Demystifying AI (Podcast #125 & transcript – 8:16)

“AI” is the trending topic all around me. From engineers to artists, everyone is amazed at what AIs have been able to accomplish, and wonders if we will truly be replaced by AI. I was curious too, and did some research. Here are some of my thoughts.

Reference Videos


You’re listening to Sabbath Café Podcast Episode 125 – Demystifying AI.   

This is a very complex topic. I’m only touching on the basics  here. I’ll include helpful videos links along with the transcript at  Now on to the podcast. 

Hi everyone welcome to the Sabbath cafe podcast. in this episode I’m going to talk about something that is the hottest topic around. We’re going to talk about AI. 

Recently a lot of people around me have been all over this topic. The academia and general public love ChatGPT. They’re very impressed by it. Wow. You type in this descriptor of what you’re looking for, and in a second or two, ChatGPT will put together this paper for you. So the academia world have been very impressed and also very alarmed – understandably.   

And it’s also a trending topic with the artists and creators. People want to know if AI can really take our place in making “art.”   And just how using AI will affect us as content creators in general.  Since I have  a tech background, and I’m also an artist, I thought I’d share some thoughts on this topic.    

So first, let’s take a quick look at what AI really is. AI stands for “artificial intelligence.”  I know AI seem very impressive to everyone…. But, “Artificial intelligence” is simply a sophisticated computer program that combines the power of a huge database with statistics and probabilities. So it can come up with the most likely answer or behavior that matches your request.  AI doesn’t create out of thin air. It doesn’t “create” the way that we do.  Because at it core, AI programs are still just machines that process data – lots of data – and putting them together in a pattern that is most likely to fit your goal. 

Now don’t get me wrong, these AI programs are amazingly complex, and what they’re able to do, is really impressive. And that’s why it often gives the people the wrong idea that  programs like ChatGPT  must be really smart or experienced because a real person would have to be smart and experienced to do the same thing.   

But that’s simply not true.  ChatGPT is not an expert of Shakespeare literature simply because it can give you a paper in Shakespeare’s style.  It simply analyzed Shakespearean text, found common words and patterns, and generated a paper that matched those patterns.  Ultimately, it couldn’t understand the love between Romeo and Juliet…it has no idea what love feels like.  Similarly, an AI “art” generator may be able to put out an image that looks pretty to some, but AI doesn’t understand what beauty is – until someone defined it in their database.  Computers are excellent at finding patterns and copying them… but it doesn’t think, process or feel like a real person.  

The artificial intelligence program cannot make anything new. It needs information or data that someone else has already created… so they can analyze it and learn the pattern.  So mainly I think of an AI program like a fancy tool.  And the “AI art” engines are really image generators.  And I feel like they’re kind of an automated Photoshop program… a “smart” Photoshop program. 

And the tool to me is simply a tool.  The problem comes up when we as people start to depend on the tool to do the work  that we are supposed to do. 

I recently saw a short video where this little boy – probably in elementary school- went to his room to do math homework.  And when his mom went to check in on him, she found out that he was secretly asking Alexa for the answers to his math homework.  So he was whispering to Alexa: “what is 54 – 27” (or something like that) and Alexa would whisper back the answer to the math problem.  And when I saw it, it just dawned on me… this was the perfect illustration.  

I’m sure this little boy was thinking… why does he need to learn math and do these stupid math problems when he can simply ask Alexa for the answer.  I’m sure we all wondered when we were young why we needed to learn math when we have calculators. But what he didn’t realize was that the purpose of his homework was not about getting the right answer.  It was to help him understand and learn the basics skills in math and problem solving.  Ironically, these simple skills are the basic building blocks to making a complex machine like Alexa. 

In a similar way, as we start to engage these AI tools all around us, I feel like we also have to be careful why and how we use them.  What are we trying to accomplish?  We have to be careful not to sacrifice and give up our own learning and creative process along the way.  

