Monday, December 28, 2009

Where's Your Joy?

By: Lisa Petrarca

Walking into class I noticed an older Asian lady standing near the back of the room. Her clothes were mix matched, black biker shorts, flowered green shirt over a red tank top and high yellow socks. It was a stark contrast to the stylish, younger crowd of dancers in the class.

As the class began the lady, tried to keep up with the complicated steps. Half way through however, she seemed to be dancing to her own music. Her arms flailed in the air, she jumped, kicked her feet up and then out to the side. I looked at her time and time again throughout the hour long class, each time smiling and actually giggling. I wasn't laughing at her. The lady radiated pure joy. She was beaming, cheeks flushed as she let out a laugh and then yelled, "Yaaay...ya...this is fun!" Others in the class were now smiling. She was infectious. Her happiness radiated and lifted the entire room.

What was it about her?

She was just one person. But...she decided to be happy no matter what. She knew that she couldn't keep up, yet she was still able to continue to find joy in what she was doing and shared her exuberance with everyone around her.

Be sure to look at the good things in your life, no matter what else is going on around you. Focus on the the blessings you've received from the Lord and change not only your circumstances, but others around you.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, long suffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.
Galatians 5:22-23

This week I would like to challenge each of you to wake up in the morning and think of five blessings in your life. Start your day off looking for the good, instead of going over your endless "To Do List" the minute your feet hit the floor. I think you'll be amazed at how your day will be transformed and the difference your attitude will have on others around you.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

My Christmas Miracle-A True Story

By: Lisa Petrarca
I wanted to re-post my true story, which happened over 13 years ago, but continues to leave a mark on my life today!

Christmas time was closing in on me and it had been a hard year. I was just newly separated and trying to support my three boys on a minimal income. Not to mention my ex was not paying child support, in fact he had completely disappeared. Christmas was just three weeks away. The panic I felt was so different from the years of joy that Christmas had always brought me. I knew that I would not be able to provide a Christmas for my kids. I was barely able to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. The agony and despair was tearing me up inside. I began having trouble breathing, not sleeping and would cry myself to sleep at night. The stress was almost too much to bear.

I was working at a bank and had made a few close friends. They were very sympathetic, uplifting and encouraging, always willing to listen and lend their support, which I must admit helped me make it through the days as Christmas drew near. The bank employees passed around the annual Christmas donation envelope, which would provide a Christmas for needy families, I took out a $5.00 bill and folded it so that no one could see the small amount of money that I was donating. I felt embarrassed at such a measly amount, but thought that there must be families going through worse situations than I was facing, families without a home, a warm place to sleep and food on the table. I quickly shoved the only amount I was able to give into the crisp white envelope and passed it to the person next to me.

Two days left, and still no way to get even a Christmas tree. I spent that long agonizing night awake trying to come up with some ideas to bring Christmas to my young innocent, trusting and excited children. What can I do to give my kids a Christmas? I awoke early and put on a cheery face for my kids. The dreaded day, Christmas Eve, I have never experienced a more miserable day in my life. The kids excitement was making it hard to fight back my tears. They thought that Santa would surprise them with a tree and the presents this year. I didn't even know what to tell them. How do you tell your sweet, naïve children that there would be no Christmas this year!

In the evening as I was preparing Macaroni & Cheese, which thank goodness the kids loved and thought was a very special Christmas Eve dinner, the doorbell rang. I opened the door and to my utter shock, there stood the entire bank staff, singing Christmas carols. Every single member of the staff was carrying armfuls of brightly wrapped presents with shiny silver, red and gold bows along with bags full of food, while the men unloaded a Christmas tree. The women hugged and comforted me as I began to sob uncontrollably.

The kids were squealing with excitement and said, “What’s wrong mommy? We told you that this was going to be the best Christmas ever”! The presents were flowing out from under the tree and seemed as if they were multiplying every time I looked over. They were spilling out from under the tree and into the entryway. The kids were running around the presents, trying to shake them to see if they could figure out what was inside. I looked over to see my youngest son being tossed in the air, blonde hair flying, cheeks flushed and giggling as he was caught and hugged. I had been chosen as the needy family this year. My “family” at the bank had made sure that my kids and I would have a wonderful Christmas. As I stood at the bottom of the stairs, looking over the picture in front of me, my only thought was, this is the true meaning of Christmas. These wonderful people have given much more than material gifts, they have brought the gift of hope, faith and love to a hopeless and desperate mother.

ADVICE:

This was the best Christmas I have ever had and looking back over the years and all the gifts that I've received and the "must have" items, I can honestly say that not one of the material gifts stand out in my mind. The gift of love and compassion from others is something that I will remember for as long as I live. During this Christmas season I hope my story will encourage others to make a difference in the lives of the less fortunate, it is a gift that lasts a life time. As Christmas time draws near, I want to challenge everyone to give of themselves not only monetarily but give the gift of love, kindness and advice to those who are suffering, struggling or in need of encouragement. You will never know how much your small gifts will touch the lives of others and change their world forever!

1. Volunteer to serve Christmas dinner to the homeless

2. Visit an elderly person or convalescent hospital to spend time with someone in need of love.

3. Organize a food drive in your community to take to a women's shelter / homeless shelter.

4. Have everyone bring an un-wrapped gift to your annual Christmas party. Then contact your local fire station or police dept. to drop the gifts off for them to distribute to local charities.

5. Invite a friend whose family is far away to spend Christmas at your home.

6. Invite your family and friends to participate - donate presents/food/Christmas tree to a local family in need of a Christmas Miracle!

7. Take your entire family to an orphanage to visit and love on children who need it.

8. Offer words of encouragement, love and advice to someone in need.

9. Share your personal life stories of your triumphs and defeats. You never know whose heart it will touch.

10. Step out of your comfort zone and make a difference in the lives of others. You will receive the gift of the TRUE MEANING OF CHRISTMAS.

And He said to me,"My Grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness."
2 Corinthians 12:9

"For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord."
Luke 2:11

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

I've Fallen & I Can't Get Up

By: Lisa Petrarca

Do you remember that old commercial in the 80's & 90's, in which an elderly lady fell down and used her "LifeCall" pendant to shout, "Help...I've fallen and I can't get up"?

As kids we often mimicked this commercial when one of us would trip and fall.
It was also a constant punch line for comedy skits on television shows like
Saturday Night Live.

