Big Swig!

Do you ever find yourself doing something, but you don’t know exactly why you’re doing it? Well, this morning after my morning walk, I remembered one such time. To say that I’m addicted to walking in the park is an understatement. I’ve been walking for exercise for years. It’s my quiet time. It’s my prayer time. It’s my thinking time.

This morning I checked the temperature before I left and it was 80°, muggy, and partly cloudy, so I headed to the park. As I finished my last lap, I remembered one hot summer day when I was in my 20s. At that time, I was a hard-core jogger. Today I walk, but back then I jogged five miles a day six days a week.

One hot summer day as I prepared to go out and jog, I heard the news warning us to stay out of the heat. Naturally, as a young 20 something whippersnapper, I thought I could handle it! I wasn’t going to let that sweltering 100° temperature stop me.

Generally, I would drink water before and after I jog. I know that’s not the right way to do it, but this was back in the day when we didn’t have Camelbacks. Those slim water pouches that hang across your back with a sipping-tube. Back then if you wanted water when you were running you had to carry the bottle with you. I didn’t do that because every five seconds I was dropping it because it slipped out of my sweaty hands.

So on this day, I grabbed two bottles of water and a small cooler and I left the house for the park. Now here is the funny part. For some reason, something told me to stop and purchase an energy drink at a local convenience store. Though I knew that a lot of people were drinking them, I didn’t like the taste or the texture. But on this day, I had the strong impulse to stop and get one. So I purchased the drink and then went to the park.

When I got to the park, I drank my normal bottle of water before I started jogging and took off. After finishing my last lap, I suddenly noticed that I started to feel sick, dizzy, and very shaky. I couldn’t focus and everything was swirling around. Immediately, I knew that I was on the verge of heatstroke. I made it back to my car, but I could barely hold myself up. I wasn’t walking straight, I felt nauseous, and I was staggering. 

I made it to my car, I grabbed my lawn chair and the energy drink but I was so wobbly when I sat down, I sat down with a thug and almost tipped the entire chair over. I was so weak I didn’t think I was going to be able to open the energy drink. I knew I only had a few seconds left before I was going to pass out. Somehow, I opened the energy drink and I took a slow, long, swig, and amazingly I started to feel better almost immediately. I was stunned at how fast this replenishing drink worked. I drank the entire bottle and rested for about 10 minutes before I got in the car and drove home.

As I drove home, I thought about how close I came to serious injury. I also thought about how I felt the strong impulse to purchase the energy drink. I realized that through my stupidity, the Lord still stepped in and saved my life. I’m so glad I was obedient to his advice.

Get all the advice and instruction you can, so you will be wise the rest of your life. Proverbs 19:20

Blessings,

Sandra

Guilty as Charged

I’ve been attending the same aerobics class for about a year and a half. What I love about the class the most is that the instructor plays a variety of styles of music. However, there is one song she’s played 3 to 4 times that I feel very uncomfortable when I hear it. Though it doesn’t contain profanity, I feel the sexual content is not acceptable.

The first few times I heard the song I continued to dance and do the exercises, but I struggled with what I should do. A battle raged in my head. Should I sit down? Should I leave the room? I was very uneasy. I had never taken an aerobics class before and didn’t know what to expect. Since I was a new person in the class, I figured that I was probably the only one who objected to the song. This group had been together for several years so apparently, they thought it was ok. But I didn’t. I tried different tactics. I tried to slow my movements down as if I wasn’t moving. My strategy was to try not to participate without anyone else knowing that I wasn’t participating. Each time the song played I knew to stay and participate was not the right thing for me to do. It may have been okay with everyone else, but I knew it wasn’t okay with me. But rather than make a scene and ask the instructor to stop I just pushed myself through the song trying not to focus on the words.

