Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Penny Wiggles

In Memory of Penny Darlene Wills. Jan. 15 1966 - Dec. 3, 2010

“All the Gold in California” – That was one of Penny’s favourite songs. I guess Penny would have been about twelve when that song hit the charts. For some reason Penny just loved that song and Larry Gatlan. When we drove to California with Mum and Dad, Penny played that song on her little eight track all the way. Dad wanted to throw the tape out the window, but Mum wouldn’t let him. When we would have company over to the house, Penny would start singing "All the Gold in California". She knew every word. She would talk continually about Larry Gatlan. Penny actually went to a few of his concerts when he was in Ontario. In fact, she met Larry Gatlan about a month ago. When he was on stage he blew Penny a kiss and said, “I love you Penny”. He also sent her a little letter which is in the coffin with his CD. This was one of Penny’s many highlighted moments.

On behalf of Norma, Crystal and Candice and the Wills family we wish to thank everyone for the love, support and prayers given on behalf of Penny and our family. Personally, I would like to thank many of you, who over the years have really come to know Penny, love Penny and care for Penny. I don’t know many of you, and perhaps you knew Penny in ways I did not know her, even though she was my sister. You are special people and have special gifts. I praise God for people like you who have made Penny a part of your lives and in doing so, made Penny’s life so full of joy. You cared for her needs and loved her. I believe with all my heart that Penny loved all of you. Her love showed in her smile which is captured in her pictures. A special thanks to her first teacher in public school and high school, the caregivers at C.LG. Day Program, people who met with Penny regularly to teach her computer skills or reading, her respite caregivers and Penny’s special friend who took her out for coffee every Saturday for twelve years. There are many people  who have shared a special bond with Penny. You know who you are and you know the part you had in Penny’s life. Once again I sincerely thank you.

Penny was born January 15, 1966. I can remember back to that time, even though I was just five years old. Mum was pregnant. At that time there was a show on television called “Lost in Space”. It was one of my favourite shows. I loved watching Will and Penny Robinson each week. I remember saying, “Mummy, if you have a little boy can we call him Will?” Mum didn’t like that name because she thought that Will Wills didn’t sound right. As it turned out, Mum had a little girl. One look at her little baby with her little nose, tiny ears and hands and Mum knew that she would name her Penny. Penny was born with down syndrome which is a genetic condition. She had one chromosome difference. Even then Mum instinctively knew that Penny was a blessing from God though some may have thought otherwise. Mum knew that God had given us Penny for a reason.

When Penny was born there was not as much knowledge about her special condition. There was not the resources to research like there is today. Mum learned how to care for Penny the only way she knew how. Like a lot of parenting skills they are developed on the job training. I remember every week a nurse would come in and help my Mum bathe Penny, care for her belly button and make sure Penny was doing okay. Mum feared for Penny's life when she was just a baby. She lay on the bed wearing a pink dress and she looked like a little doll. Penny was having difficulty breathing because she had a cold and her nostrils were very tiny. Penny grew out of the baby stage into a toddler.

There were moments when Penny was quite a handful. When Penny was very young she was fascinated with hair. So fascinated that she would put her hands in your hair and pet it. One day, one of Mum’s good friends Agnus was visiting. Penny proceeded to touch her hair. Next thing you know Agnus screamed. The more Agnus screamed, the harder Penny pulled her hair. It was quite difficult to remove Penny’s hands from the tangled hair. I think Penny was curved from this sense of curiosity when one day she pulled the wig right off of Aunt Vera’s head. The shock on Penny’s face said it all. The response of Aunt Vera was quite hilarious.

I can remember Penny to be the center of so much laughter. She was about five years old. One of her cutest impressions she did was the Pilsbury Doe Boy. The first time she did this she stood in the middle of the living room with her hand up and her mouth shaped like an O, pointing to her belly. It became a big game for everyone to figure out what Penny was doing. The house roared with laughter. You just never knew what Penny was going to do. There were so many surprises which brought laughter. Penny loved her popcorn and chips, but more than anything she loved her Mom, her family and people.

Mum had many years of caring for Penny. In the last few years Crystal and Candice took over for Mum and did everything they could do to make a happy home for Penny, Kala, Liz and Kaitlen. They enjoyed many happy times with all the girls of which will always be treasured. 

Penny had her infatuations over the years. With each one she entertained us. I think Penny always liked when people laughed. She did not like people arguing or loud noises. Whether Penny was wearing her purple Donny Osmond socks and talking about Donny Osmond incessantly or if she was dressed in green make-up pretending to be the incredible Hulk or joyfully singing “All the Gold in California” at the top of her lungs, Penny always made sure that we knew about her love interests. She loved Elvis and going to Collingwood and dancing up a storm. She loved the kisses and hugs she received from all the Elvis’s even more. What can I say, Penny loved her guys and even Keith Urban can attest to this. She loved her calendar book and listening to CD’s, the Raider family, Ocean Opry and music.

When Crystal, Penny and I were young we loved to play and pretend we were Jamie Summers, the bionic woman. We would jump off the couches and picnic tables and run in slow motion. Penny would make the bionic sounds and pretend to subdue us. She was strong like Jamie Summers.

Somewhere along life’s journey, I began calling her Penny Wiggles and Penny would reply back to me Becky Wiggles. I didn’t realize until we were in the hospital on Friday that everyone called her Penny Wiggles. It made her smile when we would call her that name. Lord knows, I loved to tease Penny. Penny liked to tease me in return. It was all in fun. When Penny was little she would curl her front lip with her tongue. Mum thought she looked like the puppet lamb chops. You would have to be over fifty to know who lamb chops is.

So I have had a few days to reflect over memories and think about Penny and who she was in my life. We seem do to that when we lose a loved one. Life can seem like a strange and winding road. Often we take the people in our lives for granted, never thinking that tomorrow they could be gone.

I feel sad knowing that Penny is not with us anymore and I picture her in that hospital room on that Friday where she was surrounded by love. It is hard to say goodbye. The only thing that really gives me comfort is in knowing that she is now enveloped by the most incredible love, a perfect love within God’s presence. I believe this because I know that Penny had a childlike faith and loved Jesus. She accepted Jesus just like she accepted everyone. Penny never had it in her to judge people or harbour bitterness or anger. She just accepted everyone for who they are.

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me. Do not hinder them for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these.” I happen to believe the word of God to be true. In God’s word it says throughout many scriptures that Jesus will change our “vile bodies”. I believe that on Friday afternoon, Penny walked into heaven with a new glorified body. A body no longer restricted by sickness, pain, or any infirmity. I know that her sight was made perfect. I am expecting to see Penny again some time. The scripture says that we will recognise each other by our spirits. Penny had a wonderful gentle spirit.

I know that Penny loves Jesus. I believe that is exactly where Penny is right now, rejoicing in Heaven. So it only seems appropriate that at the end of this service we play one of Penny’s favourite songs which also happens to be one of my favourites too. “I’m a sinner, but I’ve never sinned because I’ve got a friend in Jesus. When I die and they lay me to rest, I’m going to that place that is the best. Going up to the Spirit in the sky. That is where I’ll go when I die. When I die and they lay me to rest I’m going to the place that is the best."

If I were to pick out something which I will always remember about Penny, it would be that incredible innocence she possessed and the smile that always graced her face. I saw that smile only a week ago. It impelled me to give her a kiss and a hug and tell her “I love you Penny”. Penny was unique in every sense of the word -my gentle little sister - My Penny Wiggles. We will not forget you Penny. Even though you are gone, you will be remembered by many.

I'll just say: See later Penny. I'll love you forever. xoxoxo

Friday, February 26, 2010

Where is God?

Where is God? This is a question often asked by people in devestating times. The bible tells us that God is with us all the time. That would mean that in the best of circumstances and in the worst of times God is with us. When we lose loved ones or witness devestation like Haiti's earthquake, some may ask that question.

Again I have been touched by the prayers of many believers of Christ Jesus. Poetic prayers, heartfelt and tear streaming prayers, prayers of faith by many who believe that all things are possible in Christ Jesus. Truth is, all things are possible in Christ Jesus. However, sometimes God doesn't answer our prayers in ways which we can understand. At this time I am thinking of a young Mother. Her name is Colleen. Colleen had a sudden heart failure. It is told that it took seventeen minutes to revive her. She has been in a coma ever since.

For years I sang in the chroir with Colleen and many other wonderful men and women of faith. Colleen is the mother of three children and the wife of Alec her loving husband. She is a loving sister, a daughter, a friend, a part of many lives. This is now day 39 since her initial heart attack. For the last 39 days people have come together from many denominations of Christianity and have prayed for a miracle.

Over this time period, I too have prayed for a miracle for Colleen along with many other people. I believe that many of the prayers have been prayed by those with great faith. Does this mean that God did not hear all of our prayers? Absolutely not. The bible says that God knows our prayers before even a word flows from our lips. This does not paint a picture of an uncaring God in any way shape or form. God is love. God is compassionate. Anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ knows that God has a plan beyond what we can understand.

