Sunday, December 4, 2011

Merry Christmas Season!

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Friday, November 18, 2011

Crystal Cathedral Goes To The Diocese of Orange

Hello Friends,
"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, and my ways are not your ways, declares the Lord"
I promised many of you that I would post something about the sale of the church as soon as I had something to post.   
Judge approves Crystal Cathedral sale to diocese
A federal judge has approved the sale of the Crystal Cathedral to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange to help the financially struggling church emerge from bankruptcy.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert N. Kwan approved the sale at a hearing in Santa Ana on Thursday.
The decision came after a bidding war between the diocese and Orange County's Chapman University for the 40-acre property in Garden Grove.
The diocese plans to use the site for a countywide cathedral, which means Crystal Cathedral congregants will need to move to a new location.
Chapman had wanted to use the site to expand its health sciences offerings and possibly start a medical school.
THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.
The board of directors of Crystal Cathedral Ministries announced Thursday that its preferred buyer for the megachurch's campus is the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange.
The announcement came just before a bankruptcy court hearing at which a judge was expected to decide between competing offers from the diocese and Chapman University.
The Catholic diocese wants the property for a cathedral of its own, while the university would use it to expand educational programs.
A board statement said it preferred terms of the $57.5 million Catholic bid for the Orange County cathedral, longtime home of the "Hour of Power" broadcast.
"The Catholic plan allows Crystal Cathedral ministry full and exclusive use of the Crystal Cathedral and the majority of the property for three years," it said.
In addition, the Family Life Center would be available for 18 months while temporary solutions are found to house programs for children and youth.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert N. Kwan has said he believes the bids from Chapman University and the diocese are both feasible options, and asked the Crystal Cathedral's board to state its preferred buyer at Thursday's hearing. The board previously favored the university's bid, which was raised Wednesday to $59 million.
Some Crystal Cathedral members fear their church will dwindle if the 40-acre grounds are sold to the diocese and they must move to a new location. They noted that congregants emptied their pockets to help build the elaborate building and many planned to be buried in the nearby cemetery.
Others fear the broadcast that funds 70 percent of the church's revenue will lose viewers if moved to a different, less striking setting.
"That's our church -- the Crystal Cathedral. We bought and paid for it," said Bob Canfield, a 73-year-old general contractor who joined the church five years ago. "We feel like we've been raped of our ministry."
For many congregants at the Crystal Cathedral, the church building designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson and made up of 10,000 panes of glass has become intertwined with the church's identity.
"They're no different than any other business. They have to market themselves, and they have a particular branding and they've put all their eggs in that basket," said Richard Flory, director of research at University of Southern California's Center for Religion and Civic Culture. "That would be a difficult transition for them to make."
Rev. Robert H. Schuller started the Southern California ministry as a drive-in church in the 1950s under the auspices of the Reformed Church in America. Decades later, the church evolved into an international televangelism empire and erected its now-famous building.
In 2008, the church's revenues plummeted amid a decline in donations and ticket sales for holiday pageants due to the recession, (church officials said.) But some experts say the church failed to attract younger members while alienating older churchgoers with an ill-fated attempt to turn the church over to Schuller's son, ending in a bitter and public family feud.
The church laid off employees and cut salaries, but its debts surpassed $43 million, prompting the Crystal Cathedral to declare bankruptcy last year.   
Some congregants at the Crystal Cathedral said losing their church would be a sign of failure of the ministry's leadership and they wouldn't follow its leaders to a new site.   (end of article)

**If I were to re-write the highlighted pargraph it would read something like:   "On July 9, 2008 in an "emergency board meeting" called by Dr. Robert H. Schuller,  and with a few key board members "out-of-town or unavailable to attend", the Board of Directors for the Hour of Power decided to give control of the ministry to Jim Penner, husband of Dr. Robert H. Schuller's youngest daughter, Gretchen.   As a result, Mr. Penner, in a single-handed decision, separated Pastor Robert A. Schuller from the global congregation by taking him off the air of the Hour of Power telecast.  Even so, Pastor Schuller continued preaching to the local Crystal Cathedral congregation each Sunday through the beginning of the fall season.  Mr. Penner then told him he could no longer use the pulpit of the Crystal Cathedral on Sunday mornings.  Once that happened there was little hope left for a significant relationship between pastor and parishioners.    After three months of trying to restore the church's local consistory board's authority,  and after dead-end negotiations with the family members, it became clear that Pastor Robert A.Schuller was left no other choice but to resign.   Unfortunately for the ministry Pastor Schuller's book, "Leaning Into God When Life Is Pushing You Away" was released about the same time as his departure and it had been slated as the major fundraising gift for the fall 2008  Hour of Power season.   This book was anxiously anticipated as it followed on the heels of his New York Times bestseller, "Walking In Your Own Shoes."   Key staff people, many of them adored pastors and mentors, or experts in financial accountability and leadership, including Dr. Jim Poit and his dedicated staff,  were let go without considering further serious ramifications.  Month after month the ministry continued it's rapid decline without ever once repenting of or correcting the mistakes being made.  Prior to the careless and foolish decisions of July 2008 the ministry had embraced a bright future as highly recognized and prepared for years, Pastor Robert A. Schuller continued his father's uplifting, hope-filled,  traditional, Christ-centered ministry which Dr. Robert H. Schuller had birthed over 50 years before.   Partnering with Dr. Jim Poit, a graduate of Princeton Seminary and St. Andrew's, Pastor Robert A. Schuller and Dr. Poit had been building an incredibly capable and wise staff worthy of their calling in so many ways.  Adding to the church's problems, Pastor Robert A. Schuller's  untimely removal from the televised church service happened suddenly, without any proper or formal announcement,  thus causing worldwide concern for Pastor Schuller's health.    Rumors circulated that he "must have cancer", or maybe "he had been unfaithful to his wife".   "Why else would a faithful congregation be left in the dark?"   The ministry's income plummeted as thousands of letters and emails began pouring into the ministry and into the media, week after week, month after month.   Still church "leadership" gave no answers as to why the people's pastor, Robert A. Schuller, had suddenly vanished from their screens after 32 continuous years on the Hour of Power;  the last two and a half years as their senior pastor.   Contributing to the confusion and to the ministry's downturn was that only a couple of years had passed since hundreds of dinners had been hosted nationwide where multiple generations of church members had given standing ovations of support as Dr. Robert H. Schuller asked the question, "would they would support his son as the new senior pastor?"   ...And then we experienced the worst economy in decades.  This proved to be too much for the un-experienced, "correspondence course pastors" and other leadership that was driving the ministry off a cliff, since that fateful day of July 9, 2008.    In October of 2009 the "leadership" filed for bankruptcy protection... and the rest is history.   