I often wish during the difficult times in my life, when things seem to be falling apart around me, that I could push my pendant and shout, "HELP...I've fallen again and I can't get up!" LifeCall would respond immediately, sending someone over to help me get my life back in order.

Once I began to build a closer relationship with the Lord, praying each morning, reading the Bible and asking for His help throughout my day, in every situation, I realized that He is my LifeCall. He helps me when I fall down, He comes to my rescue when everyone around me has let me down. He picks me up and tells me, "I'm here, I will help you, let go and trust in me. Do not depend on your own weakening strength, lean on me and I will carry you to safety."

If you are feeling like you can no longer go on without help...make a LifeCall to God, He will ALWAYS answer!

Do not remember the former things, Nor consider the things of old. Behold, I will do a new thing, Now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it? I will even make a road in the wilderness.
Isaiah 43:18-19

And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.

Matthew 21:22

"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."
Joshua 1:9

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Why Worry?

By: Lisa Petrarca

Recently I was thinking back on all the times in my life that I've worried. So many things that I've spent hours, weeks, months, and even years thinking about. Trying to figure out how I might fix each and every situation. I even thought of ways that I could get out of problems that I might face in the future. It was overwhelming to my senses, putting my feelings and emotions on high alert. The worry consumed my day, each nerve exposed, living on the surface, exploding time and time again throughout my daily activities. It wouldn't take much to send me into a frenzy. If I wasn't worrying about my life, then I worried about other people.

Worry became a Badge of Honor. I was strategizing and preparing for whatever was thrown at me so I would never be caught off guard. Worrying about others made me feel like a caring and good friend. I was trapped behind this false pretense.

Worry is a trap, a trick of the enemy. It keeps our minds so busy and overwhelmed that we can see nothing but the problems. We forget to pray and turn EVERYTHING over to the Lord and let Him handle it. We forget to trust and have faith that He will never leave us nor forsake us. He has given us a promise, all we have to do is LET GO. It is scary, but you've tried handling things yourself and you continue to feel stress, anxiety, disappointment and fear. LET GO, turn every single care and worry over to the Lord. You will find peace in every area of your life, no matter how difficult the situation. He is waiting and asking, "Why worry, I'm here to help you, let Me carry your burdens."

Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Is That You?

By: Lisa Petrarca

I spotted him the minute he entered the stadium. He made his way to the bleachers directly below me. I chuckled to myself...the resemblance was uncanny. I looked around to see if anyone else had noticed.

A small boy sitting next to me had covered his mouth, eyes the size of saucers, turned to look at me with complete amazement and shock. He pointed and said, “It’s Santa Clause! He’s here watching the football game too.”

I couldn’t resist, “Yes, I saw him too.” I smiled, “Did you tell him what you want for Christmas yet?”

He shook his head rapidly back and forth, “Nope.”

Feeling the child inside of me rising to the surface, I watched his face light up, then whispered, “Maybe you should go tell him what you want.”

He raised his eyebrows, large blue eyes sparkled, “I’m going to go tell him!” He popped up and looked around to find his friend, “There’s Santa, let’s go tell him what we want for Christmas,” he giggled. They both hopped like rabbits, two feet together, jumping onto each wobbly bleacher, inching closer to Santa. Stopping three bleachers above him they shouted, “Santa, Santa, is that you?” The deafening noise of the crowd cheering on our local high school football team drowned out their shouts.

With nervous anticipation they hopped down two more levels, and yelled again, “Santa, Santa is that you?” A moment later the two boys, sprinted up the bleachers in my direction. With flushed cheeks they breathlessly said “It’s him and Mrs. Clause too!”

I grinned, “What did he say?”

Unable to sit still, he wiggled, twisted and danced around, still out of breath, “It’s...really (deep sigh) really him and he...he winked at me. I knew it was him!” His friend stood beside him unable to speak, just nodding his head in agreement.

“You didn’t tell him what you wanted?” I asked.

Shaking his head again, “No but we’re going back down to tell him.” This time they didn’t hop, they ran down the bleachers...excited to have discovered Santa and Mrs. Clause. They wanted to be the first to tell him about all of the presents that they wanted him to bring them.

Why don’t we find the same excitement in running to the Lord? Imagine if our faces lit up with excitement and anticipation, as we awoke each morning knowing that God has a gift for us today. Anxiously running downstairs everyday to sit in a quiet place to read the Bible and see what He has for your day, praying and talking to Him.

His present to each of us is life changing. It’s worth more than gold, silver, diamonds and rubies or anything of this world. He has given us the most incredible and amazing gift...His son and our Savior Jesus Christ. Run to Him like a child ready to receive the presents he has to offer you. He will give you forgiveness, peace, joy, love, happiness and salvation. Don’t leave your presents sitting on the table unwrapped! Call out to God…he will hear you through the deafening noise of your life and troubles.

Build on the Rock
"But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do the things which I say? Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. "But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."
Luke 6:46-49

Build your foundation on the rock that God has given you and you will withstand all of the troubles of this life. UNWRAP YOUR GIFT!

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Trust The Unchanging Rock

Ending Your Day Right
By: Joyce Meyer


Feelings are emotions that are always changing, so you cannot depend on them. As a follower of Christ, you must learn to live by truth and wisdom, not by feelings and emotions.

1 Corinthians 10:4 refers to Jesus as the Rock. An important part of His nature is His emotional maturity, which includes unchanging stability. During His time on earth, Jesus did not allow himself to be led around by His emotions. He was led by the Spirit even though He was subject to all the same feeling we experience in our daily lives. Jesus was always the same.

And He is still the same...and will be forever. You can safely put your trust in Him today, knowing He will not change, but will help you develop the same kind of emotional maturity and stability that marked His own life.

Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
Hebrews 13:8

Monday, November 16, 2009

Can You Be Still?

Today I received an email that really touched me. How many of us truly listen? When someone speaks are you too busy thinking about what your going to say as soon as they stop? This message really hit home!

Being the Stillness
Bonnie Grove, She Reads Featured Author
Devotion:
I have sought comfort in the book of Job many times in my life. After I buried my infant son, I asked, "Why?" God reminded me that when Job asked the same question His answer was, "Who?"

While laying on a hospital bed knowing for certain I would lose the twins I had carried only a few precious months, God reminded me how in the midst of Job's suffering, God came. And in the whirlwind He answered. Not right away, not in Job's time, but in God's time - the perfect time when Job's heart could take in the words of healing.

