Friday, February 26, 2016

Friday, Check!

This week is an example of those times when I wish hyper-sleep would be possible. A myriad of medical tests and doctor appointments added to the regular work, home and school stress is causing me to reach my snapping point. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself: “I wish I could just close my eyes for a week.”

This is how I felt this past Monday. All I wanted to do was to shut my eyes tightly and open them when it was all over…


It is all over now.

Time doesn’t stand still, Praise the Lord! For the days flew by, stressful and hectic as expected, but now the week is coming to a close and so is the anxiety, Praise the Lord!

This morning we went through what hopefully was the last test of this round. I had my whole body scan done as part of my yearly checkups for thyroid cancer. It is not the most pleasant thing in the world. For the duration of the scan which is about…I don’t know…somewhere between 40 minutes and an eternity…I’m strapped to a very narrow table with this board not more than a couple of inches from my face. Eyes closed and muscles twitching, I was able to allow the Holy Spirit to guide me through the whole ordeal. He gave me words to cling to, words that brought healing and calm to my soul. I was surprised when I open my eyes to see light! As it happens, up above, on the ceiling, there is this nice panel with a beautiful scene that makes you feel like you are looking at a gorgeous clear sky with puffy clouds and beautiful cherry blossoms around the sides. The Grace of God on display.

After the test was done, we were led to a consultation office to wait for the radiologist. I was bracing for another long wait since that’s how it was last time I was there; but much to my surprise, the young, white-robe-clad doctor showed up at our door in less than 10 minutes. The fact that he didn’t really even come into the small room all the way gave me a sense of reassurance. From the threshold, he uttered the greatest words in medicine: your scan is completely normal. The Grace of God opened up like a great lake, right in front of me to dive in.

As I drove back home, a song popped in my head, Limitless by young Christian Artist Colton Dixon. As soon as I got to my computer back at home, I searched for the song and bathed into the calming waters of God’s Grace and Peace as I listened to the lyrics.

We are limitless, because You Are Limitless!

We praise Him if we win. We praise Him if we lose. In all circumstances we are reminded to rejoice, for the secret is that we can do all things in Him, who gives us strength!

Praise be the God who Heals. May He show us the way that He wants us to go to fulfill His plan for our lives. May all the gifts He has given to us be used for His Kingdom! With thanksgiving, I close this week…another one for the books!

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”
When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”
Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” Matthew 19: 23-26

Thursday, February 25, 2016

I have discovered, actually, I have thought about this just very recently, that the Christian life could be explained as a class in which we have to learn lessons, complete tasks, finish assignments and take tests before we graduate.

As a teacher, I plan and present my lessons for every new subject. I give my students activities to practice this new subject in class. Then I give them homework and finally I give them a test which ideally solidifies the acquisition or mastery of such subject.

As it happens, students go through the process of learning differently. The gifted few breeze through everything and excel without much effort. They are focused and have great study habits. They take notes and when they are in class they ARE there. The majority, however…struggle. They are either not paying attention in class, not taking the subject seriously or become easily distracted or completely lack the ability to focus. Many students need more practice and repetition. They could also benefit from more homework and often they could improve if they were able to retake the test. The thing is that I don’t have time to slow down. I have a certain amount of material that I have to cover and unfortunately, some students just fall through the cracks at the end and not pass.

In the classroom of the Christian life I am that student who needs more time. I get easily distracted with the things of this world, which causes me to lose focus, which in turn makes me feel like I’m lost. Often I’m the absent minded student who walks into the wrong classroom and becomes paralyzed for a split second. You can see his/her eyes quickly scanning the entire room searching for something recognizable, until it hits him/her…and they shamefully turn around and leave as swiftly as possible. That’s me. I don’t know how many times I’ve walked in the wrong room just because I forget to look up and keep my eyes on what really matters.

Like most students in my classes, I am so slow to acquire new knowledge that I need as much practice and repetition as I can get every time I’m learning a new lesson. And worst of all…I usually fail the tests.

