Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Trust Stone

This past Sunday, Dylan got a beautiful stone with the word "Trust" engraved on it.  He got it at Children at Worship service.  I saw the stone and I wanted it!!!  We got into a... "discussion" about it, and came to an agreement:  the stone would sit in our kitchen, right above the sink for all of us to see at all times.  

I love that little stone.  It has brought me great comfort.  In these days of uncertainty, when fear creeps up in my heart, threatening to destroy me, deceiving me, creating a most unbearable battle in my mind...this little stone sits as a reminder to bring me back to the Solid Rock of my Salvation!  

Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. 
Psalm 62: 6

I fill my heart with thanksgiving and praise so fear may have no place.  I thank my Loving, Heavenly Father for being my Provider and for pointing me to the truth that He is into the smallest of details.  He knew I needed a solid reminder that He is on the Throne now and forever more.  And I thank Him for it

I will continue to look at that little trust stone as a way to redirect my thoughts.  As a reminder that I want to build my house upon the Rock so it would not be washed away by the current, the winds or the storm.  Keep us under Your Wings, Our Dear Lord!

Saturday, March 17, 2018

I Almost Cried

Movies are one of the main source of entertainment for our family.  We are constantly watching films on TV and the boys and I often go to the theaters to watch new releases.  Dan sometimes joins us, but he is pretty selective.  Most of the time is just the kids and I.  The funny thing is that if there is anything, like even a little bit of emotional stuff in the movie we are watching, Dylan and I usually get caught up in it and we can't help it... we are criers... Grant, on the other hand...man, is that kid tough? or what?  I don't remember when was the last time I saw anything resembling tears on that boy's face. 

Anyhoo... he always makes fun of Dylan and I for being such softies at the movies.  It is not even funny anymore.

Well, last night, the four of us went to see the movie I Can Only Imagine ...WOW!  What a film... Powerful to say the least.  And of course...a tear-jerker of the best kind.  The movie ended, and as the credits began to roll on the screen, this brief exchange took place:

Dylan: "I cried like 9 times."  (9 is a number Dylan uses when he means A LOT!)
Me:     "Man...that was awful!  Me too..." 
Dylan: "I thought I was going to burst!"
Me:     "I didn't know what to do with myself!"

We found our composure and walked out to the lobby where we saw several familiar faces from church.  I thought I could talk about some particular details about the movie, so I began to mention that one of my favorite parts was the drawing of the...NO SPOILER, because that's about all I could say before I sensed my face begin to discombobulate and felt hot tears forming in my eyes...so I just stopped mid sentence, which my interlocutor was grateful for because she was beginning to tear up too.

We said our goodbyes and as we walked out of the theater, Dylan and I started talking about how sad we were again, at which Grant said:  "I almost cried."


I hadn't even thought about asking him about it since it never occurred to me to mention it...so the words took me by surprise.  Then, I knew that movie was powerful.

I don't want to spoil it for those who haven't seen it.  I just want to say that I endorse it :)  Not that my endorsement means anything, but if you are looking for a movie that has the ability to deeply touch your emotions...this is one.  It's real, and perhaps, it could be too real.  I heard today that Bart Millard, the lead singer of the group Mercy Me on whose life the movie is based, had to go to therapy before they could produce the movie for it deals with such profoundly intimate issues that if left unresolved, they can really mess up one's life.

I think people are going to be talking about this movie for a long time.  The lessons we can glean from it are countless.  And most of all, the proof of the love and might of our Great Lord is evident on the screen in a way that could be perceived by even those not in the faith.

I pray it is a huge hit and that moviegoers all over the world benefit from it.  If you have a chance, go see it...but, remember, bring a box of kleenex...because I bet, that at least, you may "almost cry"!

Friday, March 16, 2018

Flowing Peace

This year, I decided that my guiding word was going to be peace... So far, the New Years resolution had been working fine... up until now...

As my hour of test approaches, I feel myself falling deeper and deeper into worry-induced anxiety about the results of my upcoming medical tests.  I have tried to keep busy, but it just happens:  thoughts of "what if" scenarios begin to pop into my mind and I begin to have cold sweats and shivers all over my body. 

