In recent days I have experienced several answered prayers, and I have remembered an urge to share part of my testimony. This is the part that explains why I came to believe in a personal God and not a universal source energy (spiritualist) type of creator. I hope it resonates with somebody reading…
I made a right hand turn onto Wadsworth Blvd. I was on my way to the local grocer for donuts. Two days earlier I cleaned out anything that could spoil from the kitchen, because the very next day I would be on my way to Germany for a two week vacation. As I rounded the corner, a hot air balloon flew low along Wadsworth – its fabric segments matched those of the German flag. I knew this was a message from God.
You see, I was driving for donuts in late August 2016. Our Bavarian vacation was planned for over a year, but in the last four months two terrorist attacks occurred in Munich – first a knifing attack in May and then an active shooter in July. I was afraid.
I prayed to God asking for guidance. Should I go as planned or cancel? It was a tough decision; there was close to $11,000 in non-refundable airfare, not to mention high hopes of seeing my German family members. I wanted my Heavenly Father to give me guidance, but also, I was testing Him.
I was new to Christianity. It was only the month before that I picked up the Bible and began reading the New Testament for the first time. Prior to that I had consistently practiced “spirituality” hinging on a firm belief in the Law of Attraction. Requesting and looking out for signs was my way of getting feedback from the universe. It sounds silly, but I had plenty of amazing experiences that affirmed this practice over many years. Because of my history, I think God was willing to work with me in this way.
As I passed the hot air balloon, I genuinely felt wonder, awe and excitement. Wonder and awe that my prayer was answered – and with such a clear sign. Why so clear you ask? That has to do with my upbringing. During elementary school, my family lived in Germany. We often visited my Oma, who was the very person I was most excited to see on this trip. She lived in Gersthofen, a little town near Augsburg. Gersthofen was known for hot air balloons. Balloons are an iconic part of the town history. Even today there is a “Luft Ballon” museum dedicated to them.
From Oma’s kitchen, I could watch the hot air balloons prep for takeoff atop the neighboring hill. I loved it, and throughout my life spotting hot air balloons has given me peace and a moment of childish wonder. Of all the signs God could have delivered, this was the most appropriate considering how I felt, where I was going, and who I hoped to see while I was there!
I rushed to get the donuts so that I could hurry home and tell my husband about what I had seen, and how it made me feel. During my return from the store, however, I saw the same hot air balloon. This time it was dangerously close to the ground. I was afraid it was crashing! I was concerned for the people in the basket, but simultaneously wondered – what does this mean?!?
The balloon touched down just out of my sight, and I had to find it. I wanted to confirm that the crew was safe and also understand what this sign could portend. Around two bends and over a hill, I found them. The crew walking about and quickly dismantling the huge balloon. I approached them and asked if they were ok. They were. I asked if I could be of service. They said they had it under control. The only thing left to do was go home and ponder this while eating a donut. As I made a u-turn, I saw they were in the parking lot of the Columbine Church of Christ. I understood immediately – God was telling me, have no doubt that this is Me talking to you.
I went home and told my husband. He understood the importance I associated to this – he had seen me watch for signs and wonders over the last decade. He treated it like more of the same. Honestly, I did too.
I felt something significant had been communicated to me, but I was not totally drawn to God. If you imagined Jesus as a lifeguard calling me to swim with him, the hot air balloon experience (while a great comfort), was enough to get me sitting at the edge of the pool dangling my feet into the water. This is more than the toe dipping I was doing until then, but certainly didn’t result in me diving in to swim the butterfly. I was holding back.
The trip to Germany was amazing – we had a blast. We saw great sights, ate delicious food, and shared many laughs and hugs with my dear family. Then I got the news of my dad’s passing. I’ve written about it before and won’t go into detail, but you can check out a few of my prior posts to get a sense of how his loss impacted. That night, after I adjusted our flights to return to the States two days early, I laid in bed while the others slept. In my grief I prayed to God the Father for my dad’s soul. I prayed that he was in heaven – that he had been “called him home to glory.” A phrase I didn’t understand, but wanted desperately to be true. I turned to face God fully for the first time in my life, I poured my heart out. I dove into the pool.
