Friday, July 7, 2017

The Journey





I have expressed in several occasions that I have issues with letting go. The more I think about it, however, the clearer it is that these issues come from a lack of trust. The secret to letting go is to trust. And, in order to fully trust someone, we need to know that someone… really well, by the way… Consequently, for Christians, our ability to let go depends on how intimately we know our God. To know God, it is imperative that we dig into His Word… that’s how He has and continues to reveal Himself to us.

Therefore, as I see it, reading and studying the Bible is the key to reaching a level of trust in our Heavenly Father that can allow us to withstand all and any storm, help us to climb any and all mountains, protect us from and through every and all fires, keep us as we endure each and all trials we may face in this life.

Knowing God and His promises allows us to regain perspective when things don’t go our way, so instead of crumbling under the weight we know we cannot sustain, we let go, instead.

Knowing God’s Word allows us to relief the stress of thinking that all we have is our own abilities, skills and strength to work things out for our own good. Realizing that we are not alone and that we are not left to go through life by our own limited devices is the first step in our quest to letting go… and our first step in trusting God. But that step must begin by knowing Him.

Jeremiah 9:23-24 23 states God’s admonition: "Let not the wise boast of their wisdom or the strong boast of their strength or the rich boast of their riches, but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have the understanding to know me, that I am the LORD, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight," declares the LORD.

I have trust issues, but I recognize that the root of my issues is that I don’t seek to know God with all my heart and strength. Instead of obeying Jesus’ command to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6: 33) I worry about the pursue of all the other things that I’m not supposed to worry about because the Father takes care of all of them. I forget that He knows I need them and therefore, He’ll take care of those for me. I worry about tomorrow, even though I’m supposed to stay put on today. But, the more I read Scripture, the more I memorize it, the more I make it part of me… the more I know His promises, the more I remember He is in charge, the more I remember He loves me, the more I remember who He is… the more I trust Him.

And… the more I let go.

The funny thing is that I often forget that I ought to trust Him not just on the big things of life, but also on the small, the trivial, the mundane…I have to trust Him in the thunder, but also in the quiet. I have to trust Him in the winds and the waves, but also in the breeze and the calm. I have to give Him all my plans, not just the big and complicated ones, but also the seemingly simple, trivial and uncomplicated. The truth is that, there aren’t any plans too small that I can handle on my own.

For instance, right now, we are about to leave on vacation for the beach. This is a week I have been anticipating since last winter. I have it all under control. I have planned this trip to the last detail. There is nothing I cannot handle… right?

WRONG! Of course, I have to give this plan, this adventure, this seemingly insignificant event to the Lord as well! And I do, right now! Please Lord, take this trip into your hands. I cannot do it without You…not a bit. Even in the fun days ahead, I want to seek you intently. I want to seek You First. I want to see Your Face in the face of others. I want to praise You and thank You for everything, and I want to see Your hand everywhere we go.

To make sure I seek Him this week, I will keep a journal, which I will post as I can to have a record of how the road to keeping Him with me in the pleasant journeys of life works out.



See you at the beach!

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Happy 4th of July!



Praise the Lord for another 4th of July! Happy Birthday to the greatest country in the World!

Even though I was not born here, I have been adopted by this great land and I feel honored to call it my home. I celebrate this day as a day to honor freedom and the limitless potential of human ingenuity when guided by God. The United States experiment has been one of trial and triumph. Trial, because we have tried to make something wonderful here, but it has not been easy. It has been a journey marked by toil. But it is also an experience filled with triumph because the efforts have given amazing results.

We are not perfect. We know we are not. Those who label Americans as arrogant do so because of a lack of understanding of the essence of what it means to be an American. It is not arrogance. It is love. And anyone who has ever loved anyone or anything knows that it is almost impossible not to feel proud of the object of their affection. I love this country. Therefore, I am proud of it.

All these said, I cannot deny the fact that there are seriously profound issues that need to be addressed and hopefully fixed. However, today is not the day for that. I am not going to spend my 4th of July complaining. I am going to spend it with my family, praising the Lord for all the blessings and for the life He has given me here.

