Monday, May 25, 2015

I didn’t grow up singing hymns and to tell you the truth, I sincerely believe that God speaks to me often through contemporary Christian music.  However, I am fully capable to admire, enjoy, worship and praise with hymns as well.  I can honestly say that there are some hymns that truly touch my soul as they unfold inspired revelation in every carefully crafted phrase, word and note.  Such is the case of “Come thou fount of every blessing.” In my opinion, this hymn beautifully expresses the inner struggles of Christians while powerfully re-stating the basic concept and foundation of Christianity which affirms that…

…God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
 Romans 5: 8

This truth is so simple that it becomes complex.  Even as Christians we often misunderstand it.  Sometimes we forget that we don’t have to be clean before we come to Him for He is the ONLY One who can really clean us.  No matter what we do to right our wrongs, we always fail.  The death that we must experience cannot be achieved by our own efforts.  It is Christ’s crucifixion what we need to go through.  Therefore, we cannot do it without Him. We are not worthy.  We are not clean.  None of us are righteous without Him…

… not even one (Romans 3: 10, Psalm 14: 1)

If we could become righteous by our power and actions…what would be the point of Christ?
The key is to remember that we are all sinners and that Jesus calls us just as we are.  Daring to believe this truth changes our perspective.  Accepting this revelation changes our way to view one another.  But it is only by the Holy Spirit that we understand it.  That’s why the secular world can’t see it.  That’s why the world judges Christians as hypocrites.  The world sees us as self-righteous without realizing that our righteousness is found in Christ not in self.  That is why when a high profile Christian stumbles and falls in his/her walk, the secular media is very quick to use the instance to smear and to try to destroy the validity of Christian principles by presenting them as intolerant, old-fashion, hypocritical or plainly unattainable. 

The world doesn’t understand that Christians don’t see themselves as sinless. 
The world doesn’t understand that we know we are sinners just like everyone else…
The world doesn’t understand that we realize the difference is that we rely on the saving Grace of God who sent His son to die for our sins, wash us clean and redeem us for His glory. 
The world doesn’t understand that it is not about us…that it’s all about Christ. 
The world doesn’t understand that we continue to struggle for de Devil wants to see us fail so he keeps pocking us and pushing our buttons. 
The world doesn’t understand that life is a daily walk toward Jesus and that nobody on this side of Heaven has made it to the end yet. 

The world doesn’t understand that our hearts are, indeed, “prone to wander and prone to leave the God we love”…and that for that very reason, Jesus goodness, like a fetter, needs to bind our wandering hearts to Thee…”  He is the One who seals us so we, one day, may enjoy thy courts above.

The world doesn’t understand that we, as Christians do understand all these.  And the misunderstanding is in part caused by our current society’s big push against all things Christian.  Therefore, the world doesn’t know hymns like “Come thou fount of every blessing.”  If songs that explain the truth (traditional or contemporary) were on the secular radio, school plays, summer concerts or people’s MP3 players as often as songs that glamorize sin, the world would have a better idea of what Christianity really is all about.

Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life. 
1 Timothy 1: 15-16

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
I'll praise the mount I'm fixed upon it
Mount of thy redeeming love

Here I raise my Ebenezer
Hither by thy help I come
And I hope by thy good pleasure
Safely to arrive at home

Jesus sought me when a stranger   
Wondering 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

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Trust Him!

This photo comes from To Save a a website/movies about culture and society issues, especially focused on people who are hurting.  I'm not very familiar with its content but this particular post spoke VOLUMES to me.

Sweaty palms,
chills down my spine,
anxiety creeps in...
I hear the distant whisper…”trust me.”
The whole world seems to fall apart.
Pieces of a life
I long ago believed had been set in stone...
now crumble all around me
and I don’t know what to do.
The glue that could hold it together has gone missing,
while the walls I thought were solid
are now disintegrating.
The whispering persists… “trust in Me.

I sit alone in a corner
knees tightly wrapped around my arms.
I’m so scared
Even the tears are afraid.

Through the cracks a gentle breeze breaks in
I hear a voice in the distance… “Why won’t you believe Me?”

