Monday, June 30, 2014

Don't Try to Figure it Out

The other day, as I was running some errands by myself, I was listening to praise music on the car radio…I know…the radio…

At any rate, the latest Steven Curtis Chapman song came on and even though I’ve heard it plenty of times already, the first three lines jumped out at me in a special way: 

Lay your head down tonight
Take a rest from the fight
Don’t try to figure it out

I can honestly say that the song hit me as if I’ve never listened to it before…especially the third verse: “don’t try to figure it out.” That’s the line that truly, truly spoke to me. It was as if God Himself was saying it to me at that moment. “Don’t try to figure it out…” whatever “it” may be, sometimes we have to just let it be even if we don’t understand it.

How many things happen in our lives that have no explanation, senseless tragedies, inexplicable wrong turns, unpredictable realities, surprisingly bad decisions…we look at them after the fact and we go like, “where did that come from? And WHY?” 


We turn and toss; sleepless in our beds at night wondering why…why did that child who was raised in a Christian family all of a sudden walked away from the faith? Why did that other child who was seemingly walking firmly along God’s path unexpectedly falls into a life of sin? Why does the innocent girl get killed by a drunk driver while the driver lives? Why does a parent have to die alone, with a broken heart, waiting for a son that never arrives? Why does a daughter have to face life alone, without the love and support of those who were placed on earth to care for her? How is it that godly people face terrible tragedies while unbelievers seem to cruise through life? 

We can go on and on with questions of our very own, going mad, waiting for answers that will never come.

Some things are just not for us to find out on this side of heaven. Some things we just have to stop trying to figure out and move on. Of course, this is way easier said than done. The Word tells us that,

The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law. Deuteronomy 29: 29

God’s plans and ways are not ours. No human being can fully comprehend and express who God is. He, however, reveals clues about His nature in the unfolding of His plan. As Deuteronomy 29: 29 states, some things are just going to remain secret for they belong to Our Lord. On the other hand, God chooses to disclose what He decides is crucial for His children to know in order to grow closer to Him. And those things revealed are to be studied, known and followed as we walk along the path of this life.

At the appointed time, however, once we are finally home, He will make His secrets known,

For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open. Luke 8: 17

In the meantime…there is not much else for us to do than to seek Him first, accept what He chooses to reveal, let go of the things He decides to keep hidden and enjoy the amazing ride.

Linking with Mondays Musings

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Have You Found It Yet?

Well, though that is me in the picture above, I am not a contestant in that TV show The Voice : ) All who have ever heard me sing know that there is NO way I would ever be able to participate in any type of contest that involves singing…unless it is a “No-talent-talent-show” type of thing. However, I do have a voice. I use it in my classroom full of college students. I use it in my home with my family. I use it with my friends. I use it when I write on this blog. I am not 100% proficient using it; but the Lord knows what He is doing and He is teaching me every day how to improve the way I deliver His message with it. 

God gives a voice to all of His children. With this voice, all of us who belong to Him are able to tell others our testimony and spread the gospel to those within our sphere of influence. This voice is different for each Christian. The way it is broadcast depends on the individual gift each child of God has been endowed with…and don’t get me the ole’ “I don’t have any gifts” thingy…we all got something:

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

Besides, let’s not forget that as a child of God, we have the greatest gift of all, the Holy Spirit.

The thing is that the way we express God’s message and our personal testimony differs from person to person. We are all unique and so are our gifts. Even if we share the same gift with someone, the way we express it comes out different. Take two of your favorite Christian singers, for instance. Say, Jeremy Camp and Chris Tomlin, both employ their incredible talent to sing God’s praises and move crowds to worship. Each of them has an unmistakably distinct way of doing it.

It is the same with everyone else. There are those who have the gift of music as they play instruments and speak musical notes as their second language. Others spread the gospel through their gift of management and administration. They are so organized and so good at budgeting that those around them see God as a priority in their lives for the way they manage their resources and spend their money. They can teach others how to do the same, how to honor God with their stewardship of the material. 

There are others who have the gift of teaching, or of research and discernment. They can tell others about Christ in ways that are easy to understand for those who are lost. They can dig into The Word and see truth to then communicate it to those around them. 

The gift of encouragement is one I personally appreciate dearly. Don’t you love it when you find someone who always has something uplifting to say to you? The funny thing is that they don’t even realize it. They are the first ones to say something nice, and the last ones to see how special that was. Hospitality, the gift of making someone feel welcome and at home…like a breath of fresh air!

