Are you looking for a new perspective?

Is GOD calling you to revisit something that He’s shown you in the past? Maybe He’s brought it back to you several times before. If so, may I encourage you to ask GOD for a new perspective on what He is desiring of you?

Last year around this time, I received an email asking me if I would like to be part of a class called Perspectives in World Missions. I learned so much about GOD, His Word, the history of Christianity, the present and future of Christianity, lots about myself…and a new perspective on something He has been calling me to do since around 2001!

I am writing about it now because Perspectives in World Missions is starting again this week and I want to encourage anyone who is interested to take the course. Sign up Here!

At the end of the class, I needed to write a paper in order to receive a grade…Here’s what I wrote:

The Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight

By Michelle Wilson, Perspectives in World Missions May 24, 2021

When I moved to Northern California in 2000, I did not know much about it. I knew that there were several “Bays” and happened to hear that I was living in the “South Bay” but did not know much more than that. At that point in time, I thought I was a Christian. Jesus was my friend, but I had not made Him my Savior or the Lord of my life. However, I ingested the Bible like it was my bread and I prayed to GOD a lot. It was not long before I understood GOD’s desire for Jesus to be more than my friend, I received Him as my LORD and Savior and was baptized in 2002. Even before I had given my life to Christ, I loved to pray and during my prayer time in early 2001 or so, GOD placed it on my heart to pray for the area I lived to become the “Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight”. 

I had a prayer burden for this on and off for about 5-6 years before I learned at a prayer leader’s conference that the Santa Clara Valley had once been called the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight” from the 1960’s to 2001. What was “The Valley of the Heart’s Delight”?

According to Wikipedia, “The Santa Clara Valley runs south-southeast from the southern end of San Francisco Bay in Northern California in the United States. The northern, urbanized end of the valley is part of a region locally known as the “South Bay” and also part of the electronics, research, and technology area known as Silicon Valley. Santa Clara Valley consists of most of Santa Clara County, including its county seat, San Jose, as well as a small portion of San Benito County. The valley, named after the Spanish Mission Santa Clara, was for a time known as the Valley of Heart’s Delight for its high concentration of orchards, flowering trees, and plants. Until the 1960s it was the largest fruit-producing and packing region in the world, with 39 canneries.”[i]

The valley with its scenic beauty, mild climate, and thousands of acres of blooming fruit trees was known as “The Valley of Heart’s Delight”.

“The fertile soil of Santa Clara Valley encouraged farmers to grow many different types of crops. Wheat and grain were the primary crops until the 1880s, when farmers began to diversify into other crops and orchards. Some vineyards were planted. Family farms were small but bountiful. Thousands of acres produced garden seeds for vegetables and flowers which were sent throughout the world. The arrival of the transcontinental railroad in 1869 gave growers a national market for their fruit and other crops. By the early 20th century, 100,000 acres of valley land were planted with fruits and nuts including cherries, pears, and peaches. Prunes and apricots became the area’s biggest crops and Santa Clara was known as the Prune Capital of the World. Some said there was no better place on earth to grow fruit than Santa Clara Valley.”[ii]

By the 1920s and 1930s, the agricultural and horticultural industries were doing well in the valley and included 18 canneries, 13 dried-fruit packing houses, and 12 fresh-fruit and vegetable shipping firms, and they were shipping internationally. 

The need for workers greatly exceeded the local population and in the nineteenth century, Chinese and Japanese immigrants met that need. Toward the end of the nineteenth century many Italians and other immigrants from Southern and Eastern Europe came to the valley and worked in the orchards and canneries. During the 20th century there were Filipino immigrants and increasing numbers of immigrants from Mexico who during World War II became the dominant agricultural workforce. The town of San Jose was dominated by its business community, which was in part composed of Irish Catholics. 

Here’s a story from CW:  My great grandfather arrived in the Santa Clara Valley in 1877. He had a vineyard in Cupertino across from what is now De Anza College. They were Christians from Canada and were one of the founding families that started Cupertino Union Church.  A church was an integral part of each small community. Everyone knew one another and waved as cars and trucks passed by neighbors and friends. Nobody locked their house and they left keys in their cars.

My Dad had 80 acres in the foothills of Cupertino. I remember climbing the hills of our ranch in the spring and looking out across this beautiful valley that looked like a huge patchwork quilt of pink and white blossoms and green fields of diverse crops. It was one of the richest agricultural valleys on this planet….so was it the “Valley of Heart’s Delight”. God was generous with his creation.[iii]

This was the “Valley of the Heart’s Delight”, once primarily agricultural because of its highly fertile soil, Santa Clara Valley is now largely urbanized, although its far southern reaches south of Gilroy remain agrarian. The most northern urban areas are considered part of Silicon Valley. 

I tried to share the burden to pray for the now Silicon Valley to become the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight, but I felt like it fell on deaf ears. For a while, my heart grew cold praying for this, but GOD would remind me again and again. In 2015, I made a Facebook page for it and tried to invite everyone I knew who lived here or had a heart for it. But few joined. Again, my heart grew cold, but GOD would bring me back to this. And now – why now?? 

In January 2021, I asked GOD what it would look like for Him to pursue me (note – do not pray this if you do not want to have your life changed!). Within a few days, Becky Durstenfeld was emailing me that she noticed that I was starting to post things on my LinkedIn page that were more evangelistic and wanted to know if I would be interested in taking Perspectives. I looked at the information she sent and decided I could not afford to take the class; although I also thought it was more work than I could handle, I only let her know that it was too expensive and maybe another time. Within a week, she again emailed me to say that she found a company that would sponsor me and wanted to know if I would join. At that point, I remembered my prayer asking GOD to pursue me and decided that this was Him. Becky later told me that they needed one more person to join so that the whole class could continue, so I met that need, but I was still asking GOD why I was the one to meet the need? and why did He want me to take the class now?

One night I was watching an online retreat and the question was asked, “Are you willing to pick up the mantle?” I asked GOD what the mantle was that I needed to pick up.  

Does me praying for the Santa Clara Valley to become the “Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight” constitute a ministry for the paper that is due? Well, I did the paper as if it does because I believe this is a mantle or mandate that GOD has given me to pick up. – (And by the way, I passed the class).

MANDATE: To live under mandate is to be entrusted with a task of lasting significance. Mandates are not commands. By direct commands we assign small errands or daily chores. A mandate, on the other hand, releases authority and responsibility to pursue endeavors of historic importance. GOD has entrusted to Christ, and with Him to the Church, a mandate to fulfill His purpose for all of history.”[iv] – LORD, help me to accomplish the work You have for me.

GOD has shown me that this is like a mantle (or mandate) that needs to be picked up again, but I see that I need to be an intercessor who is rooted, planted, and grounded in Him and in His Word – the best land, the best soil, the best water. I need to be an intercessor who is rooted, planted, and grounded in praying for GOD’s Kingdom to come, firm in my belief and not letting what anyone says or does – or what I see in the natural to cause me to give up. GOD is showing me that this is what it takes for a plant to bear fruit, it must be planted in good soil and remain there, becoming rooted in the ground so that nothing it endures will cause it to die.

