Divine Encounters…is LIVE

Divine Encounters…IS LIVE!! Available on Amazon (Kindle eBook & paperback), Barnes and Noble (Nook), almost finished uploading to Kobo (eBook); available soon in Target.com, Walmart.com...

I’m in happy shock that it is out doing what it was created to do, sent forth with prayers and blessings to accomplish its purpose. This has been such an amazing journey; I hope I get to do it again! 😊 For those of you who supported, prayed, encouraged and gave feedback along the way, you made such a difference to me and I am very grateful. These are things I can hold and treasure up in my heart.

If you purchase and read my book, I would be so thankful if you would leave a review/rating. It helps me grow as an author and it keeps my book from getting lost in the algorithms and bottomless pit of Amazon books, hahahaha!

Ahhh…it’s time to rest my brain a bit now. I can call myself a published author and I still can’t quite believe that’s me.

Cheers!

Melissa

People Watching

Sitting downtown at the park with my Peets cappuccino, I settle in to observe people; one of my favorite pastimes. There is so much to learn through the countless ways people express themselves and interact with others.

There are several paved paths in the park allowing walkers and runners to take different routes each time they go around the square.  It is interesting to see the paths each person chooses to walk.  Some strictly follow the square path circling the park and do not deviate from that. Others choose a different intersecting path each time, making their jaunt around the park unpredictable to those observing them. Different personalities at play.

From my bench, I spot a group of 60-something ladies in their comfy walking outfits, white shoes, and brightly colored sun visors, walking 2-3 abreast loudly chatting about the choices their grown children and grandchildren are making. The ladies appear oblivious to the rest of the park goers as they march in serious conversation often peppered with laughter, stemming from a long-time camaraderie. These ladies must know each other and the inner workings of each family on a deep level to have earned the right to share their opinions. It’s entertaining to guess how they first met and the careful dance they did around each other until familiarity, trust, and love grew into the friendship they now share. I want friendships like this – women who have a place in my heart that is so woven and interconnected that we weather all kinds of storms and victories together, never hesitating to rally around each other with love, laughter, encouragement, and respect. I am grateful for the precious women that fill this spot. I say a prayer for those I’m blessed to call friends.

Across the square, there are 4 or 5 teens hanging out at one of the tables. Backpacks, phones, and food are strewn between them as they take selfies, gossip, and laugh at TikTok videos. One young lady appears to lead the pack. When she laughs, the others laugh and when she stands up to dance to a favorite song, all eyes are on her and a couple of them get up and mimic her dancing. She is the first to grab for the snacks and the others defer. Interesting how different personality types drift together; the leaders and followers, the outgoing and introverts all have a place. As I observe them, I wonder what God’s plan is for them. They each have unique gifts and talents. It is easy to watch a strong Type A leader and imagine them going far, but sometimes it’s the quiet observers, who take it all in and ponder, who quietly take the world by storm. I pray that they each find their place and people; that there is always someone in their corner who supports and loves them deeply.

Next to the water fountain an older man takes a break from his walk. He follows the same paved path for each turn around the park. This is not the first time I have seen him here, walking his predictable route. He walks with purpose, but at a slow pace. His comfortable shoes and tan slacks with a t-shirt are his usual outfit. As he sits a spell, I notice him looking at each person as they move past him, as if willing them to notice him and spend a few minutes shooting the breeze. I’m close enough to see his wistful gaze, as if he remembers other walks in this park, perhaps with his wife or a close friend that he has since lost. Are nostalgia and memories his close friends now? It gives me an ache in my heart for him. I imagine Jesus next to him on the dark blue bench bringing him comfort, peace, and a balm for his loneliness. The ultimate best friend. I say a prayer for this gentleman, asking for some joy, peace, and camaraderie.

