Grace Through the Years

Grace Through the Years

Last November was 34 years sober for me. I was thinking yesterday about what started me on the road to sobriety. My brother was arrested for DUI, and asked me to go get some things for him from his apartment. He had a copy of “THE BIG BOOK,” from Alcoholics Anonymous, so I took that and read it, thinking it would help me understand his issue with alcohol.

The story that really spoke to me was about a man who didn’t realize he was an alcoholic until he retired. He drank all his life, but only on weekends. He worked, kept his job, lived a responsible life. But then when he retired, and had so much time on his hands, he was bored and stared drinking all the time, every day. This is was led him to realize he was an alcoholic and he got sober.

That’s what I did. I have always worked, so I was in denial, because I wasn’t lying drunk in a gutter somewhere. I had this preconceived idea of what an alcoholic was.

So now I am retired, and not working anymore, and I see how that could have happened to me. Amazing how God works in our lives. It is just interesting to look back and see what started me on my journey and now seeing how the redemption God gave me in Jesus freed me of what could have been. I am forever grateful for all that He has done and is doing for me, even now.

Titus 3:5
Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Ants and Insomnia

Ants and Insomnia

I looked at the time again as I sat on the couch, playing my game on my phone. It was 2:00 AM! I had to be up at 5:00 to get ready for work. Insomnia had plagued me for months. Nothing I tried had worked. I read article after article online about solutions for insomnia. I tried many, but still there were so many nights that I just could not go to sleep, so I would sit up until 12, 1, 2 AM until I got sleepy enough to fall asleep. After all the articles I read about insomnia, I felt like I had become somewhat of an expert at why I had this issue, but still no solution worked.

So I prayed and asked God to show me what the problem was. i knew He knew what it was and what would resolve it. A few days later, after dinner, I noticed ants on my kitchen counter, a LOT of ants. I couldn’t tell where they were coming from. My husband had some ant bait, so we put it on the end of the counter.

Then something my mother used to tell me kept running through my mind, “Don’t leave food or dirty dishes sit out. They will draw bugs.” It kept coming back to me several days in a row. it was a few days later, and still the ants kept coming. We kept putting out ant bait.

Then one evening after dinner, I had what is called a “lightbulb” moment. I had gotten in the habit of stacking my dishes on the counter after dinner, and doing them before I went to bed. I don’t know why I started doing that. Then, when I would get up to do the dishes before going to bed, it would wake me up, so I got a second wind, and I would be up until 12, 1, or 2 AM unable to go to sleep. I realized that was why the ants were coming, and subsequently why I couldn’t go to sleep at night. My body was telling me it was time to sleep, and instead I was getting up and washing dishes, and then I would be up late unable to go to sleep.

So…I knew God was showing me the solution and I changed. I began to clean up my dishes immediately after dinner. And when I began to get sleepy, I would get ready and go to bed. It was a wonderful answer to prayer, I haven’t had a problem going to sleep from that night on.

God is good, and He always answers prayer. He is faithful to show us the way.

Proverbs 3:24When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet.

Amazing Grace and Mercy

Amazing Grace and Mercy

It was a normal Monday evening in December. the week before Christmas. I was getting ready for bed, when I had this sense of urgency that someone was in some kind of danger, and had a need for prayer. I had no idea who it was or what it was they faced, but I could not ignore the urgency I felt. So I began to pray and worship the Lord. I remember the song by Chris Tomlin, You Are Faithful, kept rolling through my mind, so I began to sing it as I prayed. I spent about an hour praying that night, and then left it with God as I went on to bed.

The next day, at about 11:00 in the morning, I came back to my desk at work to see a voice mail on my phone from my husband. It only said, calling me by his nickname for me, “If you can hear this, please help me,” and then nothing more. I had no idea where he was, if he was sick, or what was happening. I couldn’t think for a moment, and my coworker told me to call 911. I did that and they said they would send the police to my home, and I should meet them there.