Then, I knew it was time for reinforcements.  I've said it before, if I don't talk about it, I burst.  It is worst for me to keep my anguish secret, so I write about it...that's the most effective way for me to express it.  So, over the last couple of days, I texted, posted it, e-mailed it,  blogged it... and in response, I have felt the peace of Christ flowing, pouring down on me in the words, thoughts and prayers that my sisters in Christ have showered me with.

The Lord speaks peace to me through the people He puts along my path, and for that I am most grateful.

He speaks to me through their words and through the words I find from other sources as well.  Of course, He speaks to me through His Word.  I grabbed my Bible yesterday and began my journey through the Psalms again.  It is amazing how soothing reading the psalms could be.    Along with the words of encouragement from my loved ones as well as His Word, I also read the following in my daily devotional this morning:

"Don't take yourself so seriously.  Lighten up and laugh with Me.  You have Me on your side, so what are you worried about?  I can equip you to do absolutely anything, as long as it is My will.  The more difficult your day, the more I yearn to help you.  Anxiety wraps you up in yourself, trapping you in your own thoughts.  When you look to Me and whisper My Name, you break free and receive My help.  Focus on Me, and you will find Peace in My Presence." (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

I had to share this.  It is just too perfect. 

It is funny too, because I have heard Dan telling me exactly that:  "Don't take yourself so seriously.  Lighten up and laugh a little," millions of times for the last ...  I don't even know how many years.  He began telling me that since we were dating, almost 27 years ago...and he is still saying it...because I have yet to learn to do it.  And here it is, God, Himself telling me...so Dan must be onto something here...

How many time I choose the frown over the smile?
How many times I choose the grunts over the chuckles?
How many times I choose the sadness over the joy?
How many times I choose the fright over the hope?

Perhaps, the secret is, indeed, to not take myself so seriously.  It is only life.  We all have to go through it, and nobody comes out of it alive...so...

I pray that the words of my friends, my sisters, my husband, and above all, My Lord would finally penetrate my soul, piercing my closed up heart, allowing the peace of the person of Jesus Christ to finally invade my core.

Thursday, March 15, 2018


Here I am, a few days from my thyroid check up, waking up scared...again...

I look at myself in the mirror and stare at my neck.  I see my scar...a constant reminder of my reality...I remember a line from that song...what is it?  Who sings it?  I can't remember, but the words linger:  the day will come when "all scars are understood."

I think about it a minute.  Then, I exhale a deep "I trust You, Lord! You have already healed me!" turn the lights out and walk away, sighing...

I believe it.  But sometimes...I become overcome with thoughts...with "what ifs."  The cold blanket of fear covers me, and I shiver.  The words, "Come to Me" sound very distant...a mere whisper from the depths of darkness in my troubled mind. 


“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. 
For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.  Matthew 7: 7-8

Please, guide me so I learn how to ask for your will to be done and have peace in obedience and acceptance.  Give me clarity on the path to seeking You and You alone, so I can walk securely, knowing that You go before me.  Give me the strength to knock at Your door, even when I am weak and feel ashamed. And please, open it wide and usher me inside!  Drag me in, if I resist.  Keep me near You and cover me under Your wings for once again I'm trembling.  The lies of fear threaten to make me crumble.  The enemy is waiting for me to fall so he can devour me.  Open Your door to me, Lord, as the cleft on the Rock, and keep me hidden there until the eye of the storm has dissipated and the sun shines again.

Praise You, Lord, for You Are The Healer, Jehovah Rapha. The Lord that Heals.  I trust You!  Come to my rescue in my anguish. Restore me.  Amen!  

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Let's Talk About It

Today, as I was running errands, on a whim, I switched from my Christian music station to one of the other Christian stations that broadcast shows.  At the one I landed, I heard Pastor Rick Warren wrapping up his Daily Hope programI've never really listened to him much, but he was saying some powerful stuff about breaking free, especially from abuse, but from anything that snares us, really.

The phrase that became tattooed into my brain was this: 

"Revealing your feelings is the beginning of healing."

I keep thinking about this statement.  We are not supposed to allow our emotions to get out of control, aren't we? Dylan always teases me saying that I have too many feelings.  And as we know, feelings could be deceiving.  So, I better practice some disciplines that help me keep them all in good check, right?  But, is that the same as keeping them secret?  Is remaining in control and not allowing emotions to take over my mind and actions the same as keeping them bottled up?

