Tag: God

Losing Faith? Read This Post

Mind WavesPardon me for the long blog post. I have a story to tell. It’s about answered prayer and dreams come true. It’s about magic and mysticism and this thing called faith. I must tell the entire story to do it justice. I hope you’ll spend five minutes reading it through.

If you’ve been following my posts, then you know a few things about me and the launch of my first book, Mind Waves:

  1. Beach Glass Is Important. Both in my life (I collect it) and in my book, where the heroine uses beach glass in her artwork. The hero offers her a piece of glass twice in the story–early on he presents her with a piece of red glass (a rare find) in the shape of a heart. By story’s end, he hands her a piece of green glass, matching the color of his eyes. (Check out the front cover and his glowing green eyes and the heart in the lower-right corner.)
  2. I’ve Had Multiple Paranormal Experiences. Past blogs have told of ghosts encounters, prophetic dreams, palm-reading analysis and auras, which fueled many of the scenes in the book.
  3. I Have a Strong Faith in God. I didn’t always. (That’s a story for another post.) My faith has partly stemmed from encounters with an invisible world–if I believe in ghosts, it’s not a big stretch to think I’d believe in God. I pray often and have asked the Lord to guide me in my writing life, which is fraught with rejection. Despite my beliefs, I sometimes doubt or ask him to reveal himself, particularly when I’m struggling to stay on course.

And that’s where this story begins.
I spent Labor Day weekend on the shores of Lake Michigan with extended family. My husband and I were both stressed leading up to the trip. The week before he’d been in bed with migraines. I’d spent the week launching Mind Waves on social media.

Our first day on the beach, our sixteen-year-old son, Sam, disappeared. He had gone ahead of his dad to check out the waves. By the time my husband arrived, he was nowhere in sight. And when I finally made it there two hours later, Sam still had not returned. He’d left his cell phone behind in the cottage, too, a rare occurrence. It wasn’t his nature to disappear without telling someone. We started to worry.

Our day at the beach, Lake Michigan.

Heading to the Lake Michigan beach to learn Sam had gone missing.

Searching for Sam
The family split up to search. Grandma went back to the cottage. My sister-n-law checked the volleyball court, and my husband and I strolled up and down the beach. After a few minutes, I encountered my sister-n-law, who was on her way back. Instead of searching for Sam, her head was bent over the sand.

“Did you find Sam?” I asked.

“Yes, he’s fast asleep.” She pointed in the distance, where I could make out his form in his black bathing suit, lying on his beach towel.

Relieved, I stopped to consider her. “What were you looking for?”

“Here,” she said, handing me a piece of green beach glass. I noticed immediately the color was darker and smoother than my normal finds at Edgewater, like it had been tossed around in the Michigan waves a bit.

“That’s so cool.” I started to hand it back.

“You keep it,” she said, knowing I collect glass.

“Thanks.” I pocketed the glass, and she headed back to tell the others.

Lord, please send me beach glass
Since Sam was okay, I decided to stay and scan the sand for more glass. Surprisingly, I found a few pieces. That’s when I had my God thought.

Lord, I prayed. Can you please send me a great big piece of glass so I know you are here?

I smiled inwardly at the thought of asking God for beach glass, adding, I don’t need the glass to believe in you, of course. I always believe. It’s only I’m tired and scared of what I’ve got myself into with this book launch and want to feel your presence. So, why don’t you just send me glass.

And I laughed out loud at the thought of God sending me beach glass.

That’s when two women appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. Excited and full of questions, they wanted to see what I had found. I pulled the small handful of glass from my pocket and showed them.

Heart-shaped glass found on the beach.

Heart-shaped glass found on the beach.

“Oh my gosh, it’s a heart,” the first woman spoke, pointing at my palm. She was tall with clear skin. Her head was wrapped in a colorful scarf.

“That’s amazing,” the second one added with genuine enthusiasm. She had freckles and her hair was in pigtails. She looked to be in her early twenties and wore a bikini.

I studied the green glass in my hand. It was a heart! I hadn’t seen the shape until the woman pointed it out.

“Do you live around here?” I asked.

“No, we live in Chicago,” the taller one said. “We’re yoga instructors. We’re taking a class.”