Lately I’ve been learning to focus more on my creative process instead of focusing on the end result.  And in my studio time, I often start just by playing around and experimenting colors and styles, and mediums. In the process, I’ve learned so much just about technique and styles.  And most importantly, this play time has done wonders to stir up creative new ideas. The result of these experiments weren’t always pretty.  But I’ve been learning so much just from this organic process.    

Learning and creating anything is hard work.  And it can be very tempting to use AI as a short cut. But as we move forward, I think we have to be careful to guard our own learning process and not to “contract” that out to a computer program.  At the end of the day we have to remember that there’s no substitute for work… there’s no substitute for going through the learning process… in putting paint to paper… or putting words on a page.  And no amount of AI can replace the good old creative process. 

So I’m curious about some of your experiences with AI… with ChatGPT.  And with some of these AI art generators. How has AI affected you? I love to hear about it.  

And that’s it for this episode. Thank you so much for listening. You can find resources and transcript for this episode at  If you enjoyed this episode, please subscribe to Sabbath Cafe Podcast on Apple or Spotify. Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you next time. 

Podcast #124 – (updated)Fasting From Negativity (8:36)(Live – Lent update)

Many join the fasting tradition 40 days before Easter to prepare for Easter Sunday. This year, I’m also joining them in fasting… but in a different way. Transcripts and more are available at

Hi everyone, happy 2023.  I hope everyone is doing well.  I can’t believe we’re already almost March. I took a few weeks off and I am working on the next podcast, but I did want to just jump in here and give everyone a quick update because it’s Lent season.  And it’s kind of funny because I have not fasted in a very long time and the Lord didn’t  put on my heart to fast either. But this year, somehow, he is bringing it back into my attention. 

And I guess it started because my YouTube feeds, I started to get these videos about  Lent and about fasting. And I thought, and after a few times I got the message.  So I started to ask the Lord, okay, is this something that I want to be doing?  And how does he want me to do it this year?  Because I don’t want to just follow the traditions. I kind of want to see what God has in store for that, how God wants to lead me in that area.  And it’s funny because the pastor that I’ve been following, he also had an invitation to do fasting and prayer for the Lent season. 

And I was like, oh, okay.  So that kind of took me down a different path.  So I started to ask the Lord. And so the day after, I was kind of having my tea and suddenly this idea just popped up.  And I just felt like the Lord is asking, how about you fast from the thoughts of negativity?  And I was like, huh? Now that’s a novel idea. 

Actually this year, God has been challenging me to change my mindset, to upgrade my mindset and to learn to shift it from a negative mindset to a more hopeful outlook.  And so when he talked about “Oh, why don’t you fast from negative thoughts?”  I thought… Perfect. That’s something that is in line with what I’m learning right now, so I just feel like it will work much better. And so I said okay. 

And so I think today is probably the third or fourth day that I’m doing this.  And let me tell you, it’s a lot harder than fasting from food. And so the fasting that I used to do is fasting from meat.  And what’s funny is when you do food fasting or that kind of fasting, you just really think  about it pretty much three, four times a day. So every time you eat, you will stop and think, okay, I’m going to fast.  So I have to make a decision to let go of meat or what I decide to give up.  So that’s like three, four times a day. 

And when I started to fast from negative thoughts, oh my goodness, now it went from three times  a day of me working through my fast. Now it’s about 30 times, more like 30 times a day of me fasting because I didn’t realize how often negative thoughts come up in my mind.  When I was just thinking about it, I thought, okay, so I’ll just be mindful of when I’m worrying about things or when I’m stressed out or when I’m frustrated. So that’s okay.  Fine, I’m being mindful of those now. And then one day, I realized I had made a mistake. It was some decisions I made, I was kind of like, ah, dang it, I think  God was recommending me to do something different and I probably should have done that.  And that just would have made my day so much easier. And I was beating myself up. 

And all of a sudden, I just felt the Lord went “ahem,” tapped on my shoulder: “Don’t beat yourself  up.  That’s negative thoughts.”  And I was like, oh, I did not realize… I guess beating yourself up does count as negativity because you’re trying to berate yourself.  And I was like, oh, that’s a good point.  So I stopped and go, “Thank you, Lord, I give that to You” and move on. 

