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Dandelion Love

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My three-year-old granddaughter loves dandelions. It is her mission in life to pick every dandelion she sees. She thinks they are beautiful and highly prized. With great pride, she presents her bright yellow bouquets to her mother, who is instructed to put them in water to keep them pretty. In her world, the only thing better than a blooming dandelion is a dandelion that has gone to seed. The seed-filled puff balls are picked and the seeds blown, sometimes with a few sticking to her little lips. Dandelions bring her joy.

Driving to church yesterday, my husband pointed out a field covered in dandelions. He sort of groaned, but I commented how happy our granddaughter would be in that field. That got me thinking how different our perspectives can be. To some, dandelions are just a nuisance, a weed to be eradicated from an otherwise pristine lawn. But to others, they are beautiful and even desirable. I’m okay with dandelions. To me they herald spring, which I am always happy to welcome.

I heard a radio commercial this year asking people to allow dandelions to bloom because they are one of the first and most vital nectar sources for pollination. They serve a very important purpose. Without them, we might not have other plant species we love or foods we enjoy. We can take a lesson from the lowly dandelion.

Sometimes I see myself as that dandelion that others dread seeing and would like to get rid of. I know I can be annoying. And I feel sometimes that I am not contributing anything of value to others’ lives. But then I remember my granddaughter and her perspective on dandelions. That is how God sees me. To him I am not a nuisance. I am his beautiful creation. And he has given me purpose and equipped me to serve others in my own unique way, that I may be a blessing to them and bring joy to him.

My worth doesn’t come from who or what I am, but from him. He made me. He gave me life. He died for me. He desires to have a relationship with me. So, like the dandelions in my front yard, I’ll keep growing, reaching toward heaven, doing my part to glorify the God who made me and loves me as I am. I will trust him to use me in my little sphere of influence to do the works he has prepared for me to do.

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV)

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Testimonials

“I am so excited to see that Lisa is allowing God to use her difficult experiences to reach out to others.

I have been involved with the Seeing Eye, where they train dogs to guide blind people, and as a graduate of the The Seeing Eye have on many occasions shared the podium or stage with Lisa. She was always engaging, clear, often utilizing humor to keep the interest and focus of the audience.
I know that she will be used by our Lord to help others to come to grips with any similar or shared experiences. Lisa will be able to show how God can heal, comfort, and rebuild broken lives, no matter what the experience.
Perhaps, most importantly, how the Holy Spirit can bring real forgiveness into the lives of victims and abusers, tuff as that is to envision.
My humble prayers and best wishes go with Lisa, and to all that she may encounter, and that the healing will be real!”
John D. Hollenbach, Mayor
Perkasie Borough, PA

“We at Pinebrook Bible Conference recommend Lisa Radcliff as a speaker for a Bible Retreat type of speaking engagement. She has spoken during at least one of our Ladies’ Retreats in the past and was well received by the guests and received great feedback for the personal experiences and teaching she shared. We give her a great recommendation to be used at any future retreats at Pinebrook Bible Conference & Retreat Center and any other gathering of the Retreat speaking kind anywhere she is asked.
Thanks for considering this recommendation.”
Charlie Bomgardner
Director of Marketing
Pinebrook Bible Conference & Retreat Center

Stepping Stones or Crushing Stones

Are you content in your circumstances? If your current circumstance involves smooth sailing and no worries, then you probably are. But you can count on that changing. When we rely on our circumstances for our contentment, we will be disappointed on a regular basis. So, if our circumstances are always changing—sometimes bright and sunny, sometimes dark and gloomy—how can we be content consistently?

Obviously, contentment cannot be founded on things that can change. That would be like building a contentment castle in the sand at low tide. It can’t last. There are tides, an ebb and flow, that will surely wash it away. Tides are something you can count on, twice a day, every day. Contentment must be built on something that never changes. The only thing that never changes is God himself. So, he needs to be our source of contentment.

