My Escape to Hawaii on the Grand Princess Cruise

The warm rain pelted my face as I stood in my lavender bathing suit on the black sand beach in Hilo, Hawaii. Coarse sand squished up between my toes. Lightening and thunder clapped in a sky filled with black and grey clouds. A scant hint of blue peeked through.“Don’t go in the water to swim until they have both stopped,” the lifeguard called to me.
The cove was full of black volcanic rocks and pebbles too hard to step on without hurting my feet, so I sat and searched for the famous turtles that swam in these waters. I spotted two resting on a large black rock. I ate my local meal of steamed pork in green tea leaves, a purple sweet potato, and rice. Oh, this is so delicious, it just melts in my mouth. This was so fun hopping on and off the $20 bus, and seeing the Rainbow Falls.

Then a loud snap and rain just fell in buckets, as I ran for shelter. A few couples from the cruise sought shelter with me. “The bus is coming, come on, let’s run for it,” they said. Huge puddles covered my silver Birkenstocks and my pink dress was soaked. Driving into Hilo, I bought a purple muumuu to replace my soaking one. Then boom! I jumped at the loudest thunder I had ever heard. “Welcome to Hilo, the part of the island that always rains,” said the man laughing next to me.

This was the first stop on my 15 day cruise from San Francisco to Hawaii aboard the Grand Princess cruise ship. Seeking rest and refreshment after an exhausting year, I booked the cruise last minute. It was conveniently leaving Pier 27 in San Francisco, and would be gone for two weeks. Destination, Hawaii. These were my criteria for going. I just stepped out in faith and paid the $2500 flash sale rate. No single supplement was available to me.

Looking up at the Golden Gate Bridge as we sailed underneath it, the loud horn blowing in my ears, I was excited to discover what adventure waited for me these next two weeks.

I loved many things about the Grand Princess. The impeccable international staff that did such a great job of caring for us: Joseph, the head waiter in the Bottecheli dining room, picked out my gluten free meals each evening, and Ricco, my personal waiter, served them; Christopher, Julio and Joseph at my favorite bar on the lobby fifth floor, making me delicious mock-tails, including the Dirty Banana; Nike, my cabin steward from India, made me laugh so much, especially telling me how the whales would swim alongside the ship in the evenings to get wifi, knowing when the ship passed by; Anastasia from near the Ukraine, at the front desk, my first helpful soul upon embarkation, always ready to listen to my escapades with a smile.

Each evening, I feel asleep on their luxurious bedding, rocked by the waves like a baby.

During the first few days of rough seas, I sought solace in the Heart and Soul Lotus Spa, run by manager Euniss and her lovely staff. There I received hot rock massages, a milk body wrap, a foot massage, and a facial. They welcomed me with a soft, long robe and bronze slippers. I recommend the biotech deep cleansing facial. An ultrasound wand is run over your skin that stimulates collagen production and cell renewal. After, my skin looked so clean and plump, with fine lines minimized. I was very happy. I thank Tabbi, a young South African girl, for giving me this special facial.

If you want an extra special dining experience try Sabatini’s, the Italian restaurant onboard for a $25 per person surcharge. Impeccable service and gourmet food met my hungry stomach the night I dined there. A six course meal including fresh prosciutto, fondue soup, pasta carbonara, and fresh snapper delighted me. All were made gluten free by the chef. The food was also excellent in the dining rooms for breakfast, lunch and dinner. I loved the delicious poolside Salty Dog Grill with hamburgers, hotdogs, pizza, and cheesy bacon fries.

And the music; every type was offered in one of their many lounges, my favorite being the Hawaiian musicians who serenaded us while women danced the hula. Watching movies under the stars on the top deck, snuggled under a blanket with popcorn to munch on, sometimes light drizzle falling, was a magical experience. I enjoyed sitting on one of the blue, wooden deck chairs and watching the sea roll by. As I inhaled the beneficial sea air, all the stress and worry of my life lifted.

I met many wonderful people on board; Joe, Pat, Linda, Lucia, Lisa, Jim, Sharon and Duncan. I hoped to meet more singles, and learned from other passengers the cruises to the Caribbean are the ones to do so. I did attend the ship’s single and solo gathering in the evening, only to find no single men there. I was amazed by the couples who had cruised so many times with Princess, including one couple, Mary and John, who were celebrating their 85th cruise!

My inside cabin in the front of the ship on the 10th floor heard music from the Princess Theater three stories below. There is an ongoing soundproofing problem on the older ship. So try to avoid those cabins unless you like to be serenaded to sleep!

I also prefer to have everything included in my cruise price, but on Princess you pay extra money for certain things: milkshakes and specialty hamburgers; The Sanctuary, a private lounge area with pool for adults only, has a surcharge of $20 for a half day, and $40 for a full day; the soda package covered certain drinks in the bar, but not room service. These were surprises not clear on the website.

Now to the best part…Hawaii! As I stated earlier, we arrived first in Hilo, on the big Island, and docked in early morning. My goal was to sit on a warm beach and swim at each stop. But as you know, I got a big storm! I had to be back by 4:30 PM to sail to the next island, Oahu.

I was excited to see Honolulu again after attending summer school there in my college days. Warm, windy weather greeted me. I was shocked high-risers overshadowed the pink Royal Hawaiian and Waikiki beach. I rented a blue umbrella and chaise lounge for two hours for $25 in front of the Sheridan. I tiptoed through the sand into the light blue, warm water. I can’t believe I am swimming the waves here in Waikiki beach. This is so wonderful.
My next stop was to find the Tiki Village of The International Marketplace where Don Ho used to perform. It is now gone and a three story mall is in its place. I shopped to the sounds of Elvis singing Blue Hawaii. Grabbing a fruit, non-dairy Banan, similar to a frozen yogurt, I hopped aboard a bus to Diamond Head. The bus driver, Ron, told me stories of the island and left me at a local place to get authentic Hawaiian food. Tired now, I returned to the ship, happy at my day here after 38 years!

Back on the ship, we made Hawaiian leis out of purple orchid petals. At departure, we sailed slowly watching the island disappear as we headed out to sea to arrive in Kauai next. Here, I took my first excursion offered through Princess, to the Waimea Canyon, which is known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This was on my bucket list.

When we arrived, wild chickens roamed around. I bought some fresh pineapple fritters before I took in the sites of this gorgeous canyon, lined with green vegetation, water falls, and rivers. Overall, I tried to plan my own trips and take local transportation: the public bus, Lyft, or hop-on-hop-off bus.

