Be Encouraged by Angela 3/22/17

As kids enjoy their Spring Break, I’m following suit; taking a break from this column to chillax. Make the most of this opportunity by purchasing ad space. Please keep Don busy bringing news to light in his brilliant manner worthy of California’s Oldest Weekly paper.

Till the next time sincere encouragement can be mustered up, here’s a variety of thoughts. If you’re a professed PEEPS hater, pass them here. Don’t understand disdain for PEEPS, that’s ok. Also, don’t take for granted everyone understands why those in the faith celebrate the Easter holiday. It is more than Cadbury Eggs and PEEPS.

Our Lord Jesus, who was without sin, was beaten and crucified. He rose back to life and walked out of the tomb on the third day. Now He sits at the right hand of the Father, instructing all the “Bob the Builders” with blue prints of our eternal dwelling place. My request is in for one kick ass tree house – Swiss Family Robinson style. My daughter has placed her bid in for a mansion with some sort of free flowing soda fountain system. To each their own.

If you trust Jesus with your heart and soul, you are guaranteed to walk heaven’s golden streets, where everyone knows your name (Cheers!). I’m so ready to go and ya’ll don’t want to miss the party. Wine lovers will be delighted, (course I’ll be reclining by the Newcastle Brown Ale and whisky fountain, and coffee will no longer be a necessity to function) and there will be lots of music and dancing (guessing not up and down a pole Vegas style, but whatever. And if you think the music will suck…you’re wrong). No more dirty diapers to change. No more dog crap to pick up. Many pros. Dogma will be long gone.

Honestly, circles still make coming to Jesus a royal pain in the arse. He’s not complicated. Only Ten Commandments were given and yet the establishment in His day found a way to make 1,000 rules out of those ten. Wars fought and people burned at the stake all in the name of Christ. Never His intention.

Speaking of wars…war does change people. Feels like I’ve been in a war for three years now- hence the needed break. Not the same gal I was before I moved to the mountains, and that’s okay. God knew all of this beforehand. Maybe you’ve had a season where it was all you could do just to get through your day and not let hate build up where love should reign.

When dealing with people that do their best at being their worst, and dealing with said people over the long term, even the nicest soul reaches a snapping point. The good news is, those that love God will win every time. He promises any season of insane disappointment and turmoil will be turned around in our favor. It takes WORK to love those barely tolerable, not to mention the mean, vindictive and abusive creature.

Loving those who like us, those who LOVE us…well, shucks…that’s easy. Try loving the haters. It is a balancing act: loving and forgiving while not being a doormat. Jesus never asked people to be doormats. But He does ask that we push through resentment and bitterness so we can shine bright. God goes before us. Where He guides, He provides.

Two of the brightest stars under the Sierra County skies put in my path are Downieville’s Cassie Koch and Sierra City’s Brandt Larson. God has used these two more than they will ever know to restore my soul in the most needed times. Whose soul can you help restore and heal through kindness this week? In closing, what legacy will you leave behind? Regardless of how many friends you have on social media, if the 2-20 people that actually live and work with you all hours of the day suffer for it, that’s your legacy.

If you are in a position to impact someone’s life by your title, position, job, talents, whatever- sow seeds of goodness not destruction. Everyone is dealing with enough of their own demons, issues, challenges and heartaches without needing further abuse heaped upon them. Abuse is a sad affair and takes many forms. What we do now, stands for all eternity.

My prayer is to hear “Well done, good and faithful servant. You kept angels employed, you were one hell of a fighter, had a great heart for others, but that mouth…my lands. Even still, well done!” May you also hear “Well done” when you stand before Him. Rest if you need to. If your break is up, get back on your horse and ride into the sunset.

Happy spring and summer! May you encounter Jesus for who He actually is, in a personal way and soon! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 3/15/17

Gosh, it was about this time last year I was in a hospital bed, dealing with loss and wave of bad news. While waiting for the results of ultrasounds and more tests to come back, I strummed my new ukulele and learned seven chords as the tears flowed. Three lessons on that day

#1 We choose how to respond in the moments of sadness and anger.

#2 I could overhear other people in the E.R. and no matter how bad you have it, and although your pain is not a competition with the next hospital bed over, neighbor’s house, office or school desk next to you, remember the hard truth that someone out there has it worse.

God doesn’t expect you to give thanks for pain, sickness, disease and death, but to still give thanks for who He is in spite of current circumstances. We should always be thankful for the good things He has done and take comfort in knowing good things are still to come through His providence. Feel the pain. Process the pain. But find a reason to be thankful.

