Thursday, November 26, 2009

I will give thanks to Him

The LORD is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.
My heart leaps for joy
and I will give thanks to Him in song. -- Psalm 28:7

Never have I experienced a year with so much change, so much uncertainty, a time when my pride was attacked as much.    And yet, it is a choice, isn't it, how we look at things.  Do we see the five loaves and two fish and walk away hopeless?  Or do we give thanks and break them?

And so I choose to give thanks...

I thank You, Beloved Jesus, for the deep and intimate relationship that has developed between Al and I.  Today, he helped me with my work and it was oh, so sweet!  Such a joy to have him share the load, to hear the vacuum running while I cooked.  A few years ago, I would have said it was impossible.  But here we are.

I thank You, Beloved Jesus, that today I still have a job.  I thank You for the boss who appreciates me and tell me so.  And for all the times she told me I was wrong when I was, and for the grace You alone gave me to accept that and obey.  I thank you for the sweet people in Claridge House and I am grateful for the opportunity and the strength You have given me to serve them.  I thank You for giving me words for all those troublesome times, and allowing me to be an instrument of Your peace and Your love.

I thank You, Dear Jesus, that Al has a place to work and that the work has been steady.  I thank You for keeping him safe, and bringing godly men in his path, and for giving him others to share Your love and truth with.  I thank You for holding him close in this ordeal and changing him gently but firmly, showing Your love and provision throughout.

I thank You, Beloved Jesus, that Christina has been doing well in college, almost done, in fact, with her degree.  She loves her part time job and has a man in her life who loves her and her son, is mature and stable and gives her joy.  She is such a wonderful mother and our relationship is almost well again, certainly on the right track.  A few years ago, I would have said it was impossible.  But here we are.

I thank You, Dear Jesus, that Debbie is doing well in college, and has great friends, and has decided that being without a man in her life right now is a good thing.  I thank You that she loves her job and that the Olive Tree has been a blessing to us.  I thank You, Dear Jesus, for their beauty and their health and their sweetness.

I thank You, Dear Jesus, for Giovanni, the light of our lives.  I thank You that by Your grace, we are able to see him every day and partake in the routine of his life.  I thank You that You knew we needed Giovanni in our home and have given us provision for him.

I thank You for our Bloomfield home, our beach house, our cars that continue to run like manna from heaven.  It is truly a miracle of the magnitude of the loaves and fishes and how I know Your finger prints are all over it!!

I thank You that my mom still lives and that she is enjoying her retirement with a great man who not only loves her and is healthy but who is also able to take her to wonderful places.  I thank You that our family lives close and we love each other and enjoy each other.  I thank You for the sicknesses we do not have and the energy we do.

I thank You for MCC and ACE and Middle Ground, for the opportunity to continue to teach and how much I am learning.  I thank You for each person at the table.  I thank You for forgiving my mistakes and for each second chance.  I thank You for encouraging me to lay down those things that You never intended me to pick up.  I thank You for Your patience and perseverance with me in all.

I give You thanks, Beloved.  I give You the glory!  I celebrate You and rest in Your arms.

Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, He gave thanks and broke them. Then He gave them to the disciples to set before the people. They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. -- Luke 9:16-17

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Follow You

My pastor is doing a series on leadership. I am not going.

This summer was the first Willow Creek Leadership Summit I missed in many years. And yet I didn't miss it.

I am trying to become a better follower these days. Getting better at keeping my mouth shut and just doing what is asked of me. Trying not to second guess those above me, or thinking about ways to do it better or things they might have missed. Resting that it is not my job to drive all the time, and that ultimately Jesus knows the way.

At the Claridge House, Sam our super knows how to follow. For decades now he has seen Board presidents come and go, residents move in and out, workers hired and fired. I am following him. "What ever they say, I do that," says Sam. If it's wrong or right, good or bad, Sam does it soon, and with a smile, as much as possible. I am following Sam follow.

Recently I listed to a recorded speaking engagement of Paul Young, author of The Shack. Paul was in professional ministry for a while and he tells of a time when he was working hard for the Lord, asking for His blessing on the work he had started. "Follow me," he confessed to the audience, is what he said to God. God had replied to Paul, "you go ahead, I am going to stay here with the kids. I'll be here when you get back." Paul has since repented and asked God to allow him to get in on what God was doing.

How convicted I was when I heard that! How often, Father, have I said the same thing! What mercy You have had for me! Forgive me! I repent! I no longer want to do anything but what You want me to sign up for! I need Your power to accomplish anything worthwhile. I need Your Spirit, Your strength, You, Beloved, most of all I need You!

