Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Trust over Fret. Prayer over Despair

In this times of political uncertainty during which concerned citizens of this great United States nervously skip through political ads on TV and anxiously scroll down their Facebook and other social media accounts not really knowing what to say, do, comment or think…I have made a decision:

I will choose trust over fret and prayer over despair.

Regardless of who the president is, God already knows.  God is King, forever in His Throne. Our future is in His past. He is already there, and He knows how this story ends. And it doesn’t matter if I don’t know the details of what is about to unfold for us in this country, I trust the One who designed the plans and whose will puts it in motion.

I am hanging on to His Word. And even in the midst of this storm, I will continue to praise Him and rest in the confidence of His care, under the shadow of his wings.  

As I wait, I will cling to Scripture like this...take a minute to read it.  I pray it brings you comfort:

Psalm 103New International Version (NIV)

Of David.

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 eagle’s.
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;
10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve
    or repay us according to our iniquities.
11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
    so great is his love for those who fear him;
12 as far as the east is from the west,
    so far has he removed our transgressions from us.
13 As a father has compassion on his children,
    so the Lord has compassion on those who fear him;
14 for he knows how we are formed,
    he remembers that we are dust.
15 The life of mortals is like grass,
    they flourish like a flower of the field;
16 the wind blows over it and it is gone,
    and its place remembers it no more.
17 But from everlasting to everlasting
    the Lord’s love is with those who fear him,
    and his righteousness with their children’s children
18 with those who keep his covenant
    and remember to obey his precepts.
19 The Lord has established his throne in heaven,
    and his kingdom rules over all.
20 Praise the Lord, you his angels,
    you mighty ones who do his bidding,
    who obey his word.
21 Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts,
    you his servants who do his will.
22 Praise the Lord, all his works
    everywhere in his dominion.
Praise the Lord, my soul.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Alone at the Flagpole

I know that social media is full of stuff that could be categorized as junk. Many of the stories going around are intensely troublesome. Some of the debate going on is just plain scary. And often I just feel like dropping off all interaction through media. However, a few minutes ago, I read something that truly touched me. If you think about it, this story is still troublesome and scary, but it also contains hope…and not a hope that is baseless, but a hope that is deeply rooted.

The title of the post was: “The boy who stood at the flagpole alone.” It showed the picture of a teen boy, not unlike my own son, standing by the flagpole in front of his school awkwardly, like a normal teenager, arms pressed against his sides, eyes tightly shut and head slightly bowed. I took one look at that picture and I began to sob…I mean, really…I was afraid the dog was going to freak out, so I put him outside so I could continue to cry out loud to my heart’s content.

This boy, I don’t even know where he is from, and I don’t care because it really doesn’t matter…stood alone, just like the title says, at the “See You at the Pole” event which took place last week around the country. It is very sad to see that nobody else showed up to pray on that morning at his school. But it is really encouraging that he did!

As I’m currently involved in a Bible study that is asking us to look at our weaknesses and to pray for revival to begin within ourselves and our small circle of personal influence, I can’t help but to see this young man as my inspiration. He is standing within his hula-hoop-size circle of influence and doing what he is supposed to do. He is being obedient to the prompting of the Holy Spirit to be faithful even if he has to stand alone. He is allowing God to start a revival within himself, even if nobody else is around. He is allowing himself to be available for God to use him. And when we do that, just watch…we are in for a God Show!

That’s what God wants from me…from us…from all of His children: that we are available. He wants us to have hearts that are willing to stand with Him even in the midst of awkwardness and vulnerability. He wants us to take the step of faith and be obedient even if nobody else follows us. He wants us to trust Him to use our ordinary lives to do extraordinary things.

As it happened, social media went crazy with this story in his town and he was dumbfounded by the response. May God receive the glory for this lone warrior and many other kids around the country who decided they were going to take a step of faith and stand, even if alone, to pray on that day. I wish my boys had been among them. I’m sorry to say they were not…but I will show this picture to them this afternoon and see what God may stir in their hearts, as I continue to see what God stirs in mine.