And shortly after that, I was helping my parents take care of some stuff.  And all of a sudden, I just started to be worried about their needs and their health. And I just went on this downward spiral. And I didn’t realize how naturally my thoughts just went there.  And again, the Holy Spirit went, “Tap, tap. Just so you know, you need to stop that because we are fasting from negativity.”  

And so I had not realized how much of my mindset and how much of my thought patterns… I’m so used to giving into these thoughts. And so I guess that’s what God is challenging me… to let go of those things and to, learn to have a new mindset.  Because after all, Easter is really symbolic of hope and new beginnings. And so I really feel like maybe that is something that God is wanting to give me too… just this breakthrough in this old way of thinking and this old habits of mine that tend to be gray.  And that just is not very helpful. So starting the Lenten season this year, that’s what I’m doing. I’m fasting from negative thoughts.  I’m fasting from negativity.  And maybe later in the year when I’m all done, I’ll do another follow up and maybe gather my thoughts and share another update on how that went. 

So I just wanted to share this with you.  And you know, I want to just encourage you, for those of you that also are doing that  you feel like you want to do something for the Lenten season. I just want to applaud you and say, hey, encourage you just do what the Lord’s laid on your heart to do.  And it may be food, it may be drinks, just whatever He’s put on your heart.  It’ll be a great journey for the next 40 or 30 some days for this whole season. If you like, send me a comment to let me know what you may be fasting from during this Lenten season.  And so I hope you’re all having a wonderful year.  

And I am working on the next podcast. So hopefully I will get that out to you really soon. And have a wonderful week.  Thank you so much for listening to Sabbath Cafe podcast. I’m Michele and I’ll see you next time. 

Podcast #123 – Small Steps Lead To Big Changes (5:26)

I’ve been watching lots of 15 second mini videos lately. It’s easy to forget how much time it actually takes to bake a cake or cook a meal. Real life moves at a much slower pace. The road to success often starts with small and ordinary steps and takes much longer than 15 seconds.

Welcome to the Sabbath Cafe Podcast. This is episode 123: Small steps lead to big changes 

When I was younger, I used to want to do “big and great things” that can influence a lot of people. But as I get older, I’m learning that in order to do the “big things”, I need to start taking small steps because it’s these small steps that will help build up the skills and experiences that I need to eventually tackle something bigger and more significant.  

I lived next to a piano teacher when I grew up.  Everyday, I’d listen to the beautiful piano music that flowed out of her house.  And after a lot of begging, my mom finally agreed to let me take piano lessons.  However, when I started taking piano lessons, it was nothing like the beautiful music I’ve heard her play… Instead, I was only doing beginner exercises that sounded a lot like chopsticks, and I felt like I was fighting with my small and stiff fingers all the time. 

Like everyone who’s ever learned an instrument can tell you, these early lessons are repetitive and very easy.  But, even though these basic exercises feels simple and maybe a bit boring, it’s actually very important to practice them every day, and do them correctly.  Because they build muscle memory and muscle strength that your fingers need to play the piano well. And eventually, one small exercise after another, I could finally play those beautiful and sophisticated piano pieces like my teacher.   

Now a days, we’re so used to seeing a project competed in 15 second videos that we tend for forget that real learning takes time. And real change takes time too. And the process of learning and doing the work often don’t come with the “instant gratifications” that we get from scrolling on our phones. But, when we are persistent, and we continue to take small steps in the right direction. and that we take the time to do work of learning and growing, we get the ultimate satisfaction of finally having real and meaningful growth, and accomplish changes that will last. 

I recently found my old sketch book. To be honest, the pictures looked like kindergarten art projects. Back then, I was simply curious about drawing and sketching, and I made all sorts of mistakes. But when I looked through the pages, it was amazing to see how far I’ve come and how much I’ve grown in the last 10 years. When I started, I had never imagined that my skills can grow to where they are today.   And all I did was simply to keep drawing, keep sketching, and keep creating. Some of my sketches went straight to the waste basket, and a few eventually made it into art shows.  Now looking back, I can see that I learned something from every project whether they looked good or not. Every project taught me something, and they all helped me get to where I am today. 