In the years following those dark events, I trained in theology, counseling and psychology. I was on a quest to understand my brokenness, and that of others. I'm still on that quest, though my formal training is behind me.

One evening, I was in conversation with a man who was going through a divorce and was in obvious pain. He spoke of his daughter, and how his hopes for the future had been destroyed. When he finished speaking I sat in silence, knowing I had no great words to offer. Spent from telling his story, he too sat quietly.

Our silence stretched into minutes. Then, the man began to cry. I sat with him, keeping his tears company, and still said nothing. More minutes passed, and the man said, "That's the first time I've cried since this whole mess started." Then he said something surprising: "You've helped me so much. Thank you."

The silence had changed something for him. From my perspective, the silence was a result of my limitations as a counselor - I was empty handed. But it became clear to me there was something powerful at work. I remembered how Job's friends sat in silence with him for seven days and nights. With that in mind, I began to pay close attention to silence. I found that by being quiet, I could better understand my thoughts, fears, hopes, and desires. And in my long silences I was able to sense God's presence and hear His voice. When I sat with the man going through a divorce I listened to him without interruption. Then, by saying nothing, I helped him listen to what God had to say to him.

There are astounding lessons to be learned from the act of listening. I have learned that listening is an act of love. It is not passive; it is intentional, engaging with the heart and mind of another person. To listen you must turn off all outside distractions; say "no" to the world rushing by you. A sacred act of deliberate silence and meaningful pause, listening helps people clear a space in their life, heart, and mind in order to simply "be." Our listening is an important gift. I am learning to make it my first response. Through listening I want to provide the stillness God speaks into.

Dear Lord, bring me into a deeper silence before You, that I may hear Your voice, and in hearing, believe, and in believing, listen to the heart of others. When people hurt Lord, let me first offer them my listening, not my advice. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

"Then they sat down on the ground with him for seven days and seven nights with no one speaking a word to him, for they saw that his pain was very great."
Job 2:13 (NASB)

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

A MUTT, A MARINE & A MIRACLE...A True Story

Major Brian Dennis of the United State Marine Corp. had a life changing experience while in Iraq. His troop was patrolling the Syrian border in October 2007 when they came across a group of stray dogs. This was very common in the desert where you would often find several packs of dogs and wolves roaming around.

They all got into their Humvee when a dog came running up. An Iraqi soldier had cut off the tops of the dogs ears to make him look tough. The Major bent down to pet him and said, “You got little nubs for ears.” They all began calling him Nubs.

Every couple of weeks they would return to the Border Fort and he would feed him food scraps and Frosted Strawberry Pop Tarts. Each night Nubs would patrol the area with the Major, as if he too was on duty. When they would leave Nubs would run beside the Humvee, which was traveling at 40 mph, keeping up with them until he became worn out and would disappear into the dust.

One day when they returned to the area to patrol, they found Nubs badly wounded on his side from being stabbed with a screwdriver. The wound was badly infected so they pulled out some antiseptic from their kits and some antibiotics and fed it to him with some peanut butter. That night Nubs was in so much pain that he didn’t eat or drink and slept standing up because he could not lay down.

The next day Nubs was doing better, but once they left the Major couldn’t stop thinking about him, wondering if he would survive. Two weeks later when they returned they found Nubs alive & well. The Major said that he feels that was the turning point in their relationship.

This time when the Humvees left, Nubs continued to follow. He lost sight of them but somehow continued the two-day journey. Nubs traveled 70 miles in freezing temperature, without food or water, surviving attacks from several wild dogs and wolves. He fought and ran and fought and ran, until he eventually reached the camp, torn and chewed up. When the Major walked outside his tent, Nubs jumped up on him licking his face with joy and excitement. No one could believe that he had followed them so many miles and was able to survive the trip through the desert and find them.

The Major had found a very special friend but knew he wasn’t able to keep him at the camp. He decided to e-mail family & friends to try and raise money to have him shipped to his home in San Diego. They heard the incredibly touching story and were so inspired that they were able to raise $5,000.00 to have Nubs flown to CA. One month later the Major finished his tour and was reunited with Nubs. They have an incredible bond that was established through an act of kindness. He has written a children’s book titled, "Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle," published by Little, Brown for Young Readers.

This story is a reminder that a simple act of kindness can have an incredible effect on not only animals, but people too. When you see someone who looks beaten down, sad, lonely, discouraged or hungry. Take a moment to stop and offer a kind word, smile, words of encouragement or a meal.

That one simple gesture may just help someone rise above their current circumstance and change their life. If a dog can travel over 70 miles, endure pain and the freezing elements, imagine what a human being can do with a little help!

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one anothers feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them."
John 13:14-17

"And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever - the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you. I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you."
John 14:16-18

"But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name. He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you."
John 14:26

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Fix It Now!


I just finished putting the last of the groceries away and put a baked potato in the microwave when the lights went out. We scrambled around to find some matches and candles. Expecting the lights to go on in 10 to 15 min., we sat down to eat our chicken and bread dinner by candlelight.

An hour went by, still pitch dark…now I was starting to get a little angry. A show I had been waiting to watch was coming on. I thought, “What are those guys doing? They need to fix this problem NOW!”

The time stretched to three hours…pitch black. My mind now raced to all the food I had just bought. “What is going on?” We finally decided to just go to bed because there wasn’t anything we could do about the situation. At 4:30 a.m. all the power came back on.

During the dark times in your life do you find yourself worrying? Are you filled with anxiety and stress while your waiting for something to change? We cry out to God, “Fix this problem NOW! I have tried everything, I can’t take it anymore.” Nothing seems to happen…everything stays dark.

What we don’t see is what’s going on behind the scenes. I didn’t know how the electrical company was going to fix the problem and turn on my power. But I knew that they were going to make it happen. I knew that I could go to sleep and wait for them to do their job.

We need to adapt this same mentality with God’s work in our lives. He has a plan for us. We may want something to happen NOW…but he knows there are some things that we aren’t yet ready for. Know that He is working behind the scenes in your life. In times like this, pray and ask for Him to fill you with his peace, trust and FAITH.


For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:11-13

Sunday, October 25, 2009

EXERCISE WHAT?

Story by Lisa Petrarca

I’ve been planning on starting an exercise routine for the past year… well truthfully, the past three years. I complain about the way my body looks, I’m sore, achy and flabby. It’s always “Next week I’ll start for sure.” Next week comes and it gets pushed back another week. I’m too tired, busy, lazy…whatever the reason, I always find an excuse. It’s not easy to start, but no one can deny the difference in the way you look and feel once you do.

