Saturday, September 28, 2013

Father to the Fatherless

A Father and a Mother forsaking their child? Impossible, right? Well, as we all know, it does happen…and more often than we’d like to imagine…the why and the how are hard to explain, but the pain is real. How do you ever recover from a blow like that? How do you ever … when those who are supposed to love you and protect you unconditionally, forget about you and abandon you…Why does God allow such a thing to happen?

This is just one of the many tough questions that we struggle to answer. I don’t think even the greatest minds could coherently produce a meaningful reply that would help anyone’s hurt to stop. In the meantime, the one who didn’t even ask to be born is left wondering a silent why for the rest of his or her life.

But Psalm 68 tells us that God is the Father to the Fatherless…

John 14: 18 says that He will not leave us as orphans, but that He will come to us.

The God of the universe, who commanded Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon to be cut in the rock, and the One who spoke and galaxies were formed, cares about us…cares about the fatherless…cares about you. I don’t understand it, but I believe it! I hang on this His Word. And He said that even though we will have trouble in this life, they will all be but momentary afflictions, and that we must trust Him for He has overcome the world with all its pain.

I do not fix my eyes on the things I see for they are deceiving. I try to focus on the unseen, for that is eternal! (2 Corinthians 4: 17-18) I life by faith and not by sight! (2 Corinthians 5: 7). Therefore, it doesn’t matter how hopeless things of this life look like, I will wait upon the Lord, and take heart. And perhaps, I will get to see His restoring power while I’m still in the land of the living, because…

Though my father and mother forsake me,
the Lord will receive me. Psalm 27: 10

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Unexpected Yes

Have you ever prayed for a yes and got a yes...just not exactly the one you where hoping for?

Life is never dull with God. He sure has a way to surprise us at every turn. Once we allow the Holy Spirit to work in us and we finally learn to relax a bit and go with the flow of the Lord’s plan…we would discover that His flow could actually be a lot of fun!

We pray for blessings and for all the things we desire. We pray for life to turn out the way we want. Our Heavenly Father, however, shows us time and time again, that His plans are WAY better than our own, and that even though He might not always answer our prayers the way we expected or hoped for, He always answers them for the benefit of our character and for the brilliance of His glory.

Such was the case I experienced very recently. I have been praying for a particular “yes” as an answer to a prayer. The prayer was actually for a dear young woman I very much admire and have grown to love. This particular “yes” however, would also benefit me directly, so it definitively was a double whammy : ) After praying for a while, I gradually stopped being so selfish and I just began to pray for the right “yes/s” to come to this young lady’s life. And guess what? I’ve had the privilege to witness God’s very hand delivering His “yes” to this precious child right in front of my eyes…The “yes” that she got, however,--- you guessed it,--- was not the one that would directly benefit me.

Nonetheless, I was ecstatic to hear the news! God allowed me to be personally involved in this answer prayer in a selfless way which brought me the most joy possibly imaginable. It was like witnessing a miracle. And for that, I am most grateful. The miracle of seeing the power of prayer is worth more to me than any scheme that would end up benefiting my selfish purposes.

Of course I am not attributing this yes to my lowly prayer. I know the answer came as part of God’s Holy and perfect plan and will (besides, I also know for a fact that this girl has been prayed over by a multitude of Saints way before I got in the picture : ) What I’m saying is that I am so very thankful the Lord allowed me to be a part of it.

In the meantime, I’m still waiting for my own “yes.” However, while I wait, I know the Lord will take care of me, no matter what. My needs will be met regardless of the path He takes me into to fulfill them. I live by faith and not by sight, and no matter how hopeless things may look to the naked eye, I know He works all things together for good for those He loves and according to His perfect will…so I am not going to worry about myself for now. Instead, I am going to rejoice in a “yes” that even though it was rather unexpected, it ended up being so much better than anything I could have planned.

 Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2: 3-4

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Long Lost List...

The only reason I know I wrote this list around November, 2003 is because I wrote it on the back of an envelope that contains a letter my Dad sent me.  That letter was post marked "26 NOV 2003."  

I found this list a couple of days ago as I was looking for some "important paper" which I had carefully put in my "important paper drawer" for "safe-keeping." HA!  Needless to say, I never found the document I was looking for.  Instead, I found this long lost list.

God is Good, ALL the time...that's what the Spirit whispered to me when I finished reading the 6 items written on this wish list.  As I read them, I realized that one by one, the Lord, in His infinite provision, had allowed me to have them all.  From the 4 person Cabela's tent (even before we where 4) to the bathroom remodeling at our old house.  I got them all...

The funny thing is that I love lists!  The thing I love about them the most is checking things off of them.  This list, however, has no check marks...not even one...that's how I know it was lost.  There is no way I would not have checked off such important items like a tree swing for Grant if I'd had it in hand.  In fact, finding it was a total surprise!  I still don't remember ever writing it...

That long lost list was not written for 10 years ago.  It was definitively written for today.  It was written for me to find it at a time such as this, to remind me of God's Faithfulness and Love.  He has always been Faithful and He is not about to change now.  No matter what, He's got us by His Hand.  He's got this...whatever "this" may be.  Nothing is too big for His power.  He can handle it all.  And perhaps, if it is in His plan, we might even get to see it all come to pass in front of our eyes.

