Tuesday, November 12, 2013

This is the Story About a Woman

This is the story about a woman who was distracted.
This is the story about a woman who was angry.
This is the story about a woman who was sad and depressed.
This is the story about you and me.

And as my mind gathers up the glimpses of these different women making up the image of us all, I feel compelled to reach out to  my sisters with concern.

There is a woman who is trying to maintain a certain level of sanity in what seems like an unexpected life. She never imagined herself in this place.  She's not quite sure why, but her children are always struggling and her husband is distant.  Somehow, somewhere everything changed for her and now she's left to spend her days mostly alone.  There resides a certain disconnect that she cannot even explain, which has left her to only fantasize about what she doesn't truly have.  And all she knows is that she feels unwanted.  And her mind wanders, as she finds herself flipping through the channels, folding the pages of Hollywood's magazines, scrolling down the statuses of everyone else, dreaming about the life she could have had but doesn't.  And she's not quite sure how she got here.  This is the story about a woman who was distracted enough by  her unrealistic expectations that she forgot to trust the one true God with the reality of life.

There is a woman who is feeling a great sense of entitlement.  And by the same token, she feels angry because her rights are not being validated.  She doesn't understand why everyone around her is so screwed up, and she's angry that they can't get it right.  It seems that her family and friends always let her down.  She is highly disappointed and seems to have every right.  Her loved ones abandoned her, feeling helpless it seems. They preferred to give her space due to all of their recorded mistakes.  Hence, she has become bitter.  Nothing satisfies.  Nothings brings joy.  Instead, everything frustrates and everything annoys.  To the point, that she's now annoyed with God.  If He truly cared, he'd make things right.  Right?  In her ignorance, she's forgotten the abundance of mercies that God once shed upon her.  This is the story about a woman who thought too highly of herself and her perception of who she is in the sight of God has been distorted.  

There is a woman I know who is sad and depressed. And my heart breaks just thinking about it.  Life has been unkind.  If only she could rewind.  But the tears don't take away all of the hurt she has to face.  She watches as death takes it toll on friends, as her own health if failing.  Her heart is heavy and burdened by the amount of suffering she has witnessed and is carrying.  Why can't her daughter be well?  Why must the divorce come now?  Why can't the world stop turning, if only just for right now?  And where is God in all of this?  She swore she knew how, to say a prayer and trust in God; but not now.  This is the story about a woman who's faith grew faint and lost sight of everything that was once evidence that God is always near.

There is a woman, and I am she.  There is a woman, and it is you as well. When your focus begins to quiver, and is no longer fixated.  When what surrounds us becomes bigger and we can no longer see it.  That is when we lose sight of the one who has loved us and called us.  That is when our circumstances begin to dictate how we'll be feeling.  And that is when, even then, God is faithful and continues to work out His perfect plan in our lives, even though we don't see it or feel it.  That's the beauty of God.  That although we lose our way, our sight, and ourselves, He remains constant chipping away at his masterpiece, putting the pieces together, mending, forgiving, loving, bringing us back to Him.  Our worst mistakes cannot change His purpose.  He remains.

Be encouraged my friend and sister!  His love is greater than you can imagine.  And your issues can never outdo His love and mercy.  He sees you.  He forgives you.  He cares for you.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Voice Through the Silence

A Voice through the Silence

The room is empty
My friends are gone
They've all given up on me

Nothing moves
Except for what I think is a fly buzzing around
It seems to be reminding me that death is never far away

But there's nothing else sounding
It's quiet enough to only hear my heartbeat
And even that is a little faint

It is silent
I stopped talking
And nobody hears me

Deep inside I can scarcely hear my mother's lullabies
And my childhood cheers
But they're all gone now

It's just me in a quiet room
No sign of real life
Well, I guess that would be me

But I can't speak
I've grown too weak
And I don't feel the need

I ran out of dreams
I no longer wish
I'm at a loss of hope

Life swayed me back and forth
To the point that I no longer move
I'm just laying on this cold floor

As I stare up at the ceiling
Morning creeping in through the skylight window
“leave me alone!” I yell inside
“I don't want to wake today.”

