Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My Trip to Israel - Part 1

What a blessing this trip was, and I will always be grateful to have visited that Holy Land.  G-d truly led me to it, and I'll tell you why:  I never had a desire to go to Israel.  I didn't want to go  because of all the unrest and terrorist bombings since the 60's.  I wanted to travel, yes, but Israel was not on my list of countries to visit.

In 1994, a friend visited Israel, and put my name on a prayer in the Temple Wall.  She prayed for me and other friends to be able to go there one day.  When she told me that, I was impressed, but still didn't have a desire to go.  I also could not imagine, even in my wildest dreams, that I would make the trip.

In the fall of 1995, I attended a ladies Sunday School class, where we had a visiting teacher who encouraged us to go with her on a ladies-only trip to Israel.  She told us to put our names on a list to sign up.  I didn't sign up, and she asked me why.  I said, "I'd like to travel, but Israel has never been somewhere I want to go. Plus I don't have the money." 

Recently divorced, I struggled to make ends meet for my teenage daughter and myself, so travel was  out of the question.  I laughed when she said, "Put your name on the list, Gail, and if the L-rd wants you to go, He will give you the money."  I was intrigued, so I put my name down, but didn't expect G-d to give me $3000.00

To my surprise, about six months later, I received a tax refund for a little over $3000.00.  Believe me, I was shocked.  Immediately, I thought of the trip, but didn't sign up.  I had a multitude of bills to pay, and with a teenage daughter, lots of other expenses seemed to take priority.    I spent the money almost as fast as I received it.  Soon afterward, I felt convicted about using my Israel money for bills.  I prayed, "Father, you know my situation and the bills I needed to pay.  I should have trusted you for the money for the bills , so please forgive me.  If you want me to go to Israel, please give me another $3,000.00."

Would you believe, He did?  Within a month, my rental house tenant moved out, and I put the house on the market for sale.  That house sold in one week.  This was incredible because I had tried to sell it a couple of years earlier with no success.  I remember crying to G-d, saying, "Father, you know I need to sell this house.  Why aren't meeting my need?"  Well, He definitely knew best.  This time, I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt that I was supposed to go to Israel, and paid for the trip immediately.

I went to Israel in the fall of 1996, and the things I saw and experienced there changed my life.  I will continue this story.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Gratitude - Day 13 - Prayer

This photo was taken at my favorite prayer place. 

Prayer is such a blessing, and I am grateful for my Father's loving, listening ear.  The G-d of the Universe told us to pray about everything.  In Proverb 3:26, He says:  In all your ways acknowledge Me, and I will direct Your path.  I love that verse, and this one:  And this is the confidence we have in Him:  if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us; and if He hears us, we know we have the petition we desire of Him.  What wonderful promises.

As a young believer, I read the biography of George Mueller, and my confidence in the effectiveness of prayer was birthed.  I began to keep journals of my prayer requests with dates the prayer was asked, and the date it was answered.  What a faith builder.  I learned that G-d hears and answers.  I read something recently that applies to the lessons I've learned through this exercise:

When the idea isn't right, G-d says NO
When the time isn't right, G-d says SLOW
When you are not ready, G-d says GROW
When everything is right, G-d says GO

I've learned to trust G-d's timing.  He knows best.  Another saying I keep in my prayer journals is this:

G-d gives the best to those who leave the choice to Him.

There have been times I didn't understand why G-d delayed in answering my prayers.  Time taught me to trust His timing.  A good example is a house I tried to sell back in the 80's.  I needed the money, prayed about it it, and tried and tried to sell that house to no avail.  I finally rented it to a wonderful family who loved living there, and were great renters for seven years.  In the 80's, I thought I needed the money, but when the house finally sold, I needed the money even more.  As a matter of fact, I prayed this prayer:  Father, if you want me to take a trip to Israel, please let the rental house sell."  When I put the house on the market a second time, it sold in one week.

That reminds me of another thing I'm thankful for:  my trip to Israel.  I'll be posting about that tomorrow.

I'm linking up today with:

Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Teach Me Tuesday
A Wise Woman Builds

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gratitude - Day 12 - Books

Books, books, and more books, at the Chamblin Book Mine, Jacksonville, FL

I'm thankful for books, and for a mother who read to me as a child.  She was an avid reader, and passed her love of books on to me. My favorite book, as a child, was 365 Bedtime Stories, about children who lived on What A Jolly Street.  I enjoyed  the book so much, I wore it out, and my mother bought a second copy.  I read that one till it fell apart, too. I remember learning how to read, and my excitement at being able to recognize words.  That love of reading and books has stayed with me to this day.

Because I grew up in alcoholism through my teen years, my parents were mostly unavailable or not much inclined to talk about my concerns or problems.  I leaned heavily on books for guidance.  I remember going to the local public library every Saturday to read and check out books to help me understand my parents.  I have a vivid memory of sitting in the library, reading a book that helped me realize my parents were very sick people.  It helped.

When I married at seventeen to get away from home, I read books on how to have a successful marriage.  When I became a new mother, four years later, I read books on how to take care of babies.  As my children grew up, I read books on parenting.  Always, always, in addition to The Bible, I turned to books for instruction for how to live my life.

For many years, I worked as a church librarian, and I loved the work so much.  I also had a Christian used book store for a short time.  It was not a success because the principle of trading didn't work well for me.  I found that while people were willing to buy the books, they didn't want to trade or sell them.  The reason?  Most people like to keep their Judeo-Christian books.  Oh well, I can certainly relate, being a book hoarder myself.

Yes, I confess to being a book hoarder.  My husband is, too.  Put two book hoarders together, and you have a recipe for disaster.  Our office overflows with books....into the bedroom...into the living room.  You get the idea.  We have a ton of books.I don't know who originally said this, but I totally agree:  "When I have a little bit of money, I buy books."  We love to go to our library's semi-annual book sales, and also buy used books at garage sales, thrift stores and used book stores.

Our favorite used book store is in Jacksonville, Florida.  If you ever get the chance, you must visit the Chamblin Book Mine.  I started going to the store back in the 80's when it was just a small store in the Riverside area of Jacksonville's West Side.  Now the main store is in a former grocery store with over an acre of rows and rows of books.  It is my idea of heaven on earth, and I have spent hours and days exploring those stacks.  They opened a second store in down-town Jacksonville, which is near the main public library.  Going to either store is a delightful experience for a book lover.

My favorite book, other than the Bible, is Streams in the Desert, by Mrs. Charles Cowman.  I have worn out several copies of this book, since I've been using it as a daily devotional since the 70's.  The mixture of stories and poetry helped  build my faith, and also influenced my writing, art and poetry.  I read mostly non-fiction, as you might have surmised.  I love this quote, no matter what genre I lean toward at the moment:

“Be careful what books you read, 

for as water tastes of the soil it runs though,

 so does the soul taste of the authors that a man reads.”

- John Trapp, English Puritan

I'd love to hear from you, dear Gail-Friends, about your favorite books, as I'm always looking for another good read.

I'm linking up today to: 
Titus 2 Tuesday

Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers!
Teach Me Tuesday
Artful Tuesday