mounted since I would have to go back to the calendar and recalculate the missed paydays.

The stress caused me numerous sleepless nights, until one day I realized I was not standing in faith. I wasn’t standing on God’s promise to supply all my needs. I was taking control of my schedule when I should have given my schedule to Him. Against the advice of my family and my friends, I decided it was time for me to stand in faith and give my schedule to the Lord and stop contacting the scheduler. I suddenly had a tremendous amount of peace. Now don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying that for the past 20 years I have not had a time when I wasn’t teaching. What I am saying is that whenever I found myself getting a little worried, I reminded myself to stand on his promise and trust that he would send the class to me that I needed when I needed it. As a result of that faith, I can honestly say that I have taught steadily for the past 20 years. Well, let me say almost! My last class ended in September.

This time of year can be very stressful because it’s generally hard to pick up a class during the holidays. Many students don’t like to go to class during the holiday season. So, as each day passed, I found myself becoming more and more anxious. I was waking up in the middle of the night thinking about it. Thinking about it during my exercise class. Thinking about it when I should be doing my Bible study. I became consumed with fear and doubt. Here I was after 20 years, not standing in faith. I was listening to my coworkers and not the Lord. I kept struggling with wanting to take control of my schedule. I was desperate! It was a difficult battle until I woke up a few nights ago and asked myself the question, who are you going to believe, the world or the Lord? After a long night of restless sleep, I decided enough was enough! No more battle!!! God was in control, and I needed to trust Him and get my mind off my situation and in line with the Lord. So, this morning instead of saying a prayer about my situation, and retelling the Lord, over, and over, the things that I know He already knew I prayed differently. I prayed for Him to show me how I could serve him. I asked Him to bring people to me I could minister to and show them some love and kindness. Boy did he! And within 24 hours He rocked my world!

After praying this prayer, I went to my aerobics class. When I arrived, I saw one of my friends and I noticed that she looked frustrated and angry. I asked her what was going on. She told me that she thought it would be a good idea to collect money for the instructor of the class as a Christmas present. She said she started the collection only to find out she had upset two other members in the class who were planning to do it but had not yet started. Apparently, they felt slighted, because they had been doing it every year for the past several years. My friend has only been in the class for about a year and did not know this information. When I arrived, my friend told me what happened. She was very angry that her good deed had been stomped on. After listening to her I immediately knew what the Lord wanted me to do. I told her that I couldn’t tell her what to do. But if it were me, I would pass the responsibility of collecting the money back over to them. I told her I would do it with love. I would do it without offense. I said, “Don’t fight over it, don’t argue over it, don’t be offended.” She said, ok.

After we finished talking another member of the class stopped me and handed me a Christmas card. I was so surprised! She told me not to open it until I got home. I said, OK and left. When I got home, I opened the card and my heart stopped. Inside the card, I saw three $100 bills. I was shocked! It took my breath away! In the card, she explained why she gave it. A couple of months ago I twisted my knee while walking. She saw me in class one day not participating at my normal level and asked me what was wrong. I told her that I needed a leg brace for my injured knee but the one that I needed cost $300 and it wasn’t in the budget. She placed a note on the card saying that she gave me the money to get the brace that I needed. Not only did the Lord allow me to bless someone else, He blessed me as well.

I then sat down to pray and read the Bible. While reading I received a notification that I had received an email. When I opened my email, my heart stopped for a second time that day. The email asked would I be interested in teaching a class. I screamed yes!!!

Once I surrendered and gave the situation to the Lord, and took the focus off myself, not only did He give me the opportunity to minister to someone, He blessed me for doing it. Also, the next day after my friend gave the money collection back to the original members they decided to split the responsibility! Praise God!

13 If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. Jeremiah 29:13

Blessings,

Sandra

Let Go and Let God 2

The funny thing about walking with the Lord is that is He always seems to start working in my life long before I recognize it. My usual weekend routine is to go to a coffee shop and have coffee at about 6 am. But this past week I had been exercising a lot, so I ended up oversleeping and I did not arrive until about 6:30 am. When I arrived, I went to the counter to order, but it was held up because someone had forgotten to make the coffee. They know I like my food and coffee at the same time, so I had to wait for the coffee to brew. After the coffee was finished, my breakfast was prepared, and I went to a table to eat. While eating and enjoying time with the Lord a guy walked in and sat down at the table near me. I recognized him immediately. I had ministered to him at the same coffee shop about four years ago. You can read about that encounter here

When he sat down, I looked up at him and said, “It’s John right?” He said, “Yes. I didn’t know if you remembered me.” I said, “Yes I do.” He said, “You’re in the ministry aren’t you.” I said,” Yes.” He said, “Do you mind if I sit down and talk with you.” I said, “Not at all.” As he sat down, I said a silent prayer for the Holy Spirit to speak during this conversation. We talked for about 45 minutes. He caught me up on what had happened since the last time we spoke, and where his relationship was with the girl, he spoke about four years ago. We prayed, and then he left.