It does not matter how much faith we have in knowing God can do all things. God can certainly do a miracle. To read the bible we see proof, page after page after page. Does God always show up and do a miracle? Sometimes people die before we are ready. We will all die one day. There is a song sung by Micael W. Smith. I heard it on radio yesterday. It is called "This is Her Time". It is a song written for a young girl who died in the Collumbi mass shooting in which she lost her life. They shot her dead for confessing her faith in Christ. A sad end to her life. Yet, her life and her death was part of a plan. For family members it was a devestating loss.

Death somehow rips to the deepest part of our souls. We don't want to let go of our loved ones. It hurts too much. We miss them everyday. When I thought about Colleen and all the people praying for her, I just keep seeing faith faith faith for a miracle. I also keep reading of the reports as she is now being moved to palliative care. Thinking of it all made me feel somewhat aggrivated, perhaps a little skepticle for moment.

Then the answer hit me like a wave. It takes a lot more faith to let go; to allow God's will to be done whether we like it or not. It takes more faith to say goodbye. It takes faith to say, "Colleen you are free to go into God's loving arms and be in paradise."

Sometimes in the mist of our fear of death, it is hard to remember that for Christians death is really eternal life. The spirit and soul are immediatley transported into God's presence. We pray for Colleen and her family and ask that God's perfect will to be done while believing for a miracle. In the name of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen. Let faith be the hope to comfort all who grieve the loss of a loved one.

Since writing this blog, Colleen Mills passed from this life on March 7, 2010. Until we meet again Colleen, we will remember you fondly. I'll sing with you again some day in that heavenly choir.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Legs of Determination

It took a month of training with the hospital chaplain, to learn hospital procedures, emergency codes and things we should or should not say that may upset the patient. Our job as a spiritual care volunteer was to visit them as to offer them support by listening, praying or comforting them. If we brought a little sunshine into their room only by smiling then we would have succeeded. Many patients on the ward that I visited were long term care patients. Some of them may have been in the hospital as long as five years. Some were bedridden; others could only get up into a wheel chair. Other patients waited for a bed to become available in another facility like a convalescent home for the elderly. Visiting every week I could get to know some of the patients quite well. They looked forward to the visit. Sometimes if you missed a visit they would even worry about why you didn’t come. Many patients are quite lonely and cherish the time that someone can give showing them a little attention, love and care. Some patients can be sad, moody, angry, or in horrific pain.

One patient I visited had both his legs amputated because of an infected sore. One leg and then it transferred to the other leg and so they amputated that leg. He was left bed ridden for two years which caused bed sores on his back. These sores caused incredible pain. All he wanted was for his sores to heal so he could go home. His wife didn’t want him back home. She didn’t want to take care of him. Ted is a smart man who also is a writer. I find it amusing how God always brings other writers into my life. I went to visit Ted for the first time. I was quite intimidated I must say. However, he didn’t bite my head off. As it turned out, Ted was quite the friendly fellow, despite how frustrated he was at his circumstance. For months I would visit with him and prayed with him a couple of times. He exchanged a few writing tips to help get me motivated to write. We developed a friendly relationship.
For someone like me it is difficult to distance myself from a person. I usually get way too attached. Some relationships are for a season. In visiting patients that is what it is like. When you go in the next week they may not be there. I’d like to write a happy ending for Ted. However, I have to leave that up to God. One day Ted left the hospital of his own free will. It did not sound like going home was the right place for him to go in his condition. For Ted, time was not standing still. Being in that hospital bed for two years with no visitors except the hospital staff and a few volunteers, he decided that was enough. He was going to live life and it was not going to be in that hospital room anymore.

Over a three month period of time, during my visits I had watched Ted exercise in his bed in an attempt to strengthen his arms so that he would be able to get himself in and out of bed and into his wheel chair without any help. I hope and pray that Ted is still doing that on his own, even better with someone who cares. Ted was a determined man and I think a courageous man. He had his legs cut out from under him and every day the sun would rise and he would rise with it. Pain and all, he tried to get back up and walk again. Doctors would not give him prosthetic legs. They said his heart could not take the strain. Ted had the courage to try and the desire to overcome his physical disability. He may not have received those legs but he can walk tall in his spirit because he is determined, brave and strong willed. His physical heart may have been weak, but he had the heart of a champion. I hope to see a new book on the shelves one day written by Ted . . .

I applaud Ted for his determination to rise above his situation. During the time that I knew Ted, I never once heard him complain or even ask God why this had happened to him. Ted accepted his challenge with the courage and strength of a champion. In this chapter I wanted to write something about Ted and relate it to some spiritual message. When I began to flip through the bible, I ended up in the book of Job. Probably because of the way I look at Ted and his circumstance. People always want answers or some explanation that would somehow defend God. God does not need defending. God is God. Knowing the depth to who God really is, seems to be something we have a difficult time understanding. In my weakness, I searched for answers in the bible that would in some way give reason to the whys of this world. Why would Ted have to live such a circumstance? Why do many suffer in so many different ways? The whys of this world are many and the answers seem few. I have come to realize that in life and in death there is a purpose only known to God the creator of all things.

The book of Job relates a story of a Godly man. God allowed such horrific things to happen to him. Even then, Job's friends and the people in Job's life looked for answers. Many pulled their own conclusions from their own wisdom or lack of. When I read through Job 39 and 40 to gain some insight as to see God's response to Job, it opened my mind to experience just a small climpse of the depth and the reality of God who is the Creator of all things. Perhaps the one verse says it best. Words of God spoken to Job in reply, "Do you still want to argue with the Almighty. You are God's critic, but do you have the answers?"

Job responds to the Lord, "I am nothing ~how could I ever find the answers? I will cover my mouth with my hand. I have said too much already. I have nothing more to say."
Perhaps we need to read The Lord's Challenge to Job ~ Job 40 - God has some questions and teaching for Job. If you want Godly answers, don't look to me. Look to God and begin your conversation with God by reading Job 40. Read the entire book of Job, but first ask God to open your eyes and ears to hear what His Holy Spirit has to say to you. Through Jesus Christ the Saviour.

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Praise God for Unseen Miracles

For so many years I had a reason to get up. That reason was my children. There was always noise in the house whether the children were playing or fighting over the television converter. Mum where is this? How do I do that? I was always needed, never too far away if I wasn’t needed. The roll of wife and mother, I took quite serious. It really was my job for many years. When my marriage broke up and we sold the house, my children moved out of the home. One day all the memories flashed through my mind making me smile. Next a deep sadness came over me to realize that those days are gone. It was very strange. It almost seemed that it was someone else’s life. I wasn’t ready for this to happen. It came far too soon. My children grew into adults’ right before my very eyes. My perspective on life changed when I awoke one day living in an empty house. My life had come full circle. I started my life in Keswick where I lived for twenty years. When I married we moved to Cookstown which was located on the other side of the lake. We raised our children there for twenty years. When the marriage ended, I moved back to Keswick to buy a small house that I could afford. This became my new home. The initial shock of living in an empty house was overwhelming at times. It felt like everything I had known and loved was taken away. It makes me cherish the memories I have of seeing my children get on and off the bus everyday when they went to school. The excitement on their faces and the happiness they felt to be home was priceless. Quickly asking, “Can I have a cookie?” Those are the memories that no one can take away. For the financial sacrifice of being a stay at home mother, it was surely worth it. Good or bad my children learned what I taught them. The time went by much too soon. I can’t believe it.
I heard this story spoken by my own mother when I was young. Then, I didn’t relate because my children were small. Now I see the same hands on the clock turn, just as they turned for my mother who raised six children. We are all grown up now and so are my children. Now we are on to the next stage of our lives. My mother is in her late eighties. She has thirty five grandchildren. While she seems to be aging I know I am too. It won’t be long before I am elderly. So, we watch the hands on the clock turn and the pages of our lives flip. In that process, we live life in the best way that we can. We must enjoy life and each day that it gives to us in a holy and right way. After all, this life is just a journey to something even better. There is a saying which caught my attention, so I put it on my fridge. It says, “The journey is going from who you were, to finding out who you are meant to be.” We can only imagine what amazing things God has written on the pages of our lives. Now I go out for a morning walk, talk to God and ask him for direction and maybe a little insight. We enjoy the day set before us and help others who are less fortunate along the way. It always amazes me how God answers our prayers.
One Sunday morning I felt more like staying in bed and pulling the blankets up over my head. Feeling a little empty and somewhat sad, I was thinking a lot about recent events. It is easy to feel sorry for one’s self and get into that woe is me syndrome. I managed to get up, get dressed and go to worship practice.
We were playing our instruments and preparing for the church service. A new face looked up at me from the seat in the front row. She was so intent and into the music we were playing. I thought how spiritual she must be. Her eyes looked somewhat sad. She tried to hide it with her smile. Still there was a sincere look about her that seemed to say: “The worship songs are so beautiful. God is good.” This petite and frail looking woman with her smile, silently called to me. I went over to her and introduced myself to her and welcomed her to our church. We traded a few informalities about ourselves. In that few moments we realized that we had more in common than a longing to serve God. We both were writers and she told me she was in the process of writing a book herself. I told her that I had a book published and her eyes brightened with curiosity. She asked me what the title was. I told her “When Times Stands Still”. I told her it was a non-fiction book based on many true stories relating to such topics as death, friendship and biographical chapters of my own life experiences. She asked where she could get a copy. I told her I would bring her one next week. The church service was about to begin and our conversation came to a close as time did not permit further conversation that day.
I find after church service, it can be quite hectic and many people are eager to leave and resume other activities. The weekends are always so full of things to do. When I was a stay home mother, I never understood or even thought about how precious weekends are to a person who works at a nine to five job every week. Now being in the work force, I know it all too well. The work week can leave one tired. Weekends are for catch-up - catch up on housework, laundry, yard work, bible study and in the summer stock car racing. The list can seem endless. That mad rush out of the church doors to get home breaks the short connection with God and company.
Many times throughout that following week I would think about her, wondering what happened in her life worth writing about. I felt compelled to take one of my books to church and give her one, and so I did. However she was not there that Sunday, but she was there the following Sunday. She was worshiping God, singing the songs, tears rolling down her cheeks. When our eyes made contact, we smiled an acknowledging gesture. We talked again after the service. I gave her my book. She told me a little more about herself. Her husband and she were once missionaries, she said. They had two children. Somewhere along the way they had some marital problem and they had separated. Oh, how I thought I could relate to her pain. I told her how I had been separated and had to move, my children moved out on their own and it felt like my world had fallen apart. She said to me, “It must be a very difficult time for you. I can relate to your pain.” I was somewhat moved by the empathy she responded to me. I said it felt like I died and woke up to find my entire world in pieces. With an endearing empathy, she said she understood exactly how that feels. She reminded me that my children are still alive.
Lisa went on to tell me her story. One weekend while her young daughters were visiting with their father, they were in a car accident and all three were killed. My eyes went red and welled with tears feeling the sting of her pain. My heart sank. That has always been one of my biggest fears, to lose a child by death. I don’t know how devastating that would feel. I pray to God I would never have to endure that loss. Suddenly my story didn’t seem so bad in comparison to what she has been coping with. Although I’m sure my pain was as real to me as her pain was to her, it sure gave me a different perspective. That was not the end of her story. She is still struggling through it today. Her tragedy - I say her tragedy because she is the one who lives it. Living it brought some ramifications. In her attempt to ease her pain she became addicted to hard drugs. The bumpy road she and her husband traveled on seemed to go to a dead end. Loneliness and heart break brought some anger toward God causing her to turn from all she believed and lived. While in this place of sorrow and incredible loneliness, the drugs and needles she shared brought more devastation, the Aids virus. Somewhere in that place she found herself in - a place that felt like death and darkness, she turned to God again for help. God never left her, she had left him. In spite of her pain, the anger and the sickness, she reached out to God. Hope is the miracle of the ages.