As the morning moves along, the playground fills with moms and kids. Different parenting styles are evident this morning and I find it fascinating. There is the group on one side of the playground, who have taken up an entire section of the granite bench that encircles the play area. They are so orderly and neat! Snacks, tiny water bottles and juice filled cups are lined up carefully. Each child is told to get a big drink and stay hydrated before going on their climbing, shrieking, energy draining adventures. Most obey and take big drinks except for a couple of them, who cannot resist the pull of play. They peek at their moms, take the tiniest, fastest sip possible and dash off. These moms seem to enjoy their together time, but always with a sharp eye on all the shenanigans happening on the slide and big climbing tunnels. I hear warnings of “be careful, slow down, that’s too high and use your words!”, shouted from the bench, all the while still managing to maintain the flow of conversation.

Another pair of moms and kids occupy a spot next to the well-organized group. These moms have a couple of backpacks full of random snacks, toys and juice boxes spilling out. They are more carefree in their playground rules. I hear less shouts and warnings from these two. They are intent on their conversation and less focused on the playground interactions, which the children are quick to take advantage of while they can.

The children and their interactions with each other are fascinating! I love how the lone child there with his mom, is included in the games and treated as if he has been part of their group forever. Easy inclusion; no posturing and judging. Adults could learn a lot from that.

Looking at these little lives, I imagine the mark each of these children will leave on the world. I ask God to smooth out and make their paths straight; to open doors that keep them going in the right direction and for His hand of protection to be all over them.

Under the leafy trees next to the pathway lies a homeless man wrapped in his sleeping bag. His isn’t sleeping. His arms are behind his head as he looks up into the leafy foliage. A suitcase full of his belongings and life is settled next to him, along with a water bottle and a crumpled chip bag.  I watch as the park walkers notice him there. The reactions are varied. A woman with her coffee and small bag of something yummy from Peets changes direction and follows a different route. Is it to avoid passing him? Does she fear having to acknowledge him or worry she will be asked for something? Others pass him by without a second glance, intent on the path in front of them or their phones. I can tell they are very aware of him, but don’t want it to be known. Are they afraid of what they don’t understand and haven’t experienced? Is it fear? What if the person suffers from mental illness and acts erratic, what do they do then? How lonely and hurtful it is to be unseen.

Eventually an older man and his dog stop and engage him. The dog sniffs and wags as the man pets and interacts, maybe for the first time in a while. After their pleasantries and chat are finished, I watch the man’s face. He looks after the one who stopped and made him feel seen. His face reflects that joy of acknowledgement and it’s a lovely thing to see. Who knows what that simple act will do for this man and his life trajectory? We never know for certain what our interaction with another human being does for them, but we can rest assured there is an effect, either positive or negative; never neutral. I offer a prayer for provision, protection, and opportunity for his circumstances to change.

There are frequently lone walkers in this park. They seem to be tranquil and at peace on the outside, but I wonder what burdens lie on their hearts. A few take a seat on benches and watch the world go by. Maybe they are taking advantage of a few moments alone to recharge. Maybe they are on a break, getting in some steps or waiting to meet a friend.

As I sit, I wonder if there are fellow people watchers quietly observing me. Are they trying to divine what I’m about, what my facial expressions and body language are speaking and what my heart holds? I wonder if they can tell that I’m a fellow observer trying to glean insight into the human spirit.

Psalm 139:2-3 (ESV), says, “You know when I sit down and when I rise up; you discern my thoughts from afar. You search out my path and my lying down and are acquainted with all my ways.”

God is the ultimate people watcher. He sees, knows, and discerns everything we are about and all that hurts us and heals us. It makes me happy to know how carefully watched over and known I am. We only see what people choose to reveal and try to discern what it all means, but God…He knows our inner workings, sees past the persona we offer to the world and the parts we so desperately want to hide. To be fully know and greatly adored; that is relief, rest, and peace.

