Tuesday, July 24, 2012

We're off to the Renaissance Faire......

In a few short days I will be living out my childhood fantasy....I will be with the people I love the most, dressing the way I love the most, eating at a restaurant I love the most, in a place I love (almost the most)...I will wear my hair the way I love the most, talk the way I love the most, and spend 3 wonderful days getting the most out of every moment, for I will be at ~ The Renaissance Faire.

It's hard to explain my absolute love for the Ren Faire.  It's an event my family has attended regularly for four years now (I have only been to 3 of the 4 visits), but each visit gives me such joy I can't even describe it.

Perhaps it's the idea of living in a fantasy land that I find so attractive.  I always believed I was born at the wrong time in history.  There is something about medieval times that just stir my soul.  I'm not sure if I would have lived my life as a princess, a wench, or a common peasant, but there is a bit of intrigue and romance in each of those options.

Perhaps it's the fact I can speak in my unusually good cockney accent when I am at the Ren Faire.  When you speak in different accents no one looks at you like you are mad.  If they stare - it's perfectly polite to flip your skirt, look them straight in the eye and shout, "What's wrong wit yewww? Are yew perrrfectly maaad? Now piss off, and be getin' out a me way." Ah yes...I do luv to tok in me accent. 

Perhaps it's the fact that I wear 3 skirts.  I have never been much of a girly girl, but the Ren Faire affords me the opportunity to not only don 3 skirts, but a corset as well. It's the only time I actually feel good about my hips being a little wider than I would like.  When you walk, the skirts move and float in the breeze, it's not unusual to find myself stopping at any given moment and twirling freely in the open aire grounds, just because my skirts fly like nothing I have even known.  This happens to also be the one time I actually understand a whirling dervish, it just feels so free and happy!

Perhaps it's eating smoked turkey drumsticks as we walk through the town, or being able to walk up to a wench and order an ice cold beer.  On rare occasions we find someone selling mead and my son fills his mead horn and carries it around his neck.  Perhaps it's the fact I can whip out my long Gandolf pipe I bought from Tabac Man in Prague, and smoke a nice aromatic tobacco - an NO one stares.

Perhaps it's the fresh flower crown I have made every year to match my outfit, complete with long yards of ribbons flowing down my back.  Or perhaps it's the pretzel guy or the pickle seller, both yelling obnoxious phrases to get you to stop and buy their wares.  Perhaps it's the man from Thailand we stop and see every year who keeps inviting us to come stay at grandma's house located in the farmland around Phuket.  Perhaps it's the jousting and valiant knights.

Perhaps it's the tents of women who have pillows stacked with patrons laying across them getting intricate henna tattoos, or the puppet master who sells the animatronic dragons that sit perched on your shoulder waiting your commands. Maybe it's the elephants or the camels? The German Comedians or the magicians?  Perhaps it's the fauns or the dragons or the centaurs who walk through the crowds, stopping to stare at you as though you are the oddity.  Perhaps it's the fairies, the kings, the queens, or the princesses who walk through the crowds, although they look like they are gliding and floating on air.

What ever it is, the Ren Faire fills me with such delight and satisfaction that I just can't seem to convey the hold that it has on me. This year, not only are our boys going back with us, but several college friends are coming along.  They will go their own way, do their own thing, make their own memories.  Perhaps when I see them, (when they come asking for more money), I shall look at them and say, "Get out of me way, and piss off you little beggar." After all, it's acceptable there!

The Ren Faire we attend is in the small town of Larkspur, Colorado.  It's 60+ acres which consists of more than a hundred buildings all built to resemble a medieval village. It's nestled in the meadow and tucked away in the ponderosa pines, it couldn't be more magical. I know that no matter the weather, the conditions, the people, the attitudes, the traffic, the beer lines, the 6 hour drive...no matter what transpires or takes place, it will be perfect. How do I know this to be true? Simply because I have already decided it will be... Huzzah! 

Might I suggest:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Postcards from Disneyland

Remember the trips you took with your family during your youth?  Every stop, every hotel, every Stuckey's, they all had postcards for sale.   I vividly remember wanting to purchase a postcard at every single stop and mail them to people to show them all the cool places I was visiting.  There were even those really cool 3D postcards that looked like the scene came alive and jumped off the card when you tipped it and tilted it different directions. My favorites were always the galloping horses.  To this day they still fascinate me.

Ah, yes - postcards..... They are all a thing of the past for me now.  In the past 26 years I have traveled the world, and I have been to some of the most exotic places one can imagine, but do you know how many post cards I have purchased? I am guessing 2, maybe 3.. The postcard took on a different meaning for me years ago and has never quite been the same.  Besides, buying a stamp in China is a chore!  Finding a post office is nearly impossible, you usually arrive home before the postcard (even if you are gone for a month and mail it on the first day), and really, when you think about it, does someone really want a postcard sent from an exotic land, stating in big bold letters scribbled overtop of an exquisite scene that says, "Wish YOU were here!"