All that she had to overcome gave her the inspiration to want to help others who cope with similar experienceds by writing a book about her story. I don’t know if Lisa has finished her book yet. Sickness and addiction is a constant battle for her and often hinders her writing. Her sickness took her from our church not long after. A couple of times she went forward for a miracle healing. Only God knows when, how, or where the miracles will take place. It may be today, tomorrow or it may be in Heaven. Surely God will write the pages of her book even if she does not get it finished. Perhaps the real miracle is that above all that she endured and still endures, she overcame her anger toward God. With her weak body she praises God with all her heart, with all her mind and with all her strength. Praise God for the unseen miracles.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

There Will be a Day

We all have times in our lives when we reach certain milestones: The first day of school or becoming a teenager, turning thirteen, thirty, fifty or eighty. Perhaps getting your drivers license or graduating from high school, college, or university are some of the milestones we celebrate. These are times of achieving a goal in our lives which tells us and others; “Hurray - we have succeeded.” Now we are ready to go on to the next phase of our lives or accomplish our next set of goals.

I remember when I was a young girl and talking to my Aunt about growing older. She was then thirty five years older than I. At that time, I just could not wait to be an adult. Of course, my Aunt said, “Enjoy being twelve. Life goes by way too fast. You will be an adult soon enough and then you will wish you were young again.”

At the time, it was difficult to relate to what she said. For me as a twelve year old, time stood still. Now here I am thirty six years later understanding what she then said to me. Where did the time go? I now look in the mirror and each day I see a new wrinkle on my face. No matter how much moisturizer I use, the fine lines keep coming. The little white hairs that creep up one at a time and stand straight like soldiers from my scalp send me to battle. I pull them out one at a time. Then another pops up. I reach for the hair dye. Feel a little better for about a month and then look at my roots coming in, a little more grey each month. The battle with age never ends. Time and aging go hand and hand like two lovers in a courtship. No matter what I do. I can’t separate the two of them.

Talking to my Aunt this week, who is still thirty five years older than me, I realized that fact has not changed. She reminded me how old I will be twenty years from now. She went on to tell me about all her aches and pains and warns me to take care of my body now while I am young. I don’t feel as young as I once did. Depending on our perspective about aging, it can be a depressing thought to think that in another twenty years, I could suffer the same or even worse symptoms of aging or disease. The future can look very grim. Again it would depend on the perspective we have for our future. It would depend on what we believe about life and death. As a Christian believer I realize that life as I know it to be, is just one experience after another, living through the different stages and milestones. I believe that life is really a time of preparation for a life eternal. Life is a woven tapestry where our lives intertwine with the lives of others. There is a God purpose and a plan.

Having a Christian perspective, when I look all around me, I can only conclude that there is definitely a God. Everything is made so perfect that it could not have possibly just evolved from an amoeba. God created a perfect balance in all things. The eco-system is so intricate. One animal feeds off of another. Millions of different species of plants, bugs, animals, mammals, vegetation, herbs and on and on the list goes. These things prove to me that there had to be an intelligent being to make a world that can survive on itself. God even put in place all the gases and oils, minerals, and water in place, knowing well in advance that this world would some day advance in technology to use these minerals to transport and survive. It shows us a God that is all knowing. The bible says that he even knows the hairs on our head. That in human perception is an infinite number of hairs, considering how many humans now live and how many humans have lived on planet earth. How can atheists ignore such in your face evidence? Atheists can put up as many bus signs as they want denying that there is a God. You cannot call an apple an orange. An apple is an apple no matter how you try to disguise it. An orange is an orange even if you make it into orange juice.

The (world) meaning the people who live in the world want to believe in something so desperately that many people are willing to believe in anything except God. In the first sign of crisis in one’s life, who will that unbelieving person turn to for help? Ninety percent of the time they pray to their unknown God. For Christian’s we turn to Jesus. We can know him. God in His infinite wisdom has made a simple concept for us to believe and understand. He kept it simple by using an example of sacrifice and atonement for our stupidity and sinful choices by giving us His son Jesus Christ. Christ’s death for our eternal life. We just have to believe. Pretty simple, yet only a handful of the world population receive that gift.

For those who do believe in a Savior, their perspective on life and the way to live life changes. It changes because they believe and know that this life is a time to fulfill something much more than a nine to five job. It is a time to learn who we are in Christ; a time to learn about this God who created us and loves us and knows us better than we know ourselves. It is a time to prepare us for eternity. One could look at it like a little holding tank where we are aloud to live life and do whatever we please, good or bad. We can make choices with our free will. God watches the choices we make. Do we live for Him and to bring Him glory by living to fulfill God’s mandate which is to love our neighbors, feed the widows, help those in need and share the love of Christ with all those people we meet during our life span? Or do we live oblivious to the fact that God really exists and live this life like it is the last chance. There is no hope in the latter statement. No, the bible tells us that there is life eternal when we die from this life. It is simply stated and made clear in scripture. Live in a new heaven and a new earth or live in hell?

I choose life with God. The bible gives us hope through Christ Jesus the Son of the Living God. “Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and you will be saved.” “For God so loved the World that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have ever lasting life.” These two quotes from the bible say it simple and clear. The key word is “believe”. These are only two quotes of many found throughout the bible which leads the way to eternal life. They are not just nice sayings for someone to read on a sign as they drive by. These messages are God’s truth for each of us to embrace. Embrace life not death and you will have a new life changing perspective which will get you through any milestone, any trial, hurt or pain. In that perspective you will find the grace of God to be sufficient for you to endure and overcome. We are all just passing through. Life is to be enjoyed, shared, grasped and lived to its full potential no matter how long our life may be.

Some people move on to the next life before others. Even when we miss our loved ones, we have a hope that they have a life eternal. That life eternal is more than we can imagine. Revelation 21 tells of a day with no more death, no more pain, no suffering. The lame will walk the blind will see, the deaf will hear. All things will be made new. If God can make this earth and the entire universe in its entire splendor, how much more God can make a new earth to replace the one that we humans are destroying. God can do all things. He is not a little God that we can put in a little Genie bottle and let out whenever we feel like it. God cannot be contained, limited, destroyed or erased. God is and was and is to come. Before the heavens God existed. Our limited minds cannot fully comprehend the depth to God. Our minds can comprehend the basic principles of which are written in the bible. “New York Times Best Seller” may not be written on the cover of the Bible, yet it is the most important and life giving book ever read by man or woman. It has sold more books than any best seller. Before you decide that God is not real, nor does He exist, be wise enough to research the bible. A good informed decision is the beginning of wisdom. A closed mind can limit the truth and keep it hidden away while a mind that is open too wide can allow the brains to fall out. One can begin to believe in anything. One can believe a tree stump is their God and worship it. That belief is as dead as the stump. For those who are deceived into believing in false idols or Gods, that kind of faith is useless and ritualistic. New age believers would rather give all there cares to a mood stone. Is that logical? I’d rather give my cares to God. The bible says that he would not give us a stone if we ask for bread.