God Bless America, My Home, Sweet Home!

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Emotional Intelligence and Faith



Well, I guess I’m still thinking about emotional intelligence and Christianity. My thoughts today led me to the idea that lack of emotional intelligence might have something to do with lack of faith.

In the workplace and in secular society, when people talk about someone having low or no emotional intelligence, they refer to people who are often impatient and get frustrated easily. It also applies to people who overreact and who have low levels of tolerance and empathy. They are not sensitive to the feelings of others and find it annoying when others expect them to know how they feel. They usually blame others for what goes wrong, particularly because they think they are always right.

As far as recommendations to increase emotional intelligence, secular thinkers say things like: “hit the pause button” and avoid having knee-jerk reactions when things don’t go your way. Pause and listen to others and to yourself. Choose wisely how to respond to situations. Practice empathy. Be humble.

The way I see it, all these advices could be summarized into one: Read the Bible!

For Christians, emotional intelligence is a matter of belief. We study God’s Word. We learn about His promises. We believe in the fact that Jesus gave it all for us. We know God loves us because He is love. We trust that He has a plan to benefit us and not to harm us… to give us a future and hope. We trust that we can do all things in Christ who gives us strength. We know that He is always with us, and that He walks with us even in the valleys of the shadows of death. We accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. And we know that He who begun a good work in us will complete it because all things work together for the good of those who trust in Him.

As we know, understand and believe the truth contained in the Word of God, we see our faith grow. We see our humility take a leading role. We see our empathy increase. We see the futility of demanding to be first, for we know that the kingdom of God belongs to the last, the mild and the lowly. We see our hearts fill up with love, the kind that gives it all in sacrifice to others as the Holy Spirit makes His fruits blossom in our souls.

I have lived a life in which emotions have often taken the wheel leaving nothing but the rubble of my neighbors’ feelings scattered all along the path behind… As a result of my lack of sensitivity, lack of self-control, impatience and above all, lack of faith and believe that God is in control, I have failed to be who I was designed to be. But I am finding out that the more I seek Him, the more I find His peace, and the more I realize I am nothing. The more I understand that it is not for what I do, but by what He has already done that I am a beloved child of God, saved and forgiven. Therefore, surrendering to Him is a most. It is not about me and what I do. It is about Him and who He is.

By releasing control, trusting Christ and having confidence that God’s plan for me is perfect even when I don’t understand, I grow in my faith… in a way, I get higher emotional intelligence. Perhaps, secularists will never admit to the fact that Christianity is the anchor that could bring the most effective emotional stability to those around them. But we know better. I mean, it is not that Christians have it all figured out and are perfect. Not at all! Exhibit A: insert picture of ME as an illustration of a failure…But we know that the road to emotional intelligence is none other than the road to sanctification, which is the road paved by the precious blood of Christ, open to us by the saving power of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. Let’s just stay on that road, fed by the Bread of Life, guided by the Word that is the Lamp onto our feet, and strengthened by the Solid Rock, fitted in the Armor of God and robed in humility and love…one step at a time.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Emotional Intelligence



Let me just start off by clearly stating the fact that I am not a psychologist, psychiatrist or anything remotely like that. I don’t pretend to know anything about the human mind or any mind…mine or anyone else’s. I am just a regular gal that likes to think about things… and one thing that has popped into my head recently is the topic of emotional intelligence.

Psychology Today, a magazine published every two months in the United States, founded in 1967 by Nicolas Charney, Ph.D with the intent to make psychology literature more accessible to the general public, defines emotional intelligence as:

the ability to identify and manage your own emotions and the emotions of others. It is generally said to include three skills: emotional awareness; the ability to harness emotions and apply them to tasks like thinking and problem solving; and the ability to manage emotions, which includes regulating your own emotions and cheering up or calming down other people.

Hmmm…

I guess the basic elements of emotional intelligence could be bullet pointed as follows:

1. Self-Awareness

2. Social-Awareness

3. Self-Management

4. Relationship-Management

I might be swimming in murky waters here, but when people in my professional circles and other non-Christian environments speak to me about Emotional Intelligence or the value of Emotional IQ… I can’t help but thinking that all those highfalutin concepts of which secular thinkers are so proud… are non-other than ideas long-held by Christians throughout the ages.

