Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Micromanaging Prayer?

It was the night before my treatment. Multiple prayers had been said over the months since my diagnosis of thyroid cancer all geared toward this very day that now was but hours away. As I lay in bed alone, staring at the ceiling, I simply said, “Lord, I’m in your hands. You take care of the details.” After that, I let out a sigh of relief. Soon, I felt my heavy eyelids shutting down for the night, but before I drifted into sleep, I had a minute to wonder about how peculiar my prayer had seemed…I couldn’t believe that was it. Wasn’t I supposed to say something WAY more elaborate and profound in preparation for the big day? For some reason, the prayer felt just right. I had peace in my heart and I was grateful for it. Therefore, I let sleep sweep me off my feet.

The day came and things began falling into place one by one. We got one kid on the school bus. The other kid came downstairs all dressed for school without fussing. The babysitter showed up early. We were out the door on time, and as the garage door lifted, we saw the beauty of the morning dawning on us. We said a prayer at the end of the driveway and I told Dan about how I had prayed for God to take care of the many details without going into details

All throughout, I just couldn’t stop thinking how I had dared to offer such a simple prayer in one of the most dreadful days of my life!? Me? a simple prayer? I am the Queen of micromanaging prayer! I make sure I pray for every single detail of whatever situation I’m praying for as if I were an industrial engineer going through an elaborate procedural manual that needs to be just like so in order for the machinery to work like clock works…otherwise something may be left out and the whole thing may collapse…and that is just not going to happen on my watch! I need to remind God about everything that needs taken care of. I need to show God that I do care about every single detail too. I need to show Him that nothing is superfluous or unnecessary. Where did this simple prayer come from?

I started to think about other women in the Bible trying to think if there was another micro-manager like myself who may have tried to take the details into her own hands, to help out God a bit, just in case He may forget…and I thought of Sarah, Abraham’s wife. A fine example of a woman taking matters into her own hands to hurry things along and help out in the fulfillment of God’s plan…only to have it all backfire on her/our face…that’s the story of Sarah…

She knew that God had a plan of making Abraham the father of as many offspring as there are stars in the heavens (Gen 15: 5) As the practical woman she was, she just couldn’t wrap her mind around how that would all come to be and still have her involved in such a plan. She was past her child bearing years and had yet to have borne Abraham one single child. Needless to say, Sarah didn’t trust God with the details of the plan. So, on she went to do some micromanaging. Next thing we know, in comes Hagar, ushered into Abraham’s arms by none other than Sarah herself. The rest constitutes a portion of history of such biblical proportions that still haunts us today…

I have been in Sarah’s shoes many times. I did too struggle through infertility and went through great lengths to have a biological child (not to the lengths that Sarah wen to, I must clarify : ) but I did put my body through a lot to achieve it. I have manipulated events in other areas as well in order to get what I “needed” be it a job, a house, money, friends, emotional stability, you name it! And as I discovered just now, I have micromanaged prayer too. My arrogance has gone as far as thinking that if I don’t mention every detail I want God to take care of, He just won’t remember to do it…maybe because I’m judging God against human standards and some of the males around me tend to be on the forgetful side? There I go again, trying to justify my lack of trust.

I just like to control things. I have a hard time letting go of the reigns. Perhaps that is the main lesson I am to learn out of the situation I find myself in right at this moment. I have ZERO control. All I can do is trust.

I trust that God’s plan is still perfect, regardless of the challenges. I trust that He loves me. I trust that He will lead me and be with me in the trial. I trust that He will take care of every tiny detail without me having to point them all out. He knows them all. He created the plan!

As it happened, the day was perfect. I could not have organized it any better. Everything was on time. Results were great and I swallowed the pill! What two months ago had seemed impossible, became possible that afternoon at 3pm with God, right in there next to me, in a scary room with steel doors and signs of radioactive hazard posted all over the walls.

God took care of every single detail. The drive was beautiful. He even gave us a gorgeous sunrise that was as peculiar as my prayer. As we drove up and down the rolling hills of Western PA, Dan pointed out to the east. Where the sun was rising…there was one single deep orange ray shooting upward from behind the horizon straight up to the sky…what a sight! It was as if the Finger of God was pointing us in the direction toward which we should keep our eyes fixed! A few minutes later, the largest ball of fire rose in the sky, filling the clouds with unimaginable shades of reds, pinks and orange, mixed in with creamy whites and blue. The heavens, indeed, declared the majesty of His Name!