“They gave us fifteen minutes so we thought we’d check out the beach,” the shorter of the two said. “So great to find you. How long have you been collecting? What do you do with it?”

The questions continued until eventually, I told them about Mind Waves and how it was inspired by beach glass.

“That’s so amazing,” they younger of the two said with passion. “I’m definitely reading it.”

“Me, too,” the other added. “This is so exciting.”

How strange, I thought, and said aloud, “You two are not going to believe this, but I’d been praying for God to send me a piece of glass, as I’m worried about my book launch, and instead he sent me two potential readers. And I guess I got the glass, too,” I said, holding up the green heart.

“That’s so cool,” the taller of the two said. “I will definitely check out your book.”

“Me, too,” the other added.

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And as quickly as they arrived, they departed on a flurry of energy.

If the Lord is for us…

Me with my mother and sister 'n law shortly before our beach glass discovery.

Me with my mother and sister ‘n law shortly before our beach glass discovery.

Dazed, I returned to our beach umbrella, where the rest of the family had gathered. “You’re never going to believe what happened.” I recounted the experience.

“That’s so weird,” my sister-n-law said. “I just got finished telling everyone a similar story. I was thanking God for letting me find Sam and asked him to send me a piece of glass. I looked down and saw the piece of glass I gave you at my feet. I couldn’t believe it. Then you showed up.”

My sister-n-law has not read Mind Waves. “Did you realize the glass you gave me was in the shape of a heart?”

“No way,” she said.

We stood a moment and marveled at the glass and the not-so-strange coincidence. A great peace descended. A peace that surpasses human understanding.

“The LORD is with me; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 118-6

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

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How a Whispered Prayer Wrought An Umbrella and My Future Husband

I once prayed for a good man. I didn’t really believe the prayer would be answered. But I was a bit lonely my freshman year in college, so it felt good to tell someone who would listen and not ask a lot of questions.

The thing about prayer, though, is that God always answers. Sometimes his answers are immediate, but more often, at least for me, they take time to come to fruition.

The umbrella
Shortly after I said that prayer, I met my future husband in a theatre class. Of course, I didn’t know he was my future husband. I paid more attention to his umbrella.

“Excuse me,” I asked him. “Can you move your umbrella?” It was one of those long, skinny, masculine ones with a large, black handle, and it was in my way nearly every day as I tried to slip past him in the auditorium style classroom.

“Sorry. No problem.” He would reach out to nab the offending object and quickly pull it under his seat, allowing me to slide into my seat next to him. Once when I did this, I noticed an open notebook on his lap where he had scribbled some words. I tried to read what he had written but was unsuccessful.

Fundamentals of Theatre
“Are you a theatre major?” He spoke, his tone friendly.

“Yes, what about you?”

“Oh no. I’m a telecommunications major. I just took this class as an elective.”

I noticed his clothing; artsy for a guy. He looked like a theatre major. Later, I would learn that his mother, a hairdresser, bought all of his clothing, but in the moment, I just noticed it as a casual observation. I was not interested in talking, so I settled in, opening my book.

“Welcome to Fundamentals of Theatre I.” The professor began his monologue. “Attendance sheets are being passed along.”

As he spoke, the girl seated to my left handed me a white notebook. I scribbled my name and passed it along to the young man with the umbrella.

Years later, he would confess that he had memorized my name on the attendance sheet, writing it in his notebook. But he was too shy to ask me on a date. Good thing he didn’t, because I’m not sure I would have accepted. I didn’t handle attention from the opposite sex well, and I didn’t go on a lot of dates. Plus, I had just met another boy at a party, and I was a bit infatuated.

And truthfully? If God had whispered in my ear that day, saying, “I’m answering your prayer. See that boy? He’s the one,” I wouldn’t have believed it.

Just like I wouldn’t have believed if the voice said, “You will be struck by lightening. Or you will win the lottery.”

I never forgot the boy or his umbrella, though. Long after we completed the class, I would see him on campus. Each time we’d run into one another, I’d ask, “Are you taking any theatre classes?”

And he would answer, “No, Amanda, I’m not a theatre major.”

There were no umbrellas on our wedding day. Although it did rain that morning, the sun came out before we said "I do."

