Category Archives: God’s Favor

Onward By Faith… My cloud has been lifted!

Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journey. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. Exodus 40: 36-37

Cloud

A few weeks ago I found that passage and for a moment I couldn’t breathe. I had just spoken with a friend and said, “I don’t know what’s wrong with me. God has given me work to do, but each morning I feel as though I’ve got a heavy cloud rising over me and I can’t seem to move. I’ve never felt this way before, and for the past year I haven’t done anything to move ‘onward’ with the desires of my heart.”

“Don’t worry” she said, “God will show you the reason why you haven’t moved onward and when it’s time, you will!”

She was right.

After we spoke I turned on my computer and immediately went to a daily devotional that I read each morning. It was there where I was reminded… Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle, the children of Israel would go onward in all their journey. But if the cloud was not taken up, then they did not journey till the day that it was taken up. Exodus 40: 36-37

For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about what God reminded me of,  and I realized that a cloud was the well-know symbol of the Divine Presence.

If one were to google the definition of cloud within the Bible one would find…

CLOUD/BIBLE: The Hebrew so rendered means “a covering,” because clouds cover the sky. The word is used as a symbol of the Divine presence, as indicating the splendor of that glory which it conceals ( Exodus 16:10 ; 33:9 ; Numbers 11:25 ; 12:5 ; Job 22:14 ; Psalms 18:11 ). A “cloud without rain” is a proverbial saying, denoting a man who does not keep his promise ( Proverbs 16:15 ; Isaiah 18:4 ; 25:5 ; Jude 1:12 ). A cloud is the figure of that which is transitory ( Job 30:15 ; Hosea 6:4 ). A bright cloud is the symbolical seat of the Divine presence (Ex.29:42,43;1 Kings 8:10 ; 2 Chr 5:14 ; Ezekiel 43:4 ), and was called the Shechinah (q.v.). Jehovah came down upon Sinai in a cloud ( Exodus 19:9 ); and the cloud filled the court around the tabernacle in the wilderness so that Moses could not enter it ( Exodus 40:34 Exodus 40:35 ). At the dedication of the temple also the cloud “filled the house of the Lord” ( 1 Kings 8:10 ). Thus in like manner when Christ comes the second time he is described as coming “in the clouds” ( Matthew 17:5 ; 24:30 ; Acts 1:9 Acts 1:11 ). False teachers are likened unto clouds carried about with a tempest ( 2 Peter 2:17 ). The infirmities of old age, which come one after another, are compared by Solomon to “clouds returning after the rain” (Eccl 12:2 ). The blotting out of sins is like the sudden disappearance of threatening clouds from the sky ( Isaiah 44:22 ). Cloud, the pillar of, was the glory-cloud which indicated God’s presence leading the ransomed people through the wilderness ( Exodus 13:22 ; Exodus 33:9 Exodus 33:10 ). This pillar preceded the people as they marched, resting on the ark ( Exodus 13:21 ; 40:36 ). By night it became a pillar of fire ( Numbers 9:17-23 ).

Then this morning happened…

When I awoke I realized that my cloud had been lifted and that I wasn’t a failure in not working on my hearts desire, but that God didn’t want me to move yet. I needed this past year to be still. I needed to listen to Him to understand that the things God created me to do were His things and not mine, and that by His silencing my heart I would know that it’s not my “will” that will complete these things, but my understanding  of the things that He created me to do that will allow me to complete them.

Looking back, I wish I would have spent this past year not worrying about why things were not happening, but spent more time understanding that everything that God calls me to do will happen in His time and not my time.

I’m so excited now to move “onward by faith” in God’s timing— and to be honest… I will never look at a cloud the same way.  Just as rainbows were created for a symbol to remind us that God will never flood the earth again… Clouds were created to remind us of the Divine Presence of God and if we follow Him we will arrive exactly where He wants us to be and we will arrive on time!

Onward By Faith!

L.B.

 

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Are You One of the Thirty-Six?

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It’s been months since I’ve had time to sit down and scribe one of my “Appointments with God” and I missed Him.

Now, I know that’s okay, because there are moments within my life when life happens and I can’t stop and say, “Well, I’ll work after I get done writing down something that I never want to forget!” or “I’ll stitch up your arm so you don’t bleed right after I’m done  with this important thought!”

No, there are moments when writing must wait, but today God graced me a little time and a great story that I never want to forget!

Within Grass Valley, CA. is a tiny store-y that we opened that sells things so we can buy comfort for hospitalized children. It’s probably the tiniest store-y in town. It’s a little “thrift-consignment” store that sells the products of others, and because each person who donates or creates something wonderful has a story, hence: we call our “25th of Remember” store, “The store-y!”