Our final stop was in Lahaina on the island of Maui. We jettied in from the ship. What can I saw about Lahaina? An old whaler village nicely preserved with shops and the Pioneer Inn built in 1824. In the downtown, I sampled a shave ice, with coconut ice cream and green tea, coconut and lychee flavors on top, much better than I remembered.

My goal was to find some pink pearls, and I went into each jewelry store on Front Street until I found the perfect ones. A long string of baroque, fresh water pearls. They were tied with a brown hemp-like string which reminded me of the stings of rope hanging down from the Banyan trees throughout the islands. I stopped at the small beach and body surfed. The air was warm and balmy with a nice breeze. I sighed happily. This was paradise. All the desires of my heart were met. I was sad as we sailed from Maui in the afternoon sun, and waved Aloha.

My fondest memory was in Hilo being drenched while watching God’s magnificent show of thunder, lightening, trees, and sea, all waving together. My perfect Hawaiian day was in Lahaina because of the weather, and it fulfilled my love of architecture and history.

As a single female traveler, I felt safe aboard the Grand Princess. Nike was in the hallway available to look after my needs at most hours. The stateroom had a comforting double lock and a small safe for valuables, but not my laptop.

If you want to decompress from the stress of living in San Francisco Silicon Valley, the Grand Princess to the Hawaiian Islands is a relaxing getaway in your backyard. No need to hassle with flying. Be sure you like spending many days at sea and are up for an adventure, because as Princess advertises…you will come back new…and I certainly did!


A French Recipe – French Yogurt Cake

Bonjour Mes Amis-

It has been awhile since I blogged. I have been going through many trials and illness, but found my way back to you today. I want to share a baking recipe that I love and is very French, in keeping with my blog theme! It is called French Yogurt Loaf, Gâteau au Yaourt, and is the definition of an “anytime cake”—not only because you’ll want to eat it anytime, but because you can make it anytime, too. Yogurt cake is one of the first desserts French children learn to bake, simple as it is. Following is the recipe to bake up on a lovely spring day, with the warm breeze blowing through your kitchen window. You probably have yogurt in your refrigerator. Welcome your guests with this delicious bread/cake and practice your French in the process.

French Yogurt Cake – Gâteau au yaourt.

INGREDIENTS

Nonstick vegetable oil spray
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest
3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt
1/2 cup vegetable oil
2 large eggs
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

RECIPE PREPARATION

Preheat oven to 350°. Coat pan with vegetable oil spray. Dust with flour; tap out excess.

Whisk 1 1/2 cups flour, baking powder, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.

Using your fingers, rub sugar with lemon zest in a large bowl until sugar is moist. Add yogurt, oil, eggs, and vanilla extract; whisk to blend. Fold in dry ingredients just to blend.

Pour batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Bake until top of cake is golden brown and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 40-45 minutes.

Let cake cool in pan on a wire rack for 15 minutes. Invert onto rack; let cool completely. DO AHEAD: Can be made 3 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature.

Recipe by The Bon Appétit Test Kitchen.

You can add a marmalade glaze with fresh fruit, or try nutella inside! Use your imagination!


My Book is Completed, and so I wait….

Celebrate with me the completion of my book: Becoming Miriam: A Life Transformed by God. After two and one-half years of hard work, tears, laughter and editing…and rewrites…and editing…and rewrites, I have completed my manuscript. Now the fun part starts…waiting.

Waiting to hear from the Lord how I am to publish it. Waiting to hear back from the agent I just mailed my manuscript to, to see if he wants to represent me and if my book is marketable to the Christian Booksellers Association (CBS) Is it too dark a subject? Do I have more than one book within my book?  Is it well-written enough? All these questions form in my mind, knowing it will take 6-8 weeks to hear back. If I hear back.

I am blessed with a wonderful mentor, Kay Marshall Strom, a well-known Christian author of fiction and non-fiction, who has guided me and critiqued my book along the way. At this year’s Mt. Hermon Writers Conference, she gave me the thumbs up on my book, as did another writer friend, Joseph Bentz. With this encouragement, I sent my manuscript with sample devotions and greeting cards I had written, off to the agent I met my first conference. He kindly gave me permission to send my book proposal to him when I was done. So I did that this week.

And now, I am taking a rest. The Lord whispered to my heart yesterday to take a break from my art and writing ministry and enjoy the summer. After all, it is His book, and He will publish it when He is ready, whether by a traditional publishing house or self published by me.

Same with the art. I am seeking to license my art and recently got back my first rejection letter from a well known art publishing company.  Tears and disappointment filled my heart. They said they had an artist already with my style.  With my style? Really?  Is that possible someone else paints the same prophetic paintings I do?  I think it was a form letter, and it just wasn’t the right fit. I saved it in my rejection letter file.  Yes, I have one of those. Every writer/artist does. Just to wallpaper the bathroom with when we do finally get published.

So you ask, what will I do with my summer? First read. I have a stack of my favorite John Grisham novels to devour.  Then I will read some of my author friend’s books. Next go to the Pleasanton County Fair, which I go to each year, as they have incredible art. Then I will paint a picture of something different, not just my Scripture art. Go to a Giants game, by train, with my bestie Anne. Buy wine and cheese and listen to the Friday night concerts in the park nearby my home. Write fun and whimsical blog posts that don’t have anything to do with my creative talents! Go on bike rides all over the Bay Area.

And hopefully, go to Paris, and write my final chapter, my afterword. It has been my dream to sit in a Parisian cafe and write. To see all the beautiful art and architecture of the city for writers and artists (and lover’s too!)  Wouldn’t that be a dream come true? So I wait…

What are you doing this summer? Any great ideas for me?  Thank you for supporting my blog and I hope you will enjoy my blog posts this summer….as I wait 🙂


L’ Shanah Tovah (Happy New Year) & Introducing My Art Greeting Cards!

Fall Tree New! Scripture Art Greeting Cards at Gifts of His Glory by author Miriam Sarzotti

One of my favorite parts of the Fall season is the Jewish High Holidays that usually start in September with Rosh Hashanah (Head of the Year), followed by Yom Kippur (Day of Atonement) and finally ends with Sukkot (Feast of the Tabernacles).

My dream is to experience them in Israel one day.  They say it is an unforgettable sight to see Sukkot or little tabernacles built in every front and backyard throughout the Land.  Jewish people celebrate the time that God provided for them in the wilderness with temporary shelters, called a sukkah or sukkot. They build their sukkah and then eat and sleep in them during the seven days of the festival. It foreshadows when we will ‘tabernacle’ with God again in Heaven and in His new Kingdom on earth.

