Wednesday, November 27, 2013

The Dream

Well, today I am thankful for our house. I am thankful for the process that we went through to buy it. I am thankful that we bought this one not the one next door!

During our house hunting adventure the past year, we had fallen in love with the house next door to the one we actually bought. That house had been up for sale months before ours came into the market. It is a gorgeous house and we tried hard to find fault with it, but just couldn’t really come up with ideas on what to complain about in order to make the seller bring the price down… : ) However perfect it was, though, we had a sense that didn’t allow us to feel 100% comfortable with it.

We didn’t know what it was. We couldn’t put our finger on it. It just didn’t feel right, but we decided to make an offer anyway, for it was just a great house. The night before we had decided to place our offer, Dan had a dream. He woke up rather startled the next morning. He told me about it. I don’t remember the details really well. But in his dream, he saw me helplessly sliding down the icy “dream house’s” steep driveway in my little, 12-year-old Honda Civic. To tell you the truth, I didn’t think it was a big deal, but Dan was truly mortified by what he saw in his dream. So much so that he decided to place a really low offer instead of what he had previously thought.

Obviously, we didn’t get the house. Later, this one came up for sale and here we are. Eventually, a young couple with two little kids bought the other house. They seem thrilled with it. I don’t blame them : )

Today, over a year later, I became startled by Dan’s dream. It is our first big snow of the season. Dan was outside cleaning our front steps. I, as usual, was watching him from the front window (nice, cozy and warm inside : ). Suddenly, he lifted his head, looked over to the neighbor’s direction and then gave me a knowing look. I immediately knew. I looked in that direction too and saw the young neighbor’s pickup truck sliding helplessly down the steep, icy driveway into the road, only to stop on the other side of the street. He got himself out of the jam with his FWD, backed up into his driveway, only to helplessly slide back down again sideways. By then, Dan was already walking there to see if he could assist in any way. I remained standing by my window with my mouth wide open.

God protected us from a treacherous situation, indeed. Sometimes we don’t get to see the end purpose of it all, but in those rare instances in which we do…it is pretty sweet, and for those moments when God shows His hand, I am most grateful!

The LORD'S lovingkindnesses indeed never cease, For His compassions never fail.They are new every morning; Great is Your faithfulness. "The LORD is my portion," says my soul, "Therefore I have hope in Him."  Lamentations 3: 22-24

Linking with: whole hearted home and R-R-Wednesdays

Friday, November 22, 2013

Change - He Gives and Takes Away

And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." Revelations 21: 5

Today, once again, I'm taken by this portion of His Revelation…He makes all things new…what a refreshing thought…

In this age of darkness and desolation, when the entire world seems up-side-down, let along our own personal lives, knowing that our Trustworthy God himself declares, from His very own throne, that He is already making all things new, surely brings hope to an otherwise seemingly hopeless existence. Even when we are face down on the floor, gasping for air, bleeding hope out of every pore, we could be reassured that He is, at that very moment, making it all new. The pain we feel is the pain of the old order passing away, which is never easy. 

Making things new is not a smooth proposition. Not many people I know like change. My kids certainly hate it. I’m not very keen to it either. The way I see it is that the main reason we don’t like change is because change always involves leaving something behind. That something, often times, is something dear. Like seeing the old family car been driven away by a stranger after we sell it. Or closing the door of an old house behind us for the last time…or packing our personal effects and clearing up the desk that represented our home for over 8-hours a day for the last decade or more…change always means ripping ourselves apart from something we once held dear, but it is not meant for us any longer. 

The good news is that more often than not, change ends up being good! Many times the newer car is better, the new house is nicer and the new job is more rewarding. It doesn’t make it any easier, though. Especially when what is left behind or what is lost is a loved one…and we are there, at the moment of transition, when we are up in the air, in that dark void of pain and uncertainty, not sure of what’s ahead, that’s when change becomes its scariest. That’s when the enemy takes advantage of us and of our weakness to implant the seeds of fear and doubt in our soul with the evil goal of creating separation between us and Our Lord. 

