Sunday, November 30, 2014

Unfailing Love

Your unfailing love, O LORD, is as vast as the heavens; your faithfulness reaches beyond the clouds. Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains, your justice like the ocean depths. You care for people and animals alike, O LORD.  How precious is your unfailing love, O God! All humanity finds shelter in the shadow of your wings. Psalm 36: 5-7

Our Thanksgiving this year turned into a week-long celebration thanks to the visit of my dearest niece Nicole. Often she spends Thanksgiving with us, but this year, she had told me it was not going to be possible. A couple of weeks before the holiday, however, she called me to tell me that the company she works for was sending her to Pittsburgh for a meeting the Monday of Thanksgiving week and that she had made arrangements to stay here until the following Saturday. The unexpected news were the cause for much excitement in my heart.

Nicole is more than my niece. She is my sister and friend. We basically grew up together. She made me an aunty when I was only eight years old. We both grew up in Panama, so now that we both live in the US we are practically the only close family we really have in this country. Unfortunately, we live far from each other. On the other hand, that makes each moment we spend together all the more precious.

When we are together is like time hasn’t gone by. We are able to pick it up right where we left it and enjoy each other’s company. I truly praise God for her life and for how she has impacted my own. God has showed me a glimpse of what unconditional love looks like by placing Nicole in my path for the long run. Through her life experiences I have also been able to learn more about how God is the Only One who can exercise unfailing love.

Not another soul in this world is capable of loving perfectly. When it comes to loving others we all fail at it. Nobody has mastered love…Only God…because He IS Love. And whatever love we may be able to express in our limited ability comes from Him. Without Him, we don’t know what love is. What the world calls love is nothing but a fleeting emotion that has more to do with our own selfish needs and self-centered feelings than with the object of our affection. When we seek the love of this world we chase after a combination of warmth and excitement that may resemble an electric current charged with sweet chocolate running through our bodies. The love of God, on the other hand, takes us through the difficult path of surrender and sacrifice, which leads us to the Cross.

His Love endures forever, and it is the same when we rejoice as well as when we pass through the valley of the shadow of death and evil. It is unchanging and unique. It is indescribable. It is perfect. It is the love that sends Himself to die for His beloved.

Thanksgiving has come and gone, and so has Nicole. We took her to the airport yesterday and it was very sad to hear my sons talk about how much they miss their very cool cousin. I hope we get to spend more time together in the coming year, but for now, we cherish the memories we built this past week. For now we cherish the love that binds us and we praise the Love that will keep us together through time, space and circumstance.

Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed," says the LORD, who has compassion on you. 
Isaiah 54: 10

Me, Grant, Nicole, Dan and Dylan in the front - Pittsburgh Airport 11/29/14

Saturday, November 29, 2014

With Thanksgiving

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; 
his love endures forever. 
 1 Chronicles 16:34

Not just yesterday or the day before or today...but every is by His grace that we get to enjoy another opportunity to be his in this world.  It is by His design that we get to be here one more day to discover His face and His will for us on this side of the shore.

To Him belongs all the praise.
He gives and He takes away, but my heart will, by the power of His Holy Spirit, always choose to say, Blessed be His Name.

Thank You, Lord Jesus, Thank You!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Lord, Deliver Me!

As it happens, every day there is something new to worry about…just like Jesus said in Matthew 6: 34:

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

He sure knew what He was talking about.

Every single day comes with its own set of events and circumstances that cause us to become anxious, stressed out, worried. The trick is not to let those events and circumstances paralyze us with fear. In my case, I find it very easy to slip into the proverbial slippery slope once I’m faced with a new situation that scares me. I feel the chills rising rapidly up my spine. My pulse accelerates while at the same time my heart seems to stop (not sure how that happens, but that’s how I feel). I am weak and too attached to this world. Therefore, I panic at the first sign of something wrong.

I cannot allow myself to do this to myself any more. It distances me from Christ. It creates a barrier where there should be trust. It digs a hole where there should be a bridge. It swallows me in despair when I should have hope.