Most of all these days, I find myself in the dependent servant position. I eat my peanut butter and jelly in the basement "cage" with the other blue-collar types. I sit on the bus. I run when I am called. I smile at those who are angry at me. I thank God for the opportunity to show them the love of Christ, these sweet people who I would never have met if I stayed in the church.

I am learning better what in means not to lead, but to follow well. Trusting that in truth, I am following You.

I'm casting my cares aside
I'm leaving my past behind
I'm setting my heart and mind on You, Jesus
I putting my fears aside
I'm leaving my doubts behind
I'm giving my hopes and dreams to You, Jesus
I'm reaching my hands to Yours
Believing there's so much more
Knowing that all You have in store for me is good
Is good
Today is the day You have made
I will rejoice and be glad in it
And I won't worry about tomorrow
I'm giving You my fears and sorrows
Where You lead me I will follow
I'm trusting in what You say

Today is the day

Sunday, July 05, 2009

Just different

We are doing a couple's study for the summer and the study is called Love and Respect. In this DVD presentation, Emerson Eggerrichs explains how men and women think differently, talk differently and have different needs.

"She has a need that you don't have. Is that ok? It's not wrong, just different."

As he talks about the differences, giving us examples and stories of illustration, he keeps going back to this...not wrong, just different.

Judgment is a subtle thing. We judge everything in our world, as we pick out fruits at the grocery store, choose car insurance, decide who to call with a problem, choose our words with our friends and co-workers, we are constantly making judgments: good or bad, right or wrong, appropriate or dangerous. Judgment and discernment are important, valuable, essential tools that we need to survive. Women, especially, try to figure people out--What did he mean by that? What will she think of me if I tell her this?

And without even realize that we are being judgmental, we are being judgmental.

Maybe I should restate--I am being judgmental.

And even with my understanding of male and female differences now that I am becoming a Love and Respect expect here (ha! I'm joking!) I cannot assume that I know someone's motives. I need to ask to find that out because we are all different.

Not wrong, just different.

Father, in so many areas, I find my self softening, being more gentle and open to other's concerns and needs, but I am not yet where I need to be, where I want to be. Help me see others through Your eyes of mercy and grace and not take offense, but ask questions and assume always, until unmistakably sure, that the person I am dealing with is good willed. Let me voice that assumption of good will in all my questions. And when I show mercy and am unsure what I will get in return, remind me that over all, I can trust You.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Shout for Joy

Shout for joy to the LORD, all the earth.

Worship the LORD with gladness;
Come before Him with joyful songs.
Know that the LORD is God.
It is He who made us, and we are His;
We are His people, the sheep of His pasture.
Enter His gates with thanksgiving
And His courts with praise;
Give thanks to Him and praise His name.
For the LORD is good
And His love endures forever;
His faithfulness continues through all generations.
--Psalm 100

Father God, You are mighty and eternal
You created the world with Your breath
You formed the cosmos, placing the stars in the sky.
Yet You who made the heavens
And the earth Your foot stool,
Stepped down to us
As a mother stoops to pick up her babe,
As a father kneels down to romp with his children
You came to comfort us
To care for us
To do for us what we could never do for ourselves.
You, the High and Holy God,
Came to us lowly broken people!
You are our God, our Hero
And the Lover of our soul.

All we have is a gift from You!
I confess in my self-centeredness,
I have thought it was mine!
My house, my car, my children, my job, my money, even my rights!
But it is not! It is all Yours!
Things that You delighted to give me!
As a father fills his pockets with surprises for his little ones,
As a mother searches stores for treasures for her children,
Father, You own the treasures of the universe
And it is Your pleasure to give us good things.
But You give gifts for a purpose, if we would hear You and be grateful.

Allow me to see You as You really are!
Open my eyes that I would not see You as a God of my own making,
A God who says what I want to hear
A God who does what I want Him to do!
Allow me to see You in truth!
Your perfect will brings me peace and joy.
Allow me to surrender all to You
So that You can be my everything!

All creation worships You, Lord!
I long to add my voice to that song!
Let me not only worship You with my voice
But help me to obey Your truth
Lead all of me to worship You
A living sacrifice of obedience
Holy and pleasing to You—
Let this be my spiritual act of worship.

Not because I want You to love me.
You already love me.
Indeed Your love has cleansed me,
Made me without spot,
Perfectly beautiful, You present me,
Covered in Your atoning Blood.