His promises are true!  Therefore, let's put our hope in Him, and we'll not be disappointed.  One day we may even get to see His own divine list...the one He carefully wrote for each one of us, all completely checked off.

I put the list back in the little drawer for "safe keeping."  The old fashion, air-mail envelope with its red and blue border will sit safely in the place it's been for the last 10 years.  Maybe it will resurface again another day I might need a reminder that there is Someone Mighty near me who takes care of my every need and even my wants.  Praised be His Name!

As for God, his way is perfect: The LORD's word is flawless; he shields all who take refuge in him.  Psalm 18: 30

The List

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Well, this is it...summer is officially over, and with it, my favorite season of the year bids me farewell. Looking back, it was a rather difficult summer.  It was filled with ups and downs.  On the one hand, I had lots of unexpected and not so delightful surprises.  On the other, the Lord blessed me with new beginnings that have proven very enjoyable so far.  

One thing I can say, through it all, I was able to gain a more special appreciation for the Hand of God at work in me.  The intimacy between me and my Lord moved to a much deeper level during these past months and for that I am thankful.  I wouldn't change it for the world! Finding contentment in my situation showed me the beauty hidden behind the simple things.  

For instance, we didn't have much money to spend on fun vacations; but we discovered  that we don't need to spend a lot to have a good time.  We found a nice lake pretty close to our new house where we had many afternoons of care-free FREE entertainment.  We explored hiking paths and biking trails.  We visited Grandma's campground and began a walking routine.  We re-discover the joy of grilling and the bliss of bargain grocery shopping.  All in all, in the midst of doctors' appointments, surgeries and nervousness, The Most High held me closely by His side and allowed me to have a good time!

I am truly sad to see summer is like I woke up today and fall impatiently pushed it aside.  But one more thing I learned this season was that there's always room for delight as long as we are willing to see it. As long as we trust Him whose glory is revealed in each season of the year, we will be able to see the love of the One who spoke it all into being just for our enjoyment, whether in the sun or the snow, the spring or the fall.

So for now I say:  So long summer!  Miss you already! Hurry back...hope to see you soon.  But I won't regret the passing of time.  I will receive it as a necessary step in the unfolding of my destiny.  And I will try to look hard for the beauty hidden behind every colorful leave and every flake of snow until spring blooms again leaving the door open for summer to walk right back in one more time.

And they were calling to one another: "Holy, holy, holy is the LORD Almighty; the whole earth is full of his glory." Isaiah 6: 3

Friday, September 20, 2013

As we were coming back to our Department Offices after a work meeting at another building, my colleagues and I were congratulating ourselves on how well the meeting went and how much we were able to control our emotions while discussing controversial issues with the other team. Our Dean, who is married to one of the professors in the group made an interesting comment: “it’s funny how we are able to be patient, remain calm and be gracious to people we are not attached to, but we have no problem being hurtful to those who are closest to us.”

The comment hit a cord in my heart since I’ve been thinking about my own experience and how stingy I am with grace. I have no problem basking in God’s grace which He extends to me in an unlimited supply on a daily basis. But when it comes to me extending even a meager measure of that same grace to my loved ones; I tighten up. And the areas where I’m the least generous are patience and forgiveness.

I praise God over and over again for the immeasurable amount of patience He lavishes onto me constantly. I am also eternally grateful for the forgiveness that He has so lovingly granted me thanks to the payment in full of my debt, cancelled by Jesus on the cross. But then, when the tables turn, and it is my time to be patient and/or forgive those closest to me, I just become a hoarder. The smallest offense, the slightest perception of the tiniest hint of dissent sets me off and not only sparks, but full blown flames and other things ignite out of control.

Although I know the Holy Spirit is hard at work in me, I have yet to learn the art of self-control around the ones I love most. So today I decided to think about one thing, just one for now, that I can do when I feel impatience and anger lighting up inside of me. What is the one thing I can do, with the help of the Spirit who strengthens me, to avoid falling into the vortex of over-reaction while dealing with my beloved? What I came up with is not original. It is actually something my husband keeps repeating to me over and over and over again every time I fall out of control. What I can do is to immediately remember that the person (man or child as it often is the case in my life) on the other end of the “discussion” does not have bad will against me.

I know that for a fact! Neither my husband nor my sons have bad will against me. They love me. They don’t plot evil ways to exasperate me every day. They actually have good will and they want us to be in happy harmony. So if I know that, then I just need to remember it every time they unintentionally do something that bothers me…-granted the fact that once in a while they DO do stuff purposely to annoy me-…but in all other cases, it is not their intention to make me mad. Far from it, they really don’t like it when I am angry, since I have the Hulk complex and they get very afraid when I turn green!

At any rate, this is the one thing I will attempt next time. When I sense myself getting impatient and about to begin to boil off the top, I will try to remember that my boys do have good will toward me, and so do I. I hope this helps me to at least contemplate the possibility to stop the anger right on its tracks and back off the issue until I calm down.

