Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I Wonder If I Should Fast

I wonder if I should fast. This seems pretty serious.

My friend Allison was scheduled for an MRI. She had been operated on for a brain tumor a year ago, and this was a routine check up, but I knew she was nervous about it. Kevin and I had been praying, but a little added oomph seemed in order. That’s when I got the idea to fast.

I realize that fasting doesn’t change God’s mind about a situation. It’s not a method for manipulating Him to do things your way. It’s more a means to humble yourself so you can hear His voice more clearly. And nothing spells serious like going without food.

My problem is, I become Miss Cranky Pants when I miss a meal. Which isn’t good if you work with the public, serve in ministry, and write a newspaper column about God’s grace. Aha.

As I pondered my dilemma I noticed the title of the book we were studying in our Sunday school class, “Me and My Big Mouth.” I turned it over to view the synopsis on the back, and read one of the chapter headings: Fasting Includes Your Mouth. Oh dear.

Further investigation led me to Isaiah 58, where God rebukes the Israelites for fasting food but continuing to sin with their words and wicked attitudes. The word that choked my conscience was in verse 9, where God says, “Remove the pointing of the finger and speaking wickedness.” Hmm.

I’ll fast complaining, I thought. Every time I’m tempted to grumble or be negative with my mouth, I will pray for Allison instead. I was so proud of my bright idea, I began immediately.

While getting ready for work, the thought presented itself to criticize my hair like I do many days. "What good does it do to have naturally curly hair if the curls don’t go the direction I want them to? This mop is a mess." Oops! Fasting complaining. I almost forgot. “Lord, help Allison to not be scared today during her MRI. Let her feel your love.” 

While rushing to check emails before leaving the house, the temptation came to grouse about my overflowing inbox. "If Facebook didn’t notify me every time someone glanced in my direction I could manage these emails better." Oops! Fasting whining. Get your thoughts in order. “Father, speak to Allison during her test today, please. Help her believe your love for her.”

All morning long I fought with griping gremlins and disparaging demons. By the time I looked at the clock and realized Allison’s test was over I felt like I’d wrestled a grizzly with my bare hands. And I wasn’t sure who’d won.

I’d mistakenly thought managing my mouth would be easier than taming my tongue. I was wrong. The habit of negative words and thoughts was stronger than my appetite for food. Bummer.

The one good thing that came from this bright idea, other than a realization of my need to be more positive? Allison got a ton of prayer and a clean bill of health!

Do you ever fast? How has it helped you hear from God or stay healthy? 

P.S. The above story is an excerpt from my top selling book, 

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Why I Want My Money Back

I want my money back. When I first started flying, the stewardesses wore bright orange skirts, a whole tube of mascara, and go-go boots. They gave you peanuts with your soft drink, and the dinners were free, even though they tasted like plastic dressed up as chicken a la king. Now the “flight attendants” wear plain navy blue smocks, black pants, bare eyelashes, and tennis shoes. Only the first class passengers get peanuts, while they charge me $5 for a Barbie-sized meal that still tastes like plastic.

I want my money back. When I first got an allowance, candy bars were a nickel and it took five bites to eat one. Now they’re eighty-nine cents on sale and I can barely find my chocolate goo-goo bar hiding in its wrapper.

I want my money back. When I first started going to movies, they cost a quarter and you saw two of them. You could stay all day and watch five times if you wanted to and no one kicked you out. Now one show takes an hours’ salary, and I have to hide in the bathroom if I want to stay and see it again.

But I really want my money back for all those government studies that my tax dollars have funded over the years. I already know that sweat produces an odor, people without jobs have less money than the employed, and more humans than cows are afraid of flying.

I’d even settle for half my money back. Then I could get a first-class ticket and eat peanuts and plastic chicken ala king, go to a dozen movies, buy a hundred dinky candy bars, and do my own studies—about how the true meaning of life has nothing to do with money.

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Five Words That Will Change Your Life

Five Words That Will Change Your Life

In all the years since Debbie left L.A. to move to Denver, I never told her how the five words she taught me changed my life. Twenty years flew over us like a streak in the inky sky before I thought to thank her for those five words.
When we moved into a beautiful new home, she said them. When my kids got awards, my husband got a new job, and I had my first paying article published, she spoke them. Even when I received things other friends might have been jealous of, Debbie never withheld those five precious words. 