And I seem to follow the same learning process in the other areas of my life too… When I was working through my anxiety issues, I also started with simple daily habits that eventually helped me to manage my anxiety much better.  

And through these things, I’ve learned the value of making small changes, and the value of doing the little things consistently. These little steps is what it takes for me to accomplish the final goal.  I’ve learned not to despise my small beginnings, and to be patient with the process even when I don’t see the results yet.  

Maybe you also feel discouraged about some of your projects, but don’t give up.  Be persistent and do the next thing.  Our journeys are all different.  Take your next step, and do it well.  Before you know it, you too will reach your destination.  Real learning and real change takes time. Don’t despise these small beginnings because small beginnings can and will lead to big changes. 

And that’s it for this episode.  Did anything specific come to mind as you were listening to today’s podcast?  What are some small steps you can maybe take in those areas?  I hope you can take a few minutes and just write them down.    

Thank you so much for listening, and I hope today’s podcast has encouraged you.  Have a wonderful week, and we’ll see you next  time. 

Podcast #122- Turning A Problem Into An Upgrade (5:20)

Whether it’s a hotel room or a plane seat, I love getting upgrades. Wouldn’t it be great if life is full of upgrades? Here is my recent “upgrade” story.

Ever since the pandemic, I often hear about shortages of many things.  I’m glad that I haven’t ran out of toilet paper.  I’ve always been able to find exactly what we needed when we needed it. However, recently, I did run into my own “empty shelf” experience. 

One weekend, I needed to get a health supplement for my husband. It’s a natural remedy that works really well for his  medical condition. I used to get them from my local grocery store. But when I got there, what I saw was the dreaded empty shelf.  In fact, it’s not just an inventory issue.  It looked like the store simply stopped carrying it.  It was really frustrating because I had a hard time finding it before.  And now, it seems like the only store that was carrying it is not an option anymore. And I have to start the search all over again. 

And of course my first reaction was panic. It was Sunday morning and we really needed it.  And when my only option didn’t pan out, I felt frustrated.  When I run into an problem, I often feel panic and my mind just blanks out.  Frustration and panic aren’t very helpful emotions.  They make me feel like I want to curl up into a ball and just hide in a corner… which doesn’t help at all to solve the problem. 

Thankfully, I know my own tendencies well. I took a deep breath, and waited for all these feelings to pass.  Deep down, I knew God has a solution.  Even though I felt overwhelmed emotionally, they are just temporary.   And when I calmed down, God reminded me that we actually had another store really close by that offered more organic products.  Sure enough, a quick search confirmed it.  When I got to that store, there wasn’t just one item like my old store had. There was a whole isle full of organic supplements.  And many of these were even on sale!  I never have to worry about finding these again!  

Suddenly, I understood what this lesson was all about. I don’t know why, but when I run into problems, instead of asking for help, I tend to feel like I have to solve it all on my own.  And for a while now, God’s been reminding me to learn to ask Him for help.   But I’ve been hesitant because I don’t like to change the way I do things.  So I’ve been resisting him.  I know, right?  Why do we resist the goodness of God?  Well, change is inevitable in life.  And God’s solution often is so much better and easier than I could ever dream of. When I run into problems, He really is always my best bet. 

Walking with God isn’t just about changing the way I do things.  It’s often about changing the way I think about things. Over and over again, God reminds me that He is ready and willing to help me through any challenge.  If only I would invite Him into my situation, He is happy to work with me to resolve any problem I have.  And this “empty shelf” situation was yet another learning opportunity for me.  As soon as I asked God to show me what He has planned, I found an even better option.  God has upgraded my supplier situation.   And at the same time, He also upgraded my experience of Him as my provider. 

