Monday, October 31, 2011

Are You Living the Dream?

About once a year, I have a dinner party where I invite two couples and instruct them to each invite another couple who I wouldn’t know so we have 10 people around the table; two couples of which I am meeting for the first time. When the guests arrive, each guest is given a number which corresponds to a table seat and at every seat I’ve placed a question to ask another person; their evening’s mission is to find the answer. The questions vary from what is their most daring accomplishment to what type of animal do they best relate. It’s an evening my Man, who is an introvert, looks forward to every year (not) but his involvement is an incredible testament to how much I am loved.

My favourite question is to ask is to find out what their childhood dream was and if they are living their dream as an adult. This week on Kingdom Bloggers, I’ve posed the question to the others. I can’t wait to learn about the others, and while we’re sharing our childhood dreams, why don’t you answer the question in the comments.


I was 5 years old when I understood there was a world outside of what I could experience. My older cousin had travelled to Sweden to go to Bible School and I made a vow in my heart I was going to go to Bible School in Sweden also. In grade 1, my teacher was making preparations to move to Holland following the school year and she told us many stories about the history and culture of Holland and I made a vow in my heart that I would go to Holland.

I also had aspirations of being a flight attendant; they were still called stewardess back then. I was fearless in travel and wanted to see the world. As soon as I graduated from high school, I left alone for Europe and my first stop was Holland. I attended Bible School in Austria so I didn’t make it to Sweden yet but I’m still young(ish). (I own furniture from IKEA, does that count?)

I stayed in Europe for a year – until my money ran out and I felt pressures from home to start my “real” life.  I’ve been grounded for almost 20 years but the Lord is renewing a thirst for travel, this time with the purpose of doing ministry. I’ve received several prophetic words that indicate travel and flight are in my future. As I child I reviled the thought of being a missionary, particularly to developing countries. It wasn’t that I didn’t care, but I don’t like being dirty. I still don’t like to be dirty but I see my mission not as long term but rather to make quick trips to leave a deposit to strengthen the church and its leaders and then exit.

Am I living my dream? If you asked me five years ago, I would have said no. Currently, it doesn’t look like I am but I have much anticipation the dreams I had as a child were God-given and where God gives a vision, he also provides the provision so I know I’m on my way.

What was your childhood dream? Is it still the same?

Friday, October 28, 2011

Rides, Wild Turkeys, UPS and Freedom

I was in High School and was invited to a party that included the “in” crowd. I was surprised I was invited but thrilled at the same time.  When I was there, I did what I normally did at that age, when I encountered situations that I felt inadequate about or wanted to “fit in” (don’t worry I didn’t do it yesterday!) and that is, I drank.

I know a lot of young people drink and it is not a big issue for them. But, unbeknownst to me, I had a physical  and genetic  predesposition to alcoholism.  I had already been drinking over 5 years and I can remember feeling proud that even guys would say “ Boy, you can really hold your liquor!” I thought that was a great compliment…I was in …I was noticed…I was cool.

This night, as I went to leave, this really kind boy told me that he thought he should follow me. I was driving alone and I welcomed the “protection” I don’t think designated drivers were in vogue in those days…so I know he notice my condition and was trying to help me. I can clearly remember it, as if it was today, how I drove.  I went very slow and used the utmost concentration, often looking in my rear view mirror to make sure he was following.

The next time he saw me, he told me that I was really drunk and I was all over the road…swerving here and there. I was truly shocked because I thought I had it under control (usually a wrong concept we can have about a lot of things).  I was embarrassed too…I felt I was caught and also that I let him down, as he was the one who invited me to the party.

Did I think, oh my gosh, I could have killed someone? No…did it even enter my mind, I could have crashed the car and got seriously injured or killed.  No. I was more worried about how I appeared to others.  He told me the truth though and in a way, it was a confrontation.

I wish I could say that, from that incident, I could see that alcohol already had the power over me, but I wasn’t ready to face the truth, yet.  There came a day, after much pain that I caused myself and put on my family…I was ready to admit that I was powerless over alcohol;. This past June, I celebrated 32 years of Sobriety…it was truly by the Grace of God. I went into treatment and joined AA and as they say…the rest is history.