We are Your bride, Holy and beloved.
How right we are to adore You!
You are glorious, our Beloved, our King!
You are the King of all kings, Ruler of the nations!
And yet You love me!

You have filled my heart with wonder so that I would always remember
That I was made for this...

I was made to worship
I was called to love
I am forgiven and free
When I embrace surrender
When I choose to believe
Then I will see who You have made me to be!

Sunday, March 29, 2009

53 Days with Esther

It's Tough Being a Woman -- how true that is! Beth Moore's study was an amazing journey, mixed in with the twists and turns of my life. When I started on February 2, I was looking for work, agonizing with Al as he mourned the loss of his company and job, anxious and impatient about what the future would hold. As I poured through the scriptures and savored Beth's study, I have received wisdom and a measure of healing. Here's the pearls from the workbook and my heart that I wanted to record...

2/05/09 Father, You are in the process of writing Your story in and with my life. I long to turn to the back of the book but You reach for my hand. With romance and wonder I understand. You long to allow it to unfold slowly as we walk the road together...

"Have you ever had an associate who, rather than helping you calm down and think clearly, fanned the flame on your fiery emotions and ended up talking you into double the trouble?" Good friends help each other calm down. They empathize with the emotions, staying calm themselves. They encourage waiting until emotions stop flowing strongly before taking any actions. "I considered afresh how much power of persuasion --both positive and negative--the woman of the house can have...Sometimes I may want peace badly enough to advise my loved one to do something swift buy not necessarily wise."

"We too can become so steeped in our culture that we are almost indistinguishable from the world. We too can lose our sense of identity and forget who we are ... not so we can be obnoxious but so we can be influential." The beauty treatment for us as godly women is to come into His presence. His presence transforms us at the heart source and makes us truly beautiful, with a beauty that never fades.

"Oh, the favor that can come our way...through our simple willingness to follow instructions, ... respect authority... [not be] insulted by instruction ... practice the art of truly listening ... follow through by doing what [we're] asked...If long-term persistence doesn't win the favor of an earthly supervisor, trust the God who sees and who is by no means limited to one channel of favor toward you."

"God created time and no human can take it from Him or use it against Him. Time is significant to God mostly because His children who are temporarily bound by its tenets are significant to Him." Time and my future is in Your hands and this is a beautiful thing. Remind me to embrace it and see its peace and joy. "God never takes His eyes off us or off the clock ticking over us...God always trumps Satan."

If you would stay close to Me, obey My word, then I can use you to brighten your corner of the vineyard. Hear Me with a heart to obey. This could not be all about Esther or any woman even if she be queen!! This could be, should be, must be all about You, my Beloved. Your power, Your mercy, Your Provision, Your love. I must believe in You, point to You. That's all.

"Right now you are representing the King on official business in another land, but you are no less royal than the Queen of England would be if she visited the ... Bronx. She is queen regardless of where she is and how she is treated. Her status is secure. So is yours." We too are queen, beloved of the King. Put on your royal robes to approach Him and accept His favor, approval, welcome and grace.

"Sometimes just surviving certain tasks without falling apart is our best and at those times God is not ashamed of our performance. He's proud of us for fighting overwhelming emotions to do His will. God isn't interested in our stellar performance, but in our hearts...Sometimes people advise us to do instantly what can only be done gradually"

"Any time God calls us to die, His purpose is to reveal larger life."

Lord, I wanted to be recognized and promoted. I told you over and over that I recognized you and would promote you in due time. You needed to be healed of this. I was not punishing you from some great sin, I was healing you, then I was protecting you. I love you. I get it. Trust Me. Look to Me alone. What I desired I needed to receive from You alone. I desired to be loved best by the king, but the King of Kings does love me with an everlasting love. "In the shelter of the Most High we find our significance and the only satisfaction of our insatiable need to be noticed. There and there alone are we free to be neither depressed or impressed with the capricious reactions of this carnal world...Christ says I'm already great enough for both of us, Just follow Me."

This desire to be recognized and promoted, to succeed at what people desire from me and not what You desire of me is sin. It is not to be prayed for, but to be prayed against; to be confessed and repented of, to be release from. Forgive me, Beloved! Heal me, restore me! Do not let me forget that it is You alone who is my Everything.

I will exalt You, O Lord, for You have lifted me up and gave me a new job,
and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord, my God, I called to You for help and You healed me and gave me even a boss to encourage me in my recovery from codependency
O Lord, You brought me up from the grave and spared me from being used by men instead of by You alone, where You will empower me and bless me.