As he left and I packed up my things to leave I marveled at God’s timing. The Lord’s first intervention was to have me oversleep. His second intervention was when I got there, I couldn’t get my coffee and breakfast as soon as I entered because someone had forgotten to make the coffee. So, I had to sit and wait for the coffee to brew. These events caused me to stay at the coffee shop longer than I usually do. If I hadn’t overslept, and if the coffee had been ready when I got there, I would not have been in the restaurant, and this divine intervention would have never taken place.

21 Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand. Proverbs 19:21.

Blessings,

Sandra

Awakened

We’ve been having some bad weather for the last couple of days. As I was preparing for the storm the Lord reminded me of His intervention in my life many years ago.

I was a freshman in college and had relocated to another state. I was 17 years old and it was my first time away from home. One night I was laying on the couch watching television when I fell asleep. This was unusual because it was difficult to watch this television because it was very small. The screen was about the size of a small laptop screen, plus it was a black and white television.

I was laying on the couch watching television when suddenly I woke up and realized that I was on the couch and not in the bed, so I turned off the television and went to my bedroom. Not long after I got in the bed, I dozed off to sleep. Then again, I was jolted awake. It was a little confusing for a second. I heard a knock on my bedroom door and my landlady was frantic and yelling for me to get up because someone had tried to break into the house. I was terrified! Shaking, I got out of the bed and I went to the door to see what was wrong. What I saw took my breath away. My landlady was standing there with a gun. I was shocked! I had never seen a gun up close and personal. She pointed the gun down the hallway and said look someone busted out my window.

She led the way down the hallway with her gun at arm’s length. I walked cautiously behind her. When I got to the living room something didn’t look right. My eyes surveyed the room as my heart pounded. I noticed we were in the middle of a terrible storm. It was thundering, and lightning and the rain was deafening.

My eyes glanced around the room and I saw glass and big rocks all over the living room floor. I walked over to the window and I looked out and that is when it all made sense. I turned around and told my landlord that no one had tried to break in, but that lightning had struck the chimney in the house next door and all the rocks flew through her window. She gave a sigh of relief and said, “Praise God!”

She put the gun down and then screamed, “Sandra, look! If you had stayed there on the couch you would be dead!” She pointed to the couch where I had been sleeping and, in the spot, where I was laying my head was a boulder about the size of a soccer ball.

I helped her clean up the mess and then sat down, shaking, and contemplating what could have happened if I had not been awakened to move and go to bed.

I prayed a prayer of thanks as I realized I was awakened by the Holy Spirit.

“Because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” Galatians 4:6

Blessings,

Sandra

Run Sammy Run!

Not too long ago I received a call from my cousin. I could tell when she spoke that there was a great deal of excitement in her voice, but I wasn’t sure if it was good excitement or bad. I asked her how she was doing, and she told me that when she was returning from work, she went to her front door and from the corner of her eye she saw something on the wall. Bugs and creepy crawly things freak her out, so she didn’t want to know what it was. Instead of stopping to investigae she rushed into the house. She opened the door and dashed inside. As she rushed in, she felt something on her head but then dismissed it for her overactive imagination caused by the excitement. Once inside she slammed the door shut. Figuring she was safe inside she turned around only to see a green salamander on her living room wall.

Now let me say that I’ve always considered myself to be a little squeamish when it comes to bugs or any kind of critter for that matter. But over the years, as a homeowner, I’ve had to deal with my share of spiders, bees, crickets, cicadas, and silverfish, so I understood how she felt. Nevertheless, when she called and told me what happened; I can’t lie, I laughed. But being a helpful person, I immediately began offering up ways of how she could rid her living room of Sammy the salamander. I won’t go into the details because I certainly don’t want to upset the animal rights people. Let’s just say we discussed some very creative ideas to get him out of the house! However, right in the middle of our conversation, I heard the Holy Spirit say, “Pray”. When He spoke, I felt the concerns and uneasy feelings that were in my cousins’ spirit, and I felt so bad for laughing. The Holy Spirit convicted me so right in the middle of our brainstorming session I stopped and said, “Let’s pray”.

