Verse For the Day

Isaiah 58:6-7 (NIV) "Is this not the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice...Is it not to share your food with the hungry...?"

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Eve Gone Missing

But he said to me, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." 2 Corinthians 12:9

It's been a while since I posted, and I'd like to give you an update. Leading up to Easter, I had some very moody days, partly because the fast I was doing became harder at the end, but thankfully, I was able to see it though.

And then, the week leading up to Easter is very meaningful, but sad for me as I contemplate all the suffering Jesus went though in order to save us. My church created wonderful Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services, but while they were beautiful, they too were sad.

And then , I do have bi-polar illness, so times of depression are bound to happen. Unfortunately, sometimes they interfere with my faith life. I often don't write or feel creative. In these times too, I feel inadequate to receive God's love, and sometimes forget about grace.

Quoting from the Message Bible, the same scripture I started this post with, God says:  "My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness."

And I cling to that. In this passage of the Word, Paul is speaking of how easy it is to boast, and how God gave him a handicap to cause him to be more humble. I can relate to that. Sometimes I boast more than I should, not keeping in secret the "good deeds" I perform. Maybe God is settling me down a bit when I get these moods. But I have found a wonderful Psalm, actually a prayer that sustains me, and reminds me that God is my refuge.

 O Lord, hear my prayer, listen to my cry for mercy; in your faithfulness and righteousness come to my relief....The enemy pursues me, he crushes me to the ground; he makes me dwell in darkness like those long dead. So my Spirit grows faint within me; my heart within me is dismayed."  Psalm 143:1,3-4

In the same Psalm,  verse 8 I read, "Let the morning bring me your unfailing love, for I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. "

So I look to the morning in the midst of my despair. I know that with God, the morning will come. I will rise up out of this cave, and once again, God's spirit will surge within me. Until then, God's grace is sufficient.

Have a wonderful blessed day.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

A Day of Feasting

"Yet he has not left himself without testimony...he provides you with plenty of food and fills your hearts with joy." Acts 14: 17 (NIV)

Yesterday, I went with my daughter, granddaughter and in and out-of-town relatives to Navy Pier in Chicago. When we first arrived we were hungry, so we went to a place outside the pier called Bubba Gump's Shrimp Company. The theme, of course, was based on the movie Forrest Gump, and the menu, of course, was shrimp - cooked in every way imaginable with a few chicken dishes sprinkled here and there.

I could have ordered a salad, and in fact, planned to do so since I'm abstaining from meat and sugar six  days a week through Lent. But I looked around the table at the family I love, looked around at our surroundings, and decided to treat the day as another feast day. So I enjoyed hush puppies with bits of shrimp and fish in the batter, and for an entree, shrimp stuffed with crab meat, all of which was shared with my daughter. Very delish! And at the end of the meal I had a few bites of Key Lime Pie, my most very favorite pie in the world.

And I did not feel guilty. Rather, I felt God's amazing love and blessings in being a part of this wonderful celebration of family.

Later, we walked through the pier to the Smith Museum of Stained Glass Windows which displays 150 of the finest examples of stained glass in the world, including many magnificent religious works. It is not sufficient to say that the art was breathtaking - it seemed each portrayal was more colorful and vivid than the last, especially when we came to the Tiffany collection. To use an old cliche, we feasted our eyes on pure beauty.

Entrance to the museum is free, and if you haven't already been there, I would highly recommend a visit, sooner rather than later. It took about a  half hour to walk through and briefly study each example.

I just love the fact that God made each of us unique and special,  and included so many creative people in the mix.

Thank you, God for the blessings of family and fine art. And thank you for feast days. Amen.

May the Lord bless each of you today and every day, and may you enjoy life abundantly.

And happy first day of Spring!!! I'm headed out to my garden to do some clean up work.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Everyone Can Do Something - Do You Have a Minute?

James 2:15-16 (NIV) Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, "Go in peace; keep warm and well fed," but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?

Have I mentioned This is a website where you can give 1.1 cups of food to the poor each day. You can only click once a day, but you can set  it up so that they send a daily reminder in your email. And even better - when you go to the site, there will be several tabs showing at the top such as breast cancer, literacy, veterans and several others. Click on each one and it will take you less than a minute. All the donations are paid for by the sponsors of the different sites. You can send e-cards to your friends, and the donation is even greater. Just check it out. I think you'll like it.

Nineteen days into my forty day fast, and I'm struggling. At first, it was easy to eliminate meat and sugar from my diet, but now I think I have to have a protein boost. Some days I feel very weak physically, and some days, mentally. Tonight I am making breaded pork tenderloin for my husband, and my mouth waters each time I think of it. On Monday, it was roast beef. And did I mention the leftover coconut cake from Sunday that sat in the fridge for two days, tempting me every time I opened the door? I finally froze it, but I don't know how good it will be when its defrosted.