Pray and seek the living God as one who is thirsty and seeks living water. Then you will find God and your thirst will be quenched by living water that leads to eternal life. Revelation 21:6-9 “And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of Life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But cowards, unbelievers, the corrupt, murderers, the immoral, those who practice witchcraft, idol worshipers and all liars – their fate is in the fiery lake of burning sulfur. This is the second death.”
Does finding salvation in Christ mean that we become perfect or sinless in an instant? I don't believe so. Salvation is a life changing process. Salvation is the beginning of our journey toward God's Holiness and life eternal.

For information on how to know you are a child of God and have salvation - Read (John 1:12-13), (John 3 1-16), (John 14:6), (John 17:1-5), (Romans 6:23), (Colossians 1:13-14) (Romans 10:8-10)

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Perseverance Must Finish its Work

I attended a weekly bible study for a three month period. We read and dissected each verse in the book of James. “James is believed to have been the brother of Jesus, a pastor of the early church who was concerned for the Jewish people and the Christians. The book of James was written to encourage people who dispersed when they were faced with difficult times, the death of Stephen and the many trials of the early Christian Church”.

At the time I studied James my life seemed fine, with no major problems. Thinking back I was probably a little comfortable or complacent with my Christian walk. I was going through the motions, attending church and bible study while doing my own thing. At the time I really challenged some of the things James taught and believed, knowing that everything that is written in the bible is the inspired word of God. Many times when we study the bible we want to change the meaning of a verse to suite our lifestyle. Some verses call for tough changes to be made. We know it. So we try to convince ourselves that the verse is saying this or that. In an attempt to change the meaning we are actually watering down the word of God. The word of God is meant for our ultimate good to bring us to His righteousness which is perfect. Certainly I have been guilty of doing this when studying the bible. Often I wondered why I was going to this study because many times I left the study feeling frustrated. That was because I was fighting the principles being taught. It was actually conviction I was feeling. My question at that time was how could a person live out these principles in their daily life? There are so many distractions in this world pulling at us from every direction. The world views change more and more from the biblical truth as time goes by. Knowing and believing that God’s word is the handbook for God’s people, we should strive to live a righteous and Godly life.

God tells us in His word that “Our ways are not His ways”. As I read the book of James, I could see that God’s ways are very different from the way the world may think most of the time. James starts out his second verse by telling us Verse 2: “Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything”.

Time does seem to unveil many truths. I find it interesting to realize that God’s is all knowing. In his insight into my life he knew before I did that I would need this instruction and preparation from the book of James in the years and months ahead. God knew the trials I was soon to go through. We barley finished the study when my world began to fall apart when my marriage of twenty three years came to an end.

God was preparing me for a character change. God could have just changed me with the snap of his fingers, but he didn’t. He had another plan. God being the Potter and me being the clay, God put me on that Potter’s wheel. Did I consider it all joy at the time? Not one bit. In fact, I wondered, what was God doing? What was He not doing? Where was God in the mist of my marriage break-up? Why didn’t God restore my marriage? When someone is in the mist of a trial, it is hard in our natural human instinct to see past the problems. We don’t’ have a crystal ball to tell us what our future will be like when we finally cross the bridge of tribulation. We wonder if we will still be in one piece. When we do cross that bridge we realize that we are still breathing and maybe even laughing again. What we do have is God’s word that does tell us why. That can help us get over that bridge with His understanding.

At the time of enduring what seemed like the biggest trial ever, I certainly felt I could relate in a small way to the biblical character Job. There is an entire book in the Old Testament written about him. It is the book of Job. Although his trials and testing’s were much worse than I could ever really compare. I had to endure an attack on my womanhood, the rejection I felt from my husband, the loss of friends who didn’t seem to care or understand, broken family ties and broken friendships, selling my home, my adult children going off to college etc. Never have I felt as alone as I did during this time. It truly felt like a testing of my faith. Through the process I became angry, bitter, depressed. The first stage of the separation created a behavior in me which was more like a child. There were temper tantrums at my husband and friends who seemed insensitive to my feelings, anger at God; who at the time seemed to be on vacation. The book of Malachi has one short verse which says, “God Hates Divorce”. I believed that verse. However, regardless of all my praying and all the effort I put into getting my marriage back together, it was not in my control. We can’t change how other people feel about us or the choices they make. My enduring question to which I never knew the answer for a long period of time was, “God, why didn’t you do anything to bring my marriage together again?” Really who am I to question God, the maker of the universe? His ways are not our ways. God has a plan. So go with it. Why fight God? You’ll lose.

In time, I finally realized that scripture is always true and right. The answers we are looking for are written on every page of the bible. It is up to us to find those answers by reading it and asking God to reveal his truth to our minds and hearts. The book of James has the answer to some of my questions. It was up to me whether I accept them or not.

Yes God does hate divorce or any division between his children and he hates broken vows. However, God allows these things to happen because we all have free will. God does not cause these things to happen; he allows them and uses them for a good purpose. Usually our own sinful desires cause bad things to happen. Sometimes we are the victim of someone else’s sinful choices which we have no control over. When all is said and done God prevails through the circumstance and so can we, if we don’t lose faith. When we know God’s word and constantly seek him and his understanding, he will give us the wisdom to learn from that trial. That is when we become more mature as a person and in our faith. We also become wiser in the way we deal with difficult challenges and gain more understanding. This helps us to relate to other people going through their own trials.

In my marriage break-down that ended in divorce, I was forced to become a more independent woman. I didn’t have my husband to love me. I learned to love myself the way God the father loves me. Initially that was very difficult because I felt so unlovable, ugly and rejected. It felt like a dying to self inside and out. In God’s time and strength I did persevere and learned how to do things that I was scared to do before. For example: for years I was afraid to call people on the phone or talk to anyone on the phone who wasn’t a friend or relative. The job I ended up getting was as a receptionist and switchboard operator dealing with a variety of people and clients all day long. Gradually I gained a self esteem I never had before. It was through persevering that a maturity developed that possibly may never have developed had my marriage stayed together. Not only have these things changed, a perspective on everything changed. No longer do I pine over friendships obsessively. My eyes were opened to the mistakes I made in that twenty three year marriage. There are things I could have done which could have made my husband happier; things like being less critical or not taking him for granted. I could have showed him more appreciation for the things that he did do for me. I could have learned his love language. There are other changes I could have made that may have prevented the demise of our marriage. Unfortunately I was not mature enough at the time to recognize these things to try and change them. The maturity is in accepting that it was not all his fault. When we can accept our own mistakes that is when we can change our behavior. In three years my life totally changed. Because of these changes, progress was made in many different aspects of our lives.

I met a man and fell in love again. We married and enjoy a wonderful marriage. Through pre-marital biblical counseling we addressed many such topics as not to enter a new marriage making the same mistakes that we made in our first marriages. God brought Danny into my life and he is a wonderful man. My life at this time seems complete, not lacking in anything. So I am enjoying this time. Again I can relate to Job who lost so much, but because he held onto his faith, God blessed him with more than he had before his trials began.
If you are going through a trial or tribulation, please don’t quit. Keep your faith and get up again. You will overcome with the strength God will provide. James also says, “If you lack wisdom, ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not expect to receive anything from the Lord; he is double minded man unstable in all he does.
When you read that verse try and see and live the positive then there will be no negative.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Going Through the Motions

I was at church one Sunday. The worship leader sang the song by Mathew West titled “Emotions” The lyrics say: “I don’t want to go through the motions. I don’t want to go one more day without your all consuming passionate side of me. I don’t want to spend my whole life asking what if I had of given everything, instead of going through the motions. We also sung other songs that morning with lyrics that just cried out for God and for His life changing power to change us. Tears poured from my eyes as I choked out the words of the songs feeling the truth in every word with my heart. Initially, that particular Sunday morning, I didn’t even want to go to church. I was bordering on depression at the thought. It made me wonder, what had happened to me and my spiritual fervor?

There was a time in my Christian walk when I couldn’t wait for Sunday to come. I looked forward to hearing the sermons and I hung on every word as if it was my nutritional meal that would get me through the week. I would be encouraged, challenged and moved to share my faith with everyone. God had placed a passion in me so strong and a burden for the lost that inspired me to write song after song. Before I was a Christian I used to write poetry. The poems were always expressions of my sadness, loneliness and depression. When I accepted Christ, my poetry went into an entirely new dimension. My poetry became more about hope, salvation, praise and God’s love. I would play my guitar for hours worshipping Jesus in my living room. It was Him and I. Now I rarely pick up my guitar, not even to practice for playing on the Sunday worship team. I was going through the motions. Once in a while I would feel a spark of the flame that once consumed me.