You turned my wailing into dancing; You removed my sackcloth and clothed me with gladness and new pants---on sale yet!

that my heart may sing to You and not be silent. O Lord my God, I will give You praise forever. Amen! --Psalm 30:1-3,11-12.

Thank You, Jesus! By Your mercy and grace I find myself here---unpredictable and unworthy; help me be an instrument of Your peace, love, joy and mercy. Beloved You intended me to come to this place to minister to these people in a way that would be healing to me too. As I continue in that walk, I urgently ask You to give me the grace and peace to love them as You do, as only You can, that they could see and feel Your love through me. Beloved Jesus, I need You more than ever! Be my Everything!

"Repentance is not your punishment. It is your glorious right of daughter-ship. Your invitation to restoration...Much carnage can take place between crisis and crown. In Christ, however, all's well that ends well because He emphatically does all things well."

I do not expect you to be perfect, baby. I expect you to be contrite. There are indeed too many voices. You need to hear Mine. You need to get your orders from Me alone. 3/28/09

Saturday, March 07, 2009

and if I perish...

Two weeks into my new job, I am still meeting residents who look at me with surprise.

"You're new.  What happened to the last woman? There has been so many!"

I love the ones who tell me, "No one in this position lasts very long.  How long do you intend to stay?"
Ok, so I replaced the last woman, who must have had the job less than three months.  The woman before her was temporary.  And ultimately, we are not employees of the building association; we are really employed by a contracted property management firm.  The nature of the thing is transitory.

I must admit, this was unnerving to me at first, me the girl who before my last job, had been employed no less then a decade at the last two places.  I am a Ruglio, truly--- and Ruglios hate change.  I was not looking for a temporary situation.  I don't want to keep changing jobs.

But isn't this whole life transitory?  I am just an alien anyway in a strange land, far from my real home.
Right now I am studying the book of Esther with Beth Moore.  Beth made the point that Esther trusted God with her difficult decision to go in to see the King.  She could have been killed.  She prayed and fasted, and then did what she had to do.  She knew there were no guarantees.  But that did not stop her.  Her testimony was: And if I perish, I perish.

Like Esther, I prayed and asked others to pray for me.  In the end, I did what God instructed me.  I talked to Him about my reservations, and He gave me no guarentees.  Only the promise of His love and His presence.

Two weeks in, I am more certain than ever that He has been guiding me.  I do not totally understand.  But I do believe.  I do trust Him.  No matter how this turns out.

He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?  -- Romans 8:32

Saturday, February 21, 2009

just manage the property

The Master said, "Let me ask you: Who is the dependable manager, full of common sense, that the master puts in charge of his staff to feed them well and on time? He is a blessed man if when the master shows up he's doing his job. But if he says to himself, 'The master is certainly taking his time,' begins maltreating the servants and maids, throws parties for his friends, and gets drunk, the master will walk in when he least expects it, give him the thrashing of his life, and put him back in the kitchen peeling potatoes. -- Luke 12:42-46 The Message

My new job -- and yes! I have one! -- is the administrative assistant to the Property Manager of a high rise condo complex in Verona.  It is not my dream job, but I have come to a peace that I need to be grateful for a job, and I am trusting that God is in this and plans to allow me to minister there.  But in a big way, I expect He is teaching me something important.

The book I just finished reading was Saturdays with Stella, and in a chapter entitled "Yours, Mine, and... Well, Mine - Leave It," Allison is teaching her dog, Stella, the command "leave it." The God-related concept is that everything belongs to God-- everything!  We need to trust Him in what He gives and in what He withholds from us.

Allison writes, "I'm not teaching Stella to 'leave it' simply to delay inevitable gratification. The key to the behavior is to break the fixation.  No dog ever truely obeys this command until she completely walks away from whatever was being denied... I want Stella to know that no distraction is worth disobedience.... I don't want her to feel pampered; I want her to feel safe.  She doesn't need to be indulged; she needs to be loved.  I don't meet her demands; I anticipate her needs."

In this position I have now, there is no question about my ownership.  I am the assistant to the property manager, and even she is not the owner.  The people who own the condos, they are the owners.  We simply carry out their plans.  We are managers.  We are stewards.

God is showing me that nothing that I think I "own" is, in fact, mine.  It's all His.  My house, my beach cottage, my car, my new job, the clothes in my closet, the food in my refrigerator, even my children and my husband--all are His that He has given freely.  All are His to take away.  He doesn't give because I am good and take away because I am bad or He is mean.  He is concerned about my being safe, being loved, caring for my true needs.

Father, help me see the difference between being a dependable manager and trying to be "master of the universe." Heal me of this sin.