I learned through Perspectives that I need to be teachable, willing to learn about the things and people GOD is setting on my heart. So, I sought out to learn about Santa Clara Valley’s past, its people and what it might look like if (and when) it would become the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight. In doing so, I ordered some books, I sent a questionnaire out to Church leaders and others to find out their perspective, I looked up any websites given to me and I searched for some myself.  I will make learning about the Valley and its people an ongoing practice so that I can love the people as Jesus loves them.

Where do I start? “It all starts with a willing humble faithful disciple with faith the size of a mustard seed in a MIGHTY POWERFUL GOD!”[v]

The questionnaire I sent out, asked nine questions. I wanted to find out from their perspective what were the latest statistics of the percentage of active Christians in the Bay Area and where they got the numbers. I asked what they thought was the biggest unreached people group (not based on the Perspectives definition or Joshua Project). I asked what they imagine the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight would look like fulfilled and how they are already seeing it fulfilled as well ask what it would take, from their perspective, for it to be fulfilled. I also asked if they would be willing to pray for this as well as asking them for connections to others who might be willing to answer the questions.

The reason I asked about the latest statistics of the percentage of active Christians in the Bay Area is because from about 2005-2010, I was hearing the statistics from different pastors, ministries, and events. During that timeframe, the number of active Christians went from about 10% of the population to about 3% of the population, however, I was never told where the information was obtained.  In asking the question, I received many answers varying from 50% down to 3%. I looked at A LOT of differed websites and none of them seemed to agree on the actual number. I even spoke to several “data geeks” and received different answers too!

I learned the reason why there is so many different numbers are because no two websites are looking at the same people. One might look at the people of the different “Bays”, another might be looking at the different counties, while yet another might be looking at the Santa Clara Valley.

I chose to ask what people thought was the biggest unreached people group without giving a definition because I did not want people to look it up on the internet. I wanted to see from their eyes, from their perspective. This was very eye opening, because it allowed me to see where their hearts were drawn to people. I learned that there are Lebanese people here. I learned that we have indigenous people in the Bay Area too. Many people said that youth (12-23) are the biggest unreached group because they are taught differently than other generations and much harder to reach because of how “plugged in” to electronics they have become. Several said that Tech workers are the biggest unreached people group because there are so many, and they come from so many countries. Some said Chinese, others Asians; some said Indian, Muslim, and/or Hindu.

The Ohlone are the predominant Indigenous group of the Bay Area, including the Chochenyo and the Karkin in East Bay, the Ramaytush in San Francisco, the Yokuts in South Bay and Central Valley, and the Muwekma tribe throughout the region. Other Indigenous groups include the Graton Rancheria community (Coast Miwok and Southern Pomo), Kashaya, Patwin, and Mishewal Wappo in the North Bay, and the Bay Miwok in the East Bay.[vi]

I could see the melting-pot fusion of nationalities, cultures, and ethnicities through their answers. It gave me pleasure to hear when people where learning something from about the history of the Santa Clara Valley, its immigrants and people groups and religions from me too! And GOD was enlarging my heart to have more love both for those who answered as well as those who were on their hearts too.

The San Francisco Bay Area is one of the most diverse regions in the United States. More than 30% of its population is foreign-born, and close to two-thirds of its residents under the age of 18 are the children of immigrants. Nearly 250,000 Muslims–one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country–live, study, volunteer, work and contribute to the economies and communities of the Bay Area.[vii]

When I asked the question of what people would imagine the Santa Clara Valley would look like if (and when) it became the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight, I got GOD-bumps (AKA: “goose-bumps”) at many of the responses. I had an extremely limited view of what I thought could possibly happen here. But GOD delight’s in doing exceedingly, abundantly more than all we could imagine.

I am a visual person, so I created a WordArt on the words and phrases that warmed my heart, gave me joy, and increased my vision of what the Valley of God’s Heart could entail.

“It might look like global missions on a local level. In other words, there would be a multi-cultural and ethnic approach to reach the nations in the Bay Area. I can see where this global approach used locally might yield results that our predominant American cultural approach does not. Then as God dispersed these new followers of Jesus into new communities across America and abroad, they could take these new models of missionary minded churches to new places. This valley would become an example of how God can take an impossible situation and turn it for His glory, literally making a stronghold of darkness into the “Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight”.[viii]

How is GOD starting to fulfill His purpose in Santa Clara Valley?

In the sphere of where I can see in the natural, I have the honor of attending the “Little Church that Could” – Trinity Church of Sunnyvale is a small church, but we are mighty for the LORD. Approximately 80% of our members are active in serving in one area or more. We are blessed to rent our facility to two other churches and several non-profit Christian organizations for below market rate and serving in unity with them. We are a generous church who were able to bless other churches and non-profits organizations not just in the good times, but also through the pandemic. GOD has blessed us with a good-sized parking lot that we in turn bless others by storing equipment for a “Church in a Box”, hosting regular food pantries, sponsoring homeless with showers and “Dignity on Wheels” truck on a regular basis. GOD has also blessed us with a large “warehouse” sized building behind the church where we rent space to the city for a boxing program to get kids off the street, have afterschool tutoring, and other “community center” type outreach. We sponsor many missionaries. We are also active in our neighborhood, our members are active in their work environments, one of our Elders is a chaplain for the Sunnyvale Department of Public Safety (SV-PDS), our building is used by SV-PDS for fire training and events. These are among some of the things I see happening for GOD’s Kingdom through Trinity Church and her members. We aren’t perfect but we have open hands and hearts for GOD to use us for His glory.

Beyond Trinity Church, I have been privileged to go to local Chinese, Iranian, and African Christian churches and have seen how GOD is bringing people of the same culture together in semi-Western church setting while still worshipping in their mother tongue and culture.

I have also seen a tiny glimpse of some of the things that some Christian non-profit organizations are doing in the Santa Clara Valley – these are some of the ways I am seeing GOD at work around me.

I did not think I could get any more excited about this project, but GOD had more for me. When I read and heard the responses from people of how they are seeing GOD move towards this becoming the Valley of His Heart’s Delight, I worshipped and praised Him for what He is already accomplishing.

“Six years ago, when I took the job of CEO at TBC, the pastors told me it was a dark place. But as I drove around and met people, pastors, and nonprofits I found that even though it might be dark, there are lights all over the place.”[ix]

Through “Work and Faith Movement”, Christian Tech workers are learning how to have Christian fellowship in the companies where they are working, bringing their whole self to work which allows for Christians to encourage Christians, a form of discipling and awakening. These people are prayer walking the halls of the buildings where they work, they are asking people how they can pray for them and praying for them on the spot. They are given opportunities on work campuses to have worship and praise time – during work hours as well as Bible Study during lunches. They have workplace worship nights where “passionate, Jesus-loving, young professionals from Google, FB, Apple, LinkedIn, Cisco and a smattering of other tech companies gather around a campfire worshipping, praying, and hearing testimonials of how GOD is at work in their Silicon Valley workplaces.”[x] They have love towards all their co-workers and making time to know each person on a deeper level than non-Christians would. They have had two annual “pray for Tech” 24-hour prayer times. Tech and marketplace ministry is growing.

“We see people from different walks of life coming into our church as our members create relationships with people in their workplaces.”[xi]

Church planting is being done among at least 14 cultures and languages. Churches and pastors are networking together beyond denominations to pray, serve and be discipled. Churches are giving financially to other churches that are in need and some churches are uniting resources with one another to help each other financially, physically, and spiritually. Churches uniting for worship videos to encourage and build up the “Big C Church” (The Church). Prayer houses are springing up with more churches coming on board to bring 24/7 prayer for the Santa Clara Valley.