My life had changed because of many different circumstances and I had to move to this other church. I attended regularly. I was on the worship team. At times it seemed more of a bother than an honor. I lost a Godly perspective and got caught in life and busyness that seems to invade our daily lives. The more I delved into work and other curricular activities the farther I drifted from the place I once was spiritually. That was when I started just going through the motions. I went to church, still doing the religious things, but received nothing but frustration listening to the sermons that many times just made me feel like I was just wasting my time. I did this every Sunday finding no joy of the Lord, no passion or much of anything that would get me out of that funk that I found myself in.

That particular Sunday morning, when I sang the songs and cried out to God, it just became so clear to me. I was stuck in the mud spiritually. This realization told me I had to seek change. My pastor once said that if you don’t like the preaching than go some place else. For a long time, I just stayed and unhappily listened to his sermons that did nothing that would spark or ignite the spirit within me. Realizing the place I found myself in spiritually, it became clear to me that I had to take that first step again. God never left me. God hadn’t changed. I had allowed time and complacency to tie me down. Now it was up to me to cut the ties that bind and to desperately seek God and ask Him to fill me once again and bring me back to my first love Christ Jesus. To do this I had to have a need, a desire and the willingness to be changed. When I left that church on that Sunday, I just knew I had to go some place else to worship. Simply, I was not getting the Spiritual food I needed and was becoming depleted spiritually, emotionally and physically.

That Sunday night I prayed to God, standing before Him completely truthful about myself and how I was feeling, knowing full well that God knows all things. I specifically prayed for restoration and revelation. I prayed that God would bring me back to that place of closeness with Him. I prayed again that God would give me eyes that see and ears that hear Him and for His wisdom and understanding to be made manifest within me. The next morning when I awoke to get dressed for work, I bent over and my back went out on me. For the next two days, I was pretty much limited to lying on my back not able to move without a lot of pain. I took this time to read the book of Hebrews and started reading the book of Acts. When you are limited to very little movement like I was, God had me in a place where I would finally seek Him.

After two days of stillness I mustered enough strength to sit at my computer to write. After praying that morning, I began to write this chapter not knowing where it was going to take me. The phone rang and I picked up. On the other end of the phone was the angelic voice of a friend. She told me that God had placed me on her heart and she felt that she had to give me a phone call. I hadn’t talked to her for a few months to this point in time. Her call surprised me. She said to me that she felt that I needed a word of encouragement and she gave me a scripture verse that I am very familiar with. NIV Bible Proverbs 3: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart. Do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will and he will show you which road to take. Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.”

This verse really had a lot of God’s truth and direction for me and was really an answer to my prayers. God put it on Sherrilyn’s heart to call me. God gave her the verse. She was obedient to God and called me. At first, I wondered why that verse. I know that verse off by heart. God wanted me to think about it again. In my defense I thought, I do trust you Lord. Do I trust Him with all my heart? The second line says, “Don’t depend on your own understanding.” I tend to do that a lot and it gets me in trouble. The third line says to “seek his will.” When I thought about it, I ask God for this and for that but are these things in God’s will? Then a light started to dawn on my thick head. "Seek his will, turn from evil." You see I believe my Spirit had been telling me for a long time to leave that church. Not that it was an evil place. However, it was not the place for me to be anymore. God was trying to get my attention each week, but I just pushed His promptings back down. I didn’t trust what God was telling me because I was trying to figure things out with my understanding not His. This verse that she gave me was a confirmation to me, as I had decided to write a letter to the board of the church stating reasons why my husband and I would be taking a sabbatical as to find out what road God wanted us to take.

Sherrilyn invited me to go to a Thursday night service at her church. The worship was powerful. The congregation joyfully participated with praises and halleluiahs. Then the message that the Pastor spoke was so full of scripture and power, it felt like a title wave of food coming over me. It was so much food that I could barely take it all in. His two hour sermon didn’t seem that long and my ears were so attentive to what he was teaching. He said many things which would motivate change in a Christians’ life. It was a message for this present day, a time such as this. It was an apostolic message about faith, about the power of God in the old and New Testament. I never thought about the cloud of the Lord. Being a cloud watcher myself, I know there are many different kinds of clouds; anywhere from the Stratocumulus perlucidus clouds to Mammatus cloud formations and on and on the list goes. It is fascinating to think about the many variations of clouds which God has created. They are new every morning, never the same twice. The cloud of the Lord is different because God’s Spirit is in the cloud. Exodus13:21-22. By day the Lord went ahead of them in a pillar of cloud to guide them on their way and by night in a pillar of fire to give them light, so that they could travel by day or night. Neither the pillar of cloud by day nor the pillar of fire by night left its place in front of the people. The book of Numbers 9:15, Deuteronomy, and Nehemiah also tells of the same kind of cloud. When the cloud of the Lord came upon Miriam, she became full of leprosy. Again that cloud showed the power of God’s judgment toward Miriam’s sin.This pastor showed scripture verse after scripture verse. It was very interesting. One of his main points was that the truth has to go up to God for His glory to come down to us. God is righteous and holy and therefore cannot pour out his admiration and honor to us if we are not walking in his truth. If we try to fool ourselves and try to fool God we will do little more than spin our wheels. How can we move in the fullness of the Holy Spirit if we have things in our lives that are not truth? If we have sin in our daily lives and do nothing to try to remove that sin, we are not pleasing or obeying God. We cannot hide anything from God. He is all knowing. If we have a problem or a struggle we can approach God with our concerns honestly and without fear. God does not give us a spirit of fear. The fear of God’s judgment is a different matter. That we should fear. The bible calls that kind of fear the beginning of wisdom. When we are walking in truth then God will pour out His glory to us. With this message, again God was revealing truth and answering my prayers of that week.

Sometimes we are brought to a place in our walk with God where we come face to face with difficult decisions. At times we may have to sacrifice some of the things we enjoy as to live God’s truth. When God calls you to go some place else that is when we trust that His ways are greater than our ways. Instead of going through the motions, we are seeking God’s will. God’s wisdom in all things and God’s understanding so that we can do His ministry.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Experiencing the Other Side

There is an annual women’s retreat I attend every year that takes place at the “Circle Square Ranch”. With great anticipation, those who have ever attended this retreat always look forward to this weekend. What draws us to go to each retreat year after year is the incredible presence of God. Women from every denomination attend. There are three rules we must maintain. We are not allowed to talk about our church denomination, our age or weight. In God’s Kingdom none of these things matter or exist. In God’s Kingdom we are all part of one body and that is that we are all Christians. The name Christian is derived from the word or name Christ which means Messiah or God. When we believe in Jesus Christ we become part of that family of God. We wear his name and call ourselves Christians. In God’s Kingdom there is no age, because there are no clocks in heaven, there is no time. Time is eternal and has no end. There is no weight to talk about because Jesus took all the weight of the world on his shoulders when He died on the cross. When we die in the physical an earthly death, we are alive in Christ Jesus and resurrected in the Spirit to be with God for eternity. We are free from sin and the things of the world that weigh us down.

At these retreats, we participate by entering into personal worship with God. We go there to worship God Almighty with the expectation that we will leave changed by His miraculous power. In some big or small way God will reveal himself to us in a deeper way. I have gone to this retreat and each time many of the same women come back. I see the changes in their lives. Some have been delivered from heroine, alcohol, cigarettes, and emotional problems. Many have been strengthened in their relationship with God and with people. Testimonies of how God has worked in their lives throughout their journeys. With honesty they share about the times when they stumbled back into some of their addictions, but how in the struggles, God’s amazing love and forgiveness always brings them back. They have felt and witnessed God’s grace in their lives and because they have, they know what it is like to be in his presence. They come back to praise Him, to be filled by Him, and to hear from Him. In all of these testimonies shared over the years, the message is clear that God does not leave us nor forsake us. He is with us through whatever road we go down good or bad. God may not like some roads or choices we make but he goes with us and watches us stumble and fall and like a father to little children, He helps us up when we seek His help. I recognize God’s awesome grace to forgive our sins again and again and again.


Lord God, your word says: “If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but do not have love, I have become a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” Lord anoint my tongue and my words with your love. You also say in your word: “1 Corinthians 13: “If I have the gift of prophesy and know all mysteries and all knowledge and if I have all faith so as to remove mountains but do not have love, I am nothing.” Lord, I need you. I cannot move unless I know you are moving in me. I want to be lead by you. Let not walls being built today. I call for the walls to be removed, brought down and thrown onto the serpent. May the words I speak today bring you honour and glory? Release onto me your revelation, wisdom and authority to speak the truth of Christ as to reveal the truthful events of my life the way they happened. Jesus, I call out to you to stand here with me and use me for your message. In Jesus name I pray.

With her blue eyes, blonde hair and with a contagious smile that lit up the room Sherrylynn stood in the front of the room. The peace of God radiated in her countenance as she genuinely began telling her story. Her words were confident, sincere, honest, bold, and honouring to God. She made no bones about it, believing that this is her call from God to tell her story as to confirm in the hearts of many God’s life breathing message. It was not in her strength nor was it by anything she did that she found herself at the front of the pulpit sharing her story. It is a story of God’s transforming power in her life. His grace, mercy and love that gave her the power to stand on Holy ground telling what God did in her life and what God wants to do in all of our lives. God called Sherrylynn for this season, to speak about God’s amazing love in her life.