I mean, really, have any of the psychiatrist and/or psychologist that came up with the idea of Emotional Intelligence ever heard of say… The Fruits of the Spirit?

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

If this is not referring to self-awareness and/or self-management, I don’t know what does.

How about the “Golden Rule”?

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

The way I see it, this is the best relationship-management tool ever invented.

The myriad of verses on empathy and solidarity with one another shout social-awareness and our divine call to mind the needs of others:

Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. Romans 12: 15

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. Ephesians 4: 29

If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. 1 Corinthians 12: 26

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4: 32

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

And of course, the greatest commandment sums it all:

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” Mark 12: 30-31

This very small sample of basic Christian teachings has been speaking to believers in terms of Emotional Intelligence for as long as the Bible has been around…which is WAY longer than the day modern psychiatrists might have coined the expression. And these are only examples from the New Testament. The Old Testament is filled with the same teachings… if in doubt, look at the Proverbs and the 10 Commandments!

I don’t purport to be a leading thinker on the subject. I just wonder if secular minds might have, perhaps missed the fact that the lack of what they term Emotional Intelligence might be, indeed, a lack of the presence of God in the lives of those experiencing such a situation?

Sigh…

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Waiting Part IV



To go full-circle on the whole waiting-at-the-airport adventure from last week, I have to tell you that, I did meet up with my sister and niece in NYC after all. Also, after the days we spent there, I found myself … you guessed it… waiting at the airport… again, on my way back home.

I spent about 8 hours at JFK that Sunday… gosh… this time, it was not due to airplane malfunctioning. It was due to brain malfunctioning… my brain! Just to avoid taking a cab by myself from the hotel to the airport, I decided to leave with my sister and niece… both of whom had super-early-departing flights…sigh.

After the initial shock of realizing the insanity of my decision, I found a place to set camp for my wait. Feet up on my suitcase and hotel pen in hand, I began to write down my thoughts about the trip… o yes, and I also bought a really neat, but highly over-priced journal at the airport because I ran out of space to write on my itinerary and boarding passes…

…anyway…

In summary, the so long-awaited and anticipated visit with my sister and niece started on a high point at the Empire State Building, went down very quickly as we sailed under the Brooklyn Bridge, to then stabilize and go back up again thanks to some black-market dealings in China Town that shall remain unspoken. All I’d like to say is that a bit of retail therapy has an effectiveness rate rarely outmatched.

All in all, the trip was mostly a learning experience that allowed me to discover the power of prayer and the gift of self-control… or shall I say, the fruit. Saying that self-control is a gift is not only biblically inaccurate, but it may lead us to latching onto the idea that it is a gift we don’t possess; therefore, don’t ask me to display it ‘cause I don’t got it! Wink, wink…

Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit, one of which the Apostle Paul tells us we would be recognized by. – I’m in big trouble here -. But, once we are able to see this fruit’s richness appear…Oh, what a gift it is!

The same with every fruit… patience being anther one of them…

I also learned a lot about the fact that I don’t want the thought of lacking hope crossing my path anymore. I want my faith to increase. I want to be recognized by my fruits. I want the truth that I am a child of God to be evident to those around me on the way I act!

Isn’t it funny how things turn out so unexpectedly sometimes? I had been looking forward to this trip to New York City for a long, long while…and today, I can honestly say, that the most memorable, productive and positive thing about it ended up being the time I spent at the airports…waiting…maybe waiting, in a way, could be considered also a gift, after all.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Waiting Part III




Well, yes… that’s what the Holy Spirit placed in my mind that early afternoon, last week, while stuck on a plane, in the middle of the Pittsburgh airport’s runway, waiting to take off to meet my niece and sister in NYC… “it is in the waiting that we find the gift.”

I think it is not necessarily the actual period of time that we get to spend waiting what the true gift is… but, rather, that the wait is the packaging where the gift comes wrapped in.