But the sun is too bright
It keeps pressing through
I must close my eyes

I find myself squinting
The glare is in my eyes
What a bothersome thing, when the rays are on your face

I'm not sure how, but I had to move
I got on all fours and made my body upright
I'm on my feet... it's been a while

And as I make my way to the bathroom,
It seems the sun is following
I can still feel the heat, and my body feels warm

I look up at the mirror above the sink
It's been a long time and I'm afraid
I don't think I know that image looking back at me

Tears begin to flow
I didn't think I had any left
But there's one more

As if to say, “I've got something left to say”
And I get choked up
I begin to cough

The coughing leads to crying
And for the first time in a long time,
I hear my voice again

My voice...
It used to be so strong
It used to be inviting

My voice...
I used to sing
A long while ago, before I became depressed

I used to laugh
I used to talk
I used to

And now for the first time in so long, I heard my voice again
I don't really know why I did it, but something in me was crying out
And as I stood there on my feet again on the bare floor and before my own image

I felt the cold on my feet, and it felt good
I tried a smile, and could almost see myself again
And then I did it... I said a prayer, I know God was listening too
I know because soon after, I had the courage to face the world again

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

A Soft Place to Land

My daughter was telling me about her favorite thing to do during autumn.  She says she loves to gather up leaves on the lawn, form a big pile, and the jump in it.  She loves to fall back onto the leaves, knowing that she'll have a soft place to land on.  Sounds like a lot of fun too.

I thought about it for a bit.... a soft place to land on sounds really nice.  So many times I have felt like just falling back and landing on something comfy.  So many times I've felt like I'm carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders.  And the burdens seems to increase, while my strength seems to diminish.  And I grow tired and weary.  

My friend could really use a soft place to land. She's constantly meeting the needs of others.  She seldom voices personal demands.  But instead, speaks up for others.  She doesn't like being in the "spotlight" of things, but loves to build others up.  And I often wonder, "Who's there for her?" I often wonder if she's feeling tired and alone.  And where does she go to rest?  Where does she go to her soft landing?  Maybe she knows something I don't know.

I love finding comforting words in the Bible.  I love when I read something that speaks directly to the heart.  And I love when God's words come in the form of a very soft place to land on.  Like in the book of  Matthew, chapter 11 when Jesus offers an invitation.  He invites anyone who is tired and weary to come to Him because He will provide rest.  Rest for the soul.  Not only does He acknowledge that we are burdened.  Not only does He know that we will face things that will make us feel weary.  Not only does He empathize with us, but He offers a  an invitation to receive rest.  He doesn't lecture.  He doesn't advise us on how we should balance our responsibilities and how we should change our "eating" habits.  He simply offers a solution.  He offers a place to come and lay down our burdens.  A place to rest, a big pile of leaves, sort of speak, to be able to fall back on. 

This is the love of our God.  A love so strong and vast, yet so comforting that it provides soft landing.  Maybe this is where my friend goes to for rest.

Now, like with all invitations, we must make a choice to accept or decline.  I pray we see and acknowledge the value in this most valuable invitation.  And may we jump right in!

Matthew 11:28-30

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Blessed is the man...

     I'm always taken back when I hear people complaining about how horrible things are for them, and they make it seem like God is not for them.  They talk about their problems, and portray themselves as victims.  They go on and on about how bad things are.  And they seem surprised by it.  Like God is supposed to be always loving... Is He?

     It troubles me that people want the goodness and favor of God in their lives, even though they don't want to be a follower of His.  Oh, they forget to mention that one little side note... they're not believers.  Let me rephrase that, they believe... they just don't want to live for Christ.  They believe there is a God, and they like the idea that He is a loving God.  They see God like Aladdin saw the blue Genie.  Someone who will grant them at least three heartfelt wishes.  Surely God wouldn't turn them away if they are truly in need.  Would He?

     Let me elaborate before I'm misunderstood.  Indeed, God is all loving and merciful.  Indeed, He will answer to a repentant cry for help.  God is faithful, and His greatest gift to mankind was giving up His son to die for us.  What more can we ask for?  Well, let's see... we ask for good health and good friends and good neighborhoods.  We ask for a lot of things.  They're not bad in it of themselves, and God is more than gracious to give us even more than what we ask for.  