#3 God prepared talents, gifts, and opportunities for us to learn, grow and shine bright for the world. If you really want to do something or learn a new thing that God has ordained for your life- just do it. Especially for my friends that battle different illnesses: when you can…do. When you absolutely cannot, don’t live in guilt. He asks only two things- to use our talents and gifts when it is physically possible or simply be content in resting on sick days and in His love and grace. God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 3/8/17

I remember the look of disapproval on the priest’s face as I stood in line to take communion. Wearing my Sunday best; clubbing attire from the night before- crazy heels, tight jeans, tank, and tattoos showing, he was visibly irritated. Probably smelled like a mixture of perfume, smokes, booze and weed. I didn’t care. I wasn’t there for him. I knew Jesus was just happy I came. But I never forgot that look on his face.

Only twice since have I been in the presence of a Catholic priest. Once, when my daughter was born and the priest visited me in the hospital room (Her arrival ended clubbing days, and now I just enjoy dancing at home or at a few local events). This particular priest didn’t have much to say, as I was unmarried “living in sin” with her father. Ten years later after I remarried, we attended mass at Christmas when our son was born.

Why a daughter adopted into a protestant minister’s home had converted to Catholicism is a long story, but it was where God wanted me at the time. Comparing various denominations is not the goal. Simply recalling a memory of a time I felt immediate judgment. For those that opened a page of a chapter into my life or are new to reading these columns, it may take time to understand where this writer is coming from.

Everyone is in a different place in their walk of faith, if there is one. Having done enough in my life to make all of heaven blush and guardian angels want to resign their assigned post, understand, it takes a lot of garbage being thrown my way to raise me to a level to push back on someone and publicly voice any opinion on their character or lifestyle choices. If I ever call someone out on the carpet, it is not to remind them of their past, but to stand against their current life choices personally causing pain.

Folks dealing with dysfunction, abuse, or hostility in their home or workplace on a continual basis must eventually make a judgement call as to when they will finally speak up and speak out. There is a time for patience and hoping things turn around and there is time for saying “What you are doing is not okay. I’m not your doormat.” People who are unhappy and miserable with their own personal choices often spend their day punishing others through their moods, attitudes and bad behavior.

This is how people end up in jail. Or lawsuits happen. My goal in writing is to always encourage others to know the real Jesus that came to earth. The Jesus who ate, drank, danced, the Jesus who people loved and hated for the same reason. He was a real person. Likeable for all the right reasons.

Children don’t run up to sit in the lap of a stick in the mud. He was still God the Son, yet didn’t consider Himself better than anyone around Him. Even the best Christian, if there is one, is a stumbling mess and crawling their way up the mountain like everyone else. My closest friends know it is a great thing to have me on their side because I don’t back down. I will fight to the bloody end. I never understood cowards, in fact, it makes me angry when people don’t stand up for the underdog or those suffering under the weight of injustice, those who fear losing income, friends, political careers…I just don’t get it.

One area I am working on is speaking the truth and pushing back with words that are of a gentler, kinder fashion. In language that Jesus would prefer. I don’t hide the fact that if caught off guard, salty language may be uttered. It may take the rest of my life to weed out bad language. It is work to be more like Him. And I’m working on it. It is easy to love and be kind to people who are nice to us, but when it comes to our enemies, those that purposely do us harm (those are enemies)…being nice does not come naturally. Praying for those that harm you does not come naturally either, but that is what is asked of us.

This week remember, no one likes to be judged on their character or behavior. But if you must call someone out, realize that even the nicest delivery will come with a sting so pray and ask Jesus how to best speak the truth in love. Lastly, don’t be like that priest and give the stink eye based on outer appearance and the opinions of others. God is good! Always

Be Encouraged by Angela 3/1/17

Not everyone deserves a seat at your table. Be selective in who is allowed to take up gobs of emotional, psychological and spiritual energy. Regardless of age, certain attitudes carried and choices made will be a result of the current company kept. There are varying degrees of civility. Some barely make it past acquaintance-not necessarily a bad thing. When true character is revealed early, rejoice!

Separate from ascertaining who has your best interest at heart, is the matter of establishing boundaries. While Jesus loved everyone, He did not entrust Himself to everyone. The kiss of betrayal came from someone He called friend, that kiss ultimately crucified our Savior.

Those closest, whom I allow to “sit at my table”, are those that want to see me reach my full potential in Christ, not have me buried under rocks of drama and toxicity. True friends will not try to keep you down to appease their own insecurities (This is also the benchmark of a good leader; one that wants nothing but success for those under them).