Christians are working to build bridges in their communities through Christian non-profit organization such as City Team and Kids Club as well as with city and county organizations. There are church sponsored community centers and city outreach.

“We are active in our faith, have an open door for ministry, have had 50 decisions for Christ this year, plus 11-13 nations are represented on one street and all are being ministered to. We are going where the people are and they have the opportunity to take it in.”[xii]

And some people are coming from other countries to America, to the Bay Area specifically so that they can have freedom to seek GOD through church attendance, studying the Bible, fellowship and discipling and learning all they can because they are hungry to know Jesus and to follow Him.

Those are all wonderful things – but we have not even begun to see what GOD has planned for the Santa Clara Valley. So, I also asked the question, “What do you think it will take for the Valley of GOD’s Heart to be fulfilled here?

I really think it will take much prayer and a move of GOD! Many people answered prayer. I was surprised by the number of people who said Christians or Jesus Followers need to start looking more like Jesus through true discipleship, prayer, growth, and willingness to let Christ be LORD of their lives. Others said that people need to have their hearts broken for the lost, eyes opened to the harvest that exists around them, and a boldness to share the Gospel with people they encounter.

GOD has been teaching me that an intercessor must have vision to see beyond the natural, to see what could happen in the spiritual and then pray that into being. Some of my new vision has come from what I have learned through the Perspectives class. Much of this came from botanical imagery used in the book, which melds well with the Valley of the Heart’s Delight becoming the Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight.

The Church should be organic – it should be alive and vibrant as a living organism. The core being Jesus Christ being followed, loved, and obeyed. Christ alive, forming spiritual families and working with them to fulfill His mission, is the living reality of the organic Church. The Church is really an embodiment of the risen Jesus – the Body of Christ.

Typically, we think of the church as something we mobilize so that people come to Jesus. Instead, Jesus leads people in mission, who in turn, bring forth fruitful churches. We should focus on planting Jesus and let Jesus build His church and work through His church. We are to extend His reign on earth.

The gospel is to be planted as a seed that will sprout within and be nourished by the rain and nutrients in the cultural soil of the receiving peoples. What sprouts from true gospel seed, when planted in people of other cultures, may look quite different above ground from the way it looked by those who planted it, but beneath the ground at the worldview level, the roots are to be the same and the life comes from the same source, which is Christ Himself.

We must plant the seed of the gospel of the Kingdom and the fruit that will grow will be changed lives living out their faith together. The fruit of an apple tree is not an apple, but more apple trees. Within the fruit is found the seed of the next generation of apple trees. We all carry within us the seed of future generations of the church. Christ in us is the seed of the next generation. The difference this seed can leave in the soil of a people group is significant.

If the Gospel is a seed planted in new soil and allowed to bear fruit indigenous to each culture, we can nurture groves of such living expressions of Christ’s Kingdom, that is, Churches that will bear the same fruit as Christ’s character, but usually with stalks and branches of social customs which appear quite alien to the Western culture.

Like a grain of wheat, each new Church in a chain has the same potential to start the reproduction all over again. Jesus’ parables Matt 13, Mark 4 and John 15 compare growth and reproduction of His churches to plants. Like all living creatures GOD has created, the Church has her own seed in herself to reproduce after her own kind. Every time we eat, we eat the fruit of GOD’s tremendous reproduction power given to plants and animals. Reproduction is His style – we need to pray for it!!! 1 Corinthians 3:6 Paul plants, Apollos waters, GOD gives growth. We sow, water, weed, fertilize, but rely on the Church’s own God-given potential to reproduce. An obedient, Spirit-filled church must reproduce at home or abroad. It’s her very nature; she is the Body of the risen, life-giving Son of GOD.

How I am seeing The Valley of GOD’s Heart’s Delight through spiritual eyes:

Where the Valley of the Heart’s Delight was filled with trees and produce of all kinds that brought immigrant workers, I imagine that the seed of the gospel would be planted in each people group, from the indigenous people, those born here and those from parts of the US and abroad who are brought to the Valley for work, school or as refugees. That each people group would represent different trees and plants that would be planted in Jesus and in the Gospel so that they would bear fruit of repentance and a change of lives. I imagine further that GOD would continue to bring them in to be discipled, trained and to work His harvest fields by making disciples that will lead to changed neighborhoods and cities.

If the former valley was known for its fruit, I can only imagine that the valley GOD would delight in would be one where His fruit is being grown. I imagine that it’s not only the fruit of the Spirit as Galatians 5:22-23 says “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Against such things there is no law.…”, but also the fruit of being connected to the vine of Jesus as Lord and Savior – deep and intimate love for Him, obedience to Him, worship and praise to GOD alone, making disciples who make disciples. And His fruit – it will last!  I imagine that GOD would touch the hearts through these disciples to take His “fruit” throughout the US and internationally.

This, as those who responded said, would be global missions on a local level; GOD’s Word bearing fruit for a good and ripe harvest; repentant sinners, transformed lives and love for Jesus evident in the love for people; thriving Christ-followers flourishing in all domains of life and allowing the blessing of GOD to flow through them for His Kingdom purposes to be fulfilled; unity of GOD’s people through Christ’s Bride the Church; and multi-ethnic worship.

What needs to happen to bring these changes?

Jesus used questions often with His disciples, the Pharisees, and the teachers of the Law. His questions always got to the root of the issues in their hearts or beliefs. I believe that He would encourage us to ask questions that get to the root of the issues.

Can we say that the reality of the risen Jesus is alive and active in the Bay Area? – Not what people have done or what programs are doing, rather, where is the risen Jesus seen at work in our midst?

Jesus should be the most important thing about us and the most recognizable aspect that the world sees. Is the ministry done for Jesus or by Jesus?

Our mission is to develop Christ followers rather than church members. This is transformed lives that bring change to neighborhoods and nations. Have we planted a religious organization rather than planting the powerful presence of Christ?

How can we simplify the Gospel so that what matters most is Christ?

We can look at the life of Paul, he was determined to allow Christians to follow different Christian lifestyles. He opposed anyone who would try to preserve a single pattern as normative for all Christians. The Gospel should not result in or preserve alienation between cultural tradition. Instead, by affirming the liberty of different segments of society to retain elements of their lifestyle that are not contrary to the Gospel, these people are welcomed into the big “C” Church, flourishing under the Word of GOD which ultimately calls for the elimination of every kind of prejudice.

In Acts 15, the question was asked: Is it necessary for Gentiles to “go through” Judaism in order to enter the Kingdom of GOD? The disciples determined that this was not the case. If we were to ask the same question today, it would take a different form: Is it necessary for people with non-Christian identity to “go through” Christian identity and culture in order to become part of the Kingdom of GOD? 

I think in the Bay Area we might need to ask the question: Is it necessary for people from nations around the world to “go through” Westernized Christianity in order to become Followers of Christ? Do they have to become Westernized because they come to the Bay Area for work, school or as refugees? 