What I love most is the promise of a new year and beginning that Rosh Hashanah brings. It is customary to send a greeting card wishing a sweet and prosperous new year.  In keeping with this practice,  I am celebrating the release of my new Scripture art greeting cards, a line of Christian greeting cards that combine my paintings and my love of writing greeting messages! (see below)

Also this year, on September 4th, I will pick up my Zip car and zip up to San Francisco to the Jews for Jesus Rosh Hashanah celebration.I am looking forward to seeing old friends from my time as a volunteer with them doing street evangelism and others from our monthly Chaverah (Fellowship).

I anticipate a beautiful ceremony…the prayers and songs in Hebrew, the sound of the shofar (ram’s horn) being blown as it will be the day Jesus returns for us in the clouds, the humorous and engaging testimony of a Jewish believer in Yeshua (Jesus), and the yummy honey cake and apples dipped in honey (for a sweet new year) at the Oneg (party) following the service.

Last year, what touched me most during the service was the sermon on the books of God. The speaker preached on The Book of Life and The Book of Remembrance that God keeps.

Butterfly Resurrection Cross New! Art Greeting Cards

I was struck that God was an author and writer just like myself!  He wrote the bestseller The Bible, did he not? And to think He writes our names in the book of Life when we accept His Son Jesus as our Messiah.  So when we stand in Judgement before Him one day, He will open His book and see our name and admit us to heaven to be with Him for eternity.

I don’t know about you, but I wonder…Does he use a quill pen? What is the parchment like? Or does He have a laptop?  He must be very busy as He has recorded every day of our lives from before time began. He records every tear we cry, happy or sad. That to me shows a God who cares, who knows our every move, and knows the day He will call us back home to Him.

Is your name written in the Book of Life?  Have you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, asking Him to take your sin and make you a new creation in Him? That is what

Cross with Rose Petals New! Art Greeting Cards

Rosh Hashanah is all about.  Starting over with a new beginning.  On Yom Kippur, which follows 10 days later, we acknowledge the sacrifice and atonement (forgiveness) by Jesus when He died on the cross for our sins.

Would like to pray to ask Jesus into your heart and forgive your sins?  If so, you can pray this prayer and receive salvation.

Dear Jesus:
I admit I am a sinner and am in need of forgiveness.  I believe you died on the cross for me personally and that you were raised from the dead and am in Heaven right now.  I ask you into my heart to take control of my life and to be my Lord and Savior.  Thank you for loving me enough to lead me to repentance and show me my need for you.  Help me become the person you intend for me to become and may your plan for my life come to pass.  I love you Lord and thank you for forgiving me today and giving me the gift of eternal life with you.  Amen.

Welcome to the Kingdom of God! Angels are rejoicing over you right now!

Red Tulips New Art Greeting Cards

To see my new art greeting and note cards, click above on “My art” or giftsofhisglory.com.

Each card comes with a Christian themed message written by me, perfect for giving to family and friends, for all occasions.  They can also be framed and hung at home. Get a print of one of my paintings for a fraction of the cost. Take a peek, you’ll love them! And send one to your Jewish friend with a new year greeting written by you (they come as blank note cards as well)

Eye update!  Today I received the news at the doctor that the inflammation in my eye was totally healed and my eyesight restored. God is still in the business of miracles!  Thank you again to all my blog readers who prayed for me.  It was a tough summer and I am free now to enjoy the new fall season and all that the Lord has in store for me! 🙂

 

 

 

 


The Eyes Have It – God’s Healing Power Today

Today I get to share the good news of answered prayer.  Many of you readers will recall my earlier post where I talked about the problems I was having with my eye…the jelly part detaching and inflamation in my left eye.  A serious problem. (see My New Creation post earlier this month)

The best doctors at Stanford where concerned it indicated a autoimmune disease common in young women (well I am not THAT young, but the doctor thought so!).  They tested me for a lot of scary diseases including cancer.  I was wondering if I was going to Heaven earlier than I expected but I received the news the day before July 4th, that all the test were negative!  Yes negative!  What freedom to celebrate along with our National Independence Day here in America.

I was still worried though as the specialist had said chemo was the preferred treatment. However, as I waited to see my doctor again in a few weeks, a miracle began to happen.  My eye got better.  The floaters decreased. I was encouraged.

At my appointment, my doctor was surprised how well my eye scans looked and said, “Miriam, these look beautiful. Your inflammation is down and the floaters are less.”

“Well Doctor, I have had many people praying for me for divine healing. All my Facebook friends and blog  readers.  I put it in God’s hands because I knew I would never survive chemo and He is faithful to hear our prayers and answer them.”

He silently nodded along with me.

Now this is a very unexpected reaction from my doctor.  He is the top Eye Specialist in the country who feels he can heal anything, and says he is like God in that matter. I, of course, kid him and say, “oh get over yourself, you are too much. only God is God.”

He then said something else remarkable.  “Miriam, I want to give you some non steroid eye drops for the floaters and remaining inflammation.  They probably won’t work, but let’s try.”

As I pulled away in the cab, tears came to my eyes.  I cried for how good and amazing God is. I cried for how much He cares for us, even though we sin and mess up all the time. I cried for how faithful my friends and readers had been to petition God for me and how He is still our healer today.  I cried that I wouldn’t have to do chemo.

Once home, I prayed and asked the Lord to anoint the eye drops . I began to use them four times a day as instructed.  Another miracle happened.  My eyes got even better! The cloud of floaters kind of parted like the Red Sea. I can read words on the page now. I am trusting the Lord for total healing of my eye and that by next month’s appointment, the inflammation will be gone.

What healing miracle do you need today?  Do you know that Jesus healed all kinds of diseases and afflictions while He was on earth?  Read it for yourself in the gospels in the New Testament that record His deeds. Start with the Book of Matthew. His power to heal is still available to you today. Besides physical healing, Jesus can heal you spiritually by setting you free from sin and death and reconciling you with God.

All it takes is opening your heart to Him and asking Him to forgive your sins. His Holy Spirit will come and dwell in your heart and give you the gift of eternal life. The Bible says “If you confess with your mouth and believe on the Lord’s resurrection, you will be saved and live.”  (Romans 10:9) Now, that’s glorious good news. And I might add, a miracle of grace that only comes from God  If you want this free gift of spiritual healing and life forever in Heaven, please pray this prayer below:

Lord, I confess with my mouth you are the Son of God and came to die for my sins.  I believe you rose from the dead after three days and make your home in Heaven now.  I ask for a new life in you and the free gift of eternal life.  Please come heal my body, mind and soul from all my pain. I ask for a miracle of healing in you name. Amen.

