Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Jesus Calling Strikes Again...

Well, I just found out that another friend of mine passed away last week.  It was a heart attack.  But keep reading -- I promise this post won’t make you cry.  

I had met Jiva through my husband. We saw each other on occasion.  Not a lot.  He knew I had cancer and he read my blog.  Just recently, he had had a stroke.  This certainly jarred his faith.  He was from Bombay, but attended a local Catholic church.  Soon after his stroke, he asked if he could come to our church with us.  We met him at Calvary and took him to lunch after the service.  After, he asked if he and I could continue to meet on a regular basis.  Because, according to him, he found my faith “utterly fascinating.”  So we met in Calabasas one day for lunch.  As I shared my faith, he stared intently at me.  He clearly was puzzled. "How do you have such strong faith given your diagnosis?" he asked.  I had brought him a Jesus Calling book and handed it to him during our lunch.  I told him it was one of my most favorite books ever.  While we were talking, I wrote down a few verses inside the jacket cover.  Can’t really recall what I wrote, but he acted like I was giving him the keys to eternity.  In fact, I was.

I would receive many emails and texts from him after our first lunch.  The first text read, “Reading Jesus Calling soothes my heart, but I must say I then get back to the same thing unfortunately.  But gradually, very very gradually, I am submitting myself to Him.  Not fast enough though.”

I loved that he kept reading it.  

I received this text just six days before he died.

“Yesterday’s reading in Jesus Calling: Walk by faith, not by sight. The book you gave me is a magical carpet.  It’s so much joy.  Thank you, Ruthie.”

I wrote him back, “Love that u love it!!  Read it always.  xo.”

Looking back, I’m so comforted by his words.  I’m also comforted that the Lord took him quickly as Jiva had a huge fear of having another stroke and not having anyone to take care of him.  When I went back to re-read the page that Jiva was referring to in his last text I saw, “As I help you get back on your feet, you tell Me how worried you are about the cliffs up ahead.  But you don’t know what will happen today, much less tomorrow...Walk by faith, not by sight, trusting Me to open up the way before you.”

I know those words were written just for Jiva to read that day.  As he so feared the cliffs up ahead.  Don’t we all?

So as I write this, I encourage each one of you to carve out some time to share your faith with someone.  Maybe even share your favorite book. 

I ran out to Costco today and bought 20 more of my favorite books in honor of Jiva.  He would have loved to know that because of him, more of these special books will be given to others.  I hope this beautiful book brings them closer to God too.

Monday, February 11, 2013

The Collector...

Does anyone just love getting their mail?  I do.  Our mailbox is usually full of catalogs and junk mail, but there's still the anticipation of what could be inside.  Especially when you're waiting for something.  And it's even better when you've forgotten what you're waiting for and it catches you by surprise.  That's what happened to me yesterday.

My daughter, my friends and their daughters all went away for a little vacation up to Los Olivos.   We stayed in an adorable little cottage just yards away from this charming, old town. 
(I'll be posting about it on the christian girl's cottage blog soon).

Well, we left Thursday and returned home last night.  After unloading all of our luggage and our many thrift store finds (oh, don't think that wasn't gonna happen!), I went out to the mailbox.  On the very top of the mail, sat a package from Guideposts Magazine.  As I opened it, I saw a letter that read, "We are pleased to accept your story about learning to use your gift for our feature, The Collector in our Angels on Earth magazine."

Well, be still my heart.

The editor had already emailed me a copy of the final story and the photo editor had already asked me for a photo of my license plate.  But I kind of forgot about that.  What I submitted to them was an 800-word feature on my obsession with personalized license plates.  What ran is a 100-word story.  They  edited it down to what they needed.  As they say in publishing, that's the way the cookie crumbles.  (I'm not in publishing -- I honestly have no idea what they say.)

But what fun it was to open the magazine and try and find my little story.  I looked in the table of contents and found The Collector.  I knew it was mine.    

I loved reading it and actually admired how they condensed my big ol' story down to just a few paragraphs.  That's really hard to do.  I took several editing classes in college and actually hated them.  I would rather write than edit someone else's work.  I loved watching Rachel's face as I showed her and Jake's names in the story.  "I'm famous!" she squeeled.  Yeah, you better run out and buy a few Sharpies as you'll be hunted down in the Von's parking lot.  Not.  

But what I love the most is that God blessed me with my first story published in this magazine.  First off, it's in a publication put out by my favorite little magazine Guideposts.  Call me an old soul, but Reader's Digest, Guideposts and Better Homes and Gardens have always been special to me.  Even when I was 10.  