We can go on and on and on, but the point is that we each use our gifts in our own personal way. After all, it was granted to us, so the way we use it has to resemble us. I cannot compare the way I use my “voice” with anyone else. I was wonderfully and fearfully made by my Creator to be myself. My testimony is my own and I have to share it in my own words. The relationship I have with Christ is mine, and I have to talk about it with my own voice. I cannot pretend I am who I am not. That’s when others begin to distrust us.

God has given me the gift of expressing Him through this blog. Therefore, I have to honor Him by speaking with my own voice, regardless of how it may sound. Some may like it, many may not, but as long as I am being true to Him, who guides me, I am going to go on.

In the end, we may not all be able to manifest the miracle of God’s presence in us the way that Mandisa or Natalie Grant do. We may never win American Idol or even audition for anything like it. But let’s not forget, we all have a voice and it was given to us to be used to spread His message. It may not be glamorous, but it is, O so glorious!

How do you express the message God has entrusted you with? Have you found your “voice”?

Linking with: One Way to Peace & HopeLittle R and R and Whole Hearted Home

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Needs vs. Wants

I just read one of my most favorite reflections ever in a Facebook post by “A Wise Woman Builds Her Home” page. The statement says:

“I thank God for protecting me from what I thought I wanted and blessing me with what I didn’t know I needed.” 


This statement encapsulates the right attitude we are to have while voyaging the troubled waters of our lives. 

As a Christian who wants to grow closer to Christ, I know this is exactly the right perspective. As a human being who has spent most of her life trying to manipulate circumstances so they come up my way, I have a hard time accepting the wisdom in this expression. I am too attached to comfort. I have made this world my home. I don’t like affliction or trials. I always want to be protected from what scares me. I never want to go through the valley of the shadow of death. Instead, I want to always lie down in green pastures by a refreshing creek resting easy within the safety of a strong fence.

The thing is…it’s very hard to grow while in complete comfort…to grow closer to a Christ-like existence, that is…(‘cause we can certainly grow otherwise while sitting in total comfort : )

It is through the fiery trials, that we learn that fire cannot destroy us. It is in the storm that we find out that the winds and the waves obey the Divine Master who loves us. It is in the affliction and oppression that we realize we will not be crushed. It is in the earthquake that we know we are not going to be moved. It is in the flood when we see we are not going to drown. 

I know this…yet, I am always surprised when it happens to me. The minute I find myself in the midst of a tempest, I panic. I am afraid, because I forget. I forget I am supposed to go through difficult, rough patches in order to be refined, sifted and polished. I fear because I don’t have the faith it takes to rejoice in my affliction, and to be contempt always, regardless of the circumstances. I become anxious because I allow the situation to dictate my emotional state.

Trials shake me because they remind me that I am not always going to get what I want, but what I need. And what I want is to never have problems in life (and that extends to my loved ones). But what I need is to become an overcomer, like My Lord. However, I am never going to be an overcomer like Jesus if I never have anything to overcome.

I am like a child, still. I really don’t know what I need. I have to be shown. But, like a child, I resist been given what I need and throw a fit when denied what I want.

What am I to do?


I must trust His promises, for with every challenge, comes an opportunity…with every trial, a reward.

What Bible verses do you go to when you need to be reminded that we are overcomers and that with Him, life will not crush us?

Linking with: More of Him

Monday, June 23, 2014

Praying for Our Children

Recently I had lunch with a dear friend whom I had not seen in years (we couldn’t even come up with an exact number). In the course of a 2 hour lunch, we tried to catch up with what had happened in our lives during the last few years. Needless to say, that was just not long enough. 

At any rate, being both mothers of relatively young kids, our conversation inevitably touched on the subject of our fears for the future. We skimmed the surfaced of the countless issues that are going to surround our children’s growing up and became very somber as we contemplated the road ahead. The ills of our society make it almost impossible to dream about a bright future for our kids.

Through our conversation, I couldn’t help but think about Proverbs 22:6 

Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.

Fulfilling this command is becoming harder and harder in the society we live in. We are mostly on our own when it comes to this task. Not much that surrounds us helps us to train our children in the way they should go. Entertainment, forget it! Schools, let’s not even talk about that! Even some churches are slowly descending into the path of least resistance, becoming agents for the normalization of sin. I don’t know about you, but I am truly concerned.

What is a parent that wants to offer a Christian environment to their children to do, then?

I believe, the answer is found on your knees.


First, pray for everything and without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18, Ephesians 6: 18 & 2 Chronicles 7: 14)

Pray with others. Find yourself a few other parents to pray with. There is power in numbers! (Matthew 18: 20)

Pray for yourself, that the Holy Spirit may guide you as you parent your children. (Psalm 25: 4-5)

Pray that the Lord will make you an intentional parent, seeking wisdom always. (James 1: 5) 

Pray that you may be intentional about surrounding your children with all things good. (Philippians 4:8)

Pray that God may surround your children with adults who are godly and will guide them in their path to Christ.