Linking with: Little R and R and Whole Hearted Home

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

An Attitude of Gratitude

This morning was the first morning I woke up in my own bed.  And I have to say, that after sleeping on my Mother in Law's couch for the last five days, it felt pretty good (not that I don't TRULY appreciate my Mother in Law's willingness to allow me to spend my five-day isolation period in her house, after taking a radioactive pill for my thyroid cancer treatment...I would never know how to repay her kindness).  But even so, it felt good, indeed, to wake up in my own home, surrounded by my beloved boys and with a sense of normalcy at last.

I was overwhelmed by the events of the past week, and I really didn't know what to think.  Then, I opened up my devotional, and there it was...these are the words that greeted me from the tiny pages of my book straight to my soul:

"I give thanks to You, Lord, for You are good.  Your love endures forever.
I give thanks to You, the God of gods.  I give thanks to You, the Lord of lords, to You who alone does great wonders, who by Your understanding made the heavens, who spread out the earth upon the waters, who made the great lights and the sun to govern the day.
Your love endures forever.
I give thanks to You, Lord, the One who remembered me in my low estate and freed me from my enemies.
I give thanks to the God of heaven, for Your love endures forever. Indeed, Your love endures forever!"

When I didn't know what to say, He gave me His very own Word, in the form of Psalm 136, to offer it back to Him as my thank-offering after His Hand had delivered me from a trial back to the comfort of my home, that He has provided.  He sure does provide!  The Holy Spirit is there to give us the exact prayer for the exact time, even if it is in the form of groaning too deep for words. (Romans 8:26) And through Him, our prayer becomes acceptable to The Father in Heaven.

The Holy Spirit, Himself, kept me from becoming one of the nine today.  You know, the nine?  The 10 men with leprosy whom Jesus healed, from which only one returned to Him to say thank you. (Luke 17:11-19) Today, by His Grace, I was not one of the nine that didn't return.  He kept me from becoming so caught up in the day that I didn't "return" to Him to say thank you.  Instead, in the first light of the day, He led me to embracing an attitude of gratitude, for He is Good and He is the Only One worthy of our praise, worship and thanks...and for that, for His gracious Hand on every detail of my current ordeal, I pray to keep my attitude of thanksgiving so every time I look back on these days, I can smile and say thank you once again.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

From Panicky Prayers to Confident Assurance

Well, the hour is very near…tomorrow I go in to take my treatment for thyroid cancer and, needless to say, I am not really pumped about it. I spent the morning alone at home, trying to get ready for the 5 day-isolation period that follows taking the radioactive pill, which is the main treatment, and it was a bummer. My mind kept racing and I kept bumping into panicky prayers. You know the kind? Those which you utter in your mind in a moment of…well…panic, when you think the whole world is going to collapse on top of you, hopelessly crushing you…the kind in which you hear the thoughts trembling in your mind (it sounds impossible, but that’s the only way I can explain it). Well, panicky prayers…

I have to say, I am tired of panicky prayers. I want confident assurance, instead!

How do I get that?

Well, if I would just pay attention to whom Our Heavenly Father is, I would not have to wonder such a thing. If I would only remember what He has done in the past, recount His acts, look back and see His constant hand of deliverance and recall the fact that He is Faithful and that His promises are true, I would have no use for panicky prayers. But I so quickly forget…

That’s why even in my forgetfulness and in the midst of my doubt, He comes true. As I opened my devotional today, January 15th, the words on that little page jumped out at me as if straight from above:

“Why are you downcast, O my soul? Why so disturbed within me? I choose to put my hope in You, O God, for I will yet praise You, my Savior and my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I remember You! (Ps. 42:5-6). In all my distress, you too are distressed, and the angel of Your presence saves me. You lift me up and carry me as You have done for Your children through all the days of old (Isa. 45:3). Lord, help me not to fear, for You are with me; I need not be dismayed, for You are my God. You will strengthen me and help me. You will uphold me with Your righteous right hand (Isa. 41:10).”

And there I had it…confident assurance carefully packed by God’s Hand in a nutshell just when I needed it.

