With God There’s Always a Fish on the Line

A fish on the line   I was having one of those days where I was questioning my spiritual influence in this season of my life, wondering if I was having as much impact on people as I once had.

Years prior I could pin-point the things I was doing for God that might be considered inspirationally impacting.  At the time, my kids were young and we were involved with different activities through church, work, school and sports and therefore I had a large circle of influence. I was busy serving God by carrying for my husband and children, while writing faith-filled books, articles and newsletters. I also regularly spoke at ladies Bible studies and would share how God was working in every day life.   I pursued my purpose with passion, and often did so by keeping up with the hectic pace of society but I felt my service for God was useful and significant.

But what that was then and this is now.  My kids are older, life is less chaotic, my sphere of influence has dwindled as people have moved away, grown up, changed jobs or have just become busy with life.  Of course I know I am still useful to my growing family and to a much smaller circle but I don’t feel that I can pin-point specific things I’m doing for God in the same way as I use to and a times it makes me feel a little unsure.

All of this was weighing on my mind recently when we went on an overnight camping trip and stayed in a small cabin that overlooked a man-made lake.  In the morning before anyone else got up I decided I wanted to do a little fishing so I poured myself a hot cup of coffee, grabbed a chair, a devotional, my fishing pole, and container filled with worms and headed to the lake.

A beautiful morning midst hovered over the water as the sun slowly began to rise.  Crickets creaked and birds chirped as I set out my chair and prepared my fishing pole.  With hook, weight and worm ready, I cast my line out to the center of the lake reeling it in just enough to keep the line taught so I would be able to feel even the slightest nibble or tug should a fish catch my worm.

It wasn’t hard to get in tuned with God as I read my devotion lakeside and sipped on my coffee and as I spent time reflecting, I began to voice my concerns to God in prayer.  What type of spiritual influence do I have in this season of my life, God?  How can I best serve you now?  Or did my service peak years ago? Can I still have a ministry of encouragement and spiritual impact even though I have no desire to rush around at a hectic pace as I once did?

For nearly thirty minutes I sat there, thinking, reflecting, posing questions, dumping it all out before God. Can you still use me to make a difference God?  

After awhile I took a break from all my pondering and then realized that my fishing pole hadn’t budged one bit since casting it out and it might be a good idea to check the status of the bait.

I lazily began reeling in my line and for a moment I thought I felt the tiniest of tugs.  I paused to see if I had a bite but there was no movement at all.   Again I began slowly reeling in my line and once again felt the faintest pull. I paused once again and waited. Still nothing.

Now anytime I’ve gone fishing in the past and had a bite the fish, whether big or small, always let me know he was there by the pulling, tugging but there was none of that but when I finally reeled my line all the way in and pulled my pole up, I was surprised to find a nice size catfish tangling on the end of my line.

I have a fish?  I said out loud and at that moment God brought an instant clarity to my earlier concerns.

I had a fish on my line and didn’t even know it because I didn’t see or feel the normal tugging and pulling yet beneath the water things were happening.  Just because I don’t see the influence I have the way I maybe once did, and just because I can’t label or pin-point what I “do” doesn’t mean things aren’t happening.

My sphere of influence may seem smaller now but the size of influence has always been God’s choosing not mine.  I suddenly realized that we don’t really have to pin-point what we “do” for God, we just simply have to be willing to show up every day with a heart for God and a heart for others and He’ll lead the way.  In that moment with the fish still dangling, I knew that If nothing else, I can show up.

I suppose the irony of it all is that after catching the fish, I released him.   Nonetheless, I will forever remember the revelation.  We don’t always know how we impact others.  God doesn’t call us to be fishers of men only in certain seasons, it’s a life-time calling. He will always bring fish on line whether we see it or not, we just need to keep showing up with heart for Him and a heart others and trust Him to lead the way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Valentine’s Advice for Men

If anyone reading this happens to know my husband don’t tell him that I spilled the beans about a rare moment when he got a romantic gesture just right.
 Let him keep believing he is Mr. Macho Man with no sensitive bone in his body. Don’t let on that you know how last Valentine’s, in a moment of weakness, my manly man tuned into his sensitive side and made the smallest, most romantic gesture to show me he loves me in such a way that I will never forget.

 The reason I’m sharing this little tidbit with you is because I know Valentine’s Day can be kind of hard for guys being that they don’t always know what their special lady wants on this particular holiday.  

 Typically, fellas go for buying really expensive long stem roses, gourmet chocolates and even jewelry to show how much they care. No doubt us ladies enjoy all those things but in truth what we really want from our special fella is something much smaller. Don’t get me wrong, you can still load up on flowers and candy but what we want is a small personal gesture that says, I love you in a big way.

