Gratitude Archive

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

Where Does Your Band-Aid Need to Be?

I recently took a short tumble down the stairs in our home. Let me rephrase that, I took a very ungraceful slide down our carpeted staircase. I wasn’t hurt more than a bruised bottom and a few rug burns on my arms. If you have had a rug burn you know they can be very tender. I decided to put a couple of bandages on them to cover them. I found in our “bandage” box only large bandages that would cover the back of my hands. I now had two huge bandages placed, one on each arm. You know, those great big ones.

The next morning I got up early to attend a networking event. It was a very unseasonably warm day in Texas so I chose a short-sleeved blouse to wear. I really didn’t think about the bandages and that their placement would be seen by others in the meeting. Once I arrived at the weekly event, the first person I saw said, “Oh my gosh, what happened to your arms?”. Really, I haven’t even picked my seat or grabbed my coffee and someone is asking about my wounded arms? I don’t want to sound ungrateful for their concern but my tumble was a day before and mostly forgotten (except when I sat down on my bruised bottom).

“Oh, I am fine. Just got a few rug burns sliding down our stairs yesterday.” As simple as my response was I felt a profound kickback in my heart. I felt that someone has noticed an injury in my life, a wound that wasn’t yet healed. What if we wore bandages on our forehead when our mind is wounded or on our hearts when it is broken. The world would see our injuries and maybe they would ask what happened.

I looked around the room as people were settling into their chairs wondering where their bandage would be. I saw a dear friend that recently had lost her father too. I knew where her bandage would be. I saw someone I knew was battling depression and anxiety. A forehead bandage for her. I saw someone that was filing for divorce, another chest/heart bandage there.

I soon realized that everyone in the room should be wearing a bandage. When we see the obvious injury covered by a bandage we are interested and ask. I bet 99% of the people we see daily we should be asking what their injury is and how we can administer aid.

Many people have had their injuries for so long that they are scars and no longer obvious to themselves or others. I deal with many people that are grieving, have been a victim of a violent crime, are lonely, feel abandoned by God, or maybe dressed or anxious. Some people accept their healed scars as just life and they just ignore that maybe that scar can be debrided (definition; to remove (e. g., dead tissue) surgically from a wound).

I worked for eighteen years in veterinary medicine in surgical centers. Probably, if I remember correctly, we would debride an old wound that wouldn’t heal several times a month. The process was to go in, scrape or cut out the scar so that we could attach two fresh pieces of skin together so it would heal. It took the surgical removal of the dead tissue (injury) to offer new healing to the old wound. What if we could do this for people’s hearts and minds?

I’m not a counselor, psychiatrist, or anything clinically competent to offer medical advice but I speak from my heart. A heart that was wounded deeply by a rough first marriage. My heart was so broken and embarrassed I wasn’t sure it would heal. A heart that needed an elephant size bandage. I didn’t want anyone to know. But you know what? My heart is healed. I debrided my heart so new freshness could come in and offer new life.

You may wonder how I did this and I would tell you that the only way my heart healed was to allow God to heal it. God knew my misery, embarrassment, lack of confidence, and feelings of unworthiness. All He asked of me was to put a bandage on my heart so others would see my wounds. He would refresh the break with new healing. It took me to allow that to happen.

Just like in the debriding surgery, I had to look at the scar and assess the damage. My scar was a man who chose his own life over that of me and our daughter. He chose his own pleasures daily instead of what his family needed. I took this as rejection, being unloved, not a good enough wife or mother, and so on. It tore me down daily over and over. That was my initial injury.

I didn’t tend to my injury. I let it fester and ooze for years. I accepted what my situation was and what my life was to be, a wife that was truly a single mother. One night before going to sleep as I looked at my small daughter sleeping next to me, I came to the realization that we both deserved a better life. I cried for hours not understanding how this would happen and when I awoke, the sun was shining through my bedroom window and it was so clear. Move to Texas, be with your family, and leave this life behind. That’s what I did.

As I began to plan the new life for myself and Lexie, I could actually feel my confidence building and HOPE returning. I felt God start scaping the old scar to open it up for new healing. He wanted the scar gone as badly as I wanted it gone.

As my heart had fresh edges, I saw our future in different eyes. I saw a new better paying job, a new home, new friends, new opportunities for Lexie, and most of all we would be with my mom and dad in Texas.

I took my healing one step at a time. I didn’t rip the bandage off quickly so the pain would only be for a short time. I pulled it slowly so it wouldn’t cause another scar. I took small steps in understanding how I allowed my injury to control my life. I looked at how my ex-husband made decisions that were centered on his pleasure. I’m not at fault for his choices. This was the first and best understanding I had of my wound. I recognized the injury and healing that was to take place. I understood that God would lift me into healing and my heart would no longer be broken and scarred. Just like in this picture, sets of hands holding a heart (my young daughter and mine) and bigger hands (GOD) surrounding the two sets of hands, this picture represents how my heart looks now.

Please look at your scar wherever it may be and visualize a bandage on it. Recognize it needs to be healed and trust God to be the healer. My love and gratitude-LoLo

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