Pray that God may surround your children with young people to be their godly friends and role models.

Pray and Praise Him for everything, especially for the gift of having children. (Psalm 95: 2)

Pray, pray, pray. I could fill up electronic pages with prayer, but the important thing is that we fill up our hearts with them. Let’s talk about God in our homes. Let’s take advantage of every opportunity for a godly teachable moment. May the Holy Spirit keep us alert and aware. Above all, however, may we understand that our children are loved by God and He has a plan for them. 

Sometimes we may fear God’s plan because we don’t understand it. We don’t get to see the entire picture, fully developed in front of our eyes…so we become nervous about the direction of things. Let us not be afraid of God’s plan. It is a perfect plan, even if it includes some detours and some rerouting that we were not expecting or desiring. It is still a good plan. It is still the best…better than anything we could have concocted ourselves…

Our society may seem less than ideal. The future may seem grim. We may have our hearts filled with fear for our children. But God is in control. And as long as we stand on His side, we will be OK.

My friend and I parted ways with promises of not letting the years slip by before we met again. May the days not slip by without finding the much needed time to pray.

Linking with:  Monday Musings

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Breaking the Chains!

The enemy is so focused on paralyzing believers on their way to growing closer to Christ that he’d do anything in his power to stop us. Although he is not all-knowing, he does know all the right buttons to push to hinder our Christian walk. He throws obstacles on our track to make us stumble and fall, hoping we never get back up, or at the very least delay our recovery long enough to make us think we could never walk again. 

One of his favorite hindrances is deception. After all, he is the father of lies. He uses lies to trip his victims. He throws them on our road like traffic spikes to puncture our “tires” and make us lose control. He wraps his snares of deceit tightly around our feet like anchors to keep us from moving. The worst part is that he deceives us in such a way that oftentimes we end up locking the chains around our ankles ourselves. 

We all have our weak spots. We each have an area of our lives that is very sensitive to the attacks of the enemy…an area where we are most vulnerable. And he knows it all too well. He knows that once we get hit right there, we become disarmed. In my case, my biggest hindrance is fear. It paralyzes me. It keeps me from moving ahead and getting closer to a Christ-like existence. It is the button that the enemy pushes to entangle me and delay my walk.


I am tired of it! I am tired of being exposed to the flaming arrows that the enemy shoots my way. I don’t want to be vulnerable to his attacks. I don’t want to curl up in a ball, panicking. I don’t want to be so blind that I end up walking the plank voluntarily, dragging the ball and chains tied to my feet on my way to the abyss.

He makes us believe we are powerless. He convinces us that we are so unworthy of God’s mercy that we hide in shame. He twists reality in such a way that we end up accepting the lie that we are despised by God. Therefore, we, rather than running to Christ for redemption, end up running away from the Only One who can rescue us.

The good news is that we don’t have to succumb to the Devil’s schemes. We have the most perfect weapon to combat the enemy forces that strike against us. We have Jesus! And in Christ we are victorious. No matter how horrible life may seem, we overcome it all in Him!

There is power in the name of Jesus to break up ALL the chains!

We have the shield of faith to protect us. We have the sword that is the Word to slash the enemy in two when he advances. But we have to know it. We have to have it hidden in our hearts, ready to be pulled out at a moment’s notice.

What Bible verses do you have in your armory to block the attack of the enemy, strike him back and defeat him when he is after you?

Linking with:  Sandra

Thursday, June 19, 2014

I Will!

At a women’s Bible study I just began to attend, we read 1 Thessalonians 2 and then got challenged to come up with a very practical “I will” statement to be fulfilled during the two weeks before our next meeting. The leader asked each individual woman in the group to say their “I will” statement aloud so we could hold each other accountable in some way next time we get together. Needless to say, it was tough.

I watched myself, along with all the other 6 women in the group struggle to compose such a statement. The leader did a wonderful job guiding the women one by one to shape their general musings into an “I will” sentence…then, inevitably, my turn came up and of course I was not ready. As my usual recourse when I don’t know what to do/say, I went for a laugh and pointed out that someone else had taken my idea…so I should just say “ditto,” but that didn’t fly. I had to come up with something of my own, something that deeply spoke to me. 

All along my eyes had kept going back to the second part of verse 6 where it says, “as apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you…” The expression, “being a burden to you” was intriguing. So a question began to emerge, “Who am I being a burden to?”