Finally, yesterday I was in my aerobics class and she played the song again. About 30 seconds into the song I heard the Holy Spirit say, “What are you doing?” My entire body, from head to toe, vibrated at the sound of his voice. When He said it a couple of scriptures flashed through my mind. I thought about when Cain killed Abel. The LORD asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” As I stood there in the class, I thought the Lord is all-knowing. He knew what happened to Abel, and it was like He wanted Cain to know that He knew. The other scripture that popped into my mind was the one after Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit. After eating the forbidden fruit, the LORD God called to the man, “Where are you?” Again, the Lord knew where Adam and Eve were hiding, and why. Suddenly, I knew that the Holy Spirit knew what I was doing. He knew I was doing something I shouldn’t be doing, and He wanted me to know that He knew. 

When the Holy Spirit asked me, “What are you doing?” I stopped in my tracks and turned around and I walked off the floor to the back of the room. I was busted. Guilty as charged!

8 One day Cain suggested to his brother, “Let’s go out into the fields.”[c] And while they were in the field, Cain attacked his brother, Abel, and killed him. 9 Afterward the Lord asked Cain, “Where is your brother? Where is Abel?” Genesis 4:8-9

Blessings,

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

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

 

 

 

You Don’t Have To Say It Twice

The weather has been beautiful for the past couple of months. When the weather is warm, and the sun is shining I must get outside, so I walk almost every day. I walk an average of 3 to 6 miles per day depending upon the whether. In addition to walking, I also go to an aerobics class. It’s not unusual for me to take a walk in the morning and then take another walk in the afternoon.

Well, today I decided to take a walk right after breakfast. After my morning walk, I showered and went to church. I got home from church about noon. The weather was beautiful, the sun was shining, and I thought I have to get out there and get in one more shorter walk. So, I grabbed some lunch and then got dressed for the park.

Before leaving the house I sat down for a minute to watch the end of a television show that was on while I was eating. When I was ready to leave, I turned off the television and then stood up to leave. I don’t think I walked more than 5 feet when I heard the Lord’s voice loud and clear. He said, “Don’t go and walk, it’s going to be too much for you today.“ I froze! It was almost like everything went silent. I stood still, but only for a second. Then I said out loud, “You don’t have to tell me twice.“ So instead of heading for the door, I went straight to the bedroom and changed clothes to spend the rest of the afternoon at home.

Now I have no idea what would’ve happened if I had ignored the voice and walked anyway. I can only assume it would’ve been bad. I was so thankful for the Lord’s warning and thankful that I was obedient. I pray the same for you.

4 Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. 5 Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me.  All day long I put my hope in you. Psalm 25:4-5

Blessings,

Sandra

 

Voice of the World

Not too long ago I received a telephone call from a friend who told me that they were hiring at their company. From what I knew about the company and what they told me about the job I thought it was a great fit. I was very excited! My friend John told me one of our mutual acquaintances, David, had gotten him his job there, and he was passing the blessing forward to get me hired as well. He said that he went to the CEO of the company and sang my praises! He told me that I should contact the CEO personally to get the ball rolling. So, I sent the CEO an email, and a copy of my resume and I was quickly given an appointment for a face-to-face interview.  

I went to the interview, and I felt it went very well. I was excited, and I could tell the CEO was excited as well. At the end of the interview, the CEO walked me to the reception area.  As the two of us said our goodbyes, I looked up and I saw David standing in their copy room. I said, “Hi David.” David then said, “Oh my goodness, hi Sandra!” David then came out and hugged me. The CEO looked shocked and said, “You know David?” I said, “Yes I do.”  As soon as the CEO spoke I heard, the Lord say, “Three people working here from the same company.” That was all he said, but I walked out the door feeling that they were not going to hire three people who knew each other, and three people who used to work together at the same company.  As I left, I felt sad and disappointed, and I thought about it and prayed about it all the way home. As soon as I got home, John sent me a text message saying that he had just gotten out of a meeting with the CEO and they were so impressed they were ready to make an offer. He said they were going to stop their candidate search. He said that I should expect an offer within the next 24 hours. I was so excited to hear that I started to jump up and down.  