A positive of serving in the military was the installation of confidence. Confidence; not ego. Therefore, while serving twenty years ago, I understood I was not in competition with anyone, and I’m certainly not now. Neither are you. My only goal as a Christian, is when I meet the Lord face to face He says “Well done, good and faithful servant.” His opinion is the only one of eternal significance.

Experience has provided two important lessons. First, by keeping His kingdom agenda my top priority, things WILL get accomplished. Despite the haters. Despite the nay-sayers. My strength in life rests in the fact I belong to Jesus. He defines me, the world does not.

Secondly, I understand the gift of encouragement is a flowing river. We give and receive. Friends inspire and energize. Friends propel us forward in the right direction with the right word at the right time AND by their example. With God’s help, we pay that inspiration and encouragement forward into the universe.

For example, it’s been seven years since my last cigarette. Though I miss smoking, whenever I am tempted to buy a pack, I consider my friend Amanda who has been clean from meth almost 700 days. Amanda was addicted to meth for five years and is almost two years drug free! God is restoring her life and she is enjoying being a mom again to her kids, having her own place, and being a manager at a Subway restaurant. When the proper time comes, she will return to school and fulfill her dream of becoming a licensed beautician, and a talented one she is! If Amanda can kick meth, surely I can continue to abstain from smoking.

My dear friend Traycee has completed numerous marathons and she will be the first to tell you she has been “overweight her entire life.” Twenty shiny medals hang on her wall from the marathons she has completed since 2015. Her wall will be covered in “bling” sooner than she thinks. Two of her marathons were 10K races in which she was feeling less than motivated. Yet, in determined fashion she persevered and did not quit. In her words, “I came in dead last, but I crossed the line!” Three years from now, Traycee will turn 50, and will set out to complete a full marathon – 26.2 miles. When I am healthy enough to work out but feel a tad lazy, I think of Traycee busting her arse and getting it done. Pushing forward long after the feeling has left = commitment.

Commitment will yield results. Both Amanda and Traycee decided in some way to take their lives back. For both of them, a total lifestyle change was implemented to produce wanted results in line with the destiny God has for them. Wisely, they are selective with whom is in their circle. This week remember, only cats have nine lives. Be smart with the opportunities God gives you in this lifetime! We are not guaranteed tomorrow and we will give an account! Use your talents to make the world better, not worse! You don’t have to have a title to be a leader! Some have titles and are still clueless! Lead by example!

Thank you Amanda and Traycee for allowing me to share your stories. God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 2/22/17

During my formative years, the Little House on the Prairie series by Laura Ingalls Wilder was instrumental in teaching character, virtue and the basics of behaving in a noble fashion amongst society.

Television brought these books to life with Michael Landon and Melissa Gilbert illustrating certain challenges and applicable lessons as a pioneer family on the early Western frontier. I do believe, the first villain I ever watched on the screen was in fact Wilder’s character Nellie Oleson. Boy that Nellie! Are you familiar with her character? Wicked little thing!

The actress Alison Arngrim played Nellie’s role well enough, that I still recall her blonde curls, and snooty face with her menacing grin executing one of her plots. As a child, Nellie’s character opened my eyes to the hard truth not everyone plays nice. Not everyone plays fair. Nellie’s ugly and spiteful heart was so grave indeed, it overshadowed any physical beauty she possessed.

Now into my forties, the Bible verse on beauty fading is ever apparent as I stare at my reflection in the mirror. Wrinkles are starting to form, gray hairs are shooting out here and there. It is becoming harder to keep in shape versus when I was twenty something. Any woman must know as she climbs in years, a woman’s true beauty is really an issue of her heart.

These are the types of lessons I am trying to teach my daughter as she is nearing her teen years. Whatever superficial beauty we are fortunate enough to possess- it will eventually fade, (unless you are Dolly Parton- she seems to hang on to her good looks, course she does have the money to do so). I once heard of a woman who refused to smile, apparently she did not want wrinkles around her mouth. For me, that’s too drastic of a measure to take in an effort to spare some wrinkles. Besides, we only have one life, and smiling is such a simple way to encourage others we pass along the way.

