What to Eat

During my prayer time a few weeks ago, I asked the Lord what I should eat to help my body become healthier. He said, Luke 11:5-13. So, I stopped my prayer time and looked up the scripture.

Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence. “And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. “You fathers—if your children ask for a fish, do you give them a snake instead? Or if they ask for an egg, do you give them a scorpion? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”

After prayer I went to the store and stocked up on bread, fish, and eggs.

Blessings,

Sandra

Second Chance

A couple of days ago I sat down in front of my computer to grade papers. One by one I opened the documents, read them, and checked each paper for plagiarism. During this process, I encountered a student who plagiarized her assignment. What she did was take the assignment from another student who had previously taken the class, place her name on it and post it in my class as hers. I would like to tell you this is rare, but it is not. In today’s environment with so much information on the Internet and the fact that if a student does not pass a class, they have to pay a portion of it back, this causes some students to do some incredibly irresponsible things.

When I discovered what she did I contacted the student to allow them to explain. The student responded to me immediately and apologized. She indicated there was no excuse for what she did, and asked me to forgive her, and indicated that whatever punishment I wanted to give she would accept. As the instructor, I can punish a little, or I can punish a lot. Her response was not what I expected. As a matter of fact, it’s the first time in over 20 years I had a student respond this way. Generally, it’s either a quick denial, and that they would never do anything like that, or they claimed they had no idea that what they were doing was wrong. After reading her response my next step was to decide the punishment if any I was going to place on the student.

I pondered my options as the words of a friend raced through my mind. I have a friend who has a zero-tolerance policy for plagiarism and lies. Her response is that when students plagiarize or lie, that they are adults, they know exactly what they’re doing, and if they do it on her watch, she’s going to have the student kicked out of class.  As I reread the email response numerous times the words that jumped out at me were, “please forgive me. “In over 20 years of teaching, I have never heard a student ask for forgiveness. My friend went on a rampage, “So what if they repented, the deed is done. This might be the tenth time they did it and they finally got caught. Kick them out!”

As I prayed about what to do, I felt the presence of the Lord speak to me. I heard the Lord say, “ Give her a second chance.” As He said this, I knew this student was not in my class by accident. I knew that this was not a coincidence. The Lord knew that she was going to cheat, and He put me in place to handle it. I did as the Lord instructed and gave her a second chance. When I told her she broke down and cried.

We all need forgiveness.

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

Blessings,

Sandra

Slow Motion

I was listening to a Bible study this morning when the teacher talked about seeing in this world and seeing in the spiritual world. His statement brought back something that happened about 10 years ago.

I was at work one day when my supervisor walked down the aisle and went a few cubicles down and tapped a good friend of mine on the shoulder and told her that she had received an emergency telephone call. My friend was talking to a customer at the time, so she had to wait a minute to hang up. As soon as she hung up, she got up and started running down the aisle to get to the front desk to take her call. I looked up and I saw her running down the aisle past me. To my amazement, she was running in slow motion. I had never seen this before except on television in sci-fi movies. I was amazed at what I saw. Every part of her being was moving in slow motion. I didn’t have a whole lot of time to think about what I saw because I was on the phone with a customer as well and the calls were coming in rapid-fire. That was the first time I saw in slow motion, but it wasn’t the last time.

The second time I saw in slow motion I was driving home from visiting my parents out of state when I looked up on the other side of the highway and I watched as a car ran off the highway and tipped over onto the grass that divided the highway from the northbound and southbound traffic. I pulled my car over to see if there was some way I could help. I got out of the car and I stood on the side of the road and watched as a young man climbed out of the back window and he started running in slow motion over to someone who had been thrown out of the car onto the grass.

The last time I saw in slow motion I was driving home from church. A few blocks from the church I had to make a stop at an intersection. There was one car ahead of me, so we both were waiting for our chance to turn. As we sat, I heard some tires screeching and a horn blow and suddenly all of the traffic at this intersection was moving in slow motion. A car ran the light and as that car drove through the intersection it was moving in slow motion, and as all the other cars at the intersection reacted, they too did so in slow motion. No accident occurred.

In this bible study, this morning the teacher said two parallel realities were existing side-by-side. One is the reality of the natural world, and the other is the reality of the spiritual world. He said seeing in the natural is seeing from only one perspective. I don’t know whether or not these incidences of seeing in slow motion were seeing into the spiritual world. I don’t have an explanation for it. It was certainly something spontaneous and amazing. Though I don’t have any answers I pray for us all as we move to begin 2021 that as the Lord did for Elisha when he prayed for his servant for his eyes to open, He does the same for us.