The phone, the mail, an opening door,
it all causes me to tremble.
For I’m terrified of what may be on the other side...
I close my eyes and hold my breath…not knowing what to do…
I AM here with you…”

…remember what I’ve said:”

“…blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him. Jeremiah 17: 7

It’s not going to be easy
It’s not going to be smooth
But I promise,
I will be with you.

"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

Please keep reminding me
Increase my faith, and
Keep filling my heart with praise!

Friday, May 22, 2015


Why is an anniversary so evocative? Wedding anniversaries, graduation anniversaries, job anniversaries, and the mother of all anniversaries, birthdays…why do they all bring a celebratory flare into the air we breathe?

I think it is because we commemorate something pleasant…because the memories they evoke are precious to the soul and we want to remember them…we want to keep the moment alive…we feel that if we don’t make a big deal out of the date, it is almost as if it never happened in the first place.

But what about those anniversaries that do not bring good memories? What about the anniversaries that are scary? What about those that are sad? What about the ones that don’t bring back a desire to celebrate, but rather a desire to hide, tremble or cry? What about those we do want to forget?

These are incredibly powerful too. These non-celebratory anniversaries shake us to the core. They are dreadful and keep us anxious and fearful for weeks and months in advance as we see them approach. As the days go by and the dreaded one gets closer we toss and turn at night, and fidget all through the waking hours without being able to get them out of our minds. We walk about like zombies, unable to concentrate on the tasks at hand. And no matter how menial the job, we inevitably end up with a headache and sweaty palms.

As it happens, Memorial Day weekend marks the anniversary of a few traumatic events in my personal and family life. One of them was discovering a lump in my thyroid which ended up being malignant. This added to the other fateful events that have fallen on Memorial Day weekend turn the holiday into a dreaded event. I see the date get closer and I shiver…

My dearest friend Indira put it this way when referring to her own non-celebratory anniversary: “Anxiety? Of course! …it is the anniversary of a tragedy… you can't erase it because you have the visible scars to remind you of the aftermath. Then there is the “what if,” the dreaded what if. So we turn to our faith, put it all in God’s hands…we pause, act and move on.”


Be still

Do what we have to do

Let go

I am working on the “letting go” part. I have not been able to totally “move on” yet…and that’s what’s frustrating. I don’t want to exhibit lack of trust…but I still become nervous and allow the “what ifs” to torment my soul.

That’s why I must continue to surround myself with all things Christ, especially when tragic anniversaries come around. I need to remember that this world is not my home. Everything here is temporary and my goal is to get to the place above where I will finally be with God…like Paul commands us:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. Colossians 3: 1-3

I love this passage because, if you read it carefully, you’ll see how Paul reminds us that all these things, even though they seem like future events, have already happened from God’s perspective. We are already there…therefore, our current trials and problems truly are momentary…just for a little while longer…

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 
 2 Corinthians 4: 17

This dreaded weekend, therefore, I pray I do hang on to this truth revealed in the Word and truly begin to let go.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The Quiet Confidence of the Low-Maintenance Woman

Very recently (today to be precise) I read a blog post titled: “The blessings of being raised by a low-maintenance mother” by blogger, Brooke Romney, and it made me think quite a bit. However, it did not make me think about my Mom. It made me think about my female friends…it made me think how there is something reassuring and comforting in women who are not over-glammed. That something is confidence.

Like most women, I am surrounded by an assortment of different female friends. Many are dear acquaintances, some are co-workers and a select and precious few are close friends…sisters in the daily walk of life even if separated by physical distance. This article made me concentrate on all of them and on the art of friendship.

Being a friend is a calling and every woman needs them. We need all kinds of friends. We need the hyper bubbly and cheerful as much as we need the introspect and pensive. We need the adventurous as well as we need the cautious. At times we need the impulsive and go getters, and some others we need the planners and thinkers. We need the glamorous and we need the low-maintenance.

There is no right way to be a friend. There are just different types of friends. It all goes according to personalities. God created us all and as we discover, He has a gloriously diverse taste that moves Him to color this world with divine variety in everything He does. And with each variety comes uniqueness. It is no different in friendship. There are many ways of being a friend…but today I’m thinking of those who walk around displaying the quiet confidence of being low-maintenance.