Many years ago we met a family at church that had all moved to Taos from southern California.  One brother and his family moved out here, followed by another brother and his family, a sister and her family, another brother and his family, and finally grandma. Pretty soon about half of this large family had moved to this area.  One thing they always spoke of when I was around them was how much they all missed living in close proximity to Disneyland.

They would all speak about how they would enjoy the warm California nights hanging at Disneyland.  How they would meet up with friends after school and spend their nights laughing, eating junk food, and riding the rides. They always made it sound so wonderful, but one family in particular (the sister and her family), they really seemed to miss Disneyland.  Her kids were younger and they had lived very close to Disneyland.  It was hard for the children to move to such a small mountain town giving up Disneyland for sage brush, one Walmart and a theatre. They would speak often about how much they missed their old life.

This woman and her family became dear friends of mine.  They had moved here with hope that things would be easier, housing would be cheaper, jobs would be more plentiful, and well - they would be closer to their family (who had moved here a few years earlier).  As it turned out and is often the case in Taos, homes were more expensive, jobs were scarce, it was not always easier, but they still had their family.  In retrospect, I think they would have endured all of the others factors, the only one that gave them the worst time was, you guessed it, the family.

The youngest brother in particular. He was trying so hard to become a young, wealthy entrepreneur that he often treated those around him rather harshly.  Money and success became his only driving factor.  So much so that you couldn't stand to be in the same room with him because all he could talk about was himself and making money. The biggest problem with him was, although he bragged, boasted and went on and on and on about his wealth, it did not actually exist. It was a facade he placed up for everyone to cover his actual lack of success.  He would bully his family and remind them that they had come out here and were worse off than he was, because only he had become successful.

This young man especially loved to rub this in his sister's face. Why he liked to hurt her and demean her the way he did, I will never understand - but he did. He would remind her over and over how she would never amount to anything and would never attain his level of success.  It was particularly sad, because on the human scale, my friend and her little family rose high above the like-ability, ethical nature, and pure substance of her brother and his wife.

One summer the brother and his wife and 2 kids drove back to California for a mini vacation.  I had gone over to my friends house and she said, "Look, it looks like they are having a wonderful time.  I can't even imagine staying in a place so expensive."

She handed me a postcard from one of the areas most expensive hotels, not far from the front gates of Disneyland. Scribbled on the back of the postcard were the words, "Wish you guys could be here, but its far too expensive."

She handed me another, from a famous, you guessed it - rather expensive restaurant. It read, "Wish you were here, the food is delicious."

She was heartbroken, but nevertheless,  she went on to say that she hoped they were having fun and that she wished her plans had turned out differently when she had moved to Taos.  She felt like a failure, mostly because her brother would remind her that in his eyes, she was.  I would remind her of her strong points, there were so many! Her heart was kind, she was giving, she had a wonderful family, she was smart, she could cook up a storm (and it rocked!)...There was absolutely nothing to be ashamed of, she was beautiful.  But she never came to realize that about herself, and as she was struggling to get through every day, more post cards came.  Very much the same as the last, and several from, yup - Disneyland.

For a few weeks my friend's self esteem had really dropped, then her brother returned home. He came over to house and spoke of how wonderful everything was, how he could do it all because of his success, and how she would never have that ability.  It wasn't until a few weeks later when his kids spent the night at her house that she found out the rest of the story.

She asked the son how Disneyland was, telling him how she couldn't wait until their family could go back and visit.  His reply was, "We never went to Disneyland, dad said it was too expensive."

She asked about how they enjoyed staying in a big fancy hotel, but his reply was, "We stayed in Motel 6 for a couple of nights and then we finished the trip by staying with some friends."

The restaurants? You know how that goes too. They packed a cooler in the mornings and ate bologna sandwiches on the tailgate throughout the day.  There never was Disneyland, the hotel, or the restaurants.  The brother had taken the time to drive around to these places, go inside, get the postcards, go to a post office and mail them back to his sister just to stir up strife and jealousy.  The entire thing was a facade, one used to hurt and destroy another's self worth while building up a fake self worth of his own.

I have often thought of this event over the years.  I have wondered why, as people, we treat others badly from time to time.  When we try to be more than we are there is always hurt that affects someone.
I think back on my friend, she may not have had monetary riches, but she would feed you, love you, and give you the shirt off her back if necessary. This has always reminded me of the verse, What is desirable in a man is kindness, and it is better to be poor than a liar.  Proverbs 19:22

 It's interesting how this story ended. All of the family moved back to southern California, except for the younger brother.  He has been wandering around New Mexico, family in tow, trying to make his fortune.  The sister, well - you guessed it.  She lives in southern Cali, not far from the gates of Disneyland.  She doesn't send postcards, she has nothing to prove, she just lives happily in the moment...

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

PD#2 - Dalton

Every person has what I am sure they consider to be their best days. I categorize mine as PD's, Perfect Days. To get the rating of a PD it has to be a perfect day, in every way, from sunup to sundown. I have had a total of 7.  Now, in a 365 day year, I have about 350 near perfect days, but I have only had 7 true PD's.  Each has a name, and each is embedded in my memory. There is Austin, Dalton, Seattle, Alaska, Beijing and Cupcakes & Wool Festival. These are how I remember them....today though, we shall talk about Dalton.