Random thoughts on quarantine, prayers and thankfulness…

This is a weird time to be in right now. The requirement of being home is quite different than wanting to be at home or choosing to be home. When I want or choose to be home, it’s like giving myself the gift of permission to just “be” and that feels safe and cozy and pleasant, something to savor and appreciate. With a lot of things feeling off kilter and out of balance, I feel a bit lost in being home and it not being my choice. Errands that were annoying and exasperating a few months ago, begin looking so lovely! An opportunity to get out! Go! Do! Accomplish! But, that’s not how life is right now. It is eerie being out, strange to feel exposed and vulnerable just doing what I always do. It is odd to need a mask on my face to feel some semblance of safety, yet not really knowing where the threat is coming from…is it the guy over there by the bread? The woman, with no mask on, coughing, by the eggs? The seemingly strong and fit younger guy browsing the veggies? Or the couple walking by with their dogs, trying to enjoy some sun? It is a disconcerting knowing there is a real threat out there but having no idea exactly where it is lurking or if I am the threat to someone else.

I love to pray, intercede and talk to Jesus during the day. There are times when I feel unsure and overwhelmed by all the need in the world and next door and in the next state and in my own home, that I literally do not know how to pray for all of this. We haven’t experienced this before and there isn’t a “set way” to do it. This truly is beyond us. But God… sitting on my patio thinking about how to pray for ALL of this, God reminded me of Romans 8:26, “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.” That’s comforting. He knows how this is going to turn out. He knows what He is going to do and not do, who He is going to equip and raise up for such a time as this. It’s been in preparation for eternity and this virus has not taken God by surprise. He’s gifting scientists and researchers and healthcare workers with wisdom, creativity and intellect to tackle this and we aren’t left all alone in it. Filtered through His hands. When we don’t know what or how to pray, it is perfectly ok to say, “Here it is God, here’s all the need and fear and illness and death and unknown, so just here, take it, heal it, work it out and please just give us You.” He’s enough.

There is a book I like reading each morning – Jesus Calling. I loved yesterday’s reading. “When you focus on what you don’t have or on situations that displease you, your mind also becomes darkened. You take for granted life, salvation, sunshine, flowers and countless other gifts from Me. You look for what is wrong and refuse to enjoy life until that is “fixed.” Negative focus darkens the mind. Hmmm. Yes, I think it does. Right now, there are a lot of things that are not going our way, that seem impossible to surmount, that are terrifying and unknown and create so much fear and panic and feelings of lack. I think it is healthy to acknowledge all the things that displease, frighten and anger us. If ignored and denied, those feelings and fears fester and grow and threaten to take over. But, once looked at and acknowledged, maybe we can choose to look about us with clear eyes, open minds and expansive hearts to find things to be thankful for that are good, positive and bring joy. What if we were present and not attempting to rehearse the future, imagine what post-virus life is going to be like and just be and see what is in front of us. There will be terrible things, but I need to believe there will be just as many, if not more, good things right in front of us; maybe hidden by the large looming pandemic, but still there. Simple things like warm sun, chilly rain, 11 day old baby kittens in my guest room, sunrise and sunset, birds singing, coffee on the patio, a walk in the neighborhood looking at all the flowers, the actual chance to sit, to be, to stare at nothing…

I know this is random and disjointed, so thank you for sticking with me, if you made it this far, but this is my mind right now. I don’t have this figured out and I don’t know how to do this either. I can guarantee my mind will go to dark places, probably even today, but I know I can pull my thoughts back up and refocus as many times as I need to and so can you. The one constant I know completely and has never failed me is Jesus. He’s never left us and He’s not going to now.

I pray His peace and presence all over every one of you!

Isaiah 55:11 – A Word of Encouragement for those with children in our lives

Good morning friends! I want to share and pray over you these scriptures, whether you are a parent, grandparent or are blessed to have children in your lives in some way. I have a 17 year old daughter and an almost 13 year old son. I began this habit of praying God’s Word over my husband and I, to strengthen us and guide us to be the parents He wanted us to be and for us to be a good influence in the lives of our children and the children we are blessed and honored to know and love. I ask God daily to let this be a legacy we leave for our children; that their parents prayed God’s Word over them and over our family, anticipating great and amazing things from God.