Back at our building, as I was walking toward my office by myself, I over-heard my boss and her husband lovingly teasing each other on how they should apply the lessons from work into their personal life and relationship. I pray I too can apply this lesson the Holy Spirit is trying to teach me next time I’m facing the opportunity to extend grace to those I love the most.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4: 10

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Walking With the One You Love

It is great to be able to walk with the one you love...

Since we moved to our new house, Dan and I had began a nice routine of late afternoon walks.  The weather has been decent enough still to allow us for our walk on most every evening.  I'm REALLY enjoying these, especially because that's the only time I have true, unadulterated, one-on-one time with Dan during the day.  With two young sons and two jobs, we don't get much of that at all.

We get to talk quite a bit, but we also have moments of silence, mainly while climbing a hill on the street behind our home...I am so out of shape that if I talk I faint : )  But even when we walk in silence, time spent on the path together is a precious gift.  There is a special comfort that comes when we walk silently side by side for it makes room to help us quiet our souls.

Walking last night made me think of a poem Dan shared with me not long ago.  Its poignant and wisdom-filled verses left me unable to do much more than to let out a deep sigh... I tried to quote it to a friend earlier, and I could not find the words, so I searched for it and here it goes:

I walked a mile with Pleasure;
She chatted all the way;
But left me none the wiser
For all she had to say.

I walked a mile with Sorrow,
And ne’er a word said she;
But, oh! The things I learned from her,
When sorrow walked with me.

-Robert Browning Hamilton

I know I am going off on a limb here...(some, probably our relatives, may jokingly tease us saying "yeah, walking with Dan equals sorrow for sure" : )...but for some reason, the poem made me think about closeness and intimacy. Never do we become more intimate with God and with the ones we love than when we walk into our trials together.  Sorrow is too one of such which teach us much, and make our relationships grow as we endure it with our Lord and the ones He gives us to love.

Sharing the burden of the long days silently, side-by-side, surely makes it bearable and doable.  And even in the midst of sorrow, there is a reason to keep on walking, for it is along the way that we'll meet our destiny as we get where we need to go.

So next time Dan and I go for our evening walk, I will remember to think of it as a symbol of our strength and as a reminder of the lessons that we still have to learn.  And even if it is just the sound of our shoes hitting the pavement what we hear, we must continue to listen for it is in the whispering of the quiet where most wisdom and maturity is found.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. Romans 8: 18

Monday, September 16, 2013

First Fall

It was 1990, and even thought I was in my early twenties, I felt like a little girl. The reason…it was my very first fall. Growing up in a tropical country, I've never experienced the wonder of autumn before. So that year, my eyes opened wide to one of nature’s treats…the turning of the leaves.

Being tucked in at a small college in Western Pennsylvania helped; since it was surrounded by thick forests that became alive in early fall. I remember it as if it’d been just last year. It happened without me noticing. It seems as if one day I woke up and there it was…autumn in its splendor, surrounding my wondering eyes. The autumn sun shining through the branches as the leaves fell around my path...It was a magical environment known to me only in movies. I couldn’t believe it was real.

I was so thrilled to see it with my own eyes, I kept collecting leaves of all colors and shapes for I wanted to share it with my family back home. I made a rather rustic card with pressed leaves on it (I am NOT a gifted crafter, so for me to fold some construction paper and add glue to it was a huge step : ). I sent the home-made card to my parents and they were so excited with the idea of fall that they kept making plans to come around to see it some time. Though it was never possible, the images lived in their minds thanks to the description in my letters and the leaves on my card. I actually found that card last November while my sister and I went through my Dad’s things after his passing…he kept it for over twenty years…

In that first fall God began to teach me the lesson about the circle of life. The illustration from nature made it come alive in a way more vivid than any words can paint. The splendor of the leaves which show their true colors as they are about to be cut off from the source of life drew a clear point about the beauty that is brought forth through maturity. Then, they must fall to give way to the season of sterility and silence which is follow by renewed hope until we get to fully bloom again. And the cycle closes to yet begin one more time as a testimony of the needed endurance as we wait.

Summer is now coming quickly to an end, and I contemplate fall. It doesn’t have the same sense of wonder that it did years ago; but it still has a particular way to grasp at my soul. The crisp evenings, magnificent sunsets and radiance of the leaves still move my eyes toward the Lord in a special way. He still talks to me in the many shades of oranges, browns and reds, telling me tales of life, love, hope, pain, death, healing and faith.

His creation speaks to us as the seasons complete their circles until that glorious day when He’ll come back again. Then any loss will be gain, and every tear will be wiped away as the magnificence of nature is blurred by the presence of the One who commanded it into being. The sense of wonder will return for His radiance will finally be here as it was previously dimly foreshadowed by the colors of fall.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Romans 1: 20

This is one of the pictures I sent to my parents that very first fall. 
I found it in a photo album my Mom had where she kept all the pictures I sent them from my college years in the USA.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Fall Blessings

Well, fall is almost here, and I'm bracing for it.  It is not that I don't like fall.  I think it could be quite beautiful. I enjoy all the festivals, decorations and celebrations that come with it.  It is, however, my season of melancholic memories.  It is the season where memories of loss and goodbyes come to mind.  But the Lord, in His infinite love and compassion has given me a reason to see how life renews itself even in the midst of loss by giving me a gift to celebrate fall.