There were no umbrellas on our wedding day. 

First comes love
And then, one day, the stars aligned. We ran into each other on campus and as he tells it, “It was now or never.” He finally screwed up his courage to ask for my telephone number. (This was before the days of cell phones and texting.)

And I, who had sworn off dating, but wasn’t above going out as friends, gave him my number.

We went on a few dates, which led to a few more. My future husband, I learned, had a great sense of humor and was universally liked by everyone he came in contact with. We complemented each other well. He was outgoing; I was introverted. He taught me not to take everything so seriously. I taught him how to take everything more seriously.

A few weeks later, we had a major “Back to the Future” moment. You know, the one where Marty’s parents finally kiss and his future comes to be? Yeah, it was that kind of moment.

Then comes marriage

Our three beautiful children.

Our three beautiful children.

Some twenty-three anniversaries later, we have three kids, a dwindling mortgage, and a jet ski.

Times have not always been easy. There was a period, shortly after college when we both lost our jobs and couldn’t afford a wedding. We called ourselves “the trash couple,” because it seemed like we never slept or had money to buy anything nice.

There was another time, shortly after our second child was born, when I had a raging temperature for days, while our jaundice son lay in an incubator next to me.

We survived frequent job changes, loss of loved ones, health emergencies. When I lost my two front teeth in an accident, he took me to the dentist and held my hand. When my daughter lost hers after jumping and missing an obstacle course at school, he held my hand as we watched the dentist reinsert them.

Through all of lives’ joys and disappointments, we’ve held on tight and cherished one another.

I can’t imagine going through life without him by my side.

I can’t imagine a life without him.

To those who say God doesn’t exist, I say, try praying for something that really matters. You just might get what you asked for.

And be sure to look out for the umbrella.

Sometimes the most perfectly laid plans go awry…and that’s a good thing

“May I sit here?”

The woman across the table nodded at me, flashing a friendly smile. She had a notebook and pen with her and was eating a sandwich. I was attending a writing conference, but I didn’t know anyone, so I was grateful for the place to sit and her warm welcome.

That morning had begun with high hopes. On the drive over, I wondered about all the interesting information I was bound to glean. I’m fairly new to the fiction writing scene, so I expected I would hear from a great many writers who have it all figured out, right? Wrong. After listening to the first couple of workshops, it didn’t take me long to discover that this wasn’t going to be a learning kind of day. I was disappointed, and for a while, seriously thought about leaving early. But I paid for the day, I reminded myself. I want my money’s worth. So I stuck it out.

Change of plans
As I was about to discover, sometimes my purpose for a day is not God’s purpose. Sometimes, the good Lord puts us exactly where he wants us.

“How are you enjoying the conference,” my new friend asked.

“It’s ok,” I said. “How about you?”

“It’s great. Actually, this is the first time I’ve gotten out of the house. I had surgery a couple of months ago.”

She said it so casually, we went on to talk about other things. There was another woman at the table, and she was a kindergarten teacher. We brought her in on the conversation, but strangely, she never mentioned that she had published a children’s book. (We would find that out after lunch.) If she had, the tenor of our conversation might have changed. I might have never learned more about the woman across from me.

“Do you have a writing project in the works,” I asked.

“Oh, no,” she said. “I wasn’t well enough for that until now. But writing has always been an interest of mine. I used to journal a lot when I was a child as a way for me to express my feelings…my childhood was not easy.” She added the last as an afterthought.

Illness revealed
I took a closer look at my companion. Her bright smile belied any type of sadness. She had a perfectly oval face and her blond hair fell softly around her head like an angel’s halo. She was about my age, in her late forties or early fifties.

“You look great. What was your illness?”

“I had a kidney transplant. I had been sick for eighteen years, so I was pretty bad. My daughter was my donor.”

“Wow, that’s incredible. You don’t look like you have been ill.”

“Yeah, I know. I have been sick for so long, I don’t remember what it’s like to feel good again. I’m not used to having energy and needing to get out of the house. But I always enjoyed writing, so I thought this conference would be a good way to start a new hobby.”

“That’s amazing that your daughter was your donor.”