I waited patiently to receive that email that would begin with the word’s congratulations! However, within 24 hours I did not receive a congratulations email. Instead, I received a rejection letter. I was blown out of the water. How could this happen? John said I was in! But then it hit me. John said I was in, but the Lord did not. I completely lost what the Lord had said earlier. All I heard was that a job offer would come within 24 hours. I realized at that moment the anguish I had caused myself by letting go of the Lord’s words and grabbing hold of the voice of the world.  

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make your paths smooth.  Proverbs 3:6

 Have you ignored the voice of the Lord? Please share your comments below.

 Blessings, 

Sandra

 

 

 

Repent and Obey!

A friend called me a few weeks ago and told me she had been talking with the Lord, or shall I say complaining. She was frustrated because she had been praying the same prayer over and over again for her daughter, and not seeing any results. Her daughter was dressing for school in a way that she did not like. Her dress caused others to view her as odd, crazy, and strange. In a nutshell, it was bad, but there was nothing my friend could do about it. She could not wrestle the clothes off her daughters back. She tried grounding her, she took away her phone and stopped her allowance, but nothing worked. The teachers at school told my friend it was bad, and strange, but they felt she was looking for attention, and it would pass. Well, it didn’t pass, and my friend was frustrated.

My friend is a woman of faith, but this was hard. One day as she complained to the Lord, the Lord asked her specifically what she wanted to see in her daughter. She told him she wanted her to dress like a normal teenager. He then told her to pray specifically for that change. My friend was reluctant and argued and fought the Lord. That is until she went to church one Sunday.

My friend went to church and to the surprise of the church congregation, and the pastor, the pastor’s son showed up in church for the first time in almost 15 years. He was a drug addict and had been living on the street. When he walked in, my friend said everyone in the building went crazy! She said they got out of their seats, went over to him, hugged him, and prayed for him. The church had been praying for this young man for years. Year after year, they prayed the same prayer. When my friend saw this, she knew that she couldn’t stop praying for her daughter. She repented for her sins of doubt and disobedience and went back to the Lord and began to pray as he told her.

Two weeks later her daughter came to her and told her that she wanted to change the way she was dressing. She wanted to have a family meeting to talk about it. Her daughter was concerned about what people were going to say when she showed up for school. My friend tried to choose her words carefully because her daughter was known for doing the opposite of what her mother said. However, that concern quickly left when her 14-year-old son came to the rescue. He told his sister not to worry about what they would say, because it would stop in a few days. He also told her that they were already talking about her, only this time it would be positive. As a family, they talked through her concerns. Two weeks after the family meeting she took off her old clothes and went to school wearing some jeans and a top.

Praise God my friend repented and obeyed the Lord!

12 This calls for patient endurance on the part of the people of God who keep his commands and remain faithful to Jesus. Revelation 14:12

Blessings,

Sandra

I Gotta Know!

When I woke up this morning to kneel and pray, the first thing the Lord said to me when I hit the floor was, “You are going to walk outside today.” I said oh OK. I didn’t find that to be unusual because on the weekends I go to the mall and walk. However, now and then I will arrive at the mall, and it would be close to mall walkers, and instead of being able to walk inside, I’m forced to walk outside.

Knowing this information in advance helped me to determine how to dress and quite frankly how to strategically think about available restrooms. I left the house and went to a restaurant to for a cup of coffee and a bagel. While strategizing about the restroom situation, I suddenly found myself getting into the flesh. I thought, well, if the mall is open, I’ll just walk inside, and there won’t be a restroom problem, but if the mall is closed, I need a plan. Then as soon as I said that, I said, “Are you crazy?” The Lord has already told you that you’re going to walk outside today. You’re walking outside period!

When I arrived at the mall, and I pulled up to my normal parking space, I noticed there were a lot more cars than normal. Usually, there aren’t many people who arrive at the mall at 7 o’clock in the morning. As I parked, I saw a police car, two people sitting down on the ground near the door to the mall, and one of the mall security guards.

