Seek God Endlessly

I feel a change happening. I’m not totally sure what this change is but I know it is very present. More and more throughout my day, I find myself seeking God almost like a urgency to find Him in a different way.

Seeking God is not new to me but this seeking I am experiencing now is new and different. My previous days of turning to God were more for guidance and strength. The day-to-day drawing to Him now is more about better understanding His promises. I have heard different reports on the number of promises that God gives us in the Bible and it varies from 3,000-7,000. To me, either number is astronomical, and fathoming that type of goodness is mind-blowing. I know I cling to a few but need to experience more of them.

The first thing to realize about God’s promises is that God cannot lie. His goodness doesn’t fail Him so He will not and cannot lie to us. His promises are true. I know sometimes we fudge the truth by either embellishing or leaving out facts to suit our needs. God is not like us, thank Heaven. We have great shortcomings that cause us to be insecure and untrusting. God doesn’t offer insecurity or distrust. I don’t have to understand God’s promises, only that He offers them to believers. It’s like faith, we don’t see but we trust God to be who He says He is.

Philippians 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

God offers to take care of us when we seek Him. This has been a big one for me lately. I have been constantly asking for His guidance to know more about His Word, Jesus, and the service we are to do in His name. I was blessed with this beautiful ministry four years ago. A ministry that started simply by offering more gratitude to others. I shared gratitude hearts with people I appreciated or who were kind to me. It made me feel fulfilled and more appreciative by expressing gratitude. Then God changed that ministry. He wanted deeper and more meaningful service from me.

God led people to me that were needing HOPE and things became more complicated. I was sitting and praying with people I had my choice chose to sheltered from, victims of violent crime, food insecure, homeless, and many others. I knew these people were in my community but I didn’t see them. I chose to look the other way. If something wasn’t in my life I wasn’t going to go seek it until God put them in front of me so I would seek Him. He knew I would have to turn to Him for patience, guidance, compassion, and love for my new friends. He was going to have me see His people, all of the people He loved but were struggling when I was not. I remembered the promise of Jeremiah 29:11-13.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

I know most people will just stop after only quoting verse eleven but I need verses twelve and thirteen. It seals God’s promise to me. Yes, He had the plan to give me this beautiful ministry BUT, He asks me to call on Him and seek Him with all my heart. He promises to listen to me when I come and pray to Him. He promises I will find Him and not just once, but everytime. This has to happen constantly in my life to grow in His work and plans for me. I can’t do this alone, nor would I want to.

God blessed me with this ministry yet I move through it at His pace for me. He opens more doors and shows me more of His love each day I walk with Him. This is His work for me, not my dream and goal that I am seeking help for. Yes, there are days I have ideas that really aren’t based in His plan and I quickly recognize this because of how uncomfortable I feel. It will feel awkward if I start to plan and it’s not His plan. I will sit and spin in circles and nothing will fall into place. When it is God’s inspiration and plan everything moves like He does, confident and smoothly.

Another promise that always keeps me going and continually seeking God is John 14:16-17. God promises to be with me always and within me as the Holy Spirit.

And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.

The moment I surrender to Jesus and asked Him to free me of anxiety and the dispair found in this world a sudden peace overcame me. A peace that I can only discribe as pure comfort and love. I felt God in my mind say, “My child, everything will be okay.”. You know what? It is okay.

I have faced many serious trials since that promise God blessed me with personally that evening. Cancer with my parents, extreme financial issues, the passing of my father, sitting in my ministry with others that were broken and hurting just to name a few. Although, it was tough and still is tough, my peace that God gives me and the assurance of an everlasting existance of God within me makes life on this earth worth living. I feel Him in me. I feel Him with me.

As I am moving in this growth and in seeking God, I have enrolled in The Lee Strobel Center for Evangelism and Applied Apologetics at Colorado Christian University. I am becoming certified in apolgetics. Apolgetics is branch of theology that is concerned with defending or proving the truth of Christian doctrines. I want to be able to answer questions to be able to defend God’s Word and who Jesus is to others that find doubt in Christianity. I know my life is so much better being a Christian that I want others to know that goodness and have the promises I have. I want them to feel that peace God gave me in the Holy Spirit.

This process of certification will take much time with a lot of reading and study but it is so worth it to me. Jesus taught us to share the Gospels and minisiter to others showing that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. I want to be confident that I am teaching correctly and helping others know the beautiful and blessed life that comes with knowing and accepting Jesus as our Savior.