God’s timing and mysterious ways never cease to amaze me. He is the source of all power and the key to having that power flowing through us is to stay connected to it through His Word. If I don’t have His Word in my heart, it is going to be more difficult for the Word to come to my rescue in my hour of need. Of course the Lord is resourceful and He will send us His Word regardless, but it sure makes it easier when we stay tapped to Him by the unbreakable cords of Scripture at all times. 

I just let out a big sigh of relief as I marveled at God’s Goodness, yet one more time. I dove into the calming waters of His Love and I breathed in His healing power as I felt confident that He walks with me through this fire. He is Lord of All. 

So the route from panicky prayers to confident assurance…? Knowing His Word, reading His Word, listening to His Word so we can call on His promises, faithfulness and love at all times and in any situation. It never fails.

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home and Little R and R

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Egg Separation

Another “perk” of the current diet I’m in right now in preparation for Thyroid treatment is that I can only have egg whites…no yolks. And of course, I cannot use store-bought egg whites either. They have to be the real thing. Well, after a few days of eating basically the same for lunch and dinner, I began to be hungry for something different. My handy cook book had a recipe for potato omelet. It caught my eye right away since I LOVE Spanish Tortilla, and after glancing at the short recipe I knew right away that, THAT was exactly what this dish was, so I rejoiced! The down side…I had to separate eggs…

My memories of disastrous attempts at egg separation caused me anxiety. So before I even began to dream about eating my beloved Spanish Tortilla, I went to one of the 21st century’s most commonly used source of information on how to do anything…YouTube. And voilà, there it was. I found a long list of “best ways to separate an egg” videos. I picked the first one I saw, and it was a guy with an Eastern European accent telling me that all I needed for this daunting task were two plates and an empty water bottle???

I knew better than to distrust anything on YouTube : ) so I emptied a water bottle, got the plates, eggs and watched the video. Astonished, I saw how this guy cracked the egg on one of the plates then proceeded to suction the yolk right out of the white swiftly with the empty water bottle to then deposit it gently on the other plate. In less than 15 seconds, the egg had been separated without any kind of disgusting-E.coli-inducing-mess!

I, once again, marveled at God’s attention to details. I don’t know why I do…He is the God of the details and of order and of beauty… otherwise, why would have He made so many varieties of flowers, and leaves, and people? He rejoices in the intricacies of His creation and the Joy of the Lord IS our strength!

Sometimes we forget, but I know that we can see the Hand of God in everything that happens to us, if we only watch carefully. I chose the word “refocus” as my word for 2014, and I am trying, especially through my current circumstances, to truly put it into practice and refocus my vision so I can see Him in action in every little thing that happens to me, for an awareness of His presence sustains me.

In the meantime, I can tell you I enjoyed that Spanish Tortilla immensely! It was a huge treat. As a matter of fact, I’m thinking I might need to get me some more water bottles so I can make more for lunch today again!

“Go and enjoy choice food and sweet drinks, and send some to those who have nothing prepared. This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” Nehemiah 8:10

Friday, January 10, 2014

For Those Whose Eyes Are on Me

This morning, I read the following statement in my daily devotional:

“The way we behave overwhelmingly flows from what we deeply believe.”

Needless to say, I was convicted by the mere thought of that…It is not that I am wild and act like a pagan. It is more like I too often act as a woman who is overwhelmed and hopelessly crushed by life’s circumstances. 

As I approach a huge challenge in a few days, I realize there are precious eyes watching my every move. My sons’, first and for most, then, there is the rest of my family, my friends, my brothers and sisters in Christ, they are all watching, and whether they know it or not, how I fare through my storm will have some sort of impact in their own lives. Some realize it more than others. Some WAY more than most…my dearest niece/little sister, Nicole falls into this category. She openly and unapologetically told me so a couple of days ago. 