Still in all, God will restore what man has neglected and driven away.  God is in the restoration business!  I woke up with a heavy heart yesterday and I believe I was somehow divinely directed to these verses.  I have been pondering the whole idea of being a remnant lately and all the remnants in my life that have formed the whole.  A remnant is a leftover, a scrap of a bigger whole.  There is a lot left over so let's all do something great with our future.

Jeremiah 23:1-4
"Woe to the shepherds who are destroying and scattering the sheep of my pasture! declares the Lord.  Therefore this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says to the shepherds who tend my people:  Because you have scattered my flock and driven them away and have not bestowed care on them, I will bestow punishment on you for the evil you have done.  I myself will gather the remnant of my flock out of all the countries where I have driven them and will bring them back to their pasture where they will be fruitful and increase in number.  I will place shepherds over them who will tend them, and they will no longer be afraid or terrified, nor will any be missing declares the Lord."

Remember to always count what you have left.  Never count what you have lost.  Be thankful this Thanksgiving.

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Sunday, November 13, 2011

A Time For Everything

 "We are called to know God, not his plans."    Isaiah 55:8,9

Hi Everyone,
I know that it has been too long since I have blogged!  You can attribute it to stress,  "writer's block",   traveling, too many changes, or any of the above.
Most of you know what is transpiring at the Crystal Cathedral and that has certainly contributed to my somewhat solemn mood.  By tomorrow the fate of that  landmark ministry will be determined by the bankruptcy court.   I think that's the real reason I haven't felt like blogging.  The situation is just one more  reminder of all we have gone through over the past three and a half years.  One bad decision after another has led to the decision that will take place tomorrow.
  I feel for those of you who are feeling grief and pain at the loss of what once was.    We still get regular messages via phone calls,  letters, and emails asking us "when is Robert A. going to return and help restore the church?"  First of all you must remember that my husband did not leave without trying to save the church.   There was not a great choice given after he was removed from The Hour Of Power;  and you might not know that he kept preaching to the local church until he was told that he could no longer preach in the CC on Sunday mornings.  For over three years the answer to the question people still pose is the same as it has always been:  "if there is proper governance installed and if The Penners and The Colemans step down, then,  and only then would Robert even consider a formal call to return as the pastor."   And, after tomorrow, who knows what will be left of the church, which is already down to a local congregation of a little more than a couple of hundred (from what we hear).
Robert and I both experienced the same feelings that a lot of you are just now experiencing after we realized that our gifts and calling were no longer appreciated, wanted, or needed at the ministry and which led to our ultimate departure.  It has been enough time now that the real heart-piercing feelings of betrayal and abandonment that accompanied that departure brought to us have begun to heal.   We have tried our best to move-on but with all the media hype and all the reminders of what we considered our life's calling, it has been a very difficult thing to do.  This being said, we are with you all in prayer as the decision is made tomorrow.
  Remember that no matter what happens,  there is comfort in knowing that God is in the plans even though we don't understand.  Like the scripture above says, knowing God is something we are called to do.  Keep loving him and getting to know him better day by day.    Knowing his plans however is not something that we are supposed to guess at.   Prayerfully facing each day and trusting God with the outcome is what continues the cycle of hope and healing in our lives.   Always remember that there is a time for everything and a purpose for all of it.

 "There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven:
A time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
a time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones together,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain,
a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.
.....He has made everything beautiful in it's time.  He has also set eternity in the hearts of man yet they cannot fathom what God has done from beginning to end."    
  Ecclesiastes 3: 1-11 

May you find peace and comfort in what God has planned for the future.
God is blessing you.    Donna

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Homeland Security

"What is my only comfort (security) in life and in death?   That I am not my own, but belong body and soul, in life and in death-to my faithful savior Jesus Christ."  The Heidelberg Catechism

As we ponder the great tragedy that struck the USA ten years ago today, let us all remember that throughout history there have been both natural and the unthinkable humanly caused disasters.    We must further remember that we are all going to die some day.   It's not so important how or when we will die:  what is important is how we choose to live.  
There is a rainbow at the end of every storm, only sometimes we can't see it.
May God continue to strengthen and heal all the 9/11 families and friends.  I pray that each of us would hold on to the memory by appreciating each and every day we have.  There is still a lot of good in this world so concentrate on that.  Get involved with something great!  Go out and make a difference. 