At that moment, when we feel lost, we remember that the One who lives in us is still there. And we call on Him, claiming His trustworthy promises, relying on His deliverance and mercy, knowing that He is making all things new for our own good. At that moment of instability, we remember who He is and what He has done. On that hour of loss we remember that…

The God of the Universe holds us by His right hand! (Isaiah 41: 13) He knows our name! (Isaiah 43: 1) He is making all things new! Whom/what then shall we fear? (Psalm 27:1) So we say: Blessed be His Name, when He gives as well as when He takes away!

Linking with:Be Simply Better

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Trusting His Promises

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness. Lamentations 3: 22-23

May today be a day to proclaim the Lord’s Great Faithfulness and Love! May waking up groggy, achy, tired, worried, scared, ill-tempered or bad-humored not hinder our ability to praise Him for the gift of a new day to be fully His! May His compassion and mercy be evident to us today, particularly when we are having a hard time getting through life’s winding paths.

This day I am most grateful for His promises, which are true and eternal. It does not matter when He proclaimed them…it doesn’t matter if I don’t believe them…they are as true today as they were when He spoke them. And as His children, we are as blessed to receive them now, as those back in time were when they first heard them. 

And the promise I cling onto at this hour is the one in which He reveals to us that…

‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelations 21:4

The words come directly from the One Seated on the Throne, who loudly announces that He makes all things new…as He vouches for His own Holy Word. What more do we require? He whose Words are actions can take care of it all and lift us up on wings like eagles. He can pull us out from any circumstance, even the most dire. We are never consumed, no matter how hot the fire! He, Who Is Love, dwells in us…so His Greatness protects us…and for that, I am most grateful.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness, Lord onto me…”

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Praying with Friends

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4: 6-7

Yesterday I went to brunch with one of my dear friends who took time out of her busy schedule to share it with me. She is one of my prayer pillars, whose thoughtfulness, kindness, love and knowledge of The Word make her into one of God’s wonderful instruments here on earth. 

Cindy and I met several years ago under rather interesting circumstances which are outside the scope of this post. The most interesting part is, however, that prayer brought us together. We held a few two-people, highly intense and eternally rewarding prayer meetings on selected Saturday afternoons a few years ago. Those were wonderful –informal times of praise and prayer within an attitude of worship and thanksgiving that allowed us to lift up to Him all our concerns, petitions and supplications. 

I remember the refreshing feeling I used to enjoy after our two-warrior gatherings. Yesterday, as I listened to her praying on my behalf, I was reminded of that at our “brunch fellowship.” And I was also reminded of the fact that not only the Holy Spirit prays and intercedes for us in Divine prayer when we can’t do it ourselves; but our sisters and brothers in Christ do it as well. (see The Holy Communicator)

My friend prayed over a pretty comprehensive list of requests for my life which astonished me since she mentioned things I had pushed to the back of my mind by now due to other items making their way to the top. She showed me that in her caring nature, she remembers my needs in ways that even I cannot. 

It was very moving and I didn’t have words to express my gratitude in person. As I came back home in the afternoon, I knew that God had arranged for our meeting yesterday and that His hand was upon us as we shared together in His presence. He was sitting with us in our rustic booth at that humble dinner. 

I thought many times that I should pray for her concerns as well, but the words just wouldn’t come out of my mouth. As the Lord joined us in our private gathering; however, He touched Cindy to utter the words and minister to me in my moment of pressing need. I felt selfish on my part, but then I realized that as God arranged this meeting, He had a plan and the same way, He will arrange for another one where the plan will be different. We are never exhaustive in prayer. Prayer renews itself every time; hence, the command to praying without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5: 17). We are to lift each other up, always, non-stop, with prayer, praise, petition and thanksgiving so the gentle breeze of peace which comes out of nowhere, can sooth our weary souls…and for that, I am most grateful.