I must have sounded as if I was moping the floor with my spirit (I don’t know how that image transpired through a text message, but she perceived it, somehow) because she wrote me a few words that shook me. She said, and I quote:

“I don’t think I need to tell you, but you better react well to this because I am watching you and I am planning to copy EVERYTHING you do!!! : )” Then she wrapped it up saying: “It’s not what happens to us but how we decide to react that defines us…”

Well, there I had it. Nicole managed to condense life-guiding lessons in a couple of sentences sent over a text-message across the miles. I know that I am going to be scared in the two weeks to come; but I also know that the Lord is Faithful even when I am not. He has already provided for every detail in this journey and He will continue to provide everything I need to weather this current storm. I know that in the midst of my fear and anxiety, even if I can’t do it for myself, those whom God has placed around me as brothers and sisters in Christ, as well as the Holy Spirit Himself, will lift me up in prayer and supplication with thanksgiving so the peace of God, which surpasses all comprehension, will guard our hearts and our minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil 4: 6-7)

I sure pray that neither Nicole nor anybody I know and love would ever have to be in a circumstance in which they may have to copy everything I am doing today and in the coming weeks; but if they ever do, I pray that all they remember is that we can do all this through Christ who gives us strength. (Phil 4: 13) 

I claim this as my statement of faith, and I pray that I behave in a way that demonstrates that I believe it! Let my actions reveal my faith in You as I go through my trials so my behavior may be my testimony of faith to those whose eyes are on me.

Linking with: Essential Fridays

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Awake and Arise!

It’s been hard for my sons, particularly for my 11 year old, to go back to school after a longer than expected Christmas break. Today was the first day back at regular time after half a week of cancellations and two-hour-delays. He is usually awake when I come in the room to get him. Although, that doesn’t mean he jumps out of bed when I call him and eagerly gets ready for the day. By no means, no way…but at least that makes my task a bit easier. This morning, however, Grant was sound asleep when I came in. 

When I was a young girl, my Father was the one who always got me up in the morning. To this day, I can still see the scene in my mind as vividly as if it had only been this morning. He pulled no punches when it came to waking me up. He’d turn the light on and with his thunderous voice, he’d call out my name from the doorway to which sound I would just have no other recourse than to sit up straight on my bed and climb out of it. 

I don’t want to do that to Grant. I want him to ease into the day, gently. So this morning, I went in, gave him a soft kiss on the cheek, rubbed his forehead and whispered that it was time to get up. No movement was recorded at the time, but I left the room anyway. I figured that was good enough for a first warning. A few minutes later, I went in again, and spoke to him about the need to wake up since time was ticking. Nothing, still. I went in one more time and asked him a question to see if he was still asleep. I said: “Pokemon or Dr. Pepper?” Meaning which T-Shirt he wanted to wear. With his eyes still closed, he replied, “Dr. Pepper.” I reminded him again that it was time to get up, put the clothes on his bed, and left the room.

I went downstairs. From the kitchen, I heard Dan coming down the steps, and as he passed by the still darkness of the boys’ room, he said: “Grant! Get up. You only have ½ an hour to get ready.”

Next thing I know…down comes Grant dressed, and ready for breakfast…magic…

I thought to myself that I had done the hard work of waking him up and prepping him, and all Dan did was to sound the trumpet…but then I thought some more…

My thoughts brought me to the ways of the Lord. Our Father in Heaven speaks and we get up. We have no choice. Those who belong to Him cannot resist the sound of His voice! He summons us with His Word which is Action and we awake and arise. We may dismiss warnings and press the snooze button on distant alarms; but when the voice of the Almighty Himself resounds, we, and all whom He calls, go. 

The Mighty One, God, the LORD, speaks and summons the earth from the rising of the sun to where it sets. Psalm 50: 1


By no means I’m implying that Dan is God or that he has a god-complex of any sort…but there is something to be said for the impact of the sound of a Father’s voice in his children. I’m no expert, but even after he’s been passed away, my own earthly Father’s voice continues to have an impact in me even today. And that is only but a faint comparison of the impact of our Heavenly Father’s voice upon His children. Regardless of all the disappointment and disillusion that our earthly Fathers may cause us, one day, our Heavenly Father’s voice will erase all that hurt. He will call out our names and He will command us to join Him on that glorious day! Nothing will compare to that. And no one will be able to ignore it. For everyone will have no other recourse than to awake and arise.