PD #2 was July 11, 1991 - the day Dalton was born.  Oh, it was a special day. Not only was I going to get to meet my son, but there was a total solar eclipse that day.  I remember waking (after my c-section) and looking outside. It was rather grey and dark. I said, "Oh my gosh, I missed the entire first day of his life!"  

The nurse came over to the bed and said, "Oh no you haven't, it's only 11:00 am." She then went on to tell me about the eclipse. Everyone at the hospital came in to see Dalton, I can still hear all of them whispering how cool he was going to be because he was born on the eclipse.  Personally, I don't place any value, on the moon and stars and signs and eclipses, I knew he was going to be special just because he was.

Dalton was very calm and quite as a child, something he has reverted back into as an adult.  He had a good disposition and would usually just stare at me like I was crazy and he was trying to figure me out. I am not sure he has reached that point yet, but I think he has given up hope of that ever happening.

Dalton, or Mud, as the family refers to him, grew quickly.  He is smart and fun and was always curious.  He has overcome many trials in his life, all because I know God has has His protective hand on him.  He was healed of cancer at 18 months, he has survived (unscathed) 3 major car accidents. One a roll over, and another was a head on collision.  He has been blessed with humor (we questioned if he would ever have any, for about 10 years), charm, dedication, intelligence and dashing good looks.

I was recounting my children's birthdays with my friend today.  When the boys were young I celebrated birthdays in unimaginable ways.  Planning for a birthday was one of my greatest joys. I remember when they had their bunk beds, I would fill hundreds of ballons the night before and cover their floor with balloons.  They would last for weeks, and one by one they would get popped! We had theme parties and friends, pizza and cookouts.  We rented a gynormous bounce house several times. They would then have 4 friends spend the night and would sleep in the bounce house.  At their request, Jim would don his scary mask and scare the beejeebee's out of them sometime during the night.  We would also turn the fan off when they fell asleep and the bounce house would quickly deflate. Only when they were all in a heap, in the rubber and netting, then we would re-inflate and they would start jumping in their sleeping bags.

Every birthday morning, if we were in the country, we would go to a local place called Michaels Kitchen.  They make hot chocolate there that the boys always loved.  The whipped cream on it was about 4" high.  I would whip a bottle of birthday sprinkles out of my purse and shake them on the whipped cream to start our celebration day.  Remarkably, I did that until they were 18 :0) They are softies for tradition!

Dalton has been able to spend his birthday in many different countries. I remember his 7th birthday was up on the tundra in Canada.  We did a canoe trip, just the 4 of us and a guide.  I had informed her it would be his birthday and she baked him a chocolate cake over the campfire, complete with gummy worms. Once, on his was to Australia, the pilot announced it was his 12th birthday, at exactly midnight.  In crossing time zones his birthday lasted a very, very short time.  Last year we were at the Renaissance Faire, and there have been many other places in between.

Tomorrow I head to Albuquerque to have a birthday day with Dalton.  He's taking some intense summer college courses and can't come home.  I will leave early to get to the cupcake factory and get a red velvet cupcake before they sell out.  We are going to go order a beer in the Irish Pub he normally couldn't go into without mom (you had to be 21, even to eat there). We will go to a microbrewery downtown and have lunch and a good IPA. 

I will unload a few bags of specialty birthday groceries and homemade goodies. He loves gourmet foods so he is getting proscuitto and melon, rosemary bread and imported salami. There are canned figs with lemon and a wheel of brie.  I am making Cream of Wild Mushroom soup, and sun dried tomatoes.  There is curry, and skittles, and homemade BBQ sauce and the fixings for a BBQ Chicken  pizza. It will be a wonderful day, then I will get in my car and head home - and he will have a birthday night with his brother and friends.

I am grateful they are so close to home, only 120 miles away.  I am also grateful that when I call and ask to spend their birthday with them, they still say yes.  I'm also grateful, beyond belief, that God gave me two of the most amazing kids on the planet, it's just one more way I know He loves me! 

So, Happy Birthday Mud! I hope tomorrow is your PD#1!!! (and I know the Irish beer has a creamy head on it, perhaps I shall throw the sprinkles in my purse!)

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Who can save me?

"Mom! Mom, help me..." 

Those were the cries of my son in the middle of the night, many years ago.  I vividly remember being in a deep sleep and suddenly waking to a very frightened cry.  I jumped out of bed and went running into his room.  There sat my sweet little Austin, sitting straight up on the top bunk where he slept.

A smile just crossed my face thinking about those bunk beds. My boys shared a room for most of their lives, Dalton on the bottom bunk and Austin on the top. I remember lying in bed at night hearing them talk, giggle, fight.... They loved sharing a room and they loved their bunk beds.

