Sunday, October 28, 2012

Autobiography-Chapter 1 Tidbit

Less than a year later, my brother, Jason was born.  Being Irish twins, six days less than a year apart, we were the best of friends.  He followed me around, calling me sissy.  I loved bossing him around, but also taking care of him.  Because we were so close in age, my mom was weaning me from the bottle while he was still on it.  When she wasn’t looking, I would take it from him and start drinking.  When she’d catch me, I’d quickly shove the bottle up his nose as if I wasn’t doing anything wrong.  By this time we had moved into an apartment inland across the street from a high school football field.  Once, there was a fair on the field and we were able to go on an elephant ride!  I was surprised at the bristly hair sticking up all over the elephant.  I recall it prickling my legs and I wasn’t too happy about that.  I thought, “Elephant’s aren’t fun to ride.” 

My dad had not stayed in jail very long.  It was around this time that he was diagnosed with Hepatitis C and was told he would not live past age thirty, especially if he didn’t quit drinking.  This diagnosis caused my dad to drink harder instead of getting his act together.  Being a brand new father and husband, he was devastated, and plummeted into self destruction. He figured he wasn’t going to live long, so he might as well party it away.  In the meantime, my mom had given her heart to the Lord and started attending a Baptist Church with my brother and me.  She prayed and believed my dad would also surrender, but his partying continued.  The drugs were taking a toll on his mind.  My mom took Jason and me to her hometown in Pennsylvania to be with her family.  When we returned to Oceanside, my dad had sold everything we owned. All of our clothes, furniture, high chairs, everything. I was so sad wondering where my Strawberry Shortcake tin lunchbox was.  My mom was outraged and said dad sold it for drugs and alcohol.  Dad recently told me that he sold it for revenge because he thought mom was visiting an ex-boyfriend in Pittsburgh.  It’s sad that he really didn’t know her character at all.  She had become a dedicated Christian and wanted their marriage to work.  We visited my family in Pittsburgh and came back to California to an empty house because of delusional, drug-induced thinking. 

Mom started leading a Neighborhood Bible School for kids called The Good News Club.  I was three years old when I first learned that Jesus wanted to forgive me of my sins so I could go to heaven.  I remember sitting in our home hearing this message and thinking in my little heart that I needed Him.  When I raised my hand, standing to give my heart to Jesus, I thought, “My mom is going to be happy.”  I genuinely had a conversion experience at that moment.  The Holy Spirit came to live inside of me and He never left.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Autobiography-Israel 2008

*This is a portion of the story of my third trip to Israel.*

I arrived at the Pittsburgh International airport with plenty of time to catch my Continental flight to Newark.  As I checked in on the convenient touch-screen, non-human machine, an attendant came to help me.  My passport shows two middle names, Melissa and Sarah, while my ticket only showed Melissa.  I was concerned this would cause an issue, but she assured me it wouldn’t.  As she touch-screened through prompts, she made me aware that I did not have an actual seat on the Tel Aviv connection in Newark.  She asked if I would accept $400 to wait and take another flight.

“Absolutely not!”  I retorted, “I must be in Tel Aviv so I can attend a meeting in Jerusalem on Friday.” 

She quickly pressed through the prompt that I had rejected and handed me a boarding pass without an assigned seat on it.  She advised me to go to the gate as soon as I reached Newark and tell them, “I must be on that flight.”

“How can one pay $1800 for a flight and not have a seat?”  I asked, sarcastically.  I didn’t really expect an answer.  Somehow, I supposed that throwing around the fact that the seat was expensive would solve my problem.  Obviously it didn’t.  I quickly started down the hall as my stomach growled, reminding me that during my rush to buy last minute items and pack, I had not eaten lunch.  After a quick, healthy dinner at Fridays, I sat down in my gate as a woman complained that flights to Newark are always delayed.  Her husband exhorted her, “It will not be delayed this time.”  I glanced at the screen:  Newark 5:55 p.m. ON TIME.  Then an announcement thundered, “Ladies and gentlemen, Newark flight 3245 has been delayed until 6:30 due to bad weather.”  