Linking with:  Whole Hearted Home and Little R and R

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

The Holy Communicator

Today, I am praising God for His Word, and for the fact that in it we find the comfort we need at every junction of life. In this case, we learn in Scripture that even when we don’t know what to pray for or how to pray, The Holy Spirit intercedes and He, Himself, in all His divinity, lifts us up in Holy prayer.

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. Romans 8: 26 (NSV)

What an amazing concept. It is such an unfathomable idea that our human brain short-circuits trying to ponder it. Hence the “groanings” for it is all way too “deep for words.” It goes beyond anything we can humanly express; therefore, the need for the assistance of our Holy Helper, The Paraclete, Greek term that defines the Holy Spirit as our Advocate and Helper.

He comes to our aide when the pain, despair, frustration, anxiety, fear, exhaustion and agony are so intense that words are not enough to communicate them. At that moment, the Holy Guest that dwells in our soul comes up and in unutterable groans, presents our prayers to The Heavenly Father on our behalf. He is the Only One capable at that point to do the communication, as we rest and wait in Him.

I cannot depend on my own capabilities to do anything. I must lean on Him in every situation, even for effective communication!

We have a Father who thinks of all these details in advance. He knew, since before He created us, that there would be a day when we wouldn’t know what to say. Therefore, in order to avoid the breakdown in the lines, He installed a Heavenly Server who does it for us. And for that, I am eternally grateful!

Linking with: Counting Our Blessings and Titus-2sday

Monday, November 18, 2013

All Things in Christ!

Well, I think that from today on, I am going to write posts in the spirit of Thanksgiving for a change. I’m not sure how much I will be able to write, but until Thanksgiving arrives, whatever I write I will resolve to write with gratefulness in my heart.

Right now, for example, I’m going to write about a recent memory that brings a smile to my face every time I remember it. It was a few days ago, early in the morning. I was saying goodbye to Grant as he was leaving out the door to go catch the school bus, when Dylan came downstairs (a rare occurrence since he doesn’t leave for another hour after Grant is gone).  When he saw his brother was leaving, he said: “Bye, Grant. You can do all things in Christ…”

My heart jumped for joy when I heard my young son say those words in his little voice to his brother. I laughed aloud and completed the sentence: “who gives you strength!”

The thing is that I say Philippians 4: 13 to my sons every morning as they leave for school. A couple of times, Dylan has asked me why I say that to him all the time and I have replied that it is because I want him to remember that even when he doesn’t think he can do something, he can always pray to Jesus. He will give us what we need to do what we have to.

Some other times, Dylan has just said something like, “yeah, yeah…I know…” which makes me really angry. And most times he’d just walked to the bus as if he had not heard a word I’d said. That morning, however, I realized he has been listening, and the realization filled my heart with gladness and thanksgiving.

Perhaps, they will remember some of the things we are trying to teach them. I don’t know. But for today, I am grateful that my little boy is finally learning one of the most amazing verses in Scripture…one that I cling onto fiercely every single day of my life. And for that, I give thanks!

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4: 12-13

Linking with: Monday Musings and Candace Creates

Friday, November 15, 2013

Never Crushed...

Once again, the Lord shows me His faithfulness in beautiful ways.  Today, a day in which sadness overflows from my pores as I live through the first anniversary of my dear Father's passing while trying to navigate through life's challenges, God allowed me a moment of respite when, in the still of the early morning, I opened my devotional and I read the following:

"Completely surrender your hurt to Him, withholding nothing, and invite Him to work miracles from your misery."

At first, I kind of chuckle...then, I sighed.  Finally, I did invite Him to work His miracles out of my state of ... well... misery.  He is the only one who could do it.  I cannot pull myself out of this one on/by my own.  Only He has the plan and the tools to carry it through, so that I can come out victorious on the other side. Therefore, I must surrender my hurt, all of it, to Him...withholding nothing.  He can handle it.  And as He handles it, He gives us a way to handle it too from our end.  He gives us Himself, whose presence is the source of all peace. He gives us His Word, which comes alive in times of trial!  He gives us His children, our brothers and sisters in Christ, to walk with us and be the manifestation of His love here in this world.