     But where do we come off acting like God has to meet our every need even when we turn our backs to Him on a daily basis?  The word of God is clear.  "Cursed is the man who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord." - Jeremiah 17:5.  "But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him."-Jeremiah 17:7

     If you are a believer, a follower of Christ, someone who's repented of his/her sins once and for all and God is your shepherd, then praise Him because He promises to be faithful to you always.  And indeed, you should expect His blessings, even in the hardships of life.  That's the beauty of knowing Christ... that He will use even the ugly in life to benefit you and others somehow.  You can trust that.

     But if you are not a believer.  If you live every day looking out for your own good and disregarding what God's will may be for your life, stop complaining about what isn't going right for you.  Your life is meant to be cursed.  In fact, all of us are meant to be cursed, and it is only because of the sacrifice that Jesus paid for us, that we can claim freedom from that curse.  

     In reality, life is hard no matter who you are.  We all face hardships on this side of heaven.  But what an awesome thing it is to trust a living God even in our storms because He is faithful!  And what a sad thing for those who face life's hardships all alone and without any hope because they reject God.  

     If that is you tonight.  If you are tired of feeling "cursed", stop trying to handle your situations on your own.  Don't demand something of God that you are not entitled to.   Instead,  come to Him in complete humility and ask Him to help you see things His way.  Sometimes all you have to do is ask.


Sunday, September 29, 2013

On Being Alone

Loneliness is my least favorite thing about life. The thing that I'm most worried about is just being alone without anybody to care for or someone who will care for me.
Anne Hathaway 

I've always had a huge fear of dying or becoming ill. The thing I'm most afraid of, though, is being alone, which I think a lot of performers fear. It's why we seek the limelight - so we're not alone, were adored. We're loved, so people want to be around us. The fear of being alone drives my life.
Jennifer Lopez

What is it about being or feeling alone that affects people so much?  It's like we're created with this innate desire for fellowship with others.  God didn't create Eve simply to initiate the world's population.  Eve was Adam's companion.  Even with animals and the perfect natural setting, Adam was still in need of company.  And God knew that, of course.  And so He provided.

And so it is with us today.  God knows our need for relationship.  That is why He brings people into our lives.  Some arrive in a subtle way, and others are obviously heaven-sent.  

There was a time when I sought out to see a counselor to help me cope with some major hurts.  I don't really remember how I heard of this one place, but I called and set up an appointment for consultation with a lady that went by the name of Jesse.  At first, I was very nervous and anxious about how this was going to be helpful.  But after my first and second visit, I became eager for my visits with Jesse.  I never missed an appointment, and was blessed each time I was there.  Jesse's fees were extremely low, and she'd not only give me sound advice and pray with me, but she'd give me material for me to take home for free.  We'd spend an hour talking, and I felt such peace and sincere concern from Jesse.  I was soon convinced that she was not a real person but an angel that God had placed in my life for such a time.  I'm still wondering.  

Okay, I know that sounds really weird, and you're probably not sure what that has to do with the topic.  Well, I believe that God will go to the extent of sending angels to accompany us just so that we understand His love for us and His promise that "we are not alone".

Lately,  it's become almost a theme for me personally, since God keeps reminding me that I am not alone.  Which lead me to the question... "what is it about being or feeling alone...?"  Why is it so difficult to handle for most of us?  Consider Facebook for a minute. What's the purpose of it, but to keep people connected.  And people want to stay connected.  People want to be included. Nobody wants to be left out, and everyone wants to belong.  People want to be heard and considered.  And so in my eyes, Facebook serves the purpose of reminding people that they are not alone.  I'm sure that's why it's become such a popular thing and a lifeline for many.  

The problem is that feeling lonely can create in us a mental fog that leads us to believe that we truly are alone.  However, spiritually speaking, and if we are children of God, we are never alone.  That is a promise from God that can be found in numerous scripture verses reminding us that we are never alone.  The fact is that we may feel alone and physically be alone but God is ever present and omnipresent and as His children, He is always by our side.  Last night I was listening to a podcast sermon when I heard the preacher say that he's fed up with Christians praying these words, "Dear Lord, please be with so & so, and please be with me, and be with this person and that person".  His point was that we shouldn't be asking God to be with us because HE ALREADY IS.  God is with us.  God is with us.  God is with us.  And when we truly begin to comprehend what that means, we no longer feel alone and we begin to experience a sense of peace and fulfillment.  The kind of fulfillment many of us are seeking out in Facebook, and the kind of fulfillment we cannot even yet imagined.  