And I love that my message about using your gift is out there for all to read.  I'm passionate about that message.  Big time.  

So with the published story comes a $50 honorarium (look out Goodwill -- here I come!), complimentary copies of the magazine and a one-year complimentary subscription to Angels on Earth.  Love it.

Here's the last two sentences of the story:

"If something as small as a license plate can be used for good purpose, just imagine what we can do with the talents and blessings God gives us.  That's a message I'm proud to carry wherever I go."

So very true.

So if this post sounds annoyingly familiar as I love writing about it, have you scratched your head yet and said, "So how can I bless others with my gift?"  If not, then may I encourage you to do so?  If you're stuck and you don't think you have a gift, you are so wrong.  And to prove it, email me.  Email me and tell me you're stuck.  And I'll do my best to un-stick you.



Monday, February 4, 2013

What is Getting You Through This?

I lost a friend on Saturday.  
But I had the pleasure of having lunch with him back in November.  

We had a great time.  We laughed.  And we cried.  And we made some beautiful memories.

I met Tom about 25 years ago.  His wife Ann had dated my husband Ed in high school and in college.  In fact, one of our first dates was to their wedding. 

"I am NOT going to your ex-girlfriend's wedding," I told Ed.  

"Yes you are."

"No, I'm not."

"Yes you are."

Well, I went.  Begrudingly.

And low and behold, I actually liked Ann and her new husband Tom.  A lot.

Fast forward to roughly two years ago.  Tom was diagnosed with late stage cancer.  I ran into Tom and Ann on a few occasions at our oncologist's office.  I noticed that he would say hi to me, then continue reading his book.  He just didn't seem like himself.  I chalked it up to not feeling very well.

A few months later, Ann called to wish me a happy birthday.  She told me that Tom was kind of irritated with me because I acted a little too happy to have cancer.  However, she went on to say, "But Tom is a lot like you now."  

"Really, what do you mean?"

"He shares his faith now with whoever he's sitting next to when he's down at USC."

Just then, I heard Tom's voice in the background yell, "HAPPY BIRTHDAY, RUTHIE!"  

He then got on the phone.  

"Oh, Tom.  You sound so good!" I told him, choking back my tears.  

He started crying.  We both did.

I told him that we needed to have lunch, just the two of us.  We met a few days later.

I had never had lunch with just Tom.  We were friends because our spouses were friends first.  But on that day, we were friends.  Really good friends.   We talked about things that only two people going through this journey could share with each other.   

I remember three very special things about that lunch.

First, he was waiting outside the restaurant for me when I arrived.  When we hugged hello, he said he loved me.  When we left, he hugged me good-bye and told me he loved me.   He was radiating love.

Secondly, while we were eating, he lit up like a Christmas tree when he spoke of going to heaven.  I remember sitting across the table from him and witnessing the glow that came over him as he shared how amazing it will be.  It was beautiful to see.

And this is my favorite memory from our lunch.  
I asked him how he shares his faith when he sits down next to someone at chemo.  I told him that I've been doing this thing for three years now, and I still don't know exactly what to say.  

He thought about it for all of three seconds and said, "Why don't you just ask them, 'What's getting you through this?"

I knew that was gold to my ears the moment I heard it.  I actually got my iphone out of my purse and typed it in my notes so I wouldn't forget.  (See the photo I took during our lunch back on November 6th).  His thought was brilliant.  So simple, yet so brilliant.  

"What's getting you through this?"
 Heck, it applies to everything.  What's getting you through the toughest thing in your life? 

Our answer?  
Our relationship with Jesus.    
Such a simple question to begin such an important discussion.

When I read Ann's email on Saturday that Tom had passed away, my heart smiled.  He was now in the presence of Jesus.  And I know that's exactly where he was ready to be.   

Friday, February 1, 2013

He's So Into You...

Ahh, the month of love. 
The month we expect "him" to bring us flowers, a box of chocolates and a love letter.

The month we hope "he'll" tell us how much "he" adores us.  Despite the way we look in the morning without make-up on, despite the terrible moods we may fall into or despite the days when we're just downright nasty.  (I am on occasion.  You too?)

But He does adore us.
Every day.  
It's just that He doesn't wait until February to show us.

He lavishes us with flowers.  In our own backyard.

He lavishes us with His love letters every day.  
If only we'd just open them. 

He lavishes us with sweets every day.  Maybe just not in a heart-shaped box.

Bottom line?
He's so into you.
Head over heals.
In love.  
With you.

xo xo.