In this supersized culture that surrounds me, I crave moderation. In this over-stressed and hectic road I travel, I seek tranquility. The pressure to be who I am supposed to be leaves me longing to just be myself. There are a handful of people I can achieve these desires with…and oddly enough…they are all the low-maintenance type.

My not over-glammed friends live their day-to-day lives firmly grounded on what truly matters and that gives them the confidence to postpone the glamour for the special occasions. They have the confidence to step outside their homes with lip-gloss, a pony tail and a smile. They have the confidence to embrace me at my lowest, and not be embarrassed of walking alongside someone in disarray. Their example teaches me the importance of the core…and that the core of humanity is the spirit. The way they conduct themselves reminds me how the riches of this world are not found in the material, but in the soul. They show me how making memories is more important than making money and how being present is crucial if we want to make a positive impact on those we love.

There are many ways to be a friend, and we all need a wide variety of different kinds, but today I dedicate my thoughts to the under-glamorized female. Their example is worth to imitate.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well. Psalm 139: 14

Monday, May 18, 2015

A Glimpse of Heaven

I am a summer girl…no doubt about it.  At the first sign of warm weather, my spirit seems to wake up and fill with life again!  I don’t even turn the air conditioning on much at all.  I just open up windows throughout the house, enjoy the heat and the breeze…close my eyes, and pretend I’m at the beach.  One of my favorite things to do in the summer is to go outside, sit on my deck (that’s why I would love to have new patio furniture…I had to add this line just in case my husband reads this post J ) and take in the sounds, the smells and the feelings of summer.    

After a harsh winter that seemed to never end, we have been blessed with a warm spring, so, after my daily dose of allergy medicine, I am able to step outside my back door into what feels to me like a glimpse of Heaven.

According to the Bible, Heaven is pure perfection because it is the dwelling site of the Most High.  Heaven is the place where Jesus stands as our Judge and Advocate (Acts 7: 56).  Heaven is the place of eternal worship of God (Revelation 4: 11).  Heaven is Paradise (Luke 23: 43, 2 Corinthians 12: 1-4).  Heaven is the place of no more pain, no more tears and no more fear (Revelation 21: 1-4).  Then, to me, Heaven is also a permanent 75-degree, low humidity, sunny day for all eternity!

That’s why, like a friend not too far from here posted a few weekends ago while doing her devotions outdoors, I’m “loving life on the deck. God has been incredibly good to us.” Being able to enjoy life on the deck is, indeed, a sample of the riches that God so lavishly showers us with.  As we walk through the rocky roads of life, enduring rough winds, steep mountains, rain pelting down, scorching sun or unbearable snow, we get to a point where Our Loving God sets us under His wings and like a huge umbrella, in His shadow we can recover our strength, enjoy the warmth, the breeze, the sunshine and safely breathe again.  That’s what a moment on a deck represents to me…a moment of respite when I can cast my worries onto Him and enjoy the glimpse…

I pray the Lord will continue to bless us with sunny-warm days and that we may praise Him for His Love and for the promise of Heaven while still walking on this Earth…in all kinds of weather…

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Figuring Things Out

We often get a kick out of Dylan’s ways to express his thoughts because he always has a … say … different way of articulating what’s in his mind. He processes things differently from most people and sometimes this difference may be misconstrued as slowness. We know that he understands things, but the road he follows to achieve such understanding is not always a straight one. For the most part, Dylan’s path to learning and figuring things out is often filled with detours, stops and turns. Generally, conclusions and learning come after much discussion, explanation, manipulation, repetition and exploration usually under the guidance of someone else. Here and there, however, he surprises us with out-of-the-blue, self-derived wit and insight…and such moments are always truly delightful.

Such was the case a few days ago. The four of us were driving back home, I think it was from church…I can’t remember. All I know is that it was the weekend and the weather was really nice. As it happens, there is a restaurant in our town which is rather popular with bikers. Fair weather weekends mean rows of glamorous bikes parked along our little main street and long lines of people on the sidewalk waiting to get in this establishment. Anyway, a few miles out, sitting at a stop light before taking the last turn to head into town, a motorcycle was standing at the light next to us. Dylan was on the back seat, and as a typical 9 ½ year-old-boy would, he stopped what he was doing and began admiring the shiny and loud bike. A young couple was riding on it. The young man was at the wheel and a beautiful young woman was behind him, hanging on to the rider, enjoying the sunshine, the breeze and the ride.