“Then Elisha prayed, “Lord, please open his eyes and let him see.” So the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he saw that the mountain was covered with horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 2 Kings 6:17

Have a blessed new year,

Sandra

2 am

I was raised in a small town in Michigan. There’s no other word to describe where I lived except to say it was the country. Though the streets were paved, there weren’t any streetlights or sidewalks, and the nearest gas station was about 10 miles away. I lived around open fields, woods, and farms in all directions.

In many ways, my childhood was pretty typical. I went through the normal teenage angst like most teenagers. But when I was 13 I decided I was miserable and I was going to run away. For reasons I no longer remember I decided that I was going to sneak out of the house at 2 am and leave. I had no idea where I was going to go, no idea how I was going to support myself, and no idea where I was going to live. But nevertheless, I was going to go!

I packed some essential items in a brown paper bag and placed it on the floor inside my closet. I knew that if I set my alarm clock that I would wake up my sister and most definitely wake up my parents, so before going to bed, I asked the Lord to wake me up at 2 am. With my essentials packed, I crawled into bed and quickly fell asleep. At exactly 2 am my eyes popped open and I saw the red light on my digital clock shining bright with the current time of 2 am. I quietly slipped out of bed, grabbed my clothes and my brown paper bag and I snuck down into the basement so that I could slip out the back door. I opened the back door and stepped out into the backyard.

Before I could close the door behind me every animal in the woods woke up! Is that a wolf? What’s that rustling around over there in the woods? Wait a minute, is that a bear? Is there a snake over there by the swing set? Standing there for what seemed like an hour but was only a few seconds, I decided that it was too dark to leave and I better wait until daylight. I turned around and I went back upstairs and put the paper bag in the closet, and I got back in the bed. I’ll find some time tomorrow during the day to run away I thought, and I went back to sleep. That was my first and last attempt at running away.

At 13 years old I didn’t understand about a personal relationship with the Lord. I was raised Catholic during a time when all services were in Latin. I never understood church. I never understood the Bible because we used a catholic missalette. On the other hand, I knew that my mother sincerely prayed, that I had vivid dreams and that I always seemed to know things. What I mean by that is that I could look at another person and suddenly know something about them. Not necessarily what they ate for breakfast, but their character. Whether they were telling the truth or not telling the truth. Whether they were a good person or bad person, whether they could be trusted, whether they couldn’t be trusted. At times I could see their pain. I learned very quickly I could look at another person and know things, so I assumed that others could do the same with me. So out of fear I was afraid that if I twitched if I blinked, if my eyelid fluttered, that my entire inner being would be exposed for the world to see. I assumed it was normal, so I developed a stoic emotionless demeanor to protect myself.

As a young child these things were extremely real, but at the same time confusing, and uncontrollable. So, asking the Lord to wake me up at 2 o’clock in the morning was something that I did very naturally. I didn’t get down on my knees, fold my hands, grab the rosary, and pray for the Lord to wake me up at 2 o’clock in the morning. I just said it to myself almost haphazardly, as I was placing my paper bag into the closet. No further thought was given to what I was asking.

I did not understand the importance of communicating with the Lord. I didn’t know how to pursue Him. I didn’t know how to nurture or grow in Him. As a 13-year-old child, it was one incident, that happened one day, and I moved on. I was just too young and too inexperienced in the things of faith. Today, I wonder how that incident would have changed my life if I had a true understanding of the Lord? How would my spiritual journey have changed if I understood the meaning of prayer? I was too young to understand that when he woke me up, He answered my prayers and that He heard me!

If the Lord wakes you up at 2 am I encourage you to see it for the miracle it truly is, thank him, and go after him with everything you’ve got!

I love those who love me, and those who seek me diligently find me. Proverbs 8:17

Blessings,

Sandra,

Peace I Give

I think we can all agree that it’s difficult to get through life without feeling a little stress or anxiety. Stress and anxiety can come from many places including our family, our friends, and our jobs. I’ve been dealing with a stressful situation for the past week. The dialogue in my head has been a never-ending reel of self-doubt. What could I have done better?

Every day at some point that reel in my head would pop up and I would feel the anxiety swirling around. Finally, yesterday afternoon I gave it to God. Now I know what you’re thinking. Why didn’t you give it to God two weeks ago? Honestly, because I was in so much pain I was consumed with my feelings, how I felt, what I did right, and most importantly what I did wrong.