The good news is that Our Heavenly Teacher is not like our earthly teachers. He is not ruled by time constraints and one-size-fits-all curriculum. Time belongs to Him and He designs custom-made learning plans for each and every one of His children individually. From our human perspective it may seem as if we are failing. But from His Divine perspective He knows how much practice we need. He gives us the appropriate amount of homework to help gain more understanding. Occasionally He makes us write a research paper, and He has already scheduled all the re-testing we need in order to pass the current class and move onto the next one.

As I face yet another re-take of a test in my current class of learning to trust Him, I feel confident that I am getting better at this lesson. He has taught me, with each re-take, the importance of prayer, reading the Bible and calling out my brothers and sisters in Christ to lift me up in their prayers. I have learned the value of being still, and my eyes have been opened to the negative effects of my uncontrollable anxiety-induced, border-line-hysterical actions on those around me. God has taught me the need to call out the enemy aloud and the importance of claiming His victory as mine!

Now that I think about all these things, I’m also learning not to get frustrated with my students when they are not learning as fast as I’d like them to. Most people do not have the ability to learn new things fast and easily. I need to make sure I extend to them the grace I have been given…for none of us are worth such gift, not even one.

His master replied, Well done, good and faithful servant!
Matthew 25: 23

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

I Will Trust in You!

"Trust In You" by Lauren Daigle

Letting go of every single dream
I lay each one down at Your feet
Every moment of my wandering
Never changes what You see

I’ve tried to win this war I confess
My hands are weary I need Your rest
Mighty Warrior, King of the fight
No matter what I face, You’re by my side

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

Truth is, You know what tomorrow brings
There’s not a day ahead You have not seen
So, in all things be my life and breath
I want what You want Lord and nothing less

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

You are my strength and comfort
You are my steady hand
You are my firm foundation; the rock on which I stand

Your ways are always higher
Your plans are always good
There’s not a place where I’ll go, You’ve not already stood

When You don’t move the mountains I’m needing You to move
When You don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through
When You don’t give the answers as I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

I will trust in You!

There is not much more I can add to this. This song by the young Christian artist Lauren Daigle expresses all I want to say at this moment. It is my anthem for this year of trust. There are many mountains I wish the Lord would move for me and many paths I’d rather not walk…but His ways are higher and His plans are perfect, so I will trust Him, for He is my Refuge and Strength. He is my Rock and my Steady Hand. My future is His past. He knows the rest of the story because He wrote it. And we know it too…it ends in Victory!

I will keep the Word that is interwoven into this song with me, in my heart and mind, as I walk through the waters that He did not part, as I climb the mountains that He needs me to climb, and as He answers my prayers the way that would make me develop ample confidence in His decision making and in His plans. And I will remember that through it all, He is right by my side.

I will trust in You, Lord!

Trust in You Video

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Monday, February 22, 2016

Monday, Check!

I don’t know about you, but for me, sometimes, when something I dread very much approaches, I just wish I could go to sleep and wake up when it’s all done and gone…

The inevitability of the dreadful event gives me such a sense of helplessness that I don’t want to be awake for it. I see the fear thermometer rising to out-of-control levels and I don’t know what to do to stop it, other than to dream about the possibility of sleeping until it either bursts or normalizes.


This week is an example of those times when I wish hyper-sleep would be possible.

A myriad of medical tests and doctor appointments added to the regular work, home and school stress is causing me to reach my snapping point. I don’t know how many times I’ve said to myself: “I wish I could just close my eyes for a week.”

The reality is, however, I cannot just sleep away the week, neither I should.

The reality is that no matter how scare I am, I need to be awake. I need to be awake to see God’s hand guiding me through my turbulent times. I need to be awake to see Him at work in me. I need to be awake to seem Him shine!

I am clinging to His promises for a perfect plan that is not going to harm me or my loved ones, but rather bring us hope and a bright future! I’m clinging to His Word that promises a shelter from the storm. I’m clinging to His Strong Tower and trusting in His Absolute Power!