Therefore, one thing is for sure, we will overcome!  Because, even though we might be in the middle of tough circumstances, we shall always remember...

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 2 Corinthians 4: 8-9

Thursday, November 14, 2013

It's Not Just An Act

“-What do you do when you are not strong enough?”

“You act as if you are…”

This was a dialogue between a couple in a older TV show we were watching a couple of nights ago. The exchange stuck with me, and today it came back to my mind as I was coming back home from work. I remember when I watched that scene; I immediately discarded it in my mind thinking that this was one more of those secular, “rely on self” type of argument. I thought: “I don’t need to be strong enough…I don’t need to, because there is no way I could be. I just have to rest in the arms of the One who IS!” Today, however, I’m re-thinking my perspective.

I think that, whereas it is true I don’t have to be strong enough, simply because I am not, there are circumstances in which I may have to act as if I am. I know this sounds controversial, but the specific case I am thinking about is how I act in front of my children. 

This year I have faced my biggest fears: cancer and job loss. I have been terrified by those two things ever since I was very young. Just thinking about either of them would send me into a rather paralyzing-self-induced state of panic and anxiety. The thing is, I’m not a young girl anymore. I cannot allow myself the luxury of letting my emotions and feelings run wildly until they leave me in a semi-catatonic mode. I have little ones to take care of, and they are watching me. They are watching my every move. By watching me, they are learning how to react to things, big and small, easy and hard, scary and happy. And my responsibility as their Mother is to show them the way to Christ, and how we are to rely on Him in every and any situation, no matter how hard, scary or big it may seem. 

I know that there will be a point where I will break, and it may happen in front of them; which will also be OK since they need to learn that it is OK to have melt downs, for we are not made out of steel. But for the most part, I believe that I need to act strong in the midst of challenges. However, one thing I do have to do is to constantly tell my boys that the strength I may show does not come from me. Any demonstration of strength they may see comes from the Lord who makes all things possible, and who is made stronger when we are at our weakest. 

So when my youngest son asks me, “are we going to be OK,” I most confidently reply, “yes, we will be OK, because God takes care of us, always. We rest in Him and we wait in Him.” Even if I am scared inside, there are times when I should definitively act strong for the sake of the faith walk of those around me.

This doesn’t mean I am going to pretend to be strong in the outside. It means that my outward attitude will reflect my faith. I will be honest about the fact that I am scared; but I will also express that I will not let my fear paralyze me, for I know that He will remain Faithful, and He will not abandon us. 

He is Faithful and He is Love; therefore, He cannot disown Himself. He cannot go against His own nature, and I rest in that truth, and because of that truth, I act strong (and in Him, it isn't just an act).

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him. Psalm 37: 7

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Scared Pumpkin

Well, the other night we were surprised...I was surprised, I should say, by our first snow of the season.  I say I was surprised, because, though not completely unexpected, once on the ground, the snow did surprised me.  It really hit me when I woke up and I saw everything covered by the white stuff.  Facing the reality was a lot harder than hearing the forecast.

That morning, when we looked out the window, we saw the pumpkin my husband and youngest son had carved a few weeks earlier, looking like this

Of course the scene was hilarious...but at the same time, it was a vivid representation of how I felt or how I would feel a day I found out my husband lost his job of almost 13 years.

Here I am/we are, entering yet another storm that, though not completely unexpected, once we entered it, the reality of it feels a lot different...a lot harder.

I find rest in remembering, however, that He is the Lord...even in the storm...because He is the Lord of all storms.  And He has never abandoned me before.  And He will not abandon me now.  That's why today, I claim and hang on to the words in 2 Samuel 22: 29-31

You, Lord, are my lamp;
the Lord turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.

