"...He who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus!"Philippians 1: 6

Abba, Father 


     This past weekend was Father’s Day. For me, it was the second year I celebrated my dad differently...because he is in heaven. Of course, Facebook helped prime the waterfall of tears as I viewed the slideshow of memories with my dad, but I also chuckled and laughed as I recalled the way he called me his ‘Sunshine’. We shared many special times and I’m grateful for the influence and impact he had in my life. My dad and I would watch National Geographic and Nova specials on TV. It’s true. My love of discovery especially of science and space came from him. You see, my dad Wayne was an aerospace engineer, a.k.a. “rocket scientist”!

     He would get out his telescope in the evening and lift me to his waist to view the stars and planets. I remember peering into the eyepiece and gazing up into space. “Again, Daddy, again!” I’d plead as I asked for one more glimpse of the celestial beauty so close and yet so far away. I enjoyed looking at the planets and stars ‘sparkle’ and ‘twinkle’ in the darkness of our backyard. I especially liked viewing the craters that made giant shadows on the moon. I think I even told my kindergarten teacher that I wanted to be an astronaut when I grew up. 

     One of my best childhood memories was being awakened by my dad early on the morning of July 20, 1969. I was four years old. Sitting transfixed in front of our black and white TV we watched the astronauts land on the moon for the first time. We heard the voice of Neil Armstrong’s profound words as they broadcast back to Earth: “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” “Wow!” I heard my dad say, “The universe our God created is amazing,” as his eyes welled up with tears. I’m grateful I grew up with the kind of wonder that caused me to worship the Creator of the cosmos. Thinking back on it, Neil Armstrong left his footprints on the moon, but my dad's words left a deep spiritual impression upon my heart. 

     I have so many fantastic memories in life with my dad. Through the years my dad supported me and encouraged me to thrive in my God-given gifts and talents. He came to every dance and music recital and took photos even if it was in 100-degree heat. He took our family on amazing trips and vacations. Dad invited work collogues from Japan into our home and our family hosted Japanese exchange students. When Aerojet asked him to move to Japan, there was no hesitation because he already loved the culture and the people. I’ll never forget walking the streets of Tokyo with my dad for the first time. His eyes sparkled with excitement as we navigated our way to find a street vendor with a savory pancake called “Okonomiyaki”. (As I recall, I didn’t enjoy the taste very well the first time because pancake batter and vegetables were a new savory combination. But I never let on because it was the start of a great adventure.)

     When my dad planned a father-daughter trip to northern Japan to visit pottery makers and enjoy the fall colors in 1983 it made special memories that I will treasure forever. What’s fantastic to recall is that no one spoke English in that region and there were NO English road signs! Somehow, with Dad’s navigational expertise, we made it to all our destinations which included authentic Japanese lodging. What a great trip.

     While living in Japan, I had the privilege of teaching English to Japanese and international students. One afternoon as I was tutoring a brother and sister from Israel in their home, we suddenly heard the front door open. Their father had come home from a long business trip. “Abba, Abba, Abba,” they joyfully cried as they raced down the stairs and bounded into his arms. The sight and sound of pure love of that moment has never left me. You see, we are children of our heavenly Father. He knows us. We are His kids. We belong to Him. He loves us faithfully. Unconditionally. We don’t have to stay at arms' distance. We can come close and even run into His arms. He is our Abba, Father. 



Mercies in Diguise 

"We pray for blessings. We pray for peace. Comfort for family. Protection while we sleep. 

We pray for healing. For prosperity. We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering. 

And all the while You hear each spoken need yet love us way too much to give us lesser things. 

What if your blessings come through raindrops, what if your healing comes through tears, 

what if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near?

 What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise?"

I think these lyrics really cut through the surface, don’t you? Laura’s song challenges us to think about the way we tally up only the good things that come our way as blessings. What about the struggles? We all have them. The apostle James reminds us to “Consider it pure joy...whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.” (Wow! And I thought the lyrics of “Blessings” were challenging!) But I think this verse expresses the last poignant phrase of Laura Story’s chorus: “What if trials of this life, are Your mercies in disguise?” 

Life sometimes pushes us to reach out in prayer. We hear Jesus whisper, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Relief and healing are available to us. Twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week! The Lord is saying He can and will help us. Are we ready to trust Him? Do we believe He is for us? 

Like an infant learning to walk for the first time, the parent must allow their child to struggle. Why do they choose to watch and wait? If the parent decided to pick up the child every time they saw them wobble, the baby’s muscles would not be strengthened. Most likely it would delay their child’s development. So, is it merciful to allow the baby to stretch, push and learn to roll over by themselves? To learn to lean forward and fall down? Yes, it is. In fact, it is loving. 