Just a week before the official start of the season, we celebrate the arrival of the youngest member of our family.  The one who made us into the unity we are today.  We rejoice in remembering the day we brought Dylan home for the first time.  Homecoming day is today! One week before fall to remind me that life does go on and that God intends for us to bloom where He plants us, regardless of what we might have lost.

So for that, autumn leaves will seem brighter and the crisp evenings won't be so cold.  For that, there are pumpkins already outside our door and the dreams of candy and the smell of pumpkin spice are making us smile.  We no longer dwell in the sadness of waving summer goodbye.  It is time to embrace the joy of change and anticipation of a new adventure...and for that we are grateful.

We are grateful for the little baby boy who came to us wrapped in a bundle of fluffy hair and chubby cheeks, and who is turning into a little man ready to conquer the world as it may come.  For that and more we say:  Happy Homecoming Dylan, we love you!

Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household. 

Ephesians 2: 19

Dylan - September 11, 2006 - Guatemala City.  Our little fluffy-chubby bundle : )

Linking with Monday Musings

Saturday, September 14, 2013

When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, “Who do people say the Son of Man is?”

They replied, “Some say John the Baptist; others say Elijah; and still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

“But what about you?” he asked. “Who do you say I am?”

Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”  Matthew 16: 13-1

I believe this exchange between Jesus and his disciples sums up a most crucial moment in the life of every person.  Not just Christians but all must one day respond to this divine inquiry.  It is not for Him to know for He already does, but for the individual to declare it.  It is for the man or woman to express what's in his or her heart and what the Spirit has revealed...or not...

Jesus replied, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, for this was not revealed to you by flesh and blood, but by my Father in heaven. (v. 17)

Just like Peter, we must let the Spirit sort out all the teachings of the world and search deep in our soul until the answer comes out from within when He directs the question straight at us..."but what about you?"  This question demonstrates the individual nature of the Redeemer's relationship with His beloved.  He wants to ask each separately, and in turn we must all reply on our own. 

The world we've been called to live in demands certain ways as it defines Jesus as it pleases.  Are we going to conform to them? The time is here for us to truly think about it and allow what we have in us to reveal the answer. The question was as much for the disciples 2000 years ago as it is for us today.  Who do you say that I AM? 

One simple question.

One answer.

Eternal repercussions.

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. Romans 10: 9

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Glass Half Full or Half Empty???

Glass half full vs. glass half empty…mountain vs. adventure…it is the never ending debate between pessimists and optimists. Well, with all the horrors and scary situations going on around the world, in our country, cities, neighborhoods and homes, I cannot blame anybody for feeling or siding with the pessimists. I am not the one to talk since I find myself in the pessimist line more often than I’d like. Today, however, I have been pointed toward the light!

My dear friend Shirley shared with me the following meditation she contemplated the other day while in her quiet time with the Lord:

“Are you a pessimist or an optimist? If you think like a pessimist then you believe that everything depends on your own efforts. Our own efforts achieve very little.

If you think like an optimist, then you realize it is not our efforts, but God's grace and power that matter. With God, nothing is impossible.”

Those are some wise words, indeed! The Holy Spirit surely was at work in my friend’s soul that morning. To me, they have been sort of like an epiphany because they have made me realize how my pessimistic tendencies speak volumes about my lack of trust in the Lord. I never really considered the fact that being a pessimist meant I was only relying on my own pitiful strength and power for the outcome of my efforts rather than trusting in the faithfulness, power and strength of the One who made me.

If I’m the clay and He is the Potter, being pessimistic would almost equate to me, the clay, trying to make myself into a jar and being angry, down, cynical or sarcastic because I wasn’t successful.

The problem is magnified since, on top of being a pessimist I am a control freak as well. This means that not only do I want to make myself into the jar, but I also want to fill it up with water on my own. I want to design my own plans and rely on my own devices to fulfill them.

No wonder I am exhausted.

I want to change my point of view and become an optimist! Those who know me well know that I probably will never be the stereotypical cheerful optimistic type. But I’m not aiming for pink-colored glasses. I’m aiming for an attitude that reveals my trust in the Lord’s Omnipotence in my life. I want to be an optimist in a way that my behavior, thoughts and words reflect my confidence in the Power of the Great I AM and in His ability to change me and act upon my life.

I want to stop pretending I am the potter, and begin acting like the clay. All the frightening circumstances revolving around my life will continue to be there and will continue to concern me; but they won’t consume me for I know that my God is able to handle it all by the power of His word. I will rest in His care and trust in His hands. I don’t think I will ever fully be the one who sees the glass half full, but I think He can make me into the one who is glad to realize that at least there is a glass which represents hope…a glass that hopes and knows that someday it will be filled to the brim.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 
2 Corinthians 4: 7-10
Linking with Hearts for Home and Faithful Friday

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

The Struggle of Surrender

Once again I am concerned about things that are out of my reach…out of the realm of what I can control…and once again, I’m driving myself crazy! I just like things to go the way I want them to. Who doesn’t? I mean, really, don't you like to have a saying on how the things that affect you get done? I know…that’s the obsessive part of my personality doing the talking. The thing is that I have a hard time letting go.