Monday, October 3, 2016

The Gift of Fall

My soon-to-be-eleven-years-old son Dylan is so excited about fall. His birthday is in late October so he thinks that every leave that turns its color is a gift from God especially tailored to him. It’s so funny! Every day he’d make sure I take a good look at the trees and join him in his rejoicing for what he calls, “the season of his birth.” Little does he know that his Mom has a love-hate relationship with fall that she, herself, can’t even explain…

The way I see it, fall is truly a melancholic season. It is a season of loss and lows. For me, personally, loss seems to usually happen in the fall. I lost my Father in the fall. I lost a family relationship in the fall. I lost my identity in the fall. Job loss and health loss have also occurred in the fall. And the bummer of all losses, every year I lose summer in the fall!

I pondered all this stuff while I was on a power walk around my neighborhood this morning since it is my day off! As the thought of loss creeped into my mind during my walk, I felt a burst of sadness chocking me at the moment when I realized it will be four years this November that I lost my Dad. I was surprised by the wave of emotion at the reality of my still very fresh sadness for the loss of whom I used to consider my pillar on earth. I was embarrassed to think that someone might have been watching me out the window from any of my neighboring houses…and as I kept walking with my head down, I saw a single, small leave on the pavement. It was its bright color what caught my attention. I would have missed it otherwise. I got closer and looked at it for a while. It was truly a thing of beauty.

I kept walking and thinking: “why would God make something become so breathtakingly beautiful right about the time it is ready to die.”

A thought came rushing to my mind: “because there is beauty in loss.”

Everything He has created is good! He doesn’t make no junk! Even loss, if we look closely, brings about a renewal that can be beautiful in itself. If I look closely, after every experience of loss I have had, there has been a period of challenge, intensity and incredible growth that could not have occurred but for the loss that preceded it. I just have to tune into the Holy Spirit to see it, to accept it, to receive it and to praise Him for it.

Fall will always be a time of deep melancholic feelings for me. But, perhaps, if I hold my thoughts captive and allow the Lord to renew my mind, I could finally join Dylan in his rejoicing for the season as I learn to see that fall is indeed a great gift from God to us all.

Friday, September 30, 2016

The Antidote Against My Fall Blues

Well, I guess it’s time for my “fall-brings-my-spirit-down” yearly post.  However, I think I can safely declare that I might have found the antidote for my fall-funk (well, at least something that is doable unlike my previous solution which involved permanently relocating to a tropical island)…Anyway, what I’ve been doing that has actually truly helped me overcome my seasonal blues is:  participate in a Bible study with my sisters in Christ!
We started the Bible Study a couple of weeks ago and in my opinion, it is going really well.  We are doing a study called Gideon: Your Weakness.  God’s Strength by Priscilla Shirer.  Right now, the thing that is impressing me the most is that we are discovering how God truly is the God that uses the ordinary to do the extraordinary.  And we are also learning to pray for revival…to pray for revival to start right here…within each and every one of us individually. 
It was kind of neat, at least I thought so, when we got little hula hoops last session.  NO!  We didn’t have a hula hoop competition (only because we knew who’d win, and the rest of us didn’t want to be embarrassed).  We put them on the floor and we stood inside of the small circumference to pray for precisely that: revival within our hearts. 
That activity filled me up with hope.  I don’t really know what revival looks like.  I wasn’t really alive for any of the revivals our nation has seen.  But I sure am ready to be part of one right about now!  And I’m guessing revival is pretty much allowing God’s Holy Spirit to move freely inside of our entire being and letting Him take over our weaknesses to use us for His sacred purposes, boldly, without fear, without hesitation, and without doubt.
I am so ready to be used by God in a mighty way!  Again, I have no clue what that entitles.  I only know that whatever it is, big or small, loud or quiet, important or insignificant, broad or narrow…it will be extraordinary because it is God prescribed.
Spending time with my sisters in Christ, studying God’s precious Word and praying for personal revival…well, if that’s not enough to get me out of my usual fall-funk, I don’t know what’d do it? 