If you prayed this prayer, do three things:

1. Tell someone you accepted Jesus into your life today.

2.  Find a Bible teaching church and start attending to be part of the fellowship of other Christians and learn God’s character and heart for you through hearing His Word preached.

3.  Get a Bible and start reading it a little every day.  Most churches will give you one if you ask or you can find them at a Christian bookstore where they can help you pick out one.

Leave me a reply if you prayed this prayer so I can rejoice along with the angels in Heaven who rejoice every time a person becomes born again in Jesus.

Want to bring healing and salvation to your FB friends?  LIKE TWEET PINTEREST of GOOGLE.

To see my biblical Scripture art click on ‘my art’ above or www.giftsofhisglory.com


A Mother’s (and Father’s) Day Story: Finding life after abortion…

This mother’s day I will be doing something different in celebration of my daughter Lynley.  I will be standing on Mother’s Day Sunday at church when they ask all the mothers to stand.  You see Lynley was my sweet baby who didn’t live outside of the womb.  I aborted her when I was 30 years old.  The shame that I hadn’t given my baby life always kept me from acknowledging I was a mother.  But not this Mother’s Day.

I am able to do this as I have received healing and forgiveness for my abortion.  I want to offer that same healing to women (and men) who are reading my post today.  I know this is not an easy topic to address, but one I feel the Lord wanted me to share with you.

Before I became a born again Christian, I lived a very worldly life.  Sexual relationships with unhealthy men was my norm. A fast paced life as a MBA in the corporate world running after success and money.  This coupled with carrying the pain of an abusive childhood  caused me to crash and hit bottom at age 30.  I was diagnosed with a clinical suicidal depression and hospitalized. In the midst of this, I got pregnant by my boyfriend who my doctors were trying to seperate me from because he was abusive.

I was so happy to be pregnant when the home pregnancy test came back positive.  Joy filled me.  I had always wanted to be a mother, but wondered how could I possibly me one now.  I was so ill and depressed, fighting for my life every day.  My doctors, fearing I couldn’t sustain a pregnancy,  recommended a ‘therapeutic’ abortion, to save the life of the mother, me, over the unborn child.

My Catholic psychiatrist even told me the Catholic church, which I had grown up in, would agree.  I was so worried the baby would be deformed on the powerful medications I was taking.  My parents did not offer me any help, refusing me shelter to raise my baby in.  Helpless, on disability I did not know where to turn.  I did not know about Christian crisis pregnancy centers or help within the Christian community.  I listened to the worldly advice and scheduled the abortion at my hospital.

A few days before, I changed my mind and wanted to keep my baby.  My parents and boyfriend refused me any promise of financial help or shelter.  I was alone and abandoned.  Trapped.

I cried the whole way through the abortion as my baby was suctioned out of me.  My girlfriend held my hand and her knuckles were white from my grip.  I screamed in pain and afterward threw up in the sink.  My baby was gone.

But there is hope in my story.  You see my baby, whom I named Lynley, had a soul and spirit upon conception.  In the Bible it says of God: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. (Psalm 139:13.)  God breathed life into her.  She had a beating heart as early as 21 days.  She was not a blob of tissue as Planned Parenthood will tell you.

When I aborted her, her soul and spirit returned to God where she is alive in Heaven, waiting for me to join her.  How do I know this for certainty?  God promises us in the Bible: “and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it.  (Ecclesiastes 12:7.)

I was blessed to find healing through the love of women at a Christian pregnancy center near my home. I read and worked through the workbook entitled: Forgiven and Set Free: A Post-Abortion Bible Study for Women by Linda Cochrane with a class of women. I found healing for my abortion 22 years later.

We studied Scripture that told me who I was in Jesus, and that I was forgiven for even the sin of aborting my child. I learned others had sinned against me by not offering help to me and their child and grandchild.  I found comfort in knowing  they would be held accountable by God one day but God was calling me to even forgive them.

I found understanding of the grief process a woman (and man) goes through. How to be set free from the horrible shame, secrecy, and darkness I felt. I learned Jesus came to shed His healing light into our darkness.  To free us from the bonds of guilt, depression, anxiety, and eating disorders, all symptoms of Post Abortion Stress Syndrome. (PASS).

Jesus in Heaven

I was overjoyed to discover that I get my daughter back. I know I will spend eternity with her as I have received the free gift of salvation through Jesus Christ.  He promises us eternal life, free of any pain or tears, if we trust Him as our Lord and Savior.

This means we ask Him for forgiveness of our sins, sins He took on the cross for us so we could spend eternity with Him. Because He rose from the dead on the third day, we are promised that same resurrection when we die, to receive a new glorified body in heaven, where there is only light.((1 Corinthians 15:44; Romans 6:5: For since we have become one with Him by sharing in His death, we shall also be one with Him by sharing in His resurrection).

If you have had an abortion, or played a part in a decision for abortion, asking for and receiving the Lord’s forgiveness is the key to healing.  If so, please pray this prayer.

Dear Jesus: I thank you that you have received my baby’s (babies) souls into Heaven where I can see them again one day.  I ask you to forgive my sins and come into my heart as my Lord and Savior today.  I believe you died on the cross for me and rose from the dead so I could have eternal life with you in Heaven.  Heal my heart from the pain of my abortion(s) and set me free so I can live a life free from the past.  Thank you Jesus.  Amen.

If you are pregnant, know there are options for you besides abortion.

Contact a Christian crisis pregnancy center or pregnancy resource center and go for an appointment.  Google on the Internet or look in the yellow pages for their number and address.

Call a confidential pregnancy hot-line such as 1-800-BETHANY. They will help you understand your options for either adoption or keeping your baby and help you with resources to do so (even if your family abandoned you and you are homeless).  And most likely give you an ultrasound of your baby where you can see its heart beating. All for FREE.

Talk to your pastor or minister in confidence.  Tell a trustworthy friend.

Give life to your baby and for you too!  Abortion doesn’t just murder your baby, it murders your soul as well.

If you have had an abortion:, Attend a class for post abortive women (or men) offered at a Christian pregnancy resource center or church. Many have classes and retreats you can take to help you work through the process of healing. There is also a workbook for men entitled: Healing a Father’s Heart: A Post-Abortive Bible Study for Men by Linda Cochrane.

Lynley's resurrected spirit painting

As part of my healing process, I celebrated the life of my child in Heaven.  I was encouraged to do something creative to thank Jesus for keeping care of my daughter.  I decided to paint a picture of Lynley’s resurrected spirit to thank Him and bring me peace.