When we realize that our circumstances are given by God for our good, we can be content in any circumstance. That doesn’t mean we won’t feel sad or angry or confused at times. Having emotions and being content can coexist. Contentment has more to do with trust—trusting God in our circumstances and our emotions. The ladies of our church have been studying contentment. One of them said something brilliant, just off the top of her head. When I say things off the top of my head, they may be  funny or sarcastic but rarely brilliant. So, I told her I would be stealing it. And here it is: our circumstances can either be stepping stones or crushing stones. See, I told you it was brilliant.

Our circumstances should be stepping stones, to move us from one place to another. The circumstance becomes our classroom where we learn something that moves us forward. And each time we allow our circumstance to teach us, we find it easier to be content and trust God even more. But when we focus on the circumstance itself and not on God, it often becomes a crushing stone, our spirits being crushed under its weight until there is no hope.

The apostle Paul was very familiar with difficult circumstances. One of those circumstances was actual stoning, talk about crushing stones! But he allowed his circumstances to be stepping stones, to learn from them and allow them to build in him what was lacking. He tells us in Philippians 4:11b-13 (ESV) “…for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. 13 I can do all things through him who strengthens me.”

The “secret” Paul learned is contentment. That is how God strengthened him to be able to do all things, including facing and enduring any circumstance, to be content. Will your next difficult circumstance be a stepping stone or a crushing stone? Be content and trust God to strengthen you for your next step.

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Tissues, Tennis, & Time

Sniffle, sniffle, AAACHOOOO! Seasonal allergies (and buying tissues in bulk) have descended on our household. My three-year-old granddaughter, sniffling and coughing, said, “Daddy, can I have more medicine?”

“No, you just had some. You’ll have to wait a while to have more.”

“But, Daddy, it’s not in my mouth anymore.” Her enormous green eyes grew hopeful. Daddy wasn’t taken in by them. He did his best to explain that it takes a while for the medicine to get from her mouth to the parts of her body that need it. She didn’t look particularly satisfied with his explanation but accepted it and skipped off to see what mischief she could get into.

Her words stuck with me. There are so many times in my life I want immediate results. I did the thing I was supposed to do, so why has nothing happened? I didn’t eat any candy today, why haven’t I lost ten pounds? I read my Bible today, why do I still do wrong things? I prayed about a problem, why hasn’t God answered? Why did I come in this room—oops, that’s different.

I’ve been watching Wimbledon this week—that’s the oldest tennis tournament in the world which takes place in Wimbledon, England, for those who don’t follow tennis. I saw some great tennis this week from the best players in the world. Not just anyone is able to play at this level. It takes practice, training, coaching, learning, and time. After beating an outstanding young player, the winning, veteran player said, “You’re going to win championships.” These two men battled, each winning two sets before the final set was played to determine the outcome of the match. The hours spent on Center Court pushed the young player in every way. He grew today and moved closer to being a champion.

The same principles apply to my daily, non-professional-athlete life. I need to keep studying my Bible to increase my knowledge and grow in my faith and move closer to being more like Jesus. Learning and applying God’s Word will challenge me but will achieve the results I want my life to reflect. And I’ll keep praying, trusting that God’s timing and answers are better than my own. My patience and trust may be tested, but I will persevere in prayer. And I hope to learn to be content in whatever circumstance comes my way. I’ll even keep eating a healthy diet, trying to care for my body the best I can. As far as forgetting why I entered a certain room…not likely that’s going to improve. Some things you just have to accept.

Like the young tennis player, I will fall short of my goals at times. But each time, there is something I will learn which will make me better. And I will keep striving to win the prize, no matter how long it takes. And like my little granddaughter, I’ll just go off and find some mischief to get into while waiting.

“And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” (Philippians 1:6 ESV)

Prayers & Clarinets

The day started out like an ordinary school day. But after lunch our fourth-grade class remained in the cafeteria for a special presentation. The school’s band director had set up all the various band instruments. We curiously gathered around them and took our seats on the floor.