When we run into an obstacle, because of our own perception, we often only see the problem itself.  I’m starting to realize that what first looks like a “problem” often ends up being God’s way of showing me a different and better solution. The key is if I’m willing put aside my initial frustrations and my own perceptions and simply ask Him to show me what He sees instead. 

So what obstacles have you run into lately?  Maybe God also has a better solution waiting for you.  Let’s invite Him into your situation and see what upgrades He has in mind for you. 

Podcast #121- Finding Peace & Hope in the Storm (5:49)

Life is a great adventure with sunny days and stormy days. How do we connect with God’s Peace and Hope in every situation? That’s my “homework” right now, and here’s what I learned.

My husband has been recovering from a medical condition, and the process will take over a year at least.  While we’re on this path, there are ups and downs.  Some days are rougher than others.  Recently, he just went through some complications that took 2 weeks for him to recover.  I’m grateful that he’s doing quite well now, almost back to 100%.  But when we’re in the middle of this downturn, I was often exhausted, both physically and spiritually.   

Honestly, when you’re dealing with a serious life issue, any amount of self-reliance goes out the window.  We come face to face with our own limitations, and it hits you just how much of life is really out of our control. Faith and hope can feel very elusive during these times.   

So when we face hardships, how do we find our bearings?  How do we connect spiritually? How do we find encouragement?  These are the questions that came up for me, and I’ll share some things I learned this time around.  

Taking things one day at a time 

It’s very easy to feel discouraged in a season like this. Especially if the situation drags into weeks or months with no end in sight.  One night, I was lying on my bed simply exhausted. The Lord reminded me of Matthew chapter 11 where Jesus invited all who are tired and weary to come to him… That He is gentle and humble. As we give our burdens and cares to Him, we will find rest for our souls.  At that time, I was internalizing a lot of worry and concern, but I wasn’t conscious of it. I was kind of in a “survival mode” sort to speak… And when God reminded me of what Jesus said, I started to tell Him about what was troubling me. And one by one, I gave my burdens to Jesus in prayer.   And in return, I accepted and received His burden that is light.  At the end of my prayer, I felt much lighter, and had one of the best night sleep in a while.     

There is so much wisdom in not carrying stress or anything negative into the next day.  I found that taking things one day at a time was what really helped me not get burned out. In the morning, I rested in God’s mercies that are new every morning.  And at night, I gave my cares and negativity that have accumulating all day to Jesus.  As I received His peace, I slept better, felt more hopeful, and was refreshed next morning. 

Giving thanks for every step forward

And another key lesson I learned was to Give thanks for every step forward… no matter big or small. 

Our recovery process really felt like a roller coaster ride with lots of ups and downs. After a while, I felt kind of disappointed in the process because it took longer than I expected.  That was when God reminded me to give thanks through out my day. 

Thanksgiving has shifted me out of negativity and depression before.  And it was also a gamer changer for me this time. I started to thank God for every small signs of healing and restoration even when I felt down. Right away, I sensed a glimmer of hope and faith rise up in my heart. I started to feel hopeful again.   

Because we’re in the middle of this process, it’s easy to get too focused on the current problem, and forget the many things God has already done.  Thanksgiving not only helped me shift my focus onto the positive things God is doing, it also reminded me of how God took care of us in the past, and that He will continue to help us in this process. 

Looking back, I can see how God was leading me every step of the way.  There was always an encouraging word or promise everywhere I turned.  In my prayers, He was trying to help me change my focus… to shift from a grey and negative outlook to His perspective that is full of hope and joy.  And as I found out, hope and joy are powerful things. I felt more positive and hopeful throughout the day even though the circumstances still looked the same to me. Focusing on one day at a time, giving thanks, and learning to have a positive outlook really helped me not to only survive this season, but to come out feeling more encouraged. 

And that’s my podcast for this week. Working on this episode was really helpful for me to look back and remember what I learned.  I hope it’s also encouraging for all of you out there.  

Podcast #120- Receiving prayer and love for yourself (4:21)

God reminded me lately that I also need to drink in the love of God as I pray for others. And this is the perfect season to take a pause and just remember His deep love for us. Happy Easter!