Another reminder came from another sermon in which I heard that "God whispers because He is near."  When you hear that still voice within you drawing you to Him, leading you into the right decision, and so on, God is near.  That's why he's whispering.  God has not left you.  He is not far.  He is near, and you are not alone.

My last example comes from something my eight year old said today.  She told me that she thinks it's funny how people say things like "way up in the sky" or "as high as the sky", as if the sky is so far above us that we cannot reach it.  She went on to say that she feels like the air IS the sky and that she can easily touch it by simply extending her arms up.  I thought that was kind of weird and silly in a way.  But now that I think about it, that is perfect!  Because if God is in the sky, and the I can touch the sky, then God is very near.  And I am not alone.  

2ndCorinthians 13:11 "Finally, brothers, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you."

Hebrews 13:5b "... for He Himself has said, 'I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you'."

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

This Past Weekend

Like with most weekends, I got to spend time with family and friends this past weekend.  It was nice...

This past weekend, a young girl tried to end her life, a baby boy waited for a heart transplant, a wife and husband ended their "lifelong" journey, a teenager became an addict, a young boy passed away to cancer, and a woman shot and killed a man.  
This past weekend, was not as a nice as I thought.  

While I worshiped in church this past weekend, someone was being beaten to death.  While I partook of the communion with my brothers and sisters, a young man cut himself again.  And while I enjoyed dinner out with family, a brand new runaway hit the streets of Skidrow.  

And now I reflect... how is it possible for such evil things to take place in the same world that beautiful and wonderful things occur?  How is it that while some are rejoicing about the good in this world, others are partaking in evil?  How is that good and evil abide under the same majestic sky?  And while some of us are seeking peace and God's will, others are doing wrong... How is it possible, Lord?  And are you even aware?  Where are you, Lord, in all of this?

"I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things." Isaiah 45:7

"The Lord has made everything for its purpose, even the wicked for the day of trouble." Proverbs 16:4

"As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today." Genesis 50:20

My dear friends, let's not be blindsided.   The reality of this world is that evil and suffering distorted the perfect relationship and place that God intended for us.  I have friends who are suffering today because of it.  
So while it is a precious thing that we serve the Lord and congregate and share with others, let's not forget that there are others who have still to experience the hope, grace and forgiveness we have.  Moreover, let's be more intentional about sharing the gifts that God has blessed us with so that more and more people will also be rescued as we once were.  
We are living in a spiritual warfare.  Every time, one of us kneels before God in worship and surrender, someone else is being tormented somehow.  It could be someone you know or someone you've never met.  But Satan is at war trying to make havoc all over this world...  Just take a quick look at the news.

That doesn't mean we stay silent, in fear of what he may do.  It means we shout praises to the true God and lift our hands to Him in surrender and live our lives seeking to glorify Him in everything so that we may be, the light of this dark world, as God intended for us to be.  If you are wondering what your purpose for living is, this is it!  You are a light in a dark world.  That's your weapon.  Therefore, Shine! 

And therefore, God makes all things new... God brings life to the dead.  He alone brings hope to the hopeless and despaired.  God is the Light of the world.  And every evil or suffering, can and will ultimately be used to bring Him glory.  

So in the midst of your plans for the weekend, don't forget that there are those whose weekend won't be as nice as yours.  Don't forget that we are still at war.  And you must be the one to stand in the gap and Shine for Christ for His glory and honor.

Monday, September 23, 2013

I'm Confident

There's a portrait of me at two years old at my home and another like it at my mother's house.  Both pictures were taken on the same day.  I can barely remember that day, of course, since I was only two.  But I have somewhat of a distant memory of how afraid I felt  because of the camera and photographer at our home.

It's funny, but the picture truly depicts what my character and temperament were like.  I was always shy...  I was the last of three children, and it seems I was always in the background.  I barely spoke, out loud, that is.  My siblings did enough of that on their own.  They were lively and outspoken, at least, that's how I saw it.  I, on the other hand, was observant.  I'd watch... and internalize.  And when spoken to, you'd usually find me hiding behind my mother's stature or my sister's big and outgoing personality.