So, back to my store-y!

A few weeks ago one of my dear friends, Irene Masteller, donated a stack of books, so I did what I normally do… I wrote: Donated by: Irene,on the tag, added a price and then placed it on the shelf. Then last night as I was closing up, God put it on my heart to pick “one” book a week, read it, and then put the book up for sale so I can share with those who shop here why I believe they would enjoy the book.

The book I walked out with was titled: My Grandfather’s Blessings, written by: Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D.

Then this morning I grabbed a cup of coffee and started reading the book and within a moment I was in love with Rachel’s grandfather, and I wanted to call her and tell her that I couldn’t put the book down!

The book is a beautiful book about the lessons she learned from her grandfather. Her grandfather was an Orthodox rabbi and shared great lessons of life within his stories, and one story he shared made me cry…

The story told  dated back to the time of the prophet Isaiah. It’s the legend of the Lamed-Vov.

Do you know it? If not, no worries… I didn’t either.

The legend goes that God decided He would allow the world to continue as long as (at any given time) there is a minimum of thirty-six good people in the human race. People who respond to the suffering of others. These thirty-six people are called the Lamed-Vov. If at any time, there are fewer than thirty-six such people alive, the world will come to an end.

As she continues sharing her grandfather’s story she asked her grandfather if he knew these people and he replied, “No, Neshume-le, only God knows who the Lamed-Vovniks are. Even the Lamed-Vovniks themselves do not know for sure the role they have in the continuation of the world, and no one else knows it either. They respond to suffering, not in order to save the world, but simply because the suffering of others touches them and matters to them,” he answered.

It turns out that Lamed-Vovniks can be anyone within the world, “And because no one knows who they are, Neshume-le, anyone you meet might be one of the thirty-six for whom God preserves the world. It is important to treat everyone you meet as if this might be so,” said Grandfather.

When I finished reading the story God showed my heart that each day I’m touched by people I will never see again, but the moment they walk into my life they’ve touched my life and changed it.

I do know one thing. I agree with her grandfather. I have no idea who these thirty-six people are, but I’ll bet… YOU ARE ONE OF THEM!

And, as soon as I’m done reading the book I don’t want to sell it, but I want to share it. If you’d like to read it when I’m finished, please send me a personal email and I’ll send it to you. Then when you’re done reading it, you can sign your name within the book, and send it back and I’ll send it the next person on the list and so on and so forth. Then when the last person on the list is done reading it I’m going to send it to Rachel and show her how many people “one” book blessed!

If you’d like to read the book, please email me at:

ourstore-y@iloveowie.org

L.B.

Now, onward to seeing how many of the thirty-six of you I meet today!

 

 

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CAN YOU BE HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS?

Iusedtobe

Saturday afternoon I decided to go to the mall. It was as if I could hear the Christmas music coming from that direction and had to go and see if that was where the music was coming from.

Sure enough. It was.

As I was walking around the mall, I grabbed a Starbucks,  went and sat in a chair and called a few friends. I wanted to let them know that Christmas had arrived. When my phone calls were finished I walked through all the stores. So many people were out shopping and it seemed as if the spirit of peace on earth and good will to men  had arrived early, and on that happy note I decided it was time to go home.

Anyway, as I was leaving I saw a woman sitting on a chair selling something when my heart heard, “Go talk to her”  and before I had time to say, “no” to myself…I was standing in front of her kiosk asking, “So, how’s your evening? Are you enjoying all the people in the mall?”

“Yes.” She replied.

“How long have you worked here?” I asked.

“Not long.” She replied.

Our conversation was easy and we talked about everything from where she came from, to how many children she had and then I saw it. Her eyes went from open to trusting. That’s the best way I know how to describe what I saw. She trusted me and said, “I don’t know why I’m telling you this but… I’m homeless.”

She then told me her story, and like so many people I’ve met in her situation her story seemed to be the same except she told me more. She started to share that has time goes on, and one can’t find a job, one comes to accept that their car is their place of residence. She was sharing how she learned how to survive and how when she would meet others who were in her situation she would tell them where to shop. How to shower, and as I listened to her speak she said, “The only thing that happens to someone that is tragic, is after they’ve been homeless to the point where they can survive, they get embarrassed to tell people. We stop going to places that we’re invited, because it’s much like an illness— when one looks healthy, but then shares they have cancer there’s a silence that falls over the room, and the same goes for those who are homeless. Silence falls.”