I also planted a tree for her in Israel through www.treesfortheholyland.com. I am a Jewish Christian and love Israel, having been in ministry there for many years.  Planting a tree is a symbol of giving life.  In Judaism, each letter of the Hebrew alphabet has a numerical value.  The letter Chet equals the number 18. Chai which means life consists of the letter Chet symbolizing the number 18. Therefore, it costs $18 to plant a tree and give life. In return for doing so, I was blessed with a beautiful watercolor reproduction of a Jerusalem scene with a commemoration of my daughter. It read :

Tree Planted in Holy Land poster www.treesfortheholyland.com

A Tree had been planted in the Holy Land, In Celebration of Lynley, my daughter, For her heavenly homecoming, April 1991, Planted by Your ima (mother) Miriam.

I now have peace when I look at it framed on my wall.  I no longer feel shame or guilt. I can acknowledge myself as a mother and tell others about my daughter now. I am excited to see her one day soon and hold her in my arms for the first time. I am forgiven and set free.

Will you find the peace and forgiveness only Jesus can bring to you today?

 

If you need a confidential ear please feel free to leave me a private message at miriam@giftsofhisglory.com.  I am here to help you.

Please LIKE TWEET or PINTEREST my post to bring healing to your friends as well…

To see my art click on my art above or at www.giftsofhisglory.com

 

 

 


Marilyn, Elvis and God…My Escape into the Desert

Palm Springs

I fell in love this week.  With Palm Springs.  I flew down on a four day vacation as a guest of my high school friend, Lisa, who owns a home in La Quinta, one of the desert towns outside Palm Springs. Palm Springs is in southern California about 2 hours east of Los Angeles.  It is in the desert, surrounded by the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto mountains, creating a valley filled with date palm trees, golf courses and hidden oasis’ with natural mineral springs. It was first  inhabited by the Cahuilla Indians who still reside there and own most of the land.

Today Palm Springs is a haven for wealthy snow birds, elderly people who come for the dry desert heat and sun good for their arthritis.  It was once the playground for the rich and famous celebrities from old Hollywood, such as Frank Sinatra, Vivian Leigh and Kathryn Hepburn. Back in the old studio contract days, movies stars had to stay within an hour and a half distance from the studio and Palm Springs fit the bill.

Fascinated with Hollywood since childhood, I once dreamed of being Marilyn Monroe and

Marilyn Monroe's home

followed Elvis’s life with a passion. Lisa surprised me with a tour of the celebrity homes and one afternoon we met up with the tour in downtown Palm Springs after having the most divine corned beef Rueben sandwich from Shermans, the famous old time Jewish deli.

The eight passenger van of 5 Star Adventures whisked us away as they related the early history of Palm Springs.  The movie stars first came and stayed in tents, later bringing their own trailers and finally building small desert homes to come play and stay in during the winter and spring months.

We entered the Las Palmas area and I was surprised how small the houses were.  I was told they were built without heat or air conditioning, most were 900 to 1600 square feet.  We slowly drove past each home, with the tour guide announcing titbits of who lived there.

Me in front of Elvis' home

We we lucky to peak inside the open gates of some houses including Lucy and Desi Arnaz’s home. I jumped out of the van to take a picture in front of Elvis’ home that he owned in the 1970s up until his death. His house was later sold to finance Graceland, his main residence in Nashville, Tennessee.

The most memorable moment was when we stopped in front of Robert Stacks home.  With a wooden door surrounded by bright purple bougainvillea, we silently crept into the garden.  Small casitas or bungalows were placed

Lisa sitting at Rat Pack bar hangout

throughout the small property around the main house.  The Rat Pack used to hang out at the outdoor bar and Lisa and I took pictures of each other, thrilled to be sitting in the same seats that Frank, Dean, Sammy and Peter once sat in and drank their famous martini’s.

The small kidney shaped pool sparkled azure blue in the sunlight as I glanced at the orange and lemon trees, taking in the beauty of the garden and blue skies.  I instantly new this was where I wanted to get married.  The tour guide told me it rents for $495 a night and

Me at my future wedding place at Robert Stacks home

weddings frequently took place there. She shared the movie Liberace with Kirk Douglas and Matt Damon had just been filmed prior to us visiting.  What better place to celebrate my new life with my husband than in the ridiculously inexpensive playground of such history?

Once the tour was over, Lisa and I strolled down the main street, Palm Canyon Drive, looking at all the fun shops and stopping in for a refreshing soda from the 80 degree heat. We sat at tables that swung like a swing, the type you would only find in Palm Springs.  Once done we hurried over to the huge 26 feet tall statue of Marilyn Monroe that was on exhibit.  Created by artist Steward Johnston, it features her famous skirt blowing up from the subway grate scene, from her movie The Seven Year Itch.  It is a traveling exhibit and one Lisa and I both felt should stay in Palm Springs as Marilyn was discovered at the Racquet Club here many years ago.

Every evening I sat on Lisa’s patio under the palm trees looking up at the dark starlit sky with the warm desert breeze blowing through my hair.  The Lord whispered to me that He was bringing a new season into my life, a time of refreshment and personal fulfillment, a time to retire from full time ministry and pursue my hopes and dreams.

What did this look like? A job working in a field of my choosing.  A time of marriage and motherhood.  An opportunity to travel all those places I have dreamed about.  A Greece cruise.  A  footsteps of Apostle Paul tour in Turkey.  Training through Europe.  Painting the light in Venice.  Sitting at a cafe in Paris and writing my next book.  Or rewriting my current one!  Moving to Lancaster, PA, where the Amish reside, to live a life based around God and family.  Canning my own vegetables and learning to make my own soap.  Sewing my child’s clothes and homeschooling them.  All the dreams that life took from me and a life serving God called me to sacrifice.

For now I drank in the beauty of the desert mountains surrounding me, reminded of the Scripture:  As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the LORD surrounds his people both now and forevermore. Psalm 125:2. I found Him here in the quiet of the desert, the peacefulness of the air and sunshine.  In the laughter of Lisa and I as we told stories of our lives in the years we were apart.

I left behind all the stress and tiredness of my life in the Bay Area.  The insanity of a life detached and lived through social media, texts and email. The frustration and difficulty of being in full time ministry. The Lord knew what I needed. He met me here and refreshed me body, soul, mind and spirit.

The trip highlights? I found luscious date shakes.  Slow meandering walks gazing on the colorful red, orange and purple bougainvillea.  Hiking up the mountain side surrounded by large boulders in shades of brown and gray and prickly cacti with small buds of yellow

Me at La Quinta Inn and Spa built in 1927

flowers peeking through. Eating dinner under a night sky at Morton’s at the old Quinta Inn where Clark Gable and Carole Lombard once ate and stayed to escape the fame of celebrity.