"Finally, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is praiseworthy--think about such things....put all of this to practice, and the God of peace will be with you always."    Philipians 4:8,9

God is blessing you.   Donna

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

A Summer To Remember

Dear Friends and Blog followers,
Let me start by saying "wheeuuww"!  We've almost made it through the summer here in the Northern Hemisphere.   I thought I would give you an update and fill you in on what Robert and I have been up to.
A couple's prayer for Christina and Chad at their wedding reception.
  For those of you who also follow us on Facebook you've more than likely seen that our daughter, Christina got married on August 21st!   What a great day it was, beginning with a lovely service in our own Laguna Presbyterian Church here in Laguna Beach, which happens to be the place where I attended Sunday school as a child.   Robert was father of the bride and walked her down the aisle, Dr. Robert H. read a scripture which Christina had selected, and her brother, Bobby conducted the service and pronounced them husband and wife.   Afterwards we enjoyed a beautiful and very lively reception at our friends, Mindy and Glenn Stearns' house in Pelican Hill, Newport Coast.  All in all it was a perfect day filled with love and the many blessings of God.

Crazy enough, twenty-four hours later Robert and I were on a plane bound for Mongolia where we spent a week participating in a global peace convention and festival.  The main purpose of this particular peace conference was to set the stage for a meeting between North and South Korea in November.  Mongolia is positioned to mediate this next gathering as they have diplomatic relations with both Koreas.   It is anticipated that our next meeting with take place in the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.   We are hoping and praying that we can make a difference in not only helping people find inner peace, but with helping to facilitate what is surely on God's heart, and that is to encourage peace in all corners of the globe.  For more information you can go to their website at
Robert and I in front of "Great Hall, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade"
Me speaking on "Family As The Foundation For Peace"

Upon returning home a day and a half ago,  we have moved out of the apartment we were staying in and back into our home.  There is something really great about sleeping in your own bed after being away for seven weeks!   We have also launched a very exciting project! We have opened our home for "spiritual retreats".  We look forward to hosting retreats for 1-4 people where we will help people grow closer to God in body, mind, and spirit.   As many of you might recall, this is what we did for years at Rancho Capistrano with our "Possibility Living Seminars."  As an ordained pastor with years of life experience Robert is well-positioned to shepherd,  mentor, and counsel.   As a certified nutritional consultant and a family systems student and teacher for the past twenty years,  I know I  am prepared to help people with their physical issues such as diet and exercise as well as joining my husband in counseling and mentoring.    Both of us also have a passion, a desire,  and the experience to help individuals with family disharmony, business or financial struggles, grief, dealing with children, and other challenging issues.  We want to help people make sense of it all and more importantly find peace and wholeness through the process.   For more information on our retreat go to   Type in "Laguna Beach" and then "Robert A. Schuller Spiritual...."below on the right.
The beach is a great place for spiritual reflection
I don't know what most of you are facing today or what challenges you are dealing with.   What I can assure you of is this:  whatever you are dealing with, God will get you through it.    I am convinced and certain that the promises of God are real and you can count on them.    I say this as one who has experienced the death of my father when I was a child,  a divorce in my 20s,  marrying Robert and helping him to raise his two plus our two,  a life-threatening illness of a daughter, and finally the betrayal of close family members.  These are only the heartaches and disappointments that come to mind immediately.  I know that a lot of you have lived through similar situations and have experienced personal growth in wisdom and patience having survived them.  So have I.   This is a perfect example of God's message of hope and restoration!
In the new testament book of Peter, chapter one, verses 10 and 11 it is written:
"And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast."
Remember that we cannot count on things happening in our own timing but if we continue to rely and trust in God, in his timing all will be made right... somehow, some way.
Remember...God is blessing you.   Donna

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Moving, Weddings, etc!!