Around 7:30 we filed onto the plane and waited another hour before taking off.  I sat on the small plane next to a businessman. I pulled out my bible to cling to God for peace.  The stewardess walked past, noticing the bible and said, “That’s a really good book.” I smiled and replied, “Amen, it’s my favorite.”  “I have mine, too.”  She said.

I continued to read and meditate.  During these times of delay, I usually am keenly aware that the opportunity for a divine appointment is often in the works.  I remembered my prayer earlier that morning, “Lord, I ask for divine appointments today and the strength to walk through them.”

We exchanged friendly conversation as I read the back of my boarding pass.  You must be at the gate and checked in at least 30 minutes prior to boarding for an international flight.  Asking what time it was, I quickly realized that I probably would not be making my connection.  I looked out the window and prayed, “Lord, you are the one controlling the skies.  It was your hand that made this plane delayed.  I trust you.  I trust you to get me on the plane and if it isn’t your will I submit.”  I had such peace covering me.  The time 11 rang in my spirit.  I believed my next flight would be leaving at 11.  Then two thoughts starting running through my mind, along with the familiar nudging that I often mistake, ignore, or question. 

“Pray for him.  Pray for his wife.”

I looked at the man sitting beside me.  “Sir, may I be praying for you for anything?” I questioned, sincerely looking him in the face while trying to remain calm, even though this part of following the Lord is one of the most uncomfortable for me.

He looked around, seeming nervous, yet unsure of what to say.  I continued to softly look at him and cautiously asked, “What about your wife?”

“Yes, she could use prayer, she is really stressed out right now.  I want to move.  I want her to want to move.  I want a fresh start.”

The Lord began to minister through me.  As I encouraged him, I began writing a note for him and his wife.  Through the Holy Spirit, I said with confidence, “Your wife’s life is going to change dramatically within the next week or two.  When it does, please remember this conversation.  God loves you.  God loves your wife.”

“Oh, I will remember this conversation.  I will tell me wife about it.”

I ripped the back of my old boarding pass that had my hand written note on it.  He looked down as I handed it to him and read: “Phil 4:6-7.  Be encouraged.  Stay strong.” 

He looked at it, chuckled, folded the note and put it in the front pocket of his light blue, Ralph Lauren dress shirt.  He said he would be sure to read the Scripture with his wife.  The plane touched down shortly after our conversation ended.  I leaped up, asking, “What time is it!?” 

“10:45.” A voice in front of me said.  Peace still consumed me.  I assumed that meant I would make my flight and be on the way to Israel soon.  As soon as I got off the plane, I ran through the airport to gate C138, about 20 gates away from where I was.  I glanced at the departure screen. Tel Aviv 11 p.m. now.­   I read it, realizing that earlier it was the Holy Spirit telling me what time the plane would be leaving.  I continued to run through the airport.  I thought, “Will I actually make this flight?”

I began running through the food court, following signs for gate 138.  Then a sign read, Tel Aviv Secured Boarding with an arrow pointing the opposite way of the gate sign.  My mind began to spin.  “Which way should I go?”  I ran towards the impromptu sign, as I passed by rows of chairs.  I looked to my left at a blocked off area.  I called to a man behind a desk, “Where do I catch a flight for Tel Aviv?” 

“Go through there!”  He shouted and pointed towards the blocked area.  I squeezed through the small opening in the solid white, make shift gates.  I was met by 5 TSA officials on the other side.  They began speaking boldly and sharply, “You can’t just bust through here like that!  The plane is gone!”  I looked around frantically and continued to half walk half run towards the gate.  “Ma’am, the plane is gone!  You need to go to customer service.’  They gave no other option or hope. 