As we expected, they headed our way too. So once the light turned, with a loud roar, the biker moved on ahead of us, girl’s reddish hair waiving in the wind. At that moment, Dylan broke the silence to say: “I know why guys like motorcycles…” Dan and I mumbled a distant "uhumm" at the same time, as Dylan proceeded to say: “guys like it because on a motorcycle they can say to a girl, ‘hey, you want a ride?’ and then the girl gets on the bike and then she has to touch his belly.”

After a split second, Dan and I looked at each other and burst out laughing in delight. I mean, really? I didn’t know what to say. I just kept laughing aloud. Dan asked him, “so you think guys like that, huh?” Dylan replied with a firm, “yeah.” Then Dan said to me, “he is figuring things out, isn’t he?” Yes, he is, I thought…He is figuring things out on his own. Soon he won’t be a little boy any more. Before I know it, he’ll be all grown up, and I’ll be left behind wondering where the years went and how this stage in my journey through motherhood so quickly disappeared.

This Mother’s Day morning I meditate on being a Mother…a role that for years I doubted I would play…I think of all that it entitles. I too am figuring things out. Like Dylan, usually I have difficulty learning and understanding because I require special guidance from the Holy Spirit, matured Christians, pastors and friends.  Some other times, however, the Lord allows me a level of discernment that shows His direct intervention.  Like right now, He is allowing me to figure out that even though being a Mother comes with lots of pain, heartache, headache, backache, stomachache and many other aches…it also provides moments of incomparable, unmeasurable, pure joy to the soul...and that is a window to see how He loves me too.

I praise the Lord for Dylan and Grant, my two boys, certainly each ... one of a kind.

Happy Mother’s Day to all…

Saturday, May 9, 2015

The Taste of Mother's Day

How does Mother's Day Taste?
Well, some may think it tastes like home.  It tastes like home-made dishes, fresh bread and cinnamon rolls.  Some may think it tastes like a favorite restaurant, a picnic or a cookout.  Yet some may think it tastes just like vinegar and salty tears.

Mother’s Day is around the corner once again… The stores dressed in pink cards and spring flowers give the day a special flavor that reminds me of cotton candy. A bitter-sweet holiday, nonetheless…for some it tastes really sweet, indeed, but for many others the bitter end of the stick is all they get.

For some it’s nothing but the reminder of a dearly loved Mother who has either long ago or very recently left this Earth. For others it represents facing the cruel reality of a Mother who has never really been around neither love them well. Yet, for others it is the finger pressed against the deep wound caused by the unfulfilled longing for children of their own. There are also some whom in the midst of motherhood themselves, realize it is not what they dreamed of. Truth has set in and the magic of child-rearing becomes the heavy burden of a job filled with worry, chores, and never-ending stress. And of course, there are still some others who get to experience many of the above combined in a neatly wrapped package.

I don’t seek to be a dark cloud in the midst of a wonderful celebration. I just want to acknowledge the pain that is around me and in me as another Mother’s Day approaches. The Lord has blessed me with Mother figures who fill the immense void left by my Mom fifteen years ago, and for that I am grateful. He has also given me the privilege of being a Mother myself. But I still struggle with many burdens of my own…I still walk alongside loved ones who are extremely alone and experiencing very deep wounds and limping in terrible pain…

For all of us who get to taste more of the bitter part of Mother’s Day than the sweetness of it, I would like to offer the Word…the very breath of God in His Word to bring us back to life and open up our eyes to His face. May we be reminded that, though it is hard to fully understand the unique kind of love that God has for us, He does love us. May we be reminded that even though He, at times, seems far away, He is constantly here…

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you!” Isaiah 49: 15

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

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds. 
Psalm 147: 3

The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit. Psalm 34: 18

So, whether it tastes like lemon meringue pie, cheesecake, pasta salad, roast beef, burgers or jalapeno peppers...I pray the Lord will shine His light on you today and that He will allow you to feel His presence walking beside you, even if you're traveling a long, lonely, rough way.