Another, trip was a little jaunt down Main Street of my town. As I was approaching a stop sign, in the right lane of the 2 lanes, I noticed a UPS Truck parked in front of a store. The driver parked there, but his truck was partially in the lane I was in.  Depth perception has never been one of my strong points, but I ascertained that I had enough room to get by and by golly I could do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. Not sure if that is really the prayer I prayed, but I know I uttered something…probably something like 

I know I can…
      I know I can…
             I know I can.  

As, I was right near the truck and thinking I had accomplished landing this plane ( my car) perfectly ( oh oh…there’s that word again).


The sound was unmistaken…Yikes I didn’t clear the narrow path!  He stared in unbelief.

I got out of the car, as the UPS guy came around the truck and we both stared in unbelief. I had not only hit the rear of the truck but my car was now hooked onto his bumper. It was not going to be a case of slowly baking up. He then came up with a brilliant idea. He said, with a lot of confidence that I am glad he had…” OK, I will go in the truck and rev the engine and go in reverse, as you do the same but go forward. He thought that would “un hook” us.

I liked this, a UPS man with confidence.

Well, by that time we had an audience at this intersection. I tried my best to follow what he said and was hopeful it would work.  Well, it happened all so fast…but it did work and I was free!

Putting my car in drive, pressing the pedal to the floor, off I went. I think I got caught up in the moment of being free.  When I got home and told my husband and son, they were like “ You just drove away? You did not exchange insurance info or anything?” they were incredulous.Half expecting a call from UPS Headquarters or the Police I waited. Remember there were a ton of witnesses.  As it turns up, I never got called and it would've been a hardship as our car insurance was $1000 deductible.

I thought this was God’s grace and accepted it as much. I WAS willing to face the consequences that never came.

The third leg of this journey is a time that I was speeding down a country road in one of the towns in CT, that I regularly traveled on.  I wish I could say that I was think deep thoughts about God, but I am pretty sure I was in a zone.  All of a sudden…


before my eyes, in the windshield line of vision, was a huge bird. It's black feathers blowing all over the place I had NO idea what I hit but I plowed into this bird and his brother. His brother continued into the woods, I am sure thinking  "This woman is crazy!”.

It happened so fast, I wasn’t sure if I ran over the bird, when it slid down my hood or what happened. As I looked in my rear view mirror…he still was walking, albeit, slowly. I also am sure he thought I was not only crazy but a violent maniac.

I was shaking a lot and pulled my car over to the side of the road to gather myself.  Soon, a policeman came by to ask if I was ok. I was still “under the influence of bird maiming”. He held back his laughter, I am sure and suggested I stay there for a while till I was less shaken up.  One thing I found out about these birds from him, was who they were. I thought they were doo-doo (pronounced dough-dough) birds. I had a nun in grammar school who called all students that she thought were inept or stupid (her judgment)…doo-doo birds.
This all came back to me when I hit them.  The Trooper said if that they were Wild Turkeys. Well, unbeknown to me…they could fly…well not too high…yes only as high as my hood.

As I was sitting there I thought of a couple of things, I left the house kind of depressed and this sure shook things up for me. Then I took this as kind of a “sign”. I am not sure how y’all feel about “signs” from our ordinary world around us and God speaking to us through these. Well, I was in the midst of a messy personal situation and I just felt like these birds, in a way in that, I am going about my own business…being me…and this person is just plowing through the path…speeding and having NO thought for anyone else except THEIR destination. You see I keep blaming myself and asking myself incessantly…could I do something different??? Was I wrong??? Am I just seeing the truth and yet am thinking all along that I am only judging? Well I got my answer that day and I was freed. 

Well, all these combined, may lead you to believe that perhaps this… I should not be driving…at the very least , you should be warned about when I am on the road.

I’d love the company…I just steer clear of drinking, avoid UPS trucks and granting the right of way to wild turkeys.

When you're down and out...just look up!

While I don't necessarily have an intervention story that involves a road trip, I do have a very fond moment that involves being on the road...