For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God… 1 Thessalonians 4: 16

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Mom's Marinara Sauce

Well, since the title may seem a bit misleading, I just wanted to clarify that I’m not talking about MY Mom’s Marinara Sauce. I’m referring to my son’s Mom’s marinara sauce. That’s right…MINE! I still can’t believe I made anything like that. And the most amazing part was that it was edible. The reason I know is because my older son, Grant, who NEVER likes anything I make (not exaggerating here one bit…well, perhaps just a tiny bit) liked it. Once he got a whiff of it, he wandered into the kitchen, glanced at it while still simmering in the pot, and announced that he’d like to “have some of that with spaghetti.”

It was crazy! Grant hardly EVER eats spaghetti.  Over the last several years, he has consistently refused the dish unless it is made by someone else...someone who usually wears a funny heat/hair-net while cooking. So once it was ready, I served him a bowl of warm pasta and as I was carefully pouring some of my precious sauce on top, I remember thinking deep into myself: “boy, if you make me waste this, I am going to kill you! Well, that’s too harsh…but I will make you regret to have been born…” Just kidding! (Half…)

The thing is that not only he ate the whole serving but said that he liked it! Astonishing! My son, the picky eater, liked my out-of-season-fresh-right-from-the-grocery-store-tomato-made-from-scratch-by-me-marinara-sauce! I felt like a winner! After that, I knew I had to protect the recipe and guard the rest of the sauce with my life! If I had only had the foresight to plant some canning tomatoes in the summer so I could have them now…wait a minute? Did I just write the last sentence? That doesn’t sound like me at all! I don’t know the first thing about any of it? The only thing I know about canned goods is how to open the can!

Scratch all that…start over…

If I’d only had real, home-grown tomatoes that someone, like my Mother in Law, would have given to me, the sauce would have been superb! But nonetheless, I cannot complain. The satisfaction of the simple pleasure of accomplishing something I never thought possible was the best ingredient in my recipe.

In a world where darkness, fear and death seem to reign, there is nothing more comforting than grabbing tightly onto the simple details of ordinary days which bring a ray of sunshine to our lives. As we do that, let us not forget where the Light comes from and who the Provider of all goodness is.

You, Lord, are forgiving and good,
abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86: 5

Maybe this forced diet will bring forth the miracle of my son learning to eat healthy and finally enjoying Mom’s home-cooked meals…Boy, that would be a triple-whammy if I ever saw one : )

Linking with Little R and R and Counting Our Blessings and Whole Hearted Home

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Chicken Stock for the Soul

After my first full day in my special diet, I have to say that it was a successful day. I didn’t deviate from it and I even got to make chicken stock from scratch for the first time in my life! WOW! What an experience that was!? It is not the fact that making chicken stock is difficult, rather it is the fact that it reminded me how much I take things for granted. Between Thanksgiving and New Year’s I cannot count the number of chicken stock cans I have bought at the store. So many of the holiday recipes involve this item so I never gave it a thought…I just went to the supermarket and picked them up by the bundle! During these two weeks, I can’t do that. If the recipe calls for broth…I have to make it from scratch!

That was an eye-opener, I tell you.

While chopping the onions, figuring out what fresh basil really looked like, browning the chicken, simmering, discarding the “solids”, cooling and finding containers to store it, I kept thinking of how much of what God has given to me I really appreciate and how much I totally neglect. It was convicting. Hence, the “chicken soup” series, huh? Waiting for the flavors to blend while simmering is definitively a great time to contemplate about your life.

Today, I found a verse in Ecclesiastes 7:14 that made me smile. I really never use the Message Bible, but its version really fits my state of mind, so that’s the one I’m quoting here:

On a good day, enjoy yourself;
On a bad day, examine your conscience.
God arranges for both kinds of days
So that we won’t take anything for granted. Ecclesiastes 7: 14 (Message)

Between the fact that I am locked in the house due to the currently insane low temperatures outside and the meals from scratch, The Lord is sure arranging for me to be able to examine my conscience…so, at least, the next time I grab for a can of chicken stock, I won't take it for granted.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Holy-Spirit-Infused Power and Discipline

For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. 2 Timothy 1: 7

I have to say that I do invoke this verse in my mind often, for, upon occasion, I am one who falls victim of fear and nervousness. That is why the Holy Spirit keeps this fact fresh in my consciousness. As I am about to take yet another step in the process of a treatment that will be utilized by Jehovah Rapha, the God who Heals, in order to restore my health, I stand here sustained by the power bestowed on me by the Spirit who dwells in my soul. I cannot do this on my own. There are several issues involved in this treatment which represent great challenges for me, and whereas the one that begins tomorrow is not the greatest, it is, nonetheless, a big one.