Jesus reminds us, as an antidote to this overwhelming fear, to trust in His provision and in His love, and to concentrate on seeking Him! He’ll take care of all the rest…and in turn, He will give us rest…I don’t want to be a “ye of little faith” (Matthew 6: 30). I want to have the kind of faith that trumps fear and causes mountains to jump into the oceans! I don’t want to be all-shook-up at the slightest thing that doesn’t go according to plan. I don’t want to be too attached to this world.

I want to seek Him and find Him. He promised! So I want to cling to His Word, which is flawless. I want to experience what David experienced when He wrote:

I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34: 4

I pray today to my God, that no matter what the day may bring, please,

Do not withhold your mercy from me, Lord; may your love and faithfulness always protect me. Psalm 40: 11

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

On a Budget

My husband Dan and I are a rather frugal couple. I know he may say that this statement is only half true (you can guess what the half that he thinks is not true is…get it?) But, honestly, for the most part, I think it is true.

We try to make conscientious and sensible choices when it comes to spending money. Like, for instance, we have never bought a brand-new car. And I don’t think we ever will. We never did, because we could never afford it before. And we never will, because now it is a matter of principle. We just don’t think it is a smart thing to do.

And that’s when it hit me.

Is our frugality a form of pride?


Are we becoming frugal snubs? Do we look down on people who make different choices? Do we think we are so much better because we live on a budget and we save money? Are we cultivating a spending sensibility that borders on idolatry?

Double hmmm…hmmm

I would like to think that the answer to all those questions is a firm NO…but I am not sure…the reason I am not sure is precisely what has prompted this meditation.

We are to examine ourselves more than once in a while. We are to look at the intentions behind our actions. We are to ask God to search us and test all our ways and show us if there is fault in them so He can, in turn, change things around and make us holy. Therefore, even the things we do which are good need to be put to the test.

That is why today I come with a desire for Christ to cleanse my intentions in the area of money. It is such a fragile and highly corruptible field. It could so very easily invade our soul and take up the throne. It could so quickly occupy all of our thoughts…regardless of whether we have a lot or we don’t have any…thinking about money issues is pervasive and corrosive. Regardless of whether we are doing the right thing with money…it could pretty easily get turned into something twisted. For instance, focusing too much on being frugal is still focusing too much on money! So where is the balance?

I believe the balance is in the intentions behind our choices.

What motivates me to make the choices I make? Any choices? Am I motivated by a sincere desire to give God the glory as I am a good administrator of the riches He has so generously placed in my hands? Or am I motivated by pride? I want to make choices that honor God. I praise Him that He has turned Dan into an amazingly good steward of all He has given to us, and that He has given me a spirit of frugality which I never really had before (and that He has helped me accept the dreaded budget – though I still fight it once in a while : ). But I pray that He also gives us a desire to share His riches with those who need it and that He helps us be cheerful givers…that all we do is in His precious name and for His honor.

It is, therefore, a matter of intentionality. I want to intentionally make the best choices for His Glory. I know I am going to fail more often than not, but with the guidance of the Holy Spirit, I also know that He will show me the way. His way may still not lead us toward buying a brand new car or to a budget free life, but I pray it leads us to being more intentional about extending grace to those around us...for grace never needs to be on a budget!

Monday, November 17, 2014

He Is Making Us New!

The last several months Dylan has been going through some kind of “testing the limits of my power” type of period. His strong-willed tendencies have flourished and needless to say, it is driving me crazy! As it turns out, Dylan’s strong temperament clashes with my own. We can both put on a really scary show that makes the mild-mannered (Grant and Link) in our household scatter and run for the hills (or for under the table, whatever is more accessible and quicker) to escape the fireworks of wrath.

I have a really hard time controlling myself. Therefore, I feel like a hypocrite of Biblical proportions when I tell Dylan to control himself. Who am I to tell him that? Me, who can’t tolerate the slightest test to my patience??? I have no authority to tell Dylan to calm down and exercise self-control, when I myself can’t keep it together…and the worst part is…Dylan knows it all too well. So he doesn’t listen to me because he is seeing I cannot do what I say he should do…so we are locked in a vicious cycle of yelling and screaming that doesn’t seem to be broken.