I know I must trust the plan God has for the lives of those whom I love; but it is so difficult to really, truly let go of my ideas of how their lives should be like and just appreciate the way God’s design unfolds in front of my eyes. There is nothing I could plan for the lives of my sons, for instance, that would be better than the plan God has for them. However, I fret. I fret on a daily basis about the way things are going at the new school. I fret that my older son is not making friends as fast as I would hope. I fret because I have no clue how my younger son is doing in class. I fret because my arms are not long enough to reach my kids everywhere they go. I fret because I don’t know what the future holds.

The thing I keep forgetting is that nobody is supposed to know the future. Not I or anyone…Only He who forges it is to know what’s ahead. I am but “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.” Therefore, I should just say… “If the Lord wills…” (James 4: 14-15) O, but how hard it is. I wish I could grab the future in my hands and mold it as I please. The arrogance of my thoughts, however, clouds my vision and keeps me from accepting that,

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails. Proverbs 19: 21

I repent for my impatience and lack of trust. I see both are the unfortunate results of a Spirit who has not fully surrendered. I realize that not until I completely give my cares to the One who can take care of them, my heart won’t be finally free. The surrendered soul is the one which finds the peace of the Lord. It is one of those amazing paradoxes of our Great God. Only through complete surrender to Him we can be truly be free, and free indeed.

It is my prayer today, then, that the Holy Spirit may give me/us the freedom that comes with my/our surrender to the One who makes us free.

Monday, September 9, 2013


Today I've been thinking about scars...I wonder why? Might it be, perhaps, because every time I look in the mirror I see one across my neck? Hmmm...

Does everyone have scars? I guess everyone around me has at least one.  My younger son has a pretty huge one on the top of his head.  We have no clue how he got it.  We like to joke about it and say, "he came like that from the factory" : )  My older one has a tiny one in his left nostril...yikes...I'm just glad I wasn't around when he got that cut.  I don't think I could have handled it very well.  My husband has a collection of scars from the different sports he played when he was a kid.

I have more than one.  Some are publicly visible. Some are hidden.  But they are there, like constant reminders of something we went through which marked us forever.  I don't see them, however, as symbols of failure.  To me they are badges of honor which tell the story of how we've been to combat and won a few battles.

Scars also make me think of He who bears the most significant ones of all...they make me think of Christ. The marks in His hands and feet not only represent battle, they symbolize victory itself.  They are the imprints of our salvation story won for us by the Great Overcomer.

O how I long to see His hands and witness the reality of the suffering that paid the price that cancelled my debt...

Today, I've been thinking about scars and how they always tell a story of struggle, endurance and survival.  How they sometimes are seeing and sometimes are hidden.  How some are on the skin and some others are in the Spirit.  I've been thinking about the scars that bring forth life and cleanse the past.  Today, I've been thinking about the blessings that come with the permanent mark of a wound that has healed and leads to a new path.  Most of all, today I've been thinking about Christ.

“He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; “by his wounds you have been healed.” 
1 Peter 2: 24

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Why Jesus?

Our Pastor shared from the pulpit the story of the very first time someone ever asked him if He believed in Jesus.  He said he had just graduated from High School and had been a Christian for about 6 months.  This young girl came to him at a Christian camp and asked him if he believed "all that *&%$#@ that they had been hearing about."  Our Pastor said, "yes!"  Then she asked the most terrifying question a believer may ever get: "why?"

He reminisced on how he stumbled through his answer.  He had no Scripture in his memory database that he could draw from.  He had no clue how to give a convincing and eloquent reply.  At the end of the conversation, they parted ways and he never knew if she ever truly gave her life to Christ.  The encounter did one thing, however.  It caused a huge impact in the young soul of our Pastor so much so that MANY years later he still remembers the incident with the clarity of a divine appointment.  Another thing is also true.  After that event, our Pastor made sure he had an answer for he knew there would be a next time with someone else, and he wanted to be prepared.

That story got me thinking about my own Christian walk.  I have certainly had many Divinely appointed encounters.  I have never, however, had to answer the question, "why do you believe in Christ?"  And I think I might be due for that : /

So now I am consumed by other questions...What would I answer? and what would my answer be like?

Would I be convincing?  I doubt it...when I speak I trip on my words and I can never seem to find the right thing to say.  But then, I don't have to be convincing.  The convincing is up to the Holy Spirit.  I am not responsible for the ultimate outcome of my response.  I am only responsible to give a response.

Would my answer be eloquent?  Of course not!  I have been told I am too intense and that turns people off.  I also have a tendency to stick my foot in my mouth A LOT! So chances are I am not going to sound like an orator.  But again, I don't have to be eloquent.  God can use anybody.  He used Moses for His mighty purposes and he had some sort of speech impediment!