Tomorrow I have to start a diet that I have to keep for 2 weeks. I know it sounds like I’m just being a big baby. I am. I am a selfish, spoiled and undisciplined BIG baby. Dieting has not been a part of who I am EVER! I tried it when I was in college and I could never stick with any of the ever flowing varieties of new diets my roommates always seem to come up with. I think two days may have been my max. I always gave up. 

Later in life, I haven’t even tried…

I don’t over-eat, but I just eat whatever I want when I want. Fast food, frozen food, processed food, junk food, comfort food…they are all part of my regular “diet.” I don’t do much of the healthy food category. I enjoy taste too much : ). So for me to know that I have to stick for TWO weeks to a strict diet where none of the above, except for the “healthy food” is allowed, constitutes a great challenge. And I’m not really looking forward to it.

The power to do this, however, does not come from me. I am entering this new stage in the process of healing ushered by the Spirit who lives in me, which is not one of fear, anxiety, doubt or timidity, but one of POWER, DISCIPLINE and above all…LOVE!

The Holy Spirit will give me the power to start it and the discipline to stick with it, as His love carries me through it all. 

I feel stronger now just thinking about how the Lord has provided for me already. He is Good all the time, and He has led me to a great cookbook with wonderful recipes of deliciously sounding foods that I can try, and with the time off to prepare them (for who knew that making stuff from scratch took soooo long?!). He is taking care of every detail as He is meeting my every need. So there is not much more for me to do but to rest in His Spirit as He infuses me with His strength to surpass every challenge coming my way.

Let’s see how I manage to stick with this diet for the following days and hopefully soon I will be posting about how successful everything was! In the meantime, I’m diving in! And I'm hoping to make my old college roommates proud : )

Friday, January 3, 2014

A New Beginning

“Christmas is about getting everything you want…” This is what Charlie Brown’s misguided sister Sally says in one of those adorable Peanuts’ Christmas shows that my boys love to watch. We all got a huge kick out of it. Christmas through the eyes of little children…sigh…I don’t know why I woke up thinking about this today. Perhaps it was because I’ve been thinking too much about my own needs and about what I want.

Sometimes I catch myself in the midst of selfish prayer, and I believe that’s why this particular image came to my mind this morning. Once again, I found myself going through a laundry list of wants and wishes which fulfillment would be all about my own personal gain. Needless to say, I felt convicted when I realized it. The precise moment it happened was when I was asking the Lord to guide us to the church where He would want us to attend.

As it happens, since moving to a different community, my family has been hanging on to our home church. It is very hard to write about this because I just simply don’t have the words. Basically, our home church is the place where Christ met me and brought me to Him. It was the place where I first heard the Good News. It was the place where The Lord opened up the His Word to me through the Bible teaching of our Pastor. It was the place where I knew the meaning of care, compassion and friendship. It was the place where strong ropes of fellowship were braded by strands woven by the very hands of God’s love.

Needless to say, it is almost impossible to even begin to think about belonging to another church. The time is approaching, however, when my family will have to make the move. I have been praying for God to show us the way ever since before we bought our new house. The decision is coming nearer and nearer now and I find myself fervently praying for this new church to meet our needs. This morning, however, a new thought came to me…what if the Lord wants us to be at a church where we can be of service…where we can help meet the church’s needs…

It was an epiphany…

The words formed in my silent prayer just like that: “Please Lord, lead us to a church where we can serve.”

What a revelation…

When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 1 Corinthians 13: 11

Often times, transitions are very difficult. We tend to resist them. We fear them. New is, in many cases, synonym of scary. It could too, however, mean exciting. The moment now is for me to leave the childhood/selfish ways behind and grow into the person that the Lord is calling me to be. I cannot be Sally from the Peanuts anymore. The King of Kings and Lord of Lords came down to Earth to serve, not to be served. He came to give Himself up for us, not to receive. And He asks us to do the same.

I cannot express the feelings of sadness and melancholy I experience just considering the possibility of pledging membership to a different church. But then I realize I am not leaving the church…I’m may just be attending a different congregation, for after all, we are all one body...we are all one church.