And then I felt attacked. I’ve reflected on it many times, and it’s difficult to explain. I felt darkness surround me, I was filled with fear, and – I know this part sounds crazy – I literally felt my spirit being shaken. Not figuratively, but literally.
It scared me, so I called on Jesus for help. I never sensed His presence that night or felt like He was in the room, but I can honestly say that whenever I called on Him that terrible sensation stopped. The entire night consisted of a cycle: grief, prayer, attack, calling on the Lord, and a brief snooze before it started again. I probably called on the Lord 10 times that night. It was a relief when the alarm sounded and it was time to get up for the airport. I distinctly remember thinking that Jesus was like a big protective brother that night. Keeping me safe from the things that go bump.
My dad’s passing is definitely when I started talking to God regularly. Before that, I prayed in general terms of gratitude to the universe at large. I sensed there was a god, but felt you associated to it with appreciation for your life. I thought in terms of vibration, manifestation, and positive thinking. There’s truth in those concepts, but I have learned that God is much more personal than that.
Fast forwarding a few months. I was back to “regular life” but sick and very sad. I picked something up in Germany and it lingered because I didn’t take care of myself. I was filled with illness, exhausted and frustrated. I pursued the Lord, but I wasn’t coping well.
That frustration and anger permeated my attitude. The Bible says, “For out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.” (Matthew 12:34). Between the upcoming holidays, pressure at work, and my unending grief – I lost my ability to speak wealth, health and harmony (a mantra from my Law of Attraction days). This led to a staunch conviction of the Holy Spirit.
It was a weekend night. I went upstairs to grab a sweater, and quickly popped into the kids’ room to flip off a light that was left on. The place was trashed! Every toy basket had been overturned, clothes were strewn here and there and everywhere. It was an out and out disaster. I felt my blood boil and aloud I said, “G-d d-mn these kids!”
Immediately I felt like my blood stopped flowing. I swiftly understood the magnitude and influence of those words. Those words contain such power! I felt intense shame, while my heart begged for forgiveness and to retract any harm that language might bring to my precious children. I had a supernatural smack-down from a Father who heard what I had said. He let me know, in no uncertain terms, that I have got to be careful with my words and especially when calling upon him.
To this day, I can’t bring myself to say those words. The Bible is still true, and feelings of resentment and bitterness still flood from my mouth when they are the overriding feeling I experience – but I am careful to catch my tongue before I ever use the Lord’s name in vain or speak a lie. It’s harder for me to stop complaining sometimes, but I am working on it because there is power in what we speak!
Again, fast forward a few months. I was in San Francisco for work travel. My heart was still heavy with grief, and I was still physically ill with a strained voice and periodic cold. There were parts of the trip I looked forward to, namely seeing colleagues I care for, but otherwise I didn’t want to be there. I wanted to be home in my protective cocoon of routine. About halfway through the trip, I was walking through downtown back to my hotel room. In a very short distance I passed beggars sleeping on sewer grates for warmth and a vagabond screaming “F-ck you” to every passerby. A mother pushing a stroller and holding the hand of a young child stopped and confronted him. With her children beside her she began screaming profanities back at him. It was terrible.
The Bible often uses the word “woe” – I felt it in that moment. It’s a deep sadness and weariness combined. I don’t know what about that quick series of events did it, I’ve seen homeless and crazy people before. I don’t know why it rattled me so much that day. I slept poorly that night and the following morning I decided to turn it over to God and get on with my day. I headed to the armchair to sit and pray.
Before I could even form my thoughts, God knew. A sense of overwhelming peace, love and warmth filled me. I wept because in that moment I knew His love for me, and I was comforted.
It’s been almost a year since that moment in the hotel arm chair. Looking back, I see that God gave me three powerful experiences during my first 6 months of belief to buoy my faith when fear and doubt creep in.
· Frist He protected me as a big brother would; “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29). He fought for me when I called upon Jesus’ name.
· Second He censured me as a Father for speaking hurtful words. “For the Lord disciplines the ones He loves, and He chastises everyone He receives as a son” (Hebrews 12:6).
· Third He let me experience His deep love and comfort. “[A]nd He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever” (John 14:16).
I’m not a perfect believer. My testimony is ongoing. I hope sharing this helped you and thank you for reading.