How we answer these questions will help us to recognize that many people may be entering the Kingdom of GOD by becoming wholly devoted, obedient believing followers of Jesus Christ in their own culture, socio-religious identity, and community relationships. Their obedience needs to be simple and direct. It needs to be culturally and linguistically relevant. It needs to be easily reproducible. It needs to be an act of worship and praise filled with dependence upon the Spirit’s power. They need to follow the teachings and life of Jesus the Messiah, to obey Him.

Masses of people from other nations as well as the younger generations find little or nothing in Christianity that meets their needs, simply because it is presented in practice and in foreign ways to which they cannot connect. Westernized Christianity brand of our faith has been practiced for years, but the quest for vital, dynamic, biblical, contextualize Christianity will require experimenting with new, culturally and biblically appropriate ways of understanding, presenting and practicing Christ-centered lives.

Ralph Winter says that the powerful strategic idea that more people will follow Christ if they can join their own kind of people is grounded in the firm Biblical truth of Christian Liberty. The diversity of churches does not imply forced segregation. Churches have become diverse because given freedom to choose, people consistently seek fellowship with others most like themselves.[xiii]

We must plant Jesus in each culture, each people group, and help His church emerge indigenously from the soil so that a self-sustaining, reproducing church movement will emerge that is not dependent on the Western culture. 

Why are so many people saying that Christian or Jesus Followers “need to start looking more like Jesus”?

Churches and Christ Followers don’t always bear the fruit they should, so it’s important to “cultivate” them by equipping them to see Christ’s life flourish within their society. These people and churches need to be challenged to live the life Jesus called us to live. He calls every one of His followers to join Him in a relationship of love, power, and purpose.

He is the GOD of love who invites each of us into intimate relationship with Him which leads us to love Him, follow Him, obey Him. He is the GOD of power who invites us to participate in His purpose and plans and enables us to respond to Him in trust so that we can do His will for our own good and for His greater glory. He is the GOD of purpose who refuses to allow us to live self-centered lives, but rather is determined to honor us with the dignity of being on mission with Him, fulfilling part of His historic purpose.

Praying for GOD’s will on earth as it is in Heaven

Part of Jesus’ ministry was his prayer life. We cannot imitate Him without prayer. We can also imitate Paul whose first work was sowing the ground with prayer.

Interestingly, I was flipping through the Perspectives study guide and started reading not just what I had underlined, but I started reading what I had written in the margins – I wrote prayers! I pray that those who read this will see that GOD is in all the details – His providence and His design.

LORD, teach us how and allow us to die to our selves so that Your Kingdom can live in us!

LORD, You are more focused on Your love relationship with us that us getting a certain job done. Allow us to experience You in a relationship with You of love, power, and purpose!  Help us to do and accomplish the work You have for us not out of obligation, but rather because we love You.

LORD, please help us to bring about signs of the Kingdom – that You will bring Your Kingdom into our lives and circumstances in ways that others take note of You and start looking for You.

In Lesson 5, I learned that the Church has had “Persistence in Big-Picture Vision”. I wrote in the margin “LORD, please come beside me, even in my foolishness and self-absorbed moments and show me/remind me of the “big picture” and help me to be obedient to Your assignment for me.” I pray that GOD will come beside each person who is in ministry in the Santa Clara Valley, even in our foolishness and self-absorbed moments and show us, remind us of the “big picture” and help each one of us to be obedient to His assignment He had given each of us.

Having “big-picture vision” reminded me of one time I was prayer walking a local indoor arena in San Jose. It was at that time called the “HP Pavilion”. It has the capacity to hold 17,562 people. During that prayer walk, GOD told me that it would be known has the House of Prayer Pavilion because regular prayer and worship nights would be held there and that there would be no fee to park because the owners of the parking lots would want as many people to come as possible. It is now called the “SAP Center”. I pray that the enemy will no longer be able to sap GOD’s movement in the Bay Area, and that GOD’s power over this place will be present in a way that His plans and purposes come to fruition and bear good fruit that will last.

In Lesson 4, Newbigin says that as we carry out the mission Jesus imparted, we will not “bring the Kingdom of GOD in perfect measure, but instead to bring about signs of the kingdom – ‘the reality of GOD’s reign.’ I wrote in the margin, “LORD please help us to bring about signs of the kingdom – that You will bring Your Kingdom into our lives and circumstances in a way that others take note of You and look for You” – adding that they would desire Him and to come into relationship with Him because of these “GOD sightings”. 

Also in Lesson 4, Robert Coleman “points out that Jesus selected a few people and developed them as leaders in a movement that would impact the entire earth.” I wrote in the margin, “LORD, please let my prayers impact the world and people around me.” It would be beyond my thoughts or imagination for GOD to allow my prayers to impact the entire earth! My prayer is that He would raise up and develop leaders in a movement in the Santa Clara Valley that will impact the entire world.

LORD, I pray that as we sow, water, weed, fertilize, and fence the crop that we will rely on You to spring reproduction potential and power so that an obedient, Spirit-filled church will be produced and reproduced because she, in her nature, is the Body of the risen, life-giving Son of GOD.

“Listen, O Santa Clara Valley! The LORD is our GOD, the LORD alone.” (rephrased from Deuteronomy 6:4)

I pray that Holy Spirit with bring about a movement in Santa Clara Valley that will cause more and more people to be in an intimate relationship with GOD where they are dedicated and have life-transforming obedience to everything that Jesus commands. I pray that each person will flourish in a way that we share the blessings that GOD has given us in order to advance His Kingdom for our sake and for His glory.

I pray that the spirit of control over the Bay Area churches will be broken and that GOD’s power and control will flow freely so that churches are no longer stifled but instead grow and reproduce. I pray that the enemy will no longer have control over part of families causing a rift or breaking in the family, but instead entire families will be in relationship with GOD and evangelizing together.

 Habakkuk 1:5 “Look to the nations, watch and be utterly amazed for I am going to do something in your days that you would not believe even if you were told.”

I pray that the Good News about the Kingdom of GOD will be preached to the “nations” in Santa Clara Valley, so that the people will hear in a tongue and way that they understand and come to Salvation and lives lived in loving obedience to Christ.

This image shows some of the diverse people groups of the San Francisco Bay Area; it is not showing only unreached groups.[xiv]  

This image shows some of the diverse people groups of the San Francisco Bay Area; it is not showing only unreached groups.[i]  


[i] https://www.ywamsanfrancisco.org/unreached-people-groups

GOD, I pray for Santa Clara Valley that we will look at these nations within our midst, watch and be utterly amazed because You will do something in our days, in our lifetimes, that we would not believe even if we were told!

In “The Grinch that Stole Christmas”, the Grinch’s heart grew three times the size it had been. Not that I am the Grinch, but I feel that in a way, GOD has grown my heart at least three times the size it was – if not more – for Santa Clara Valley and its people. 

And I am praying that GOD will cause the hearts of others to grow with the same love and passion, again, not that anyone is a Grinch, but rather for GOD to enlarge our hearts and our capacity to love and pray to see the hand of GOD bring about something we can only partially imagine on this side of its fulfillment.

REFERENCES:


[i] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santa_Clara_Valley

[ii] https://www.santaclaraca.gov/our-city/about-santa-clara/city-history/agriculture#:~:text=By%20the%20early%2020th%20century,Prune%20Capital%20of%20the%20World

[iii] CW, Menlo Park Presbyterian Church Member

[iv] Perspective Study Guide page 37

[v] JC, Trinity Church of Sunnyvale member

[vi] https://bayareaequityatlas.org/about/indigenous-populations-in-the-bay-area#:~:text=The%20Ohlone%20are%20the%20predominant,Muwekma%20tribe%20throughout%20the%20region.