I've written about my commute a few times over on Tony C Today. It seems to always be a source of fodder for a good story...and a serious test of a few different virtues to boot. The commute has also been a blessing on many occasions for me as I use the time to talk with my Father about things on my heart, listen to podcast of sermons from local pastors of churches I don't attend but still love, gear up or decompress for/from work, and of course jam a little.
About four years ago, I was transitioning to a new position at work. At the very same time, my boss had ask if I would copy edit a book he had finished writing and was about to submit to a publisher. The subject covered the book of Genesis but was written from a different theological perspective than my own. He wasn't deterred that I would be approaching the task as a Christian, and he assured me there was no pressure to agree with his work...he just wanted me to copy edit for mechanics, grammar and check scripture references.
Let me state that I love this man and his entire family. I have the best job and working environment a person could ever ask to be placed...peas and carrots. I was determined to do the best job possible for him. As I got deeper into the book, it became obvious to me that our belief systems were vastly different. I started experiencing anxieties, not as a result of anything he said directly to me or required, but rather from my own conscience. Was it justifiable or grounded in dogma? The conflict became a spiritual struggle for me that lasted for several weeks and became a serious drag on my daily attitude.

I pressed on with editing the 700+ page book. There were times I know I avoided talking with my boss because I was becoming somewhat disconnected. My focus started breaking down as I struggled with what I should do or say based on my Christian faith. I had several conversation with my pastor who really helped me put things into a proper perspective. But still, the anxiety lingered and even haunted me at times.
While driving home from work one evening, I started praying for God to guide me, lead me. Should I stop editing because the book conflicted with my own faith? Why it took me so long to go to Him is beyond me, but I prayed, I waited and then finally  I flipped on the radio...

The song King of Glory by Third Day was playing. I cranked it up. As I listened and began to sing along, I became overcome with Joy. I popped in a CD with the long version of the same song and started again. His name is Jesus, precious Jesus. The Lord Almighty, the King of my heart, the King of glory.

I pulled off I-26 at the top of Bays Mountain, put everything else on my mind and in my heart aside, and sang to my Jesus...the King of glory! When the song ended, I played it again...and then a third time. Alone...tears flowing...filled with Joy...I worshipped and sang praises to Him.

When I started driving again, my anxiety was just...gone. I had become so wrapped up and worried that I had surrendered my source of Joy in life...the Joy that only comes when my focus is on Him. After that day, I had a number of great discussions with my boss about his book, his beliefs and also about my faith. He's a great guy who listens and doesn't judge, and that's the example I should have been exhibiting.

Although sometimes I fail, now I try not to be hampered by earthly issues when I worship or even prepare to worship. God deserves my undivided attention, and even though I'm never worthy of His blessing...sometimes He pours it on extra heavy just because He loves me.

I might be a little late getting home again tonight...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

What's a Road Trip Without a Few Beers

What's a road trip without a few beers, a few tokes or a few lines?  I mean, dudes gotta have something to do on their way to concert or an outta town college, right? 

It really amazes me all the different ways Jesus interceded in my life after I confessed my need for a Savior. His Faithfulness, to my heart's cry as little kid would get me through years of selfishness, stupidity and self destruction. He was Faithful when I wasnt. 2 Timothy 2.13

All the times of driving drunk or stoned, all the times of riding with someone drunk or stoned and all the times getting busted by cops while drunk or stoned.  Even the times when I wasn't buzzed or high and got caught up with the police and I had something illegal on my person, Jesus was Faithful to keep me outta trouble.  There are also those times of deciding to walk, errr, stumble home, no matter how far away from home I was and no matter the weather conditions. It could only have King Jesus that saw me get home safely, because to this day I can't tell you how I did.

 Except for the time when an Iowa State Trooper let me ride in the front seat as he drove me the remaining 35 miles home. After staggering and bumping into each other for a few miles on gravel roads my bud and I finally reached a highway.  I'm not sure which is more miraculous, the fact that Jim convinced me that I needed to leave the fifth of vodka in the broke down truck before beginning the trek home or that he convinced the troopers I was of legal drinking age and I would not puke in the front seat of the car. 