Hi Friends!
I have received many emails asking if we are okay and the answer is "yes"!   This summer has proved to be yet another season of transition and adjustment.   We have rented out our family home for "summer rental" (the much needed cash flow was just too good to pass up!) and our daughter Christina is getting married on August 21st!  Needless to say it is a bit chaotic in the Schuller household these days!
We continue to feel so fortunate and blessed as Robert's media business continues to grow in many healthy ways.  We have also taken on or continue to be involved in several projects locally and globally.    Locally we are involved in training and leadership for a new anti-oxidant energy drink company called Xsera.  Both locally and internationally I continue to broker telecommunications, gas and electricity.   I also continue to coach individuals in body, mind, and spirit health through my nutritional coaching practice.  
Robert and I both leave for our next Global Peace Festival, this year in Mongolia, a day and a half after the wedding!  There we will once again espouse conflict resolution as we encourage and help facilitate peace-building efforts among the world's main religions.
The most exciting project that we plan on launching this September is our private spiritual retreats for 1-4 persons, all in the privacy of our own home!  Both Robert and myself will be offering one-on-one counseling sessions, leadership and mentoring training, marriage and friendship renewal, financial advice, and complete body, mind, and spirit restoration.  I will even cook you a healthy continental breakfast each day!   You can check out our listing on ..."Robert A. Schuller Spiritual"
Of course we continue to attend our son Bobby's church and encourage his efforts with The St. Patrick Project as we enjoy our darling grandbaby, Haven.
Please continue to pray for us as we do for you.
Change is not easy but a necessary part of life.   No change=no growth.  I believe with all my heart that each detour of our plans and every challenge we face avails us the opportunity for character building.  It also helps teach us awareness and deep appreciation for the many blessings around us every day.
If you too are experiencing a season of change I encourage you to make a list of all of your blessings.  This includes your family and friends, opportunities, your job, your personal possessions, or anything that you have in life.  Make sure the list is at least one page, single-spaced.  Post it where you can read it each morning.  Remember to thank God for how much you have... never dwell on what you have lost.
              Christina and I at a Christmas party 2010

"We rejoice in the hope of the glory of God, not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character, and character hope.  And hope does not disappoint us..."   Romans 5:2-5
Always hold on to hope.   Good things are just around the corner!
God is blessing you.   Donna

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

When You're Down To Nothing, God is UP to Something

Preaching at a  church in Kenya.  November 2010

When You're Down to Nothing; God is Up to Something

Written By Robert A. Schuller

Delivered on the HOP as his last sermon there ever on 08/31/08

I concluded last week's message with words that I want to begin my message with today. These words exemplify everything about the story that I want you to take with you today. The words are: When you're down to nothing God is up to something! That is something that is important for us to realize. I'm going to tell you a story today and I will begin by setting the stage and setting the situation. I am going to tell you of a law in the Old Testament in the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Leviticus. It reads as follows: "When a woman has a discharge of blood for many days at a time other than her monthly period she will be unclean.  Any bed she lies on will be unclean and anything she sits on will be unclean.  Whoever touches them will be unclean.  He must wash his clothes and bathe with water and he will be unclean till evening." (Leviticus 15: 25-27) In the book of Mark, Chapter 5 we read: "A large crowd followed and pressed around Jesus.  And a woman was there who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years.  She had suffered a great deal under the care of many doctors and had spent all she had.  Yet instead of getting better she grew worse.  When she heard about Jesus she came up behind him and touched his cloak because she thought if I just touch his clothes I'll be healed. Immediately her bleeding stopped and she felt in her body that she was freed from her suffering. At once Jesus realized that power had gone out from him and he turned around to the crowd and said, 'Who touched my clothes?' The disciples said,'You see the people crowded around you and yet you ask who touched me?' But Jesus kept looking around to see who had done it. Then the woman, knowing what had happened to her, came and fell at his feet and trembled in fear and told him the whole truth. He said to her, 'Daughter your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.'

She heard about Jesus.  She believed that Jesus could heal her.  She acted in faith and she received her healing. It begins with the fact that she heard the word about Jesus as it started spreading around Syria and around Galilee and throughout the region. People would come from miles and miles to receive some kind of a healing and they were being healed!  This woman heard about Jesus.  She heard about the fact that he could possibly heal her and it was her last hope.  She was down to nothing. She spent everything she had on doctors and trying to get well, but to no avail. She was down to nothing.  When you're down to nothing God is up to something!  She heard about Jesus and she had a glimmer of hope.

There was a group of frogs who decided to have a race and on the race they decided they were going to climb this high tower. So the word got out that the frogs were racing and all the frogs of the whole world came to watch this amazing feat as they scaled this tower. As they started racing up the tower everyone started saying, "It's impossible for anyone to reach the top of that tower," and others said, "Look at them, they can't possibly succeed; they are going to fail."  One by one they would fall and the other frogs would shout, "Oh there goes another one! We knew it couldn't happen. It's impossible." One by one they all fell except for one frog that made it to the top.  Having made it to the top they interviewed him.  They came up to him and they said, "Where did you find the strength to get up to the top of the tower?"  He said, "What? I'm sorry I can't hear you. I'm deaf."  The frog never heard that it was impossible.  He never heard that others were failing.  He never heard anything except he saw his goal.  He heard that they were going to have a race to the top and that's all he heard.  He didn't hear the negative; he just saw his goal and he reached for his goal. He succeeded. 

What do you hear today?  When you have nothing and you are down to nothing what do you hear?  Do you hear the voices that say, "You are nothing and there is no hope."  Or do you hear that there is possibly a means and a way to succeed?  Can you hear that God is up to something?  If you can hear that you can pull yourself out of any hole that you find yourself in today.  There is nothing that is impossible with God.  Absolutely nothing. 

The woman heard that Jesus was around.  She believed. She believed that if she could get close enough to him to touch his garment, she would be healed.  Now think about that for a moment.  Let me tell you about the law again. The law said: Whoever touches them will be unclean.  He must wash his clothes and bathe with water and he will be unclean till evening.  And what's her plan? She's going to go and touch him.  Tell me that isn't gutsy! She knows he is not going to touch her because he's a rabbi he's not going to touch her.  But maybe she can touch him and maybe that will work.  She believed it.  St. Paul tells us in Corinthians that we live by faith and not by sight.  We live by faith. 