He moved from one to another, playing a tune on each. And then he said we could choose to play an instrument and be in the school band. I was particularly drawn to the flute and its pretty, lilting tones. But after the demonstration, my best friend, Andrea, said she was going to play the clarinet. Meanwhile, the class mean girl, Robin, had chosen the flute. My decision was made.

Racing home, I burst through the front door and ran straight to the kitchen, where my mom was busy with dinner prep. As I told her all about the band demonstration, and that for only $150 I could have my own clarinet, she shook her head. It wasn’t going to happen. Harold Hill I was not. One hundred fifty dollars was two months of mortgage payments (remember, I’m old). But all hope was not lost. She said I could ask my father. If he would give the money, she would sign the permission slip.

With renewed hope, I hopped on my gold sting ray and pedaled as fast as I could to his house. It was only a couple of blocks away, giving me little time to work out my sales pitch.

Ditching my bike in the front yard, I darted up the porch steps. As my dad opened the door, I launched into my three-point pitch in favor of the clarinet. He let me tell him the whole story with a big smile across his face. He asked a few questions. Of course, I had all the answers. Then his smile grew even bigger as he said, “Yes, I’ll give you the money for a clarinet.” I was so excited! I could hardly wait to tell Andrea. My prayers had been answered.

Unbeknownst to me, my mother had called my father and warned him of my imminent arrival and what I was going to ask. So, before I even asked him, he knew why I coming to him. He also knew he was going to say yes. But he let me go ahead and ask, and then with great joy, he granted my request.

That true story is not far off from how our heavenly Father answers our prayers. God always knows what’s on our hearts before we tell him. And he is ready to act. It boggles my mind that the God of the universe, who can do whatever he wants whenever he wants to, waits for his children ask him. Then I picture him with great joy granting our requests.

But our prayers don’t need to be a sales pitch. Even when we don’t know how to pray, his Spirit intercedes for us (Romans 8:26). It gives him great joy to answer our prayers because he is a loving Father who only gives good gifts to his children (Matthew 7:11) What a relief that I can run to him anytime with my requests, and he is ready to answer.

“And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. (Matthew 6:7-8 ESV)

Waiving Axes

An axe tumbled through the air and hit its target with a thud before clattering to the ground. Oops. So began an evening of axe throwing, a birthday celebration for a friend. It didn’t actually start there. Before axes could fly, we had to sign a waiver releasing the business of any liability—good idea, considering whose hands they were putting axes into.

I had to read the waiver out loud because my husband didn’t bring his glasses. Glasses certainly aren’t necessary to throw axes but are needed for reading the small print of a two-page waiver. The public reading of the waiver was so entertaining, even the employees were listening and laughing. Perhaps they had never read it themselves. I asked them if I could keep a copy—knowing immediately it was blog-worthy material. So here we are.

I will focus on just one paragraph and break it down for you. It starts: “I acknowledge that risks and dangers exist in my use of axe throwing equipment and my participation in axe throwing activities.” I knew this before we even arrived, which is why I had told the organizer of the activity that I would come but wouldn’t be throwing axes. I know my limitations. My friend, Nedra, who also shouldn’t be given an axe to throw, and I would be the cheerleaders for the evening.

“My participation in such activities and/or use of such equipment may result in my injury or illness or the injury or illness of my family, heirs, executors, administrators, and friends,” Hold on. I believe I could injure myself and maybe those with me (or worst-case scenario, the axe throwers in the adjoining cage), but my “family, heirs, executors, administrators, and friends?” My heirs? I hate to think about how that could be possible, but I’m afraid I might know what they are saying. If that’s not enough to make you walk out the door, I don’t know what is. I don’t even know who my administrators are, so I don’t see how my axe throwing can be responsible for injuries to them.

Then they get more specific about how my axe throwing could impact myself and everyone else, “including but not limited to bodily injury, disease from viruses, bacteria, parasites, fractures, partial and/or total paralysis, eye injury, blindness, heat stroke, heart attack, death or other ailments that could cause serious or permanent disability” I’d like to think that there would have to be a major incident or maybe a combination of axe catastrophes for these perils to come about. But when we’re talking about me, it could happen leaning over to pick up the axe. Let’s face it, I’m a mess.