Even when I didn't give a damn about anything except getting my head bad, Jesus was revealing Mercy and Grace back in the day.Even when I only called on His name when I was cursing, He was protecting me from myself.   

And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand. John 10.28-29

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

No Incidence

I am known for insane road trips.  I wonder, if it were possible to tally up all the miles I've driven back and forth across the country, just how many it would be.  I suspect it would be in the millions.  For three years, we journeyed back and forth from Brookings SD to Kingston Springs TN about once a month - That alone tally's to 70,000 miles in three years.  Then there was the trip that took us from Brookings, to Missouri, then to NJ/NY, and back again in less than a week.  Or the countless times I've driven from TN to CT.  That's a total of 2030 each round trip.  I could go on and on.

My favorite past time when my family would tolerate it is to be like my father and sing in the car.  I remember one trip with my mother and my three oldest children (who were little at the time).  I had a small cassette player (remember those?) with two small speakers.  Sitting on the dash board it looked like a miniature stereo set. I listened to Maranatha music and sang along.  It isn't that my singing is bad, it's just gets repetitious I suppose.

Then there are the stories of flat tires on the road.  That's the story I want to share with you today.  Did God do something amazing on that trip?  Yes, He kept me sane.  It was March.  It was Spring Break.  We hadn't lived in TN very long.  My two youngest daughters wanted to go home to CT for a visit.  My oldest daughter took the bus from Missouri to ride along.  Our van had an issue with the fan.  It didn't come on automatically. My husband, always with a "solution" had rigged up a toggle switch for me to hit to turn the fan on manually.  For reasons that still escape me, he thinks I can handle anything - so off we went to CT.

I always like to start early.  We did.  We hit a slow down just west of Knoxville. Yes, we overheated.  The toggle switch fix didn't work so well.  But, the car cooled and off we went.  Just east of Knoxville, swoosh, kerplunk, kerplunk - a tire blew.  I pulled over contemplating what to do.  My cell phone, while not the original brick cell phone, was huge and didn't pick up a signal.  A good Samaritan stopped with his wife and put the spare on.

While this was going on, my daughters, under the leadership of their oldest sister found a stream.  They took pennies and with a prayer, threw them in the stream.  The idea was that if they floated past a certain place, we'd have a safe trip.  I found out later that they didn't.  Nevertheless, this activity gave the girls hope.

We found a K-Mart in Sevierville.  Money was very limited.  I opted for a meal at Shoney's anyway.  We relaxed.  As I paid for the tire, my daughters, again at the direction of their sister, went to a local Baptist church.  They found the pastor and asked him to pray for our trip.  He prayed.  He asked God for "no more incidences" and a safe trip.

I don't know why God doesn't answer some prayers.  Two-hundred miles later, at dusk, in the rain, literally on top of a mountain in Virginia I hear that sound again.  The other rear tire blew.  No cell signal, little money, four females alone - one starts to cry - I wanted to cry.  One decides to be a hero and look for help.  I tell her no but she goes anyway.  Finally, the cell phone was able to connect with AAA.  Help was on the way.  But where was my eldest daughter, the hero?

The weeping child said, "Mom, I think we should pray."  I agreed.  A simple prayer and as I said Amen, there she came across the interstate.  Her faith was shaken, so was mine... what about "no incidence?"  It's one of the questions you have no answer for - but what I do know is somehow we made it to Connecticut a day late but safe.

I have more calamity stories on long trips - coming back from NYC on Metro North at 1 a.m. to find my van with two flat tires in the garage in New Haven... that was fun... same two younger girls with me that time too.  Or the trip back home through Queens on the Van Wyck with four children and my daughter-in-law when the radiator blew.  That was even more fun!

However, the point of all this is that while sometimes in the midst of things we don't know where God is - He still is always there and somehow, He gets us through.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Catching a Reflection of God in the Rearview Mirror

I am a homebody; I love hanging out at home and living my everyday life. It’s comforting, but at the same time, too much of a routine can lead to complacency and our spiritual eyesight can become dull. Sometimes, a change of scenery brings a fresh jolt from the Spirit, which causes us to sit up and take notice. Everyone needs a ‘pop’ in our faith journey and this week on Kingdom Bloggers we are writing about a time when God met us on a road trip.