So many people say, "I'll believe it when I see it." If we wait to see it to believe you're going to be waiting a long time because the sight comes to those who believe and when you believe it then you'll see it.  This past week I had the privilege of going and listening to an oilman you might be familiar with. His name is T. Boon Pickens and he calls himself an oilman and an entrepreneur and a geologist.  One of the things I heard him say as he was addressing a group of about 280 people was that he has dug a lot of wells. He said not all the wells that he dug were successful. He hit a lot of dry wells, but he believed in every one. He would never dig a well that he didn't believe in. But he said, "I hit enough of them.  I hit some.  But if I never believed and never dug how many would I have hit?"  He would never have hit a single well if he didn't try them.

Believe.  When you believe you will see it. The woman heard, she believed and she acted.  Somehow she was able to press through the crowd.  It was really crowded because even the disciples couldn't figure out what in the world he was talking about and she touched the hem of his garment.  Now the hems of the garments that Jesus wore were probably not what you envision.  The pictures you see that depict the dress of Christ are probably not very accurate. One of the things we know is that Jesus always wore a prayer shawl. Every conservative, orthodox Jew to this day wears the prayer shawl. That would have been one of the things that Jesus would have worn.  Chances are she touched the actual tassels on his prayer shawl.  The prayer shawl is called a tallith. Chances are she touched one of those four tassels. Every prayer shawl has four tassels on it.  Those tassels are to remind them of the power of God reaching the four corners of the earth; having the ability to do anything.  So if she can touch the tassel of his prayer shawl she could be healed.  She squeezed through the crowd.  She touched it. 

I watched a video the other day, which was a spoof on the Tom Hanks movie, "The Castaway."  Are you familiar with that movie?  In The Castaway, Tom Hanks is lost for several years.  He was traveling on a FedEx plane which crashed and there are all these FedEx packages around the island. Finally Tom Hanks is rescued and there is a package he decided he was going to bring back to a woman. He brings the package to the woman and says, "I've been stranded on an island for all these years and I wanted to deliver your package to you. Well that's the spoof on Tom Hanks.  The video I saw shows this man walking up to this door and he has a big long beard.  It looks like he has just got off the island, but he has a FedEx shirt on and he is holding a FedEx box and he hands the FedEx box to this lady. She opens it up right away and inside the box was a satellite phone, fishing hooks and fishing line and a lighter, etc., and she kept pulling things out of the box that could have made life so much more comfortable for him while he was stranded on the island.

The question I have for you is this.  How many FedEx packages are sitting around your feet and you've never opened them?  You're down to nothing and God sends you blessings but you don't have enough faith to open the box. Respond to the blessing that God is giving you. Inside is everything you need to give you the hope and vision, and a map to give you the direction to climb from nothing to something! She heard it.  She believed it.  She acted and she received it.  She was healed and Jesus felt the power leave him and he whirled around and he said, "Who touched me?"  Seeing the woman he said, "Your faith has made you well go in peace." 

She was healed. She was healed in every way, which then opened the door so she could go to her temple.  She wasn't able to go to her temple for twelve years.  She wasn't able to touch anyone for twelve years.  She wasn't able to embrace her husband, her children, and her grandchildren.  She wasn't able to embrace her parents, her friends. She was totally cut off from society in every way.  Physically she was healed, which then healed her socially and at the same time healed her spiritually. Jesus said to her, "Go forth in peace."

Today I encourage you to come before God in prayer.  Wherever your needs are, whatever your frustrations are today just remember this:  When you're down to nothing God is up to something. As a result of that God is going to bless us in some way.  We just need to open our ears and hear.  Open our hearts and believe.  Open our hands and act.  Open our hearts and receive.  Receive His blessings today.  He wants to heal you spiritually, emotionally and physically. God is in the process of doing that all the time. 

So I encourage you to pray.  I pray for hundreds of people every week. I receive hundreds of prayer cards every week.  I go online and I pray for people on our website and I can't begin to tell you how many people are struggling financially, physically, relationally. This woman in the scripture had lost everything to doctors.  She'd lost her health.  She'd lost her relationships.  She was lost spiritually. However, she had enough faith to simply reach out and everything changed. The same thing will be true with you.  If you will reach out to Jesus in prayer everything will change.  Because when you're down to nothing God is up to something.  Don't ever forget it. Carry it with you always and remember this story. 

Dear God, we thank you that you are in the process of bringing healing and hope and goodness to people's lives today tomorrow and always. Help us to hear your message and to believe and to act accordingly so that we will receive the bounties and the blessings that you have for us.  We love you, God. Amen.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Robert A. Schuller-"When You Are Down To Nothing, God Is Up To Something" Part 1

As I had hoped, Robert has committed to blogging about his latest book which is scheduled to be released  in September!  I am so happy that he "is back" albeit a very different format.   This is my first time publishing his video so please be patient as I have not yet mastered the audio edit!!  The good news is that I can only get better as I learn! 
I know that the title"When You Are Down To Nothing, God Is Up To Something"  is so timely for so many of us.   Times are tougher than ever in my life time.  I am convinced that Robert will minister to many with this video blog.   Please join in the conversation and feel safe to share what trials you face or anything else you want to share.  Remember-God is blessing you always,   Donna