She didn’t realize how she was changing my thinking, helping me become a better friend, and grow from selfish to joyful with her five words.
 You have probably guessed by now what the five words are: 
I’m so happy for you.

(I know, all you English majors, that I’m is a contraction, and thus equals two words. But don’t you think Five Words that Will Change Your Life sounds snappier than Six Words that Will Change Your Life?  So, you’ll just have to forgive me.)
The element I loved most when Debbie spoke these five words was that I knew she meant them. Because of her sincerity, those words changed the way I relate to others when they receive blessings. Debbie’s words made me realize how soul-nourishing it is to have someone rejoice with you when you rejoice, rather than feeling envious of the goodness coming your way.
 Because if I’m brutally honest, I must confess that it’s easier for me to “weep with those who weep” than it is to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” I can take your hand and cry with you if you’re crying. But to say, “Wow, that’s marvelous!” when you’re doing the Snoopy dance, takes maturity. And to dance with you takes unselfish love. Especially when you just received something I’ve wanted for years.
When I’ve pushed aside my immature thoughts and chosen to act in love, I’ve discovered a joy that runs deep. If I can sincerely share in your blessings, my heart grows two sizes. I go from Grinchy to Gracious.
So, whether I change your life or not by saying, “I’m happy for you,” it’s worth the change in me.
What words have changed your life or thinking? 
Have you thanked the person who spoke them to you?

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Searching for Healthy Snacks?

Searching for Healthy Snacks

 When I asked my lovely, sweet friend, Diana Savage--who looks a decade younger than her birth certificate says--what her favorite healthy snacks were, her response was varied:

~ air-popped popcorn, drizzled with a little extra-virgin olive oil and parmesan cheese
~ a small handful of mixed nuts
~ an un-skinned apple, cored and cut into wedges, then sprinkled with cinnamon
~ one toasted slice of homemade whole-grain bread with peanut butter and raisins or dried cranberries on top
~ a small bowl of plain Greek yogurt with honey (or Splenda, for those fighting Candida), topped with sliced fresh fruit and homemade granola

Then I called on my Facebook friends to ask what they reached for when a munchy moment snuck up on them. Here are a few of their comments: 
  • Apples and peanut butter
  • Cruskit biscuits topped with low-fat cottage cheese, smoked salmon (or roast chicken breast) and avocado.
  • Garlic hummus and pita bread.
  • Sugar snap peas. And organic dark chocolate. But not with the peas. Usually.
  • Plain popcorn... altho' I prefer it salted and buttered, which isn't so healthy.

  •  Raisins and walnuts. Beyond that my eating habits say I shouldn't have lived past twelve.
  •  Frozen banana chunks blended with peanut butter, vanilla. cocoa and a little milk. Really thick  chocolate shake. all healthy!
  •  Almonds. And I like mozzarella cheese sticks, too
  •  Does dark chocolate count? Okay, fresh raspberries then!

No way Adam and Eve ate forbidden fruit. It was chocolate, cookies, ice cream, and ding dongs, I'm sure of it.

My favorites? 

  • Apricots, 
  • muenster cheese, 
  • popcorn, 
  • dark chocolate, and 
  • almonds 

And what is your favorite healthy snack?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Do you have any heroes?

Do you have any heroes? 

Next Monday, May 31 is Memorial Day, 
when we honor those who willingly fought—
sometimes to their death
to keep our freedom intact. They are our 
military heroes, the ones we build memorials to. 

If you are a veteran, I thank you. 

I do not have military heroes in my family tree. But I’d like to build a memorial to my second grade Sunday school teacher, a spiritual hero. This twenty-something college student willingly gave up dating/TV/goofing off time to study God’s word so she could teach it to a bunch of squirrely seven-year-olds in a Los Angeles church attic classroom. 

This young lady painted a picture of Jesus in my heart that caused me to fall in love with Him, and surrender my life to Him. I don’t remember her name; she may not still be on this earth. But she is my hero, who deserves the applause of Heaven for leading this little redhead into the Kingdom of God. 

What about YOU? Do you have a military or spiritual hero? Or maybe both. Please share.