According to Pastor Rick Warren, absolutely not!

The fear and anxiety that the issues we are dealing with bring to our souls need to be expressed so they can begin to dissipate.  The thing is that often, we are too ashamed of the way we feel to be open about it, and talk about it even with trusted friends and counselors.  As a matter of fact, there is a statistic that says that Christians are twice less likely to go to counseling than non-christians.  I believe such a statistic is scary.  Why aren't Christians seeking much needed professional counseling?  I guess the reasons could be varied and truly complex; but I think that often, as Christians, we refuse/reject the idea of professional counseling due to shame.  We feel guilty that we cannot handle our issues on our own...after all, aren't we supposed to have faith that we can do all things in Christ?  Then, we don't need anybody else...if we do...doesn't that mean that our relationship with Jesus is faulty?  Isn't that an indication of lack of faith?

All I know is that in my personal case, even though I might be a bit embarrassed by the way I feel sometimes, if I don't talk about it, I burst!

Of course, praying and talking to Jesus about the commotion I carry inside is my life-line!  However,  I believe He has surrounded me with a great "cloud of witnesses" who walk with me along this valley of tears and shadows so we can offer support to one-another.  He has provided this help.  Why won't we employ it?  Why reject it?  I believe, finding a trusted friend or someone who is willing to listen to the venting/ranting/expressing of my feelings is truly important for my sanity.  For me, writing about it in this outlet is another way the Lord in His Mercy has made available to me.  But so are the many Christian counselors out there who are trained in how to help us when we are at our wit's end.  I don't think it shows weakness to seek help.  I believe it shows the discernment and the strength both proceeding from the Holy Spirit in our midst.

I believe that keeping our feelings of fear, anxiety, pain, guilt, shame, weakness, etc. inside, may ultimately cause those feelings to overpower and control us.  I think not talking about them aloud is a way in which they keep us shackled and enslaved.  I truly agree with Pastor Rick Warren when he says that the revealing of our feelings is the beginning of healing, indeed!  I trust that Our Loving Father in Heaven has made provisions for His children to help each other as we carry our burdens in our daily walk.  After all, He commanded us to sharpen one another, and to... 

Be devoted to one another in love. Honor one another above yourselves. Romans 12: 10

Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6: 2

Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 
 Philippians 2: 4

So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets. Matthew 7: 12

There is no shame in seeking help.  Would we think it's shameful for a cancer patient to go for treatment?  Why then, would we perceive reaching out when the issue has to do with our mind and emotions as a less than dignified action?

It is hard, because it involves the things that we keep hidden in our heart.  But it is necessary to open the gates not only to release all those toxic feelings, but to allow the healing waters of Christ to penetrate and cleanse us from the inside out.

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer. Psalm 19: 14

Monday, March 12, 2018

What's The Frequency?

Is it sacrilegious to think of the Holy Spirit as a radio station? I hope not. The analogy works pretty well, I think...at least for me.

The thing is that I cannot get in the car without turning my radio on. Actually, I never turn the car radio off. My kids and husband always complain when they get in my car because as soon as the engine starts, the radio blasts with a loud bang...all eyes turning to me with a glare…as I look away pretending to be completely unaware…

I love listening to Christian music and Christian shows on the radio, what can I say? So, it's a good thing, right? It didn’t use to be that way before, though. Even though I’ve always surrounded myself with music, I didn’t discover Christian music until only a little over ten years ago. I never noticed how bad secular radio could be, until now that I have been immersed into Christian frequencies. On the weekends, I flip through the dial (is it even called a “dial” anymore???) and there is so much garbage on, that I spend more time pushing that “skip” button than actually listening to music. And don’t even get me started with TV!!! There are so many channels and stations broadcasting things that I should not be watching/listening to, that it is hard to enjoy media much anymore.

Sigh… I’m sounding more and more like my Father every day…

And I’m like, an adult, and stuff, right? I supposedly have some kind of maturity level that allows me to have a semblance of sound judgement. I cannot even imagine the stuff that kids are feeding into their brains through their fancy headphones day in and say out…I mean, have you seen kids lately? They are constantly listening to…who knows what?! They are always sporting headphones. My students leave them hanging around their necks while we are in class so, as soon as class is over, they can plug them back into their ears and over their heads…or whatever…

My own sons are headphone-wearers as well. Mercy!