 We prayed for the Lord to tell the salamander to leave when she opened the door. After praying my cousin opened the door and Sammy the salamander ran out the door. Now to all the doubting Thomas’ in the room, may I remind you of this scripture in Jonah 1:17 which says, “Now the Lord had arranged for a great fish to swallow Jonah.” The Lord told that fish to be where it was at that time to swallow up Jonah. If that is not enough for you, how about, 1 Kings 17:4 which says that the Lord said, “Drink from the brook and eat what the ravens bring you, for I have commanded them to bring you food.” Hello! Is our God awesome or what? OK-OK just one more. Luke 12:24 says,” Look at the ravens. They don’t need to plant or harvest or put food in the barns because God feeds them.” I have personally watched a bird fly out of a tree in my yard and go to my mulch bed and jam his beak an inch or two into the ground and pull up a worm. Come on now!  If he can speak to the animals, he most certainly can speak to you. I pray He does.

 Blessings,

 Sandra

Drop to your Knees!

You know how someone can say something to you and you really don’t pay much attention to them, but then someone else can say the same thing, and suddenly you think it’s a great idea. 

Yesterday I was walking in the park and I was listening to an audiobook. In this book, the author was talking about what it takes to be a strong prayer warrior. He said it was necessary to renounce our will before prayer and accept the will of the Lord. He said we should start prayer just like Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane. He suggested that we develop the habit of being sure that we’re praying His will and not our own.

Though this is my practice yesterday when he said it, it touched my heart differently. So, when the author spoke a short prayer, I repeated it. As I prayed, I felt the presence of the Lord come over me. Then as soon as I finished, I heard a voice say, “Come to the throne on your knees.” 

I thought, really? I didn’t believe it was the Lord. “That’s not you”, I said. “That’s just me and my mind going crazy! My spooky-spiritual mind making up stuff.” And I continued to walk. But then I had a frightening thought. What if it really was Him and my brain was rejecting this thought because I did not want to get down on my knees in the middle of a bridge, next to a river, on a busy walking path, in the park, in the middle of the day. Maybe this was my will and not His! As I walked, I kept thinking about it. Could I walk off that bridge without dropping to my knees? What if it isn’t Him and I make a fool out of myself. But what if it is, could I really do what he asked? Both scenarios were tough. It would be tough to do it, and tough not to do it.

Thank goodness the bridge was long because I pondered the question for a few minutes. Come on Sandra, I thought, what’s the big deal? It’s not like He is asking you to be tortured, or to go to jail or to pack up and move to a foreign country and start a ministry in enemy territory.  He is asking you to drop to your knees for Him, right now! So, after careful thought, I made the decision that I would drop to my knees. If I didn’t, I knew I would never have peace.

So, I took a deep breath, looked around me, just to be sure I wasn’t in the path of those that might be walking or bike riding. Well, that’s partially true. I kind of wanted to see who was looking at me. OK, so I’m not perfect! Anyway, I dropped to my knees in the middle of a bridge, next to a river, on a busy walking path, in the park, in the middle of the day and prayed for His will in all that I do. I felt so relieved as I got up.

Funny thing though, as I got up and continued my walk there was a certain part of me that wished that someone had seen me. Maybe that would inspire them in some way. I pray that you drop to your knees when you’re called as well!

42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.” Luke 22:42

Blessings,

Sandra

Hi, Friend!

I love to walk in the park, except when it’s cold. This time of year, we will have some wonderful days in the 80s then it might drop down into the 50s. That’s been our weather for the last month or two. This morning when I woke up it was in the 40s and even though I wanted to walk I felt it was just too cold.

Uninspired to walk, I made my way to my study to begin working. As I walked down the stairs I said, “Lord I really want to walk today, but it’s just too cold, and I don’t have anyone to inspire me to want to walk in the cold.” I then went to my desk and sat down in front of my computer.

About 15 minutes later I heard that familiar ping that I had a text message. When I looked at the message it said, “Hi friend! Would you like to go walking in the park this morning? “I laughed out loud and responded with a resounding yes!

 12 For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer… 1 Peter 3:12

Blessings,

Sandra

Sing – Along

Yesterday I went to my exercise class and at the end of the class, the instructor played a slow love song for us to cool down and slow down our heart rate. The song was one of those sappy girly songs, so everyone cheered when it began to play. The song was about a guy telling his wife or girlfriend that he will always love her, and never give up on their relationship. We loved it!