So this is where my macho man’s story comes in. In years past, he would always have to work long hours on Valentine’s Day and so I would usually receive the traditional gourmet candy and high priced roses on his way out the door to work or on his way back in from a long day. He figured as a mushy girl that’s what I would want and while I certainly appreciated it, after a while it became more of a routine than anything. But last year something changed. For once, I had to work all day and he didn’t.  

 Perhaps it was because my hard working macho man finally had some down time to really think about what I might want on the day designated for sweethearts but when I got home from work and opened the front door, instead of the usual overpriced flowers and chocolates, I saw our small kitchen table placed in the center of our living room set with our fancy, “for special occasion only” crystal dishes. I didn’t even know my husband knew where those dishes were in the cupboard but apparently he did.

 I was still in my work uniform smelling like sawdust (a smell you have when you work in a hardware store) when my husband motioned for me to sit down. Now here’s the best part. On the fancy crystal dish was half of a jumbo chicken burrito from one of our favorite Taqueria’s, La Costa’s, with the other half on my husband’s plate. And beneath the crystal plate that held my delicious chicken burrito wrapped in foil were rose petals from our rose bush in the front yard. I took one look and cried happy tears all over my burrito.  

 It wasn’t the usual $50 long stem roses and $30 box of rich chocolates that told me after all this time I was still his Valentine’s, it was rose petals from our yard and a $4 burrito cut in half to share that said it all. It was that rare moment where he forgot about being Mr. Macho Man and instead he displayed the smallest most meaningful gesture of love.

 Now don’t get me wrong fella’s, go out and buy the bouquet and chocolates if that is what makes your woman happy but if you really want to win her heart, go for a burrito-size gesture that lets her know you really love her in a big way.

 

Share Your Story

I love when people share their stories of faith with me. Here are two testimonies from a lovely lady I met and who told me about God’s work in her life.  Her name is Yolanda and she graciously gave me permission to share with you.

To God Be the Glory…

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A Testimony of Forgiveness (as told to Monica Cane) by Yolanda Martinez

When I was 6 years old we moved to a small town in Mexico. There were very few police in our town and because the Chief of police no real control over the townspeople, my dad often helped out by answering complaints from town’s members.

The biggest complaint he received was about a man named Francisco.  He lived with his grandmother and sister and was known as a very mean man who hit and abused them when he was drunk. My father was the only one who was able to gain some control of the situation with Francisco by gathering him up when he was too drunk and putting him in jail until he sobered up.  This helped the towns people but Francisco often threatened revenge against my father.

Over the next six years, my sister became friends with Francisco’s sister who would often come to our house to hide from her abusive brother.  During this time Francisco’s sister fell in love with one of my brothers who was very handsome and the pride of our family as he was the first one to get into medical school.

My mom was not happy that Francisco sister fell in love with my brother and she warned him about getting involved with her because of the situation with Francisco but my brother assured my mom that there was nothing to worry about.

Over time Francisco found out about his sister and my brother dating.  He had seen them together in the park and started a fight with my brother but the fight ended quickly with Francisco running off like a coward.  This happened a few times and while my dad wanted to help, my brother insisted that he not intervene.

On June 25, 1966, I spent the day swimming with my brother and when we arrived home in the evening he said he was going to go visit Francisco’s sister.  My mom was worried and told him he should be careful.  Again my brother assured her there was nothing to worry about.

In those days boys and girls would talk with each other through a window so that night my brother was talking to Francisco’s sister and wasn’t paying attention to the cars driving by.  Francisco drove by in a taxi and shot and killed my brother right there.

My mom lost her mind. She was normally a very happy lady but that all changed that night.  When it happened I was at my friend’s house playing.  My aunt came and got me and said she had to take me to my grandmother’s house.  When I asked her why she wouldn’t tell me but she looked very nervous.

When I got to my grandmother’s house everyone was crying.  I tried to find out what was going on but no one would tell me.  Instead they gave me some tea and without me knowing, had put something into the tea that made me fall asleep. That’s how they chose to deal with me since I was the baby of seven children. They just didn’t know what to do with me.

I got up the next morning and no one was there. I still didn’t know what was going on.  I ran all the way from my grandmother’s house to my house and when I got there I saw all these people gathered at the park by my house, crying.  No one noticed me when I walked into my house.  I looked to the right and saw that people were crying.  Then I looked to the left, and saw my brother already in a casket. I couldn’t believe it.

Someone grabbed my arm to take away from the scene but I jerked my arm away and ran to find my parent’s.   When I found them I saw my mom and she looked crazy.  There were three doctors there tending to her. Finally one of my brothers told me what happened and we just cried together all day.

As the days went on, my mother got worse.  She went for different treatments but didn’t want to deal with the loss of her son.  My father ended up retiring to help take care of her.  Everything in my life (our life) changed.