There is so much noise polluting our lives! It’s out of control!

It is so “funny” that precisely at the same moment I am typing these words, Dylan is playing a song in his speaker (yes, I bought him a speaker so when he is at home, he can play his music in the speaker for me to hear it in order to keep an “ear” on what he listens to…yikes!) … anyway, the song was by Skillet, a heavy metal Christian group that I have a hard time understanding what they say (Dan is worse than me…every time he hears some Skillet playing he frowns and says something like: “How do I know they are not worshiping the devil in this song?”) Anyway…as usual, I wasn’t sure what the song was about, but then I thought I heard something intelligible: “Whispers in the dark…” I’m like, “Dylan, what is he saying?” Dylan said: “Whispers in the dark. That’s the name of the song.”


Coincidence? I think not!

Of course, I did what every sensible Mom would have done, and I googled the lyrics, so I could understand the song. And, much to my delight, it is about God’s cry to His children urging them to tune into Him. We are never alone. He finds us even when we are lost…we just have to adjust the frequency of our receiver, so we can hear His whispers in the dark!

Staying tuned into the Holy Spirit whispering is not an easy thing to accomplish. The radio of my soul so often tunes Him out, which means I am left hearing all those other voices in my head that lead me the wrong way. I pray I have the sense to tune right back into the Spirit frequency every time I deviate. But above all, I pray that when I am unable to adjust my dial to the right channel, that Our Heavenly Father does it for me…so I can hear His voice, even if they sound just like a whisper in the dark.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Worldy Pursuits

At this moment in my professional career I find myself consumed by the pursuit of figuring out what I can do to help my country of birth.  I want to share the knowledge I have acquired through my years of living in the United States with the people of Panama.  Therefore, I have been spending countless hours devising, designing and dreaming about programs that I could establish in Panama to, in a way, give back to those left behind...

I want to bring students down there.  I want to do mission work.  I want to do professional and educational development for children and adults.  You name it!  One idea has sparked a million others.  One project has unleashed tons of work that needs to be done.  One Facebook message has sparked a fire among other Panamanians who share my same life-story and want to join me in my desires to do something.

The result:  I´m obsessed! 

And that is not a good thing...

In my experience, obsessing over something usually does not lead me in the right direction.  When I get so focused on a project or a thing it is as if a reinforced concrete wall is suddenly built around my brain which doesn't allow me to think about anything else.  All my energies go to this thing I'm obsessed with. I get impatient and short-tempered (yeah, I know...even more? how is that even possible?!) Everything and everyone else automatically move lower on my list of priorities.  I become very distracted.  Last night, for instance, I was about to give a class a test they had already taken!  I'm so behind with my grading that I don't know how in the world I am going to be able to turn in mid-term reports today by noon. I shut down to all around me and I only see whatever it is that could enhance my goal.  In other words, my pursuit becomes my idol.

"Save your best striving for seeking My Face.  I am constantly communicating with you.  To find Me and hear My voice you must seek Me above all else. Anything that you desire more than Me becomes an idol.  When you are determined to get your own way, you blot Me out of your consciousness.  Instead of single-mindedly pursuing some goal, talk with Me about it.  Let the Light of My Presence shine on this pursuit so that you can see it from My perspective.  If the goal fits into My plans for you, I will help you reach it.  If it is contrary to My will for you, I will gradually change the desire of your heart.  Seek Me first and foremost; then the rest of your life will fall into place, piece by piece."  (Jesus Calling by Sarah Young)

Yeah... what else can I say other than... "Lord, You know me so well!  You know exactly what I need at the exactly right moment... I'm in awe of You.  Thank you for your loving presence and for not giving up on me."

Often, when we get distracted with the things of this world, we need to step back and honestly ponder:  Is this what God wants me to do or is it my own, selfish pursuit? I mean, we are talking about good goals, not even material and superficial obsessions.  But, at times, idolatry comes in disguised as many wonderful things. The problem is that, if you are like me, I tend to follow the shiny object, and do not take the time to step back.  That's why I just want to have the presence of mind to always pray that the Lord, in His great mercy and love, would send me someone or something to give me the message I need to hear:  "Seek Me First, and all these other things will be given to you as well..." Matthew 6: 33