I happened to finish this episode on Easter week.  This is the perfect season to open our hearts to receive the deep love of God. Here’s a quick update on what God showed me this week. Enjoy and have a blessed Easter. 

Recently, I’ve been praying for my parents. I have this crafted prayer written out for them, and I was praying for them pretty regularly.  And today when I was praying for them, God sort of reminded me that I can pray for myself in the same way.  And I thought that’s a pretty good idea.  Because I was praying for God to release peace and joy in my parents lives. And I certain can use a lot of peace and joy in my day too.  

And so I started to pray over myself “Michele, I just pray that the Lord will pour out joy and peace into your life today.”  And as soon as I said those words, I just totally choked up. I was so surprised.  That’s not the reaction I expected.  I had no idea how tired I’ve been, and how much I really needed that prayer for myself.  

I think for the last 2 years or so, I’ve been in this mode where I’m so focused on taking care of everybody else around me… that I forgot that I needed to take time out and take care of my own needs too. I’ve been in this task oriented mode. It’s funny because when I prayed over myself, suddenly, I stopped focusing on what I have to do.  I stopped being a “Martha” – if you know what I mean.  I opened up my heart to receive the prayers and all of these pent up frustrations just came pouring out.  

I think for many of us who are care takers by nature, we tend to focus a lot on other people.  So often times, we will ignore our own needs. And I’m grateful that today, God reminded me to just take a pause and pray over me. And that I deserve the kind of attention and care that I usually give to others. And that God also wants to give me His love and peace and joy. And that it’s important for me to stop doing, and just receive His loving kindness. 

And that reminds me of that great verse that we should love others as we love ourselves.  It’s not one or the other.  But that even as we love on other people, we should remember to also love ourselves too… To pour out and receive the love of God for ourselves.  

So I just wanted to share that quick note.  To share with all my listeners. To share with everybody out there today, in this season, please take some time for yourself.  Please do something nice for yourself. And if you’re used to caring for others or praying for others, please say a prayer for yourself, and embrace and enjoy and soak up that loving kindness of God. 

So I just wanted to say that and share it with everyone.  Just something that I learned and received from the Lord today.  And that’s just a quick update from me! 

As I mentioned before, I’ve been feeling a little worn out, so I took a little personal retreat earlier this year.  I am working the next series which hopefully will be coming out soon.  Thank you so much for listening.  Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat with you next time. 

Podcast #119 – The Power of Our History With God (5:04)

Newer isn’t always better. Our spiritual history may actually help us get the breakthrough we’re looking for.

