Category Archives: Jesus

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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A Year From Today…

And he said to them, “Pay attention to what you hear: with the measure you use, it will be measured to you, and still more will be added to you.”- Mark 4:24

A few weeks ago. Valentine’s Day to be exact. I was walking out to my car when my heart heard… “Look in the yellow bin.” I opened my car door, put my purse on the seat, and then walking into the garage I happened to see my yellow bin on the shelf. Not knowing what to do next I asked, “Now what?”

My heart then heard… “Read, My Utmost For His Highest!”

My Utmost For His Highest is a daily devotional book that was written by, Oswald Chambers, and first published in 1935. This book was given to me as a Christmas gift in 2000, by a woman I loved very much and the inscription shared… “Never read ahead!” For nearly 15 years I read that book faithfully. Each day I would open to read what God had to say through Chambers, but then last year, on Valentine’s Day… I put the book in my yellow bin and it was there where it would stay!

A year ago Valentine’s Day, was a very hard day. Actually the whole year was difficult. I went through a divorce. I moved. My daughter had a baby whom was born with complications. I opened a store. My youngest daughter moved to Colorado. My granddaughter was hospitalized.  My list of adversities was long and for some reason my heart didn’t want to read what Oswald Chambers had to say, so I placed him in my yellow bin. I remember thinking…  I need a break from the wisdom of others so I can find my way back to “my” appointments with God!

 

Funny how the one thing I wanted a break from I seemed to miss.

As I was holding the book I happened to notice that there was something sticking through the pages, so I turned to the page and found a blue envelope with the inscription that read: Gina, don’t open ’til 2.14.16.
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As I pulled the envelope out of the book that is when I noticed where the year before I had written at the top of the page,  “A year from today in 2016 I will be where God put me!”

As I looked at the book it seemed that once in 2011 I needed a fresh start and last year my heart needed another year to start again.

Then I opened the envelop and saw that I had purchased myself a card which read:

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Then opening the card I read a note that I had written to myself last year…

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For the past few weeks I’ve been thinking about where I was a year ago Valentine’s Day and where I am now, and I must admit that with everything that transpired this past year it was nice to see that God put it on my heart to write myself a message showing me that it’s true…

Within the message written by Oswald, dated: February 14, there’s a paragraph which reads: When you are in the dark, listen, and God will give you a very precious message for someone else once you are back in the light.

Yes, it took me exactly one year to find my way from the darkness of adversities to the calmness of the light, and where Oswald wrote that I will give a precious message to someone else, he was actually talking about me. I am someone else now. I’m not the same woman who sat in darkness, but I am now the woman who is sitting in the light and I love the card, because it was a grand reminder that…

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Onward to “dreaming” with “purpose” and making each of my days count!

L.B.

 

 

 

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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!”

 
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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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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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MEET REBECCA THE FAITHFUL!

Rebecca
On Saturday morning I was in “The Store(y)” working when a woman came in with her father-in-law. She was in a wheel chair and the two of them were admiring the bird houses. I said, “hello” they smiled and silently left. A few moments later I overheard them speaking to one of my regular visitors, Carmella, and a half-hour later Carmella came in the store in tears. She shared the story of the woman and I told her to grab a Beanie Baby and give it to her… “Because when you give, you give a moment of happiness!”

Carmella ran out and a few minutes later all three of them returned. The woman wanted to thank us both for the gift and we continued to chat.

The woman in the wheel chair’s name is Rebecca. Rebecca has been in a wheel chair for the past 17 years and has Muscular Dystrophy. As she was sharing her story, and that there was no cure, and one day her disease would be cured on the day she entered heaven, I bent down gave her a hug and said, “I’m sorry that you’ve had to endure so much for the past 17 years. ”

Rebecca then smiled at me and said, “Oh no. Please don’t be sorry. I get up each day thanking God for each day that I am here. I am married to the love of my life and he thinks I’m brilliant!”

I said, “Rebecca the Faithful, what do you love to do?”

“I used to love making flower arrangements. That’s why my husband says I’m brilliant. I could take ordinary flowers and turn them in to something extraordinary!”

I smiled and said, “Rebecca, you are the one!”

“I am the one?” She asked!

“Yes, you are the one. The other day, my friend Beth Pattee, brought me in the most beautiful flower arrangement and I asked God this morning whom I should pass them on to today. I wanted someone else to enjoy the gift and it was you all along!”

I stopped talking and went and got the flowers. I put them down by her feet (because she has no use of her arms) and I asked her if I could take her picture and share her story…

“You mean you want me to have these beautiful flowers, take my picture and you want to share my story?” she asked!

“ABSOLUTELY!”

She smiled and said, “You mean other people will know my name and will know about me?”

“YES!”

Rebecca smiled this beautiful smile, I took the picture and with all her might she lifted her hands and said, “Girl power!”

She also shared that she lives in an assisted living home because her husband has to work and can’t put on her makeup and do her hair like he would like to be able to, but that he comes to visit her before work each day and each night he stays with her until she goes to bed.

As Rebecca was getting in the car to leave her husband came into the store, introduced himself and showed me a picture of what Rebecca used to look like. Oh my gosh! “She’s still the same stunning woman today!” he said.

The love this man has for his wife was the most beautiful moment I’ve ever experienced. He told me they were the Romeo and Juliet story and how blessed he was that she chose him.

Her husband graciously accepted my invitation to come and visit her and promised me that he will bring her in the store when he can so she can spend a few hours meeting the amazing people who come through the door.

Rebecca is new to the area and doesn’t know any women. I was wondering if any of you would like to write Rebecca a letter, introducing yourself, and then I can read her the letters. She can’t read, and when she lifted her hands and said, “Girl Power!” I realized she was right. There’s nothing more powerful than the power of friends.

Please email me at: gina@owiebowwowie.com and I will print them off and take them to her.

I have no idea how long God’s going to bless us with the store, but I can promise you that each person who has walked through the door has become my blessing, and has blessed me with the greatest stories that I forever want to remember.

So they called Rebekah and asked her, “Will you go with this man?” “I will go,” she said. Genesis 24:58

 

And the two of them lived happily ever after! 

 

L.B.
ONWARD TO MY NEXT VISIT WITH REBECCA THE FAITHFUL!

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