This week, remember true beauty is really internal. It is a matter of the heart. And usually, the internal beauty or ugliness is immediately more apparent than the superficial. Shine bright! Shine with your heart! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 2/15/17

Now that florists, candy makers and greeting card companies everywhere have had their chance to increase profits over red hearts and cupids, I do hope to score some boxed candy over the next few days at some great discounted prices. The man I married had this ingenious thought for his brotherhood, and any soul for that matter, worried about funding this yearly occasion, “Guys if you’re short on funds for your guns and stuff, you have to start doing and saying things now that will slowly anger her enough to dump you by February 13. Time is money.” That statement warranted plenty of laughter in our home. We are never short of humor or sarcasm as long as certain people are in fact…home. Understand, Valentines Day and the joy thereof, is not the same for everyone. My daughter LOVES the parties and exchanging the cards and candy with her classmates. Much preferring a home made valentine over a boxed one, it is an opportunity for those more skilled than myself in the arts and crafts department to turn out some unique sentiments. But for some, this day of merriment is just another day, or plain ignored. I tend to think of two people on Valentines Day. One, our missionary friend Marilyn. She has been in Senegal, Africa for many years translating the Bible into the local language in the village she has dedicated her life to. Decades prior to leaving for the mission field, her engagement was called off. She spent her last working summer in the states when she was twenty something, crying through hours of her mundane job mourning the end of a relationship. She pressed on and devoted her entire adult life to Bible translation so many could come to know Jesus by reading the Good Book in their own native tounge. Marilyn never married. Then I think of a previous neighbor, Barbara. She spent a great many years taking care of her mother before her mother finally passed. This dedication to her family also limited her in many areas socially speaking. Many are missing that special someone through break up, divorce or them leaving this earth too soon. Elizabeth Snyder is missing her beloved Blake this year, as are many spouses of fallen heroes. My prayers and warm wishes go to her and her young son during the moments where Blake’s absence is felt most. Psalm 34:18 reads, “The Lord is close the broken-hearted, and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Remember to show love and grace this week. Wherever you work or play, strive to love greatly and make things better. Shine bright! We not guaranteed tomorrow, so love big, apologize, forgive yourself and each other and live a life worthy and on purpose, in doing this we honor those who are no longer with us! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 2/8/17

Not that I have much money to my name (at this time), but about giving. Maybe you don’t think you are of a giver or maybe you would like to give more but feel you don’t have a lot to give. Here is a list of pretty inexpensive and easily accessible gifts: 1. Smile. A smile is free. A smile can make a difference in someone’s day. (Course if we happen to run into particular folk where a smile would be a completely false representation of what is going on inside our heads when we pass said individual, then respectfully acknowledge their presence with a head nod or a firm hand wave. Nope- I don’t do the whole fake smile thing)

2. Prayer. There is no greater gift in my opinion, than praying for those you love and also for those that have become a thorn in your side. Prayer moves the hand of God which makes the impossible…possible. Carrying the burdens of others is done through prayer. I’m not talking about a two second prayer in which you type “prayed” on a social media post…but hard core, fervent prayer for someone in need. Whether you are standing and praying for someone at the kitchen sink washing dishes or you get down on your hard wood floor where there is bound to be dog hair and some cheerios and push aside your OCD to sweep in that moment, and kneel before Almighty God and pray. Either way, spending real moments battling things out in the spiritual realm for someone is a big gift. (Thanks David for stopping me the other day by the Post Office, laying your hands on my shoulders and praying for my health right there on the spot.)

3. Be a true friend. This means when I walk away from you, I am your friend in speech and conduct when I am away from you. This means I speak well of you in private conversations, not tear you down to others to build myself up. Not two faced. No hidden agendas. It means no matter where we are or who is around, I am not ashamed to call you friend.

4. Keep confidences.

5. Be faithful. Hold fast to what you promised.

6. Support dreams. Don’t tell someone why their dream will not work. Don’t be a balloon popper. Encourage dreams, because in the end God has the final say what plans will prevail, what goals will be accomplished.

7. Drop a card in the mail. Snail mail is a rare thing, and it is nice to get a card, a piece of mail that is not a bill. Even if it is only three words “Thinking of you” or “Praying for you”

8. Give your time. Invest in the lives of others. Everyone is in a different season… some work 60 hour plus weeks, some are sick and battling illness, some have toddlers (tiny terrorists), some are in seasons of grief, but seasons change. Lord willing, there will be a season when you can give your time to help with charities, volunteer at churches, join community organizations and help at local events…basically help keep the wheels a rolling in your community (Congrats Sierra County EMT graduates. You are needed and appreciated!).

9. Take care of yourself. You taking care of yourself is the best gift you can give your spouse, kids and family. You sticking around one more year because you made good choices, that is a gift. Caring for yourself means you express the truth even when it may not seem convenient to those around you: “I cannot do this. I am in pain. I am sick. I need to get help”. Love yourself as God loves you. Care for yourself, so you can take care of others.