I’ll keep you posted on what we learn.  Let’s make it a shared experience and let’s witness a great revival among our midst! I think this is going to be a great fall!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

God Doesn't Love Me

I’m still thinking about what my husband told me the other day…I live too heavy…I do…

The thing is that the enemy tells me all these lies about how life is supposed to be and how my life is supposed to look like…then, since my life isn’t unfolding anything like that, I get frustrated and afraid, even hurt, and that’s why I carry around a bag full of anger that explodes at the slightest bump on the road. Rather than going with the flow of God’s plan for me, I have mistaken the lies of the enemy for the truth, and I’ve been blindly forcing things, events and circumstances to fit into a pattern that was never real…a reality that never existed. Therefore, my days turn heavy and my yoke becomes extremely difficult to bear.

The enemy lies to us all. He is relentless. Regardless of age or situation, he spits out falsehood and deceit without discrimination. Sometimes, seeing it on other people, my loved ones especially, helps me see it in me. For instance, it is through Dylan, my soon-to-be eleven-year-old son that I see the clearest picture of how the enemy operates in me. Dylan and I are one in temperament and personality. Therefore, looking at him often feels like looking on a mirror.

The other night was a perfect example. I can’t remember what the argument was about, but all I can remember is that Dylan felt so upset that he said: “God doesn’t love me…”

Well, that was bad. I felt like I am doing a horrible job presenting the Gospel to my kid, and I didn’t know how to fix it. However, I also saw, first hand, the impact of the lies the enemy tells us. I mean, really, why would Dylan say that God doesn’t love him? The devil attacks young and old without discriminating against any circumstance or life situation. One of the enemy’s most effective weapons is to instill in us the thought that we are not worthy of God’s love; therefore, we need to distance ourselves from Him out of shame.

And the thing is that we believe his lies. We know the truth, but in our moment of weakness and vulnerability, we forget and fall for the deception.

First of all, of course we are not worthy of God’s love. That is precisely why it is so amazing that He chooses to love us! Who am I that the Maker of the Heavens and the Earth is mindful of me? (Psalm 8:4) That is the gift of Grace…the amazingly glorious gift of God’s riches at Christ’s expense:

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8)

And it is precisely due to our inability to be good enough for God that we must run to His Mercy Seat! (Exodus 25: 17-22) Instead, when we believe the enemy, we do exactly the opposite of what we need to do. We distance ourselves from the One who can redeem us…how crazy is that?

I embraced Dylan that night and assured him that nothing can separate him from the love of God…nothing…

If there is a next time, however, I also need to remember to rebuke the enemy out loud and affirm that we belong to Christ. We belong to the truth!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Anger Part 2

I guess tomorrow took a couple of days to arrive, huh? Anyway…where was I? O yeah…anger, and what to do with it?

Well, I still don’t know…but going back to that sermon by Pastor Doug several weeks ago, I think he is totally right. If I think about my anger, I could definitively trace it to either feeling hurt, frustrated or afraid (and sometimes all of them together at the same time). I know those emotions all too well. In my selection of emoticons or emojis or however you call them little faces that we are all so fond of on our phones, the three most used in my selection are precisely those that express some level of these three emotions!

Hurt, frustration and fear are, indeed, my constant companions. Therefore, there is no great mystery about why anger surfaces so often in my life.

Back to the original question: What to do?

I wish I knew!

In my notes from that sermon, however, I found something Pastor Doug said that was as intriguing that Sunday when I heard it as it is again now when I read it. He said: “release anger in an appropriate manner.” Hmm… That was kind of a new idea for me. I always thought anger had to be controlled, stopped, tamed or even swept under the rug. I guess I never heard the idea that anger has to be released.

Of course I’ve known that fact ever since my first fit. Bottled up anger only makes things worst. As you can imagine I abuse such concept and use it as an excuse or justification for my angry explosions. But I can’t remember ever actually hearing a Pastor say it aloud from the pulpit. Is there really an appropriate way to release this emotion?