Our minds also need exercise. They get filled with all sorts of “junk”. Our thoughts can be compared to the food that we put in our body. Constantly putting bad thoughts…(you’re not smart, you always mess up, what’s the matter with me, you will never be able to quit that habit, everyone would just be better off without me, your an addict you'll never change, I’m so ugly, I’m too fat) the list is endless.

The “food” that is supposed to be nourishing our minds, is actually doing the opposite. We fill our head with so many negative thoughts there isn’t room for the positive things. Our heads become “overweight”…they need exercise. We need to trim down our bad thoughts. The exercise that’s needed starts with making time FIRST thing in the morning to feed it with positive, uplifting things. Make an appointment, add it to your day planner, outlook calendar, whatever you need to do to start your MIND EXERCISE ROUTINE.

Have the Bible set next to your bed. Before you get out of bed, reach over and start reading. When you’re done, pray to the Lord to fill you with His love, patience and peace for the day. Pray for strength to do it again tomorrow.

Like exercising this will eventually become easier the longer you do it. Before you know it your mind is being filled with healthy, nourishing food. You’re no longer focusing on your shortcomings, problems, insecurities, hang ups and addictions. Your mind is finally in shape and you are able to reach your true potential. The Lord has called you for something better. START YOUR EXERCISE ROUTINE TODAY!

Sow for yourselves righteousness, reap the fruit of unfailing love, and break up your unplowed ground; for it is time to seek the Lord, until He comes and showers righteousness on you.
Hosea 10:12

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

THE FIGHT

By: Lisa Petrarca

“Here we go again! I’m so tired of the same argument over and over again,” she shouted at her husband. “Why can’t you just leave me alone and mind your own business!” He replied, “You never listen to a word I say. I know what I’m talking about. Why can’t you just listen? Then we wouldn’t have to always have the same fight.”

She took in a deep breath, ready to let him have it again. But then something hit her…as if someone was speaking inside of her.

“Haven’t you been praying for help with your mouth? You thought you were doing so much better and that HE was the problem. But wait, aren’t you the problem too. You have lashed out and now you both have said very mean and hurtful things to each other.”

She felt as if the air had been sucked out of her. She had been praying and asking for help in this area. She thought she had gotten better and overcome the issue, only to be confronted with it once again. Had she really overcome it or was she back at square one? Heading around the same mountain that she had been going around for years.

“Why does this keep happening to me? I want to be a better person and just when I think I am, I blow it again. I get sucked into situations that make me explode,” she whispered.

Then the answer came to her. “You have cleaned the outside, but inside you still harbor bitterness, anger and resentment. You will now need to work on the things INSIDE that cause you to react this way. All of the painful issues from the past that you are still hanging on to. They are controlling you and you need to let all of it go. You need to realize who you are in Christ. You are a new person. Let His peace fill your emptiness. There is much work to do, but I’m here for you, trust Me enough to let go, I’ll carry your pain and burdens.”

With that, she began to weep, knowing that she needed to give up everything that was buried deep within her to Heavenly Father. She needed to learn to trust again.

Instead of looking at the person you have problems with, take time to search yourself. What do you need to work on? Are you going around the same mountain? Do you have issues that you need to lay at the Lord’s feet? You can’t change someone else, but you can change yourself. Ask the Lord to help you…he will carry your pain. Remember, until we let go of the past, we can never truly move on to the blessings and peace that is waiting for each of us.


“For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

“To you first, God, having raised up His Servant Jesus, sent Him to bless you, in turning away every one of you from your iniquities.”
Acts 3:26

Monday, October 5, 2009

Lost Dreams

Story By: Lisa Petrarca

He had hopes and dreams in his youth. He played hide and seek, dodge ball and had many friends. He had food on the table, slept in a warm bed at night and had parents who loved him very much. In high school he was the star quarterback, went to dances and had a steady girlfriend. But that one evening irrevocably changed his life forever.

It was Saturday night, the mist covering the windshield as they headed up the steep, windy mountain rode. Three cars filled with boys, girls and beer. They had just won the biggest game of the year against their rival school. It was going to be a night of celebrating.

They reached the top, piled out and started to party. Half an hour later, five cars pulled into the dusty parking lot. A group of people jumped out. They were older and looked like a rough crowd.

The quarterback was drunk and agitated that they were trying to crash the party. He shouted, “Get out of here! You need to find somewhere else to go…this is our spot.”
The rough crowd charged him. A teammate jumped in front of the quarterback, something bright flickered in the moonlight. Sliding into his chest, he slumped over and fell to the ground. They ran to their cars, tires spinning up dust as they sped away from the scene of the crime.

Stunned, the quarterback picked up his teammate, running to his car he carefully put him inside. He raced to the nearest hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. The knife had penetrated his heart.

Life was never the same, he felt responsible for his teammates death. He began to drink heavily and take drugs to numb the pain and guilt. As the years passed his hopes and dreams faded away, he withdrew from life.

The homeless man stood at the corner. He was dirty, hungry and cold. The harsh realities of life along with his poor choices and guilt had beaten, worn and taken away all of his dignity. People walked past him, as he held his sign up asking for food. They looked at him with disdain. Someone shouted, “Get a job loser!”

The homeless star quarterback was asking for food, but he also needed love, compassion and forgiveness. He had been judged his entire life. Who would reach out to him? Who would see past his appearance and notice the lost, hurting soul inside? He needed nourishment for his soul. He needed the love of Christ.

When you look at others, do you see their appearance or do you try to look at them through Christ’s eyes? It’s so easy to judge, but we are called to be different. Remember, our actions should speak louder than words. Don’t walk by someone needing your help. Show them the love and compassion of your Savior Jesus Christ.

“If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you. Most assuredly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them.” John 13:14-17




Thursday, October 1, 2009

CLEAN UP THE MESS


Story By Lisa Petrarca

With my hand on the doorknob, I took a deep breath, turned the handle and stepped inside. Immediately taking in several deep breathes, trying to anticipate what awaited me at the top of the stairs. The aroma was strong, but I couldn’t be sure until I rounded the corner. Just as I suspected there it was, three separate spots on the carpet.

I immediately began to yell and scold my dog, who replied with a wailing howl, knowing that she was in trouble once again. She refuses to consistently use the doggy door to relieve herself outside.