Immediately, I thought of my husband Dan. I thought of my upcoming follow up tests which are beginning to cause me the usual anxiety. I thought of how much of a burden I must be to Dan every time I become anxious and overcome by fear when facing a check-up. That’s when I got it. The Holy Spirit put it all together for me. After a brief pause, I said, “I have one:”

“I will not lay the emotional burden of my fear and anxiety on my husband’s shoulders, but instead, I will lay it all on the Cross.” 

The leader helped me create a practical, action-statement by guiding me to say “every morning I will lay down my burden on Christ in prayer rather than onto my husband’s tired shoulders.”

It’s not like Dan is not willing to help me cope with my anxiety. He does a wonderful job! But, the Lord is the Only One who is able to withstand the heavy weight of my/our fear continuously, without getting crushed underneath. He is the Only One who would not grow weary or tired or appalled at the depth of our neediness. He is the Only One who would not reject us because of the messiness of our anxiety. He is the One who can take the burden of our despair and turn it into hope.

My husband, though wonderfully laid back and incredibly understanding and forgiving of my flaws (most of them…some others still bother him terribly : ) is not meant to carry the immensity of my unbelief (translate = fear). He is not responsible for it. I am! But, as we all know, I can’t carry such heavy load. No one can. So what’s our only alternative? We must give it to Him, who is strong enough for all of us. 

As I contemplate the day of my tests approaching quickly, I grow more and more fearful. However, I am resolved to do my part and surrender my fear to Him, the Only One who can make “the boogie man” go away. He can break the chain of my lack of faith. By the power of His Name, to which I cling, He will free me from the shackles of fear that have entangled me for far too long.

I don’t know how my test results will turn out. I think they will be OK since there has been no indication of anything being wrong so far. The same Jehovah Rapha who took care of me last year when I was diagnosed with Thyroid Cancer giving me a great prognosis will continue to take care of me today. He has never abandoned me before, He is not about to do so now.

I pray that in two weeks, when I meet with my Bible Study-buddies again, I can give them a good report on how I did with my “I will” statement. I pray we can all be accountable to each other and that we may continue to encourage one another in the weeks to come.

How about you? Do you have a group of sisters/brothers in Christ who serve as your accountability board? Do you have a special person who encourages you? Are you an encourager to those around you?

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Limiting God

This past weekend I finally saw the movie “Heaven is for Real.” And I really liked it. I thought it was well done and acted, which makes a world of difference. The characters were very believable, and helped bring the story to life. My favorite character was the Dad. I identified with him very much. The way he wrestled with God and with disbelief touched me for I’ve been there so many times before.

The character reminded me of the father in Mark 9: 24 who approached Jesus to ask Him to deliver his son from an evil spirit that had possessed him since infancy. I love the direct exchange between Jesus and that father, 

Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?”
“From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”
“ ‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.”
Immediately the boy's father exclaimed, "I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!" 
Mark 9: 21-24 (NIV)

I can’t help but chuckle every time I read Jesus’ replying to the flustered Dad, “if you can?” From my human and egocentric perspective, I can almost hear an implied, “Don’t you know who I am?” Of course, Jesus’ compassionate and humble heart would not allow Him such an arrogant reply…I do enjoy, however, witnessing His humanity peak through in encounters like this one : ) I can sense His holy frustration with the dilemma of facing His children’s lack of understanding of who He is, while at the same time teaching us who He is.

At any rate, this is a story of man’s struggle with unbelief, and it mirrors on every human being that ever lived. We know the Power of God is limitless, but when it comes right down to it in our own personal lives, we just can’t believe it enough to know He is able to do what He says He can do.

We marvel with jaw-dropped wonder at miraculous stories that relate voodoo priests coming to Christ after witnessing a truly divine healing in Haiti, or at Muslim people becoming Christians thanks to visions gathered in dreams, or at gang leaders surrendering to Our Lord at the very church service they intended to break up. We attribute the steady sobriety of a life-long addict to rehab or the unexplained healing to modern science, forgetting that they are only possible because of the divine intervention and the guiding hands of the Holy Spirit. We forget that there is power in the Word, for the Word is All Mighty! We forget that the same power that spoke the earth and the universe into being is alive today, and it has not lost a bit of such power. We forget that everything is possible for God…even the fact that He may choose to reveal a vision of heaven to a little four-year-old.

Why do we insist on limiting Our Most High God? 