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Mother's Legacy

My mom and I in Caesarea of Phillipi May 2010
We recently celebrated Mother's Day in the USA and this year I spent a length of time reflecting on the many blessings that my mom has passed down to me.  It's so easy to focus on what one didn't have but if you are a functioning and healthy individual then there's a lot for you to be aware of and be thankful for.  Find time to focus on at least one good thing about your life,  specifically your childhood, and discover how to look at life with new and appreciative eyes.
From my earliest memory mom always got up and cooked my brother and I breakfast.  And I mean always!  This wasn't just something to put in our stomachs, this was a well-balanced and healthy meal consisting of protein and complex carbohydrates,  accompanied by fresh-squeezed juice or a half a fresh grapefruit; and of course our daily vitamins!   Since studying food and becoming a nutritionist several years back  (imagine why!)  I have asked her how she knew what to feed us and how she figured out things such as,   butter is better than margarine, whole wheat is better than white bread,  a bit of protein is essential at every meal as is something raw (fruit, veggies, or anything providing live enzymes)  Of course we had to eat everything on the plate too "because there were starving children in other parts of the world"... As a result, one value she passed on to me was to never be wasteful.    We didn't struggle with weight issues because the food was nutrient dense and once we finished our chores (my main one was ironing...yuck!)   we "played"outside instead of watching television, using computers, cell phones,  or any other electronic devices that may have caused us to be lazy.  Laziness was never tolerated!  We weren't allowed soft drinks except on rare occasion during family pizza nights.  We also had to ask if we wanted to snack in between meals.  She also knew that we needed at least 8 hours of sleep and she firmly enforced a bedtime for more years than I want to tell you about!  We weren't allowed to watch more than a few hours of t.v. a week,  while sitting at least five feet from the television so as not to wreck our eyes and our overall health  (how did she know about electro-magnetic fields back then?!)  And, believe it or not, my mom put out which clothes we were allowed to wear to school until I was in the 6th grade.  One time when mom was working out of town  I convinced my Grandma that it was okay for me to wear my new, fringed, white leather moccasins to school.  This was not at all true because Mom did not consider those to be appropriate school clothing.  I thought I would get away with the trickery until it rained that day and I ruined my moccasins.  Of course mom found out and not only did I lose them to damage but I also was grounded for a week as a result of disobeying her.
All of these family guidelines and rituals were intentional and I've implemented plenty of them while raising my own children but there's another type of legacy that was passed on to me.  This includes values and habits that mom really didn't talk about but instead modeled.  Intrinsic, non-negotiable core values and a deep sense of commitment that I rely on even today when times in life get tough and I feel like running away!
My mom was a single mom through most of my teenage years.  My dad was killed in a car accident when I was just thirteen and my brother only ten.  After that tragic event I watched her expand her skills, roll up her sleeves, and get to work in whatever ways necessary in order to keep meals on the table, our mortgage paid, and good clothes on our backs.  She never rested and she certainly didn't ever feel sorry for herself.  I now appreciate that it was a very difficult time for such a young woman whose children had lost their Dad but she showed us daily how very much we had left.
From sun up to sundown, her work ethic was second to none.  Her strength of character in speaking the truth in love was not always appreciated but as I get older I know that mom has never been one to talk behind someones back, instead she will always tell it to their face!   She sewed the most beautiful and stylish dresses for almost every one of my high school dances and she often hosted the pre-dance dinner party in our home, setting the tables with her best china and spending hours preparing and serving the food.  I will never forget her "cherries jubilee" desert that she so lovingly prepared one year.
All of this work ethic and true grit as such a young mom too.  She was only sixteen when she married my dad and just eighteen when I was born.   At thirty-one she was left alone to raise two young children who would soon turn into mischevious teenagers.  The trials we put her through must have been really difficult to face alone.  I know I had a full-time husband around when I was raising my children and even then it was never easy.
I watched mom persevere and never quit.  She worked full-time and did whatever she could to support us and she never did anything less than excellent.   She read Christian self-help books and taught us  about being positive and always looking for the best in people.  She strove for greatness, as she does to this day.
  I'm sure she spent many painful nights suffering alone or questioning God in the quietness of her room, but she never burdened us with her sadness.  Instead she put on an "I can conquer anything" attitude, and she did!   She gave selflessly to my brother and I and we always new we were loved.   Through it all, every day, bright and early, exhausted from work or not,  she faithfully cooked our great breakfast,  squeezed and poured our juice and made sure we took our vitamins.
What a legacy...what a mom!  Thank you God.
He is blessing you!   Donna