As I read the book a Praying Life, by Paul Miller, I have discovered that I have not been praying for this situation with Dylan. I have been trying to fix it all myself, by my own power. I have been thinking of ways I can make Dylan listen and obey so things smooth out between us. The result? Total failure! Nothing I try works and no matter what and how I tell him, he continues with his defiance, which prompts my bursts of anger…and the vicious cycle’s endless spin continues as well.

I think I can shape Dylan’s will. If I only had the right technique…if I only could tell him the right words…I could certainly change him…


I can change Dylan just as much I can change an orange into a mango!

God has reminded me, through the book A Praying Life, that He is the only one who could change anyone’s heart. But He has also reminded me that there are, indeed, words I can speak which have immense power: His Word! The author of the book says that he has index cards with Scripture that he prays over his children constantly…that gave me an idea (I can’t believe I hadn’t thought of this before…). I needed to pray the Lord would lead me to His Word in a way that I could find something I can claim for Dylan and pray it back to God. So I did. And the Lord, in His mercy, led me to two places.

First, He led me to Ezekiel 36: 25-27:

"Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean; I will cleanse you from all your filthiness and from all your idols. "Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. "I will put My Spirit within you and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you will be careful to observe My ordinances.…

The part I am really claiming for Dylan is where God tells us that He will give us a new heart as He puts a new spirit within us…I pray that for Dylan, but I also pray it for me too…I want that the stones that sit where our hearts need to be would become alive with the presence of God, and that with each beat, His life would overflow our souls and make us new.

He is the Only One who can do this…as He reminded me in the other part of Scripture that He sent to me:

He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" Revelation 21: 5a

He is making us new! He is not done yet. He is still working on us and in us. There is still hope. Dylan will be a new creation by the power of the Most High, by the power of He who sits on the Throne…and so will I.

I just started this, so I can’t tell you that Dylan’s strong-willed heart has subsided yet. But I do realize that as I recite the words in my head, I am finding a new kind of rest.  

Once again, He has showed me that, when in doubt, go to His Word for His Word is, indeed, the Lamp unto our feet that allows us to see the way! (Psalm 119:105)

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Walking with Loss

When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze. Isaiah 43: 2

For two years now I have been walking with loss. The death of my Father has left a deep void in my heart which continues to be difficult to fill. Two years ago today, I arrived at my childhood home in Panama to find it empty. The house that had been a permanent source of comfort to me stood eerily quiet…desolate, rather. The ever presence of my Father was irreversibly gone.

As I stood at the doorway, I sensed my years in that house vanish…it is hard to explain what I felt. It was as if life as I had known it up until that day had ended. Nothing would be the same again.

The walls that had received me since my first days on this earth and had kept me safe, known my hurts, heard my secrets, witness my joy, were now cold reminders of the finite state of this life.

I remember walking by my parents’ bedroom that day…all of my life, every time I walked by that door I had turned my head to peek inside and find comfort in seeing my Mom in her rocking chair praying or my Dad taking a nap, stretched out on his bed, the same bed they got when they married a lifetime away…it was different this time…it was painful…there wasn’t anyone there…the rocking chair was still and the bed spread sat neatly straight.

I walked carrying my loss throughout the house that once was filled with love and life. I dragged my feet to a dark bedroom and I slept as if to pretend it was all a dream.

But it is not a dream. It is reality, the new reality of my life. The old has passed away. The new is coming.

I surrender my loss to His Hands…the only hands that can mend the broken heart.

Though darkness is thick and terrifying, My Lord turns my darkness into light (Psalm 18: 28) for He is the Light!