So yesterday before going to bed I sat on the side of the bed and I cried out to the Lord that I needed peace. I gave the entire situation to him. I just lifted my hands in the air and said it’s all yours. I can’t do it anymore. I trust whatever it is that you do with the situation. Immediately I begin to feel a sense of peace, I knew the Lord had touched me. The problem had not changed but the stress about it had been lifted. I was so grateful. When I went to bed instead of getting up in the middle of the night and worrying about it, thinking about it when I went to the restroom, thinking about it as I headed to the kitchen to get a glass of water, I had total please, and I slept through the night.

The next morning I woke up after a peaceful night’s sleep, and while still in bed I said, “Alexa, play my devotional for today.” She said, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.”

I sat straight up in the bed!

I pray you to have peace today.

Blessings,

Sandra

Be Encouraged, Be Blessed

Yesterday morning I got up early to get to the grocery store before the big weekend crowd. I made my purchases and returned to my car. After unloading the groceries, I jumped into the car and put the key into the ignition but stopped. Just before turning the key I glanced up at the entrance of the store and saw a police officer walking out of the grocery store with a small grocery bag. As I watched him, I could tell he was going to walk right past my car. When he got close enough to my car so that he could hear me, I rolled down my window and gave him a thumbs-up, and I said, “Hey, I support you guys out there.” He gave me a big smile and said, “Thank you very much!” I asked, “May I pray for you?” He said, “Absolutely, I would love that. “ I prayed for him and he said thank you very much and headed to his car smiling. As he walked away, I thanked the Lord for allowing me to pray for this man. And I said to the Lord, I hope that this man was encouraged today. I said, I hope he tells others in his unit and his family so they would be encouraged as well.

Today I got up to prepare for my morning walk. While getting dressed I listened to worship music, and once I sat down to eat, I flipped through a couple of Christian channels until I found one, I wanted to watch. I stopped and listened as a man started preaching about encouragement. I thought, hmmm, that is interesting. He talked about the importance of encouraging others, and how encouraging others would be a blessing to us. I thought again about what happened yesterday and thanked the Lord. After eating I headed to the park to walk. While walking, to my surprise, I looked up ahead of me on the path and saw two police officers, one male, and one female, on horses riding towards me. As I watched I thought about how I had been walking in that park for about 20 years and had never seen police officers, let alone on horseback. I also thought about the sermon I had heard before I left. Immediately, I knew it wasn’t a coincidence. I knew the Lord wanted me to pray for them. As they got closer, I gave them a thumbs up and I said, “Hey, I support you guys out there.” They said, “Thank you!” I then asked them if I could pray for them. They both had big smiles on their faces and said, “Yes.” As I ended the prayer, they had grins as wide as an ocean.

As they rode off, I thought to myself, the Lord placed three police officers in my path over two days. I could only assume this was his way of encouraging them.  I also thought about the pastor’s sermon when he said that by encouraging others, we are also blessing ourselves. I was so full of joy when I walked away it felt more like they had prayed for me instead of me praying for them.

I encourage you today to let the Lord use you to bless others. Who knows, it might be less about you blessing them, and more about you receiving a blessing.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing. “ 1Thessalonians 5:11

Blessings,

Sandra

$10

 I worked for a ministry for almost 10 years. One of the jobs I held was answering the phone when people called in requesting prayer. First let me say that whenever I tell someone about this job, the first thought that they have is that they see it as a nice, sweet, cute little job where you spend the entire day sitting on the phone praying blessings over the birth of a new baby or a wedding. I wish that were the case. The bottom line is that you’re exposed to the good, the bad, the ugly, the natural, and the supernatural.

One day when I picked up the phone there was a gentleman on the other end who was livid! He was screaming at the top of his voice. I immediately asked the Lord to give me the wisdom to know how to handle this call. So after I said hello, and introduced myself, the man let loose!

He yelled, “If my son asked me for $10 to buy food for his family, not $10 to buy liquor, or drugs, or spend it on women; he was going to do something good with it! He was going to buy food for his family! If he asked me for $10, and I have it to give, why wouldn’t I give it to him? Why would I make him beg, and beg, and beg every single day! Answer me that! I want to know because that’s what I’m doing. I am begging, and begging, and begging for the Lord to help me and he won’t!“ He then used some profanity and hung up the phone.

 As I was driving home after work I said to the Lord, “Why is it so hard for this guy to get his prayers answered?” And Lord I said, “Why do so many people have so many unanswered prayers; including me?”

 He said, “I have forgiven you and forgiven your sins, but when you sin that sin is put in place in the flesh, in the world, and those sins have worldly actions and impacts attached to them that take time.“

This was a good reminder for me to not only stop sinning, but to confess and repent for my sins immediately. I don’t know if this guy would have listened to me if I would have had an opportunity to tell him this. So, at this point all I can do is to pray for him silently.

 Are your prayers being answered?

 “It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:2

 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