Jeremiah 29:11 is such a beautiful promise, reminding us that He knows each one of us and the children in our lives and that He has good, good things in store for us; more than we could ever hope for or even imagine. He is the God of the miraculous and can turn around every hurt, poor choice and mistake into something that strengthens us and our children; beauty from ashes; sadness into singing; despair into joy and pain and abuse into a lovely legacy of hope. He is our hope.

Jeremiah 29:11

 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Isaiah 55:11 (NKJV) is one of my all time favorite verses. I pray it and say it out loud often during my day.

“So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.

This is a promise from God that when His Word is spoken, when He sends it forth from His mouth, it WILL accomplish His will. This brings me such hope and encouragement. I hope you will sit with this verse and pray it over any and all situations happening in your life right now and the lives of those you love. His Word DOES accomplish His will, it will not return void.

Deuteronomy 11:18-19

Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up.”

Father God, I ask that Your Word will be fixed in our hearts and our minds. I pray that Your Word will sink deep into our souls, so that we know You intimately and are able to teach our children all about You. May we be examples of Christ’s love, sacrifice and character to the children in our lives that watch what we do and see us as role models. Give us many opportunities in our day to speak Your truth to the children in our lives and to lavish them with Your love. Give them teachable hearts and guide our words.

Psalm 78:4,6

“We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the Lord, about his power and his mighty wonders…So the next generation might know them – even the children not yet born – and they in turn will teach their own children.”

Father, I pray that You will put a passion and a strong desire in us to tell our children about Your power, love, might, strength and kindness so that they will grow up to tell their children and their children’s children. Remind us to share the miracles You have done in our lives and in their lives. Let us leave a godly legacy of trust, faith and hope in Jesus.

Proverbs 22:6

“Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.”

Give us wisdom to train the children in our lives in the way they should go. Give us strength and patience and lots of love. Help us to hold their hearts gently as we speak Your truth and love and mercy into their lives. I pray that when our children are old, they will not turn from all that they have been taught, but will love You and follow hard after You, beyond what we could ever hope or imagine. May Your will be done in their lives.

Ephesians 6:4

“Fathers [Mothers], do not exasperate your children; instead bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord.”

I pray for discernment, self-control, wisdom and grace as we parent our children and teach those that we have influence over. May we bring our children up with loving discipline, wise instruction that comes from You and lots and lots of grace. May our home be one of kindness, safety, compassion, forgiveness and grace with wise and realistic expectations. May we be good examples of treating others with love and being the hands and feet of Jesus to all whom we come into contact with during our day. Let us show generosity, hospitality and understanding to those in our spheres each day. May we be good examples and may our actions speak louder than our words, as we seek to show the world how very much You love them.

Here is some  encouragement as you make your way each day from Galatians 6:9:

“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

Peace, friends; God has You and those you love in the palm of His hands. He knows how this life will end and we have victory in and though Him!

 

 

 

Healing

Good morning friends! This morning I’m posting scriptures and prayers for healing. There are quite a few of you in my world that are hurting, ill, scared, waiting for results and fighting hard or watching a loved one do the same.  I am praying God’s Word over each of you today. My desire is that these will bring you hope, encouragement, peace, calm hearts and spirits and that you are able to just relax and lean into Jesus. Jehovah Shalom is your peace. Be well, in Jesus’ name!

“But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5

I pray that by Your stripes, my friends will be healed; by Your wounds, they will be made whole again. May Your peace that passes all understanding rest upon my friends this day.

“Praise the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits – who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion; who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.” Psalm 103:2-3

Thank you for being the God who adores us, delights in us and heals all our diseases. Please heal my friends, renew their strength, restore their health, bring a smile to their faces today and fulfill the desires of their hearts.