10. Forget and remember accordingly. I forget when I give to someone. If it is brought up it is because they remind me, not the other way around. BUT when someone has given to us, a person or an organization, I don’t take their kindness for granted. Their gift is noted in a private journal as a blessing from the Lord, to be remembered forever. In closing, someone in the universe once said “Don’t let someone dim your light simply because it’s shining in their eyes”. Be a giver! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged (Part 2) by Angela 2/1/17

It’s all quite simple: King David couldn’t have stolen, seduced and slept with Uriah’s wife, Bathsheba, if he’d been fulfilling his responsibilities to his troops and countrymen. The eleventh chapter of Second Samuel clearly shows he was not at his station at the proper time. We read in that text that “the spring of the year was the time when kings go out to battle.”
However, during this particular spring King David stayed home and got himself into trouble. The quick version: He slept with Bathsheba, Uriah’s wife. Uriah was a soldier loyal to David. David got Bathsheba pregnant, and tried to get Uriah to ALSO sleep with her to cover his misdeed. Oh, but Uriah, who had more integrity in his thumb than his king (at least in this season of David’s life), refused to enjoy the comforts of his spouse while the rest of the troops were battling it out in the worst conditions.
Instead, Uriah stayed and slept on the palace steps waiting for King David to dispatch him back to the battle. Realizing his plans had failed and he would eventually be outed as Bathsheba’s baby‘s daddy, David decided to push the envelope of WRONG. David sent Uriah back to the war, with specific orders to have him placed on the front lines in the hopes he would be killed. The mischievous plan worked; Uriah was killed.
This was one too many lines crossed in God’s eyes, and David was dealt with ever so severely. You may call it Karma: I say we reap what we sow. Fortunately, David was repentant and took his punishment like a man (like a leader) for being a homewrecker and murderer. But it is not all doom and gloom, because he repented and FELT remorse.
It is amazing how God can restore the worst offender when arrogance and pride are laid down at the foot of the Cross. The reign of King David ended on a high note because when he screwed up, he humbled himself and pressed on being a “man after God’s heart.” Whether you are a leader or not, trustworthiness is a character trait more valuable than gold.
An ignorant soul would believe their sin has little effect on waves and waves of people. An arrogant and selfish soul understands, but just plain does not care about the feelings of others. King David did not willfully and purposefully continue to walk in sin. He could not claim to love God and do so. The good news, though? Anyone still breathing has the opportunity to confess their sins to the One who paid it all on the cross, repent, and apologize to those they have wronged. God is still in the miracle business and He will make even the most crooked soul’s path straight.
Believe in God’s power of restoration for those who seek it. Everything is possible with God. Uriah was betrayed “on the job” by his commander, his king. Folks all around us are betrayed by those we love, as well as those for whom we work. Blessed are the trustworthy. Blessed are the true peace makers. God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 1/25/17

Moments spent conversing with the ol’ Chief Master Sergeant in my Air Force days almost always guaranteed a smile. A gruff, yet humorous fellow getting up in years, the Chief was admired and respected. He worked hard; he played hard. We all did. I recall dancing alongside him at the NCO club, partying like rock stars. Fun times.

Down the hall from my radio desk was a gal who carried her own sunshine. A jovial soul who brightened wherever her boots tread. Her duties included dishing out supplies to soldiers of all ranks, and processing a variety of administrate papers – typical office work. When I first met her, she was married with kids. I don’t know whether her marriage broke up before or after she and the Chief began sleeping together.  Their relationship was never an issue with the troops, though because they didn’t make it one. Nor did their relationship ever have even the slightest influence on the already stressful mission requirements and daily operations of a successful jet fighter squadron.

But, what if the Chief had been allowed to put her in charge of the show? What would have happened to our morale as a squadron if an airman or an officer went to her for supplies, or needed paperwork to be processed only to encounter a totally controlling a woman, knowing she was fully protected by the Chief? Fortunately, the military is not set up to have officers answering to secretaries with stripes protected by someone in charge.
Because the system in place protected the integrity of the promotion process, when she was promoted it was because she busted her ass, not because she showed it. This column is dedicated to those persevering under dysfunctional leadership.