[viii] Dr. Joel King, Lead Pastor, Trinity Church of Sunnyvale

[ix] Nancy Ortberg, CEO, Transforming the Bay for Christ

[x] Roy Tinklenberg, Founder, CEO and City Catalyst, Work and Faith Movement

[xi] Joseph Kim, Pastor, Revive Presbyterian Church

[xii] Malia Pires, Executive Director and Board Member, Reach Potential Movement

[xiii] Perspectives Reader, pages 356-360

[xiv] https://www.ywamsanfrancisco.org/unreached-people-groups

Christmas Christmas time is here…

Are you having a hard time getting into the Christmas Spirit this year?

SIGH, I’m not sure what to write or how to write it. I had a lot of hope and anticipation at the beginning of December. Then I suddenly found myself struggling with depression, yet again!

I really thought I would get past it this year and finally experience the hope and anticipation throughout the month. If you are like me, you need something, anything to anchor onto so that you can make it through the holidays.

I know we are to focus on Jesus, the reason for the season…and Christmas should be in our hearts and lives all year long. I can spend all morning reading devotionals and GOD’s Word. And worship and sing songs of praise to Him all while still struggling with depression.

I’m finding that looking back at past Christmases while asking GOD to shine a light on my memories to show me how He was in them is bringing some relief.

I was at my church’s Christmas Carol sing last week and people were asked to share memories. There seemed to be a theme this year where person after person shared about their family opening Christmas presents for hours for Christmas. My family didn’t do that.

Interestingly, GOD brought to mind not a time with lots of presents, but a Christmas when I was younger after my parents divorced and my Dad had remarried. We were at my Dad’s sister’s house. It was evening and the adults had the kids join them. The adults started to sing (and recorded it on a cassette tape).

GOD shined His light in the gift of His presence. You see, my family were not just singing the melody of the Christmas songs, but were harmonizing with one another. It was like a taste of what it will be like when we get to heaven.

GOD is reminding me of other Christmas memories too. Is it causing the depression to go away? No. BUT GOD is allowing me to have peace, hope, anticipation and even some joy despite the depression. He is able to do that when we let Him.

GOD has an adventure for each of us. He never promised life would be easy. Jesus said that in this world we will have trouble, but He has overcome the world. It’s our choice to take Him up on the adventure He has for us or try to do life on our own without Him.

Having a hard time getting into the Christmas spirit? Ask GOD to shine a light on what His is doing as well as where He was in past seasons of your life. He will show Himself faithful. He will show you where He has been working in your life, even in the hardest parts of your life.

And one more thing, please know, it’s ok to be depressed. It’s ok to not be ok. But know this, you are not alone. GOD is with you and loves you. BUT if you are thinking about taking your life, please call 1-800-273-TALK (8255). GOD will help you get through this season. Trust Him.

I pray that GOD will show Himself faithful in your life. I pray that He will encourage you, strengthen you and give you hope and anticipation of what is to come. I pray that GOD will envelope you in His arms and lead you on the adventure of a lifetime. He is able and willing. I love you friend. Merry Christmas!

Let your generosity be contagious

Today would have been my grandpa’s 100th birthday. I miss him very much. One of the things I miss about him is the stories he would tell.

During World War II, he was part of the Army Air Corps and was stationed in England. He was a mechanic of the planes, so he would be on the ground the entire time while he was there.

During that time, people were sending their children from London, and other cities that were being bombed, into the country to stay with family, friends and even strangers so that the children would be safe. My grandpa said that these children would be walking without adults, usually the older ones caring for the younger ones.

It was nearing the holidays and my grandpa came up with an idea. He told his buddies that they could all give up a pair of socks and some of the items that they had received from home. Everyone liked the idea and were making much talk about it.

At one point, a commanding officer heard about it and decided to get in the act too! He told some of the flyboys to see what they could bring back to add to the socks. When they returned, they had crates of oranges with them.

So, each man took a pair of socks, loot from their boxes from home and two oranges. Then, as they saw the kids walking past, they would give each child a “stocking”.

As a child, I wondered if this was really true. BUT, one time I was on a plane going somewhere and I started reading the airline magazine. I read a story of an English man who as a child was sent by his parents from London into the country to stay with family so he would be safe…AND that American men from the Army Air Corps gave him and each of his siblings a sock filled with things and an orange. The man in the article went on to say that their generosity greatly impacted his life and caused him to desire to be as generous too.

Generosity doesn’t just look like gifts or money, it can be kind or encouraging words, praying for people, giving of time and service.

My grandpa was definitely a generous person and I know that his generosity has greatly impacted my life as well!

I really miss my grandpa. I would love to hear his voice again and get a hug from him. Happy 100th birthday from heaven Grandpa!! 🎉🎊🪅

I really wish I would have kept that airline magazine article. I have looked and looked online but unable to find it! (If anyone finds it, please send it to me!)

I want to challenge you, not just in these days of the coming holiday season, but throughout the year, to be so generous that it becomes contagious.

I pray that GOD will give you eyes to see the needs of people around you so that you can encourage and build them up…and that He will show you ways in which your generosity becomes contagious!

Black bird

I love how the GOD of ALL creation can use anything…. ANYTHING to speak to us.

I’ve been wanting to go on a GOD-date again. (That is where I get away from the normal day to day to spend time with GOD. But it’s been hard because I don’t drive. Hard to believe that I haven’t since February 2019!) Anyway, I have been praying for an opportunity to get out of the house and maybe even get to the beach again.

Well today was the day! Yay! Praise GOD my friend was going to be able to take me over the hill to the beach! I knew it was going to be chilly so I was going to take layers. I had mostly purples but felt like I was supposed to take my black UCSF sweatshirt too.

We took our time getting there since it was overcast. But by 2:00pm ish the sun was out and we were finding our way to the Capitola Beach.

There were sea gulls, pelicans, a black heron that was fishing near the shore and some pigeons. The out of nowhere, a little black bird came walking past us. After I said, “Well, hello little black bird.” We both instantly started to sing…”Black bird singing in the dead of night…”

https://youtu.be/Man4Xw8Xypo (Listen to the Beatles, Black bird)

I had to look up the song because we couldn’t remember the words. It’s crazy, the Beatles and Paul McCartney should not be worship worthy songs. BUT GOD….the GOD of ALL creation is able to use ALL things!

Are you you singing in the dead of night? Are you singing in the deepest areas of pain? Worshipping GOD when ALL looks hopeless? Are you worshipping GOD when your wings are broken and you are unable to fly? Are you worshipping GOD when you are unable to see what lies ahead?

Could it be that if you worship that you will see that what you have been waiting for is right here. You are free in Christ to fly, spread your wings and fly into the light. Take your light into the dark.

I found myself worshipping GOD on the beach. I was wearing black. I was the black bird. I need to worship in my suffering more. I need to be willing to take the light He has placed in me into the darkness more than I do too.

How about you? Do you feel challenged?

L’Chayim!

You might be thinking 🤔, “What in the world???🌎

No, I haven’t become Jewish. But ADONAI (the LORD) spoke to me through a Messianic Jewish daily devotional today.