One reason it was easy in the beginning was that I had not given up Diet Coke. But a few days into the fast I knew that I was being called to do just that. Give up the one thing that I turn to most often when I need a beverage. So I decided to try. At first I weaned myself down to two cokes a day, but that was not good enough, so I then gave it up completely. Not that I've been 100% successful - when I face a little crisis, I need that drink. But most of the time, I just think about it, ask God to handle it, and make myself a cup of hot tea. And I know I am covered by God's grace when I fail. God is so good!

And it's only five more days until Sunday when I can feast again. I think I can make it with God's help.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Whatever You Do

Matthew 25:42 (NIV)  For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat. I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink.

There have been times when I've neglected the poor. Maybe I thought I didn't have enough money, or maybe I had the money and chose to spend it in selfish ways. Because I've donated to a certain hunger cause, I've been put on mailings lists for other charities. I receive requests from one or another almost daily. And I've been known to look at envelopes and throw them in the trash without even opening them. It breaks my heart sometimes, but I can't possibly help every cause.

Matthew 25:44 (NIV) ..."Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick in prison, and did not help you?

I've passed beggars on the street and given them nothing, not even a dime. Could one of them have been Jesus?

I've thought to myself, "They'll just use it for drugs." But could one of them have been Jesus?

Matthew 25:45 (NIV) "He will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me." 

In the Bible, we're told not to judge, but we as humans make judgements all the time. It's very hard not to do so. But I learned from a good friend one way of helping the street people. She gives McDonald's gift certificates. And recently, my son's fiance gave me another way. She posted a picture on facebook of a large zip-topped baggie filled with an individual sized cup of applesauce, some cookies, and cheese filled crackers. Also, toothpaste and a tooth brush. Basically, these bags can be filled with any small sized item you think would be helpful. The photo came with a suggestion of keeping a few bags like this in your car, so when you see a homeless person on the street, you can respond with kindness.

If we try we can be one of those whom Jesus referred to when he said, "I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me." - Matthew 25: 40 (NIV)

I want to be part of the solution for the end of world hunger. Don't you? Find some small ways to help the poor, and your reward will be great. I promise.

Have a wonderful and blessed day, and may the Lord hold you in his tender embrace.

Friday, March 2, 2012

Prayer and Confession

"In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation." Ps. 5:3 (NIV)

"Listen God! Please pay attention! Can you make sense of these ramblings, my groans and cries? King-God, I need your help." Ps. 5:1-2 (The Message Bible)

First, let me confess. My prayer life for the most part, is a dismal failure. That's why I chose to give you the Message Bible's interpretation of Psalm 1-2. Sometimes when I try to pray, it feels like all I do is ramble. Or make a list of things I want God to take care of. I often forget to give him thanks and praise. At times, I've even fallen asleep during prayer. But there is another verse that comforts me.

In the same way, the spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words cannot express. (Romans 8:26 (NIV)

So let me tell you about today. I attended a Weight Watchers meeting where we talked about exercise, those who do and those who don't. Another confession - I most often fit in the latter category. But after the meeting, I came home motivated, so I grabbed a bottle of water and headed downstairs to my treadmill, intending to do half an hour's worth of moderate walking. I did my half-hours worth, just as I intended, watching a taped version of one of my favorite TV programs. (If you want to know, it's House Hunters International from HGTV.) At the end I felt good, not exhausted, so I decided to walk a bit longer. But for this segment, I decided to turn off the TV and just be reflective. Soon, my reflection turned to prayer, almost without my knowing it, and for once, I felt as if I had prayed well. I did this with my eyes closed and head bent (not that this is the only accepted version), so when I was finished, I looked up and realized I had prayed past the time I allotted for walking. This made me feel very happy.

My point, if I can ever get to it, is twofold. First, God accepts all kinds of prayers - yes, even the kind we fall asleep in the middle of. And when we can't pray, the Holy spirit takes matters into his own hands, so to speak. (Awesome thought!) Second, we can pray at anytime, at any place, and God hears us. (Another awesome thought!) Actually, there's a third point. God answers all our prayers, sometimes not as fast as we would like, and sometimes not in the way we would like. But usually, his way works out for the best. No - it always works out for the best! We just can't see it. So on this point, I want to quote another Bible verse, perhaps my favorite verse in the whole Bible. 

"For I know the plans I have for you,: declares the Lord, "plans to proper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." 