Would my response be likable?  Probably not.  Most people don't really like to face the truth of the need to change their lives or even the need to examine their lives, so chances are they won't like to hear about life changing events.  One more time, I don't have to be likable.  Paul wasn't.  He got kicked out of almost every town he ever visited...and he is PAUL!

So, what would my answer be like?  I think my answer will be genuine.  I will give an honest answer that comes from my heart and from the reality of Christ in my life.

My answer will also be personal.   It will come from my experience as a child of God who follows the Way, the Truth and the Life, Our Savior Jesus the Christ!

My reply will not have a wealth of Scripture in it.  After all, unbelievers do not want to hear: "I believe, because the Bible says so."  The Bible is certainly a key component of my faith, but I must make it real for them, and the only way I know how to do that is by giving them my personal testimony.  I have to somehow express why Jesus.  And it is Jesus because He lives in me, and that is the miracle of my/our faith.  Our Savior is not a distant deity whom like a tyrannic ruler cares not about his subjects.  Our Savior is our friend, our brother, who has been there himself and who is there for us.  He is the air I breathe.  He sustains me.  He moves me, and without Him I am nothing.

I am a long way from formulating in my mind the exact words that would constitute my answer, but at least I know it will be a genuine and personal expression of my very real walk with Christ.  I know the Holy Spirit will guide me in this important quest; but for now, I'm just happy that I got to think about it for a minute.  How about you?

But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect...
1 Peter 3: 15

Linking with, Monday Musings

Friday, September 6, 2013

House for Sale

Today I woke up thinking about one great gift we got from the Lord this summer. We bought a new house to enjoy, and we certainly love it! We are very grateful for this blessing and we pray the Lord will allow us to enjoy it and use it for His Kingdom for as long as He has planned. The flip side of the situation is that we still haven’t sold our old home…and yes, that is a source of stress for me.

Although it is a great place to raise a family, with the best neighbors and the most amazing Church almost right across the street, our house sits in an area that is not quite the hottest spot in Real Estate. We had a lot of traffic the first few weeks, but things had pretty much quieted down to a standstill lately. To make matters worse, it seems that all of a sudden, a lot of people have decided to put their houses up for sale, which is making the competition much tighter.

I check the listings almost on a daily basis and this morning I saw two more houses entering our little market. That gave me automatic sweaty palms. My immediate reaction was to cringe. Less than desirable scenarios began running through my mind as I contemplated the reality of our situation. Then, the Lord put a different thought in my mind.

So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4: 18

I meditated on this Scripture a few days ago in a different context as I was going through another stressful situation at the time. Today, the Lord is showing me that His Word is, indeed, all-encompassing and useful in the most diverse of circumstances. In this case, the challenge is for me not to be obsessed with what I see, the proliferation of competition – too many houses for sale in a market that doesn’t present much demand; rather I must focus on the unseen – the perfect plan that God has for that house and for us.

Regardless of how hopeless the situation may seem to our eyes, the reality is that The Lord has it all under control and He knows already how things are going to work out. If He decides that my house is the one that is going to sell next, it won’t matter how many other houses have been or are getting in the market, how they look like, what their price is or where they are at.

The unseen plan of God is better than anything we can concoct. And it is the same with anything in life. We fixate on what we see, which may not seem all too agreeable to us. Instead, we should turn our eyes to Him and trust His invisible Hand which guides our destiny…no matter how improbable or impossible things may look to the naked eye.

I’m still nervous about my dear, old house not selling. But I am confident in the yet undisclosed plan of God. I also trust that He will give me peace as I wait for it to unfold.

Linking with, Faithful Friday Blog Hop

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Mom's Rocking Chair

Today would have been my Mother’s 88th birthday. Wow…I can’t imagine my Mom being 88…This is the first birthday that she gets to celebrate with my Dad in over 13 years, so I’m sure she must be having a splendid time! It’s fun to imagine what they may be doing in Heaven. It is also fun to think about what life would be like if I still had her here with me. I wonder about it sometimes. I wonder how I would feel knowing she was still around, just a phone call away.  But I also love to remember the little things that made her who she was and all the things I learned from her.

I learned very much from her gentle ways. One of the main things she taught me was the power of persistent prayer. She was an example of praying without ceasing. One of my clearest memories growing up is walking by her bedroom at around 3pm every afternoon and seeing her at her favorite rocking chair doing her daily devotions. I wish I had kept that rocking chair…It was very special to her. It was her quiet place.

She welcomed me from it the day I came home “unexpectedly” to spend the last weeks of her life together. It was an old but really comfy, steady and firm black leather and wood frame chair. She did all her deep thinking and meditating in there. That chair was the witness of my Mom’s time with the Lord and with her thoughts.

Many serious talks also took place while my Mom sat at that rocking chair, but cheerful moments too. From talking about the decision to apply for a scholarship that would take me far away from home to discussing wedding plans, all kinds of life-altering events revolved around that spot.