The word “mercy” in Hebrew it translates as “lovingkindness”. Mercy is “hasdekah” (Strong’s H2617) God allows us to go through difficult things because He knows what will happen as we go through it. He also knows the outcomes we will experience on the other side. Challenges will change us. Difficulties will discipline us. Obstacles will become opportunities. For me, James 1:4 truly sums up WHY life’s trials are God’s mercies in disguise: “...so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.” 

I hope you will discover as I have through the years that praying is just like breathing. Quick, whispered prayers to God are heard just as much as others – whether with a prayer partner or in a group or own personal setting. And I like what St. Augustine said, “To sing is to pray twice.” So, as you can imagine I do that a lot! 

When we view the circumstances of our lives through the lens of God’s mercy, we will find multiple blessings. I’m praying you will find yours today! 


Spring 2023 has sprung, and from what I understand there is a SUPERBLOOM in the coastal foothills of California this year. In fact, there is so much color that you can see it from space. That’s intense! After a few years of drought, it seems like a miracle, doesn’t it? 

True confession. I’m not a green thumb by any stretch of the imagination. I can barely keep a cactus plant alive that is sitting right next to my kitchen sink! But I do love flowers. In fact, the iris flower is my favorite. Its lacy petals, dramatic colors and long stem always make me happy. I think one of the reasons I like the iris flower so much is that it resembles a bloom that was at the top of the pillars in the Temple. Kings 7:22 says, “The capitals on the pillars were shaped like water lilies. And so, the work on the pillars was finished.” 

This brief verse of scripture catches my attention me because it describes a process. The artisans who made these flowers on top of the pillars had to imagine and perhaps draw the flower design, gather the materials and most likely in a trial-and-error fashion carry it out. They most likely sculpted and then carved out the design. It’s amazing to think about how God gave them the architectural plans and then assigned them the task of completing it. 

Sometimes we struggle in our lives with being in a process, don’t we? We’d like to be finished. Done. Ready to be displayed. But we know that with any project, it takes both patience and persistence for something to turn out the best it can be.

God’s workmanship the apostle Paul reminds us, “Keep your eyes on Jesus, who both began and finished this race we’re in. Study how he did it. Because he never lost sight of where he was headed.” And in Philippians 1:6 he encourages us, “...being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” In Hebrews 12:2 Jesus is described as the author and finisher of our faith. Like a great coach who is instructing his team with the strategies they need to win, Jesus is right here to help us. We can lean into Him. We can trust Him. He has our very best in mind. 

Sometimes we get tired and weary from the everyday challenges we face, don’t we? But there’s another verse of scripture that reminds us of when our spiritual roots are being supplied by the life-giving water of the Holy Spirit, we don’t have to worry. Even when we feel the pressures and the ‘heat’ coming from the circumstances pressing around us. 

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8, ESV 

This is a great reminder. Even when I am feeling discouraged or feel like I’m in a spiritual drought, the source of my life is Christ. He’s the Master Gardner that can help me blossom into a super bloom! 

"Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, for His love endures forever"- Psalm 136 


August 28th, 2018.  Jolted awake again. “Why so early Lord?” I gently sighed under my breath. As my eyes strained to look at the clock on my phone I rolled out of bed and shuffled past the bedroom window. As the morning grogginess began to lift I remembered that we weren’t in northern California anymore. My hand reached up to open the blinds from the third story window of our townhouse. I blinked a few times to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. The first rays of sunlight cascaded like a river over the red rocks and hills of our new home in Colorado Springs, CO. It was stunning. I breathed a prayer of thanks for the new day and looked at the bright, bold sun coming up above the horizon. The Holy Spirit spoke to me. “Shemesh”, I heard. I formed the word under my breath and repeated it several times. I prayed that the Lord would reveal this Hebrew word to me and looked it up in my concordance. “Shemesh” was the Hebrew word for the Sun. Within moments my fingers opened my Bible to Psalm 113:2-3. “Blessed be the name of the Lord, now and forever. From the rising of the sun to the place where it sets, the name of the Lord is to be praised.” Wow!  What a call to worship! I sat and basked in God’s goodness. I began to thank Him for how He had opened the door to this new ministry opportunity in Colorado. There was no denying how His hand had moved on our behalf the past several months. So many things had fallen perfectly into place. He had orchestrated it and I knew that the faithfulness of God was as sure the sun rising and setting every day. I said another prayer of thanks to Him. My heart was ready for this amazing adventure. “Shemesh”, I whispered to myself again. From now on the sun would remind me of how God’s goodness and glory shine everywhere. 