Sherrylynn always felt God in her life. As a young girl she had learned scripture verses and all about her Saviour Jesus Christ. Like many teens, the world and all it offers pulled at her from different directions. Over time she read her bible less and less as life busied itself with new relationships, and other worldly things which draw many people away from God. Life would involve a relationship with a man she loved. Gradually she would turn to some of these worldly temptations, which seem to fit so well. She eventually lived with her boyfriend. They had three children. The eldest is Randilyn, middle child Samantha, and the youngest is Faith. This was over a twenty three year relationship while living common-law. Over that time drinking alcohol became the normal way of living. Sherrylynn’s Christian walk took another path. Her boyfriend was not a Christian. He did not want to become a Christian because he did not want to have to change his life. He liked his life the way it was. Even though over the years Sherrylynn rarely brought out her bible, the words of truth were still imprinted in her heart. For a time she may have ignored the prodding of God’s Spirit and the little convictions she felt along the way, God did not ignore her.

Sherrylynn worked as a pharmacist assistant working way too many hours. The stresses of life were white washed with alcohol, cigarettes, going out to the bars and partying on weekends. So many people get caught riding this same train ride that leads directly into Satan’s trap. For Sherrylynn this train was going too quickly to be stopped. You see, God did not leave Sherrylynn. He did allow her to get on that train. Her choices were pulling her from him. God never turned his back on her while she may at times have turned her back on Him. God did not kill her, destroy her or steel from her. All of these years, the devil was trying to do all these things.

One day in the year of 2004 she came home from work around 10:00. When she arrived home, her boyfriend Marty was there and he was talking and drinking with a friend named John. Sherrylynn made herself a drink and joined in their conversation. In their conversation John began speaking about all the problems he was struggling to cope with. He felt that in his life, he always got hit with bad things happening to him. Sherrylynn’s boyfriend told John to be quiet because he knew that the conversation would get Sherrylynn talking about God. He was right. Sherrylynn started to speak forth words from the bible to John. Then she went to get her bible that had been packed away for quite some time. This is her story as she told it at the retreat.

“I praise God. It amazes me when I look back now at how God works in our lives. My entire life God has used me to minister for people, even when I was not walking with Him. He works with us not against us. He loves you and me. He sees our potential even when other people don’t. If we step into that potential that we all have, God can deliver a message through us whether we are drunk, high, or brought down by the cares of this world. He will use us and the people around us.”

After digging through three or four boxes and making a mess of her room, she found her bible. Immediately she ran back to John to show him what the book of Job revealed. She opened the book and started telling John that Job lost everything even though he was a blameless and righteous man who feared God and turned away from evil. The story of Job reveals one horrible suffering in his life after another. His story begins with the loss of his children, his possessions and his health. None of his friends could explain a reason why Job would be so inflicted. Simply God allowed Satan to inflict these things on Job to prove a point. Job remained faithful to God through all these sufferings. Job had the understanding to realizing the meaning of life; that being that God is in control of all things, knows all things, God is sovereign. God ended up restoring Job’s life by giving him more children and more possessions than he had before. God also restored him to good health. Job’s story shows you that Job still believed and stood on that belief.

Sherrylynn spoke many things to her friend John and read many chapters from the book of Job interpreting the truth the Bible speaks. As the night progressed they continued their drinking. Perhaps God was preparing Sherrylynn for what was soon to happen on this life changing night. That night Sherrylynn was walking down some cement stairs. There was no one around her at the time. It was like a hand was on her back and she was pushed. Within seconds Sherrylynn fell down the stairs like a rag doll landing on the hard cement, cracking the back of her skull sending her to an unconscious state. John heard the noise and the thud of her fall and ran to attend to her. When he arrived on the scene she was not breathing. This is Sherrylynn’s account of the events in that moment.

“I died and immediately found myself in His presence; in the presence of the almighty God of creation. There were no hallways or bright lights. It was just Jesus and me. He spoke to me with love. I felt no condemnation in His words of truth, even though I know that sin is sin and sin deserves death. His eyes looked into me and I felt a love surround me, and enter me and flow through me. As we talked, time stood still. It seemed like I was with Him forever and yet I was told I was dead for only seconds. Jesus told me I was a fence sitter and I needed to be either hot or cold. He said I should choose to be hot, not lukewarm. I remember His hand as it swayed. I do not remember what else took place, unless He reveals this to me. I said, “I choose this day to be Hot.” He said, “Then go and be.” His hand touched my head and I found myself back in my body, but back in a coma like state. What I am today is because of Him.” I want to speak a verse from Revelation 12:10,11 “And I heard a loud voice in Heaven saying, Now the salvation and the power, and the kingdom of our God and the authority of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them before our God day and night. 11 “And they overcame him because of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony, and they did not love their life even to death.” I feel that I must speak verse 12 to this. Jesus you are an all consuming fire. Verse 12 “For this reason, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them. Woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has come down to you, having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time.

When Sherrylyn found herself back in her body, she was in a coma. She could hear every sound around her and in the room, but she could not awaken. The doctor and nurses were poking and prodding her but she was not responding to them. Sherry found herself talking within her mind, thinking, “I’m moving my toes and my fingers, why won’t my eyes open?” Because Sherrylynn experienced being in a coma state she believes that people can communicate with God in their thoughts. She also believes that people can make a conscious choice to accept Christ as their Saviour in their coma state of being. When people are in with a patient who is in a coma Sherrylynn recommends that only life giving words be spoken. Speak words of God’s truth and pray alongside of them to release them from the coma. Let them know that God is with them.

Rejoice and let not your heart be troubled. God is alive and He goes with us even unto the end. Sherrilyn says that she was in that coma long enough to get the truth. “It was one day. Praise you Lord. Knowing I had a nurse in the room with me, I was not once alone. People in the room were speaking negative words, saying things like they expected me to have a stroke and die or for the blood clot to move and hit something and kill me. These people were not the ones who believe in miracles or wonders. However, I had met the one who knew me before I was born.

When I awoke I was in the intensive care unit. I could not speak when I awoke as I had a tube stuck down my throat to breathe. I could not move because they had tied me to the bed. It seemed like I was awakening from a dream. My eyes opened and I was awakened from my coma. I looked at the tiled ceiling like my eyes had seen daylight for the first time. When this happened there was no one around me. I began to tap my fingers on the side of the bed and prayed for the nurse to hear me because it was not very loud. Praise God, she finally heard me and she came over and she touched my arm. Tears were streaming down my face. She said, “I know you don’t know where you are but I have been sent to help you. Immediately I was at peace. Oh God’s love is overwhelming. The nurse untied me, washed and changed me. I believe that was totally a prophetic act as God has since brought to me the revelation that God also has unchained me from some of the deceptions of Satan, the bondage and addictions I had to alcohol and cigarettes. He also has washed me clean by the blood of Christ. Now as I stand before you today, I am a changed person.

The doctor came in the room and took the tube that was down my throat out. That was very painful. I remember being so thirsty, but they could not give me anything to drink at that point. They only wet my lips with a cotton swab. There is a scripture verse in Isaiah 55. “Come all you who are thirsty, come to the waters.” When I drink the living water from God I will not thirst.

For the next ten days, my speech was discombobulated. When I would speak my word s would pause or they would come out backwards and sometimes I would just not make sense. For instance I would call a chair the sky. At this point there was brain injury which caused a lot of misunderstanding. People were confused at what I was saying. I didn’t remember I had children because I had a form of amnesia. Even though I couldn’t speak, I wanted to call my Mom. I called her. When she answered the phone I asked her how the children were doing because the nurse told me I had children. I believe that was God speaking through me because I couldn’t talk. Then I told my Mom that I was fine. In my mind I was shouting you are not fine, get her here. Those voices in my head were quickly shut down as the life giving words were spoken from my mouth. It was very prevalent that I seen Him for the I AM – I AM with, I AM for you, I AM yours. God spoke through me and that was exactly what I needed. God provided me with what I needed as I began the recovery process.

For the next ten days I was put into a room where there were three other patients. I still really did not speak and the drapes were always drawn so that I was alone with God. I spent this time in total peace and yet I really did not understand a thing. It amazes me as I think of it now. I was totally in His presence, safe and yet not safe in the natural perspective. Later I was moved to another floor. It was here I met a lovely lady who would come in and speak to me. She always loved to eat my food – praise God. I drank the water the whole time in the hospital. I believe that God was also cleansing me from the inside out. I believe this lady was sent by God. God knew I needed someone to speak to me. I thank Jesus for bringing that woman to me.

Eventually I was able to make small talk. I know now that I wasn’t making a lot of sense but all of the patients in that room had head trauma. Even still, we understood one another. I began praying and I was happy to have a bible. I don’t remember now what I read or prayed but I know I experienced a peace that is difficult to explain.