I sure wish she was still on this side of Paradise so I could go to her and sit on her bed watching her gently rock in her chair while listening to the struggles, problems, dilemmas, joys and other life-induced circumstances floating in my mind at any given time. But that stage of my life is gone. That page is turned. The Good Lord who gives and takes away gave me the gift of a kind, gentle, caring and loving Mother to cherish and comfort me for a season of my life. It is time now to solely depend on Him for all I need. No greater Counselor, Healer and Comforter may I find than Him.

But He is also gracious and merciful to give me/us people with whom to walk side by side on the roads of life. We may not finish our road with the same people we began, but He makes sure we don’t finish alone. He always provides someone to make us company along the way, as well as giving us the memories of those who came before and contributed to make us what we are to become.

My Mom has had a new birth now, and she is celebrating it in Heaven, where time is not an issue. From down here I can tell her, “Mom, I sure miss you…but I’m doing well. The Lord in His infinite Love and Wisdom takes care of me while I’m still here, and someday, maybe we’ll sit around a quiet place, and perhaps we’ll find a nice, comfy rocking chair where you can sit while we catch up.”

You hem me in behind and before,
and you lay your hand upon me. Psalm 139: 5

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Reflections for the Moment

A new day is here, and with it, new challenges will come; but as for right now, I choose to rejoice in the Lord for He is Good and Faithful to His own.  He is the same when it rains and when it shines.  And He is holding our hands through the valley as He promised.

He is Worthy of our Praise and Worship always, in our joy and in our sorrow. He is the One Who Gives and Takes Away, but even when He takes away, we still praise Him for His Delivering Hand is visibly at work, and for His presence we rejoice.

Even though we may weep for a moment, our afflictions are temporary, but the joy of the Lord is our strength! His love endures forever even in the midst of pain. He created us and designed a plan for us since before the foundation of the world…we are wonderfully made…

My heart is filled with praise and thanksgiving today. Let’s forget about what's to come tomorrow, and delight in the joy of right now. Let’s Praise Him and affirm that He is enough…His grace IS sufficient to carry on. He is Strong for all of us.

Let's cling to Him and Praise Him with all we’ve got!

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.

Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with tambourine and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,

praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.

Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.

Praise the Lord.

Monday, September 2, 2013

One Unlikely Source...

The morning before the start of a new school year at a new school started with surprise visitors in our bedroom. It was a bit dark still when I opened my eyes, but when I looked at the floor right beside our bed I saw two little bundles on the carpet. It was my two sons sound asleep. I let out a quiet sigh and felt my heart sink. This was a sign that my boys are getting very nervous about what’s coming and there isn’t much I can do to help them.

After attending a little Christian School where I felt they were protected and safe, time has come for my boys to go to public school. It is not a big school, but compared to the Christian Academy they were used to, this one seems overwhelming! To say the least, I am terrified! And now I can sense my boys are too. The worst thing is that I don’t know what more I can do to calm their/my fears. I have prayed without ceasing for this moment. I have recruited praying forces all around me for months now. I have filled my mind with Scripture that tells me not to be anxious. I have repeated to myself over and over that they will be OK…but I still haven’t let go.

The Lord, however, in His endless love and patience, has provided me comfort from an unlikely source, - my sister…

Yes, my sister, who is about 7 years older than me and lives back in Panama, came to my rescue sent by the Holy Spirit. Without me mentioning anything, she offered me uplifting words poured out of her own experience in an unexpected e-mail. The reason this was unexpected and I call her an unlikely source of encouragement is because, (all who know my sister would not really wonder about this : ) she is not the most empathetic person in the world. Kindness and gentleness are not really fruits that the Holy Spirit has gotten to in the garden of her soul yet. The funny thing is that she would be the first one to accept this as a fact (so I don’t feel like I’m bad-mouthing her : ).

At any rate, she wrote me a message, in her trademarked, matter-of-fact, no fuzz, no-nonsense style where she recalled her experience years ago when her son, my dear nephew Willy, had to change schools. He was exactly the same age as my older son Grant. He was also leaving a little Montessori School where she had felt he was protected and safe to go into a huge school where he knew nobody! She told me how she cried (which in itself was amazing! She never cries!). She cried about leaving the Principal, the teachers, the janitor, the bus driver, the building, everything! She remembered the first day of school when she took Willy in. She was truly scared to see the size of the classes and overwhelmed by it all. She said Willy was equally scared and that just made it all the much harder. It was as if a dark cloud had camped out on top of their heads, and the sun had ceased to shine (the dark cloud might have been a literal dark cloud, though, given the fact it was the rainy season in a tropical country : ).

She continued, however, with soothing words about how she cling to the Lord and how, after some rough days and weeks, the dark clouds began to clear up and the sun started to shine again. She reminded me that, though it was hard, Willy made friends at the new school, and he adjusted well. She told me to help Grant find activities or groups he can join so he can feel as if he belongs, for that always helps, and she stressed the importance of constant prayer all throughout. “Cling to Jesus. They will be OK,” she finished, and I was in awe. Though she didn’t say anything new to me; the fact that she had shared it was a clear example of the Hand of God at work. “Cling to Jesus.  They will be OK.”