We need encouragement in the workplace. Many of us will have invested a good portion of our lives trying to put food on the table, and a roof over our heads, having worked in the most frustrating of conditions. Half of my illustrations stem from experiences in the workplace both before and after making the decision to take up my cross and follow Jesus. Bad leaders deflect and project. They keep digging their pits ever deeper because they allow their egos to guide the ship.
Selfless leaders are nothing less than that; selfless. A good leader will care about the success of the people under them, even if they never get any credit themselves. The Chief I found so endearing conserved respectability because when he arrived on the scene: he got down to business. He worked hard for the people, our fellow countrymen who paid his salary.
No leader is perfect; mistakes will be made even with the best intentions. But, dysfunctional organizations, which dish out witch-hunts, retaliation and retribution, dishonesty, conspiracy and secrecy, will be unable to avoid an ultimate collapse.
Doing an “about face” to change course is always an option for a leader, until their last day, but that takes lowering the pride, and a few moments of truthful self-reflection. Not everyone can muster the courage and go another way, though. A coward, more often than not, stays a coward
It would seem that high expections these days has been reduced to being “judgmental,” a convenience afforded those unaware of the concept of accountability. Scriptures outline the importance of reviewing oneself before calling out another.
Those in positions of real or imagined authority will give an accounting one day. While it is not my place to judge someone’s eternal position with the Lord, there are many situations in life where the people deserve answers and accountability from their leadership with regards to them actually “leading.”
The reasons for which the unqualified or incapable are retained or rewarded demand an explanation. The health of any organization depends on it. How the common man and woman is treated in the workplace matters to all; them, their family and friends, and mostly – to God.
Be encouraged, as when Jesus returns to earth, He is not going to sit down for tea and biscuits at a peace conference. He is returning with a sword and will be reorganizing establishments underneath His judgement. He will reign in righteousness which means “right living” and bad leadership will become a thing of the past. That is encouraging! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 1/18/17

After a high school football game, as families, players and fans were clearing the stands and returning to the respective lives they led prior to hot dogs and touch downs, a police officer noticed a disturbing sight out of the corner of his eye. He quickly moved to intervene and rescue a youth who had been pushed up against a fence and was being assaulted and choked by an adult. When it came to submitting the police report, he was strongly encouraged that if he wanted to continue his employment at said station, he would be chucking that report right into the trash can.

In life we notice that certain people expect to be treated as if they are above the law because of their last name, title or position..and there are moments where the most vulnerable are denied protection and justice from those in charge who are indifferent and, more bluntly — evil. Martin Luther King Jr, stated, “The time is always ripe, to do right.” This officer did NOT chuck the report, and his relationship quickly came to an end with the department as promised.

I always promote “Back the Blue,” but occasionally one bad apple on the streets, or in the office, can bring down an entire agency and hurt the noble efforts of the good men and women of law enforcement. This is the world we live in. But, as Dr. Charles Stanley often vocalizes in his sermons and books – “Obey God, and leave all the consequences to Him.” God honored that officer in doing the right thing, but it was not immediate.

When the enemy hits us, the attack often comes through a series of multiple blows. Around the time of his leaving the department, a disease also struck him on a brutal level. He spent nearly a decade barely able to hold a job, pay his bills and provide for his first two kids. He lost his independence. Eventually, he was literally dying on his mother’s couch, weighing less than 100 pounds. A picture of his state could be compared to one looking at a POW that was denied food and starving. Hospitalized, he endured a painful surgery and was fed through tubes for several weeks. God spared his life. Yet God is not merely in the sparing business, but also the restoring business.

The man who had lost everything (sort of a modern day Job), after leaving the hospital, in his weak state, entered school and changed careers into culinary. The Lord opened the best doors as fitting his talents and he experienced cooking omelettes for President Bush at the Houston Country Club, where Barbara spouted on about keeping the jalapenos away from ole H. W. Then it was on to the famous St. Regis, Houston pastry department for this talented chef. And bake he did – for many of Hollywood and entertainment’s elite – you know, Giada DeLaurentis, Beyonce and JayZee, Goldie Hawn…and on and on. But, just because we are good at something does not mean we are necessarily passionate about it.

Deputy Darby Collier

God knew that about this man, and there was a day of restoration back into law enforcement coming. In 2010, a cycling group, known as Team-Will, rode their bicycles from San Francisco across the United States visiting children with cancer in the hospitals all along the way. From S.F. to Nag’s Head Beach in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina they rode, despite grueling weather conditions. Completing this journey – without getting sick- was confirmation to this man, he was fit enough to return into law enforcement and go back to the academy with men half his age and get re-certified. This man is Darby Collier, a Sierra County Deputy, my husband. This month we celebrate 9 years! You are proof of God’s restoration powers! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged & Likable by Angela

Dust off your Bible and open it to the book of Genesis. Skip down to about the fifth chapter. Find the name Enoch on the page; the man who never died. This short account of Enoch’s life speaks to my heart in a couple of ways.