After the class ended, I sang and hummed the song on the way to my car.  I liked it so I decided that I wanted to find out the name of the artist who sang the song so I could buy it.  Since there’s a line in the song that is kind of catchy, I figured the song and the artist would be easy to find. Unfortunately, I never got that far. As soon as I got to the car my mind reverted to the tasks on my to-do list and I immediately forgot the lyrics. My mind went blank.

Later in the day after I got a chance to relax, I remembered that I wanted to buy the song. However, no matter how hard I tried I couldn’t remember anything about the song. I turned off the television, I closed my eyes, and I searched my brain for the lyrics without success. Finally, I knew that I needed help, so I prayed and asked the Lord to help me remember, and boy did he! After going to bed for the night I was jolted awake at about 2:13 am. The only way I can describe what happened is to say that it felt like the Lord took the song and pushed it into my spirit. As soon as that happened, I started to sing. Immediately I recognized what the Lord had done so I jumped up in bed and grabbed a piece of paper and pencil from my nightstand and wrote the lyrics down. I was in awe over what had happened. But what was even more amazing was the experience of having the Lord push them into me. I felt the song dive into my spirit. It was an amazing feeling.

After writing down the lyrics I wondered what made this the right time and place for Him to speak to me. Is my brain too occupied at other times for him to get through? Maybe it was because I was listening to some scriptures to some soft music while sleeping. Did this open the door? Whatever it was I wanted to do it again! Several questions popped into my mind as I reviewed the experience before falling back to sleep. I’ve heard people say that once you experience the presence of the Lord you never forget it. I agree to that 100%! If there is a way that I could figure out how to live in that space all the time, believe me, I would. I pray the same for you.

4 One thing have I asked of the Lord, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to inquire in his temple. Psalm 27:4

Blessings,

Sandra

 

 

Color Me Happy!

Recently I added a strength training class to my exercise routine. Even though I was told the instructor was very tough, I figured I could make it through the class. I was in the military, so I’ve had experience with tough drill sergeants. I wanted to build my strength so whatever I needed to do I was willing to do. I was told if I took the class that I should not be surprised if the instructor called me out in the classroom. I was told if I was doing something incorrectly she would single me out and that she wasn’t the type to let up. This did not shake me; I actually looked forward to the challenge.

I arrived for the first day of class and found I was the only one in the class that was new. Since I had never taken the class, I wasn’t familiar with the exercises. So naturally I didn’t do them all correctly. And just as I had been told the instructor started calling me out. It seemed like my name was being called every two or three minutes.

One of the exercises I had difficulty completing is called the plank. Basically, you position yourself as if you’re doing a push-up. The only parts of the body touching the floor are your hands and toes. Your body is as stiff as a board, or a plank. If I heard, “Sandra get your rear end out of the air,” once I heard it 1,000 times.

After I left the class, I replayed the class over in my mind and realized that being corrected didn’t bother me. I knew I must do the exercise accurately or I could hurt myself or not get the full benefit. The problem that I had was her attitude during the correction. Each time I was off the mark, she seemed to become more and more aggravated. Huffing, puffing, or slamming her hand down on the ground and stomping over to my mat. “No, like this!” Color me embarrassed!

As she became more and more aggravated, I could tell the other students in the class were beginning to feel uncomfortable and a little sorry for me. Several of them chimed in, “Don’t worry Sandra, you’ll get it!” or “Don’t feel bad, I couldn’t do them when I first started either.” After the first day, I felt defeated and embarrassed, but I refuse to give up. As I arrived for class over the next few days, she continued the verbal assault.

By the time I reached my fourth day of class my attitude was beginning to really sink. I was dreading going to the class. But in order to improve my strength, I had to go and not quit. On the fourth morning, I laid in bed struggling to get the courage to get up and go. I was trying to talk myself into being happy. Then I prayed, Lord please don’t let her yell at me today. And then to my surprise, the Lord said, “You’re not praying for her.” That hit me like a ton of bricks. He was right! I was so miserable and living in my own pity party I forgot to pray. So, I stopped right then and said a prayer for the instructor that she would be more encouraging and that I could do a better job with accurately completing the exercises.

Well color me happy! I showed up for class on the fourth day, and she welcomed me with open arms. For the first time, while in class, she was encouraging and said, “Good job Sandra! You’re getting it. I knew you would.” Now I can hold a plank for 20 to 30 seconds! What a great reminder to lift every situation up to prayer.

27 “But to you who are willing to listen, I say, love your enemies! Do good to those who hate you. 28 Bless those who curse you. Pray for those who hurt you. Luke 6:27-28

Blessings,

Sandra