This week, we also welcome Dave Tvedt . For those that have been reading Kingdom Bloggers for a long time will remember him. I’ve recently met him online and from the excitement that Joyce and Tony express, I’m looking forward to getting to know him more. As for now, I just think of him like his caricature – short, bald and a big head.

We have a guest writer this week. Her name is Linda Maynard and she’ll be contributing on Thursday, please welcome her and make her feel rewarded for taking the time to contribute.

We welcome Dave, but say good-bye (at least for a while) to Tracy Chiara. Tracy is a sensitive, thought-provoking writer but her non-virtual life has been overwhelming for the past while and it’s necessary for us to release her with grace and loving-kindness and wish her God’s blessing and providence. You can keep up with her, on her personal blog, Abundant Living.


My Man’s family has property on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Bamfield is a remote fishing village, which is its best feature and its worst feature. You can travel by the mail boat, which limits you to Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday or you can drive on a gravel logging road for 2+ hours and then take a short boat ride across the inlet.

The road to Bamfield is marked with many deaths and at the very least, the majority of travellers have punctured a tire. Many of the locals carry their own compressor to fix and inflate their flat tires on the road. We spend some time there every summer. Our first trip was more memorable than any other. On the way there, we got a flat tire and I was moderately excited. I’d never had a flat tire and I thought it was exciting because it would make a good story.

The tire story fell flat, though, in comparison to our journey home (pun intended). We’ve driven off a cliff and lived to tell about it – which I attest to the protection of the Lord. The road twists and turns a lot, and although we were not speeding or being reckless, the newly fixed tires caught some loose gravel and fishtailed. My Man tried to correct the tires but overcompensated as the car aimed straight for the log embankment. “Prepare for impact,” my brain instructed. As soon as I had thought that, I realized our car sailed right over the embankment and we were headed to the bottom of the creek bed straight below. Again, my brain told me to prepare for impact because we were going to hit a tree and I was sure we’d start to flip. No sooner had I thought that, did I realize we were riding on the tree tops.

The trees rested us gently on a pile of rock boulders, roughly 30-40ft into the creek and 30-40ft straight down from the road above. We were unhurt and stunned.

We got out of the vehicle and assessed what had just happened. Then we began to wonder how we would get help. Moments later, a voice called up from the top, through the trees, “Is anyone down there? Are you hurt? Do you need help?” A couple from Washington were on returning from a fishing holiday and had arrived on the scene, less than five minutes. The timing was perfect because had it been longer, the dust from the road would have settled over our tracks and no one would have known we were down there. They had a rope, which helped us to climb to the top because it was almost a 90° drop and they gave us a ride into the nearest town, where an aunt and an uncle lived.

The Lord was with us that day, and I’m certain the angels carried us on the tree tops to gently set up upon dry rocks in the middle of the creek. Yep, I caught a reflection of him in the rearview mirror.

Why not share your story when God showed up while you were on vacation.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Three Questions

Can we ask about politics and religion?  Just kidding...

If you had a magic lamp, what would your three wishes be?

What do you think of social media, do you use it?

If you could solve one huge problem the world faces, what would it be and how do you think it can be solved?

Monday, October 17, 2011

3 Questions

Every week, Kingdom Bloggers write about personal experiences, sharing our joys and struggles. We learn from each other by sharing stories but this week, we want to learn about our readers.

Every day, each writer will be asking 3 questions to you. We were going to go with 20 Questions but Tony can't count that high, so 3 it is.

I get to go first:

1,  What are the last 3 books you’ve read?
2,  If you could do a missions trip anywhere, where would you go?
3,  What sports do you watch/play?
I'll answer in the comments too.

Friday, October 14, 2011

John Lennon was right...God is all you need.

I'm going to take a little different angle on my favorite Bible verse than I did back in a January post. While the previously posted reason for 1 John 4:8 being my personal favorite still resonate very strongly for me, I've come to understand more clearly just how this passage completely ties the Bible together.
 My post today may come across as an apologetic position to justify the existence of God. Please believe that is not my intent. While my points will have apologetic tone, the deeper understanding I now have on just how important the statement God is love  is for all Christians has only added to my overall peace and personal joy in my daily walk. 