There is no rhyme or reason to her behavior; it just seems to be whatever her mood is. This leaves all of us very anxious when we walk in the door.

What would happen if I just left the poop on the floor? Day in and day out letting it pile up…before long it would leave such a stink that it would become unbearable.

Now, lets replace the “poop” with our thoughts & feelings. Have you allowed negative thoughts and feelings to pile up? Do you start your mornings off by filling it with all of the things you need to accomplish? Are you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, jealous, hurt, angry with your spouse, children, friend, or neighbor?

God wants us to take every thought and feeling captive. Start your morning out talking to Him. Ask Him to help take away all of the negative things that is stealing your happiness. Open up your Bible…read a scripture and start your day right.

You’ve made a choice to clean up the “poop” before you leave the house. You are on your way to taking control of your thoughts and feelings by turning them over to your Heavenly Father and asking for His help.

HE IS THERE TO HELP US CLEAN UP THE MESS!

I cry out to the Lord with my voice; with my voice to the Lord I make my supplication. I pour out my complaint before Him; I declare before Him my trouble. When my spirit was overwhelmed within me, then You knew my path.
PSALM 142:1-3


I cried out to You, O Lord: I said, “Your are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living. Attend to my cry, for I am brought very low; deliver me from my persecutors, for they are stronger than I. Bring my soul out of prison, that I may praise Your name; the righteous shall surround me, for You shall deal bountifully with me.”
PSALM 142:5-7

Thursday, September 24, 2009

It's Only a Season


Images By: www.landolfiphoto.com/Site_2/4_SEASONS.html
Story By: Lisa Petrarca

No matter what happens, severe heat, raging fires or the drought of summertime...fall and winter is just around the corner. Changing the color of the leaves, grass and blowing in cooler weather. Winter sneaks in to provide rain and snow to renew the land. Just when you feel as though you can't take the chilly weather anymore, it begins to warm up. Winter has refreshed and replenished, making the beauty of spring possible. Brilliant red, yellow and purple flowers sprout up and bloom. Fruits and vegetables begin to grow...bringing with it renewed life.

In life we too have seasons; happy, sad, difficult, easy...change is always happening. Something new is just around the corner. The difficulty is often in the waiting. Learning to be patient for the new season to make everything right. During these times we need to remember that Heavenly Father is always there. Through prayer and His word, you'll find food, water and shelter for your soul. It's everything you'll need during the seasons of drought and storms.


Don't deprive yourself the nourishment you need to weather the storms of this life. Remember that through the gift of Jesus Christ you have a new beginning, a fresh start to the ever changing seasons of life.


To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven: A time to be born and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to pluck what is planted. A time to weep and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance. A time to gain, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to throw away; A time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence and a time to speak.
Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4,6,7

Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water. That brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
Psalm 4:1-3

Saturday, September 12, 2009

THE DOOR

Story By: Lisa Petrarca

I sat, locked away, wondering how to open the door. A prisoner behind a wooden fortress. Each day spent frantically searching for a way out. By nightfall, completely worn out. I knew that if I could open the door, everything would be better in my life. All the anger, hurt and frustration would be gone. On the other side, I would find the answer, happiness would finally be a part of me. Pounding, pushing hitting only produced deep rivets in the wood, but it wouldn't give.

My sins had trapped me here. My past haunting me, searching to find freedom on the other side. My mental focus on that door. Years past, the days spent consumed with the door, now deeply scarred, chunks ripped out, exposing lighter wood and splinters. My hands torn and bloody, my soul still longing to be free. Breathless and exhausted, the time spent looking at my captor, my burden, had taken its toll.

No more! Throwing myself to the floor, tightly curled in a fetal position, crying from the pit of my stomach, gasping for air, unable to look at that door. I cried out to God to save me. This was the first time I had thought of anything but the door. I cried over and over, "Please release me from this prison. I have tried to get out...I have nothing left, I give up, I can't look at it for another minute."

The Lord replied, "My child, that door represents your sin. You have focused on it for far too long, keeping you away from all that I have for you. Your past has held you prisoner. It has kept you away from Me. You were too blinded by sin to see the other door. My door...which I provided for you, through my only begotten son, Jesus Christ. He provided the key. Through His sacrifice you no longer need to look at the door of your sins. You are forgiven, My door is open...YOU ARE FREE."


"Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened." Matthew 7:7,8

Don't continue to let your sin keep you away from a relationship with your Heavenly Father. Stop spending so much time focusing on it and ask the Lord to set you free!

Monday, September 7, 2009

Turn Off Your Cruise Control

I often dream of going to far off places. Visiting other countries, seeing different cultures, sites and people, breaking free of my normal life. Adventure and change has always held an appeal to me.

Taking small road trips in the meantime to satisfy my need to explore. Stopping at abandoned homes to take rustic pictures, imagining who lived there, what happened in their lives that made them leave. Trying to look at things in a different way, finding beauty and joy in the unexpected.


However, in my everyday life, I find change very difficult. I get stuck in my routines, going to work, pick up the kids, make dinner, clean up, and then getting everything ready for the next day and start all over again.

Why do we go on auto pilot? Saving up excitement and joy only for vacations. You need to turn off the cruise control. Open your eyes to what is going on around you. The adventure you are seeking can be the lonely neighbor who's lost a loved one and needs some company. A friend who asks for help. The elderly person struggling to unload their groceries, or cheering up a co-worker with a smile, and encouraging words.

It may not sound like the adventure you were hoping for, but there is absolutely nothing more satisfying than giving of yourself...living a Christ like life. He has shown us the true way to happiness...showing love to others by giving of yourself. Take a look around you this week and see if you can find an adventure waiting especially for you! Turn off your cruise control & auto pilot...step into the excitement all around you. Pray that God will open your eyes to your true purpose and remove the blinders! Only then will you find true peace, happiness and joy that may be missing from your life.

Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand. Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:4-7

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

A Child Like Faith

by: Lisa Petrarca

Remember when you were young? The days were filled with laughter and joy. The cares of yesterday and tomorrow never seemed to matter. We lived in the moment...finding satisfaction in the small simple things of life.
God wants us to live with the same child like faith of our youth. He wants us to stop worrying about things we cannot change. This only brings stress and anxiety, which eventually leads to illness, sadness, anger and frustration. But it NEVER changes a thing. When you feel overwhelmed take it to your Father in Heaven and ask Him to fill your heart with His peace. He wants you to find the joy of your youth...this will free you up mentally to follow Christ's example.