Tears poured down my face.  Even though I had decided to trust God, doubt began to rise in my heart, a lack of confidence.  Often times, it’s because I’ve already decided the outcome of the peace that passes all understanding.  When God’s peace doesn’t lead to what I think it should, I forget that His peace reminds me of His good, pleasing, and perfect will.  I sat down and cried as soon as I was away from the crowd.  I get very emotional traveling by myself so much.  The last 5 times I have flown have been very difficult experiences.  I’ve learned just to let the tears out.  Thoughts weren’t going through my mind.  I just cried with my face buried in my hands.  I stood up and began walking to customer service slowly.  It was a little before 11.  “I should have taken the $400!”  I thought.

I waited in line, crying.  I wondered a few times, “Why am I so emotional?”  A woman in front of me began talking with me.  She, too was on her way to Tel Aviv from Florida and had missed the flight.  “They even called ahead for me!”  She exclaimed.  I began to get angry.  I wanted compensation!  They knew I didn’t have a seat.  I wouldn’t have gotten on the plane, anyway!  I ranted in my mind as this Jewish woman began telling me that she runs tours for a hospital in the north of Israel near Lebanon.  The hospital has 450 underground beds in case there is another war, in addition to the 750 beds upstairs.  I told her about the Bridges for Peace food bank in Karmiel that has food reserved in case there is another war on the border.  I told her, “We should partner together.  Do you take volunteers?”  My mind reeled with ideas for Zealous as she said, “I knew you were gonna ask that.”  We began discussing legalities of insurance for volunteers and foreigners.  We both arrived at the desk at the same time.  The women impatiently told us, “We can’t give you compensation, and we are out of hotel rooms.  The best we can do is give you a pillow, blanket and meal coupons.”  I was outraged.  After exchanging a few more words, I asked in a monotone voice for the pillow, blanket, meal coupons, manager’s name and phone number along with hers.  As I walked away, tears again stung my eyes.  I sat down in front of a CNN broadcast and began to cry. 

Northern Israel

“Hamas and Israel agree to a truce to end rocket fire,” the news broadcaster boomed.  I looked up at the T.V. and watched Israelis and Palestinians picking up broken, bloodied bodies of friends and families.  The newscaster continued to share decisions that had been made with the help of Egypt while images of the fighting in Gaza continued to be shown.

My vision was blurred with tears as I watched the bias media reporting as if Israel was a co-terrorist in this Arab-Israeli on-going conflict.  “They are just defending themselves!”  I screamed in my heart.

I bowed my head and prayed, “Lord, it’s all worth it.  Sleeping in an airport overnight is worth it for your people, IsraelIsrael is worth it.” 

“Dawn!”  I heard someone shout.  I wiped my tears and looked to my left.  The Jewish woman from the line, Judy was calling me.  “I have an idea.” She called.

I walked over to her as she began to say, “We either ask for a second blanket and make a bed on the floor or we pitch in on a hotel room.”  Then her face lit up as a new idea popped in her mind, “I know!   I’m gonna use my age to get us a room!”  She exclaimed. The cute, grayed hair woman began walking back to the desk.  Judy went to the counter again and explained that she is 64 with bad knees and a bad back.  “I can’t be sleeping on the ground!”  She said, and turned and smiled at me.

“We really don’t have any vouchers left, but I will print you one, anyway,” said the clerk, “there is no guarantee that you will get a room, though.”