We were catholic and Mom would tell me go to church and pray to the Virgin and I would just said okay.  I heard of God and Jesus but didn’t have a real connection.  I didn’t resent God for taking my brother because I didn’t really know anything about God.

Time went by, I grew up. My mom got psychiatric treatment for about a year and she did get better.  She wasn’t completely recovered but she was able to talk with me.  My father on the other hand was always focused on taking care of my mom and was unable to give me much attention.

Since my family-life had been shattered after the death of my brother, I was looking to create a normal family of my own.  I met a boy who had one brother and six sisters. His mom and dad seemed normal so we got married.  I was sixteen, we moved to California and life went on.

As years passed and I began to have children of my own, I thought everything was good.  I didn’t think I held any un-forgiveness in my heart, particularly after becoming a Christian in 1982.   I honestly believed I had forgiven everyone I needed to forgive.

Then in 2008, twenty-six years after becoming a Christian, I was listening to Joyce Meyers teach a week long message on Forgiveness.  I thought I was okay but as the week went on and I continued listening to the message of forgiveness, I began to feel as if something was missing deep down.  I began crying and asked God to show me, what it was that was bothering me.

Late one night at one o’clock in the morning, God woke me up and brought all the memories of my brother and Francisco to my mind.  God spoke to my heart and said “You are missing the most important person you need to forgive—Francisco.”  It had been so long since I had even thought about it but God continued to impress upon my heart, “You need to forgive him.” I cried uncontrollably.

It took me a long time to say the words, “Lord I forgive Him”.  Through all my tears and all the pain I felt, when I finally said the words, I felt as if someone was holding my heart in their hand and I knew it was Jesus.”The weight of un-forgiveness was lifted from my shoulders. I was able to realize that I was only hurting myself by holding it in and not forgiving Francisco.

I shared my experience with forgiveness with my family; I explained to them that although it may not seem like a big deal for them because it was something that happened when I was a little girl, I needed to forgive so that I could truly grow in the Lord. They have been witnesses of God’s healing in my life and I thank God.  Day by day I’m learning to forgive in greater ways.

 

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My Salvation Story (as told to Monica Cane) by Yolanda Martinez

A woman named Blanca began talking to me about Jesus.  I was a catholic and her approach was a bit overwhelming.  I tried to avoid her at work.  I would think “Why Me?”  Why does she keep trying to talk to me?

At the time, my husband drank a lot.  Not every day but enough.  One night he came home in one of his drunken stupors.  I was in the kitchen preparing to leave for work.  I worked nights and it was very stressful.  My husband was very old fashion and believed the woman should take care of the kids and the household along with my regular job.  This particular night, he came into the kitchen very drunk and so I said nothing to him.  I was worried about leaving my kids with him while I went to work.  If they were sick or needed help, I didn’t feel confident that in his drunken state, he could help.  Nevertheless I prepared to leave for work.

For whatever reason, when my husband came into the kitchen he began to challenge me.

“What! What! Are you mad at me?” He asked in an angry tone.

He then put his face aggressively to my face and it angered me so much that for the first time in our entire marriage, I slapped him right across the face.  Up to that point, he had never raised a hand to me but in reply to my slap, he slapped me back, knocking me to the floor.  Unfortunately our young son had witnessed the scene.  I saw his face as he ran crying to his room.

I had to go to work and cried all the way.  I was devastated.  Upon arriving on the job I went to restroom and cried some more. Then Blanca walked into the restroom.  When she saw my face, she asked what happened.   I felt so desperate that I decided to tell her what happened.

“Let me help you” she said.

“How can you help me?” I asked

“I’ll tell you tomorrow” was her response.

The next day she brought me my first Bible and said “This is your medicine, this is what you need.”

That was the first time I paid attention to her.  I was planning to leave my husband but I started meeting with her.  She told me to read the book of Mathew and so I did.  And from that day I started crying and crying and reading and reading.  I asked her, why I was crying so much when reading the Bible and explained that the Word of God was cleansing my soul and preparing me to accept Jesus. I didn’t understand what she meant at first.

My birthday was coming up and Blanca asked me to meet her spiritual mom, a French woman named Jackie.  I told my sister about it and we went to meet Jackie and Blanca together.  Jackie was a very nice lady,  I didn’t speak much English, at that time my husband wouldn’t let me take any classes, I only had the basics so Blanca had to translate. She told me that Jackie wanted to know if I wanted to accept Jesus into my heart.  I said “Okay” and stood up and repeated after Jackie the prayer of salvation.  It was so beautiful. Suddenly I felt as if I had electricity going through me and I was shaking.   I began praying out loud and all of a sudden I began speaking in tongues.   I knew nothing about that.  Blanca and Jackie were so surprised but just encouraged me to keep going.