I have been struggling with higher pain levels again in my spine. Most days 6.5 or higher. I decided that I would be in pain whether at home or traveling to be with family and friends.

Several weeks ago, I was on a plane headed to Arizona. As the plane took off, I watched the people become what seemed to be smaller than ants. And as the plane gained altitude, cars and semi trucks seemed to become smaller than fleas!

I thought of ADONAI who is higher than the heavens and the earth yet He knows each one of us so intimately that He knows our thoughts and numbers the hairs on our heads. Yet, we are so tiny and seemingly insignificant! Why does He care about us?

I have been struggling with that question more and more especially due to the fact that I have not only had the high pain in my spine (7-8’s) and medium pain in my abdomen (5-6’s), but more and more I am having migraines that are as painful (5-7’s)😖 and affecting my eye.

With so much pain in my body, I can almost understand Job in Job 13:15 when he says, “Though He slay me, I will hope in Him; yet I will argue my ways to His face.” But I don’t want to argue my ways to His face, I just want to be with Him face to face.

I know to be with Him is to be without pain and suffering. To be with Him would be absent of ALL that I am going through.

I read my devotional for today. It spoke of Yeshua (Jesus) becoming a curse for us so that we would no longer be cursed. Deuteronomy 27:26 says, “A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah (law) by putting them into practice.”

We are all cursed to die unless we receive the Messiah’s (Savior’s) redemption and payment on the cross. Part of receiving Him is being obedient to Him.

Not by any coincidence, my book mark is on two pages and at one point flopped over…so the devotional book opens to “Lechayyiam!” Which means, “to life!”

In Deuteronomy 30:19, ADONAI tells His people to choose life or death, blessing or cursing.

HMMMM 🤔! By continuing to focus on wanting to be with ADONAI face to face, I am choosing death… YES, I am. I’m choosing selfishness and self-pity over the life and blessings ADONAI has for me here in the land of the living. I am also not fully receiving the redemption price that Yeshua has paid on my behalf if I am not living for Him. Ouch!

Uvacharta bachayim…”and you shall choose life”! Part of choosing life requires us to “be chosen” by ADONAI. It means that we choose daily (and moment by moment if necessary) to accept the gifts, challenges, pain, opportunities, responsibilities and purpose that ADONAI has given us.

Today I will. . choose the way of life over the way of death. What will you choose?

L’Chayim!

Humble Valley Ranch..it is a real place…at least from a heavenly perspective for now

Okay, okay! Enough people have asked, “Where is Humble Valley Ranch?” and “What is Humble Valley Ranch?” So, let me tell you what I know. But be prepared, there are lots of details.

In approximately 2003, I had my second ever recurring dream. (First one is here) It was the type of recurring dream where it continues from night to night without starting over from the beginning.

The first night I dreamed I was in a vehicle that was driving towards what looked like a cliff. But before the turn in the road towards the left to keep us from going over the cliff, there was a sudden right turn. This road hugged a wall to the right and then led into a valley with white barked trees.

Upon entering the valley, I could see what looked like a Holiday Inn style hotel building with a very humongous barn just passed it. On the left was a large home with a covered wagon style wagon in the front.

The vehicle came to a stop in front what looked like a two-story log-style home. As I said before, it was very large. In the front yard was a wagon that was filled with dirt and covered with strawberry plants. There were pots here and there hanging from poles filled with herb and spice plants as well as other types of berries. It seemed like every species of plant in the yard was edible or grew something that could be eaten.

The front of the house had a screened in porch that ran the length of the building. This had chairs and sofas looking out towards the front yard. It looked very comforting and inviting.

Inside the house, there was a entryway that led to the stairs (or possibly elevator??). To the right of this was a large sitting room without a TV. This room also looked very inviting.

Upstairs, there were 6-8 rooms each with a theme from the Bible. One was David and Goliath. I don’t remember the rest. Each had their own bathroom. Upstairs there was also a sitting room. And there was a door that led out to a very large deck that had a barbeque grill built into it and there were a lot of tables and chairs. From this deck, there was a bridge that went over a stream that ran behind the house. This bridge led to a grassy knoll. There was also a stairway that led back downstairs to the kitchen/dining room door on the back of the house.

Not only did the stairway lead down to the kitchen/dining room door, but just past it was a gate of a very huge garden that was being watered by the stream. The garden also had a place where people could sit and fish, and a sort of sink-like setup with counter for cleaning the fish.

Going into the door of the house, there was a dining room with a very long picnic style table. To the left was a restaurant sized kitchen with restaurant sized stove, oven, refrigerator and dishwasher. Then past that was a door that led to an office and bedroom and sitting room of the “house parents” or the people who were in charge of the home.

In the basement of this house had theater type setup with seating and big screen. But I don’t recall where the stairs to this were. It would make sense to me that they were part of the stairs (elevator??) leading upstairs. (Hmmm🤔 I don’t recall a laundry room but there must have been one somewhere).

One last thing was that when you went out the dining room/kitchen door to the left, you would go under the deck and then there was a white bark tree lined path that led down the stream to the base of the cliff. There was a cave in the side of the cliff. The bank of the stream was wide enough at this place that there was a fire pit with downed trees surrounding it for people to sit on. I could imagine worship nights there.

I think all of the above was from the first night of the dream. But I don’t remember. What seemed to be another night was what felt like a tour of the hotel style structure and barn area.

The hotel style structure had two-stories and eight hotel style rooms, four on the first floor and four on the second floor. Each of the rooms had a bed, bathroom and a small microwave. These rooms would be for those who are working the land and working with the animals.

The barn had a door on the side from the hotel style structure. As you entered, on the left was a coffee pot and small refrigerator and kitchen style sink with cups and glasses on the open shelves.

The barn also had two big doors on the front of the building facing the house. Inside the barn, there were horse stalls on the wall just past the small door. There was a stairway that went up through the middle of the barn There were also separate indoor pens/coops with animal appropriate sized doors leading out for goats, sheep, chickens, ducks, geese and turkeys. (Questioning to myself if there were cows in the mix…I don’t remember.)

The second story of the barn had a hay loft. I think there might have been more up there, but I don’t remember. This seemed to be the end of the dream for another night. As far as I was concerned, that could have been the end.

But it wasn’t. The next night I was back at this same place. I found myself being led from the mostly empty parking lot between the house and the barn heading opposite of the cliff. There were white barked trees on either side of a path big enough for two horses to walk next to one another. Every once in awhile there would be a bench here and there along the path.

This seemed to be at least one-half to three-quarters of a mile. At the end of this path was an A-frame log-style chapel. It was beautiful. There was an intricate stained glass window in the triangle between the door and the frame of the roof.

Indoor, at the back of the chapel was a small-ish sitting area. Then past it there were what looked like hand-crafted redwood benches (like church pews) with hand-sewn cushions made in the same colors of the stained-glass window. The front of the chapel and podium were also what seem to be hand-crafted in redwood as well. It was quaint and comfortable. And the presence of HOLY SPIRIT was very sweet. I wanted to stay there but I was encouraged to move on because there was something else that needed to be seen.

I was again at the parking lot between the house and the barn. I was led as if going back to the chapel but before I got to the tree lined path, I turned right, past animal pens and coops. I saw machines that were used for large crop planting and harvest. As I was lead past them, I saw that the land above was also part of this property. And it had at least two types of crops. Each had to be 5 or so acres worth. I also seem to recall a helipad, but don’t remember if it was near the parking lot or somewhere else.