The more I think about it, the more a couple of ideas circle back in my brain. As I put them in writing, they come out as the following steps:

Confess it: when I feel anger bubbling up inside of me, I need to recognize it and speak it, hoping that saying it aloud could hit the pause button (or better yet, the stop button) and help diffuse it. “I’m getting really angry here…” (Note to self: avoid saying: “You are making me angry!”)

Give yourself a time-out: Once I confess the state of my emotions aloud to the other party/parties involved, it is probably a good idea to remove myself from the scene for a while. “Can we not talk about this right now? I need a moment.” (Remember not to say anything like: “get away from me before I hurt you!” that won’t go well). After I calm down and rejoin the human race again, I can come back to the discussion. At least I got to express the fact that I was angry and the time out might serve the purpose of not only validating the emotion, but also may allow time to find creative ways towards a solution or an agreement.

And when I lose it, apologize: Inevitably, I will, upon occasions (yeah…like all the time) not be able to stop uncontrolled anger to escape, and my unleased tongue will go on the destroyer mode. On those instances, I just need to openly and sincerely offer my heartfelt apology and express my sorrow for the offense. No matter what the other person did, I cannot justify uncontrolled anger. I cannot justify anger that seeks to crush and destroy. “I’m sorry…I shouldn’t have…” (Important note on this step: resist the temptation to follow that statement with anything resembling: “but, you...”)

Finally, move to the beach! I don’t see how anybody could ever be angry while living by the ocean!

Well, I’m not sure if any of these could count as help to anyone. As for me, at least it helped me as an outlet of honesty. I’m a deeply flawed woman. The good news is, the Lord is not done with me yet.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Anger Part 1

For some reason I am wired in a way that anger is my default emotion. No matter what it is, I get angry first, then I ask questions later…maybe. The worst thing is that often I don’t even know I am doing it. It is only when I see the look of concern and/or fear on the faces of those around me that I realized I must have gotten angry about something. And I’m sorry to say it, but most of my angry explosions are usually directed at, and/or in the presence of the people I love the most.


Anger is very draining. It drains my joy and it leaves my heart feeling empty, guilty and sad. Let alone the damage to those around me…uncontrolled anger destroys my witnessing…it destroys any efforts I may have made to show others the face of Christ in me. It causes me to lose credibility. “How could a person who claims to be godly get so uncontrollably angry?” I imagine that’s what they think when they see me having one of my episodes. Needless to say, my lack of self-control and inability to tame my short temper causes me to experience deep feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness. So much so, that I often end up crying in the shower full of regret.

Not that long ago, I heard our Pastor preach on this topic. He said that anger can usually be traced to three emotions: hurt, frustration and fear. What does that say about someone like me, a person who is angry a lot? I guess it means that I feel hurt, frustrated and/or afraid a lot. But why? Why am I inundated by such awful feelings?


I feel hurt because I take myself too seriously.

I feel frustrated because I am too controlling.

I feel afraid because I don’t trust God.

I take myself too seriously, therefore, I get offended easily.

I’m too controlling, therefore, I lose it when things don’t go my way.

I don’t trust God enough, therefore, it’s really hard for me to stay calm when life is scary.

My husband summarized it best. A few days ago he said to me: “You live to heavy.” At first I wasn’t sure what he meant by that. I think I know now. I walk around dragging a dreadful ball and chain that not only weighs me down, but also keeps me heavily secured on the ground…too earthbound…unable to climb the heights that God has prepared for me…unable to live my life with eternity in my heart.


What to do? I have no clue other than to pray. Pray for the Holy Spirit to grow His fruits in me as He softens my heart, making it a fertile soil ready for the seeds that were planted long ago to finally bloom and yield the long awaited crop.

I’ll get back to this topic tomorrow. In the meantime, let’s join in prayer, for the enemy to flee as we submit to the Lord and fight the battles of this world armed with His strength.