Thursday, March 31, 2011

"Churchgoers More Likely to Become Obese" I KNOW that there will be a lot of you who will not like this article which was sent to me so I'm writing this first before you scroll down to read it!
Several years ago when my nutritional coaching extended to the church I discovered that as long as I didn't 'touch' people's Sunday donuts they would listen to what I had to say!
  Interesting that eating disorders are rampant in the church because over-eating as opposed to excessive drinking, drug abuse, gambling, sex addiction and pornography,  is somehow acceptable addictions although a person with a "food problem" may be suffering just as bad as the rest.   This is frequently a terrible situation because addiction is addiction and it needs to be addressed.   If a person is dealing with an addiction there is an underlying issue causing that addiction which needs to be treated so the person can get well in order to fulfill God's purpose for their life.   What better place should there be than the church to safely deal with and heal from that addiction?  Unfortunately in most cases the whole eating junk food thing has become part of church culture and for many food can be a real problem.   In 2 Corinthians 6 verse 3 we read, "We put no stumbling block in anyone's path, so that our ministry will not be discredited."
Many years ago when my husband and I were pastoring our church at Rancho Capistrano we decided to make a policy which banned donuts from the church campus.  We suggested that people bring muffins or any other healthier alternative as snacks.   I thought we were fair as most muffins aren't exactly health food either but they are a heck of a lot better than the donuts (AKA "Do-Nots'!) We also discouraged handing out candy to the children as rewards because most problems with food begin when we are young and associating candy with reward can cause problems down the road.  You get the picture, I'm sure.     Should we never have sweets or "junk food", of course not, just something to be aware of.
We were created in God's image: body, mind, and soul.   Here's what the Bible says about your body.   "Do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have received from God?  You are not your own;  you were bought at a price.  Therefore honor God with your body."  1 Corinthians 6:19, 20
If you close your eyes and and recite this what comes to mind when you think of a temple?   Meditate on that for a few minutes.
A temple is a sacred place and that is how God views your body...His creation.  He dwells in you.  So honor God by honoring your bodies.
Jesus said, "The kingdom of God does not come with your careful observation, nor will people say, 'here it is', or 'there it is', because the kingdom of God is within you."  Luke 17:21     
Remember always,  God is blessing you!   Donna

Churchgoers More Likely to Become Obese                     by Michael O'Riordan
March 25, 2011 (Atlanta, Georgia) Results from a new study suggest that churchgoing folks are consuming a little bit more than the spiritual weight of God's good word [1]. Individuals who attend church frequently in young adulthood are significantly more likely to become obese in middle age, according to a new analysis of the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study.
Presenting the results here this week at EPI|NPAM 2011, the Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention and Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Metabolism 2011 Conference, researchers say the news isn't all doom and gloom, however.
"The upshot is that we know that religious people are less likely to smoke, more likely to have better physical and mental status, and more likely to live longer," lead investigator Dr Matthew
Feinstein (Northwestern University, Chicago, IL) told heartwire . "They're doing a lot right in some areas, but there is room for improvement. There is also a lot of potential for effective initiatives to be implemented because religious organizations often have preexisting infrastructure and social support systems, which are key contributors to establishing effective health initiatives, like antiobesity initiatives."
Last year, along with senior investigator Dr Donald Lloyd-Jones (Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL), Feinstein and colleagues conducted a cross-sectional analysis of the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) cohort and showed that increased religious involvement, including more frequent prayer and meditation, was associated with a greater prevalence of obesity.
"Given that finding, we wanted to look earlier in adulthood in order to understand more about the longitudinal or temporal nature of this relationship," said Feinstein.
The group analyzed religious involvement in 2433 male and female participants aged 20 to 32 years old in the CARDIA trial. Participation in religious services was defined as high (at least once weekly), medium (regular, but not weekly), low (rarely), or never. After approximately 18 years of follow-up, the investigators assessed the cardiovascular risk profile, including obesity, in the now␣middle-aged participants, with middle age defined as between 38 and 50 years of age.
After adjustment for multiple variables, including age, race, sex, education, income, and baseline body-mass index, individuals with a high frequency of religious participation in young adulthood were 50% more likely than those with no religious participation to become obese by middle age.
Odds Ratios for Incidence of Obesity (Adjusted for Baseline Demographics, CVD Risk Factors, and Smoking)
Measure for Obesity  
No  religious  participation-    1.0
Low  frequency participation-    0.98
Medium  frequency participation-    1.28
High  frequency participation-    1.48
One previous hypothesis for the increased rates of obesity among churchgoing individuals had been their lower rates of smoking. As smoking acts as an appetite suppressant and churchgoers smoke less frequently, this might have led to higher rates of obesity because they ate more. However, Feinstein and colleagues performed additional analyses that adjusted for smoking and still observed an association between religious participation and obesity, almost to the same degree. In addition, based on the MESA cross-sectional data, some had proposed that obese people were more likely to gravitate toward friends and support in religious communities. However, these new longitudinal data from CARDIA implies that this too is not the case.
"It's tough to infer any causality from this, because we didn't look at specific mechanisms," said Feinstein. "One possible explanation, though, is that religious gatherings might center on eating traditional, high-calorie comfort food, and this in itself might contribute to the higher incidence and prevalence of obesity."

American Heart Association Nutrition, Physical Activity and Metabolism / Cardiovascular Disease Epidemiology and Prevention (AHA EPI-NPAM) 2011 Scientific Sessions

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Growth In Peace

As I think about peace today I turn to the day's headlines which read as follows: 

Egypt Erupts in Jubilation as Mubarak Steps Down

The departure of President Hosni Mubarak was a pivotal turn in a revolt that has upended one of the Arab's world's most enduring dictatorships.
 The above headline does not emote feelings of peace and yet it was something that needed to happen in order to hopefully restore a peaceful future for Egypt.   Please continue to pray for this land and their future leaders.