Because we only had one car, and my husband dropped me at work each day, my boss drove me to my home. When we arrived at our street, which is a cul de sac, there was a police cruiser at the top of the street. He asked who we were before letting us pass. When we arrived at my house there was a police detective on my porch along with a uniformed police officer. Across the street, another detective was exiting an unmarked police car, putting on a protective vest. I could not imagine what was happening. Our car was not in the driveway. The detective asked me to open the door so the officer could go in the house and check. My husband was not home, and no one was in the house. I still had no idea where he was or what was happening to him.

As I talked to the detective, he told me there had been another 911 call right around the same time as my husband’s call where a man was walking around a neighborhood with a shotgun making threats. Somehow the two calls had gotten mixed up and they thought that was my call. The detective then made a call and discovered that my husband was at the hospital. My boss drove me there and when we went into the emergency room, I was told he had a heart attack and was at that moment having a heart catherterization done.

Soon the doctor came to tell me my husband had 100% blockage in the left anterior descending artery of his heart, and that he had successfully inserted a stent to open the artery. This heart attack is called the “widowmaker,” because a very small percentage of people survive this type of heart attack. The doctor explained it was a miracle he survived and got to the hospital in time to have the stent inserted.

I found out from my husband after the fact that he had taken our cats to the vet that morning and began to feel very hot and began to sweat profusely. He took them home and let them in the house and decided to drive himself to the hospital. He called me from the car while driving himself to the hospital. He parked the car and walked in to the emergency room. When they have me the bag with the clothing had had been wearing, it was completely soaked through, including his winter coat.

I suddenly realized the he person I had prayed for the night before was my own husband. It was a miracle he survived, as the doctor said, and I knew that God, in His great mercy, had led me to pray that night. I will be forever grateful that I listened and obeyed his urging that December night.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations;

Serendipity or a Plan?

Serendipity or a Plan?

It was a Friday night in March of 1996. I was curious about this new thing called the internet and all it had to offer. So I opened it up and went to a site for Christianity Today Magazine. I found something called a bulletin board where people could chat online with other people of like interests. There was no social media as we know it today. It was just a bulletin board divided by age group, interests, etc. so I clicked into a board for “OVER 40s.” There were so many posts I thought I would go back to the very first one and go forward. I actually thought that what you were supposed to do.

I found a post by a man from Illinois that really caught my eye. I loved what he shared about his life, he was a Christian, he was very funny, and there didn’t seem to be anything superficial about him (i.e. he wasn’t just looking for eye candy). So I sent him an email and he responded back almost right away. The funny thing was, if I had not gone back to the beginning, i would not have found him, because he posted that in September of 1995, and the email address was one he hardly used anymore. He just “happened” to check it that night.

We started chatting online every Friday night after I finished work. We started to get to know each other, and ended up sending pictures to each other. I then gave him my phone number and we talked on the phone a few times. I had already decided to move to New Mexico, so I made plans to stop and visit him on my way across country. I had family in Indiana and Iowa, so it wouldn’t be out of my way to stop in Central Illinois. I did do that in July of 1996 and stayed for 4 days in a small local motel. We went hiking, out to eat, church, and just spent time together. It was almost an instant connection and we both felt it. I did go on to New Mexico, but we continued our communication by letters, emails, and phone calls.

He flew out to see me in September and proposed, and I said yes. I drove back to Illinois in December of 1996, and we married March 29, 1997, one year after I sent that first email. My life has been truly blessed by being married to this most wonderful man. He is brilliant, funny, kind, generous, and such a gift to me. We have had a wonderful life together filled with fun, new adventures, travel, learning, laughter, and grace,

I am truly grateful for the past 24 years with him, and pray that God will gift us with many more together. The Scripture says whoever finds a wife, finds a good thing, and obtains favor from the Lord. I think that could also be said when you find a husband like I did.

Proverbs 18:22

Whoso findeth a wife findeth a good thing, and obtaineth favor of the Lord.

Baking and Other Lessons

Baking and Other Lessons

Lately I have struggled with feeling down, maybe even depressed. All the things that have happened in the past year have really been difficult for me to handle. So the other morning I prayed and asked the Lord to help me get past it, help me to rise above and give me something to smile about.