This brought back to mind something I had just read. And as so often happens the Lord was keeping me in sync with the Jewish calendar. As the Levite priests led Israel in ceremonial worship during the Fall Feast of Sukkot they ascended the fifteen steps of the temple, singing one Song of Ascents on each step. Psalm 130 would have been one of those: 

“I wait for the Lord more than watchmen wait for the morning, more than watchmen wait for the morning. Israel, put your hope in the Lord, for with the Lord is unfailing love and with him is full redemption.” - Psalm 130:5-6 

I imagined the scene. The priests were singing Psalm 130 as they were coming up the temple stairs to the holy place where the Ark of the Covenant rested. But that’s not all. You see the temple was built with a wall facing towards the east. Many believe that at the dawn’s first light the rays of the sun would have come up over the Mount of Olives, over the wall, through the Eastern Gate and directly into the Holy of Holies where the Ark of the Covenant rested. What an amazing sight it must have been to see the Ark’s Mercy Seat covered with gold glisten in a blaze of sunlight! What a tangible picture! The sun’s appearance symbolized the coming of God and a new beginning. His covenant love, kindness and mercy had shone upon Israel. After seven nights of remembering how God had brought them out of darkness of slavery in Egypt, the Jewish people rejoiced that they had been rescued and protected by God under difficult conditions in the desert. Great feasting and rejoicing flowed throughout Jerusalem. 

In the New Testament (John 7:37) we read that Jesus attended the festival of Sukkot “on the last and greatest day of the feast.” The feast happened in the seventh month of Tishrei, and Jesus appeared to the crowd on the seventh day, which was also when the priests were offering seven bulls to God.  

Seven.  What was the significance?  Seven is the number of heavenly perfection. Completion. Divine fulfillment. 

Jesus stood up in the middle of a crowd who had been celebrating for seven days and possibly may have run out of water and maybe even food. Scripture says he cried out with a loud voice, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him. 

Right in the middle of the Sukkoth celebration Jesus revealed Himself as the One who caused water to come from the rock so during the exodus the children of Israel would not die in the desert, but live! 

When the sun rose in the sky during that Sukkot the presence and power of God shone brilliantly upon His Son. In this crux moment God was speaking clearly. His son Jesus was the Messiah and the fulfillment of the Feast of Sukkot. You see right before this festival Jesus had made seven “I Am” statements to his disciples. Each of them corresponded to the redemption of Israel. Now it was being proclaimed to the entire world. It is also an invitation for you and I today. 

The “I Am” who appeared to Moses was Yeshua; Jesus - the Good Shepherd who guided them out of Egypt. He was the Bread of Life - the Manna from heaven who provided sustenance to the children of Israel in the desert. He was the Water from the rock - the well of salvation that prevented them from dying of thirst.  He was the pillar of cloud by day and the pillar of fire by night – the Light of the World. Yeshua was the healer of all their diseases – the Resurrection and the Life. He was Emmanuel sent to tabernacle with mankind. Yeshua was the Way, the Truth, and the Life and the only One who could miraculously part the Red Sea for them to reach the other side. He was the True Vine – the One who was crushed and poured out as an acceptable sacrifice to God for the sin of mankind. 

As the temple priests began pouring out the water during Sukkot Jesus cried out with a loud voice and said, “If anyone is thirsty, let him come to Me and drink. Whoever believes in Me, just as the Scripture has said: “Streams of living water” will flow from within him.”  Just like the prophet Isaiah had foretold, “The Lord will dawn upon you and his glory shall be seen on you.” (Isaiah 60:1) This must have been a significant "Ah-ha moment" for those within range of hearing this!

One of my “Ah-ha moments” happened in 2012...

I clasped hands with my husband as the airplane took off from Sacramento towards Las Vegas, Nevada. This wasn’t a planned vacation. It was an emergency visit to go see my birth father Bob. He was in the hospital listed in critical condition from a severe heart attack. Though I had met him several years earlier we hadn’t connected in person for quite some time. This might be the last chance to see him. Steve and I unpacked our things at the enormous pyramid shaped hotel. A bright shaft of light was coming from the capstone and illuminating the night sky. I was mesmerized. As I walked down the hallway of the hotel I noticed the Egyptian artwork and décor. Images of Moses being drawn out of the water flashed through my mind. “Daughter, you are free,” I heard the Lord whisper to me. At first I sort of brushed it off, but soon realized what the Lord was doing in my heart. He was freeing me from my own personal Egypt. I didn’t know that I had been enslaved by insecurity and fear. Though it had been locked away, buried deep in my subconscious it was real. I had felt like an illegitimate daughter and the core of my identity needed to be healed. During the night I could barely sleep. Bob didn’t know I was coming. I wasn’t sure what was going to happen. Was I even going to be able to see him? Steve and I strolled through the hotel and headed towards the hospital. Once again surrounded by the ancient Egyptian imagery, I heard the Lord’s voice speak even stronger. “My daughter, I have redeemed you out of Egypt. You are mine. I love you.” Tears welled up in my eyes. It felt as if I had been lifted out of a watery grave of despair. Looking back on that experience I’m grateful I was able to spend time with Bob because six months later he would pass through the gates of heaven. Who he was and the precious memories we shared will always remain with me. 