JOY IN THE SIMPLE THINGS- (photos by Lisa Petrarca)

There are several examples of complete Faith in the Bible:

Abraham
-Had faith that God would give him a child at the age of 101 even though his body was as good as dead and his wife Sarah's womb was dead. (Roman's 4:20-22 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why "it was credited to him as righteousness.")

The Bleeding Woman-
Had faith that she would be healed if she only touched Jesus' cloak. (Matthew 9:19-22 Just then a woman who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, "If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed." Jesus turned and saw her. "Take heart, daughter," he said, "your faith has healed you." And the woman was healed from that moment.)

Noah
-Built the Ark even though everyone thought he was crazy...he had faith in God's word and followed through.

Moses
- Had faith to guide the Israelites out of slavery and captivity, parting the Red Sea...he trusted God.

David- Had faith that he could defeat Goliath with his slingshot because he trusted the Lord.

The Bible is filled with story's of Faith. If you need some encouragement to let go and start living with child like faith and joy, pray and ask for HIS help. Let Him speak to you through His written word. TRUST YOUR FATHER IN HEAVEN!

The Miracle of a Brother's Song

TRUE STORY~as told by Karen Simmons Knapp (Grandmother)

Like any good mother, when Karen found out that another baby was on the way, she did what she could to help her 3-year-old son, Michael, prepare for a new sibling. They found out that the new baby was going be a girl, and day after day, night after night, Michael sang to his sister in Mommy's tummy. He was building a bond of love with his little sister before he even met her.


The pregnancy progressed normally for Karen, an active member of the Creek United Methodist Church in Morristown, Tennessee. In time, the labor pains came. Soon it was every five minutes, every three, every minute. But serious complications arose during delivery and Karen found herself in hours of labor. Would a C-section be required?

Finally, after a long struggle, Michael's little sister was born. But she was in very serious condition. With a siren howling in the night, the ambulance rushed the infant to the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Mary's Hospital, Knoxville, Tennessee.

The days inched by. The little girl got worse. The pediatrician had to tell the parents there is very little hope. Be prepared for the worst. Karen and her husband contacted a local cemetery about a burial plot. They had fixed up a special room in their house for their new baby they found themselves having to plan for a funeral. Michael, however, kept begging his parents to let him see his sister. I want to sing to her, he kept saying. Week two in intensive care looked as if a funeral would come before the week was over.

Michael kept nagging about singing to his sister, but kids are never allowed in Intensive Care. Karen decided to take Michael whether they liked it or not. If he didn't see his sister right then, he may never see her alive. She dressed him in an over sized scrub suit and marched him into ICU. He looked like a walking laundry basket. The head nurse recognized him as a child and bellowed, "Get that kid out of here now. No children are allowed." The mother rose up strong in Karen, and the usually mild-mannered lady glared steel-eyed right into the head nurse's face, her lips a firm line. He is not leaving until he sings to his sister" she stated.

Then Karen towed Michael to his sister's bedside. He gazed at the tiny infant losing the battle to live. After a moment, he began tossing. In the pure-hearted voice of a 3-year-old, Michael sang: "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine, you make me happy when skies are gray." Instantly the baby girl seemed to respond. The pulse rate began to calm down and become steady. "Keep on singing, Michael," encouraged Karen with tears in her eyes. "You never know, dear, how much I love you, please don't take my sunshine away. "As Michael sang to his sister, the baby's ragged, strained breathing became as smooth as a kitten's purr. "Keep on singing, sweetheart."


"The other night, dear, as I lay sleeping, I dreamed I held you in my arms". Michael's little sister began to relax as rest, healing rest, seemed to sweep over her. "Keep singing, Michael." Tears had now conquered the face of the bossy head nurse. Karen glowed. "You are my sunshine, my only sunshine. Please don't take my sunshine away..."

The next, day...the very next day...the little girl was well enough to go home. Woman's Day Magazine called it The Miracle of a Brother's Song. The medical staff just called it a miracle. Karen called it a miracle of God's love.

NEVER GIVE UP ON THE PEOPLE YOU LOVE. LOVE IS SO INCREDIBLY POWERFUL.

"Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light."
Matthew 11:28-30

"He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
Matthew 10:39

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

The Broken Wheel

Story By: Lisa Petrarca

My car began to rattle, first the steering wheel then the seat, until it felt like a minor earthquake was happening inside. Several weeks prior I had noticed the steel thread on my tire was beginning to show, but I knew that without money and time, I would have to hope that I didn't have a blow out.

The longer I waited the worse the shaking became. Turns seemed to be the worst. I would grip tightly onto the wheel trying to control it. I found myself feeling intense stress every time I got in the car. I wondered, "Is today going to be the day?"


I started to think about how that worn, broken wheel is like life. We begin to make bad choices (wearing the tread). Each wrong choice slowly tearing us apart. Things become broken and shaky, but we try to ignore it. We grip on tighter to the wheel, trying to handle it alone. The stress begins to build up inside, but we push it down. We know that something is wrong but don't know how to fix it. The longer we continue down the same path, the worse things become..until one day we have a blow out.

Our life crashes around us and we need help.
If you feel like you're headed for a blow out...open up your Bible and let God speak to you. Jesus prepared a way for us to be forgiven and have a fresh start. Stop and pray...He will change you, fix you and take away your worry and stress...you only have to ask.

He is the bridge that gets you over the difficult times...to the treasure that awaits you!

"I, the Lord, have called You in righteousness. And will hold Your hand; I will keep You and give You as a covenant to the people, As a light to the Gentiles. To open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the prison, Those who sit in darkness from the prison house. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I declare; Before they spring forth I tell you of them." Isaiah 42:6-7, 9

I will bring the blind by a way they did not know; I will lead them in paths they have not known. I will make darkness light before them. And crooked places straight. These things I will do for them, and not forsake them." Isaiah 42:16

HIS CREATION.....

Friday, July 24, 2009

Do You Have The Butterfly Effect?

Story By: Lisa Petrarca

As a little girl my sister & I loved to catch the “black furry caterpillars.” We would get a shoe box, punch dozens of air holes in the top. Then it was time to scour around the neighborhood looking for all the décor. Lots of broken tree branches with bright green leaves still attached, Small twigs, grass, and a little dirt. We wanted our new pet to feel right at home in his new environment.
Finding the caterpillar was another adventure. This process could take days, sometimes weeks, but we never failed to catch our “pet.” We took it home and with a sense of pride, presented it to our mom, who promptly replied, “That better not get out of the shoebox or it’s the last time you’ll ever have one!”