And now it is time to leave. As I sit at the airport gazing out at the mountain ranges turning different shades of rose and purple, I have mixed emotions.  I am grateful to the Lord for this new season. Yet I feel a sadness at leaving the desert.

For it is here the Lord brings me to refresh me, whether it be in Israel as I float in the dead sea, surrounded my the huge Judean mountains, or as I hike in the Mohave Desert in Nevada on a spring time retreat.  He is famous for calling His servants to the desert to have a time of intimacy with Him and to hear His voice.  Abraham, Moses, Elijiah John the Baptist and even Jesus went regularly to the desert.

This trip was particularly special for me as the Lord combined my old time love of Hollywood with the fun and fellowship of my friend, delicious gourmet meals and spectacular sunsets.

I think Psalm 116:7 says it best:  Return to your rest, O my soul, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.  Thank you Lord for this time.  I hope I can return time again and again.


My Woes of Online Dating..the Case of the Disappearing Men

Sometimes I can be foolish.  Such was the case when my friends begged me to try online dating to find that special man the Lord has for me.  If you have been following my blog, you know how much I love the Lord and consider Him my husband.  I believe He will cross my path with that special man when He is ready and if I am staying in His will and am where I need to be. “Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.” Genesis 2:18.

After watching the film Courageous, where the father asks the daughter for her heart to keep in safekeeping,  I gave the Lord my heart and asked Hm to do the same until He showed me the man He had for me. So the whole idea of online dating sounded wrong.

In fact,I had tried eHarmony twice in the past, but had bad experiences so I had sworn off online dating.  I know others who have had great experiences, including my friend Laura who met her husband online at ChristianCafe.com  But sometimes the Devil tempts us to go off God’s path and I fell into the temptation this past week. Did God really say don’t eat the online dating apple? he whispered to me.

My friends pressured me to try ChristianMingle.com and JDate.com, which I found out were both owned by Sparks Network.  Hmm.. that sounds strange for a company to have both a Jewish and Christian site.  I was told JDate.com welcomed Messianic Jews (Jews who believe in Jesus) and Christians looking for a Jewish spouse.  So I signed up for both memberships, putting pictures and profiles online at each.

Surprised, I instantly had a slew of responses on both.  Wow, I thought, there are a lot of men interested in a 52 year old woman! Compliments of ‘how beautiful you are” and smiley faces, stroked my female ego.  I was a bit overwhelmed by all the choices.  You could send a smiley face to say hello, a flirt, to flirt and a Ecard with a witty slogan.  If you chose to subscribe and pay, you could email or instant messenger (IM) through the service securely.  They suggested not to give out your personal contact information until you had gotten to know one another. Good advice I thought.

My first day, I got an angry response on JDate from a Reformed Jewish man saying that No one here embraced Jesus, you are wrong about Him being messiah. He enclosed a list of all the supposed lies Christian missionaries like Jews for Jesus use to convert Jews.  None had biblical truth. I felt the sting of rejection from standing for Jesus amongst Jewish people.  What am I doing, I thought. I can take the rejection when I am witnessing, but here?

Another strange thing happened.  When I responded in turn to a smiley face or email from  most of the men, I got a notice that their profile was no longer available due to ‘violations of the policies’ (for mentioning money or sex). Hmm, this is strange…why do these men keep disappearing when I contact them back?  Are they all sex addicts? I guess Jesus is protecting me from the wrong guys,I thought.  I also noticed most claimed to be ‘widowed’.  Really, widowed at only 48 or 50 years old?  Red flags started popping up in my mind.

Then I noticed I was getting the same profile of a man, with no picture, but from different parts of the US. Traffickers I wondered?  I valiantly reported these men and was sent a form letter thanking me for alerting management and that they had been deleted.  When I received a fourth one, I knew there was a scam going on.

I googled the owners, Sparks Network Inc., and saw a list of complaints against them stating they used fraudulent and old profiles, to get people to think they had lots of matches.  On Christian Mingle, I repeatedly received pat blurbs back in response to my email that told me how pretty and charming I was, with a ‘sensual smile’. They appeared to have been written by a good writer somewhere but didn’t answer any of my questions I had posed. I even got a woman match on my profile and wondered what that was about? Turns out men were getting the same pictures of a provocatively dressed woman like I had. Oops.

I did get one live one.  A local San Francisco man claiming to be a cultural Jew asked me to text him.  I debated.  Shouldn’t I wait to make sure he wasn’t some mass murderer who would then have my phone number?  Feeling tempted, I textted him.  Let’s IM on Yahoo, he textted back.  No idea how to do this, he then sent me 20 texts explaining how to, all the while asking me about myself.  Feeling so flustered, I finally got him on Yahoo.

Five minutes into our chatting, he told me he had to do something and would be right back. Confusion hit me.  How long do I wait?  Not knowing the rules of IM, I sat there for 1/2 hour getting more angry with each minute.  How could this guy be so rude?  Finally I chatted him, Seriously, Mr. XYZ, what could be more important than talking to me?  I am working on some documents, baby, he chatted back.  Baby? Are you getting fresh with me on our first chat?  I asked.  No response.  We were disconnected. I stormed off to the kitchen in search of a glass of wine, being so frustrated from the whole experience.

Awhile later, I heard the IM blurp and he was back  I was calm now. He apologized for the ‘baby’ and hoped I wasn’t annoyed. I forgave him telling him we Christians were good at giving grace (!) and we chatted. I asked him why he wanted to chat with me since I was a Christian and he was Jewish?  I want to get to know someone like you, you sound so interesting and religious he replied.

Next came the smiley faces.  First he sent the flirty smiley face, winking at me.  Flattered, I responded, Thank you I needed that today.  We talked of keeping sabbath and how we both loved Israel.  He had only been on JDate 2 days and we LOL over how we newbies had found each other.

Then came the smiley face again.  Not to be outdone, I sent the flirty smiley face back.  He rallied with a smiley face that looked like it was kissing me, but I couldn’t be sure because I didn’t have my glasses on! The smiley face licked its lip after the kiss.  Ewwww I thought.  Are you sending me a kiss with a lewd smiley face, because if you are I will have to report you! I replied, jokingly.  Poof.  He was gone. Signed off.  I guess I scared him off. Good.