Perhaps it is because we are subconsciously trying to protect God’s reputation. If we look deep inside ourselves, though, who is it that we are really trying to protect with our disbelief? God’s reputation doesn’t need protected. Whether the world chooses to believe it or not, He already walks on water! I think we are trying to protect our own reputation as rational, level-headed thinkers. We don’t believe God enough, so we try to maintain a stance of impartial distance just in case He doesn’t deliver. We lower our expectations, just in case He doesn’t come through. We don’t hope for the supernatural, to avoid having to deal later with the disappointment of a less than ideal reality.

Whatever it is, it is caused by unbelief, and only Christ can help us overcome it. 

Like the father in the movie, the task of moving beyond doubt is impossible on our own. It is only achieved by coming to Him for help with a humble heart that recognizes He that is sovereign and that we can’t fully understand His ways for as long as we live on this side of Heaven. He chooses to do the irrational, the supernatural, the surreal within the constraints of our very material reality, and that throws our limited brains off. However, with His help, we can overcome our disbelief and appreciate His limitless power, whenever He may choose to reveal it.

Linking with: Whole Hearted Home

Monday, June 16, 2014

Feed My Sheep Beans, Tortillas and Rice!

The third time he said to him, "Simon son of John, do you love me?" Peter was hurt because Jesus asked him the third time, "Do you love me?" He said, "Lord, you know all things; you know that I love you." Jesus said, "Feed my sheep.”  John 21: 17

Well, this Biblical passage came to life for me this past weekend in a very particular way. As it happened, rather unexpected guests arrived to our house on Friday evening to spend the weekend with us. They were Hector (19) and Carmela (22). They both recently arrived from Honduras to spend the summer at a Biblical Camp not far from our home. The purpose of their visit is for them to be mentored as future leaders and missionaries to far away lands. Their trip to the USA is meant to provide them with the opportunity to know what it feels like to be abroad and to learn as much English as possible while familiarizing themselves with American culture and people. 

Needless to say, Hector and Carmela are overwhelmed. Their lack of functioning English skills topped by the fact that they had never gone further than 100 miles away from their remote hometown on the Caribbean coast of Honduras are the perfect ingredients for a recipe that would make one’s heart explode. 

That evening, as they sat on my couch, listening to our stories spoken to them in their native Spanish, I saw nothing but two of God’s precious lambs. The smiles on their faces showed the signs of relief. They were finally able to relax after a couple of weeks of being bombarded by unknown stimuli. They related to us the stories of how, by God’s great providence, they were able to come on this trip. God surely paved the way for them to come to the States to do His Holy work. They speak in praise to the Most High and see His hands on everything that is happening to them. Regardless of how tough the experience is, they accept the challenge graciously and move ahead to figure out God’s plan for them.

We also talked about the food they eat back home in Honduras. So they both jumped at the opportunity to explain their favorite dish: “baleada.” I had no clue what that was, but they promptly described the simple treat as refried beans spread on a flour tortilla topped with white cheese. We talked about the cheese, since I knew that particular white cheese they were talking about is not readily found around here, and also how they make their own flour tortillas and use fresh beans. They told me how “baleada” is almost an anytime food staple. They would eat it for breakfast, lunch or dinner. 

At any rate, next day, we went to the place every visitor from abroad needs to know in the USA, Super Walmart : )

While they browsed around, I picked out some groceries. I figured I could maybe provide an American version of "baleada" for them, so I got prepackaged flower tortillas, canned refried beans and Monterrey cheese. I knew it would be a poor version, but I decided it would be worth the shot.

For breakfast on Sunday before church, I heated the beans and laid out the tortillas and the cheese on the counter. When they came downstairs, I told them we were going to make “gringo baleadas.” : ) Their eyes said it all. I suggested we heated the tortillas on a skillet, but they said, “Microwave is faster!” I suggested we heat up 4 tortillas, Hector asked me, “aren’t you having any?” : ) At that point I knew it was best just to leave them to the baleadas , so I moved on to pancakes : )

It was such a treat to see them enjoy their breakfast. A little taste of home even if pre-packaged at a Walmart store.

Later for dinner, I made some mac and cheese, chicken and some other stuff, laid it all out on the counter top again, and pulled out the cooked rice I had in the fridge, ‘cause I gotta my rice! Carmela and Hector had not mentioned rice as a favorite food, which I thought was strange since most Spanish speaking people love rice. I was kind of hurt at that…rice and I have a very special relationship : ) But I got over it and I figured it’s OK if not everyone cares for rice as much as I do. I heated it up anyway, and set it on the counter as well. They went straight for it.

“We haven’t had rice in two weeks!” They both exclaimed as they dug into their steamy treat. “They never cook rice at the camp,” they uttered with their mouths full : )

I sat back, smiled and enjoyed my rice all the more.