For now I have tears of mourning, but one day, they will dissipate and usher in the complete joy of the promise fulfilled…

“ ‘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.” Revelation 21: 4

It is hard to lose your earthly Father. Regardless of the type of relationship or lack of thereof that one may have had with him…knowing he is gone from the land of the living makes our hearts tremble. The gift is that Our Heavenly Father is here to stay. No matter what or where, in the depth of our loneliness, agony, despair, fear, pain…through the valley of the shadow of death…through the dessert…through the storm…through our loss…He walks with us and brings us to the other side, unharmed…

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea. Psalm 46: 1-2

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

God's Timing

For the revelation pertains to an appointed time— it speaks truthfully about the end. Though it delays, wait for it, because it will surely come about— it will not be late! Habakkuk 2: 3

I am not a patient person. I believe I have commented on this fact many times before. I like things to happen when I want them to happen. I have reflected on this issue of mine over and over and over again, and yet one more time, for it is a huge struggle I have. I get nervous when I don’t see results fast. I become anxious when there’s a perceived delay. I fear the uncertainty involved in the process of waiting.

Usually, what happens while I wait is that I construct scenarios in my head that contribute to my despair. Although rarely things came to be with the melodramatic hues I imagine in my head, I still can’t help being afraid. I turn to panicky prayers instead of calmly resting in the shadow of His wings. I demand what I think I need to get in order to bring peace to my soul, rather than requesting that His peace that surpasses all understanding would cover me regardless of what happens. I forget that my ways are not His ways…and that in the end; His plan is always perfect even if I can’t understand it at the moment.

I forget to…

Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD. Psalm 27: 14

I forget that I must surrender not only to God’s plan and will, but to His timing as well. Even though it may seem as if He is hiding his face from me…as if He is distant…I must trust Him…I must trust His timing. I must remember that even though, in my worldly state, He may seem to delay, He is never late!

I have been carrying these thoughts in my mind for a while now, and every time I feel as if I start to fall into the despair of an anticipated long wait, I repeat it in my head: I surrender to Your timing, Lord.

It is actually another example of the paradoxical ways of the Lord…in God’s logic, surrender leads to freedom. May we all experience the liberation that comes with giving it all to Him and surrendering to His plans, His will and His timing for our lives and the lives of our beloved.

I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the descendants of Jacob. I will put my trust in him. Isaiah 8:17

"For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways," declares the LORD.” 
Isaiah 55: 8

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

In the Valley of Decision

May the multitudes upon the multitudes realize that the day of the LORD is near! Joel 3: 14

May the nations awake and hear your voice!

May the peoples believe and know: that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth…Philippians 2: 10

The day of decision is here.

May we choose inspired and guided by divine wisdom so when He comes, He finds us standing on His side.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Special Day

Last birthday I celebrated with my Dad in Panama.

Today is a very special day in Panama, my country of birth. Today the entire nation celebrates Independence Day. I remember as a kid, I used to love November. It was always so festive and so full of national fervor, let alone the days off! The school year, in Panama, ends early in December, so once it hit November, we considered it almost all done.

November 3rd was always doubly special in my home because it was my Dad’s birthday.

I don’t really know how things work on that other shore of eternity; however, I’d like to imagine that today my Dad is enjoying the day hanging out with my Mom. Perhaps, today isn’t a special day for him anymore. Perhaps, every day is special now. For my Dad, maybe November 3rd has no real significance anymore. The luster is probably all gone and replaced by the inexpressible and incomparable brightness and delight of being in the presence of Christ. The concept of time might not even be anything we would concern ourselves with in Heaven. For me, however, who are still voyaging in the choppy waters of this life, the day brings back the sadness and emptiness of my loss.

Praise the Lord I am not alone in this journey. Besides Jesus, Himself, God has graciously given me faithful travelling companions to hang on to. And for that I am infinitively grateful. It is, however, still hard to look back and remember those who are no longer with us…especially those who played such a crucial role in our lives…But hope remains! And I cling to it…I cling to the source of all my hope…of all my peace…

"Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me. "In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. "If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also.…
 John 14: 1-3

I cling to this promise with all I’ve got!

And as I have also lost my childhood house, I am sure glad that Jesus is preparing a new place for me there...a place that no one would be able to take away…a place where I can fellowship with my parents again…a place that I could, forever, call home.

For now, all I have to say is: Happy Independence Day, Panama…and Happy Birthday, Papa…

But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. 1 Thessalonians 4: 13