For the past few days I’ve been thinking about this woman and yesterday I reached out to a young woman, who I know works in the mall. The funny part is  I actually met  this young woman a few months back at the DMV and she invited me to her church, and because of her heart, I went and met all those she goes to church with. So, yesterday I reached out to this young woman and asked if her church could  help her, and this was her message back to me:

“Okay, Gina. I would love to meet her and send her flowers or something. Maybe we can get a group of women together and take her to lunch and go on a prayer walk or something.  Let me know what you think would be a good idea. We’re having a midweek service if she wants to come too. Please give her my phone number.”

What I loved about her response back was she wasn’t thinking, “Okay. Let me ask those in the church if they know anyone who is hiring or I’ll pray for her.” No, this young woman thought about the things that make people know they are valued. Friendships, flowers, eating with friends, moments.

And, what I learned from this woman is the only thing she seemed to miss were the friendships of others, because she never once said to me, “I wish I had a big house. I wish I had a nicer car. I wish I had better clothes. I wish I had more food.”

No, she didn’t.

She said, “I miss having friends.”

One of my favorite reminders  of what a true friend is resides within the Bible and reads:  “For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in..” Matthew 25:35

My hope in sharing this story is that each person who reads this will become HOMELESS FOR THE HOLIDAYS… and all year-long! Now, I don’t mean I want you to give up your home and live on the streets or within your car, “NO!”  What I mean is whenever you see someone who is homeless, don’t fear them. Do not look away because you think that if you look at them YOU HAVE TO GIVE THEM MONEY! You don’t have to give them money. You don’t have to give them food. YOU DON’T HAVE TO GIVE THEM ANYTHING…

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS…

Say hello!

Wave!

If you’re walking by, reach out your hand and introduce yourself.

Ask them their name. Nothing is more comforting to a person than to hear someone say their name.

Pray for them. Don’t tell them you’ll pray for them. JUST DO IT!

And, yes.. if you’re walking by with a sandwich and “half” some left… offer it up, because that’s what friends do for their friends.

Yes, this holiday season and beyond please join me and become Homeless, because when we embrace the love that arrives within the smile of a new friend…

There is where peace on earth and goodwill to us arrives!

NOW, ONWARD TO THE HOLIDAYS!

L.B.

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What Door Will You Open Today?

 

Mission

It’s funny there’s a quote that is shared often and shared like this, “Well you know what God says. He says… ‘When one door closes, another door opens.'” Actually, God never said that. It was Alexander Graham Bell, and what he said was…

“When one door closes, another door opens; but we often look so long regretfully upon the closed door, that we do not see the one that is open for us.”

Until the other day I had no idea what he meant, but inevitably every time something didn’t go my way someone would recite those words in the hopes they made me feel better, and while I was SMiling on the outside, the inside of me was screaming, “WHAT DOES THAT MEAN? DOES ANYONE REALLY KNOW WHAT THAT MEANS?”

Then the other day I happened to be in San Juan Capistrano with a friend working, when we decided we would take a moment and walk through the Mission.

Corridor

 

Walking down the corridor of the Mission I happened to notice that many of the doors were open so I decided to start my tour and I walked through a door which showed where,  (in the year 1776) the people who lived at the Mission would have cooked. It was a tiny kitchen, but it wasn’t until I heard a young woman say, “Oh, now this is where you would have found me if I lived in 1776,  I would have been in the kitchen.” I looked over at her and she had a SMile that told me that cooking was her gift and it didn’t matter how small or inefficient the kitchen  was, she would be there.

Then I walked into another room and inside was a place where they stored the tools and a man said, “Oh, look at the tools they used back then. If I lived in 1776, you would have found me here, grabbing all the tools to build this mission.” I looked over at him and he had a SMile that told me his gift was building and it didn’t matter how inefficient the tools were, he would be using them.

Then I continued on… into another room… where there was a living space that was tiny and I heard a young girl say, “Oh look how cute this room is. If I lived in 1776, I would be playing house in this room, because when I grow up I want to be a mother and keep my house tidy like this room.” I looked over and saw  she had a SMile on her face that told me her gift was going to be having a family and no matter how small her house would be, she would care for it.

As I walked through each door I kept seeing the same thing. Faces that would light up when the person walked through the door of the room “they belonged in.”

Then it happened. I walked through my door and it was there where, for the first time in my life, I understood what Alexander Graham Bell was saying. I had found my doorway. It was open and just my size. The room was small and it housed the only things I’ve ever needed: A Bible and a writing desk. Yes, there were other things in there, but I didn’t notice. All I noticed was that I had found my SMile and that is when I said, “If I lived in 1776, I would be sitting in this room, reading the Bible and writing down all that I learned, and then I’d run outside and teach what I learned to all who wanted to listen!”