Judy and I ran outside to the shuttle for Howard Johnson, knowing that the chances of us getting a room were slim.  As we arrived outside, we were told that the Howard Johnson shuttle had just left.  I sat down and decided it was time to email Bridges for Peace headquarters in Israel to let them know I would not be arriving at the anticipated time.  The young man in charge of the wandering people outside continued to shepherd us from the corner of the sheltered sidewalk.  Judy looked down at me on the bench.  “Why don’t you use your girlyness to find out when the next shuttle is going to come?  Go see if you can get him to call the hotel.”  I looked at her and smiled.  She had used her age; I suppose I could return the favor and use my youthfulness.  I walked up to the guard, smiling.  “Hello.”  I said.  He looked a little shy and eager all at once to speak with me.  He quickly agreed to call the hotel for me and ran inside.  I walked back to Judy, laughing.  “Is he doing it?”  She asked.  Still laughing, I nodded my head, then shook my head and continued my email.  He came running out and let us know that the shuttle would be arriving any minute.  As he said this, it pulled up.  I had my laptop out and luggage in pieces.  I stood up, thinking “how can I repack and get to that shuttle quickly all at the same time?”  The young guard had the answer as he began carrying my stuff for me.  People milled all around us.  The guard continued to speak to me with blushed cheeks.  “Thank you so much for all you help.”  I thanked him with sincerity.  “People like you make our job much easier.”  He replied, after loading my luggage on the shuttle.  Judy and I exchanged glances and settled in our seat amongst many foreigners.  Our driver, from Ghana spoke loudly on his cell phone, while an old 80’s rock tune played on the shuttle.  Before I sat down, I saw the drivers name badge.  It boasted one of the names of God, Emmanuel.  I looked towards the Lord.  “God with us,” I thought as we sped away from the airport towards our unknown destination. God with us is the meaning of Emmanuel, the name of the Lord that consistently draws me to Him.

Me in the Mediterranean Sea on the border of Lebanon

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Saturday, October 20, 2012

Autobiography-The Beginnings of Chapter One

***As some of you may have read, I am writing my autobiography and am posting portions of it here.  This is all raw, unread, not reviewed.  I invite you on my journey of writing my FIRST book!  Hopefully, the first of many.***

I am the first born child of Mary and Michael, born in Oceanside, California.  My mom was 22 and my dad was 24 when they had me.  It was a long 24 hour labor.  My paternal grandmother, Phyllis, and mom often retell the story to me.  My mom wanted my Grandmother in the room with her, but the doctors kept making her leave.  Over and over, mom would call Grandma back and over and over, the doctors had her leave.  Finally, I came into the world at 5 pounds 4 ounces.  The doctor’s announced, “It’s a girl!”  Before I was even cleaned up, I was placed in my Grandmother’s arms as the doctor told her, “You deserve this.”  That day began a special bond between my Grandmother and me.  My Grandmother still laughs when she recalls my mom announcing, “I’m hungry!”  The nurses asked, “Well, what would you like?”  My ravished mother says, “Well, what did everyone else have?  I’ll have that!”  My Grandmother says it was a burger, my mother insists it was steak.  When my mother brought me home, my dad had made a huge sign on our beach front apartment saying, “It’s a girl!”  They were so proud, but with the happiness also came darkness.

Shortly after I was born, the police knocked on the door, arresting my father and handcuffing my mother.  They were being arrested because my father was growing pot outside of our home.  My mom said, “That’s his!  Why am I being arrested?”  The cops said, “You knew about it.  You should have reported him.”  My mom now tells me, “Why would I have reported my own husband?  I thought that was his thing.”  I began crying, just a few days old, and my mom told the police that she needed to nurse me.  They took the handcuffs off and let me feed, while they took my dad to jail.  They told my mom, “The only reason you’re not going to jail is because you’re nursing.”  That was the beginning of my life; the beginning of a long journey with a mom who was a brand new, born-again Christian, and a wild, alcoholic, drug-addicted dad.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Autobiography-The Beginning

Pittsburgh, Pa-Where God Met Me

Tears rolled down my face.  Peace surrounded me as I stared into the sun on that April day in 2002.  The cars drove swiftly by on a Pittsburgh city street as I encountered God.  The drunken fog rolled back; peaceful love entered.  The drugs wormed out of my body; a Holy Man entered in. My abuser mocked and fled the scene; warmth enveloped me, I fall in love.  That day changed my life forever.  It marked me.  I wasn’t fully aware of the encounter I was having.  I just knew I never wanted it to leave; the peace, the contentment, how I hungered for it.  I began to realize that God was chasing me.  He was jealous for me.  He plucked me out of my sin-stain world; the one I had created, feigned for, lusted after. I never recognized that He was always there, gently whispering truth to me.  Now, I wanted Him and He wasn’t letting go.  Even days after this encounter, I found myself walking through my hometown, in awe that I was finally free.  While my friends bathed in darkness, demonic activity surrounding their thoughts, feelings, controlling their movements; I had been forced into the marvelous light.  And I wasn’t leaving.  I had been given a second chance.
This was my second chance.  Maybe it was my last.