The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praise. -- Job 1:21

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Doctor's Orders - Settle!

So I've had this pain in my leg. It took a week of the pain getting worse and worse before I finally decided to find a chiropractor. Turns out the pain in my left leg was caused by a pinched nerve in my spine and a sore muscle in my right (you know) and the prescription for that is several visits per week to the chiropractor and warm baths.

The interesting part is that the first adjustment was preceded by the doctor putting me on the table, face down, with my head in the gully-type thing, and my arms handing down under the table, and four warm, vibrating discs on my lower back. And I had to lay there, still, for about 16 minutes.

Ok, so this is how silly I am...I was not sure I could do this. Lay still for that long. What could I do while I was waiting? I could not read, sort my grocery coupons, text my kids on my cell phone, watch some silly TV show, or even talk to anyone as the doctor left me alone in the room with the hum of the vibrator. I mean, it was really difficult to just lay still and allow someone else to do something for me to begin the healing for my pain. And stay still for 16 whole minutes.

God is so good! To allow me to hurt my leg in order for me to get this!

I started reading this cool book entitled Saturdays with Stella by Allison Pittman. It is about how taking her dog, Stella, to dog obedience school helped her understand what it meant to follow her Master. The first lesson was "Settle" where Stella (and Allison) learned to settle down and enjoy the Master's love. How I needed this lesson too!

I agree, "there is something scary in so much stillness." Like being still must mean I do not have something important to do, so I am not important. Or that my Master might have something to tell me that I might not want to hear. I need to trust that my Master loves me! That anything He would say to me would be life, truth, joy and blessing. That nothing I have to do is more important than enjoying His presence. I need to stop pulling away. To surrender. To totally rest in that. To be able to be--no, to delight in being still and in His presence.

And as I take warm baths, because I am in pain and I have to, and as I lay in the doctors office, still for 16 whole minutes, because I am in pain and I have to, I have learned to enjoy being settled.

Thank You, Master, my Beloved, for holding me down. Too bad it had to come to this, but whatever it takes.

He will quiet you in His love. Zephaniah 3:17

Monday, February 09, 2009

Diligence vs. Obsession

God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised. --Hebrews 6:10-12 MSG

If you've gotten anything at all out of following Christ, if his love has made any difference in your life, if being in a community of the Spirit means anything to you, if you have a heart, if you care— then do me a favor: Agree with each other, love each other, be deep-spirited friends. Don't push your way to the front; don't sweet-talk your way to the top. Put yourself aside, and help others get ahead. Don't be obsessed with getting your own advantage. Forget yourselves long enough to lend a helping hand. --Phil 2:1-4 MSG

It has almost become an obsession, this search for a job. I am constantly checking the internet job lists, emailing out my resume, tweaking my cover letter...

When does diligence end and obsession begin? When can I stop checking the lists and say... Enough! Now it is time to clean my house, call a friend, do my Bible Study, read a book to my grandson, hug my husband or lend a helping hand.

The obsession comes from thinking that God will let me down, walk off and leave me. From forgetting that God is just and will not forget my work and the love I have shown Him as I have helped His people and continue to help them.

That I must be diligent BECAUSE God won't be.

Yes, this is just what Satan wants.

Help me, Beloved, to balance my life with good things as well as the necessary. Let me be diligent to look for what I need, and not just expect it to drop in my lap. On the other hand, help me not obsess. Obsession is not of You. You can be trusted with my life, my future and my family.

Don't be obsessed with getting more material things. Be relaxed with what you have. Since God assured us, "I'll never let you down, never walk off and leave you," we can boldly quote,

God is there, ready to help;
I'm fearless no matter what.
Who or what can get to me? --Hebrews 13:5-6 MSG

Saturday, February 07, 2009

To say no to the king

But Queen Vashti refused to come at the king's command delivered by the eunuchs. Then the king became very angry and his wrath burned within him. -- Esther 1:12

In the drama of life, how often did I desire to be cast in the Esther role...the wise one with the message from God to save His people, restore the Kingdom. Perhaps the role of Vashti was always my destiny, certainly in this chapter. And then to find that I am not the only one to play this role as well...

I said no to the king because the King, my Beloved, told me no, that He would not go before me with His joy and His power. I was the one who needed to learn the boundaries, and so here come the consequences.

Beloved, whatever role You give me in Your drama is sweet and life-giving to me, although it may not appear to be so to my eyes right now. Vashti was never mentioned again in scripture, and we do not know how it turned out for her, but I know Your plans for me are good and true. In any case, I praise You! My pleasure is to make Your name famous, to enrich Your Kingdom!