As it is easily inferred from my writings, I allow my thoughts to run wild, once in a while, to the point of causing unnecessary stress and uncontrolled anxiety. Therefore, waiting for me usually becomes life-threatening… particularly if I leave my mild idle. Waiting for that delayed flight to NYC last week was a good example. During that time, I realized that the best thing for my sanity and that of those around me, is for me to keep my mind occupied whenever I am faced with having to wait.

Knowing that about myself, I happened to grab a book on my way out of the house which I had started earlier this year and had to put down because I was so busy I couldn’t finish it. Well, guess what, the delay on my flight gave me the perfecto opportunity to get caught up on my reading of that book. As God would have it, the chapter I picked it up at was on the topic of… wait… wait for it… yes, it was on the topic of waiting, of course!

The Lord has a way of speaking to me in a loving, caring and sometimes, VERY clear way – this was one of those times.

The thoughts on waiting paired up with an actual wait, topped by a book with a chapter on waiting… c’mon… even I could not miss that message…

Anyway, how often God puts us in a position where we have nothing to do but wait? In my case, rather than taking the waiting time as an opportunity to discern what God wants me to learn, I have wasted many of those moments fretting, panicking or being upset. Waiting for test results has, over the last few years, been a re-occurring example of such a waste. Hands sweating, body shaking, back aching as I wait for the telephone to ring… until, one day, the Holy Spirit led me to the Word. In one of those occasions, I picked up my Bible and began to read through the Psalms, starting with #1. Ever since that day, that has become my ritual every time I have to wait for test results.

Covering up the icy-cold rooms of anxiety and fear with the warm blanket of the Word as I wait has helped me, in those moments, to refocus by taking away my eyes from the circumstances to center them on Jesus. The key is to always do that…to always be able to re-direct my sight towards the One who is Hope so I can unwrap the gift that comes to me neatly packed in the wait…like for instance, these meditations I was able to jot down while waiting for the airplane to depart.

Sigh…

Therefore, though I might not totally agree with the author of the book I was reading when she pointed out that the waiting is the gift… I do agree with the idea that waiting might just be the packaging where the gift is packed in. The time we wait should be then, used to unwrap it so we can enjoy it! Simple, huh?

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Waiting Patiently Part II



Patience is something I’ve ever been accused of… waiting patiently has not been anything, anybody has witnessed me doing much at all… ever!

As I sat in one of those airport chairs, last week, still waiting to hear about our flight… isn’t it funny how they make those chairs look as if they are comfy, when actually, they are not? … anyway, I read a line in the book I was trying to finish that stroke me: “waiting patiently is about hope.” Hmmm…

What did that statement mean? Well, to me, that means that if I find myself not being able to accomplish patient waiting, that signifies that I have no hope. If I have no hope, that means I don’t trust the One Who is Hope… and that if that’s the case, then I have little to no faith…

Sigh…

Next, the book presented the idea of considering the waiting periods in our lives as a gift. Needless to say, I found that concept hard to accept. Gifts are usually things that I like receiving. I don’t like to wait…so, how am I ever going to consider waiting as a gift?

By this time, I was no longer waiting at the gate, but I was actually on the plane, in my seat. But we were still waiting. The plane had begun to move, but suddenly, it stopped again…waiting became unbearable! How is it possible that we got on the plane, the plane pulled off the gate, moved around the runway, to then just stop! UGH!

How can I consider this a gift?

In this scenario, the real gift is to spend time with my niece and my sister, NOT SITTING ON A STOPPED PLANE in Pittsburgh!

Sigh…

The way I see it, the wait is chipping away at the gift!

How could I ever begin to consider waiting as “THE” gift?

Sigh…

Well, after my desperation gave way to a rare occurrence of peace, I realized that one way to accomplish that different perspective could be by choosing wisely what I do while I wait.

The Holy Spirit felt restless inside of me as I waited, and He moved me to grab a pen and whatever piece of paper at hand. Luckily, I’m still a bit old fashion when it comes to airplane tickets, so I always print them along with the itinerary. Therefore, I had some paper I could use. Then, I wrote:

It is in the waiting that we find the gift.

Hmmm…