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. 

Embracing Solitude – the art of being alone

I started thinking about this topic during the holiday season. The holidays are all about folks gathering and celebrating together. Ironically, I think that’s why it can make people more aware of being alone. In this social media age, “being alone” gets a bad reputation. I see many books and conferences about how to develop and find community, but not many books that explore the other side of reality – of being alone. Being alone and feeling alone are different. One can be physically alone, and still feel content. On the other hand, even when surrounded by family and friends, one can still feel isolated and disconnected.

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Image by Jill Wellington from Pixabay
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Podcast #105 How my anxiety affected my perspectives

Pod-logo-aqua-square-3000x3000-medium-qtyThe title sounds really serious… but this podcast is really just about my latest silly, *facepalm* / “Homer Simpson” moment… I promise, it’ll make you feel much better about your day. 😉

Processing Through Regrets

What I find challenging about the feeling of regret is that I can’t change the past. What is done is done. I don’t know about you, but I have a bad habit of repeating these memories in my mind. Every time I remembered the situation, it stirred up the feelings of shame and disappointment. Recently, I’ve been learning a new way to respond to these feelings of regret. And it’s very simple – let go of the past and move forward. 🙂 Yep. It’s that simple… but simple doesn’t mean it’s easy. When a friend first said that to me, it was really hard for me to receive. The feeling of regret is usually accompanied by guilt, and I could not let go of the guilt for some reason.

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My Anniversary Reflection

This year will be my fifteenth wedding anniversary.  Yep. That’s right. Fifteen years. It is hard for me to fathom the fact that I’ve been in a relationship or even a friendship with someone for this long. Unlike most couples, I was the one who had an issue with commitment when we got engaged.  It’s not that I didn’t love my husband, but the sheer enormity of a lifetime commitment simply blew my mind. My husband, Mr. J, had no such concerns. Even though we’ve only known each other for a short time, as an intuitive visionary, he can already see us together for the long haul. Our differences were quite obvious even back then.

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My Creative Beginning

I didn’t discover my gift of painting until my early 40’s. As a child, I didn’t enjoy drawing. Reading was my choice of pass time. Art classes at school always stressed me out because I was pretty bad at it compared to my classmates. I didn’t have an aesthetic sense about color either. Let’s just say that my high school friends often commented on my interesting choice of wardrobe. Yet, in spite of these negative experiences, I’ve developed into a painter in the last few years. This past Christmas season, I finally felt confident enough to give away a few paintings as Christmas gifts. My families were pleasantly surprised when they received these presents. However, no one was more surprised than me about my hidden artistic gift.

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