 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of his household,  built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.  In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. Ephesians 2: 19-22

Linking with:  Friendship Friday and Whole Hearted Home

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Listening Well

Last night, I couldn’t sleep so I decided to watch a movie. After mindlessly searching for a title that would seem appealing, I settled for one called Forever Strong. It was about a Rugby player and a coach; but the theme that grabbed my attention and consideration was the idea of “listening well.”

This morning the concept was still floating around in my mind. The thoughts mainly took the shape of questions: do I ever listen well? Do I ever listen well to my Lord? And if I ever do, under what circumstances does it happen?

The questions brought me to the conclusion that I listen to His voice best when I write. That is when I hear His guiding thoughts the clearest. That is when I feel closest to Him. That is our moment together. Intimacy grows and I feel closer to Him. Then I immediately thought of my life a year ago…and my feeling was confirmed...

I usually write somewhere between 10-15 posts in a month. In a good month I can write as many as 20+! About one year ago, specifically from October 2012 to February 2013 I wrote only 2 posts each month. TWO! It was a visible slope. Then, in March I wrote 5 and the trend continued upwards since. 

What was happening in my life back then? Simple, I was overtaken by an obsession. It used to happen a lot to me. I would become consumed by something that I thought was a pressing need that must be attained, and until the object of my obsession was materialized, I could not think or breathe anything else. At that particular time, I was obsessed with finding a house. And the pattern of my writing, or lack of thereof, maps the process very clearly. We began the house hunting adventure officially in October, and it was precisely in mid-March that we secured one.

I’m not going to describe in detail the state of my mind during those months because it is embarrassing. In the midst of this, I experienced the loss of my Father as well, which made matters all the worse. I’m just going to say that at that time, I was distracted, stressed out, panicky, sad and overtaken by a sense of deep loneliness. I felt lost and I couldn’t find my compass…I had misplaced it under the pile of rubbish and waste being excreted by my obsessive behavior.

And it’s not that I was not listening. O, I was listening! I was listening to the lies of the enemy who filled my ears with irrational despair and fear. I was just not listening to the whispers of my Lord whom, throughout the whole ordeal kept on speaking to me nonstop. I couldn’t hear Him above the noise. I was not tuned into Him. I was not listening well.

The circumstances that followed shortly after buying our new house represented a huge wake up call to my soul. Transition, illness, job loss and other issues surely did the trick and the Lord captured my full attention once again. He cleaned up the cluttered chambers of my heart, let His light shine in again and pointed me to where my compass laid forgotten on the floor. He grabbed it and lovingly put it in my hands for me to hang on to tightly once more. 

He is refocusing and re-calibrating my navigation system. I trust that He is doing the same in your life today so we can all listen to Him...listen to Him well.

My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  John 10: 27-28

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


Well, there are some things we just can’t learn by example. We have to learn them by experience. Many times we can look ahead at those who are traveling the road before us and see with perfect vision just what we would do. Often though, things look different when we are traveling the road alone and the experience is our own... and we can’t just re-calibrate our GPS. We simply can’t because our path includes the unforeseen; the detour, the road block, the orange cones, the slow lane and sometimes even the accident. It never ceases to amaze me how slow to learn I sometimes am. It is not until a life-altering event (code for “bad thing”) happens to me that the veil is lifted and I begin to see what really is important. 

I realize today that I have spent the last few years obsessing about the completely irrelevant, which has no eternal implications, whatsoever. I have wasted time and mental energy sorting through the minutia of insignificance only to end up frustrated by the lack of results and filled with dissatisfaction. It was, again, not until my life-altering event happened to me that I started to realize that it was time to refocus. Forcing me to face this rather unpleasant circumstance is my Lord's way of grabbing my face and turning it the other way, so my eyes could see what they needed to be seeing all along.

This is why my word for 2014 is “refocus.” I want the Lord to refocus my eyes so I can see again. I want Him to recalibrate my GPS (God Positioning System) and set me back on course…His course. Since His path is the one which will lead me back to Him, that’s the one I want to follow. But in order to do that, I need to see clearly and I am going to trust Him that He will adjust my focus so I could be on my way in the new year that begins today.