“and may cause severe social or economic losses due to not only my own actions, inaction, or negligence, but also to the action, inaction, or negligence of others or conditions of the premises or of any equipment used.” Apparently, my axe throwing could result in lawsuits. No kidding. As I already stated, no worries, because I wasn’t going to be touching an axe. Nedra made pom-poms and cheers for us to do at a safe distance from the axes. There would be no attempt at cartwheels or lifts, so we were safe, along with our heirs, executors, and administrators.

That concludes one of fourteen paragraphs of all that could go wrong and releasing the business of any liability, even if death occurs. All of that for just a few hours of innocent fun.

Life is full of dangers. There are no waivers to sign, even though not one of us will be able to avoid death. It’s the only way out of this life. No matter how death comes about, even a crazy axe throwing incident, it’s not a waiver that will save me, but faith in the one who holds the keys to life and death. Because Jesus has already died in my place, I do not fear death. It will just be the first day of life without pain, without fighting sin, without tears, without worry, without illness, including diseases, parasites, blindness, heat stroke, paralysis, or heart attack, and without dodging axes. I hope my family, heirs, executors, administrators, and friends will join me there.

“but it [grace] has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel” (2 Timothy 1:10 NIV). 

Bullseye! sort of.
Birthday girl with her cheerleaders

Friends

Friends. When you have great ones, like I do, they make a huge difference in your life. True friends will laugh with you, cry with you, question your choices, hold you accountable, stick with you through thick and thin. Sometimes quite literally as you diet together and encourage each other’s healthy habits or sabotage them when you can’t resist sharing a six-scoop brownie explosion.

I can talk to my closest friends about anything and know they will love me. My friends have carried me through some very difficult times. There has never been a time I worried they would end our friendship because of something going on in my life. I can count on them. It only takes a text or phone call, and they drop what they are doing to help me. I know how blessed I am.

Last week I was reading in 1 Chronicles 27 and came across an interesting portion of verse 33. The chapter lists the names of King David’s officials and counselors, all very important men in his kingdom. Then, between Ahithophel, the king’s counselor, and Joab, the commander of the king’s army, we read, “Hushai the Arkite was the king’s friend.” That was unexpected. The name of his friend, squished between the king’s counselor and army commander. Hmm. It seems to me that would make his position of “friend” something special.

It made me smile. If someone was going to make a list of all the very important people in my life, it would definitely include my friends. But, believe it or not, I don’t have counselors, commanders, or even a guy in charge of my supply of olive oil (David had Joash for that). Maybe I should have someone in charge of my supply of olive oil. I am very picky about it and hate to run out. Although I know if one of my friends was going to my favorite olive oil store, they would ask if I needed anything. So maybe I do have someone for that. But I digress.

The bottom line is David had a friend, and he was important to him. Like my friends, I believe David’s friend was someone he could rely on in any circumstance. We have insight into David’s friendships because of the record of his friendship with Jonathan. We are told their hearts were knit together. They protected each other. They trusted each other. They loved each other. They cried when they were forced to separate. That sounds a lot like my friendships. Even though David had a number of counselors, he also had at least one close friend after Jonathan’s death. I find that comforting.

We all need a friend or a few friends to help us through life. They are there when we ugly cry. They call out our bad attitudes. They pray with and for us. They talk through tough decisions. They speak truth when we most need to hear it. They make us smile even when our hearts are breaking. In my case, they also make me laugh till I leak, which is one of their specialties. Friends help carry our burdens and make life a little sweeter. What a blessing it is to be knit together in friendship.

I’m glad God decided to list David’s friend as an important person. It reminded me how special true friendships are. I love all my friends, but especially Nedra, LouAnn, Susan, Terri, & Gerri. There, I listed them. (There are plenty more, but these ladies know too much about me not to be included here.)