I pray for you that are reading this blog that you may know God’s peace and promises every day. My love and gratitude-LoLo

So Long, Social Media

Well, the time has finally come to say goodbye to my Facebook account. I have realized that social media is what is called in the medical profession, a sucking wound.

Medical Definition of sucking wound according to Merriam-Webster
: a perforating wound of the chest through which air enters and leaves during respiration. How does this relate to Facebook and social media you may ask? Well, a little thing called “Screen Time’ on my iPhone. It alerted me to the waste of time I was passing in my day by checking social media. Hours were lost in my day observing others, sucking me in.

This sucking wound allowed my heart to be exposed. A wound that allowed negative posts to come into my heart and return through the same wound to my outward thoughts and posts. I would feel sometimes envy, disappointment, and even hatred for people because I allowed their posts to enter the wound, fester around, and crawl into my thoughts. I knew this wasn’t from God but from the world.

If you know anything about my ministry you know it focuses on being present for those in need. I could use the excuse that I was on Facebook to find those in need of prayer since many people start posts, “I need my prayer warriors!”. I would publically pray for them on their post and think I had done my job in the crusade to use Facebook positively. I was wrong.

Let me jump back a bit. Four years ago when I started my Facebook Grateful gratitude page I felt I wanted to share a daily post actually, a morning scripture with the world. I thought maybe someone would read that scripture and their day would improve. God’s Word always lifts me and I felt this would be the same for others. My page was quickly growing to over 5,000 followers in a few months. I began developing prayer relationships with people in Mexico City, Venezuela, and across the USA. I knew people by name; Eric Gomez, Linda Rodriguez, Irene Garza, and many more. People would message me and ask for very particular prayers.

I would look daily for regular followers and if they were absent for a while I would message them to make sure they were okay. This was my lifeline to serving those people needing to know others cared about them and would pray for them.

Then November 12, 2020 hacking hit my Facebook page. According to Facebook, someone tried to change the password on my account 30 times in 3 minutes at 3am. They said for my protection they locked the account. I no longer had access to this page or my personal page for 11 years. Gone in a flash.

I felt violated, controlled, lost, and hopeless. I was so angry to have someone choose to lock me out instead of freezing it temporarily to check my identity. Facebook offered to restore my account if I provided a picture copy of my driver’s license, passport, or other very personal identifying information. Oh, yes, and because of the pandemic plan for the investigation and restoration, if approved, on being several months. I was devastated. We were living in a confused and unsure time known as the pandemic. People needed stability and prayer in their life. Many people were constantly on Facebook looking for hope.

I did find a way to continue to post to Grateful gratitude Facebook when Instagram and Facebook joined forces. I was able to post to Instagram and have it automatically post to my original page. It was a work-around but I could post. Unfortunately on Facebook, I couldn’t respond as Grateful gratitude or interact with original followers or message them to pray. What really was the point of this I thought.

This past weekend I attended a women’s conference at my church. One of the speakers was talking about Barabbas and Jesus standing before the crowd with Pontious Pilate. The crowd was deciding who would be set free and who would be crucified. Jewish leaders mingled in the crowds convincing them to choose to crucify Jesus. The leaders were threatened and feared Jesus’ message so they manipulated the crowd. Barabbas was a well-known criminal that reputation proceeded him. He was in and out of jail, a murderer, a robber, and fought openly against the Romans. Pilate said he found Jesus guilty of nothing yet the crowd chose Barabbas to be set free. The people in the crowd allowed themselves to be swayed by others instead of speaking for themselves. They even shouted that they would take Jesus’ death on themselves and on the lives of their children if they would just crucify Jesus.

In Matthew 27:22-25, Pilate asks the crowd, “What shall I do, then, with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” The crowd answers, “Crucify him!” Pilate publicly proclaims Jesus’ innocence, but “they shouted all the louder, ‘Crucify him!’”. Pilate then famously washes his hands, declaring himself to be “innocent” and telling the crowd that Jesus’ death “is your responsibility!” It is a responsibility that the mob accepts, shouting the chilling words, “His blood is on us and on our children!”.

We reap what we sow. Are we selling out to the crowd or responsibly thinking for ourselves?

Social media is the same representation of these people in Jesus’ day. They listened to the crowd (Jewish leaders) and fell into line without thinking first of the consequences or what their own opinion was.