I first received this verse from a friend at one of the lowest points of my life. It was on a refrigerator magnet, and though I only had a bare amount of food in the fridge, I hung it on the door, and when I did go for food, I would see it and read it.

Five years later, I chose this verse for my wedding invitations. And my marriage has proved to be one of God's greatest blessings in my life.

May God bless you and hold you in his loving embrace, today and everyday. Amen


Thursday, March 1, 2012

Fakeness and Grace

Isaiah 63: 8-9a (NIV) "He said, 'Surely they are my people, sons who will not be false to me,' and so he became their Savior. In all their distress, he too was distressed, and the angel of the presence saved them. In his love and mercy he redeemed them..."

Sometimes  I feel like a fake! I don't know why. I love my Lord with all my heart, yet sometimes I think I must not love him enough. Last night was one of those times.

I was listening to a Christian Radio program, and a woman named Sheila Walsh was being interviewed. I felt her words were both eloquent and honest. I found myself hanging on every word as she talked about her journey through abuse and mental illness. As she spoke about her journey, I thought "If only I had a faith like that."  I won't go into the interview, but I think I want to buy her new book, The Shelter of God's Promises. And having checked out her blog this morning, I can highly recommend it. She can be found at

Okay - enough about Sheila. I need to get back to telling you why I feel like a fake. One reason is that I also have been in a mental hospital, not once, but three times. You see, I have an illness called bipolar disorder. I almost said, "I am a bipolar," but I've thought about this a lot and I realize that's like saying "That's who I am. That's all of who I am."

 I'm thankful this is not the case. Bipolar illness is just a small part of who I am. I am a wife, mother, and grandmother.  I am a writer and a thinker. I am a friend and try to be a humanitarian. And most of all, I am a child of God. 

The reason why I've never gone public with my illness is that I was afraid to show all of me. In fact, fear has kept me from doing many things in my life. My first novel, mostly biographical remains on a shelf because I'm afraid of  

              God's Love is Magnificent!  

publishers' rejections. The reason I didn't go para-sailing on my fiftieth birthday (something I really wanted to do) was because I was afraid of falling. Duh- of course you're going to fall back into the sea at some point. That's part of the experience.
Yet sometimes I fear I'm not good enough for God. And except for grace, it's true. Not one of us is good enough for God, but by Christ' suffering, we are redeemed. I'm fearful I'm serving my Savior in a way not pleasing to him. But by grace, I am redeemed.

I've been known to seek God's favor by living a performance based faith, and that is not what God wants - God wants us to say that we love him, and mean it. God wants us to accept his wonderful, unconditional love. And we need to recognize when we're given grace. Undeserved grace.

All of what I do for others must be because I love my Lord and love the people I am serving. When it comes to fighting hunger, I believe I am doing it out of that love. My only motive is to love them, not to seek a greater place in God's Kingdom. I do what I do believing that Jesus would do the same.So maybe I'm not a fake after all. And maybe I'll still go parasailing some day.

May God bless you and hold you in his loving arms today and each day of your life. Amen

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

A Little Helps a Lot

Isaiah 3: 10 (NIV) Tell the righteous it will be well with them, for they will enjoy the fruit of their deeds.

Many families in rural areas of Uganda live in mud homes with tin roofs and dirt floors. Often, the adults work as farmers, either on their own property, or for someone else. So the children have to do many household chores including carrying clean water from sources far from their home. A typical meal might include corn, beans and bananas.

As is true the world over, the children also love to play. Since they have known no other lifestyle, they sing and dance, skip jump ropes, and draw pictures - that is, if they have paper on which to draw.

Picture a small child of six or seven walking a mile or more to get a bucket of water, and on the way back home almost half of the water splashes out of the bucket, leaving only enough to boil the corn and beans. This means the child must make another trip to the water source to obtain more water for washing dishes and maybe, enough to clean herself and her family. When she has finished this chore, she may be fortunate enough to attend school for half a day.

We who live in rich countries often cannot imagine those who are living in dire poverty in Uganda as well as many other countries. And sometimes we don’t want to think about it. If we have to look, we become uncomfortable. Feelings of guilt rise up within us. But we think, “What can I do? The problem is so big that anything I do won’t even be measurable.” So we do nothing. And because many other folks think and feel the same way, the poverty continues.

In my dreams, I think of one community coming together to care and provide for another community in a far country. We could change the world, one community at a time. But for now that’s only a dream.