When they went through their pirate stage, they would swing from the ladder yielding swords. In their alien stage, they would turn out the lights and turn on the Christmas lights they had taped to the bottom of Austin's bed (directly above Dalton's head). Often I would find them in that bed together, telling stories and dreaming of UFO invasions.  There was the planetary phase where the ceiling was covered with hundreds of glow in the dark stars and planets.  One time they even pulled the drawers out from under the bottom bunk and Austin hung little christmas lights under the frame of the bottom bed so his brother would have a cave to sleep in.  Dalton would actually sleep in there at night, all the while believing he was actually in a cave, hidden somewhere in the forest.

Their room was always a happy place. It was filled with sea monkeys, at one time, a couple of chinchillas, silk kites from China, Power Rangers and Ninja Turtles. They had a train clock that whistled, Curious George riding a string tight rope, the ugliest cow skull and horns, and collections of bugs; delicately placed behind glass.  Every night my boys would fall asleep listening to Disney Movie soundtracks, Gypsy Kings or Classical Music. Yes, it was a happy room indeed - until the night cries woke me.

I raced into the room and Austin was shaking terribly. "Mom, Mom" (he was sobbing), "There was something evil in my room.  It snarled at me and scared me so bad!"

The poor little guy was scared out of his wits.  I stood on the ladder to his bed, stroked his hair, prayed for him and reassured him that it was only a bad dream and that everything was going to be ok.  He finally calmed down, I put the Gypsy Kings back on (to this day it remains their favorite CD), and he closed his eyes and fell asleep.

The next morning he was recounting this horrifying event to me.  It had really shaken him.  Austin had never been one for bad dreams, so this really bothered him.  After breakfast he forgot all about it and went about his usual tasks of the day.  When the day was finished and every one was in bed, (fast asleep I might add), "Mom! Mom!! Hurry." Austin was crying out even louder than the night before.

Again, as was the case the night before - Austin had been awakened by the monster in his room.  He was so shaken this time that I pulled out the sofa sleeper on the sofa and made a bed where we could lay down together.  He described his terror to me and told me that he didn't feel like it was a dream, that it was real and in his bedroom.  After praying, talking, hugging, he feel fast asleep.  Unfortunately, this went on for 2 more nights. Each night playing out the same as the previous nights.

On the fifth night, I found myself lying in bed, almost waiting for Austin to cry out.  Finally he did, but this time it was different. This time I could just hear him crying and saying , "Mom, come hear."

I got up, went to his room, and there he was - sitting up in bed crying. I asked if he had had the dream again and he said yes.  But this time it went away for good. I asked him why he was still so upset and he looked at me and said, "I was wrong. This thing wouldn't go away because I did it wrong."

"What do you mean you did it wrong?" I asked.

 In a soft little, still rather shaken voice, Austin said,"All the other nights I called out for you to save me, I needed to call out for God to save me.  Tonight I called on God, and He got rid of it for me."

"WOW." Wow was all that I could muster up to say. I was so taken by the words of my son. He was so small, so young, and so scared - yet in his youth he taught me the most incredible lesson. So often we place our faith in man.  We depend on on ourselves, our deeds, our works, our goodness, our self control and our abilities to save us, when in reality it is only God who can do such things.

I have thought back on this episode many times, and I am reminded how the Lord, in all of His goodness, has used my children over the years to teach me. The lesson I received from this incident helped to strip me from my fears because Austin reminded me that nothing can overtake me when I cry out to God to save me!

Who will separate us from the love of Christ?
Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution,
or famine, or peril, or sword?........
But in ALL things we overwhelmingly conquer 
through Him who loved us.  
For I am convinced that neither death,
nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come,
nor powers, nor height, nor depth, 
nor any other created thing 
can separate us from the love of God,
which is in Christ Jesus our Lord!
Romans 8:35-39

Austin never did have his nightmares again..... :0) And once again, it became a very happy room to be in.

Friday, July 6, 2012



 I call on you oh God,
For you will answer me;
Give ear to me 
And hear my prayer.
   Psalm 17:6

Years ago, right after I gave my heart to the Lord, I began attending a rather small church here in Taos. We had a couple of interim pastors, but eventually a permanent pastor came to attend the church.  He had the most adorable wife who remains in my memory as one of the sweetest women I have ever known.  The pastor however, never did come to like our family.

After attending faithfully for seven years or so, giving large sums of money to support the small church, and getting involved in every activity they had, it was still apparent that the pastor didn't care for us - actually didn't care for me.  As involved as I wanted to be, he never seemed to think I was converted enough to be involved.  The funny thing was, I was the only one who ever offered.

Time went on and I attended, just happy to be there you might say.  I was learning, studying and forming a very solid relationship with the Lord.  The pastor took ill and went through a couple of years of real physical hardship.

One day, as I was going about, minding my own business, you might say, I got one of those small taps on the shoulder from God. It was like He said, "I want you to go over to his house and pray for Pastor ___."

"Really?" I asked rather audibly. "The man still doesn't know my name after 5 years, and there's only 30 of us in the church!"

I didn't like the thought of this AT ALL!  So, being obstinant, I didn't do it. I ignored it and came up with every reason why I shouldn't go to his house and pray.  These little tappings continued for the next year and a half.  Finally, talking to my step son one day, he said, "Why don't you do it. Maybe God wants to teach you something."