The impossible is now doable.  In Him who is Light, I will advance against any and all troops...though I am no spider woman...with My God, I can even scale a wall!  I certainly do not understand His plans nor begin to comprehend His ways, but I know that they are the only ones I want to travel.

“As for God, his way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
he shields all who take refuge in him.

So even though I may look/feel like the scared pumpkin on the floor of my deck, I know that it will only be for a little while, just until He turns darkness back into light.

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Serving with a Humble Heart

Today I am writing about my dear friend Helen again. Not only has Helen showed me the power of consistent and selfless prayer, but she is also teaching me the divine quality of serving others with a humble and willing heart. 

After Judy, her daughter who is like a mother to me, showed her the post I wrote about her and her prayer list, Helen wrote me a letter in her beautiful penmanship. I have to say that I was thrilled to get a letter from Helen because those are also very famous. She writes the most thoughtful cards and letters to those who need them most. It was also very exciting to get her letter since I don’t even remember when the last time I got an actual letter in the mail was! 

As soon as I unfolded the delicate lilac-colored stationary I sensed Helen’s kindness pouring in, and I braced myself for I knew the words written in her steady cursive would touch my heart deeply. And so they did. The most moving parts, however, were not those in which she thanked God for our friendship or reminisced about her own friendship of years ago with my husband’s Grandmother. The lines that touched me the most were those where her humble spirit showed through. 

She could not believe that anyone would write anything praiseworthy about her! She said that she didn’t deserve the credit and that perhaps I meant my words for someone else. 

Well, the credit does go first and foremost to Our Lord who uses people like Helen to encourage other and lift their spirits in prayer and with humility. Knowing that she is praying for me and that she has the willingness of heart to be obedient and do her part while on this world, fills my soul with hope. And that is a gift right from above, which she is willing to put to good use for the benefit of those who surround her. Therefore, I believe that the willingness of heart is to Helen’s credit. The Lord blesses those who are willing to give with a cheerful spirit (2 Corinthians 9:7). And the giving most appreciated is the giving of ourselves as we love others with a semblance of the kind of love that God has for His children. 

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” 

And one way to demonstrate this kind of love is by bearing one another’s burdens in every way we can in the name of Christ (Galatians 6: 2). 

Helen’s attitude of prayer and humbleness in her service shows me that it doesn’t matter how old or how reduced our circumstances may appear to the human eye; we can always do our part to further the Kingdom of God here on earth. For as long as we keep that willingness of heart alive, the Lord will provide venues for us to exhibit His love and glory to others. May we be a blessing to those we encounter on our path in this hiking journey called life!

If you missed the post I referred to here, you can visit it by clicking: Helen's Prayer List.  Have a blessed Sunday!

Friday, November 8, 2013

A Hard Pill to Swallow

Well, I wish I were using the title of this post as a metaphor. The truth is, however, the pill is all too real and the swallowing is almost impossible.

I have a confession…I can’t swallow but the smallest of pills. I’ve spent all my life chewing and crushing tablets, opening capsules and having my taste buds infused with the most horrible flavors in the meantime. I can tell you which are the best tasting and the most horrifying pills for the most common conditions…but I won’t…

In a few weeks I will be confronted with a pill I will have to swallow in order for my body to be cleansed and healed…and I have no idea how in the world I am going to do that.

Yesterday, I spent a lovely morning with a new friend who showed me how. She has had to take a variety of supplements since she was a young girl, and she still does today. She told me how she would just put a handful of supplements in her mouth and with one gulp of water she’ll swallow them all at once. I could not believe she showed me. She pulled out 5 of the largest pills I’ve ever seen in my life. She laid them all neatly on the table for me to admire. With a swift motion of the wrist, she grabbed them all in her hand, gave them a little shake, popped them in her mouth, took a sip of coffee and the next thing, she is already talking to me again… Unfathomable!

After I was done picking up my jaw from the floor and re-attaching it all back together, I asked her to see the biggest pill up close one more time. She pulled one out of the bottle and put it on the table again for me to stare at in disbelief.