It was sad to see them leave on Sunday evening when the Camp Counselor came to pick them up, very punctually. We hugged and said, “see you later,” for we surely would love to host them again soon. They brought the blessing of the Lord to our home. He has great plans for them, and we are honored He has chosen us to be part of such a plan…even if our part is only to offer them some beans, tortillas and of course, rice!

Linking with:  Mondays Musings

Friday, June 13, 2014


How many times in any given day would you say you utter an expression that begins with the phrase: “I hope…”? In my case, it’s just way too many to count. I hope a lot. I hope I can get a new car soon. I hope my tomatoes bloom. I hope we can make it to the beach this summer. I mostly hope for sunny days, but sometimes I even hope it rains. 

I hope, I hope, I hope…I feel like a bunny…yeah, I know, it’s not the same word…but, I hop through hope all day long : )

At any rate, we all know what hope means. According to the dictionary, hope is: a feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. Easy, right? The truth is that, even though, hope may be easy to define, it is a different story to experience it.

The rather complicated nature of the concept of hope comes, in my humble opinion as an impatient/controlling person, from its undeniable relationship with the concept of endurance. Like I read Beth Moore write in her Bible Study of Thessalonians, “hope is long.” 

Hope is not a thing of the moment. It is not an idea associated with the present. It is an expectation of the future. Furthermore, hope is unseen, and as it ties together with endurance, it inevitably implies suffering and hardship…otherwise we would not be talking about “endurance,” would we? It would be more like, “enjoyment” or “pleasure…” (Endurance, according to the dictionary is: the ability to do something difficult for a long time. The ability to deal with pain or suffering that continues for a long time.)

Look at the words related to endurance: difficult, pain, suffering…for a long time…

O boy…

I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t like to be in pain, suffering difficulty for a long time. Hope, however, sometimes includes such ingredients. Paul talked a lot about it. And as he tells us how hope is a good thing since it sustains us, and we are to boast on the hope of the glory of God, (Romans 5: 2) he also tells us that,

“we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” (Romans 5: 3-5)

Hope, therefore, is not a light, fluffy, dream-like state where we suspend our disbelieve and float away wishing upon stars. Hope is grounded on the reality of life’s hardship and on the need to be patient to endure whatever comes our way, but above all, hope is rooted in the certainty that we are not going to be disappointed for hope stems from God’s love. And that is the flip side of hope. On the one side, there is the implication of the need for endurance, and on the other, we realize that the basis for hope is found in God’s love, which He pours in us through the Holy Spirit. Hope inspires endurance because of Christ, and that’s the good news of hope. It is not a flaky illusion that could vanish in thin air. True hope is found in Jesus, and He will not disown it, for in this hope, we are saved. (Romans 8: 24)

Well, I guess, I may get carried away hoping for things that I may never see. But I will not stop, for even though at times it may involve enduring long periods of suffering, hope never disappoints because love never fails. 

Romans 15:13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

A Season for Miracles

Miracles are always in season, don't you think?  It doesn't matter how seemingly insignificant or how magnificent, miracles are God's gifts delivered to humanity to reveal to us who He really is.  And He is Amazing!

If there is one jaw-dropping thing about God that never ceases to astonish me no matter how often I experience it, it is His absolutely perfect timing. The thing is that I am a very impatient person. I am a controller by nature. Therefore, I know what I want and most importantly, I know when I want it. I have always had a hard time adjusting to other people’s schedules. I have to have my own, and if you like it, you are welcome to come along. If you don’t like it…well, find another partner. Life doesn’t work like that, though…so I’ve discovered…

Over the years, and mainly through experiences…marriage and parenthood come to mind first…God has taught me, and re-taught me, and continues to teach me today that He is the One in control of it all…not me.

It has been…and it continues to be a really hard lesson to swallow. I have to say, however, that like wine, I get better at it with time. I don’t really get better at being patient…I get better at recognizing that the Holy Spirit is at work in me and that He is not done yet. I’m getting better also at recognizing the wonder of trusting God and the miracles that are revealed every day when we submit to His perfect timing…real life, honest to goodness miracles…big and small, but always amazing…

Right now, we are in the middle of making a decision that is a rather difficult one. We have prayed about it and talked about it for months, but the time is approaching when we see the final decision finally materializing in the horizon. For most, this could hardly qualify as a miracle. For some others, however, (I’m talking to you, fellow controller) this does have elements of the miraculous. Just the simple fact that for once I have not rushed it, and I have not become impatient or frustrated, and I haven’t urged my husband to get with the program is a huge miracle! 