Today, there are hundreds of non-profit organizations whose mission is to help these countries. So if we can’t draw a whole community together, maybe we can donate money or volunteer our time at a place like Feed My Starving Children. Or drop off a box of things we no longer use to a place like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. And, yes, many things become a lot when lots of people do a little. Maybe the little girl at the well won’t have to go so far. Maybe she’ll have a well in her own community.

I’m sorry if my posts sometimes sound preachy, but my passion is strong, and the Lord is leading me to tell the stories. May God bless you and hold you in God’s loving arms.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Busy Saturday

My morning devotions led me into writing a piece about water, sort of a followup to my post about wastefulness. But I needed to be at church by nine to help in sewing pillowcase "Dresses for Haiti." So I didn't finish my essay on water. I'll post it at a later date. The sewing event was most enjoyable. I can't really sew because of arthritis in my hands, but after a while I found my niche. When the dresses were being put together for the sewers, I got to design them with pockets of contrasting colors, lace and rick rack trims, and bias tape for the shoulders. It was great fun, and lasted until one in the afternoon. 

But now I'm in a bit of a hurry. I have my niece from Wilmette coming to spend the night so she can visit my church tomorrow (I'm sure she's going to love it - our congregation is so welcoming.), and be here for my daughter Roseann's birthday party. We're doing a Spanish themed party with tapas and paella. And I still have to pick up some last minute groceries to have everything on hand that I need. 

When I speak of a party, I don't know if I mentioned that Chris Seay's book on fasting - A Place at The Table suggests feasting on Sundays because symbolically, the Bridegroom is with us on our day of worship. Actually Christ is with us all the time, and sometimes we're even aware of His presence. Isn't that an awesome thing? 

 An interior view of the Catedral de Barcelona

I've got to run now because in addition to groceries, I need to sparkle up my home a bit. You know how it is when company's coming. Thankfully, it's not too far from being up to my standards. And I can always ask Joe to pitch in. He's good at doing that. He is another one of God's blessings in my life. 

No post tomorrow. Check back on Monday.

By the way, I hope you have an awesome and blessed weekend. Bye!

Friday, February 24, 2012

Tip Top Shape: Chocolate Mug Cake

Tip Top Shape: Chocolate Mug Cake


Isaiah 55:1 - "Come, everyone who is thirsty, come to the waters; and you without money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost."

In a perfect world, we would have restaurants in poor areas where the people could come and eat without cost. Alas, we're not there yet.
When I think of all the leftovers I've let sit in the fridge and grow moldy over the years, I cringe at my own wastefulness. And when I think of all the food many of us scrape into garbage cans when we've finished our meals, I am overcome with sadness. A few years ago, I worked in downtown Chicago where I saw many panhandlers, and occasionally,  someone digging in public garbage cans for bits of thrown-away food - quite literally, scraps from the table. I wanted to cry.

Getting back to my own wastefulness: Since my decision to fast during Lent came just a few days before Ash Wednesday, I had (and still have) quite a bit of perishable food on hand, and I'm trying not to let it go to waste. But last night after a meager supper, I was still hungry so in order not to become crabby, I went to bed (my comfort zone) and read for a while. I found myself dozing off but realized that if I slept then, I would not sleep later. Then I remembered a soup bone I'd forgotten to put in the freezer.

I went to the kitchen where my eyes fell on a small basket of potatoes sitting on the counter top,  growing sprouts. It was time to make soup! I threw the soup bone into a large pot filled with water and set it on the stove. I added a bit of barley and leftover marinara sauce for a tomato base. Then I started peeling and dicing the potatoes. As I was working, my hunger subsided, and except for sipping the broth to assess its tastiness, I had nothing further to eat.  And I felt happy. After the barley had a chance to cook, I added the potatoes, along with some diced carrots. Later, I added some peas and corn, also leftovers.

As the pot grew fuller and fuller, I began to think -"I'm going to have to freeze most of this - I don't have enough containers - I wish I could personally hand out bowls of food to people in need, warming both their bodies and souls." But my mind couldn't move past the "I wish" stage. No inspiration came to me as a means to give my soup away. My husband, Joe suggested a local soup kitchen, but I think the food they serve there has to be cooked on location to meet with health standards and legal codes. When the soup was done, I poured it into two large bowls, covered them with plastic wrap, and placed them in the fridge.

This morning, my brain seems to be working a little better. After some thought, I called and left a message for my pastor to see if we could identify people in our own church who might need a bit of extra food. In the meantime, I'm going out to buy extra containers. At least frozen, the food will not go to waste!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

A Philosophical Idea

Mark 12:30-31 (NIV) “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength…Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”

Several years ago I had the opportunity to spend a week serving as Counselor at a Christian camp, and I was given a Junior Counselor named Sylvia to assist me. She was a beautiful young woman – one of the most humble people I have ever met. I first saw her as I stepped off the bus. She stood a short distance away with her arms around the shoulders of two young boys, her body language making the statement, "I will protect them." I later learned they were her cousins, John and Joe, who had traveled alone from Seoul, South Korea for a visit with Sylvia and her family.