Ken and I have a tradition that we allow ourselves one chocolate chip muffin a month, a special treat. We are weight watchers, but we also know never allowing yourself a treat can be self-defeating. In the past, we have purchased them at the local grocery store. But I have over the years developed a lot of food sensitivities, especially to genetically modified foods. So…I decided to make my own. I could make a batch and freeze them and take two out each month for us to enjoy. What could go wrong? I thought I could just use my favorite chocolate cake recipe and just add the chocolate chips. Easy, peasy, right?

So tonight I did just that. There is only one problem. The cake recipe I have uses boiling water. You pour the boiling water over the butter and then add the other ingredients. It’s a wonderful recipe, probably the best I have ever had. The only problem is when you add chocolate chips to hot batter, they melt! I had balls of melted chocolate mixed in the cake batter. Somehow I managed to spoon it into the cupcake liners, and they still taste good, even if the chocolate chips were melted blobs in the middle of the cupcakes!

Who knew God would answer my prayer by letting me do something that would let me laugh at myself? It was good and I am grateful. It just punched a big hole in the depression and deflated it. and it put things into perspective. It showed me that all is not lost, that life is still good. And it lifted my spirits and helped me forget the negative things that are happening around me. I felt God smiling at me and felt really loved by my Heavenly Father, who cares about me, and wants to bless me. He is a good, good Father and I am grateful.

This verse in my daily Bible reading this week really spoke to me and lifted my spirits:

22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
Hebrews 10_22-24 KJV

Looking Back to the Future

Looking Back to the Future

I was looking through some old pictures the other day and came across a birthday card I received in 1986 when I was preparing to move from Las Vegas to Northern Virginia. I was working in a casino with a very good job when I met someone and decided to move East. It really was, on my part, just another whim that I had engaged in for the past 15 years or so during a time when I was a practicing alcoholic. One of the things a friend wrote in the card caught my eye. She wrote, “Best wishes to you and your new beginning.” At the time I had no idea the prophetic significance of that sentence. But looking back it would prove out in my life.

I was far from God, living a very sinful and rebellious lifestyle with a man I was not married to. He talked me into moving to Virginia. I had never lived there or even visited there. It seemed crazy to most people to walk away from a good job and security to go into the unknown with someone I barely knew. But it proved to be the best thing that could have happened to me.

After moving back, we ended up moving to Frederick, Maryland. We stayed together for about a year and during those months, God began to draw me back to Him. I had become a Christian as a teenager, but fell away after a bad marriage and divorce and ended up in Las Vegas for 10 years. During that first year in Frederick, I began to clearly hear God calling me back. I began to read my Bible again. It didn’t happen quickly, but in August of 1987, I received a letter in the mail from a Messianic Jewish Congregation inviting people to join them. I had no idea what it was, but I was intrigued, so I called the number. That would prove to be the most important call I would ever make. The pastor’s wife answered the phone and we talked. That began a weekly phone call with her where she would counsel and pray for me. I did not meet her during this time, but I felt compelled to call her.

I finally got the courage to go and visit the congregation in November of that year. I had never met anyone in person, but when I walked in the door, a woman was in the entry holding a small child. I instinctively knew it was the pastor’s wife I had been having a weekly phone conversation with. When I walked up to her, she said. “You must be Lea.” It was amazing! We chatted for a while and then I went into the meeting and sat in the back. When I sat down, her husband came back to me and said, “You must be Lea. My wife has really been praying for you.” I was overwhelmed. That was the beginning of the most wonderful, amazing, and momentous changes to my life. I would be changed forever as the Lord truly set me free from a life of sin and degradation and gave me a brand new life.

Of course, I ended the relationship I was in and went on to work with the pastor and his wife in their ministry for nearly 10 years, 2 of those in Israel, before coming back to the United States and meeting my wonderful husband online. We will be married 24 years this March 29. It’s amazing what God will do to reach His lost ones. A simple letter and a phone call changed my life forever.

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations; KJV