In fact, as I was growing up, not much of that changed.  My mother was my hiding place and my sister was the one who lead.  I was her student and follower.  Always timid and quiet on the outside.  Observant and internalizing.  "She's so shy", that's what people would say when they'd meet me alongside my siblings.  By the time I reached my adolescent and preteen years, I lacked self-confidence.  In most occasions, I was my sister's shadow. Never truly believing in myself.  My sister was my hero, but I knew I'd never be like her.  And although she'd be the first one to tell me that I was beautiful and that I had so much potential,  I wouldn't believe it.  I lacked confidence.

Well, today I can honestly say that the timid two year old is still somewhere inside of me; possibly hiding.  But thank God for His amazing grace!  Thank God for His powerful love!  His loving mercies!
Because of who God is and how He has shown His favor for me, I can freely say that I am confident.
I am still not very confident within my own skin.  In fact, I question myself all the time.  But truly I am confident in this... God's love for me, His power within me, and His ultimate plan for me.

He has poured His love on me time and time again assuring me like nothing else in this world can.  He has enabled me to do amazing things like forgive others and love them too.  He has empowered me to walk through life's storms, even if it meant eyes closed and holding on to the hem of His garment the whole time.  I am confident in God.  Not in myself, for there's not much to boast in all on my own.  But with Christ, I am strong.  I am at peace.  I am kind.  I am joyful.  And I am able... to do anything.

Most importantly, I admit, I'm a working progress.  I'm still learning and growing, and God is my teacher and guide.  Not only did He seek me out and begin to enable me with countless possibilities, but He continues to.
And I look forward to the day when I meet Him face to face and this timid little girl will confidently say, "I've arrived!"  and with that quickly add,  "Thank you".

Until then, God is not finished with us yet...

Philippians 1:6, "For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you (me) will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus."

Sunday, September 15, 2013

So What's Wrong with Being Martha?

    I'm a Martha, and I'm not ashamed to say it.  Unless, of course, you are Mary.  
You know, the Bible story about two sisters named Mary and Martha?

     The truth is, I don't really like that I'm a Martha.  Martha was scolded, and for good reasons I guess. Martha was busy, multitasking.  And Martha was complaining.  It wasn't enough that she was "keeping house" while Mary gave their special guest her undivided attention, but Martha was also frustrated that Mary wouldn't help carry the load.  Yep Martha, that's me.

I've got to admit, I worry too much and don't trust enough.  I manage the details and keep things in order, as I run down my checklist.  I super analyze and think things through... over and over again.  I carry the burdens of others and me.  I feel responsible, for them and me.  And I get grumpy, I admit.  Because of the burdens I carry within.  

Trying to measure up and meet my own expectations.  I set the bar high and try hard to make it.  My expectations are high- at times too high- both for myself and others.  Martha.  That about sums it up.

So where does that leave me?  How does God see me?  Am I unlovable, unworthy because of my shortcomings?  No.  God loves me just as I am.  He loves Martha just as much as He loves Mary.  In fact, both Martha and Mary had a true and real relationship with Jesus.  They were friends.  (Luke 10:38-42, John 11:5)

And while Mary may have been a very attentive listener,  Martha also knew who to turn to with her concerns.  Martha felt close enough and comfortable enough to complain to Jesus. ..."When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went out to meet him, and said to Him, ' Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.  But I know that even now God will give you whatever you ask.'" (John 11:20-22)  
The conversation continues with Jesus reminding Martha, "I am the resurrection and the life.  He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die.  Do you believe this? (verses 25-26)  
To this Martha responds, "Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Christ, the son of God, who was to come into the world." (John vs.27)
However, later in the course of what was taking place, as Jesus was getting ready to bring Lazarus back to life, Martha's analytical mentality rises to the surfaces, and she says, "But, Lord, by this time there is a bad odor, for he has been there four days." (vs. 39)
I can almost picture this scene.  There is Jesus, a crowd and his close friends, Mary and Martha, as they are about to witness one of the greatest miracles of all time.... and there's Martha, "But, Lord" putting her foot in her mouth again.  
(Don't you hate it when your kids question you?  But, mom!)
To this Jesus responds, "Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?" (vs. 40)
---Martha, you're about to see the glory of God!
And we can only imagine the joy and gladness that was had among friends that day.