One day I got a phone call. I believe that call was an attack from the enemy (Satan). I say this because what was said to me took me back to the belly of confusion. God does not bring confusion, Satan brings confusion. When God is working in someone’s life, it is common to experience opposition coming against you. There is a battle in the spiritual realm going on between good and evil. Often we are the pond in that battle. Ultimately through Christ Jesus the victory has already been won. The power is God working in the hearts of people.

In that phone call, all I could hear was Marty yelling and saying, “Sherry, they are taking the girls from us”. I could hear small voices crying and then a woman got on the phone and said “I am taking these girls away from you and you will never see them again. I can only say peace was still with me and I began to cry and say, “No you are not. I know that the power of life and death rest on our tongues and that day God gave me the words to speak. Words of life were flowing through me. It was God who continued the conversation because at that time my words were still not making sense at the time. He spoke with all authority and power. I cannot remember the words, but I know whom I believe and I am convinced that He is able to keep that which I’ve committed unto Him. While they did take our children away that day, I knew that I had committed myself, my children and Marty into God’s care. God would help us get them back. God also spoke and told Marty some encouraging words to build him up.

I was told that I would have to stay at the hospital for at least two more weeks. I knew I would be out sooner. I remember saying, Lord, I can’t get out unless you get me out of here. Within two days I was released and at home. This is amazing because I still was not well. I remember being brought into the house on the stretcher and released into Marty’s care. I continued to sleep most of the days. One day, I did have an opportunity to talk to my girls on the phone and pray with them. I encouraged them by telling them it would not be much longer until they could come home. The children’s aid society had placed the girl’s with Marty’s boss during this time. All I will say is that sometimes what looks good is evil dressed as good. When this happens, stay close to God and He will lift you up. During the second week home I received another call that I had a lawyer. It was a time of trusting God, hoping and believing that the situation was in God’s hands and he would bring the right lawyer to help us get our children back. God answered our prayers.

Finally I was physically well enough to go and visit our children. My memory was increasing with each passing day. I was so excited. Everything had changed with new perspectives gained. Seeing my children for the first time since the accident was like giving birth for the very first time. It was wonderful. I hugged and kissed them encouraging them as we prayed. Watch and pray continually no matter what you are going through or where you are and no one will be able to take away that joy that God can give to you as he has also given to me.

The visit ended and they took my children from me and put them in another room. They proceeded to tell me lie after lie. I was told that I would not have my girls again. They were going to put them in a foster home. In the mist of hearing this, I felt a confidence come over me. The next thing I knew, my lips were speaking as I told the worker how it was going to be. It was inevitable that I would have my children and I would succeed. I told her that it was not I but Christ who lived in me. I was a new creature. The old had passed away and all had become new. I did walk out that day without my girls. God is bigger than any situation. Again I found myself praying and waiting for God’s timing and a resolution and for Him to complete what He started in me. Much happened over the next few weeks. The message for me was loud and clear. We can endure all things through Christ who gives us strength. As we seek Him He will be found.

The day finally arrived when we were told that we could have our girls come over for a short visit after school. There was an indescribable excitement that we both felt. For a period of time we had to be satisfied with these short visits. It was better than not seeing them at all. Each visit was so difficult when we had to watch our beloved children walk out the door each time. Experiencing this showed us once again, the love of the Father God. We realized how God can relate to our experiences. He watches His children walk out the door all the time. Many times he watched me walk out that door to do my own thing. How I must have saddened him. What joy the Father feels when his children come home to Him. Life’s journey is a learning curve. It takes a lifetime to mature.

We continued to believe that someday, we would have our children home to stay. With that expectation and excitement we began to paint and re-decorate the girl’s room as we focused on their homecoming. The day did arrive and it was glorious. We received a sincere apology from the Children’s Aid Society. They have since done many wonderful things for us. We give all the praise to God.

Time on earth ticks away as each day goes by. Easily we get pulled different directions by the needs and desires of the world. We get back into routines and the business of the day. Gradually God gets left out. That special closeness we had with God slowly and subtlety disintegrates as we pull away from Him. It is easy to forget the amazing things God has done in our lives. Once you have known that relationship with God there is always a gentle tugging at our hearts to do the right thing. God is gentle and He will not force anyone to do anything we don’t want to do. Perhaps these times in our lives are like the intermission in a hockey game or a commercial break in the middle of a movie. A time for God to see what choices we make.

Sherrylynn has an incredible testimony of her life. It paints a beautiful picture of a loving God. Her life shows the struggles many people can relate to. We have a sinful nature, but we can overcome temptations, addictions and we can win the battles in life with God on our side. The bible says, “If God is for us, who can stand against us.” Her experience is unique. Some people need that picture God has given to Sherrylynn. One might think that experiencing God in such an intimate way as she did that she would have immediately found a church of worship. Sherrylynn goes on to say:

“So now the girls have been given back and at this point I did not attend a church, although many times I felt a pulling to go to one whenever I walked by one. Than I had a vision; in that vision I was taken back to Him. It was like I was at the movies and He played the video tape. The tape reminded me of all I had experienced. I not only saw where I had come from but where I would be going. He told me that I would be married and I would not have to worry about how the bills would get paid because I would have more than enough. He told me, “If I do His work I would succeed and He would provide for all my needs. He does provide.

I awoke one day and realized it was Sunday morning. I dressed to go to church and walked out into the living room and proclaimed that I was going to church. “Who wants to go with me?” I asked. That day I went by myself. I was hungry and thirsty for God in my life. Continually I read my bible, prayed and sought to find God in all aspects of life.

One day while I was watching the miracle channel a program came on. I started rejoicing and singing along with the program and I began speaking in tongues. It was so real and so wonderful that I began doing this on a regular basis. When I did this, I would get a word from God. I would step out in that word and watch as God moved. It was awesome. During this time, I grew and grew in the Lord. In this process it just made me want more and more and he lead me to a place of worship that had the same hunger and thirsts as I did. I was becoming addicted to God. Halleluiah! I have had a joy unspeakable and it seems to grow. His word to me is in John 7:38 “He who believes in me as the scriptures has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water. I believe His word and am healed in Jesus name and living waters do flow in me, through me and all around me.

Though I was walking close to God I still had an addiction to tobacco. I hadn’t quit smoking. God’s transforming power is amazing. When I started going to church I began to speak about how I hated smoking. I believed that God would take away that addiction in the same way He took away my addiction to alcohol. When I had died and in His presence, God had taken these addictions away. Then when I was here on earth and had started to go back to the way I knew – I began to smoke again. You can have a major thing happen in your life, have a visitation and feel His glory and in a wink forget it all. It is sad but this does happen. To walk with Him is work and we must choose each day who we will serve. God is transforming me to be a new creation. I did not want to smoke anymore. One day I knew that it would be my last day of smoking.

There was Pastor speaking at our church. He was telling his story about being delivered from smoking. When I heard his story, I instantly knew that I was going to be set free too. I bolted up to the front of the church almost knocking him over. When I got up to the front I was yelling, “I want to be set free. I want to be set. “He said, “You don’t have to smoke anymore. You don’t have to have it.”The next thing I knew I was down on the floor.

Easter Sunday 2005, I went up to the altar for prayer. I have not smoked again since that day. I walked home that night and stopped at the store and bought Marty his smokes and that night I said, “Marty, I no longer smoke. Since that day I haven’t ever craved a cigarette nor have I felt like I couldn’t handle someone else smoking. My mountain was removed.

The next thing God opened my eyes to, was that my relationship with Marty was sinful. We had never married and we were unequally yoked. Marty was not a Christian. Marty left the home and we separated. God is totally working on this area for both of us today. I stand amazed at where Marty is with God now. He has since given his heart to God and has gone to church with us. I know more of that is now to come. I am now expecting any day for his transformation. God completes His work.

So, I stand here before you New and Beautiful, able to be and that is so awesome. I have a hope that when my life here on earth is over, I will be reunited with Christ, who is faithful and just. I have come a long way and to God I give all the glory and praise. I know the place I was at on that day when I fell down the stairs. God literally pick me up out of that pit. The words I spoke that night to John became fulfilled in my life since. In the same way Job received everything that the enemy took from him, God has also given back to me. I lost my life, my children, my job, my savings and Marty. He has given me life for eternity, my beautiful girls, time to share the gospel and I have fellowship that goes far beyond anything. He has changed our lives. Someday very soon I will be married.

Praise God for Sherrylynn. Allow her testimony to be an encouragement to you. Call out to Jesus who is faithful and just to forgive us of our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. Through her story, God’s message to us is one of truth and hope, “I love you. I shed my blood for you. Come to me all who are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest. Love, God.

Heroes of Faith

There is no question. Life is full of challenges. Every person at some time in their life can stand up and tell a testimony of something that challenged them. Everything from early childhood challenges: difficulty finding a friend, not fitting in with the circle of friends at school. Perhaps your challenge was passing that math exam, deciding what course you would take in college or university, lost jobs, broken relationships or sickness. The list is endless. We overcome one challenge, learn from the experience and then we are on to the next challenge. For the Christians we seek our guidance from God. We pray for His help in times of trouble. We pray for a resolution to our problems. We don’t always get an answer to that prayer in the way we would like or hope.