We would play with our little fuzzy pet daily. We even took him on bike rides, carefully placing the “home” in the basket and taking it out to show our friends. One day, not long after we had it, we went to pull out our little fur ball, but it wasn’t there. In its place was a small green pouch, hanging beneath the tree branch. Our "pet" had made a cocoon, and was undergoing a new transformation.

Two weeks went by as we waited for our caterpillar to change. It was frustrating; we were impatient, checking the box daily; knowing that once it had changed forms, we'd have to let it go. It was a strange mixture of emotions, sad to give up our new friend, but excited to see the change.

The day finally came...lifting the corner of the box, to peak inside...bright orange and black wings fluttered. With a squeal of delight, I ran to tell my sister. We gently carried the box outside, preparing to let it free. We counted in unison, “1..2...3!” Opening the lid...it burst out, fluttering up, lingering in front of us for a moment, as we gazed at its beauty, then higher and higher until it was out of sight.


In our lives, many of us are like my pet caterpillar, stuck in our everyday box. We have made a comfortable home there, however, we are made for more than what we are currently living. We have a bigger purpose, something that is greater than we can imagine.

We slowly began the painful process of sitting inside our cocoons. Each of our cocoons look different, just like caterpillars. Your transformations are happening under the disguise of difficult times. You may be jobless, sick, hurting, lonely, unfulfilled, grieving, fearful, angry, sad, or worried...we all have cocoons. We need to realize that during this process, God is right beside us, carrying us safely through our transformation. He will help us when we cry out to Him...moving us ever so gently towards whom we are supposed to be. We need to be patient, this change cannot happen overnight. We need to shed our “old skin” and with faith, patience, prayer and time, He will help us to eventually emerge as the butterfly, brilliant, beautiful and free...knowing how to fly because of complete faith. You are fulfilling God’s will and true purpose for your life. You have become the person that God intended you to be!
He says, “I removed the burden from their shoulders; their hands were set free from the basket. In your distress you called and I rescued you, I answered you out of a thundercloud.
Psalms 81:6, 7

But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.
2 Corinthians 3:17, 18

You will go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and hills will burst into song before you, and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.
Isaiah 55:12

Monday, July 20, 2009

God Can You Hear Me?

TRUE STORY & Pictures By: Lisa Petrarca
Yesterday on a brisk, windy, sunny day we took our dog Allie to the beach. This is always a very special, joyous day for her. She is a Siberian Husky. When you own a husky you're told to never let them off their leash. They have a natural inborn instinct to run. Over the years we have slowly trained her. On our beach visits we let her off the leash. She runs a little ways, jumping, sniffing and playing and then always stops, looks back and waits for us to catch up to her.

This particular day seemed no different than others before it. We strolled along the white, long stretch of sand. The chill of the wind was stinging our faces, as Allie frolicked in the water, chasing dogs and birds. Allie stopped and waited every so often just as she had been trained.

The sun was lowering behind a low patch of fluffy, cotton white clouds, signaling an end to our day. Approaching the part of the beach that we attach Allie to her leash, she abruptly turned and began running the opposite direction. We cried out, "Allie, Allie...STOP, come back here!" She continued to run, farther and farther. Our cries soon becoming muffled, lost in the pounding crash of the waves, beating against the sand.

We continued to walk in the direction she was running. We were certain she would eventually stop, look back and dash towards us. She began to appear as though she was a mirage, to far away to tell if it was really her. I began to run, worried that she might scale the steep cliff and run into the heavy, rush hour traffic on Pacific Coast Highway.

She had slowed down, but was still very far ahead. She now started to approach the few people on the beach, a woman at first, and then a couple. Each time she would walk away. She appeared to realize that she was lost. Walking away from the couple, with no one else around, she stood alone in the middle of the beach, a long isolated view in front of her. I began to get closer as she stood in one place. Her head was faced up towards the orange, red & yellow sky of the setting sun. She was howling, loud piercing cries, crying out because she was scared and lost. She had gone too far and now realized her mistake.



Out of breath, I started to walk, passing a couple that was staring at Allie. The wife looked at me with large, concerned eyes, "Oh, she's crying...she thinks she's lost." Finally close enough for her to hear me I shouted, "Allie, come here, I'm right here!" She quickly stopped her howl, snapped her head down, stared frozen for a moment and sprinted towards me. Her eyes squinting through the blowing wind, tongue hanging out of her mouth, tail wagging, and wait a minute...is that a smile? Can dogs smile? It sure looked like it to me. Reaching me, she jumped up on me and kissed me.

This story sadly represents our walk with the Lord. We are safely beside him, protected, loved and happy. All of a sudden something catches our attention. It looks fun, challenging, exciting...our mind starts to run. Next our body begins to chase after it also. We are going full speed in the wrong direction. Getting caught up in the moment, enjoying our fleshly, worldly desires.

The Lord is calling us to come back. He wants to protect us. We have gotten too far away. We no longer hear his cries. They are drowned out by the loud crashing waves of this world. Pride, vanity, money, pornography, sex, drugs and alcohol...we are trapped in the middle of their false allure.

Never finding the happiness we had hoped for, our life begins to fall apart around us. We stand alone on the long, lonely, isolated stretch of sand. Crying, calling out to the Lord, "Where are you Heavenly Father? I need you. I'm so scared and alone. Please come and help me."

He is there waiting for you to call Him. He wants to bring you to the safety of his loving and forgiving protection. Just call out to him, he will hear you. You are never out of his sight. He is waiting for you to stop running. Just like huskies, we have a natural instinct to run after the things of this world. These things only give us fleeting, momentary pleasure. Followed by our guilt, unhappiness and self-loathing. Stop running and look to the Lord for peace, shelter, comfort, love and complete happiness. He is waiting for you.