“The centurion replied, “Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant will be healed…” Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go! It will be done just as you believed it would.” And his servant was healed at that very hour.” Matthew 8:8, 13

Just say the word, Lord, and healing and restoration will come to my friends, in Jesus’ name. I intercede on their behalf and ask for renewed health, wisdom, strength and faith. I believe You answer prayers according to Your perfect will. May Your will be done in the lives of my dear friends. May they see You at work in their lives and know how much they are loved.

“When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick.” Matthew 14:14

Father, I pray that You have compassion on my friends and their loved ones today. Please completely and totally heal them.

“You do not have, because you do not ask God.” James 4:2

Abba, in Your Word You say that we do not because we do not ask, so right now, I am asking and interceding for my friends and loved ones. I ask that You will heal them totally and completely and restore their health and vitality, their energy and joy, their faith and hope in You. I pray that even right now, the diseases, wounds, hurt, pain and sickness will leave their bodies and that You will replace those things the Devil meant for harm with good, true, holy, pure and lovely things. You are our Father and You know what we need before we even ask it of You. Thank you for what You are going to do in the lives of these beautiful people that are in my life. All blessing, honor and glory to You, in the name of Jesus, amen.

 

Sanctuary

Sanctuary

I sit in the sanctuary of my heart, still, waiting for You. I long for Your presence, Your words, Your breath, Your kisses.  My heart once was a fearful place, but because of You Jesus, it has become a refuge, a safe place, my peace. It is a place that I long to go because You are there. I will shout to the mountain tops all that You have done; to You be the glory, Jesus.

I no longer fear what is and was in my heart nor try to deny it exists. You hold out Your hands to receive it – the damage, the sin, the struggles, the fear; the place where deep hurts and secrets dwell.  You are not afraid.  You smile as I hand them over; some quickly and with ease, others with hesitation and still others that take time, as I painfully and deliberately choose to release them to You, one finger at a time, one muscle at a time. What you do with these things of mine I am not entirely sure, but I do know You want them, every one and You, in Your abounding mercy and mind blowing love, take them and transform all that I thought was lost, used up and devastated beyond hope, into a thing of rare and poignant beauty, so precious and sacred to You that Your Spirit hovers over Your redeemed and transformed work, nurturing it, breathing life, wisdom and power over it; releasing authority and boldness into it and forever changing me.

How can I be the same when Your holiness, grace and sovereignty intercept me in my humanity, frailty and poverty? “Not possible!” my spirit shouts.  Not possible.  To be in Your presence for but a moment leaves Your fragrance, Your taste, Your fingerprints everywhere!  How could this not be my greatest desire?  But…life, busyness and superficiality also vie for my attention and the battle is hard.  Yet, Your Spirit which watches over the transformation is constantly at work, even if Your voice seems distant.  You are still shouting Your delight over me, rejoicing above me and dancing all around me. Will I choose to still my heart and mind long enough to hear You speak in the wind, feel Your touch in it’s caress, catch Your scent in the flowers, dance before You with no shame? Will I be still long enough and choose to trust You enough to take my hidden hopes and treasured dreams and place them in Your outstretched hands? You placed them in my heart. You have given me visions, dreams and desires too deep to name, yet You ask for them back.  Yes, Abba, I will give them to You. For You are good, You are faithful, You are truth and the lover of my soul.  Only You can give wings to the plans You have for me. You say that “no eye has seen, no ear has heard, no mind has conceived what God has prepared for those who love Him.”(1) Oh, how I love You and oh, how I want what You have prepared for me.  Jesus, Your love has captivated me, ravished my heart.  Because of Calvary, undeserved sacrifice, grace and mercy I will never comprehend, love that freely flows from Your throne and pours into and continues to heal a scarred yet hopeful heart, I can sit here in peace and safety calling my heart Your sanctuary. Thank You, Jesus for the treasure You revealed in what was once a lonely and desolate place. Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom!

 

~ Melissa Giomi, June 2009

(1) 1 Cor. 2:9