On the contrary, I have relaxed on the slow path to discerning the best way to deal with the issue. Has there been a reward for such subdued behavior, you may ask? The answer is, of course! The road has been one of discovery of God’s omniscience and wisdom. For instance, there are way too many pieces up in the air as we struggle with this decision, a condition which I find particularly disagreeable, being a control-freak, and all. God, however, is showing us, as we take our time, how He is fitting all those pieces together one by one in the most precise and delightfully creative way (a way I could have never thought of no matter how hard I had tried).


The decision is not fully made yet. There are lots of details still to work out. But I am sure enjoying seeing God’s hand at work here. I know His timing is not our timing, and His ways are definitively not our ways, but His ways are perfect and He is always on time.

I’m still an impatient person, but the Holy Spirit is showing me a way to overcome my desire for control by allowing me to discern situations when I get to marvel at God’s plan, ways and timing, so I become more willing to let go of my own paths and accept His, instead…for only His, will lead to miracles.

Let us not miss it.  I pray the Holy Spirit gives us eyes to see the supernatural, the divine, in our every day life! May we catch our Miracle Worker fast at work at every turn.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Family Time

Recently, I had the privilege to have some of the most precious members of my family from Panama at my house for a week. It was my sister, Ileana, her son Willy and Nicole, my brother’s daughter who is like my little sister. We had a lot of fun even though we didn’t do much. I feel bad because we didn’t take any trips to see anything other than shopping venues and places to eat, but I believe our time was well spent. We were able to relax in each other’s company and take it easy. It was a big change from the fast-pace life they all lead in the city. We didn’t explore a lot of the sights around, but we sure spent a lot of time talking. We talked about everything, from heavy stuff like family conflicts and how to learn more about the Bible, to the silly gossips of the European royalty…don't ask…

As I look back on the lazy mornings chatting around the breakfast table and the laid back evenings watching movies during that week with my family, I realize that lasting relationships are not built on elaborate planning. They are built on the quality of the time spent together. Thinking about that I discovered that it is the same in our relationship with Christ. Sometimes we become frazzled and obsessed over the idea of having to do things to please God. In reality, however, what He wants from us is…us. He wants us to spend time getting to know Him. He wants us to take the time to be in His presence. He wants us to follow Him.

He doesn’t love us because we do good things. He loves us because He is Good and merciful. He loves us because He is Love…and we love Him and others, because He first loved us. (1 John 4: 19)

He doesn’t ask us for ceremonious good deeds. He asks us for our time. He doesn’t require ritualistic acts of service. He wants the sincerity of our hearts. He doesn’t want us to only remember Him at special occasions. He wants us to celebrate Him in our every-day life. He doesn’t want us to just know about Him. He wants us to know Him personally and to follow him whole-heartedly. 

Like with our own family, He knits us together to His Heart by His precious blood. We are hemmed into His garment with unbreakable ties that transcend our actions into our very souls. And nothing could ever separate us from His Love. (Romans 8: 31-39)

At the end of the week, it was deeply painful to see my family go away. A profound sense of loneliness threatened to settle in my heart. The Lord reminded me, however, of all these things. He comforted me with the knowledge that we are bound together with the unbreakable ties of His love, and Love transcends time, space and circumstance. 

So, even though we didn’t do anything special during the week we spent together, every minute I get to spend with my beloved family is, indeed, truly special. It is a celebration of love that goes beyond planning and expectation to penetrate the mundane details of our everyday life…and for that, I am most grateful.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014


Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. Ecclesiastes 4: 9

Remember the show Friends? It was so popular with people of my generation back in the 90s… The beautiful women and handsome men…they always wore the trendiest fashions and always looked so hip. Their makeup was always flawless and their perfect hair styles were to be replicated (or dreamed about) by all who watched the show. 


It’s funny how real-life friends are a bit different from the “friends” in TV. Real-life friends see you not only at your best, but mostly at your worst. They see you without makeup and in your PJ’s. They see your face distorted by the strain of real pain. Their shoulders get wet by the streams of real tears pouring down your face. They listen to your deepest fears and comfort you with their embrace.

Nope, when I’m around my true friends…it doesn’t look much like the show at all. 

Very recently, I had the opportunity to spend a few days enjoying the warm hospitality of my dearest friend Indy at her gorgeous house in Omaha. My sons and I were truly blessed by that visit, and we are still recovering from feeling so homesick for her home. Omaha has become a place of peace, fun and love for us, so much so that my boys hate to leave and wonder why we can’t move there.

During our stay, I had the blessing of sharing precious moments with Indy. From climbing down the steps in the mornings wearing my T-Shirt and Tinkerbelle pajama pants to hang out at her kitchen for a while, to having fun at the various places she took us to explore, Indy offered me the most precious gift of all, the gift of her time. She gave me her listening ear and her comforting words. She also gave me laughter and of course, great food! She selfishlessly gave me her company and the warmth of her heart. 