I’ve heard it said that people get religious when they go to jail.  It’s not true.  God reveals Himself to them because he loves prisoners, drunks, and even haughty women like me.  He chases the lowest of the low and makes His home with them.  He did that for me when I had abandoned all that had to do with God.
I spent 2002, my first year sober, alone.  I walked the railroad tracks through my home town singing Amazing Grace.  I enjoyed the summer outdoors in Western Pennsylvania.  I went swimming.  I went tanning.  I went shopping.  I went to church.  I became a brand new person.  I finally had a new beginning.

2002 was also a year full of demons that had become my norm.  Since my radical decision to become conservative by choice, not environment nor naivety, I was haunted by many past lifestyle choices.   I craved the love of a man to the point of tears.  Instead of bottles of booze and hard drugs, I smoked weed and read the bible.  I woke up to demonic sexual encounters creating chilled nausea.

In the following pages, I retell my encounter with a real deity and the ten year journey He took me on in my twenties.  It’s a raw ten years filled of triumph, failing, and unconditional love.  This is OUR story and it’s not over yet.

 Oceanside, California, my birthplace

Chapter One
I loved to party.  It was my life and my identity.  Even now, looking back, I wonder how much I’ll be able to remember since the party took such a toll on my mind.  Where do I even begin?  I want to be real.  I want to be raw, but sometimes I sound so religiously fake, but that's not who my God is.  Do I start with the abortion?  Is that where it began?  Was it the years of having a dad in and out of my life because of meth addiction?  Was it the fake Christian stepfather that was in ministry and beating my mom and his son at the same time?  Where DOES this story begin?  Did You see me dancing on the beach in California when I was a little girl?  Did You see my freedom?  Did You see me singing on the Oceanside tables for all to hear?  Did You know the bondage my life would become?  You knew you’d rescue me, that I’m confident of.  You saw the end from the beginning and still, I walked through it.  I walked through the devastation.  I walked through the years of bullying harassment at school.  So where does my story begin?  I guess I’ll start at the beginning.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

My Blog Turns Into Obedience on Sunday

So, I'm supposed to be writing a book.  My book, my story.  I've always felt that I was supposed to, but was waiting for the Lord to release me to do so.  He finally released me to in the Spring of 2010.  I was sitting on the porch of our hotel room in Hawaii, celebrating my recent engagement.  The Lord simply dropped two words into my Spirit, "It's time."

I am not anyone famous that one would want to read my autobiography, but I have a story.  We all do.  And I am writing mine.  Well, honestly, I've been writing it since 2010.  I haven't gotten very far and often have writer's block.  I've taken some good advice from a friend who just finished her first book. She said, "Make a time to write, pray, and then write as the Lord leads you."  She didn't say those exact words, but something along those lines.  It was SO FREEING for me!  I wasn't relying on the Lord to write my story.  I was trying to do it myself.  So, from now on, my weekly blog entry will be dedicated to writing my story, as I rely on God.  You, my readers, will get to read my story as it unfolds. Bits and pieces will be posted here for you to enjoy. I'm not writing in chronological order, so you'll get random tidbits. I hope you will love reading how God took an ex-druggie, low-income wanderer from a broken home and thrust me into world-wide ministry by the time I was 28.

This is my story .  This is His story.  This is Our story.

Kenya, Africa 2008

Sunday, October 7, 2012

The End of a Weekend

And tomorrow it starts over.

Working out early.

Being a mom while working from home.

Learning how to be a consultant with Premier Designs.

Loving my husband when it's more natural to be a nag.


Applying for school.

Paying bills.

Finding the secret, inner place of rest.

Praying for our Israel tour.

Getting to know the Lord, Hearing from Him, Trusting again.

"Man plans, God laughs."
Yiddish Proverb