First, Enoch was 65 years old when he became a father. (This reminds me. Congrats Janet Jackson on your newborn!…stay forever young). After becoming a parent, Enoch walked with God on the earth for 300 years! (Guessing he was better than most about not losing his s**t in public or private during the toddler years!) Did you catch that? AFTER he was 65 years old, he began to meet with the Lord on a more personal level and they became close.

Apply this to your life. Regardless of your age, while there is breath in your lungs…it is not too late to walk with God. Whether you are 8 years old or 65, you can have a personal relationship with the Lord. We are promised that if we “draw near to God, He will draw near to us.” Please note, liking someone is not a prerequisite to loving someone. We can love many a people enough to care about their eternal destination despite not being able to tolerate them on a social level for more than five minutes. Heaven will fix their personality. (Some people need loved from a distance).

There was something about Enoch that God liked immensely, so much so, that He swept Enoch up off this dusty earth and took him straight away to heaven. Maybe Enoch was a comedian. Maybe Enoch called a “spade a spade” about life around him, and God appreciated the simple truth. Could have ended it there, but here is another takeaway: Enoch was liked enough by all of heaven to be whisked away to streets of gold. And while our aim should not be winning a popularity contest to appease a fleshly desire, (cuz no matter what you do, or who ya bake cookies for, not everyone will like you) ask yourself: If you dropped dead today, would your coworkers, employees, household…would they miss you? Would anyone go to your funeral? Or would they say “THANK YOU GOD! We just could not take one more day of their crap!”

Most of us are aware enough to know if we are a difficult, hostile, argumentative, vindictive, a treacherous soul (I could go on), of a human or actually likeable. BE LIKEABLE! Be real. But, BE LIKEABLE! Mean people suck. They really do. Decide to add beauty to the earth in your unique, likeable way as you will never know where it will take you, simply by being someone God and all of mankind can tolerate and actually appreciate. We know where it landed Enoch…God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 12/14/16

Commentary on social media in an effort to debunk Christmas myths are being handed out like Halloween candy. I understand Jesus was not born in December, and those Wise Men were ill-placed in the Nativity scene (they visit months after, if not a few years), I get it.

Yes, I overlook in grace the admonishments of the one or two folks who refuse to celebrate a day “rooted in paganism”, and refuse to decorate a tree and celebrate. To each their own. We live in a time where people DO need to look at issues from other points of view- even when they don’t want to. Instead of labeling them “scrooges” just let them have a treeless holiday.

Likewise accusing others of engaging in evil customs and slinging Old Testament verses for celebrating the birth of Jesus in the manner we feel led could also be halted in the spirit of grace. I did explain to one friend that while I respect her opinion, so much of the heart of Jesus is displayed at Christmas. We have birthdays! Jesus deserves a party too!

There is much worship that takes place during December. Heavenly songs in retelling the birth of a Saviour. Some folks actually step into a church for this one day. Generosity in all forms to others skyrockets every December. Operation Christmas Child is a wonderful thing. Many times wars have been halted for 24 hours in honor of the One who brought peace. The enemy always takes what is good and twists it into evil. If the tree and date of Christmas originated in something unholy, one can only look at the fruit produced from the good tree of Christmas and see that God redeemed the 25th for His glory.

Merry Christmas! Remember to shop local and tip/gift your garbage and postman or woman (spoil Petra). God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 12/7/16

My eldest and I enjoyed some time together on her recent visit to the mountains for our annual Holiday on Main. I was happy she found her stepmother a fitting gift at one of the vendor tables, as she truly deserves a “Mom of the Year” award on a monthly basis. We left the event happy and content and plopped our fannies on the grocery store bench and enjoyed the sunshine.

imagesMiss Randi left my side to peruse through the second hand shop across the street while I sat and tried to raise my depleted caffeine levels. She returned to the bench with excitement as she proceeded to hand me a gift. No sooner had I unwrapped the gift, the wrong words escaped my lips. I questioned what the object was. I was not sure then and still am not sure. Instead of just saying thank you, I recklessly destroyed the moment of her giving by my ignorant words. Seeing the tears in her eyes I immediately felt the pain of what I had done and apologized. I gave a heart felt admission I was insensitive and everything came out wrong.

Apologizing is the first step in healing a wound. Driving her back down the mountain the next day I explained that there will be times in the future where I stick my foot in my mouth, but because Jesus lives in me, I will always apologize. She has already learned at a young age that not everyone is going to apologize. In trying to help her heal I am explaining those are the times we have to somehow, someway drop those unresolved wounds at Jesus feet and let Him deal with those folks. Believe me I am working on this right along with her. Sometimes the best Christmas gifts are not material. We can all do our part to show Jesus whether it is apologizing, forgiving, helping someone heal, defending the helpless, not being silent in the face of evil. These are gifts that make heaven smile.