That was a real wake up call for me, I thought Greg could actually be on to something, so without hesitation I picked up the phone and called his wife and asked if I could come over and pray.  She immediately said yes and asked when. I replied, without thinking, and said, "NOW!"

I remember the drive over. I was so worried about how he would receive me, and frankly it was exactly as I thought. I knocked on the door and his words were, "What do you want here?"

I told him I wanted to pray for him and walked through the door. We sat on his couch, I prayed, hugged him and stood to leave; I had done what I came to do.  He looked at me and said, "Well, I hope He heard your prayer."

I looked at Him, bewildered, actually.  I said, "Of course He heard my prayer, He's God!" 

O You who hear prayer
To You all men come...
Psalm 65:2

I smiled, hugged him, hugged his wife and left. Whew! It actually took me a year or so to figure out why I was prompted to do that. He wasn't healed, he never changed his attitude about me, but something in my relationship with God changed. We got closer, He instructed me more, taught me, etc..  One day, out the clear blue, when I was asking why He had me pray for this man, I got the answer.  It wasn't to help the pastor, per say, it was to prove my obedience to God. By working through something uncomfortable for me, because God asked me to, in doing it - I learned obedience is greater than discomfort. And obedience will see you through discomfort. How cool is that?

Yesterday, I was faced with this challenge, once again.   For several months now I have been pleading with the Lord about wanting to be closer with Him than I have ever been.  I guess it's been the past year actually.  I have had small inclinations of things I need to give up in my life to be closer to Him.  One by one I have been tackling these things, and some have been more than easy to give up.  Like the ambien for instance. After my episode a month ago, I gave it up instantly.  God, in his goodness, has filled my sleeplessness with His sleep. Man, I sleep like a baby, every single night!

A few days ago, during my bible study, I was thanking God for all He is teaching me. It's pretty awesome, but there is still that space that doesn't feel occupied by God, and I want my life to be filled with Him completely. So, I began praying, "Lord, I will give up anything, anything that occupy's my life that should not be there. Tell me what it is."

I got the answer, like a slap in the face, and I did not - DID NOT like it. So I did what I do best in times like these, and ignored it. But slowly, He began telling me what I needed to do - and slowly, I began to listen.  We have so many things in our lives that fill our days, our thoughts, our emotions, our comings and goings.  Sometimes they are things we hold onto, sometimes its habits, sometimes it people.  I have a very short list of things to get rid of, and frankly, the stuff or things are no problem.  The problem comes in giving up certain people in my life.  These aren't people I have disdain for, they are people I love.  But God continued to show me how not all people we love are healthy in our lives.  Anyone who takes up our head space and heart space, which God could occupy, but we push him out for them - well, they have to go. 

In my honest assessment of wanting a closer walk with God, I realized what I had to do. I had to break ties with a few people in my life. One, in particular, was really hurting me to have to do. But God, through His mercy, gave me the strength and gave the person a heart to understand what I was doing. In following through with this, my friend was supportive and understood.

Last night as I was praying, I told the Lord how much I would miss this person, and He said to me, "It's the one who leaves the biggest void in your life that gives Me the most room to occupy." I was blown away. I had to give up the one who was so important to me in order to give the Lord the space in my life He needed to work with me.

I woke this morning, rather anxious to see what God has to teach me, now that He has something to work with.  I studied, I prayed and of course I asked for a date in my book Grace, to show me He was with me.   He gave me November 18th. The title, It's Your Choice. The verse, If people want to follow me, they must give up the things they want.  They must be willing even to give up their lives to follow me.  Mark 8:34  I read this, and before I could close the book, tears were falling down my face. I know God loves me, I know He hears me, and now I know He alone occupies the void that just yesterday I questioned if it could be filled.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Songs of Liberty, Beijing, China 2010

In trying to come up with a post for today, I am actually posting a blog I did from China back in 2010. I believe the original date was February 28th, 2010.  This was an incredible night for me, and it really relates to the 4th of July.  The attached photos are from Beijing, taken during their Lantern Festival and the last day of their Chinese New Year.  I was so tired when I wrote it, please forgive all of the typing and punctuation errors :0)

Happy 4th of July....

If the Son makes you free, you shall be free indeed.  John 8:36

Songs of Liberty

I had the oddest revelation last night. I had to travel half way around the world to realize just what it might have been like on the night Francis Scott Key penned the Star Spangled Banner. The infamous line, "And the rockets red glare, the bombs bursting in air," really, and I do mean REALLY came to life for me last night.

In the United States we celebrate the 4th of July with magnificent ariel rocket displays and explosions. The bigger, the louder, the more compelx, the better. We synchronize them to music and broadcast orchestras playing the score across the radio waves. There are televised programs spanning through the time zones so that we could literally sit for hours in from of our tv's and see maybe half a dozen major shows across the USA.

Here in China, where the firecracker was made and perfected, I might add, they have a whole different response to the "fireworks display." Rather than large corporations sinking $30,000 - $100,000 dollars into a show, the local family takes their child to the fireworks stand (which at the moment occupy many major street corners) with coin, or if they are lucky, coins in hand.