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for adversity.” (Proverbs 17:17 ESV)

Joy in Living Your Whole Life

My mom would turn 90 years old today, “if she had lived her whole life.” She coined that infamous phrase when talking about another relative who died young, and it continues to outlive us all.

I am remembering Mom today and all the funny moments we shared. The day she said, “Auntie Alma would still be taking that medication, if she had lived her whole life,” I had to pull the car to the side of the road, since I couldn’t see with my eyes squinted shut and tears of laughter running down my face. It wasn’t the first time, nor the last, we laughed together like that.

One of the things I am remembering is that she so easily laughed at herself. It took me quite a while to learn that valuable skill. But I’m right there with her now—mostly because I share her physical struggles, hearing loss, and questionable memory. She always said to me, “Wait until you’re my age.” Well, I’m there, and she was right. I’m in trouble.

I am remembering the times we giggled ourselves silly because she repeated what she thought I said, which wasn’t even close. Her good-natured yelling for help because she couldn’t open a jar with her atrophied hands. There were times she would start to ask me something and couldn’t get it out before collapsing in laughter. I’d squeak out, “Come on, Mom, stop it,” while grabbing my laugh-strained obliques. Most of the time, she had just forgotten what she was going to ask me, which tickled her. She did wonders for my core muscles. I’m going to try to remember her laughing as my own disabilities grow.

I want her joy, the kind of joy that laughs at the future (as in Proverbs 31:25 NASB). So, I have been praying for more joy. We pray for the all the other fruits of the Spirit: love, peace, patience, kindness, self-control, and so on. But I think sometimes we feel guilty asking for increased joy. Why? Joy is one of the evidences and outcomes of the Christian life. I think it should be one of the most-used words when describing a Christian.

And I’m not talking about peace or contentment, although they have their part in joy. Biblical joy, the way it is used most-often in the Bible, includes loud instruments, shouting, dancing, singing, and praising. There is almost always some sort of loud noise associated with joy. Nehemiah 12:43 says, “…for God made them rejoice with great joy; the women and children also rejoiced. And the joy of Jerusalem was heard far away.” 1 Kings tells us that their joy shook the earth. Do you picture the faces of people experiencing that kind of joy with dower countenances, stoically declaring their joy? No, there had to be smiles, laughing, and dare I say it, happy faces. That’s the kind of joy I want—not dependent on my circumstances but on how great a God I serve.

So, I’m going to let the lesson of my mom’s laughter fill my soul today. I have already been out sledding with my grandchildren today. After all, you never know when you’ve lived your whole life.

Advent – The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Today’s the day! The wait has been excruciating. I have marked off the days as my anticipation grew to almost unbearable proportions. Like that old Heinz ketchup commercial, the anticipation will be “worth the wait.” For what am I waiting (not so patiently)? Our California kids and grands are coming to celebrate Christmas with us. We pick them up at the airport tonight. I’ll be anxiously waiting in the cell phone lot, keeping a close eye on the digital sign that announces the flights as they land.

Anticipation is what the advent season is all about—a time of eagerly waiting for the Messiah to be born. I love this season. I love the sense of anticipation. I love singing the carols, shopping for just the right gifts, making the special foods, trimming the tree, wrapping the presents, seeing the lights—all of it. I love all the Christmas concerts and live nativities and sappy Christmas movies. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, the weeks in between are my favorite time of year. For me, the anticipation reaches its crescendo, not on Christmas morning, but on Christmas Eve. The candlelight service is a beautiful time of remembering Jesus’ birth, that God sent His only Son to save His people from sin.

It’s a season of love, from exchanging gifts with those we love to seeing God’s love in giving the greatest gift of all. You might think the anticipation of Jesus coming to earth would end after all the presents are opened, the feast devoured, and the decorations put away. But this season of advent continues as we await Jesus’ second coming. Just as God promised the Messiah would come as a baby, he also promised Jesus would come again as Lord of all.