I didn’t know what to say… I can’t remember what I said… I was in such state of awe; I think I just drooled a little on the table cloth.

It was the best object lesson of my life! It is possible to swallow huge pills and survive! I will remember that forever, but especially the day I have to swallow my own pill. For now, I thank God for giving me hope and for showing me that He can help me do this…that it is not an impossible feat.

I am relying 100% on Him for this one, probably like I never relied on Him before. It's going to be just Him and me gathered around that pill. This is going to be the time where He is going to show me what His power can do. I mean, I tried swallowing a Tylenol this morning and I couldn’t! I feel horrible and scared…but He will show me on that day what He can do when we allow Him. And it will be for His glory for there is no way I can do this myself. All who know me will know it was nothing but Him who helped me swallow that pill.

Perhaps, this will be the time when I will finally let go of my own self and let Him shine. Maybe that will be the day that my trust in Him will completely become unleashed as His Faithfulness is one more time irrevocably revealed!

I don’t know how He is going to do it. His ways to me are as indescribable as it was for me to figure out how my friend swallowed that handful of pills…it doesn’t really matter, however. What matters is that He already has a plan. He knows how He is going to deliver me through this. He knows how He is going to do it. Perhaps He’ll help me swallow it. Perhaps He’ll point me to an alternative route. I don’t know. His ways are infinite. All I know is that He WILL not abandon me now. He already has a way designed for me to get through this predicament.  He will get me through this. I am in His care and that will never change regardless of how large them pills might be.

Matthew 11:28-29
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

The Gift of Friendship

“His love for us knows no end. He knows our every need. He knows that as women, we will need other women to comfort and lift us up when we are weak and stumbling. Not only has he given us his Son, the Holy Spirit, and his Word, he has now given us a piece of heaven on earth, each other. Amazing.”

My dear friend’s comment on my post from yesterday prompted me to ponder deeply about the divinely appointed friendships that the Lord has blessed us with. Her words have profound resonance in the female soul because of the truth they speak of. They speak of the truth of the way He made us. I don’t know about you, but I surely need other sisters in Christ around me constantly! But specially in my hour of need. The comfort we draw from each other’s presence is priceless and hard to explain. It is part of our essence as women, I believe. I am no expert in the psyche, but I am a woman, and although I recognize individual differences have a lot to do with the way we feel and react to things, in my case, I thrive when I have other like-minded, godly women around me.

I try to be there for my friends in whatever way I can...even if it is only through the words I type in this blog. Likewise, I receive the much needed hand on my back from the women the Lord has so lovingly placed on my path.  They each reach me in very distinct ways, each one catering to my different needs (which are many!) through their own individual talents and gifts. Some offer their inspired words to make me meditate. Some offer their encouraging words to help me breathe again.  Some offer me their experience.  Some offer me their gift of hospitality, kindness and thoughtfulness.  There are those who offer me their talented cooking! And some others offer me their quiet presence, their shoulder to cry on, their ears to listen to my plight, and their comforting embrace. They all contribute in their own personal way to help me along My way, by making it smoother and bearable.

As my dear friend pointed out, He has given us so much in order for us to endure the hardship of this world. Once we refocus our eyes and really see, we cannot do anything but praise Him for His Goodness. He has given us Himself to save us, the Holy Spirit within us to sustain us, His Word to guide us, and our friends and sisters in Christ to walk with us.

Amazing, indeed!
Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!

Linking with:Graced Simplicity

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fighting Battles Alone?

“He is forcing you to need Him each and every day as you move forward with the faith you will need to be in peace. The easier road, and the one I know I would have wanted to travel, is the one that ended with a great test result, close the chapter, and move on. Instead, God is saying, "I took you through this fire to let you know I was with you then and I will continue to be with you. Trust me."'