"Submit to God and be at peace with him; in this way prosperity will come to you. Accept instruction from his mouth and lay up his words in your heart. If you return to the Almighty, you will be restored: If you remove wickedness far from your tent and assign your nuggets to the dust, your gold of Ophir to the rocks in the ravines, then the Almighty will be your gold, the choicest of silver for you. Surely you will find delight in the Almighty and will lift up your face to God. You will pray to him, and he will hear you, and you will fullfill your vows. What you decide on will be done, and light will shine on your ways. When men are brought low and you say, "Lift them up!" then he will save the downcast. He will deliver even one who is not innocent, through the cleanness of your hands."
Job 22:21-30

Monday, July 13, 2009

It's Only 10 Minutes!

By: Lisa Petrarca

Everyday I start the morning out with a quick Bible study and prayer. At first this was difficult. Trying to add one more thing into my schedule was something I didn't want to do. But I needed to change my way of thinking. I wasn't adding one more thing...I was actually adding the ONLY thing that was important!

Everything else soon became easier because I turned my day, time, problems, decisions and safety over to my Heavenly Father each morning. My days became easier to deal with. I seemed to have more time, energy and patience throughout my day. That one simple decision to start my morning off by giving it to the Lord was a blessing on my life.

Priorities need to be analyzed and we need to remember that our life here is only temporary. We need to focus on what will bring us eternal happiness. By doing this, we actually can change our earthly situations.

Start today! Put your Bible on your night stand. Set your alarm ten minutes earlier than usual. As soon as it goes off, reach over, grab your Bible and see what the Lord wants to help you with today!

FEELING SHIPWRECKED?

SCRIPTURE:

"I am the Lord, the God of all mankind. Is anything too hard for me?"
Jeremiah 32:27

"Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know."
Jeremiah 33:3

HE WILL RAISE YOUR SAILS & GET YOU BACK IN THE RACE TO WIN THE PRIZE FOR THAT WHICH HE HAS CALLED YOU!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

What About Me?


Sometimes we don’t realize all of the blessings that the Lord gives us daily. It’s easy to notice the BIG things that happen. But what of the small daily answers to our prayers?

I find myself doing this quite frequently, looking for the BIG answers to my prayers. I pray and then wait…and wait and when it doesn’t happen or doesn’t appear to happen the way I asked for it, I think, “Well, I guess I don’t deserve it.” Or on those certain days that I’m feeling particularly sorry for myself, “Why doesn’t God ever answer my prayers? I try to do what’s right and nothing! What have I done wrong that he never gives me what I need?”

The funny thing is, He is giving me EXACTLY what I need at that time in my life. No, it may not be what I asked for, because I have tunnel vision (my perspective) and He sees the BIG picture (HIS perspective). His timing, way and guidance are what will direct me toward the right path as I travel up my daily mountain.

I need to remember to stop as I walk up my complicated hill and see the small blessings all around me, the answers to prayers that I didn’t even ask for. The unexpected card from a friend or a smile from someone when I’m feeling down, an opportunity to help someone in need, people taking time to pray for me and my family, health, love and friendship. These small everyday blessings from God let us know that he truly cares about us and is looking out for each and everyone of us along our journey.

So when you feel discouraged, remember to stop and reflect on how the Lord answered a need in your life today…it may be something small, but it came at just the right time. Stop your constant rushing and take a moment each day to look around…GOD is trying to show His love for you!

By: Lisa Petrarca

"And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive."
Matthew 21:22

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Does God Still Speak To Us?

Author Unknown

A young man had been to Wednesday night Bible Study. The Pastor shared about listening to God and obeying the Lord's voice. The young man couldn't help but wonder, "Does God still speak to people?"


After service he went out with some friends for coffee and pie and discussed the message. Several different ones talked about how God had led them in different ways.

It was about ten o'clock when the young man started driving home. Sitting in his car, he just began to pray, "God.. If you still speak to people, speak to me. I will listen. I will do my best to obey."

As he drove down the main street of his town, he had the strangest thought, to stop and buy a gallon of milk. He shook his head and said "God, is that you?" He didn't get a reply and started on home. But again, the thought, buy a gallon of milk.

The young man thought about Samuel and how he didn't recognize the voice of God, and how little Samuel ran to Eli. "Okay, God, in case that is you, I will buy the milk." It didn't seem like too hard a test of obedience. He could always use the milk. He stopped and purchased the gallon of milk and started off toward home.

As he passed Seventh Street, he again felt the urge, turn down that street. "This is crazy", he thought and drove on past the intersection. Again, he felt that he should turn down Seventh Street.

At the next intersection, he turned back and headed down Seventh. Half jokingly, he said out loud, "Okay, God, I will." He drove several blocks, when suddenly, he felt like he should stop. He pulled over to the curb and looked around. He was in a semi-commercial area of town. It wasn't the best, but it wasn't the worst either.

The businesses were closed and most of the houses looked dark like the people were already in bed. Again, he sensed something. "Go and give the milk to the people in the house across the street."

The young man looked at the house. It was dark and it looked like the people were either gone or they were already asleep. He started to open the door and then sat back in the car seat. "Lord, this is insane. Those people are asleep and if I wake them up, they are going to be mad and I will look stupid." Again he felt like he should go and give the milk.

Finally, he opened the door, "Okay God, if this is you, I will go to the door and I will give them the milk. If you want me to look like a crazy person, okay. I want to be obedient. I guess that will count for something but if they don't answer right away, I am out of here."

He walked across the street and rang the bell, He could hear some noise inside. A man's voice yelled out, "Who is it? What do you want?" Then the door opened before the young man could get away. The man was standing there in his jeans and T-shirt. He looked like he just got out of bed. He had a strange look on his face and he didn't seem too happy to have some stranger standing on his doorstep. "What is it?" The young man thrust out the gallon of milk, "Here, I brought this to you."

The man took the milk and rushed down a hallway speaking loudly in Spanish. Then from down the hall came a woman carrying the milk toward the kitchen. The man was following her holding a baby. The baby was crying. The man had tears streaming down his face. The man began speaking half crying, "We were just praying. We had some big bills this month and we ran out of money. We didn't have any milk for our baby. I was just praying and asking God to show me how to get some milk."

His wife in the kitchen yelled out, "I ask him to send an Angel with some. Are you an Angel?"

The young man reached into his wallet and pulled out all the money he had on him and put it in the man's hand. He turned and walked back toward his car and the tears were streaming down his face. He knew that God still answers prayers.

Praise the Lord. Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise? Blessed are they who maintain justice, who constantly do what is right. Remember me, O Lord, when you show favor to your people come to my aid when you save them, that I may enjoy the prosperity of your chosen ones, that I may share in the joy of your nation.
PSALMS 106:1-5