 
IMG_5243

 

For a moment I stood in “MY” doorway and I didn’t want to leave. I had finally found the place within my heart and it was there where I met Alexander Graham Bell. It was as if he was standing in the room saying, “You have found my little secret. The secret of the door is looking back on your life and knowing that YOUR heart is the one that closed all the other doors behind you. Now, keep this door open, read your Bible, write what you learn and share with those who ask you.”

He was right. Within my life thousands of doors had been shut, but the truth-of-the-matter of life is when we know what we were born to do, we’ll stop at nothing to complete it. The trick is to keep walking through doors until we find the one door that makes our heart beat in such way that we couldn’t close the door if we wanted to.

Within the Bible IT IS WRITTEN, “…so, you too, when you see all these things, recognize that He is near, right at the door.” Matthew 25:10

 

L.B.

ONWARD BY FAITH!

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Believe in your nuts!

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Have you ever had one of those days where you’re feeling so bad you just don’t ever want to get up again?

For the past several weeks I’ve been under the “instructions” of a physician on what I can eat and what I need to stay away from,  and it seems that my new frequent favorites are “nuts”.  All I have to do is pick a nut: a walnut, peanut almond, brazilian! As long as it’s a nut. I’m free to eat.

Anyway, last week I was having a really bad day and as I went to reach for a walnut, for some reason my heart really missed my grandfather, so within the simplicity of how my heart works, I looked up to heaven and asked God to simply tell my grandfather I said hello and that I love him.

A few hours later my friend, Gina Aponte, sent me an instant message on Facebook asking  if she could send me some shelled walnuts, and I knew… God was letting me know that my grandfather was saying hello and that he loved me too.

How did I know that?

Because… when I was in high school my grandmother used to paint pictures and then each weekend she would take her paintings down to the park and she would erect them on easels and wait for someone to come along and appreciate them. Now, while she was waiting for customers, my grandfather was waiting for her, and he would take his newspaper and sit in the park and read. Then one day he noticed  a woman had set up a booth and  was selling something unusual:  painted walnuts that looked like strawberries. She wasn’t selling any so my grandfather walked up to her, purchased one, and tried to tell her how to sale them. But, when the woman didn’t care to listen to what he had to say,  my grandfather decided he would go home and make his own. The following weekend he would return with his painted nuts and show the woman how it was done.

Strawberry Nut Ornament

And, “done” he did. Within 10 minutes my grandfather had sold every one of his “red” creations, and when the woman saw that he sold them so quickly she immediately came running to his table and asked, “What’s your secret? How did you do that?”

His reply…

“Lady, you’ve got to believe in your nuts!”

I never in my life thought I would be sharing that “I believe in my nuts”,  but I do! Because if God can go so far out of his way to put it on Gina’s  heart to send me a box of nuts… Can you imagine what He’ll do for YOU!

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything ACCORDING TO HIS WILL, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.” (1 John 5:14)

Gina Aponte, “And you thought you were just sending me a box of nuts!”

L.B.
Onward with a SMile!

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The Most Valuable Lesson in Business… I Learned from a Lemon Tree!

Lemon Tree

Has anyone priced the cost of lemons these days? In California a simple lemon is going for 89 cents a piece, and the way I use them,  I realized that I’ve been spending around $53.40 each month to keep them stock piled so I wouldn’t run out. Last Saturday the unimaginable happened. I ran out, and when I went to the store they were out. What was I to do?

I came home and told my husband that the world was running out of lemons. He laughed and  shared that his sister had a lemon tree and he would see if she would share. She did and WOW did she have lemons. She has a lemon tree that is over 25 years old and each lemon is the size of a softball, so I decided that I would take six lemon seeds  from her donated lemons and plant them. I would grow my own lemon trees so that I would never run out again.  I planted the seeds and shared with my husband that I had solved my ‘problem of the lemons’ and within 3-to-5 years I would be producing an abundance of lemons!

“Are you serious? he said. “You’re going to wait 3-to-5 years for those seeds to grow?”

“Yep!”

Then yesterday happened. My husband walked into my garden and saw my bright yellow container with a note that shared there were lemon seeds within the soil and he said, “That’s it. Get in the car. I’m taking you to a nursery and I’m going to buy you a lemon tree that has a lemon on it.”