Father, let Your Esther come and save Your people! Let me pray for her and rejoice in her success! Ultimately, in Your success!

"Therefore, if it pleases the king, let him issue a royal decree and let it be written in the laws of Persia and Media, which cannot be repealed, that Vashti is never again to enter the presence of King Xerxes. Also let the king give her royal position to someone else who is better than she." -- Esther 1:19

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Jesus, The One and Only

Beth Moore's devotional journal was amazing. What was even more amazing was the dialog that went on with Jesus as He spoke lovingly, and sometimes firmly, to me as we went on this journey. So that it is not only hidden in a bookcase, here's the best of it for easy access--as you know, now is a time to need encouragement. So faithfully, I will record it...


I had always known Him. I don't remember the beginnings. He was like an associate, casual friend, meeting and greeting each other as our lives crosses, but very seldom making a date.

Then I started to see Him regularly, getting to know Him. Who He was and what He was about. How attractive He was--strong, tender, wise!

And then one day when we were together, He said He wanted more of my life -- He wanted more of me, was I willing? He asked and I said yes. The day was June 24, 1988.

I once desired to be rich and famous. Jesus, now I want to enrich Your Kingdom and make You famous.

Choose me, Jesus! Perfect me so I do not do harm, and as I do, please give me the wisdom and courage to confess and repent! Purify my heart, my divided conflicted heart and make me whole! Jesus, stand beside me, hold my hand, let me sense Your presence like I never have before.


Satan taunts, "Your God will deny you provision and affirmation."
God says, "Wait on Me, I will supply all your needs. I will renew your strength. I will repay your enemies."
Satan taunts, "Your God gives you the desire to teach and then will not allow you to do it."
God says, "I have given you plenty of opportunity -- seize and delight in them."
God says, "I am not going to waste the gifts I have entrusted to you. You need to wait -- it's part of the training process. "
God says, "I do indeed read your thoughts and I still love you and have a place in the Kingdom for you."


Father, Thank You for inviting me into Your throne room to engage with You over the issues of my life. I want to walk out in a huff. I want to return to my busyness to forget.

But You draw me back. You draw me in. You desire to finish it, the work You began in me, although I resist You. You are faithful.

Hold onto me, Beloved. Be my Everything.


My biggest stumbling block is desiring to please other people, desiring to be "right and good" in people's eyes and analyzing other's feelings to draw conclusions about their motives and figure them out. You desire me to do Your perfect law of love in the light and in the dark, but to have good boundaries.

Let people alone to make their own choices and their own mistakes. Put down the desire to change others but take up the care for yourself and the things Christ has given you charge over.


"The BIG LIE: Satan has convinced us that putting down our self-stuff is some huge sacrifice....Our self-stuff is what makes us most miserable!"

You did nothing wrong by staying there. You were following Me.
You did nothing wrong by leaving, nor did they! You were following Me.
Do not worry, My daughter, even now. Rest in Me and I will not disappoint you or him. Indeed, I will fill and delight you both!


You can be hurt, and angry even. But you need to move to forgiveness if you want to remain in the shelter of My wings.

Let your hurt now be a reminder not to return to this great sin. Bring it to Me, bring it to them if I bid you--but no one else and do not allow others to bring theirs to you.

Barbara, if I could just change you, if you alone would only be obedient to my revealed Word, I could change the face of your corner of the vineyard. Read to know, but allow Me to tell you what to do.


I will build My Church. No one else.

Please do not go where I do not send you. I will not follow you there. I will wait here until you return.

Be at peace. I have shown you over and over that I see your service and I have a plan for you. What I have for you is marked with your name and held in my strong hand. No one will snatch it. I will keep it safe for you and you will see it, at the proper time.


It is unthinkable, Your courage and Your pain -- that You would do this only to save me and present me unblemished to the Father and say, "She is Mine -- I have bought her, look, even with My blood."

Why then would I think You would leave me in this place? Indeed, where ever I go, I have You!

Allow me to see my mission field in where I am now, even in my kitchen, even on the Parkway. Allow me to see You, hear Your voice and take the next step.


" The cross is the open door no man can shut."

Nothing can hurt me, Beloved. You have forgiven even my most horrid sins. My obedience is not to secure Your favor but to free me from bondage, to avoid causing others pain.

You have opened the door. No temptation can shut it!!

Nothing is accidental about being in this place -- You have a plan.


Do not allow what you see to overtake your heart. I have a plan for you! There is an unseen victory and it is Mine. Step in obedience and rejoice! I have overcome the world!!

Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling,
And to present you faultless
Before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy,
To God our Savior,
Who alone is wise,
Be glory and majesty,
Dominion and power,
Both now and forever.
--Jude 24-25

Friday, January 23, 2009

As I Stand in the Crossroad

Standing in this crossroad, I wonder which way to go. And I ask my Father, Abba, which path do I take? Which way do I go?

It is not the path. It is the step. And the next step is the simple, obedient, necessary thing.

And there, beloved, look for Me and you will find Me.

And so today, I did not answer any job ads. Instead I fed my sweet baby some of my oatmeal from my plate and watched as he smiled and made little boy sounds as he skillfully (for a 2 year old!) scooped all the oatmeal from his plate. When I scooped him another portion from my plate he said what sounded very much like "thank you, granma" -- and there, Abba, I saw Your face.

And today I went to the ShopRite with the last of the money from last week and I filled my cart. It was enough, under $100, under an hour (an old shopping goal of mine that I had not met in years). And there, as I payed and got change back, Abba, I saw Your face.

And today I had lunch with Gabe, my dear brother. He encouraged me and drove me and paid for my meal. He joked and smiled and ate what was left from my plate. We talked of You too, Abba, and I thanked You there for him and his love. What a wonderful gift was there for me, Abba, when I saw Your face.

Your face, Abba, is everywhere I go! The opportunities to minister is not just in a church, but in the store, at the restaurant, in my own kitchen. Keep me alert to see them, as I take the next step of obedience to You each day, as I praise You and thank You and trust You even moment by moment!

It is not the path, but the next step You will light for me, and as I go, I will find myself with You, Beloved, and it will be the right path.

Isaiah 42:16
I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them; I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth. These are the things I will do; I will not forsake them.

Monday, January 19, 2009

He showed up just for me!

I have been doing ministry for a while, so at this point, I just expect God to show up for those occasions. Even though volunteers sometimes have to cancel and technical problems occur and kids get sick, God always shows up.

Even when I started my job at the homeless shelter, and God gave me a passion and power, mercy and love for the people who I met there, I figured, well, I was in a homeless shelter! Of course God showed up for me.

But this week, as I collected my self, sorted through my emotions and Christmas decorations and toddler toys, God showed up then too. In the middle of snow storms and sore backs and driving my 21 year old to work and back with her baby in my back seat, God showed up.

He showed up just for me!

Because other times when I have been home, I have been lost and aimless. But this past week, He invited me to rest. A Sabbath holy rest, and I invited Him to join me and He did. He talked to me as I walked the dog, matched the soxes, wrapped the fragile decorations, stowed away the candles. He gave me peace as I vacuumed and dusted.

Now THAT is a miracle.

Thank You, Father, my Beloved, my Everything.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Free fall

I started working at the age of 12. Jackie's Lemon Ice in Belleville; it was a landmark, everyone knew the place. Scooping lemon ice, I learned to make change and for my trouble, I was told I was paid more than anyone else. It was a dollar an hour.

In the winter on Saturdays, I worked with my dad. He owned a shop called Micchelli's Hairdressing in Bloomfield. We would leave in the early morning to be there for his first appointment at 7:45 am. I would answer the phone, take rollers from women's hair and sweep the floor. I was dad's "go for" -- as in "go for coffee" among other things. We never left before 6 p.m. I was paid $12 a day.

Later I worked at the Glen Ridge Country Club, flipping burgers while all the rich kids swam in the pool. By August they were bored with life at the Club. I was happy as I got to go for a swim after work.

In the winter, I worked in the Country Club office with a nice woman, who I can picture in my mind but I cannot remember her name.

By February in my senior year in college, I had my resume done and had begun sending out letters to companies who might be interested in my computer skills. IBM was among them and I was amazed to get a call back from them. As I wandered into the Franklin Lakes building for my first interview, I was awestruck. I accepted the job before graduation and was the first new college hire to start in June.

I always expected to return to work after Christina was born, but all the circumstances lined up to be a God-thing, so I resigned, got a nice buy-out and stayed home until Debbie started preschool. Then I started volunteering at Montclair Community Church until it turned into a paid part time job.

For years I had hoped that my job at the church could be expanded to full time to accomodate the growing financial need at home. This fall, again, all the circumstances lined up to be a God-thing and I accepted a full time position at what I hoped would have been my next ministry opportunity. But as you can see from my last post, that did not work out the way I thought.