Well, guess what?  I kind of like Martha.  She sounds a little feisty and all.  But she knows her God.  She knows who to turn to when she's frustrated, angry, sad, etc.  When she's in need, she knows who to call on for help and who to struggle with.  I guess because she knows how much He loves her.  She knows He will speak truth to her, and care for me, and provide for me, and forgive me, and love me... just as I am.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Bathing with the Frogs

I don't like frogs very much.  Honestly, I really don't like them at all.  My sentiments go back to early years in my life, when having to bathe meant having to walk inside an outhouse.

We had no running water or electricity.  So once the sun went down, my daily routine of a nightly bath became a major task.  At least, that's how I see it now in retrospect.  Back then, it was normal.  It was what we did and what we knew.

And so I remember having to walk out of my little wooden home with a towel in one hand-- PJ's and undies on the other, as I bravely walked down to the back of the house and into what I viewed as a dungeon.  I'd have to count on the light and reflection coming from the beautiful moon and stars to guide the way.  That first part of the routine was not so bad, actually.

And then I'd enter the outhouse, mentally prepping myself for a quick bath.  I'd use one hand to hold a cup with which I would scoop up water from a big laundry pail.  And the other hand served for the soap lathering.  And there I was, in this mostly dark room, surrounded by a modest stench coming from the hole in the ground, the sounds of night insects, the "coqui's" melody surpassing all other sounds.  And while I felt right at home--this was normal--it was all I knew; I could never get used to the frogs staring back at me, while I bathed.  I'd hold very still, maintaining  a good balance--performing my very own balancing act.

The frogs scared me.  I was okay with the darkness of the evening and the tropical forest-like sounds in the background.  I was even okay with the stench in the air, but the frogs freaked me out.  They just sat there.  Staring.  And I always expected a sudden jump.  Sometimes it happened as I expected, but most of the time, they just sat there, as if playing a bad joke on me.  And I'd fall for it each time.  Still, in my little seven year old mind, I'd whisper a prayer to God for protection.  I knew He'd hear me.

Even today I'm still much more scared of frogs than I am of the dark.  And I'm scared of other things too like learning that a loved one is hurt or sick.  I'm scared that each time I say good-bye to them, could be the last time.  I'm scared of other things too like not remembering special moments or forgetting about what really matters.  I'm scared to be forgotten, or having another good friend pass away.  I can go on to form a list, but truly what would be the point of that?  Life is scary.  It's normal.  Life is filled with scary things that can ultimately lead to whispered prayers spoken in the dark connecting us to God.  And what could possibly be better than that?!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Praise like Dandelions

My voice I'm lifting
My hands join in
My spirit fills up
with Joy within

It overflows and like dandelions
when a child makes a wish
Sure enough they float
Sure enough they drift 

And soon enough
Nature joins the chorus
that my heart is singing
From deep within
For you My King.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Never Forget

It's been so long since I've done this, I hope I didn't forget how.

Lately, I forget most things.  Why is that?  I try retelling stories, an event that took place hours earlier, and I cannot get my details in order or even recall what really happened!

If only it was that simple to forget the things that I want to forget.
Like I want to forget the last time I was unkind or the last time my thoughts were nothing far from sinful.  I want to forget all of those things that I'm not proud of.  I want to forget my mistakes and failures. 

But do I really?... When I really ponder on these thoughts, I realize that I don't actually want to forget the "not so nice" side of me. You see, if I forget those things that point out my weaknesses, if I overlook the part of me that is far from perfect, then I will also forget my need for my savior.

If I cannot recall the last time I "messed up" or the last time I fell short of what would have been something amazing, then I will also not recall who it was that forgave me.  And if I do not recall who forgave me, then I will forget the most important thing there is to life... knowing God.

And if I do not recall knowing God, then nothing else in this world matters and my life has no real purpose.  And if my life has no real purpose, then there's no point to my existence.  And if there's no point to my existence, then Woe is me!