Welcome to the Sabbath Café Podcast.  You’re listening to episode #119 – the power of our history with God. 
I was sorting through some old notebooks the other day, and a note card fell out.  It was a crafted prayer I wrote about 5 years ago for my family.  I had tucked it away, and totally forgot it.   
 It was a small card, and filled up front and back with a prayer I wrote about a broken relationship.  At that time, it felt like the situation was never going to change. These relationships have been broken for years. Honestly, I didn’t know if my prayers were going to make any difference at that point.  Still, I remembered that no request is too small or insignificant to God. And sure enough, after praying this crafted prayer for about a year, a breakthrough happened!  God answered my prayers and reunited a family!  It was nothing short of a miracle.   
As I read it, I was amazed that most of my requests have been answered.  Changes didn’t happen overnight, but they did happen.  As I remembered how God made possible what I thought was impossible, my faith rose up.  Suddenly, all of the negativity I felt that week vanished. 
In our social media world, we’re always looking for the latest news and trends.  We rarely take the time to reflect on our past.  To be honest, I feel that my generation, me included, don’t really understand the value and purpose of history. I think that’s why I didn’t recognize the value and power of my own history with God. Our history with God is made up of all of the interactions and experiences between us and God. Every prayer He answers adds to that history.  When it comes to building up our faith and spiritual maturity, our history with God can be a powerful tool. 
History gives us perspective.  It shows us the big picture and reminds us that real change takes time.  It helps us to be patient and wait for God’s timing.  When we can’t see the hand of God at work, our history reminds us that God is indeed still working.  When we feel discouraged in the middle of the storm, it reminds us that our journey is not finished yet.  Every experience we have with God, whether big or small, adds to our faith. And every interaction we have with God brings our faith to the next step.  
When I feel anxious and fearful, these negative emotions can be so overwhelming that I feel paralyzed.  My mind jumps to the worst case scenario and I sink into a pit of negativity.  And that’s exactly what happened to me recently.  I felt the challenges I had were so big… so beyond me that I couldn’t muster up any faith to pray.  But when I found that prayer card, and remembered how God answered the prayers that I thought were impossible, my faith rose up.  I remembered that God is bigger than my challenges.  I remembered that despite my limitations, and my lack of faith, God really can do above and beyond what I can ask, think or imagine.  
Are you also facing a difficult situation lately?  Do you feel like you’re dealing with a giant in your life?  Maybe it’s time for you to take a break and remember how God has showed up for you in the past.   Push the pause button on your worries, and think about your own history with God.   If you keep a journal, this is the perfect time to take it out and read a few pages.  Not only will you remember God’s faithfulness to you, you’ll also be encouraged by how far you’ve come and how much you’ve grown in your own journey.  And you may even see that your current challenge is not as big as you thought.  God can and He will help you walk through it, just like He did before.  And you will come out of the storm amazed and transformed. 
And that’s our podcast for this week.  I’d like to wish everyone a very happy holiday season.  Thank you so much for listening.  Merry Christmas and we’ll see you in the new year! 

Podcast #118 – Just an ordinary day… (4:25)

In the social media world, we all like to share our best sides. But when God shows up, even mistakes or missed opportunities are turned into blessings. Here’s one of mine.

Hi everyone, this is Michele, and welcome to Sabbath Café. 

Most of the time, we like to share our “success stories”… Like when God answers our prayers or when life goes smoothly, and we live happily ever after!  Those times are great, but honestly, most of the time, life doesn’t work out that way.   Everyday life is messy.   Most of the time, it’s not so clear cut.  It’s not really black and white.  There are many shades of gray.  Often I don’t know if I’m hearing God or if it’s just my own thoughts.  But you know, that’s all just part of life. As I found out this week… even when I don’t get things quite right, God will still make it a beautiful experience. 

So this is what happened… 

One afternoon, I was out running errands. I was driving along, and just had this thought… maybe I should take a left turn instead of a right turn as I normally do.  And I just thought… taking a left turn would be… kind of out of my way.  I was in a hurry. And I was thinking, “Why?  That doesn’t make sense…  Maybe it’s just my own thoughts… My adventurous side chiming in…” Some time that happens.   And so I decided to ignore that, and kept driving along.  

Sure enough, not a minute later, I came to a dead stop in this bumper to bumper traffic on a local street.  Now it wasn’t really traffic hour…. so it was kind of weird why suddenly we’re kind of stuck.  And I can feel people getting annoyed.  I can feel the cars behind me getting impatient. Thankfully, I didn’t need to get somewhere at a certain time.  So I just settled down, and follow the traffic. And about a couple of blocks down, I saw the problem. The traffic light went out at an upcoming intersection.  Because it was out, every car had to stop – all 4 ways. And that’s what started the backup. 

And that’s when I realized “Wow, if I had made a left turn back then… I would have just completely avoided this.”  I even made a mental note to myself… that on my way back to take the other route… the longer route… so I can just bypass this whole mess. 

Now what’s interesting is… if I had taken that left turn earlier, I would have avoided all this. And I’d never know that this route had problems. I would’ve drove to my destination with no issues, and thought to myself… “That was kind of weird… Was that just my own idea?  What was that all about?”  Because everything would have gone pretty smoothly.  

It made me wonder… how often something like this have happened –where God was helping me out, and I had absolutely no idea. 