We got in the car and drove to several nurseries and no one had a lemon tree to sale and all I could think was… The world is running out of lemons. What am I going to do? But as life always seems to work itself out we came upon a nursery that had one lemon tree standing alone as if to say, “Pick me!” My husband looked at the price and said, “Let’s go to a few more places. I can’t fathom paying 24.50 per lemon, because with only two lemons growing,  these will be the most expensive lemons you have ever squeezed.”

Last Tree Standing

We got in the car, headed to a few more places before we ended up back at the nursery with the last lemon tree standing. My husband purchased my tree and when we were leaving I noticed there was a beautiful statue of a little girl sitting in the garden. I snapped her picture and when we arrived home my husband planted the tree for me, I watered it, and the two of us went inside. Our mission was accomplished.

Little Girl Waiting

Then this morning I walked outside  to check on my two lemons and it was there where God showed me the most valuable lesson in business that I will ever learn.

My two lemons

For 25 plus years I’ve been working on a non-profit that has been very hard, and every time I wonder if we’ve given enough, God will put it on my heart to keep going. So, we go!

But, what I realized this morning was that God used the lemon tree to show me the importance of timing, and when He wants someone else to do something for us. To help us. To teach us. To give to us. He will put it on their heart to do so. Just like the tree. I was willing to wait for the harvest, where my husband’s heart was willing to purchase the necessary tree in which fruit was already producing.

One of my favorite bible verses arrives within Habakkuk 2:3, For the vision is yet for an appointed time and it hastens to the end; it will not deceive or disappoint. Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come; it will not be behindhand on its appointed day. 

Now, I know why it’s always been one of my favorite verses, because my Appointments with God have been nothing more than my waiting on His appointed time to teach me the lesson, and He’s right. I’ve never been deceived by Him or disappointed.

And, real quick… Back to the picture I snapped of the statue of the little girl. God used that photograph to remind me that even though my body is aging my mind still remembers the little girl who once sat in a garden and dreamed that the desires of her heart would one day be made possible, and from this day “onward”,   I will never ask God again if He still wants me to give comfort, because much like the tree. All I have to do is plant the seeds and the harvest will arrive.

The fun part of this appointment is within a few years I will have six lemon trees that I will pass on to others, and they too will have lemons in abundance, because there are some moments in life where we plant a seed thinking the fruit is for us, but in the end… He had us plant it to help another.

My hope in sharing the story of my lemon tree  is to share that if God has given you a dream…  keep growing it because one day your harvest will arrive or another will arrive to help and the two of you will harvest “the” dream together.

L.B.
Onward to watering the desires of my heart!

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Growing Lessons!

My Garden

I can honestly write that since I was a child I’ve been planting seeds. When I was in elementary school, and would eat an apple, I would save my seeds and on my way out to the playground I would find a piece of dirt and plant them. I never actually saw any of my seeds come up, but just the same… I planted them.

As I got older, I began planting flowers and  small vegetable gardens, and when I got brave and understood how to take one seed and turn it into a bountiful harvest,  I planted hundreds of pumpkin and corn  seeds, and when the harvest arrived in the fall, thousands of visitors would stop by the field, picking their favorite pumpkin and getting lost within the corn.

I love to garden, but truth-be-told, I don’t like to garden because of the crops, but because it’s always been within my garden (whether big or small) where God shows me the simple lessons of life and yesterday I saw something I always want to remember.

In March I walked out to find my dirt ready to be planted, so I did what I always do,  grabbed my rake, and got busy drawing the lines of where I would plant my seeds. When I was happy with the design  I got busy planting. I always plant my herbs first, my vegetables second, and I finish up with flowers.  As always, I have a few flower seeds left over, and instead of saving them I find a spot where they can grow, and over the past several months— they’ve been growing.

Yesterday morning I went out to my garden and  noticed something I had never noticed  before…

My flowers!

I had a planted a beautiful row of Zinna’s and had a few leftover seeds so I planted them in their own special holes, and yesterday I noticed that the flowers that were planted together are now nearing 5′ tall, and the few plants that I planted alone, are barely 12″ and yet— they were both planted on the same day, and watered and cared for in the same way.

Then this morning as I was reading in Ephesians 4:16, I couldn’t help but smile when I read: 16 From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.

I finally understand why God designed corn to grow in groups of 4 seeds and squash to be planted in twos, and so on and so forth, and not that I didn’t understand it before, but because I got to see the “why”.

Everything that God created was created to join together. To work together. To support each other, and to grow and to build up one another in love. And,  when each of us start to do our part, that’s when life flourishes, because it’s not that we won’t grow…

Because we will!

It’s all about how high we can reach, and we can only do that when we reach out to help each other.

L.B.
Onward to the garden!

 

 

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