One morning I was praying. People were brought to my mind; one name after the other of people who needed physical healing. Days leading up to this prayer, I had suffered a sore foot. It hurt to put my foot on the ground to walk. I was hobbling around and feeling somewhat crippled. This aching pain hurt so much my entire body ached. For a few days I persevered going to work, grinding my teeth with the pain.

While I was praying, I was reminded of my pain which then reminded me of other people who have suffered for years with arthritic pain. Others suffering with cancer and treatments and pain. My list grew and grew the longer I prayed. My heart went out to these people. In a small way I could relate to them because of my foot. I couldn’t imagine living with this pain everyday for the rest of my life. That could be forty years or more. When I thought about these people, I remembered seeing some of them go up to the alter Sunday after Sunday for prayer. Each time hoping and praying for a Jesus miracle. When I thought about this it made me question God. “What difference does it make if I pray for these people? Do I have enough faith? Ultimately God, you are the one who can heal them if you wanted to, just like that. God you created everything. Everyday I witness your power and realize how great you are. Why don’t you heal these people who ask you week after week for your healing touch?”

My inquisitive and rebellious nature tried to excuse my questioning God. Who am I to question the maker of heaven and earth the creator of every existing creature that ever walked the earth? In my defense I related to God as my Heavenly Father by saying to him. “I hope that my questioning did not offend you God. Since we have a relationship I think it would be healthy to communicate. So if you could please answer my questions. I know others have these same questions. Probably those people who go up for healing every time there is an alter call. I can see how people who don’t have a relationship with Christ can become cynical about there being a God, when they see loved ones dying or suffering with illness. For Christians we have faith that you God will somehow hear and answer our prayer. I would like to know why”?
While I was having this conversation with God the Christian radio was playing and there was a preacher giving a sermon. I was just in a mood of boldness or perhaps stupidity. I really wanted to hear what God had to say to me. I asked him for his understanding. I was specific in my request and said to God that I wanted to hear his voice not hear it from the radio. Closing off my prayer to God I went on with my day. I took my dog for a walk to my own secret garden. This place is in the property behind our house. I walked through the over grown trees that lay beside the path. Please walk with me as I recall this experience. I swat a couple of mosquitoes. A few drops of water fall from the branches, heavy from the rain of the previous night. Before me is the path that curves through the field of wild flowers. I look at it and think this is God’s perfect garden that he made. I am privileged to see it. It makes one breathless with awe to look at it. The wild grass is long with golden tassels. It looks like God sprinkled Queens Anne lace and brown eyed Susie’s amongst the grass. I go out there each day. Everyday I see the beauty of God’s creation new and fresh.

This day I almost cried with the awe of it all. I went back in the house after the walk and sat down in front of my laptop. The message on the radio was ending. My ears tuned in for the ending and listened as the preacher said, “The voice of truth says this is for my glory. The voice of truth is God. Whatever we go through is for his glory. We as Christians know the truth that leads to eternity. We have the hope of eternity that is why we persevere now.”

Well, I smiled and even chuckled inside. There was my answer like it or not. It is a pretty simple answer for a pretty simple person. God is not going to yell in a loud voice a deafening answer in my eardrum. He does answer our questions. In fact the disciples asked Jesus questions all the time. Sometimes he answered with a parable, sometimes with a rebuke. He answered and explained many of their questions to also teach us. Many of those questions are in the bible. We are not going to get hit over the head for asking Him questions. God wants us to talk to him. If we are alert and open to receive God, he does speak to us in many diverse ways.

He spoke to me out in the field. His love and his beauty were evident to me; in the whisper of the wind, through the song of the birds. His message is also through other people, sometimes it is in our thoughts. God definitely speaks to us through the word of truth. I’m reminded of scripture from the book of Hebrews. Sometimes we think that God does not answer our prayers because we do not have enough faith. Hebrews chapter 11 gives us examples of faith. The faith of Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham and Moses proved to show many miracles of God come to pass. If we read on in the book of Hebrews 11:32-39 we are told of many others who all had faith: Gideon, Samson, David, Samuel and on and on the list could go. Some of these great heroes of faith faced jeers and flogging, others endured prison and chains. Some were stoned and others sawed in two or they were put to death by the sword. John wore sheep skins and was beheaded. The bible says, “That the world was not worthy of them”. Hebrews 11:39 says, “These were all commended for their faith, yet none of them received what had been promised. God had planned something better for us so that only together with us would they be made perfect”.
The answer to my question is now clear. Sometimes God does heal people of their sicknesses. He does hear our prayers and he does answer them according to his glory. The final outcome will be perfection. Our sick bodies will someday be made perfect for eternity. Enduring through these challenges of life in this world now, we too will become heroes of faith. Praise be to God. The bible says that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life.

Defeat Anger

I was remembering back to the 1970's when my parents took me to visit my Aunt and Uncle in California. They took us to all the tourist attractions, Disney World, Universal Studio’s and to the ocean beach. Wherever we went we had to drive on the three lane freeways to get there. At that time I remember my uncle telling me that there was someone who had a gun and he would shoot the person in one of the cars driving on the freeway. They had a quite a few fatalities. I asked my uncle, “Why would someone do that?” He said, "They probably are mad, so if someone cuts them off with their car or does something he doesn’t like, then he just lifts his gun and shoots them". I don’t know if police ever found the criminal.

We often here on the news about road rage. I heard of one story about two drivers who both entered into road rage; both driving their car on the highway. In his rage, one man veered his car into the other driver’s car as to retaliate. The other car lost control of his car and flipped over. That driver was killed. Now the driver of the involved car is charged with murder. He had one moment of anger and lost all rational thinking and his reaction ended up killing the other driver, even though that may not have been his initial intent. His quick decision was fatal. The sad thing is that this behavior happens quite often on the road. I myself have found myself easily angered while driving my car. It is no excuse, but like most people we are in a hurry to get to work or to that next appointment. It was a hard day and we just want to get home and relax and wouldn’t you know it, you hit every light red and the car in front of you goes under the speed limit. Your frustration and your anger build. This could build for an hour. Suddenly someone engages you by cutting you off or swearing at you and before you know it you explode and retaliate or take the challenge. We do things in our cars we would not do if we were standing face to face with that person in the other car. The car gives us a sense of false power and protection.

I think we have all found ourselves caught in an incident while driving. Sometimes we are just enjoying the ride and wham someone cuts you off and gives you the finger. You wander what on earth is that person’s problem? I have been intimidated by transport trucks; pick up trucks that have practically clued their bumper to my little car. They try to make you go faster than the speed limit. They are telling you to move out of the way. If you don’t do it fast enough they bully you with their vehicle and cut you off. When this happens it can leave you feeling violated. I have felt that way. I have also been the one retaliating with a few swear words and the finger back at them.

One day I was praising the Lord and enjoying the ride to work. Suddenly someone cut me off at the light. Before I can catch my tongue and bite it off, I’m swearing at him or her for doing that, when I should be controlled and turn the other cheek, so to speak.
"Lord forgive me". Then afterwards, I think about it and feel bad that I allowed myself to lose control of myself. The Apostle James addresses this very issue. James 1:22 “If anyone considers himself religious and yet, he does not keep tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless”. Ouch! That is pretty clear and powerful verse, especially when like myself I know I have been guilty. Anger has always been one of my battles to overcome.
My husband Danny races stock cars on the oval track. We spend a great deal of time working on the car every night after work and all race day to prepare for the race. Some race days are very hot, high pressured and challenging. One race day seemed to be one challenge after another. Nothing seemed to be working right. The car set-up was off and the car was not performing well on the track. In the race Danny’s car bumped the car in front of him. That is racing. Lord knows Danny’s car gets bumped by other cars all the time. I know because I repair the body on the car each time that happens. The car he bumped was the driver who pitted right beside us. After the race the driver of that car bee-lined it over to Danny as quick as a fart in a wind storm. He proceeded to yell at Danny and call him names while Danny was still strapped in his race car. Danny didn’t even know what he had done wrong. Listening to his verbal assault on Danny while I was writing down tire pressures and sizes, this man’s abuse to Danny was making me angry. That driver is not really supposed to enter another driver’s pit area and attack. I could feel my anger toward him build like a combustible engine and I couldn’t bite my lip any longer. He ranted and raved. When it seemed like he was finished his attack I told him to go back to his own car. He promptly told me where to go. . . . . . . . My sinful nature responded to him by telling him where to go . . . Well, if he didn’t try to egg me on by telling me to hit him in the face, “Go ahead hit me - right here - I know you want to hit me”.
I did want to hit him. I looked at his size and thought about it for a moment. Thankfully, one of our pit crew stepped in-between us. Paul could see that all rational thinking had flown the coop. I think my Christian friend Patty who came to watch the race for the first time, was very surprised by my behavior. You have never seen anyone leave the pit area in such a hurry. Again I felt ashamed of my behavior and lack of control that I demonstrated. I had allowed my temper to get the best of me.

James 1:19-20 again challenges me and everyone to, “Be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires”.
James 3:6 also writes, “The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell”.
These are powerful verses and warnings however seemingly difficult to live out. None the less this is a good challenge and an encouragement to try and tame the tongue. Use the tongue for good and not evil.