One of the struggles during my 'dark years' away from God's intended path for my life was reconciling the concept of the Trinity. Is God one or three? How can three be one? I just couldn't wrap my head around it all. Granted, this is a challenging concept for even the most learned theologians, and I believe that's because at the heart of the matter is a philosophical answer and not one based on total least human logic.

God is eternal. Always has been and always will be. Yet another difficult concept for the finite and limited minds of man. Yet we are eternal beings from birth (or conception depending on your position on that subject matter). The word love in the original text of this verse is the word agape. Now, I'm not going to break down into 'Christianese' and rehash the differences between Greek words agape, phileo, eros and storge which are all translated into English as the word love (click here). What I will state, however, is that  agape is not the word we associate with emotions or feelings, but rather a word that by nature implies an action is prompted (aka 'action model' in aforementioned 'Christianese').

God is agape. God is eternal. Therefore, God has always had someone or something to love. But what is older than or as old as God?

Some years ago, I heard an explanation of the following fundamental principle that, at the time, sounded like flawed logic to me. I've since come to realize the explanation far better explains the nature of the Trinity than any other one I'd heard before or since that time. Let's look at the traditional Scutum Fidei or Shield of the Trinity:

Working from the Scriptures that state God is love (my favorite verse) and God is eternal (Genesis 1:1 and Romans 1:20 to name a few), the nature of the Trinity actually answers more questions than are created when put into context. God is three persons: Father, Son and Holy Spirit, so inside the Godhead you have one Person who loves (Father), one Person being loved (Son) and the very spirit of love (Holy Spirit). God is love, God always has been love, God always will be love...and that fact doesn't rely on absolutely any other element.

Does this explanation exempt the Son from also loving? Absolutely not. The nature of the relationship being Father and Son is given to us by God in terms we can actually relate or dare I say a degree. I never forget that He is God, and I will never understand the complete nature of his majesty.

So, I've shared yet another reason why 1 John 4:8 is one of my very favorite verses. I do actually have more...but we'll save those for the next go around on favorite verse. God bless!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Pregnant with Hope

A favorite verse huh?  

What if I can’t pick one?  

I mean seriously, there are verses that speak to me at different times for different reasons.  My favorite verse(s) are sort of like those topical verse things – when you are ________ read ___________. 

When I am really feeling low, I like “Jesus wept.”  Jesus allowed Himself to experience His humanity by weeping.  He struggled with Himself and with His Father in the Garden.  He expressed His anguish on the cross with “why have You forsaken Me?  If Jesus, our example can be real and vulnerable, I can too.

When I am struggling with the future, I like “He who began a good work in you shall complete it.”  If you read my Sounds of Hope blog, you know I get bummed and frustrated and have all sorts of angst about my future.  This verse reminds me that it’s not over until it is over.

I could go on and on with this – sometimes the verse “The gift makes room for itself” gives me a jolt of hope.  Or other times, I ponder at length what does deep calls to deep mean – I’ve had people pray it over me so many times that it sort of echoes in my brain.  Last week, I think I discovered one of the things it means – someone said that my Sounds of Hope blog reaches into her soul and I say exactly what she feels. 

But if I were to pick one verse today, it would be Romans 8:24: For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have?

Listen to how Eugene Peterson translates this in The Message:That is why waiting does not diminish us, any more than waiting diminishes a pregnant mother. We are enlarged in the waiting. We, of course, don't see what is enlarging us.

I'm pregnant with dreams and desires for effective ministry. When God first laid on my heart to start The Age of Hope Ministries many years ago, He gave me that middle phrase – but hope that is seen is no hope at all.  If you’ve ever hit a place where you hope is gone, you know it is more devastating than most anything else we can experience.  

We need hope to keep going.  But when we see it, it’s not hope.  Waiting is very hard for me and I’ve been waiting for a lot of things a very, very, very long time.  But in the waiting, I hold on to the unseen hope.