It could happen at any time. We don’t know exactly when. There’s no virgin waiting to give birth. There is no star over the place he will appear. There are no angels announcing his coming. There’s not even a digital sign to check his status every few minutes. One day, he will just appear in the clouds. Unlike his quiet, humble birth, his next coming will be with power and authority and a trumpet blast. There won’t be a smattering of shepherds and wise men who will bow before him, but every knee will bow when he comes as king of kings.

The preparations of this second advent are important and should be made with equal enthusiasm as his first—telling others of the good news of salvation, living out his Word, praying for his church and his return, and growing in love. And there are things reminiscent of the first advent season—singing songs of praise, gathering together as a family, sharing our gifts, and eagerly anticipating His coming.

So I ask myself, am I as anxious for his coming as I am for my grands coming? Does my heart flutter when I see one more sign that he will come soon, like it does when I see the sweet faces of my granddaughters sitting on a plane, ready for takeoff? Am I busy making preparations for his return? I can honestly say I am excited and eagerly anticipating Jesus’ coming. And I’m really thrilled it won’t be a short, holiday visit, but a trip that will last for eternity.

“At that time, people will see the Son of Man coming in clouds with great power and glory. And He will send his angels and gather his elect…Amen. Come, Lord Jesus” (Mark 13:26-27a & Revelation 22:20b NIV)

A Bend in the Road

Oh no, not another detour. Just after we moved into our new home, a bridge near us was closed. The state has been replacing all the bridges that cross over the turnpike. It was our turn. It ended up not to be a huge inconvenience for us. For most of the project, there was at least one lane open.

As I crossed the bridge over the months the new one was under construction, I was interested in how the new bridge was going to connect to the existing road. It seemed to me there would have to be a pretty sharp bend in the road for it to work. As the bridge project neared completion, it really didn’t look like the road and the new bridge were going to join up. Cars were now using the new bridge, as the crews dismantled the old one. I kept thinking they really didn’t plan this well. There will be such a sharp turn in the road to get onto the bridge. I didn’t need a new reason to complain about how our tax dollars were being used, but here it was.

The day arrived to open the bridge completely. I drove up the road, expecting to slow down for the sharp curve, but it never came. I stayed straight on the road and sailed right across the new bridge and back onto the road on the other side without the slightest turn of the steering wheel. How did they do that? Just a few days ago, it looked like this result would be impossible. I remember seeing the old bridge next to the new one and how the new one didn’t connect to the road very well. But now, with the old bridge gone, and apparently some road work done I hadn’t noticed, the new bridge was perfectly aligned with the road.

How was this possible? It was because my perspective was not the perspective of the engineers and the road crews building the bridge. They knew the plan. They had the complete design and instructions. I only saw the steps as they came. I should have trusted that they knew what they were doing. But, of course, when it comes to Pennsylvania roads, I have been let down a time or two.

One day as I drove across the bridge, looking at the road and trying to figure out how they matched it up, I thought about how this bridge project is a good picture of God’s plan for my life. I don’t always see how God’s plan is going to work. I often think I’ve got it all figured out, and then God throws in a curve I didn’t see coming. How will this new bend in my road work out? It doesn’t seem like it will. But I don’t see the whole of God’s plan. I need to trust him. He is the master designer. There is never a flaw in his engineering skills. The twists and turns, the mountains and valleys he orchestrates turn out to be just right for me. And once his project is complete in me, it will be perfect. Until that day, I’ll keep trusting that his plan is better than my own—every time I cross the turnpike on that perfectly straight bridge.

“Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall become straight, and the rough places shall become level ways, and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.” (Luke 3:5-6 ESV)

An Old Message in New Ways (and free stuff)

My life has had some serious struggles. But God has used my experiences to help and encourage others. It’s a privilege to be able to serve others with what I’ve learned.

I spent the past week or so updating my website to better serve my audience. Those of you who have been subscribed to my blog will notice right away that it looks very different. I changed the cover photo to a sunset on Molasses Pond. I took that photo while sitting on the swing at our family cabin this spring. That spot, watching sunsets like the one pictured, is where I am most at peace in this world. That is why I wanted to feature it on my website. I hope when you visit my website, you feel the same peace taking in that view.