Ours is a friendship that doesn’t need makeup, trendy clothes, hip shoes, expensive purses or fancy hair. Ours is a friendship of T-shirts and capri pants, of backpacks and coolers, of tennis shoes and flip flops, of pony tails and hair clips. Ours is a friendship that has endured time, space, disappointments and disagreements. It is a friendship that sharpens us and refines us. And for that and more I am most thankful to our Lord.

On the way back home, my son Dylan cried often, Grant was very silent and I walked around dragging a really heavy heart. We, however, look forward to the future, and rather than saying goodbye, we say, “see you soon.” Though we may not have a regular meeting place, like the coffee shop in the show, we know that we will gather together again as God will allow.

In the meantime, we remain committed to a friendship that overcomes life’s real challenges. Under God’s watchful eye, we will continue to share our laughter and tears as we continue to be there for each other through the years…(perhaps, true,real-life-friends do have something in common with the TV show after all…)

I'll be there for you
(When the rain starts to pour)
I'll be there for you
(Like I've been there before)
I'll be there for you
('Cause you're there for me too)  Friends' Theme Song

Happy Birthday, Sister!

Linking with Whole Hearted Home and Little R and R

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Wandering Heart

Do you sometimes catch yourself wandering about aimlessly in your faith walk? I sure do. It doesn’t take much for me to find myself drifting away with the waves of this world. Blessed be His Name, though, He, to whom the winds and the waves obey, knows our name and when they try to pull us from His grip, He re-directs them so we come back into His embrace.

Such was the case recently, when, after much busyness, traveling and preoccupation, I saw days become weeks without finding time to spare for meditating on the Word.

He knows how to call me, however, in a way that is impossible for me to miss His voice. He calls me with His songs. This time, He strategically placed a hymn to call out my name and show me the way back to His fortress. And even though, I didn’t grow up with hymns and they are not my worship music of choice, I cannot deny the power of the Word when put to the melody of an old song.

What I love the most about hymns is how subtlety they enrapture one’s soul in music and take you to a place of worship almost by surprise. Maybe because of the metric tune of the melody, or the harmony or perhaps because of the complicated words which people like me find difficult to understand, hymns have the capacity to bring you to a point of discovery that contemporary worship music usually lacks. Some other times, there are hymns that have become so familiar that we may sing them mechanically and miss the opportunity to worship and praise inspired by the richness of its words. But then…He touches you, and everything changes.

That’s what happened to me the other Sunday at church. The Hymn “Come Thou Fount” came on and I began to utter the words, mind going to a movie I like where there is a scene in which the leading man sings it. I allowed my mind to wander and dwell on that movie rather than concentrating on the hymn. Suddenly and without warning, as I sang the second half of the last stanza, He got me.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

It took me a split second to realize I had wasted this precious worship song day-dreaming about a movie, so I tried to back pedal to recapture the moment, but the song was over and the moment was gone. I couldn’t recall the lyrics. All I could bring back to my desperate mind was the line: “prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…” That’s all I could remember. The church I was at didn’t have hymnals available at the pews (and I don’t have a smart phone where I could look it up right then-not that anyone should use their phone during service, anyway…), so all I could do was to hang on to that line…that simple and convicting line.

Though the moment was gone, it was not lost for we serve a Lord of Mercy and Love who had given me exactly what I needed. That line said it all. I am prone to wander…but He is prone to seek me and bring me home every time.

Of course, through the wonder of the Internet, I was able to find the beautiful hymn and delight in the treasure of the truth it reveals. That’s why I am here today, back at my computer, recording my reflections on the electronic pages of this journal. Blessed be His Name!

With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! Psalm 119:10

Come, thou Fount of every blessing,
tune my heart to sing thy grace;
streams of mercy, never ceasing,
call for songs of loudest praise.
Teach me some melodious sonnet,
sung by flaming tongues above.
Praise the mount! I'm fixed upon it,
mount of thy redeeming love.

Here I raise mine Ebenezer;
hither by thy help I'm come;
and I hope, by thy good pleasure,
safely to arrive at home.
Jesus sought me when a stranger,
wandering from the fold of God;
he, to rescue me from danger,
interposed his precious blood.

O to grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be!
Let thy goodness, like a fetter,
bind my wandering heart to thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
prone to leave the God I love;
here's my heart, O take and seal it,
seal it for thy courts above.

Text: Robert Robinson, 1735-1790
Music: Wyeth's Repository of Sacred Music