These were the words from a dear friend who has been supporting me through my latest trial with words of wisdom and encouragement. As I read her message, I felt her embrace reaching me through cyber space as the visible manifestation of God’s presence next to me. I thought how this is the way of God, and what a marvelous way it is! He uses His children to reach out to us in the hour of our greatest needs. This is how He provides, but placing His representatives on our path. This is how He shows us that we don’t have to fight our battles alone.

My friend showed me this truth not just by her own inspired words, but also by pointing out His Word as she led me to:

Romans 8:26-27 "In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness for we do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groans that words can't express. And he who searches our hearts, knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints in accordance with God's will."

She found great comfort in this passage herself, as she goes through trials of her own right now as well.  So meditating on the unfathomable promise of the Holy Spirit praying for us, caused her to pause in praise.

“Even when I wasn't praying for what I needed, the Holy Spirit was. Wow. God knows we won't be strong all the time. He knows we will have many times of struggle but He will never leave us. He has sent the Holy Spirit to be there for us to intercede in our not-so-perfect, failing behavior. When we aren't praying what needs to be prayed, the Holy Spirit is…Blew me away.”

All I have to add to that is, “Amen, sister!”

He is Jehovah Jireh, God the Provider. He is Jehovah Rapha, God the Healer. He is Jehovah Shalom, God of Peace. He is Emmanuel, God with us.

As I receive an amazing show of support from all my friends, I felt convicted since I have not been the friend I should have before to those around me who needed comfort and consolation. But another dearest friend, who also had to walk through intense fire not so long ago, kindly said to me too: “it's your time to take care of yourself and let others take care of you however way they can. This is God's work, sending you help and care. Take it!”

He promises that He will never leave us nor forsake us in our hour of most need. (Deut. 31: 6) Today, I rejoice in the fulfillment of this promise.

Monday, November 4, 2013

A Fire of My Own

Our Heavenly Father in His infinite love and mercy many times spares us from the fire. The interesting thing is that some fires are known to us.  We see them approaching and we brace for them, then we breathe a sigh of huge relief when He delivers us from them.  Some others remained completely unknown to us until the day we get to our eternal home and see the picture in its entirety. There are some fires, however, that we have to go through. It is all part of the process of refining our faith. This process of refining means cleansing.  It involves removing all impurities so the final product is something radiant, like gold. The cleansing, however, is painful for it involves fire. 

So again, even though we don’t go through all the potential fires, God’s perfect plan inevitably includes us going through some. That is the only way our faith is refined and Jesus is revealed in our renewed character. I have been going through my personal fire since May. I thought, last Friday, that part of this particular fire was going to be extinguished, but it wasn’t. I realized today that unlike many others that He has delivered me from, this one I have to face head on. It is my own. It was planned for me. And I have to carry on. 

The good news is that I don’t have to walk through it alone. He is with me inside of it. He is the other person that could be seen through the blazing furnace (Daniel 3) He is the shield that protects me from getting burned. He is my companion in time of trouble (Psalm 46). And at the appointed time, He will walk with me out of it so His presence may be revealed. 

In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed. 1 Peter 1: 6-7

So today, in the midst of my blazing furnace, I stand with Him, hand in hand, for after a little while, I will say goodbye to my affliction. I realize that despite the fire, His plan is still perfect.  Even when I try to resist it, His way is always the best.  It is my prayer that all along, the result is praise, glory and honor as Christ is revealed in me.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

A Day to Remember

Today is a huge holiday in Panama, where I am from. It is Independence Day! I still remember the thrill of marching in the longest, most important and most watched parade of the year. My heart always beating in unison with the sound of the band playing right behind me. The strong and well syncopated rhythms and tunes heightened my sense of pride in representing my school marching right beside its colors. 

November 3rd has always been a day of great celebration in my family as well because it is my Father’s birthday. He was the principal of our once only High School for many years and that position brought him great distinction in our town. And people never forgot him. His reputation as an incorruptible, strong, strict and faithful leader followed him wherever he went. His birthday was therefore, a day of excitement in our house because people always wanted to honor him. 