I tend to look for “signs” to see if God is involved in my life…. And when I have a normal day where nothing special happens, I used to feel like God was aloof and not interested.  But this whole experience showed me that God really is speaking… has been speaking… and is reaching out to me… even when I’m running errands, but I’m the one who didn’t see it. 

And I think God is also teaching me about how He interacts with me in real life.  It’s not a big deal to Him if I make a mistake.  Everything really can be a learning opportunity, and His grace is big enough to turn my every mistake into a blessing. 

So no matter what kind of week you’ve had, I hope you’ll also ask God to show you if He has any insights for you. He may turn your very ordinary day also into something extraordinary. 

And that’s our podcast for this week.  Thank you so much for listening.  Have a wonderful week, and we’ll chat next time. 

Podcast #117 Quick Update!

Hi everyone! Thanks for being patient. Life threw us a curve ball this last 6 months, so I’ve not been able to post here. Thankfully, things are settling down a bit, and I’ll be posting more podcasts and blogs here shortly. Here’s a mini-podcast to share a quick update with everyone.

Podcast #116 Finding Friendship (Finding Freedom part 3) (4:50) (File updated)

Here’s the conclusion of Finding Freedom series… As it turned out, I also found a great Friend in the process.

Part 1: Ep 114: Finding Freedom
Part 2: Ep 115: Freedom to Explore

Here’s the podcast transcript:

What I learned is that God wants to talk with me.  He loves the world, but He wants to connect with me, personally… And He wants me to get to know Him too.  

Because at the end of the day, the real purpose in developing this connection with God is learning how to do life with God.  It’s like having God as your… travel buddy.  It’s learning to relate to God and developing a friendship with God rather than just being a coworker with God… like I think a lot of us grew up with.    

I realized that in order for me to go deeper, I have to transition my relationship with God into a friendship.  Into understanding how that works because Jesus says “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.”  So in your walk with God, there will probably come a point where it will transition.   There will come a point where Jesus will want to take you to that next level.  To relate also with you as friends. And that’s a whole different world, right there.  And so that’s what I love about my time with God.  It’s learning that there’s a freedom… an inner freedom.  An internal freedom that does not depend on your circumstances. That does not depend on whether I get to go to church or not because now the focus has shifted.  It’s shifted from what I do outside to learning how to be friends with Jesus.  

Honestly, the time we spend at church and with our Christian community is only a fraction of our lives.  If we only know how to relate to God when we’re focused on church life, then we’re missing out on the chance to experience God in all the other area of our lives… 

It’s learning to experience God in the day to day things.  It’s learning to see how God helps us to find solutions in the problems we face at work.  And how God shares His perspectives about the latest news headlines.  Even how He comforts and encourages us when we go through illness and difficulties.  

I think most of all, that’s what I love most about bringing God into my personal life. In a sense, God stepped off the pages of the Bible, and became real.  Even though I still can’t see Him or touch Him, but He’s become a closer friend than a real person can be for me.  He’s someone I can depend on, and someone I can confide in.  And someone who knows me so intimately, and yet is always on my side. 

And that’s why even though many of us are unable to gather with our church community during this season, I actually didn’t see that as a challenge. In fact, it has been a wonderful opportunity for me to press even deeper into the things of God.   

Now when I do get together with my friends, when I do get together in my community, that’s great.  But my growth, and my relationship with God… and the depth, and my maturity with God… does not depend on any of this external things anymore. And actually, it’s quite fun… me being able to just explore and go as fast as I can, and explore anything I’m curious about… so that’s been very exciting too.  I don’t really have to worry about what people think I should or shouldn’t do anymore.  That really doesn’t matter.  

I have the freedom to ask God any question that comes to mind.  And God is not going to be offended or shocked… because He already knows anyways. It’s a relief to know that He accepts me as I am… always. 

So no matter where you’re at in your life, it’s the perfect place and time to talk with God. He is always ready to meet you and I with a hug and some fun insights about your situation if you’re interested. 

I’m excited just thinking about the adventure God has in store for you. 

And that’s all we have for this week’s podcast.  Again, thank you so much for listening, and have a wonderful week.  See you next time.