I have friends that were sharing things on Facebook that simply are not true. They would cut and paste or share posts without any personal fact-checking or soul searching. They got inflamed (just like the crowd at Passover) because they were filling themselves with misinformation. Sound familiar in any way?

Have you heard of Cambridge Analytica? If not you may want to click here and see how your personal Facebook information was used.

Facebook can take my voice away on their platform but they can’t touch it on God’s platform. I ask you, are you experiencing a sucking wound that needs to be plugged to stop the good inside you from escaping each time you log in to social media sites and allow yourself to be vulnerable and controlled? Social media chooses what you “need” to see on your feed. You make 1 wrong click on an ad and your internet search becomes focused on that wrong click. You are defined by your click. You see what they want you to see, they are thinking for you and defining your thoughts. I am going back to the simple life. The life of using a phone for phone calls. My words in a phone call instead of a text. My time is a gift from God and I will simply be using it for His glory.

My love and gratitude for you always-LoLo

What Are You Telling Me, God?

We are only in mid-May and it seems like I have walked a million miles. I’m exhausted, confused, and trudging through life. I’m not complaining but just wondering what God is telling me and transforming me for.

I started this year in a cyclone of grief after losing my dad last fall. I felt God calling me to help those that are grieving by starting grief support groups and building comfort boxes. This was fulfilling and helped me with my grief.

I didn’t realize that helping others with their grief would cause me to take on “more” grief. I was now sharing extra stories of loss besides my own. It is exhausting yet very rewarding if I could make a difference. I definitely felt God bring this work to me and I obediently serve Him doing this. I just didn’t realize the surprise of how grief wore me out. How did Jesus deal with all the healings, miracles, and teaching He did and not be exhausted? He rose early to be alone with God and pray. I do this too.

February came and yet another incident took me by surprise. I was bathing early one morning and saw a huge blister on my right thigh. It was about the size of a nickel and extremely swollen. I made the assumption that it was an ingrown hair or something simple and moved on. Two days later, the blister had opened and I noticed the tissue was necrotic (dying) and infected. I did a telemedicine visit with our health insurance doctor and she informed me it was a poisonous bug bite. She prescribed antibiotic cream and Cephalexin. The antibiotic knocked me out of work for several days due to stomach issues. I am not posting the picture of the bite here because it was nasty and don’t want to put you, the reader through that visual. I felt like a leper in Bible in a way. I had this sore that was ugly and painful and I felt different than others. I hid the sore from my husband because I felt if he saw it he would love me less or be repulsed. That wasn’t the case, just like Jesus he offered me love and didn’t turn away from my defect.

March seemed relatively quiet and then……April flew in like a storm! I have been attending church with my mom and they were talking about all the different service opportunities the church offered to participate in. I felt that being a servant of God I would add a few more dates of service to my calendar. I went online and filled out the form for the background check and BAM I was hit again. When I received the email that my report was back and could be viewed I proceeded to the link. I was blown away when I saw I was connected to a felon’s record in Pennsylvania that showed I had 27 felony arrests in their state. WHAT???? I felt like Al Capone! Just like Joseph was accused of raping Pottifer’s wife unfairly, I felt that same wrath.

Okay, God, with You I can work through this too. I started the process by calling the Pennsylvania Municipal Courts. The lady I spoke to was very nice and said that she could easily tell by the last four numbers of my social security number that these charges didn’t belong to me. She directed me to another department that gave me instructions on how to clear this up. It started with going to my local police department and paying to be fingerprinted and sending the copies to the Pennsylvania State Police for a comparison study. This study would compare my fingerprints to the woman’s fingerprints actually arrested and booked for the charges. Before I could complete this task, the next thing hit!

Here we go again God, why this interruption now? The Tuesday after learning I needed to submit my fingerprints, I was debilitated with stomach cramps and my husband had to have me transported to the Emergency Room by ambulance with food poisoning. This was horrific. As I lay on the hospital gurney receiving IV fluids, Bentynal, and Zofran, I thought of Jesus. My mind thought of the scourging Jesus received before His crucifixion. Every debilitating stomach cramp reminded me of the blows Jesus received for us. Believe me, I prayed all night for Jesus to heal me with each cramp and He did.

After somewhat recovering from this food poisoning, I was able to get my fingerprints done and off to Pennsylvania State Police. I am happy to say that today I was notified that I have been removed from the felon’s rap sheet and have a certification clearing me of all charges.