Therefore, I pray I never forget my weaknesses and my shortcomings so that I may always remember that God is the one who gives me the strength I need.  And God is the one who shows grace and mercy over me.  And He is also the one who delivers me from my past mistakes.

He is the one who forgives.  And the one who doesn't hold my sins against me, but rather uses my mistakes to build me and others up. 

He restores me.  He uplifts me.  He heals me. He leads me.  He sustains me.  He loves me...  
May I never forget.

Psalm 103:1-11, " Praise the Lord, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.  Praise the Lord, my soul, and forget not all his benefits- who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases, who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion, who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagles.  The Lord works righteousness and justice for all the oppressed.  He made known His ways to Moses, His deeds to the people of Israel: The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  He will not always accuse, nor will He harbor his anger forever; He does not treat us as our sins deserves or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear Him..."

Tuesday, July 30, 2013


Lately, my husband has been using a new pet name for me... 
He's referring to all of the times when he's sharing something with me that he's very excited about, and my response is one of no emotion or in some negative tone.  The whole thing plays out like a sitcom episode, just like a lot of our conversations and situations now a days.  He's excited about something, so he comes in to share with his wife, and then she says something totally off base and knocks him off the wagon.  Well, I gotta admit, it's kind of funny.

On a more serious note, today I was reminded that Satan is a true kill-joy.  John 10:10 reminds us that,  "The thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I (Jesus) have come that they may have life, and have it to the full."  While Jesus has purposed that we would have a joyful and full life, Satan does everything in his power to distort it.  While God provides us with good things, 
(Romans 8:28, And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.), Satan tries to lead us astray and into sin.  While God fulfills us with inner peace in the midst of life's storms, and promises us not to ever leave us during times of trouble, Satan looks for ways to make us feel depleted and discouraged.  
Think about it, every good thing that come from God, Satan wants to take away from you.  Every time you are closer to having the fullness of the life God has given you, Satan works harder at distracting you.  Every time you take a step of faith, Satan sets up obstacles for you.  Whenever you experience the peace that comes from resting in God's promises and trusting His word, Satan is looking for ways to mislead you.  Every time you obey what God lays in your heart to do, no matter how big or small it is, Satan is longing for the opportunity to deceive you.  In essence, when you begin to experience the fullness of the life God intended for you, be certain that Satan is not happy.

But who cares that he's not happy?!  The other day, I was having a conversation with one of my sisters.  She's recently been stepping out in faith like never before, as she's taken in five children whose mother is serving time in jail.  And so we talked about how angry Satan gets when we are trying to be obedient to God and serving in different ways.  I told her Satan is just wasting his time because we belong to God and there's nothing he can do to change that.  And then she said something that really made me laugh... She said, "You know sometimes I just tell him 'oh just shut up devil, and leave me alone!'  God's got me."

And that's the truth.  God's got us!  The abundant life He prepared for us, is ours to enjoy to the fullest.  It's ours for the taking.  We just have to dive into it and make the most of every opportunity He gives us.  

One last side note, and this one comes with a visual.  At our prayer meeting tonight, someone explained the abundant life this way.  She said, it's like when you add water to a sponge and it gets so full that it starts to overflow because it cannot continue to contain the water.... that's how our lives should be in Christ because of His fullness.  We should be overflowing with the fullness of Christ in us to the point that others get to also experience His fullness--His grace and mercy, forgiveness and love, etc..  

So much for the kill-joy!  Yes, we should be aware of him; but no, we shouldn't allow for him to take away the joy we find in the full life God offers us.

Praises on a gloomy day
saying can you reach me still?
the way you did on that day 
when I ran unto my own dead end
but you found me there still...

Praises through the teary eyes
slightly breathing but still seeing 
how you remain faithful
even when I'm unsure of you
because you surely love me

Praises in the brokenness of me
because only you remain
and your strength brings me joy
even though there's pain

Praises because I am made to praise you
in the good times and bad
because your love never waivers
and it keeps me moving toward you
where I belong

Praises on a lonely night
because you promised to never leave 
will you still hold me near?
just like on that night when my world fell apart
and you held it all together in your hands

Praises today because although I feel incapable
your love is patient
and you long for my praise
even if it's contrite
even if it's tear-stained

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

A Very Pushy Woman

Matthew 15:21-28 tells the story of a woman who knew "all she needed to know" and acted on that knowledge with persistence...  First of all, the odds were against her.   Although she was not a Jew, as were Jesus and his followers; in fact, she was a Canaanite--- (in the circle of gentiles, the Canaanites were considered the lowest) and obviously, culturally speaking, she really had no say and there was racial/cultural tension; she knew all she needed to know... 

