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Though my childhood consisted of many moves and oppression from unfulfilled and fearful parents, this insecure and overly sensitive girl still had a zest for life and nature, and a zeal for connecting with people through words and books. My favorite place was my great Aunt Helen's house that never changed until she had to move, for there in that great pink stucco haven, I was safe, loved unconditionally, and learned to cook and appreciate gardens. I was one of her few sources of joy, and felt it. My adult life garden, has had wonderful seasons of flourishing with my husband of 40 years and our two precious daughters, and continues as we observe them as women of faith whose husbands are true partners in their life gardens. Our lives have been enriched even more in the last five years, through the arrival of our grandson and twin granddaughters.
Though raising children was my greatest long-term challenge, it has also been one of my greatest rewards, especially in those times of shared triumph. I can also now see how God used various events of child-rearing to teach me what I most needed to learn - unselfishness, for I had been fully into self before their arrival. Afterward, the word sacrifice entered my vocabulary and has not left it, knowing now it is essential for God growth in every area of body, mind, spirit and soul. Parenting also revealed just how much each of us needed a personal Savior then, though we did not yet understand our various pursuits were spirit-based. The act of regular church attendance and involvement, which we surely practiced, did not open our eyes to see and ears to hear; I now know that particular heart condition is God activated. Even five years of my mother preaching from 1970-1975, once she was saved, only turned me away. Her new joy and finally filled heart sustained her through a two year battle with breast cancer, but I did not really listen until her funeral. God chose that time to pour His love into me, providing needed revelation knowledge regarding the truth of His Word; and her death was the beginning of my awakening.
God continued to stir me by His Spirit, after mom's death, for soon after, I did ask Jesus into my heart. However, I know now my faith was more head knowledge than heart filled. By opening up to Him, the Holy Spirit entered and began convicting me of any sins, however, the new believer needs to be fed through the Word and have continual mentoring by other spirit filled people, in order to stay on track. This is why the right Church is essential. I did become more active in my church then, though simultaneously backslid by reading books that don't grow the spirit, while also exploring self help material, not realizing it was not always God-led. During this same period, there were a number of relationship issues that wounded my heart, an escalation of various fears, and I was hit with a possible life-threatening illness at 39. Though I clearly know now that God intervened in several of those issues, for good, full Spirit help (which I now know is available to believers) was not experienced. This fact propels me now as a writer/teacher for Him, to listen to His every call to help others through His inspired messages to me. For I serve a Romans 8:28 God who wants good to ultimately come, who forgives past error, and who desires His children to not look back. Failure is over; the future, in Him, is based on new hope. Walking in God's light, in thankfulness, trusting in His timing, being grateful for His solace, and even His pruning, is His way to peace.
My full awakening accelerated during ten years of Bible Study in my last workplace, where I was drawn by the light of the Lord in the leader, Diane, whose positive example drew me to Jesus. Through this precious woman, I came to see He was her friend, and the Holy Spirit wanted to be my personal comforter and teacher. It was through this Tuesday lunch group, that I attended many Christian events, was introduced to contemporary music, and began reading books that caused me to grow in my faith instead of escape from life. In April 1996, I traveled with them to the Blue Mountain Conference Center in the Poconos just as my health problems were worsening, job discontent growing, menopausal symptoms peaking, sadness from empty nest lingering, and my longing heart seeking. Until that weekend, I had always placed my marriage and children before God, which brought me happiness, but not joy, for there is a clear difference. Restlessness ruled me. I had come to a "life precipice." I had to commit to change!
My heart knew, therefore, that this weekend would be life-changing; God had been doing a deep work in me for a long time, but my sudden bold dash to the altar on the second night, to be prayed for by the key speaker, Eve Fenton, was not typical behavior for me. Nor did I know until my turn, what to say, but when she asked what I wanted her to pray for, I spoke, "a stronger faith and the right church!" Suddenly she was asking God to remove the spirit of FEAR from this woman, in the Name of Jesus. In that moment, the Spirit of God did an instant work in me, I felt like a weight was lifted, and my most important stumbling block, fear, left. Immediately, faith replaced fear, finding a new home in my heart. I then made Jesus Lord of my life over all people and things. For this is His heart, that none should be before Him. I no longer feared what people thought of my choices when they concerned God and me. This time, the invitation was from my whole heart, not my head. This was the key choice God desired of me, though He had inspired it, knowing He alone could and would activate the rest of His eternal plan for my life from that moment.
Since then, God has shown me He would not allow precious relationships to suffer if I placed Him first, and He still faithfully demonstrates His faithfulness which grows faith in me. Faith building is a step by step process, for when we trust and obey, He shows us the way. I have come to believe now that if He has spoken to my heart and changed it, He can and does also speak to others and changes them also. Submitting to God has awesome soul benefits. I see changes in many I pray for, even if they do not. Many relationships have been tested, but we have grown closer in important ways.
On that now long ago April evening, I had truly found my Savior and knew God's all-consuming agape love and peace wash over me, an experience not describable. We sang a song after that service entitled, "I Will Never Be the Same," and I have not. Within eight months of that day, I was led to my current church, where I am fed, our oldest daughter accepted Christ, my sister was baptized in the Holy Spirit (as I had been in April) and our relationship renewed, I began to write, my water revelation took place followed by many gastrointestinal and allergy healings, and in December 1996 I was called to the writing ministry which God called Hydrated With Love™, and told to leave the work place to work for the Lord. One decision led by the Lamb of Liberty had set this captive free!
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