Now to the most recent interruption. COVID. Yes, that’s right. After suffering from a few days of seasonal allergies, my husband said to me, “You should take a Covid test.”. “Why?”, I asked, “I was surrounded by goldenrod last week and I just have allergies.”. Needless to say, when I felt feverish I took a test and it developed a positive result. The telemedicine doctor I consulted said that my husband needed to test too. His positive test line developed before the control test line……..

So where does this leave me? Interruptions in life probably mean I need to slow down and be more aware in life? I have been looking back on all these events over the last five months and keep hearing Rick Warren’s words ring through my mind. “Sometimes God will put you flat on your back to get your attention.”. God are You trying to get my attention?

I am listening Father and I am stopping to hear Your voice and guidance. Thank you in advance for the blessings You are preparing me for and for being patient with me when I think I need to take on the world.

May you feel God’s love and blessing today. My love and gratitude-LoLo

The Homeless Have Names

Yesterday was a very powerful and impactful day for me. I partnered with my good friend, Tunya to meet and greet the homeless in our community. There was an opportunity to meet some homeless people in a neighboring community and we needed to bring something to share with them and spend time with them. I made food packs and bought these Bible verse silicone bracelets. I figured these bracelets would hold up when it rained and the imprint was bright and easy to read. I bought them on Amazon for $16 and they were of amazing quality.

I read each bracelet before sharing them to make sure they were comforting and uplifting.

As the first person arrived at our tent, I asked him his name and introduced myself. He smiled and was very kind. The first thing I asked him after our introduction was if he would like a bracelet with a Bible verse. He said he would and as I placed it over his hand and onto his wrist I said, “When you look at this bracelet you can always remember that Jesus is walking with you. If times get dark just read your bracelet and be comforted of His love for you.”. I then offered him a drawstring bag filled with food items. Included in the bag were a tuna fish lunch kit, protein bar, fruit, 2 drinks, mints, granola bar, fruit snacks, and socks.

Tunya and I made a point of putting every bracelet on each person. It allowed us the time to say over and over that Jesus was with each of them. I was amazed that each person had different size hands yet the bracelets fit each wrist perfectly and with the room so as not to be tight on any of them. The bracelets are shown below in the bowl.

We offered a prayer for each person. We placed our hands on each person’s shoulder or held their hand as we prayed. Some were prayers of hope, most were for protection, some were for clarity from God for a better life, and some were simply just to make it another day. Everyone said yes except one lady and she said she would be back. She wasn’t ready to be prayed over. After praying we listened to whatever they chose to tell us.

We heard stories of broken relationships with family, the loneliness and feeling lost as a veteran, the preaching nonstop in our faces of the Bible, how friendships on the streets started, the sadness of people looking down on them because they were homeless, and some shared how they ended up homeless. I had one sweet 8-year-old girl draw this picture of a church on her Etch-A-Sketch for me. This touched me because even though her family was struggling she knew God and what a church was.

As the day was coming to an end, I looked to my right and saw an image that summed up the whole day for me. I may be in my home in my comfortable, safe home but this was the home my new friends lived in. Their home was a gathering place outside with a wheelchair, a folding chair, a rolling cart, and bags of food and toiletries to last until the next time they could find a community sharing what they needed.

The two most important thing I want to share with you is every one of them still trusted and loved God and proclaimed their faith. I also now know their names and stories. Thank you for being my friend, Steve, Veronica, Eric, Janet, Jean, James, E.L.O., Easter, Alan, Gayla and kids, Carmella, Carmen and kids, O-Say, Bridgette, and many others. I hope to see you all again.

Thank you for reading my blog. May you feel God’s blessing today. LoLo

Grace Upon Grace Upon Grace

Have you ever heard of grace described as “favor towards the unworthy”? It seems as society gets more demanding and unforgiving I reflect on grace. Grace or as I like to say

Giving Real Appreciation Changes Everything!

This morning I got up early and drove an hour in thick traffic for a very important meeting. A meeting I had scheduled three weeks ago. A meeting I had done hours of research for. A meeting that would impact my life only to find the administrative assistant forgot to put the meeting on the schedule. I left my house at 7:30 to arrive at 8:25 just five minutes from the agreed meeting time. I struggled with two heavy bags down a very long hallway, full of many turns trying to find someone to help me locate the office I was to be at.

I met a security guard sitting in an office that gave me a set of directions, “See that water fountain? Well, walk to it, then turn left. Look for a bank of windows on the left wall. Turn around to the opposite side of that wall and walk in the door directly opposite of it.”. Let me just tell you, I can usually remember 2 directions but this was too much! I wondered to myself, “Why couldn’t he just quickly walk with me to my destination instead of gazing mindlessly at his phone?”.