Happy Mother’s Day!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

National Day of Prayer

To celebrate National Day of Prayer, my home church decided to have a 24-hour prayer vigil for the nation.  Members of the congregation were encouraged to sign up for one hour to dedicate it to praying for our country, so I signed up...and even though I was hoping to get a decent time...I was left to pick 5:00 a.m. ... sigh.. (I know...I am the worst...but I get grumpy if I don't get enough sleep! or food, or time alone, or money, or vacations...the list is very long)

At any rate, I actually woke up before the alarm rang.  I went to a quiet room.  Well, everything was quiet at that time.  I meant, a room where I could be alone, light a candle, read the Bible and think without disturbing anyone. Once there, my mind immediately went to 2 Chronicles 7:14

if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

I considered the current state of our dear nation, and began to think about freedom.  A thought came to me about how the freedom that Christ gives us is not so much the same freedom that we seek in this country.  To begin with, today, here we seem to seek freedom from God and from all things godly and wholesome.  I'm not going to get into how we can see that in our every day lives because we can each come up with our own examples.  But I believe it is safe to say that our society is seeking the freedom to experiment with the natural order of things.  We are bending rules and breaking the balance of nature.  We walk on the path that leads to the fulfillment of our own selfish desires and carnal tendencies showing great disregard for the spiritual realm...

The freedom that Christ gives is the freedom from sin and its bondage. Christ's sacrifice on the cross broke the chains that kept us in the prison of our sinful nature so we can enjoy holiness in Him.  The great paradox is that part of gaining Christ's freedom involves holding every thought captive as we set our hearts and minds on all things above.  His freedom is not the freedom to pollute ourselves with our worldly pursuits.  Christ's freedom is the freedom to surrender to the whispering of the Holy Spirit so He can redirect our passions away from our destructive instincts and into eternal life.

The freedom that Jesus purchased for us on the cross is the freedom that breaks me away from my own fallenness.  

Left to my own devices, I would inevitably choose darkness...all the time...In Christ, I am freed from darkness and called into His Light.

It is a freedom not of human terms.  It isn't the freedom that permits me to follow my natural depravity, which ultimately leads to bondage.  It is the heavenly freedom that allows me to go against my nature and leads me to eternity with God.

That's the freedom that I seek.  That's the freedom we have forgotten as a nation.  That's the freedom I pray for today.  I want to be on the side of God when it is all set and done...and there is no way I will ever choose that side on my own.  The only way is if Christ reveals Himself to me and puts me on the path that goes against the current of this world.

The hour was up and I had a couple of pages filled with my thoughts.  I headed back to bed, but the alarm rang and it was time to get up.  The day had begun...

I pray you spend some time thinking about our beloved nation today, offering it to God and praying He will heal it with His loving Word.

Lord, mend the fractures of this land. (Psalm 60: 2)

He is a jealous God.  (Deuteronomy 4: 24)

And He will throw down those who oppose Him and His fire will consume them like stubble. (Exodus 15:7)

May God give this nation collective discernment so we can again find the path that leads to Him.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Love is...a son...

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3: 16

This beloved verse became alive, truly alive in me thirteen years ago, when my son Grant was born. After years of dealing with the deep heartache of infertility, God granted us a son. The sparks of magic and the pure joy of holding him in my arms for the very first time has yet to be surpassed by any other experience I have had so far. A son was born to us a day like today and our lives have never been the same.

I didn’t know that I could love this way…it is beyond compare…and to think that God gave His One and Only Son away, to be sacrificed for those He calls His own…it is completely unfathomable. Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! (Romans 11: 13)

I can’t express the emotions in my heart when I look at my very special young man…I worry night and day about his life. I carry thoughts of him in my mind at all times. I look at the world that he will inherit and I shudder. I despair when I contemplate what may be ahead for his life. But then I remember that if Our Heavenly Father considered it important for Grant to be here against all odds, He must have a plan for him…and we know His plans are always perfect. So, even though I don’t know what the future holds for him, I trust the One who holds the future, and I know that the Son of the Most High holds my son by the hand.

Today I just want to breathe in the love that is to have a son…and praise Our Lord for his life so far. Let’s continue the adventure call trusting God and have some cheesecake in the meantime.

Happy Birthday Grant!