Now I find myself unintentionally unemployed for the first time in, well, my entire life. And at the age of 53, your entire life is a good long time. It feels like I am in free fall. Some where between the dizzy sick feeling and the flight of a wonderful dream.

A thousand times I've failed
Still Your mercy remains
And should I stumble again
Still I'm caught in Your grace

I've failed at a job, yet His mercy remains. I am concerned to make a wrong decision again, yet I'd still be caught in His grace.

I decided to wait a week before I apply again anywhere, just to regroup. I find myself perferring to stay home and clean toilets other than starting at a new job again. Or even sending out my resume. I am old now, rusty from being at home, and yet, I have not been at home. I want to minister really, but who will hire a woman with a lot of church experience doing a little bit of this and that and a degree in--Math???

And yet You are...

Everlasting, Your light will shine when all else fades
Never ending, Your glory goes beyond all fame

I want to sit home this time and wait for You to have that right person call me. I want the right job to fall in my lap, but I know that is not how it works. I don't want to make the wrong step so badly at this point that I would rather stand perfectly still.

In my heart, in my soul, Lord I give You control
Consume me from the inside out Lord

Yes, please take control, Father, as I am out of control! I am terrified. How do I walk in the right way? How will I know what to do? How I can avoid this how?

And the cry of my heart is to bring You praise

Can I praise You Lord, while I wait, while I wander, while I stumble in the dark in this free fall I find myself in? If I praise You, will that be enough? Lord I can do no more than cry out!

From the inside out Lord, my soul crys out, from the inside out Lord, my soul crys out, from the inside out...

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Blessed be His name

The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;
Blessed be the name of the LORD. -- Job 1:21

Pastor Ed says that the shortest distance between two points is a zig-zag line. Life is like that, messy, with detours, and just when you think you have it figured out, you get this curve ball that does not make sense.

But then, it really does.

Yesterday, my boss called me into his office. He invited me to sit down. His desk was too clean, his smile too polished. You can feel it in the air, it would not be good.

"Barbara, I am terminating you," he said.

He was right, it wasn't working out. Although I appreciated his vision, was committed to the shelter, and loved the people---employees and clients alike, he and I did not have the right chemistry. And since he was the executive and I his executive assistant, it was inevitable that it would end this way.

In the end, I am glad that he did end it, as opposed to letting the pain linger. After I took a few breaths, I found myself relieved.

It was three months today that I would have been there. I find myself wondering why God took me there only to take me out after such a short time. Was I wrong to go? Did I not hear Him when I left Montclair?

Right now, I am thinking this is just a zig-zag line to get me to where I am really supposed to go. I feel His closeness as I praise Him...I rest in His embrace and know that He will work this out.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

Blessings from God in 2008

  1. In March, Al's job changed, he was moved to Edison and got weekends off.
  2. Al’s new job allowed him to get home before Barb got up for work, which meant getting home in time for morning cuddles.
  3. Al and Barb were able to attend church together on Sundays.
  4. Al’s change of job in March in many ways prepared him for the next job change at year end.
  5. Debbie got accepted at Kean University.
  6. Christina continued doing well at Montclair State University and has returned to a more active social life.
  7. Barb was invited to give her testimony about Al’s salvation at the MOPS Spring Tea in May.
  8. Debbie graduated from High School.
  9. In June, Gio turned age 2! He talks now and boy! does he have a lot to say.
  10. Gio's grandparents, Emmanuel and Julia, got married in June.
  11. Gio's dad, Manny, joined the US Marines.
  12. Barb was invited to teach at the ACE fall session with David Langford and it was the best attended class that session.
  13. Barb and Al were able to take the entire month of August off together and to spend it at the beach.
  14. Al and Barb were blessed by their time at Union Congregational Church in Lavalette, meeting new friends there. They also enjoyed visits to Ocean Grove, seeing Charles Stanley and Oracle.
  15. Al had his best tomato growing season this summer.
  16. Debbie got her driver’s license before she started college.
  17. Al and Barb were able to attend ACE fall session together.
  18. Barb got a full time job at Urban Renewal Corp.
  19. Barb's friends and co-workers at MCC blessed her with many kind words, gifts, songs and a BIG party when she left her position there as Administrative Support and Bible Study leader.
  20. God give Al wisdom to select where to work when C&S closed. He hopes to be working stead at the Daily News, in New Jersey.

In all these changes, Al and I rejoice that God has caused us to grow closer together in love for each other. God has helped us to trust Him not only as the author and finisher of our salvation, but to trust in His daily protection and provision in our lives.

In all things, God is good and best of all, He is with us.