The children peer over the counter if they are tall enough, if not, the father lifts him/her to the best seat in the house, his shoulders. The mothers are with them, usually smiling but it appears to be an exchange between father and child. Soon they find what the are able to afford and just like kids in the US they are drawn mostly to the illusive looming small but mighty powder keg. Very few leave with that one, because even though made here and NOT imported, they are very expensive.

Happily they leave, crackers in hand, smiles on faces - of both the young and the old. Many return to their homes or neighborhoods to light their goodies with family and friends, some can only make it 10 feet from the fireworks stand before pulling the lighter out of their pocket and setting them ablaze. No one jumps, no one fears, for you see - it is Lantern Festival, it is one of the few days they can be openly happy, joyful and somewhat mischeivious. Those days are limited for the Chinese, so much of their time is spent living inside the lines, living with checks and balances. Open times of celebration tend to drawn everyone from their home regardless of the weather, the snow, the frigid cold.

No wonder the explosions, which honestly had to number in the millions went on from 7-8 hours, uninterrupted with less that 30 second intervals. They were happy, they were letting each other know they find joy in the small indulgences they are afforded a few times a year. This morning the air is calm, it is quiet except for the sound of the cable car which runs by the hotel. The streets are strewn with paper wrappers, but like all other morning there is a host of workers who ride around on bicycles to clean the streets with rudimentary twig brooms for the fun is over and this is what their government requires of them. The streets will be clean within the hour.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Why would you, pray for me? Part 3

Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved.  
Romans 10:13

My heart sank as the sweet young lady told me about Mya’s passing.  “She passed away comfortably,” she said.

Once again, she asked me if Mya still owed me money.  However, that mattered so little to me at the moment, I told her that all debts were erased. I asked how she knew Mya and she told me that she had spent the past few weeks with her as an in home caregiver.  She expressed her condolences to me and asked if I was a longtime friend, or perhaps a related of Mya’s.

I explained how I was providing Mya with the supplements she needed and although I had never met her I felt like I had known her for a very long time.  I told the young girl that I had been praying for her for quite sometime.

That’s when the phone went silent for a moment. “You were the one praying for Mya?” she asked.

“Yes, I began praying for her the first time she called.  I was diligently asking the Lord to heal her.”

“Wow,” the young woman said, “I didn’t know that was you. I’m happy to tell you, the day before Mya passed away she told me she wanted to accept Jesus as her savior. We prayed together and she accepted Him.”

The news of Mya’s death did not make me cry. Oh, believe me, it saddened me beyond belief – but when this young woman spoke these words to me, I couldn’t control it anymore, and I began to cry.  You know, a soft, tearful, grateful heart – cry.

She went on to say, “You know, I would come in to take care of Mya and she would ask me question after question about Jesus.  I would answer her and I began bringing my bible to show her things we were talking about.  When she accepted Him she was completely overtaken with a peace I had not seen her have until that moment.”

I was still crying, listening as she went on to say, “She died the next evening, in a state of utter peacefulness.”

It is a trustworthy statement, for if we died with Him, 
we will also live with Him; if we endure, 
we will also reign with Him.  If we deny Him, 
He will also deny us; 
if we are faithless, He remains faithful, 
for He cannot deny Himself.  
2 Timothy 2:13

I hung up the phone and began praying.  Praying thanks that Mya’s suffering was over, praying thanks that she came to know Jesus Christ before her death, and praying a sigh of gratefulness that the good Lord had provided Mya with such an honest, tender hearted woman to be with her until the end.

Later the next week when our paper came out, I saw Mya’s obituary.  In it, it said that Mya had an adventurous spirit and that she was always searching for truth.  In her quest, she had been a Jew, a Hare Krishna, Buddhist and a member of a local hippie commune.  But the words that struck me to the very core of my being, was, “Mya, came to the end of her search and she accepted Jesus Christ and her Lord and Savior the day before she died.”

This is a good and acceptable in the sight of God our savior, 
who desires all men be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 
1 Timothy 2:3-4

Once again, tears crept in, and this time I just could not control the overwhelming emotion I felt.  Was I responsible for Mya coming to know Jesus? No, I don’t think so.  I was simply the first step in this process; God used me to plant the seed.  This beautiful young girl tenderly watered the seed and stayed by Mya’s side, not only nurturing her body – but also nurturing her spirit. I still praise God for placing her there with Mya.  But I am eternally grateful that He allowed me to be a part of this story.

In reading this, you may find yourself saying, “ Robin – aren’t you disappointed?  Mya wasn’t healed.”

At first, that was my initial reaction. I would ask,  “Lord, I knew you could heal her, why didn’t you?”

It wasn’t until some time later when I was asking Him about Mya that He impressed me with the fact the He not only stopped her suffering, but that He has healed Mya completely.