Sylvia and I bonded almost immediately, and at some point during the week, she proclaimed that I was her American mom, and I replied, “Then you are my Korean daughter."

The first night at camp became quite chilly, even in our A-frame cabin. Sometime after we and our young campers had settled in for the evening, Sylvia came to me and said, “I want to go see my cousins.”

“Is anything wrong?” I asked.

“No nothing, really. I just want to bring them my blanket.”

I knew without further conversation that it would be futile to try and dissuade her from this loving and sacrificial act, so I told her to take one of the girls along. While she was gone I was able to secure another blanket for her.

At times when all the campers were together we had opportunities to be with her cousins. They spoke very little English, but with Sylvia acting as translator, we came to know each other a little better. One such time was when we were around an evening campfire. The camp Pastor instructed us to lie on our backs and look at the stars while holding hands with the person next to us. Sylvia placed herself between me and her cousins so that we could “talk.”

A few moments into the conversation she said quietly, “John wants to know what you think love is.”

I thought for a few moments and remembering Sylvia and her blanket, I said, “I think love is when you’re willing to hurt for someone.” Sylvia translated, and no one spoke for a while.

That night as I lay in bed, I coined a phrase. “My sole purpose is my soul purpose is my Seoul purpose.”  That phrase has stayed with me over the years, becoming simply, “My sole purpose is my soul purpose, or said backward, “My soul purpose is my sole purpose.” It’s become sort of a mantra for me.

So I carry these words with me into my Lenten journey. For hungry children, I am willing to “hurt” a little. To God be the glory.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Tip Top Shape: Pet Peeve Wednesday

Tip Top Shape: Pet Peeve Wednesday
My two top pet peeves are the Illinois Tollway system, and motorists weaving in and out of high speed traffic who drive like there's no tomorrow. (And for them there might not be.)

Note: is a blog written by my niece, Liz and her friend, Jen. It's about cooking, thoughts on life, and lots of lighthearted fun. Check it out. They have some delicious recipes (cookies, especially).

Day One

Last night, I started questioning whether it would be right to blog about my decision to fast. I don't want to get put in the spotlight because of this, but rather I want to give glory to God, my Creator. If my efforts raise one person's  awareness of the issues of hunger and poverty, and move them to become part of the solution, then this publication will have been worthwhile.

It's 1:30 in the afternoon as I write. I have had a simple breakfast and lunch, and feel fine. Believe me, I won't be wearing sackcloth during these forty days. Although I have never fasted for longer than a day in the past, I go into this journey with joy. This morning I read Isaiah, chapter 58 in its entirety, a chapter that speaks of the fast that God wants. Using that portion of the Bible as my guideline, I know that I can return to and read the chapter whenever my resolve weakens. And of course, there are many other places in God's Word about fasting. It will be interesting to study them more fully.

Until tomorrow then, may you experience the blessings of our Lord. Hasta luego!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Lenten Journey

After nearly a year and a half of not posting here, or doing much writing of any kind, I think I'm ready to jump back in.
For the last several days, I have been preparing my mind, heart and soul for a 40 day fast, both by praying, and stocking up on the foods I will allow myself such as beans, rice and fresh produce. I plan to give the amount of money I've saved on food to a charity whose main focus is hunger.
I made this decision after picking up a book last week titled A Place at the Table: 40 Days of Solidarity with the Poor by Chris Seay. I really feel that God led me to the Christian bookstore that day, and placed the book in a place where it was bound to catch my eye. I have been saying for years that my passion is for hungry children, but not doing what I consider to be enough about the problem. Yes, occasionally, there’s been an opportunity to serve, but I haven't dedicated myself to anything on a regular basis.
Chris Seay writes that we are not to go into the fast for any particular blessing so that we may accept what God has to show us. I have accepted that guideline. My daughter Gina, and her husband have decided to do this fast as well.
 Most importantly, I wish to give honor to my Lord and Savior. Recently,I found a note I had written years ago which states “I have a master key that opens the door of understanding. People want to be loved and accepted.” I would add to that today that they need to be cared for.
I pray, Lord, for humility, strength and courage on this journey which will start tomorrow, Ash Wednesday. And thank You for leading me to do this. I have been praying for You to show me my call, and I believe this is the first step towards a longer journey. Let Your will be mine as well. I surrender all.