So I wonder, is this what the online dating world is all about.  Deception and rejection?  Lustful men using smiley faces?   Lord please forgive me, I am sorry I didn’t trust you and wait on you liked you asked.  I deleted my profiles on both sites and wrote for a refund since there was a three day grace period for Californians. I wonder if I will receive them.

Lesson learned?  Don’t listen to pressure from your friends but trust in the Lord.  Why am I blogging on this?  To warn others about the deceptions and dangers of online dating and certain sites.

I recommend the best way to meet that special man is to get involved in your church and meet godly men that way..  Attend singles groups which are in most churches.  Go to Christian singles retreats.

Protect your heart.  You only have one heart and you don’t need to have it broken by ungodly men.  Jesus loves you and adores you.  You are known and accepted by Him.  Only He can fill that deep place that longs for true love.  Once you know this love, you will be ready to receive the love of a godly man.  I am preaching to the choir and myself today!  Wait on Him. My blessing to you? May you meet the man of your dreams in His timing.

And watch out for those smiley faces.

He who finds a wife (husband) finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord.- Proverbs 18:22

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Happy Birthday to Me!..My Birthday Adventure

Vineyards

January 3 is my birthday.  52 years ago (dare I say my age?!) I came bouncing into this world with bright red hair and blue eyes with an Irish twinkle in them.  I was born into a large Italian Catholic family and my three sisters and I spent all our holidays up in the wine country in Northern California, visiting my cousins, aunts and uncles and grandparents. The towns were  sleepy vintner towns, before the yuppies came and turned them into art, wine and mud bath havens for wealthy tourists.

On my birthday, I decided to have an adventure.  I drove up to my family’s home town in my bright red Zip car, for a fun day of celebration.  My plan was to bike around town and visit all the old sites.  My grandparents house, their graves and do a little wine tasting.  It had been 7 years since I had been back or seen any of my family members who resided there.

This town has a town square complete with gazebo and park benches, to sit and soak up the sun in. Around the square I was surprised to see art galleries and wine tasting rooms in number. I set out in the surprisingly freezing cold morning on my bike to begin my adventure.

I biked to my grandparents’ house across from the high school and stopped.  There was the orange tree I used to climb in front of the old house on the corner, where home movies show me toddling with my Easter basket to pick up Easter eggs.  I walked around the corner to the lot where my Papa had his garden.  It was completely gone and I felt sad. I used to love to hear Nana say “Go out and pick me some fresh green beans for dinner.”  She made the most delicious vegetable soup which we would eat with warm bread fresh from the bakery.

Memories flooding my mind, I biked the short distance to the cemetery behind the sports field.  Nana and Papa died within six months of each other, she at 90 years and he at 95.  I had only been to the cemetery once since they had passed and I was anxious to find the plot.  I pushed my bike through the crumbling gravestones, looking for the family name. I walked up and down trying to vex my memory as to where the plot was located.  I prayed, Holy Spirit, please help me find the graves.

As I was about to give up, I saw a plot in the corner by the fence.  Yes, I remembered this from the funeral.  And there it was.  Catherine and James, devoted wife and husband.  Someone had put a Christmas wreath on the grave and I added my remembrance stones, as was typical to put on a Jewish person’s grave.  My Jewish heritage comes from my father’s side, and Nana was my Jewish Italian grandmother, though it was never discussed openly.

I was completely surprised what happened next. As I was telling my grandmother how much I missed her, I  broke into tears.  I began to sob how I wished I could talk to her about how the family relationships had all fractured since I shared the abuse I survived as a child.  How she would be the one person who would have told me the truth about what happened and confirmed my memories for me, which had been repressed for many years.

I know it would have broken her heart to hear what had happened to me. I could have cried on her shoulder over the horrible pain and devastation I experienced from the sexual trauma that happened to me as a child, a secret I had been forced to keep quiet all my life to prevent family shame.

Nana was the one person who instilled in me her strong faith in Jesus and prayed for me constantly.  She passed the faith torch to me, and I was the first person in my family to become born again and receive Jesus as my Lord and Savior.  She struggled with my decision to leave the Catholic Church and join an evangelical one.  But she never stopped loving me, or praying for me. How I missed her phone calls always telling me I love you.

After awhile, my crying subsided. I prayed one last prayer, asking her to help heal our family from Heaven.  I then said goodbye to my grandparents and biked away toward the town square.  I visited three or four art galleries, talking with the local artists and enjoying their art.  I love to view art with an artist’s eye and I was not disappointed.  Beautiful landscapes of grape vines in fall colors exploded on canvases as I walked by each painting.

Bread pudding

Feeling hungry, I stopped at a seafood tapas restaurant and had barbecued bacon wrapped scallops, followed by the most divine bread pudding, for my birthday dessert.  I love trying bread puddings wherever I go and this one definitely pleased.  Croissants soaked in creme brulee sauce with a layer of bananas and melted chocolate on top.  Yum!

After lunch, I walked around the corner and tried one of the local wineries’ tasting room, that had food pairings with each glass of wine.  I was the only one present and a very knowledgeable and friendly host welcomed me.  Liking only white wine, he began to serve me six different tastings, each with its own cheese sample.

Oh, the smooth taste of a light white wine, coupled with cheese topped with sea salt and truffles.  My taste buds exploded all over the place!  I had to laugh as I saw Jesus in my mind’s eye next to me enjoying his own glass of wine, experiencing both the joy and sadness on my special day.

By now, the sun had come out and the town had come to life, as others joined me in the tasting room.  I strolled back to my Zip car, with a smile on my face and contentment in my heart.  It had been a day of memories and closure, a town I no longer had to avoid because of my pain, as my heart was now whole again.

Jesus had come during a New Year Eve’s church service a few days earlier and healed my shame and heart over my abuse.  I didn’t think it was possible to put together my shattered heart but He did it!  I was now able to receive the love of God as my Heavenly Father, an image that had been distorted by my own father’s actions.

Every year on my birthday, I ask the Lord for a special Scripture to commemorate my day, and for the year ahead.  This year he gave me Psalm 45:13-15.

All glorious is the princess in her chamber, with robes interwoven with gold. With many colored robes she is led to the King, with her virgin companions following behind her. With joy and gladness they are led along, as they enter the palace of the King.

Yes, I now felt like a special princess for the first time in my life. I had discarded the dirty robes of shame for a robe interwoven with gold.  Joy and gladness did indeed fill my heart as He blessed me with His love on my birthday.

Do you need healing from sexual abuse in your life? Confidentially reply to me at miriam@giftsofhisglory.com and I will share resources and help for you to find healing in your life.