I remember as a young girl going to bed excited in the anticipation of waking up to the perfectly orchestrated tune of “Happy Birthday” performed by our beloved High School’s marching band at around 5:00 a.m. every November 3rd.  I remember seeing my Father standing tall, all dressed up in his elegant suit at the front porch of our house, receiving the honor of such a visit in all his stature. I would peek out the front window and see the shine of the brass pierce through the last darkness of the night as the members of the band played their hearts out, dressed in their Independence Day best. 

What a treat that was for all of us. They touched my young heart for many years with their polished notes dedicated to my Dad. Our High School never ceased to be my Dad’s greatest treasured honor, and its Marching Band remained always his pride.

Last November they got to play for my Dad one last time as they honored him at his funeral. Once again my heart was deeply moved as I listened to the melodies they offered to their greatest fan. My Dad was honored by our beloved High School in a way that is hard to explain and impossible to describe with my limited expressions. Today, my family spends a November 3rd under the cover of a thick blanket of melancholic reminiscing, all at distant points from each other, as we see the first Independence Day without our Father. 

The memories of those days waking up at the sound of “Happy Birthday” played in admiring inspiration by a band of kids who sought to offer their best to their Principal will remain in my mind forever. For now, I move on with what life has for me, hoping that one day we’ll get to celebrate again!

My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? John 14: 12

Friday, November 1, 2013

Danny's Wheelbarrow

Since, for me, giving it all to the Lord is an on-going process, today I woke up thinking about the same Scripture from yesterday:

 “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5: 7

The image today is, however, a bit different. This image came to me yesterday, actually, as I walked around the leaf-covered campus sidewalks.  At that time, I thought of the autumns we spent at our old house. Back there, fall was a real chore since our back yard was populated by several splendid and majestic deciduous trees. As we know, the “majestic” aspect lasts for a split second and then we are left to pick up all that majesty afterwards. Well, walking among the leaves yesterday afternoon reminded me of looking out the window at my husband wrestling with the fallen majesty at our old house (and yes, I have to admit here that other than looking out the window, I never did much else to help : ).

For years, before he discovered the magic of a mulching tractor, Dan would spend entire Saturdays pilling up leaves on a huge tarp and in his old, rusty wheel barrow. Then, he would drag them around the yard to the burning pile and/or onto another dumping ground reserved for…dumping stuff (the joy of living in the country…sigh…). Over and over again I would see the sign of satisfaction and relief on his face as he would open up that tarp or tilt that old wheel barrow over the dumping pile to see the leaves cascading down to be disposed of. Not that I’d know, but I could tell by the look in his face that he felt liberated. The sense of a huge weight off his back…letting go of a heavy drag…emptying that last load on the pile…it felt good.

That’s the image that came to me yesterday afternoon and today too. I so want to feel the liberation of emptying out my over loaded, old and rusty wheel barrow. I am tired of pushing it around. I got blisters in my hands and it weighs too heavy in my soul. I want to stop at the dump, tilt it up and watch the garbage flow out of it once and for all. I may as well leave the wheel barrow in the pile too, for I don’t want to use it no more. I want to be done!

As it happens, now we live in a well-manicured neighborhood with zero trees in our yard (well, we have a couple of baby ones that could hardly be called trees…Dan picked up the fallen leaves with one hand and put them in a shopping bag…and I’m still not helping : ). We have no use for his old wheel barrow or tarps out here. Perhaps it’s a sign that we are close to being done emptying out the anxiety, fear and other collection of things we’ve been dragging around for years, to finally be free. I pray that’s the way it is. 

For now, though, I will keep the hope and the image in my mind every time the heavy burden of anxiety creeps up on me. I will think of me emptying that old wheel barrow. Each leaf representing each of my fears…all gone to be burned up by His all consuming fire.

Then all the people went away to eat and drink, to send portions of food and to celebrate with great joy, because they now understood the words that had been made known to them. 
Nehemiah 8: 12
May we rejoice in the clear understanding of Your Word, Dear Lord!

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