Here's what Jesus says in the book of Luke 12, verses 22-28.  "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat;  or about your body;  what you will wear.  Life is more than food, and the body more than clothes.  Consider the ravens:  They do not sow or reap,  they have no storeroom or barn;  yet God feeds them.  And how much more valuable you are than birds!  Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?  Since you can not do this little thing, why do you worry about the rest?  Consider how the lilies grow.  They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.    If that is how God clothes the grass of the field,  which is here today and then thrown into the fire,  how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith.?"
Worry is the thief of peace yet we all spend countless hours worrying about things that never happen!
One of my favorite devotional books was written by E. Stanley Jones and is titled, "Growing Spiritually".    In one of his writings on peace he shares this:  "Growth in peace is growth in adjustment, growth in adjustment is growth in maturity of character.  Growth in peace is the acid test of growth.  Peace is not a luxury to be added to life;  it is a sign of a growing life.  Not growing in peace equals not growing in life.  The most splendid flower is the least striving.   Call it effortless assimilation.  The plant receives what is around it (sun, water, soil)  and it grows effortlessly into a beautiful flower.    
Learn to take in, it is the measure of your growth.  The tense do not take in.  They grow by expenditure of energy and struggle.  This is self-defeating!"
I have observed that many people can not thrive effortlessly because they are not in an situation where they can grow.  Like a potentially beautiful plant which is starved of water and sunlight, so is the person who is living in a toxic environment.  

Find a hobby or activity that takes you outside daily.  Pay attention to the little birds, the beautiful flowers,  or the way the leaves on a tree move in the wind.   Spend a quiet morning by yourself, if even for ten or twenty minutes.  Take time to do nothing but think (and maybe) journal. (Sometimes even journaling can become a task to be completed)   Learn to appreciate quiet solitude.  Listen to your heart.  Listen to God.   You will be amazed at what you will discover about effortless times spent alone.
Choose to surround yourself with healthy, peaceful, and positive people.   There is enough turmoil in this world without the added stress of living in an unhealthy situation.   God wants you to find peace and happiness and maybe it's time for you to be courageous and make a change so you can be all He wants you to become!
God is blessing you. 

Friday, January 21, 2011

What Are You Afraid Of?

"Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today.  The Egyptians you see today you will never see again.  The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still."          Exodus 14: 13 &14

These are the encouraging words of Moses as he led the Israelites out of Egypt.  This population of very brave people were exiting Egypt, on the run,  and experiencing uncharted territory and uncertain times ahead.  They must have been terrified as they saw the masses of the Egyptian armies bearing down on them.   None the less they persevered and followed the call of God to cross the Red Sea and   God was faithful as he helped them cross.
Many of us might feel as though we have "Egyptians" chasing after us today.  Of course I am not talking about this fine race or culture which exists today.  I am speaking of the fear and anxiety causing situations right now that bring up the same emotions that were experienced by the Israelites as a result of their fear of the Egyptians of their day. 
Power, fear,  uncertainty. anxious thoughts and lack of hope for the future are things that everyone faces at some time in their life.  
To help overcome these feelings that are not from God, try repeating to yourself and meditating on the above scripture.  
What are your "Egyptians" today?  Where do you need to "be still" and courageous?  Are you standing firm on the promises of God or are you wavering in uncertainty and fear?       Trust Him, be still, and know that what you are afraid of today may not be important tomorrow.  "God will fight for you"!
God is blessing you. 

Monday, January 17, 2011

What is Your Dream?

"I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."   Martin Luther King, Jr.

Although his life was cut short, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was a dreamer of big dreams. and there are many examples of dreamers in the Bible.   Dreams are a very important part of faith and without faith and trust in the future you are doomed to negativity and non-productive behaviors.  What are your dreams and hopes for the future for yourself and your family?  Write them down,  post them, share them, believe in them!

As we remember Martin Luther King Jr. today we also remember that NOTHING is impossible with God!  "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen."    Hebrews 11:1

God is blessing you!  

Monday, January 3, 2011

New Year's Goals!!

 Happy New Year!  

   I am filled with hope for 2011 and am off to a running start!   Our financial situation has never been more difficult to deal with so I am "praying like it all depends on God but working like it all depends on me."
I have started a new international business,  have been working hard, and I am filled with faith that this will be my best year ever!   My husband Robert is assisting me and it feels so good to be doing something together again! 
Here is a verbal and written exercise I do at the beginning of each new year.  This has been a family tradition since my kids were young and it can really help you start 2011 off on the right foot.
1)  Share your happiest time/best memory of 2010.  
2)  Verbalize your goals for 2011.  Write them down and share them with trusted family members or friends.  Keep them displayed in a prominent place where you will be reminded of them daily.  Remember that there is great power in the act of writing what you hope for.   Use paper and a pen.    Only use a computer for the final copy which I frame and post on my office wall each year. 
3)  Think big.   No dream or goal is too big if God is in the center of it.  I usually have 10-12 goals for the year.   I don't always accomplish everything but at least I come closer than I would have had I not made them a goal in the first place!
It is tempting to spend time in doubt and worry yet at the end of the day there is no point in it.   I encourage you to make a positive plan for success today.  Write it down,  put it in a visible place, pray about it, stick to it!!  
" Our doubts are traitors, that make us lose the good, we oft might win, by fearing to attempt."
Shakespeare       As the Bible puts it...
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you;  plans to give you hope and a future."   Jeremiah 29:11
God is blessing you.   Donna