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My Christmas Miracle…

Christmas Day.  The alarm rang at 9am and I looked outside.  Rain.  Lord, it isn’t supposed to rain till this afternoon, I complained. The thought of going into the City to Union Square to see the Macy’s tree and ice skaters, something I love to do each Christmas, in the cold and rain made me want to climb back into bed.  But no, I knew I had a divine appointment, so I dressed warmly and ran for the train.

Christmas Eve, I had visions not of sugar plums dancing, but of meeting my husband-to- be over the skaters park, perhaps a surprise rendezvous.  I had asked the Lord for a husband and a car for my Hanukkah/Christmas miracles, not necessarily in that order, and he had promised me a Christmas miracle the next day. I knew the time was getting short until He brought that special man into my life and hoped Christmas day would be it!

Cold, freezing winds met me at the San Francisco train depot. I pulled my jacket tightly around me and hopped on Muni (the bus). I got off at Powell Street, seeing a man peeing in the street, a typical sight in San Francisco’s panhandler area.  Merry Christmas, I thought to myself.

As I walked past the line of tourists waiting for the cable car ride over the hill, I began to see the beggars on the street.  Compassion started to fill my heart and I rustled through my change purse for some money.  I usually give a $1 and a Billy Graham tract entitled “Peace with God” as food for their soul.  What use is giving money when I can give the gift of Jesus and salvation instead?  I blessed the first young man with the lost look in his eyes, praying God would bless him that day.

I have been studying the concept of blessing in my Beth Moore Believing God Bible study. Today’s lesson was on using our tongue to bless God and others, not to curse, but to bless.  I wondered as I sat on the train watching the familiar scenery go by, why do we have to bless God?  Doesn’t He have everything He needs?  I know we are to praise Him, as He is our King and Lord, our Holy One.  So I pondered over this.  Beth states God SPEAKS His blessings over us, using our names.  I envisioned Him saying this morning:  Miriam, I bless you with meeting that special man today.  WOW, I could just picture it.  There is such power in our tongues and while we don’t have the supernatural power God possesses when He speaks, we can use our tongues positively by quoting Scripture and using Jesus’ name to move mountains and bless others. (Mark 11:23, James 3:10)

As I hurried up Powell Street to Union Square, looking for a place to get my hot cocoa to sip while I watched the ice skaters and waited on my husband, I glanced to my left.  There sat a dejected young man who looked on the verge of tears.  “Iraqi Vet, need some help” his cardboard sign said.  My heart was instantly pierced with compassion for him, but I was out of change.  I saw a Starbucks open up ahead and went in.  Miriam buy that man a sandwich and tell Him I told you to do so, I heard the Lord’s voice whisper to my heart.  I picked out a ‘grandma’s turkey and dressing’ sandwich, got my hot cocoa and returned to the young man.

Hi, what’s your name? I asked.

John, he replied,  He was shivering without a warm coat.

My name is Miriam and I am a Christian,  I said.

I am a Christian too, he replied.

God promises us we will not have to beg for bread, so what’s going on? I asked.

I lost my job and am living in my truck.  I need a master cylinder for my truck and I am trying to get the money together, he responded.

Here’s a turkey sandwich, the Lord told me to buy it for you. He looked gratefully down at the sandwich in his hands, placing it on top of his garbage bag belongings.

Do you know about City Impact, a Christian rescue mission nearby in the Tenderloin?  I asked.

No, he softly replied.

They have a breakfast of pastries and coffee with a service in the morning, and a homemade dinner in the evening, all free.  They have bible study in the afternoon and you can hang out there out of the cold. I used to volunteer there to pray for the homeless.  They are just over on Jones and Turk streets,” I told him. They are even having a big Christmas dinner today.

His eyes got big and he excitedly told me Thank you Miriam, I will go there.

He shared some more with me that he suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and had shrapnel from the war, with no family to help him.  Well, you have the family of God to help you John, and you were my divine appointment for today.  God heard your prayers and saw you sitting here, and brought me up from San Carlos to help you find your way.  Tears came to my eyes and his.  I offered to pray for him and then hugged him.  I went into the nearby McDonald’s and returned with a hot coffee for him.

Thank you again, Miriam.

Tell them at City Impact Miriam sent you! I cheerfully replied.

As I walked away it happened.  A small flame of fire ignited in my heart and the love and compassion of Christ flooded me. Contentment and peace filled my heart. The joy of Christmas exploded in my soul. I silently blessed the Lord for allowing me to be His hands and feet to bring a Christmas miracle of hope to this lost little lamb of His.

Ice Skaters at Union Square, San Francisco

As I stood in the drizzle watching the ice skaters go round and round, reflecting on the beauty of the tall Christmas tree with its gold and red bulbs, I realized God had given me the best Christmas present ever.

I am a missionary by calling, and there is nothing that makes me happier than sharing the gospel of Jesus Christ and reaching out to those lost in homelessness and mental illness.  I was once in that place myself, having returned from the mission field after being traumatized by people in the occult.  I fought a different type of war than my friend John, a spiritual battle and war with the enemy of our souls, the Devil.  I came home with a clinical depression and PTSD, lost in the blackness of my mind.

My family, not wanting to be financially responsible for me, dumped me on the County mental health system, abandoning me to a shelter.  Not just any shelter but a psychiatric shelter  Think drama. I share this part of my story in my pre-published book Running from the Witches:  How the Redemptive Love and Power of Jesus Christ Healed My Life.  Stay tuned for chapter 7 –  One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest)

I could relate to John’s mental illness, his being down on his luck, needing the hand of Christ to pull him up. God allowed me to go through that darkness and homelessness so one day I could help another in the same situation. What Satan meant for evil, God meant for good (You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives. (Genesis 50:20))

Just last evening, I told the Lord how much I missed hands on ministry and praying for people one on one.  And then today, He gave me this opportunity with John.  Do I believe God had me get out of my warm bed just to go to the City to meet up with John and be the answer to his prayer?  Yes I do.  And in my faithfulness, I was blessed in return.  As I walked away after giving John his coffee, another homeless man begging for change said to me God bless you for doing that. I knew God had given me my Christmas miracle, I had indeed met a special man. I had set out to get a miracle, instead I became a miracle for someone else.  I got back on the train, thanking, and BLESSING my Lord, for now I understood the concept of blessing; a blessing will always comes back to bless you.

Will you pray for John and others suffering homelessness and mental illness? The next time you see one on the streets, take a moment and speak to them and find out their story.  Most are hungry and you can buy them a meal and be their blessing for the day.  After all, that is what Jesus would have done.

How has God blessed you this holiday season?  Leave me a reply…

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