After having this dream for three or four nights, I stated asking GOD questions. Is this place real. I asked Him that if it was real, then to please give me a name for it. I heard, “Humble Valley Ranch”. I asked Him if it was supposed to be a place that I helped bring into existence that He would protect this name from other people using it. I thought it was going to be a retreat home for pastors and elders.

For awhile I thought that there was no way that a person could be given such a great number of details about a place or a even a building. But I have read the multiple times throughout the Bible that GOD gave even details down to the measurements of the walls or materials. So, now I know He is able to do this. He is a GOD of details.

I have not understood why He would give this dream to me. I did live on something like a ranch when I was a child. I loved the animals. But I have know it would take much more knowledge and strength than I have.

Even though it has not come from heaven to earth in the natural, GOD has protected the name. And more and more, I believe that it is real and GOD will bring it to pass when He is ready. Where will it be? I don’t know.

As I said before, I thought that it would be a retreat center for pastors and elders. But through experiences of my own as well as some very dear friends of mine, I am coming to understand that this will be a resting place for pastors and missionaries who have had emotional or mental breakdowns or who have experienced trauma in such a way that they need help beyond what they can get while continuing to work. Not only will the “house parents” be able to counsel them but so will the ranch hands. It will be a working ranch where they are required to get up and help with part of the chores but will be able to find time to find healing. Also, there will be no charge for them to be there and no limit in the amount of time they are able to stay. They will be encouraged and challenged to grow and get back to the work GOD has called them to do.

So, there you have it. Now you know as much as I do about Humble Valley Ranch. If GOD leads you to this valley, please let me know where it is. I look forward to seeing how GOD will bring it to pass!

Funny How GOD Works

Few weeks ago, I was watching Christian comedians on YouTube. I was just letting the videos play one after another. I had never heard of Michael Jr, but thought I would give a listen. 

After the show, another video popped up and it felt sort of like Michael Jr was talking to me. He was saying that he wrote a book and was looking for people who would be on his lunch team – read the book for free – well, for helping to market it. 

The next thing I know, I’m filling out a form that I got for clicking on the link. I wasn’t sure I wanted to do all the marketing tasks, so I checked a box saying that I do some. And I had to write a short essay about why I thought I should be part of his launch team. Maybe I should have written: “Because I’m positive that Michael Jr was talking to me on that video!” But instead I wrote that I only saw him once and was impressed that he was truly a comedian who could do a show with kids in the audience, very clean. I think I also said something about being a slow reader. 

I waited for a day and when I didn’t get an email, I felt somewhat snubbed. Haa haa! Then in a couple days, I got an email that they would choose who would be on the team in a couple of days. I think after that I forgot to check my email, because I saw that one had been in my inbox for 2 days. 

That email had a link to a video of Michael Jr. In it, he was excited about his book and about the launch team. Kind of funny that as I was listening to him, I was thinking, “There’s probably so many people who applied that I won’t get chosen”, and then my thought went to “but I’m really not a good person for his team”. 

Michael Jr said in the video that those who were chosen to be on the launch team would be on the credits at the end of the video. I almost didn’t watch because I was pretty sure I wasn’t on the list. Then it started, there was only one name on the list, “Michael Jr.” that’s it. Then he came back on the video saying he was just kidding and the real list would really be coming up. 

Aaarrrggghhh! Of course it was in an alphabetical order, that meant I would have to wait…(I’m a Wilson)…and wait. (I seriously need to marry a man with the last name starting with the letter closer to the beginning of the alphabet!)

And then, there it was! My name was in the credits‼️

What⁉️ Why would I get picked❓❓ 

WHHHHAAAATTT???!? I’M ON IT!

Next thing I know, I was looking at my email account again and saw that I had an email welcoming me to the team. This email had launch team instructions and the link to read the book.

Usually, I’m a slow reader, especially if I don’t grasp what’s being said or it’s a slow beginning. But, from the beginning, I felt like GOD put this book in my hands at this time for a reason! And as I read, I felt like Michael Jr didn’t just want to make people laugh but rather he genuinely wants to help people.

Somehow in the span of about 5 hours, I read the first 10 chapters; including writing notes in my journal, praying, crying, laughing, and rereading parts. 

By the time I stopped reading for the night, I really knew this book was supposed to be in my hands. And GOD made it possible for me to be reading it because He was planning to use this book: the stories and questions, to go into the deep crevices of my heart, break through some walls and allow some hope to seep in like a light into a dark room.

I confess, I was kind of thinking and daydreaming how cool it would be if Michael Jr were somehow able to connect me to (or was a connection) I need in order to get Humble Valley Ranch from a multi-night dream that GOD gave me almost 20 years ago to be…from heaven to earth…i.e: the connection to bring it into reality! (I will have to write about the recurring dream of Humble Valley Ranch in another blog.)

But then I read, “‘Are you asking ‘What can I give?’ Or, are you asking the default question, ‘What can I get?’ If you don’t choose which of these questions to ask, you will by nature ask, ‘What can I get?’ When you make the decision to change your question, I guarantee you will find much better answers.”

I started asking, “GOD, what do I have that I can give to Michael Jr and his team for allowing me the privilege of being on the launch team and getting to read this book for free?”

At some point in the book he writes, “I’m asking you to pause right now and literally take 3 minutes and come up with something you can do to help someone you have encountered recently. Like really just take a few beats and do it now. DO IT NOW PLEASE.”

So I did. “Hey Google, set a timer ⌛ for 3 minutes.”

“Okay, setting a ⏳ for 3 minutes.”

I wrote my pat answers, “I can pray for them, encourage them…I can write on my blog.” Well, okay I’m not sure how writing on my blog would help anyone. But I had to get a new journal out because I was at the end of my old one. So, I needed to write about why I was writing quotes from this guy, Michael Jr, in my new journal. And, the next thing I know, I realized that I was literally writing my next blog…well that is if Michael Jr and his team approve of it. (If you were reading this, they approved).

Michael Jr encourages readers to pursue God to find their purpose using their gifts, talents, skills, past, situations and circumstances and then set out into that purpose trusting God to take care of the details. 

Michael Jr says,”…Some of the greatest things in life happen outside of our comfort zone.”

Later in that chapter, he asks “When was the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone?”

I feel like I’m stepping out of my comfort zone because I have no clue if anyone will even see this or read it. I have very few followers on my blog and I get maybe a dozen or two people reading it… and strangely, most of those people are from China, who somehow find it through their web searches…

BIG SIGH!! 

My blog page is just a way to put a little hope and encouragement out there on the web to people who might stumble on it and if GOD wills, lead someone to a saving and intimate relationship with JESUS.

Yeppers, I am stepping out in faith, stepping out of my comfort zone to send this to Michael Jr and team. Stepping out in faith to put it on my website. Stepping out of my comfort zone.

Go read the book. DO IT NOW PLEASE. 

Funny How Life Works Book by Michael Jr, available on March 2, 2021!

Pre-order your #FunnyHowLifeWorks book here: https://amzn.to/2YkzGFv

#FunnyHowLifeWorks

@MichaelJrComedy

Read the reviews: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/56567072

5th Anniversary of a sacrifice

If you have not already read my early writings, please check them out on my website, here’s the first one. I have written about the process and journey of becoming a live liver donor for a friend’s husband.