I got out of the car and walked to the sidewalk to walk around the perimeter of the mall. As I walked, I was laughing out loud, shaking my head, and waving my arms as I talked to the Lord. From a distance, I’m sure those watching thought I had lost my mind! I laughed, “Lord, I gotta know! I gotta know Lord! You know I already determined to be obedient and walk around the mall outside no matter what. But I gotta know! I just gotta know!”

So, I walked over to the security guard and asked, “Is the mall open to mall walkers today? He said, “No Ma’am, the mall is closed.” I cracked up laughing and continue to walk around the perimeter of the mall.

15 “If you love me, obey my commandments. John 14:15

Blessings,

Sandra

He Never Gives Up!

A few weeks ago I had to make some decisions about the medical benefits I wanted for the upcoming year. My initial thought was that I would just go in and reapply for all the benefits I had for last year. But that was not the Lords plan.

On the day enrollment was to begin I woke up, and the first thing the Lord told me was to cancel my medical benefits at work and to move the money I would save to my 401(k). As soon as he said it, I jumped up in bed and yelled, “That is a great idea!” I am a veteran, and I can get my medical care at my local VA hospital without a monthly charge. I was so overwhelmed with excitement. When I got to work, I logged on and declined medical coverage for the next year.

A couple of days later fear hit me because I thought, oh my goodness, I think that there were certain benefits that came with having medical insurance at work that I would lose if I drop medical coverage. When I printed out my selections for the upcoming year, all I saw was the word DECLINED. None of the things I thought I would have regardless of if I had medical insurance were also gone. This freaked me out. Having the right coverage is important, and from what I could tell I did not have all the coverage I needed. I was in fear mode, completely forgetting what the Lord told me to do in the first place. Fearful I would lose benefits I thought I might need, I changed my elections to keep my medical insurance.

On the last day of the enrollment period, a coworker asked me a question about his benefit selections. I wasn’t sure of the answer, so I told him I would get the answer for him. I contacted our benefits representative and asked her. In that conversation, she not only answered his question she also unknowingly confirmed for me that I would not lose the additional coverage I thought I would lose. That’s when it hit me. I went full circle. First, I was going to keep the same coverage as last year, and then the Lord said no, so I dropped the medical coverage; then I freaked out and took the coverage back, and finally, I went back and did what the Lord told me to do in the first place.

I thought of all the time I spent struggling, researching, doubting and questioning if I really heard him in the first place. What a waste of time. I felt so bad! My heart ached with the thought of doubting Him. But that ache quickly changed to love, as I realized how he orchestrated a coworker asking me a question that provided two answers, on the last day of enrollment. Praise God He never gives up on us.

6 I pray with great faith for you, because I’m fully convinced that the One who began this glorious work[a] in you will faithfully continue the process of maturing you[b] and will put his finishing touches to it until the unveiling of our Lord Jesus Christ! Philippians 1:6 The Passion Translation

Blessings,

Sandra

Unrest

Each week I measure out my morning vitamins and medicines into a day-by-day container. Last night before going to bed I measured my medicine into the container for the week. After I was finished, I went to bed. After falling asleep, I woke up a few hours later feeling something was wrong with my medicine. All night long I kept tossing and turning feeling uncomfortable about my medicine or what I measured out for the week.

After waking up the third time, I could not go back to sleep. So, I got up to check my medicine. Immediately I found a problem. I found that my day-by-day container had two of the same medicines for each day. I had just renewed my prescription, and the new pills came from a new vendor, so they didn’t look the same as my current prescription. As a result, mistakenly I counted out two of the same medicines for each day. Since they looked different, I counted them each as individual medicine and not as the same. Once the Lord showed me what I did, I was so thankful! I corrected the problem and took a sigh of relief. I thought to myself this could have been dangerous!

Praise God for my unrestful night.

27 My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. John 10:27

Blessings,

Sandra