The other major change is a new page: Free Downloads. Click the Free Downloads tab on the home page, and you’ll find things I am offering for free to help you, your friends, your church or organization, or anyone who can use them. Right now, you’ll find three downloads, my article, “Keeping Children Safe: 5 Things Every Parent Can Do To Help Prevent Child Sexual Abuse,” a brochure based on that article, and a brochure titled Hope for Survivors.

The brochures can be used in information racks or family resource areas or as handouts in parenting classes and survivor groups or as an invitation to a workshop. There is room on the back to include your church or organization’s info. You can contact me using my website’s contact form to set up a prevention workshop or to speak at your event or to facilitate creating a child safety policy or any other way I can serve you.

Thirty-three years ago, when my abuse became public knowledge and I read 2 Corinthians 1, that God comforts us in our afflictions so that we can comfort others, my initial reaction was “no way.” I never wanted anyone to know my afflictions, certainly not the abuse. But I realized that the ugly things in our lives have purpose. What was I going to do with that? I had found freedom from my past. How could I not want to share that with others in the same situation? My reluctant answer was, “OK God, use me however you want.”

Here I am, all those years later, having talked about my abuse in large groups as well as one-on-one for over thirty years, trying hard to use technology to better spread my message. I am technologically challenged, so this has been a stretch for me. But in order to best serve others, I need to learn to use technology, and I am thankful for those around me who are willing to help me when I’m ready to throw my computer out the window.

I hope you or someone you know will be blessed with what I have to offer. Keep an eye out for more downloads in the future. If you have an idea you’d like to see, let me know. And please share them with anyone who could use them. Thank you!

The Red Sea and Ocean Blue Cabinets

I was annoyed. When we moved into our new home in January, my goal was to have a kitchen in our in-law suite by mid-summer. Hope swelled when we ordered the cabinets in April with a two-week lead time for delivery. But then we learned they wouldn’t be ready until the end of June. Okay, they’ll be in by the end of summer. Summer was the goal and was still in play.

June came and went with no cabinets. A few more delays. Finally, on August 19, my beautiful ocean-blue cabinets were delivered. My annoyance grew. The water and drain lines weren’t in yet. My cabinets just sat there mocking me. They were there but unusable. Summer was waning. Pumpkin spice everything was on its way as soon as the calendar flipped to September.

So, when September 1 came around and the cabinets were not yet installed, my hopes were crashing. But before the first day of September ended, an uninvited guest arrived at our house, specifically in our in-law suite. Her name was Ida, Hurricane Ida. She didn’t just arrive—she forced her way inside. As our living space filled with water, Doug grabbed some boards from the garage and hoisted the cabinets onto them. We didn’t know when the deluge would stop, but at least it might help to get them off the floor.

For hours, we scooped, shop-vacced, and soaked up water. It never went deeper than two inches, just reaching the very bottoms of the cabinets. They were saved because they hadn’t been installed yet.

This week, I read the story in Exodus 14 of Israel crossing the Red Sea. It stuck out to me that they were passing by it when God said to Moses, “Come back and encamp there, facing the Sea.” Wait a minute. They could have been long gone, but God put them right where he wanted them so they would see how only he could save them. And he did.

Saving my cabinets was not nearly as miraculous. But all the time I spent being annoyed they hadn’t been installed seems pretty silly now—a lot like the Israelites complaints about being brought to the Red Sea to die. God was just setting the stage to show his timing is perfect in every situation, whether it’s saving his people in the midst of the sea or just a few ocean-blue cabinets in the midst of a hurricane. He is completely trustworthy.

“21 Then Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord drove the sea back by a strong east wind all night and made the sea dry land, and the waters were divided. 22 And the people of Israel went into the midst of the sea on dry ground, the waters being a wall to them on their right hand and on their left. 31 Israel saw the great power that the Lord used against the Egyptians, so the people feared the Lord, and they believed in the Lord and in his servant Moses.” Exodus 14: 21, 22, 31 ESV