I’m so thankful that when I was hungering and thirsting for my core identity the Lord fulfilled my deepest needs. Time and time again God had used both my birth parents and adopted parents to demonstrate His incredible love for me. 

Healing streams can flow from the driest desert experiences in our lives. This is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is the Living Word – and He invites us to drink in His presence and daily be renewed by Him. When we accept the invitation He speaks to us, convicts us and comforts us. It is then that we can receive the abundant blessings that deeply satisfy our minds, hearts and souls. John 8:36 sums it up this way, “So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed.”

A Song In The Night 

A few years ago I really thought I was on target and knew God’s plan and purpose for my life. I had come into a new season and I had an idea! I would launch into “coaching” and equipping women. Every week I met with a group of Christian businesswomen and leaders who asked strategic questions and gave their input and insight into various topics. We also spent time praying for each other and really pressed in to the Holy Spirit as we asked for guidance and direction.One week we had a homework assignment. Each of us was to bring something to share the following meeting - like what we were working on. Honestly, I was stumped. A few days passed and then I prayed, “Lord, what should I share with all of these bright, amazing, talented women?” Without a pause He spoke to my heart and said, “Sing them one of your songs.” I’m pretty sure my mouth dropped open – probably to the floor. I was stunned. I went to one of my journals and read through my “to do list”. All of the things that were on my mind as “top priority” were listed.As I glanced over it I realized that at the very, very bottom of my list was songwriting, and creating art. Sing a song…at a business meeting? For a few moments I began to protest. Lord, these are all businesswomen! How does this fit? Then I heard the Lord say, “I created you to sing and share music.” As I wrestled with my fears and insecurity I knew it was absolutely pointless to argue with God.

Okay, now I had to figure out what song I would sing.

Then I remembered someone saying that the last song you’ve written is more than likely your best one. A wave of vulnerability crashed over me and I burst into tears.You see, just a few days earlier I had written a song for our 22 year-old son, Paul who had just been released from the hospital after a near brush with death. After surviving an overdose of three tabs of Acid he was back under our roof sleeping on our sofa as he recovered. The Dr. said that the drugs had induced an episode of severe psychosis. Night after night we watched Paul struggle to sleep. Then when he did fall asleep he would jolt awake because his brain was trying to heal. It was rough. We had no one to really help us walk through this dark valley except the Lord. One night the Holy Spirit said, “Play all of the black keys on the piano and it will help him sleep.” So I did. Amazingly, he slept.

A few nights later I wrote the song, “Lord, Have Mercy” as a gut wrenching prayer and a signal of hope.God’s mercy had already been running deep and wide for our family. The lyrics in the chorus said, “For the weak, You give strength; For the weary, You give rest; For the lost, You lead them home; For the lonely – they’re never alone.” I knew deep down that this was the song I was to share with my women’s group. But there was a problem – I’d break down crying every time I would sing it. Solution? I video recorded the song and at the next meeting I shared it. As I played the video recording there wasn’t a dry eye in the room. In faith I told them that God was going to heal my son. I also told them how God had flipped all of my “priorities” around and that I was going to embrace my calling as a singer-songwriter in a whole new way. It was these women who reminded me that our gifts are inside of our calling, not separate from it.

As I write this it seems like yesterday but all of this happened four and a half years ago. I am thrilled to say that our son rededicated his life to the Lord and was re-baptized on Father’s Day 2019. Because of God's perfect timing I had already bought airline tickets to CA and it was wonderful to be there in person to see Paul's baptism. That morning I sang the song I had written for him. As a quick update: he is still healing but doing very well. I am so grateful that God’s mercies are new every morning! 

Romans 12:15-16 reminds us… 

Rejoice with those who rejoice, 

Weep with those who weep. 

Live in harmony with one another. 


Sing a song when it needs to be sung!

(SPV - Sandi Padilla Version!)