“It is,” she acknowledged. “I didn’t ask her to either. She just told me that she was going to be tested and when it turned out we were a perfect match, she said, ‘Mom, I’m going to be your donor.’ I didn’t know what to say. It’s an amazing gift. She’s a wonderful daughter.”

“How is your daughter doing?”

“Oh, she’s back at work already. Her only concern with donating a kidney is that she wanted to have another child. But the doctor reassured her that she could. She has been incredible through the whole thing. When they wheeled us out after surgery, we gave each other a big thumbs up. It was a moment I’ll never forget.”

“Wow. What a fantastic story. You really need to write about this.”

“Yeah, maybe I will,” she said.

Lunch was over but we would find ourselves together in all the remaining workshops. Before the conference ended, we exchanged email and Facebook information, and during a break, she liked my Facebook page.

The message
As I was driving home that afternoon, it struck me that hearing this woman’s story was part of a larger plan. That I needed to hear about her illness as much as she needed to tell me and connect with someone from the outside. Her story was God’s little reminder to me that success can mean different things to different people. For me, it means taking another leap forward on my journey to publication. But for this lovely lady, success is getting out of the house in the morning and enjoying a new hobby.

It was the big man’s loving message to me not to get so caught up in my own goals and ambitions. What a gift I was given when she shared her story. I am so grateful that I was the lucky recipient.

Does God hear the prayers of writers?

imageI think so.

I’m not one of those people who like to run. But I do it. Twice a week, as long as it’s above 50 degrees, my iPhone and I are jogging around my neighborhood. I find that listening to a podcast or a little music helps to make the time pass more quickly.

During one of my recent jaunts, it started to rain a light mist (something it has been doing a lot these days in Cleveland), which made my run a bit harder. I was especially annoyed when the podcast stopped working. I called on Siri to play some music instead, but she claimed that she couldn’t get a signal. Over and over I tried to get something to play on my phone but without success. Eventually, I did something I haven’t done in a while. I called out to the Lord.

Now I know what you’re thinking.
There are many more important situations going on in the world than my desire for some music during my run, right? I thought about that, too. But you have to understand that it has been a while since I have felt the Lord in my life. My days are so hectic trying to maintain a somewhat stressful day job, launch a career as a romance writer, and take care of my husband and three kids, that I barely have time to say a brief prayer before I fall asleep at night. It has been a leap of faith to build a website and share my life in blog posts. There is so much noise in this world. Do I have anything of importance to say that can reach beyond it? Is anyone listening? Does anyone really care?

Although I believe in God and have a strong faith in him, I sometimes doubt his presence in my life. And there seem to be more people surrounding me that don’t have any belief in God that it wears on me. So it was in that frame of mind that I called out to him.

“Lord,” I prayed. “I know you have many more important prayers to answer. There are people sick and dying who are desperate for you. But I also know that you have it in your power to send me a song if you want to. My faith is strong enough that I’m certain you can do it. It’s also been a long time since you have answered any of my prayers directly. And I would really like to hear from you. So Lord, if it’s your will, please send me a song.”

And maybe I was just being fanciful, but I swear I felt him smile.

Still, my iPhone was silent.
So I sighed and put my finger out to press the button for Siri. But I never quite made it. Just before my fingered touched the button, a song began to play on my phone. The words startled me.

“And when you feel the rain, call his name. He’ll find you in a hurricane.”

Now the big man and I know each other well. He came to my rescue some years ago and has been my best friend ever since. I shouldn’t ever doubt his love for me. But I often do.

This little song reminded me that he is with me every step of the day. He hears me when I call, and he answers prayers. He keeps me sheltered within his arms during the worst storms, even a little Cleveland rain. He created the world. If he’s on my side, nothing is impossible.

“There’s a place, there’s a place you can run when you fall, and it’s all come undone, you’ll be safe in the raging storm, so just let go, ’cause you are held in his arms. Step out on the edge don’t be afraid of it. And when you feel the rain, call his name, he’ll find you in a hurricane.”

And with God’s perfect grace, the last words of the lyrics faded away the moment I reached my garage doors.

“And when you feel the rain, call his name. He’ll find you in a hurricane.”

P.S. I looked up the lyrics to this song when I got home — “Hurricane” by Natalie Grant.

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