I pick up my bags that weighed about 30 pounds each (remember my ministry has heart-shaped rocks involved so I am not exaggerating). I shuffle my feet to the water fountain and meander down the hallway to find the office I was supposed to be at for my important meeting locked and all the lights off. Oh yeah, I asked 2 other people on my way for directions. I looked at the door, drop my bags, and scratch my head.

I see two people walking toward me and they ask me if I am lost. I told them about my meeting and they looked at me like I was totally crazy. “He doesn’t come in this early. Why don’t you come sit in this comfortable area and we will try to reach out to him for you.” I was grateful and would have sat right on the floor where I was if I had thought it would have been acceptable.

As I sit waiting for the verdict as to when my meeting would take place, I reviewed my emails to confirm I was here on the right day and time. Yes, I was correct, it was today at 8:30am.

The lady that was reaching out to my appointed contact informed me, “His assistant is 5 minutes away and she will talk to you when she arrives.” Do I need to tell you that 5 minutes was actually equivalent to 20 minutes.

I sat fidgeting when finally a blonde lady walked up to me and said, “Now, who are you? We don’t have any appointments on our schedule today for 8:30 am.” I started to show her the email on my phone and she replied, “Oh you’re Grateful Gratitude. Is this a personal appointment or business?” Really I thought to myself. I felt my blood pressure rising and here I go again lugging my bags of rocks down the dreaded hallway again.

As we arrived at the office, she announces to me that I would have received a calendar invite if the meeting was finalized. I apologized (yes I apologized) for not knowing what their meeting protocol was as I had never been informed there was a protocol. She fires up her laptop and says, “It looks like he is busy all day. He has his first appointment at 9:30”. I realize she doesn’t see it’s already 9:10am. “Maybe you can come back tomorrow, I’ll have to ask him when he can see you.” was her next response.

Trying to be kind I offered, “I would like to reschedule but my ministry keeps me pretty booked and I really don’t have another three-hour window available this month. Remember it’s almost an hour each way to and from this location. “She responds, “How about next Wednesday at 11:30?” My turn, “I’m sorry,” I replied, “I have a grief support luncheon I am teaching from 11:30-1pm.” I replied.

I was incredibly frustrated and felt like my time was worth nothing to this person. I will say she apologized multiple times but I felt like she was on autopilot repeating, “I’m sorry you drove here” and not listening to me trying to coordinate a new appointment time. I finally told her I would just have to look at my calendar when I got back to my office and would email her.

Before I was a mile away from the location my phone chimed I had a new email. When I stopped at the next red light I read the email.

Hi Laurie, I am so sorry that you drove over this morning. He does have time Wednesday, 4/13 between 9:15-11:30 am.

UGHHHHHHH! (Remember Charlie Brown when Lucy pulled the football out as he kicked? That’s how I felt.) This was the specific day I told her I couldn’t come.

I decide to drive home and not think of the ordeal for at least an hour. As I pulled into my driveway, I remembered:

Ephesians 4:7 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

Grace, extending favor to another just as God extends His grace to us, me particularly. He gave His grace freely and my heart began to soften and think of the others involved in my predicament. The assistant mentions she was stuck in traffic and was late arriving for her job. He (my appointment) didn’t know he had an appointment because she hadn’t gotten it approved to add it to the schedule.

I was putting myself first without looking at what else was actually going on. I was just thinking of my commute and aching arms from my heavy bags. Jesus carried a cross that weighed around 300 pounds. Why am I complaining?

Also, Jesus would have never thought of Himself first. No matter how weary He was, He always had grace and mercy for others. I recognized I was not being very Christlike this morning.

I realized that giving grace was giving a gift that requires nothing in return. I felt the Holy Spirit moving within me saying to give grace to the assistant and the man I was to meet with. I will need grace someday and hope to receive it as well.

Colossians 3:12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.

Zachariah 7:9 “This is what the Lord Almighty said: ‘Administer true justice; show mercy and compassion to one another.

Proverbs 3:3-4 Never let loyalty and kindness leave you! Tie them around your neck as a reminder. Write them deep within your heart. Then you will find favor with both God and people, and you will earn a good reputation.

Thank you for allowing me to rant about such a silly thing. It just proves we are all human and need to strive daily to be better and kinder. May God bless you this very day.-LoLo