She had heard about the Messiah, the son of God, and his healing power.  And she believed that this, the son of God, would be the answer to her desperate plot.  

You see, she was also a mother.... and her daughter was in desperate need of healing.  

If you are a parent, you know that whenever you see your child hurting in any way, you are willing to do anything to take away the hurt and suffering.  And there is definitely something to be said about a mother's protective nature.

We're willing to plea on our children's behalf.  We're willing to take on the blame for our child's sake.  We're willing to lose for the sake of having them win.  We're willing to sacrifice for their well being.  We're willing to trade places to alleviate their pain.  

Hence, this woman was a mother in despair for her child's well-being.  She had witnessed too many days of her daughter's torment.  Who knows how many alternatives she had already sought out to deliver her child.  Who knows how many sleepless nights she had endured watching her lifeless daughter in bondage.  Who knows...

But this woman was a very pushy woman.  She was not going to give up until her daughter was delivered.  When she first made her plea before Jesus, there was no immediate response.  You would think that considering her background and considering who Jesus was, she would simply walk back home in self-pity and surrender.  You would think that the "silent treatment" from the son of God, would have lead her to giving up.  

And yet, she knew something that most of those "followers" of Jesus did not...  
This is when my personal conviction comes in.  You see I have to confess how familiar the disciples' reaction seems to me.  In our "Christian" self-righteousness, we too are so quick to look down on the ones "from the other tracks of life" who awkwardly show up in our "Godly" circles and "holy" grounds, and who have the audacity to openly claim what we so devotedly hold on to-- freedom in Christ.  The disciples were ticked off by the woman's persistence.  Just like I've been ticked off by it.  I can only imagine their thoughts.... "who does this w-o-m-a-n think she is ?--- she isn't worthy..."  
Man, that's the tough part about being a Christian your whole life.  You tend to become territorial and forget the awfulness of what Christ kept you from.  And so you may easily take for granted that you are actually walking in Him only because of what He has done for you.  And you think that somehow you are better than the other guy.... That is what Satan loves to do with the mind of a believer.  It ultimately keeps you from serving God wholeheartedly as He wants you to.-(Luke 10:27)

-Satan loves that you go to church every week because it leads you to believe that you are serving God.  He loves that you are surrounded by good people because it gives you a false belief that you are safe from his attacks. DONT BELIEVE HIM.-

(back to the story...)
This pushy woman did not run home crying and giving up.  Instead, she knelt before the son of God and continued her plea.  And although Jesus did not quickly grant her the healing she was requesting, she did have His full attention.  She was desperate and not ashamed to show it.  And she dared to have an exchange of words with Jesus--not for the sake of argument, but because she knew that He was truly who He said He was and; as Jesus himself put it, she was a woman of great faith!

Now I wonder... what would I prefer?  To simply be called a faithless follower of Christ or a woman of great faith?  It's kind of a rhetorical question with an obvious answer.  

"But oh Lord, that I would be willing to plea before you with great faith!  That I may know all I need to know about you... so that I may seek you in all my needs regardless of who I am and what others think of me.  That I may be bold enough, even pushy enough to have faith in You no matter what.  And lastly, dear God, that I may not look down on those who come running out of darkness pleading with you because they know all they need to know about you.- Amen."

Matthew 15:21-28

The Canaanite Woman’s Faith

 Jesus left that place and went away to the district of Tyre and Sidon.Just then a Canaanite woman from that region came out and started shouting, ‘Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.’ But he did not answer her at all. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, ‘Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.’ He answered, ‘I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.’ But she came and knelt before him, saying, ‘Lord, help me.’ He answered, ‘It is not fair to take the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.’ She said, ‘Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.’ Then Jesus answered her, ‘Woman, great is your faith! Let it be done for you as you wish.’ And her daughter was healed instantly.