My sister was in front of me crying and said, “I want to accept Jesus too.” when she did, she started speaking in tongues too.  So here we were two Catholics not knowing anything but speaking in tongues.

It was my best birthday ever.

When I went back to work people noticed that something had changed and I was able to share what had happened.  When I went home  my husband  also noticed that something had really changed within me.  He asked me what happened and I was able to share with him all about Jesus.

 

A Tear Drops Purpose

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“Know that the Lord is God. It is he who made us, and we are his.” – Psalm 100:3

At times in our search for significance we may see ourselves as nothing more than a tear drop in a vast ocean.

Our vision can become blurred by circumstances causing us to lose sight of the fact that God has chosen to keep account of every tear drop and every soul in which it came from. In those unsettled moments we are unable to recognize that even tear drops in an ocean have their purpose.

Only a quieted spirit can comprehend that a single tear, dropped on fresh soil, has the ability to bring forth growth. Only a soul striving for peace can see that tears sown in love bring about healing and comfort like no other. To be sure, only in silence can we begin to understand the value and purpose of our tears and of our lives.

If we are but tears drop in the ocean, then we must know that the ocean itself has purpose and meaning with each tear drop in its self having great worth.

In your daily search for significance, should the idea of being a mere tear drop in a vast ocean overwhelm you, remember that you are God’s chosen masterpiece. Even as a single tear drop, you have value and meaning beyond measure. United, each tear drop becomes a significant part of a beautiful ocean called the family of God. And as such we must learn to live each day with passion and purpose as Creator intended.

Dare to Dream

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“Each dream has a meaning of its own” – Genesis 40:5

Where do dreams of the heart come from? Those thoughts and ideas that seem beyond our reach yet fill our minds with possibilities. Do they just appear out of nowhere? Are they a product of our imagination gone wild? Or do they have a purpose beyond our comprehension?

Where do dreams of the heart come from? Why are we afraid to share them aloud yet stay up late at night wondering— What if?

Sometimes our hearts are filled with many dreams, sometimes there’s only one. A notion, an idea, an inkling that won’t go away until we’re forced to ask ourselves, where did this dream of the heart come from?, video, widgets, etc…

Visions and images that seem impossible, far-fetched and odd. Yet when they persist, we find ourselves wondering if our secret hopes and dreams just might be from God.

The dream to write, to cook, to sing, the desire to garden, to sew, or build, could be the seed God has planted in your heart to use for His glory.

Each dream is different and has it’s own meaning but when it is from God it has a glorious, everlasting purpose. 

Why try and make sense of it all, none of us ever will. Instead, take the small dream seed and ask— Did You give me this dream? Ask Him, He’ll tell you. Then get ready! Through nurturing, caring and believing in the dream seed you’ve been given, the impossible will come to pass right before your eyes.

Where do dreams of the heart come from? Why they come from the Maker of all good dreams— God Himself, who is the one who plants the seeds of possibility in our hearts then whispers, My child, don’t be afraid. Dare to dream, dare to believe then watch Me work.

Can I Lord?

 

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Can I rest here awhile Lord?

Can I lay my head upon your lap?

Will you brush aside the strands of my hair and whisper, I love you?

Can I worship you in silence and not feel like I have to perform?

Will your love still abound if I say nothing?

I long to know that being with you, in your presence, is enough.

Can I lay my armor down for awhile Lord?

The armor of defense I often wear to survive in this uncertain world.

Shall I rest in silence knowing you will take care of me tonight?

You are the Vine, the core, the strength.

I am merely a branch weak and frail, though you say I am vital.

Am I vital enough to be grafted into your heart tonight Lord?

Are you strong enough to hold me, let me rest and give me peace?

Yes…I believe you are.

“For all the promises of God are yes and amen” – 2 Corinthians 1:20

 

My book “Scrambled Hormones: 60-Days of Encouragement for Moms Raising Teenage Daughters”  Encourages me too

When I wrote the book Scrambled Hormones: 60-Days of Encouragement for Moms Raising Teenage Daughters, I expected the book to encourage and inspire moms and thankfully it does. But honestly I’m suprised at how it also encourages me. Maybe it sounds silly but when I see my book sitting on the shelf by my computer and recall just how trying the teen years were with my two daughters compared to now as we enjoy a flourishing relationship which I doubted was even possble at one time, I am overwhelmed and inspire with just how faithful God truely is.
If you have hit the turbulent teen years…Hang in there mama, God is faithful and it really will get better

 : )

http://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/0692365184/ref=mp_s_a_1_1?qid=1444831724&sr=8-1&pi=SY200_QL40&keywords=scrambled+hormones&dpPl=1&dpID=51qMmDDRwQL&ref=plSrch