I rolled out of bed carefully, not to wake our sleeping visitors, and thought about my nephew. He has had to endure much hardship in his life, beginning with his father abandoning him when he was barely 3 years old, losing his dear Grandma, always living in a VERY tight budget, and lately losing his only Father figure and childhood home after the passing of my Dad, Willy has been able to overcome much in life, all mainly to the stoic faith and tough ways of his Mother. He doesn’t appreciate it much at all right now as he travels through the stages of young adulthood, claiming his independence, but my tall, strong, handsome, and smart twenty-year-old nephew Willy will someday discover that great part of his success came from an unlikely place.

In the meantime, maybe there is yet one more thing I can do to help Grant. I will tell him Cousin Willy’s story. To Grant, Willy is like this mighty; all powerful giant who deserves respect, and whom nothing could break. Maybe his story will bring him hope as it gives him a real example of someone who survived a similar big change in his life and became stronger for it. Maybe he will too find encouragement from one unlikely source.

Dylan's Missing Glasses

It’s the day before the start of a new school year at a new school and Dylan hasn’t found his glasses yet. He/we have been looking for them for about one week and the little things are still nowhere to be found. Daddy’s ultimatum set today as the deadline to find the glasses or…else! (I don’t think he had really figured out what the “else” was going to be, but it sure sounded unpleasant)

Dylan kept complaining that it was too hard and that he didn’t know what to do or where to start. So after much “conversation” about responsibility and the need for him to do the right thing, etc., etc., etc…Dylan and I headed upstairs to renew our quest for the missing article.

On the way to his bedroom we checked in the office and in a few other places. Finally, we arrived at Dylan’s bedroom and I directed him to this messy cubby thingy. I looked in every drawer in his new desk and other interesting places. I even looked in my own backpack and purse. While I was checking inside the bags that we took camping last weekend a thought came to mind, “we should probably say a prayer…” hmmm what an epiphany!

I put the bags back on the hook and returned to Dylan’s room where he was still half looking, half playing. I said, “maybe we should say a little prayer,” and I uttered a simple one. Once I finished, I got down on the floor and looked under Dylan’s bed…a miracle! On the far corner, amongst an assortment of dirty little clothes and stuffed animals there laid the tiny glasses, seemingly unharmed. “I found them!” I announced with a mixture of excitement and surprise in my tone. Dylan looked at me and his jaw dropped.

I’m not sure what was going through Dylan’s mind (probably relief since he didn’t want to find out what the “else” in Daddy’s statement would be), but as for me, it was a beautiful moment. The Lord had showed me so clearly the power of prayer. I know that not everything in our prayer life works as quickly and plainly as this instance; but it is always just as miraculous! The trick is to remember to go to Him in prayer as our first and most effective resource, not as our last recourse.

He already knows what we need. Prayer will not bring breaking news to God. But it sure brings us closer to Him, and that is His intent. It is the main line of communication between Him and us, and the fastest highway to get closer to Him. We might not all the time get exactly the answer we hoped for; but we always get the answer that according to His perfect will is the right one for our growth and the refining of our character.

I don’t know if the profound implications of our little incident this morning reached Dylan at a deeper level or not; but I pray that if he loses his glasses again, he knows what to do first.

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him. 
 1 John 5: 14-15

Linking with: Mondays Musings

Sunday, September 1, 2013


16 Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. 17 For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 18 So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 
2 Corinthians 4: 16-18

It is so easy to fix our eyes on our problems. After all, they are right there, in front of our faces, so how could we ignore them, right? It is impossible! Fixing our eyes on the eternal? How do we do that? Personally, I have a hard time focusing on the things I see. Focusing on the unseen sounds like something I need to take a pill for before I attempt it.

Only through the power of the Most High I could possibly do this. The Lord, in His Grace and Love has given us Scripture to guide the way we look at things. Especially for those who tend to be “glass-half-empty” types (me), Scripture provides a choice of perspectives, always pointing at the right one we should choose. In this case, we can either look at our lives from the point of view of our problems, fears, difficulties, illnesses…outward, wasting away existence; or we can see it from the inward, being renewed day by day perspective.

If we are stuck on letting our less-than-desirable circumstances rob us of our joy in Christ, we’ll miss the point of going through them, which includes:

one, the fact that they are momentary,

two, that they serve the purpose of achieving us eternal rewards in Heaven.

It is a matter of faith!

As long as we are plugged into the source of our strength which is Christ and continue to follow Him, know Him and love Him through the power of His Word, we won’t lose heart when we face the afflictions that we are supposed to go through in this life. It is all part of it. When we become part of the family of God we do not enter an exclusive club where troubles and struggles are checked at the door. Our problems and struggles and fears and weaknesses come with us. The difference is that as children of God, we have the opportunity to survive such necessary afflictions from a perspective of love, hope, redemption, salvation and grace.

I know it is hard to fix our eyes on the unseen…but I also know that “We life by faith and not by sight!” (2 Corinthians 5: 7)  And if we hang on just for a moment, keeping our eyes on Christ, the temporary discomfort will soon pass,and the eternal glory that we'll reap out of it will be a glorious and everlasting prize.

Do not worry about your life…Matthew 6: 25

Linking with: Soli Deo Gloria Party