The gift Randi gave me sits on my window sill and is a reminder of so many things. People will forget what you said, they may even forget what you did. But they never will forget how you made them feel. God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 11/30/16

images-3Certain sounds are annoying. Christmas music too soon on the radio. The beeping of the microwave. (Not initially, but left unattended for thirty minutes because one forgot to retrieve heated item…) While buying dog bones is always a blessing as shoes and other treasured items are spared, listening to Hanz and Bella chew those raw hides…not so much. The smacking of gum by my ten year old…I could go on.

unknown-12One loud noise I do appreciate is the sound of the Sierra County & Caltrans trucks scraping the roads up and down the mountain as they remove ice, snow, and rocks from slides etc. The scraping sound signals someone is on the job with the right equipment ensuring our roads are a bit safer to travel. I much prefer driving BEHIND the scrape truck to reap the benefits of the road being cleared in front of me, than driving in front of the rig to encounter only God knows what in these wintry conditions.

This holds true in the spiritual realm. God led the Israelites through the desert by a pillar of 0b2739d276eb8ed2fda483999609055acloud during the daytime and a pillar of flame at night. He explored the lands ahead of them and took them along the best route possible. In our own lives we are also wise to allow Him to go before us. If we continually hand the reigns over to the One who is all knowing and allow Him to do what He does best- LEAD, our odds of encountering disaster and calamity are reduced.

Of course we are never 100% free of trials and tribulations in this fallen world, but I sure as heck will take all the help the Lord will give in reducing unnecessary strife and plum avoiding a bad situation (if at all possible). We never know what God could steer us away from if we just let Him lead us including: attending the wrong school, entering a problematic profession, a horrible living situation, a crappy marriage, trusting fakes, phonies and users- the list goes on. We pray “on earth as it is in heaven”. Mind you, heavenly streets are paved with gold- not pot holes and roads encumbered with rock slides and such.

Let the High King of heaven lead. He is always making a way. He never slumbers or sleeps. His ways are always higher, His plans for us- better too! This season may I encourage you to thank a road worker for keeping us safe! Treat them to a cup of coffee! God is good! Always!

Be Encouraged by Angela 11/23/16

1cdb7cf23af6ec2eb7ac5159623ba774Nearing the signs for Nevada City, I realized that I didn’t even remember driving through the South Yuba River Canyon. My mind had been consumed with two separate “face to face” conversations which transpired prior to traveling. I love the Lord, but I’m not exempt from saying things once in awhile that sends my guardian angel to the state of blushing and a rush to whisper “Please stop talking. Shhhh!” and sometimes there is the occasional spiritual prod of “Oh My Lands child, please just shut the hell up already!” One seemed like a personal win for me, the other was more of a random-truly awkward conversation. Both times I spoke the truth. Both were totally unnecessary. Maybe I have lost some social skills over the last few years living in a remote area. Maybe the social challenges of being married to a deputy in a town of less than three hundred persons, has taken its toll. The social and political stresses that currently exist plaguing law enforcement families in Sierra County are some days…over the top. Consequently, as of late, my knack for diplomacy has pretty much disappeared. I would rather “just call a spade a spade”. Maybe it is that I am closer to 50 than I am 30 and prefer to cut to the chase while conversing, because… well… I don’t have a thirty year old bladder anymore. OR, maybe it has nothing to do with any of these things and like everyone else, young or old, I just royally fail at times in holding my tongue. Just because something is true, doesn’t mean we always have to say it.

The Thanksgiving Day cartoon circling social media illustrating the turkey being stuffed with Prozac is classic because holiday gatherings bring every dysfunctional relative and friend together around the table. Does a normal family exist anymore? Did it ever? Forget the Hallmark picturesque table-setting- that is movie material. A drugged turkey resulting in everyone being all smiles, tolerating each other, biting their tongues in an effort to survive one meal. It is the hope that everyone will put away their differences, or simply not embarrass themselves before the pumpkin pie is cut. Imagine that! While I’ll probably be able to pass on the Prozac stuffed turkey at my house this year (just pour me a shot of something), what I really need is the Lord to not only wrap His arm around me and guide me every hour, but also wrap His hand around my mouth and silence me when I need it the most.Can you relate? Hope you have a great Turkey day! God is good! Always!

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