Mya may not have received the outward physical healing we may associate with the term healing; instead, she was given complete spiritual healing.  She had been one who spent a lifetime in search of the one who gives our life purpose, meaning and joy.  Unbeknownst to even Mya, in the last few months of her life she was on her last spiritual journey, and she found the one who could not only heal her outwardly, but the one who could heal her inwardly. Her spirit was given rest, rest in Christ Jesus, and hope for eternal salvation through Him.  Now I say that is complete healing!

That if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, 
and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, 
you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, 
resulting in righteousness, 
and with the mouth he confesses, 
resulting in salvation.  
Romans 10:9-10

Mya could have turned me away when I said I was praying for her.  She could have asked that I not do so, but there was something in those words that she clung to.  She began to consider that yes, there was a God who cared for her and would hear prayers regarding her.  It was an honor for me to be placed in a daily position to talk to God about her. 

For me, that is the beauty of prayer.  When someone asks me to pray for them, I consider it an honor, it gives me more time to be with my God.  When I offer to pray for someone, it is so they know I have absolute faith in my God, and I know He hears our prayers and pleas. Both are an honor for me, not because I have anything to do it it, but because others can come to see His hand in their lives.

My memory of Mya lives on. I never had the opportunity to meet her while she was here on earth, but because of my faith and God’s promises, I know I will meet her one-day. 

For God has not destined us for wrath, 
but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 
who died for us.  So that whether we are awake or asleep, 
we will live together with Him.  
1 Thessalonians 5: 9-10

In preparing to tell this story I was reading in my bible. I noticed that I have the date marked that Mya died, July 19, 2003. I also have the day marked that Mya accepted Christ, July 18th, 2003. 

As is the case each day, I was praying and asked the good Lord to show me something in my daily devotional book that I have been speaking about.  I felt impressed to go to the date she died, when I heard that still small voice say, “It’s better to go to the day when she asked Me into her life.

So, without hesitation I turned to July 18th in my book Grace for the Moment.

The title of the reading is, God Walks Among the Suffering
The verse is: He took our suffering on Him and carried our disease. Matthew 8:17

And again I say, GOD IS GOOD!

Monday, July 2, 2012

Why would you, pray for me? Part 2

I hung up the phone and Mya stayed very heavy on my heart.  During dinner I told my family about her and we all began praying for her.  I packed up her medications (well, actually they are supplements) and headed over for my massage.  My massage therapist talked with me for quite a while about her and seemed very happy that I was able to have the products for her.

 I know that I would have been more than happy to deliver them to Mya, but I still believe that it was better for her to be at ease and comfortable with everything, as I had no idea what her life was like, what she was going through.

When the second call came in, Mya seemed rather happy and upbeat. "Hello, Robin? Hey, I got all of the supplements, I've been on them heavily for 2 weeks now, and I want you to know I feel great!" Mya chirped from the other end of the phone line. "I seem to have more energy, I feel more clarity and I just feel better overall."

My reply? "Oh, Praise God! I am so happy you are feeling good."

We continued a conversation similar to the first one, once again conjuring up an order that she would need, and of course set up our delivery schedule.  I have to admit, in the way we always spoke of getting the stuff, going through the middle man, the drop off, and cash delivery, well, I kind of felt like a drug dealer... Ha, we laughed about that once. 

By the end of the conversation I could tell Mya was very positive and looking forward to continuing with these supplements and seeing if they would indeed help her.  Just before she hung up the phone she thanked me and asked, "So, are you still praying for me?"

"Of course I am Mya, we all are - and we will continue to pray for you daily, until you are healed."

She seemed quite happy with my answer and thanked me for taking the time to help her.  We hung up the phone and I began praying, again...still...

I found myself looking forward to Mya's calls.  Sometimes they came every week, sometimes, every two weeks. During all of this she had her up days and she had her down days.  I would love to say that all of her days were wonderful, but they weren't.  One thing I did notice though, her down days were not rock bottom days.  She was tired in her body but her spirit was soaring high. Most conversations went the same, pills, order, money, pray.  We did however work more chit-chat into our conversations and started taking the time to get to know each other, learn about each others lives.

Mya was always very curious about not what I believed, but why I believed.  I loved sharing stories with her about how I gave my life to Jesus Christ, on April 15th, 1998.  She seemed impressed that I had an actual day that I remembered.  She said she thought it would be more of a time in my life I remembered (like saying, when I was in my early 30's) but something as profound as what I went through, I remembered the date, the time, heck, I can even tell you what the weather was like and what I was wearing. 

She would ask me how I knew it was Jesus who answered my prayers and why I trusted in Him.  I have to admit, that is one of my favorite subjects and we would talk away about Him, His love and His gentle touch in my life. I always allowed her to ask the questions, I never wanted her to feel that I was imposing my beliefs on her, but I, in no way would deny His grace in my life.

Durring one of our conversations, Mya told me that she was born a Jew, but her family really only practiced their Judaism on holy days.  She said it really wasn't a part of her life , but when asked, her proud response was always, "I am a Jew."  