October 22, 2020 will have been 5 years since we had surgeries. Here’s our update and story.

Can you believe that it’s been 5 years since I donated part of my liver to Lupe? Me neither – only it feels much longer than 5 years! Time is a strange thing.

Last I heard, Lupe is still cancer-free. He was permitted to go to work, but with him having a sensitive immune system, he is not working because of covid-19 in our world. He still has pain daily but has a good attitude. He’s also very grateful for each day he gets with his family and friends – and for each opportunity he has to share Jesus with someone.

Since the last update, I am still having abdominal pain as well as back pain. I was not approved for back surgery and doctors say that there is no way to really see if I am allergic to titanium. SIGH! I am still using a cane and have been unable to drive since February 2019. I have been blessed with SSDI and also In Home Support Services has allowed me to have care providers come into the house where I live to help with laundry, bed changing, errands, cooking and taking me to appointments. I would have never imagined being in pain for 5 years, being this young and needing care providers, not being able to drive or even walk very far by myself – BUT GOD…

GOD is faithful, GOD has not left me and I know that GOD loves me. I know that GOD is sovereign, GOD is in control and that GOD has a plan. I’m not sure why He has allowed this for me, but I trust GOD completely – more than I did 5 years ago. More than anything now, my prayer is that GOD will be glorified in and through all we have been through.

If you haven’t known GOD or JESUS personally, I would encourage you to seek Him while He can be found. Your life won’t become suddenly easy, but you will know a peace that surpasses all understanding. You will know that the GOD who created you still holds you in His hand and He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

There’s MORE to come please be willing to go the distance.

Recently I was at an outdoor church service. The breeze was pleasant, the worship music was wonderful and the Spirit of the LORD was present. It seems like I don’t experience the LORD’S presence as often as I used to. I closed my eyes to drink in every drop as though His presence was longed for water in a hot and dreary land.

As I closed my eyes, a vision started. I could see a boat that was struggling to make it ashore and a very bright and beautiful lighthouse beckoning it to move forward, closer and closer to the shore.

I have been very exhausted mentally, emotionally and physically due to the high pain in my body, so this vision wasn’t a surprise. It’s sometimes a struggle to even feel like I am moving much less moving forward.

But then the vision started to change. It was as if the boat was on a flat surface and would at some point fall off. I thought of what the world would be like if the earth were flat as was the understanding in our Earth’s history. Many people were afraid that if they took their boat too far, it would fall off the world and never return.

As I thought about it briefly, the vision changed again. This time the boat was going the distance and returning with a bounty of new experiences.

My friend, do you feel like you are at the end of yourself? Or maybe you feel like you or your life is worthless? Do you feel like that boat that is struggling to move forward? Or maybe you just want to be on the boat that goes over the edge of the world so you don’t have to go on?

If this is you, please let GOD show you how much He loves you and how much He has in store for your life. Let me encourage you to be in the boat that goes the distance and experiences so much more than you can imagine or fathom.

And if you have any thoughts or plans about suicide, I plead with you to call 1-800-273-8255(TALK) or 988.

GOD has not finished your story, it’s not the end. I know sometimes it’s hard to move forward, but even if you feel like you aren’t moving or moving backwards, please hold on.

I pray for you that GOD will intervene in such a way that you know He is working on your behalf. I pray that GOD will envelop you in His arms and that you’ll know His presence. I pray that you will be able to say with me “; BUT GOD…” I love you my friend, so make the call for me.

Your story is not over. There may be much that you still need to get through that will be hard, but there are people you have not met who have yet to come into your life. There are places that you will go that you haven’t been to yet. You have family and friends who love you. And most of all, you are a survivor, a victor! Lean into GOD and let Him help you live out your story.

Gifts from GOD

In my last blog, I wrote about how GOD’S goodness and mercy are different than what we might think they are.

Well, this time I want to write about how His gifts to us can sometimes be quite different than we think, imagine or fathom.

Several months ago, a friend of mine was reading to me from a book called, “Calm my anxious heart,” by Linda Dillow. She was reading from chapter four, “Content with My Role”.

She read, “‘Linda, you are one of the few married women I know was happy. I have observed the wives and our mission. Of the 40 I know, only three are glad to be married.’ This is a sobering comment from a single missionary woman I respected. could she be right? Do women who love Christ and desire to serve Him truly give the impression that they are discontinued in their marriages? Fred, a singles pastor, made an equally disturbing observation. When asked if the single women in the church were content with their singleness, he replied, ‘Absolutely not! Every week I have weepy women in my office convinced are doomed to a life of loneliness. They’re treading water biding time until Mr. Right comes along. They believe that singleness is not the complete will of GOD.'”

We discussed how each role that GOD allows us to walk in is a gift. Whether the role of child, student, single, married, parent, widow, etc. These are seasons of our lives that GOD gives us as gifts. And just because we are in one season, it doesn’t mean that we will be in that season for the rest of our lives.

After we talked, my friend was praying for me and thanking GOD for the gifts of the roles He has chosen for each of us. As she prayed for me, I imagined a fancy gift box that I was opening and upon looking into it, I set it aside and saw myself asking GOD for the next gift. Ugghh! How horrible that I see the gift of singleness as if I have been given underwear and socks for Christmas instead of a cool toy or the thing I wanted most on my Christmas list!

It’s taken me some time to process this and to ask GOD to forgive me for rejecting the precious gift that He has given me because He knows it is the best gift for me. And during this time, I have also learned about another gift GOD has given me…the gift of disability!

Yes, along with our roles, we can look at other roles too. Manager, co-worker, employed, unemployed, military, part-time worker, volunteer, disabled. Each of these is also a gift from GOD.

I learned a few weeks ago that I am not a candidate for surgery and it’s possible that the pain in my spine and the weakness in my legs will get worse. This was sobering news. I went into a funk. I don’t want to live this way the rest of my life. What about my possible career and dreams? SIGH! This was a life sentence to pain

;BUT GOD…

GOD is able to heal me, but even if He doesn’t, He has chosen this for me because it’s the best gift for me. He knows what will help me to become the best version of myself. He knows what it will take for me to look to Him for everything.

2 Corinthians 12:9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

Romans 5:3-4 Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,

1 Peter 4:12-13 Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.

My housemate and I were talking about suffering producing character. I said that I should create a t-shirt that says, “I’ve been told that suffering produces character… I’m just not sure which character I want to be yet!”(I pictured the t-shirt with characters like Winnie the Pooh, Mickey Mouse, etc.) But I know the character I really want to display is the character of Christ.

His ways are far different than our ways. He knows what we need in our lives to grow us and mold us into the best versions of ourselves.

What gifts has GOD given to you that don’t feel like gifts? How can seeing them as gifts help you to trust GOD and find peace? What Christ-like character qualities do you want to see GOD develop in you?

LORD, please help us to receive the gifts that You have given us in our lives. Help us to see them as special gifts that we will appreciate and no longer see them as the gift we set aside in order to receive the “better gift”. Please help us to find peace and contentment in the roles You have given us. And help us to grow Christ-like character and qualities in our lives. LORD, Thank You for the gifts You have given us and will give us. Thank You that You know what is best for us. Thank You LORD. In JESUS name amen.