I listened, and then we talked about the Sabbath, Holy Days, etc. I think it surprised her that her new gentile friend knew about such things. It makes me smile when I think back on it.  I wish I could have known her 10 years later, I would have insisted on taking her a loaf of my killer challah! :0)

Time passed by and Mya and I worked through her highs and lows.  Sometimes she required more supplements, sometimes less. I ordered and kept everything on hand because some times she forgot to give me a weeks warning and needed them right then. It always worked out that she never had to wait and I always had what she needed when she needed it. She always remained a tad bit reserved when we spoke.  I believe it was because we had actually never met.  In reality, I never would meet Mya in person - all of our communication came in the simple form of a phone call.  I offered many times to bring the supplements to her, but she always insisted that we go through our massage therapist. She would always say, "You are giving them to me at cost, I won't have you spending your gas and time to bring them to me."

In mid summer 2003 I got a call from Mya's number.  I answered, but this time it was not Mya on the other end of the phone, but a young girl (I imagine her to be in her mid 20's ), and she said, "Hi, I don't know who I need to speak to, but I am a friend of Mya's.  I noticed she had your number written down in a book with the amount of money she owed you. I'm sorry to tell you, Mya died two days ago. If there are any debt's she owed you, I'd like to take care of that."


Sunday, July 1, 2012

Why would you, pray for me?

Once in a while we have encounters that change us forever.  I have always referred to these as divine appointments. I firmly believe God puts people in our paths for several reasons. 1: So we are changed by the encounter, 2: So they are changed by the encounter, 3: So both are changed by the encounter, 4: So others may be changed by the encounter. 

Whichever reason it is, God is faithful, and someone is always changed, and I find that it is always for the better. 

Such is what happened with the story I am about to share.  What started out as a simple conversation, turned into a life altering experience for me.  One I will be eternally grateful for.  One that has helped shape my faith, reminds me of God’s tender mercies, and renews my hope. 

Ever since I have wanted to write down my thoughts (ie: book, blog), God has always brought this memory to the forefront of my mind.  It’s like He says to me, “Have you told them yet about Mya?”

So, in my quest to be obedient, and to also share a wonderful story – I need to tell all of you, about Mya……


I don’t exactly remember the time of year, I’d like to say it was in the late fall or just after Christmas.  I was going about my usual day when the phone rang. “Hello, is this Robin Jones?” the voice on the other end of the line asked.

“Yes, this in Robin, how can I help you?”

“Well, you don’t know me, I was given your number by a mutual friend who gives us both massage.”

The conversation began, and now that I think back upon this moment, so did a friendship, and a series of conversations to follow that would, and have continued to have a dramatic impact on my life.

Her name was Mya.  She was older, probably in her early sixties at the time she called.  She had been going to the same lady that I had been going to for weekly massage.  She explained that our friend had given her my number, thinking I may have some products to help her with the illness she was going through.

Mya had told me how she had been diagnosed with cancer, and she really believed in treating oneself with holistic natural resources, and did not in any way, want to undergo traditional cancer therapies.

At the time, she was taking several natural products that she was paying a premium for at our local health food store.  She had heard through our friend that I was a distributor for this company and was hoping that my retail mark up was possibly lower than what she was paying through the store.

After about 30 minutes of discussing her diagnosis, the products she was currently taking, and answering questions about a few more she was interested in, we came up with a game plan of different ways she could approach treating her specific kind of cancer.

We talked for about an hour.  At first, I was really busy with my daily activities and frankly; being on the phone was the last thing I wanted to do.  However, as she began to talk, my day seemed to slow down, it almost came to a standstill, and I found that I needed to be on the phone – listening.

I will never forget the trembling in her voice when she told me about the cancer diagnosis.  She sounded a bit frail, bewildered, and well, like she was searching for answers.  So, I did the only thing I could do, I listened.  I listened and I silently prayed. I prayed that God would lead me in the right direction to give her the products she needed; I prayed she would feel peace, and I prayed for her healing.

Mya began to speak more calmly; she perked up a bit and sounded a little stronger and happier as the conversation continued.  I was impressed to offer her all of the products she needed at cost.  I reasoned within myself that I didn’t face the burden she was facing and a few dollars in my pocket might mean a comfort she would have to give up.

Mya was thrilled, to say the least.  Since she knew my weekly massage schedule, she asked if I could take the pills to the massage therapist, and she would get them from her the next day when the therapist would be going to her house to work on her.  We agreed, and I told her to call a week before she would run out of medicine, and I would be sure to get her more so she didn’t have to go without.

We were getting ready to say good bye when I said, “Mya, I’m so glad you called me today, it has brightened my day – oh, and I (along with my family) will be praying for you daily.”

That’s when the phone went silent.  I heard a faint, soft, whisper like voice, say, “Why would you, pray for me?”

I didn’t even have to think twice, “Because Mya, you are my friend, and I KNOW God heals. I will ask Him to heal you.”

“How do you know He heals,” she quietly asked.

“Because, Mya, He healed my son from cancer a few years back.  God is good, I have faith He will heal you too.”

The phone remained silent for a moment; I could hear her choking back tears, “Thank you, Robin.  I never would have asked you to do that. I appreciate your help today.”