I’m fighting off my desire to hide and sleep with the promise of His Victory and the hope of having His Light in me.

I’m trying to shake off my instinct to shut my eyes with the truth that keeping my eyes open will bring me a renewed awareness of His presence which brings ultimate peace.

I’m refusing to focus on the avalanche of events approaching, and instead, I’m planning to take it just one day at a time. I’m resisting the enemy’s call to fear by reading the Word and staying in prayer.

I’m choosing to trust Him this week and every week of my life, be it hard, easy, pleasant or rough…I will trust Jesus the Christ and stay awake to see Him Shine!

This is why it is said: "Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you."
Ephesians 5: 14

Monday, February 8, 2016

He Meets Me in My Weakness

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 
 Romans 8: 26-28

This passage speaks to me in so many levels. Today, it speaks to me in the depth of my weakness. I absolutely find myself at a loss at this moment for I know not how to pray. Just when I think I’m getting it together and smooth sailing is here, the waters get choppy again and I lose my center…I stumble…I fall…I can’t see the horizon.

I feel like I’m on a very small fishing boat and that the waves keep pounding it, water coming in, wind against me…exhausted…totally weak…

This passage, however, becomes a beacon of light that helps me regain some sense of direction. Through my blurred vision, I am able to distinguish the flashing, intermittent beam that guides me to safety. The light comes to meet me at my place of darkness…The Holy Spirit comes to meet me in my weakness.

I don’t know what I’m doing, but reading these blessed words, I realize it doesn’t matter. He intercedes for me. God’s will is perfect and in it there is room for His Mercy, which scoops us out of the engulfing waters when we think we’d drown. And the hope, that is The Lord, reminds us that He will make all things work out in the end.

We have been called to this earth for a purpose… and even if we don’t understand it now, we can rest assured that the purpose is good, holy and glorious.

In the meantime, let’s keep pressing on. Let’s allow the Holy Spirit to minister to us in our weakness. Let’s not lose sight of the Light!

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Friday, February 5, 2016

Chairman of the Board?

As I´m ready to begin a new day this morning, I read my devotional and once again, My Heavenly Father placed in my hands and right in front of my eyes exactly what I needed to see:

“The most persistent choice you face is whether to trust Me or to worry. You will never run out of things to worry about, but you can choose to trust Me no matter what. (Sarah Young’s Jesus Calling)

Just yesterday my dear prayer warrior, Glenda, reminded me that we are “president and vice-president of the Worry-Wart Club.” I laughed at that, but not only because it was funny…but mainly because it’s true. Actually, I think I am definitively one of the co-chairs, if not THE Chair of that Board…that’s for sure! Like the devotional points out, I will never run out of things to worry about…how pathetic is that! That is such an unfortunate statement about my life and I’m so tired of it! I’m tired of falling to the same old hole of fear every time. I’m ashamed of myself…

The good news is that Jesus, in His loving kindness, doesn’t let me dwell in that hole. Instead, He gently whispers in my ears the reality that it is not by my power that I achieve victory over my struggles. It is by His power and strength alone. It has nothing to do with what or how I do things. It is about what He has already done for us. It is not I, but He who has overcome…I just get to ride on His triumphal parade.

Therefore, if I am indeed a co-chair or perhaps even the president of the Worry-Wart Board, it doesn’t matter because it is not about me. It is about Jesus and about the infinite and unfathomable truth that He can take a deeply and fully flawed person like me and choose her to make His dwelling in her heart.

That is the scandal of His Grace: that when it comes to salvation, it doesn’t matter who we are or what we do. What matters is who He is and what He has already done.

 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,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.  Psalm 46: 1-3

I will trust the Lord!

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Bible Verses to Keep Us Grounded in Times of Fear

Christ is the One who fuels me. Praise the Lord, it is through the strength of Jesus that I am able to move…because I have NO strength on my own.

…for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose. Philippians 2: 13

I say these Sacred words to myself, though sometimes I don’t listen…but I will continue for, as the Word dwells in my heart, Christ goes with me to the battles of my daily walk.

Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31: 6

When I falter, He reminds me:

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41: 10

When confronted against my fiercest enemies, He assures me:

For the Lord your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ Deuteronomy 20: 4

I hang on to His promises, for they are true. I rely on His word and hope, for He tells me:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10

As I go into that field of testing, anxiety and uncertainty, I will hear Jesus calling me and saying:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11: 28

My hope and my trust are in You, Lord, My Sustainer and My Redeemer!

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

God's Presence and HGTV

This year, my third grader, Dylan has been struggling at school quite a bit so we have had to cut many of his privileges. As a result, he´s found himself curled up with me on the couch watching HGTV a lot lately. We have been watching ourselves some Fixer Uppers and Flip or Floppers to our hearts content. Dylan particularly enjoys watching things being demolished while I daydream of a new bathroom.

The other day, after a completely exhausting afternoon session wrestling with math and reading, I was done! I could not explain what anything else meant even if I were to make a million dollars doing it. I needed to get away for a while, so I sat down in front of my computer ready for some mindless browsing, when little did I know, Dylan was standing right next to me. “Can we watch some HGTV?” He asked. “You go ahead and watch for a bit. I have to work” (of course, “work” was code for you-are-not-allowed-to-bother-me-until-I-get-up-from-this-chair). He turned around disappointed and dragged his feet to the TV room.

It wasn’t a few minutes later when he was back, and with the saddest expression he could muster, he said: “Love it or List it is just not the same without you…”

I did a double face palm half to hide a major eye-roll, half to hide the fact that he had truly cracked me up and the other half to hide the fact that I needed a few seconds to think what my next action would be…wait a minute…that’s one too many halves…no wonder we’re struggling in Math.

At any rate, without much consideration, I made my decision. I got up and walked to the couch with Dylan by my side. As we curled up wondering if the couple would stay or go…I thought about similarities between my relationship with Christ and my relationship with my young son. Except that in that case, I am like the clueless 10 year old boy who can’t understand anything and constantly asks: “what does_____ mean again?” and Christ is nothing like me as a Mom…other than that, it’s the same!

Sometimes I wonder how frustrated Jesus must be with me. He painstakingly explains things to me in His Word and repeats His promises and how they are true…but I still don’t get it. I still insist on doing things my way. I still fall into despair. I still give in to fear. I still think that I’m supposed to carry my burdens alone. No wonder I’m exhausted!

We are not meant to be on our own. We need the warm embrace of those who love us and most of all, we need the comfort of the presence of He Who Makes All Things New surrounding us at all times. We can’t last a second outside of His reach. Nothing is the same without Him.

Therefore, I want to be as persistent as Dylan in seeking to be in Christ’s presence at all times. I don’t want to ever be too far from Him Who Sustains me.

Back on the couch, glad to be sitting there with my baby boy, free from explanations and heavy thinking, I said aloud: “I bet you they’re going to love it.” To which he replied: “What does list it mean again?”

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Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Do You Feel Different?

Yesterday morning I had to go to the hospital to have some blood work done, and since I had to leave really early so I could get back in time for my first class, I had to take Dylan with me. I hated having to wake him up and drag him around, but there was no other way. The good thing is that he usually doesn’t mind hanging out with me. He is my little buddy…never too far away.

We had a half an hour drive each way, so we had the Christian music station on. Dylan has become quite the Contemporary Christian music connoisseur, so he can usually sing along to most tunes while in the car. Toby Mac is his absolute favorite, though…but he knows many others of the Christian artists popular on the radio too.

I was distracted, anxiously trying to hush nervous thoughts that were loudly bouncing in my mind, when the song “He Knows” came on. “That’s my favorite Jeremy Camp song,” Dylan said pensive. Then he added softly: “Every time I hear it, it makes me feel different…”

Dylan amazes me. Just when I think there is nothing but mush inside his cute head…he proclaims such depth that I don’t even know what to do or say.

God speaks to me through Dylan’s simplicity very often…and that moment was no exception. My young son pointed out to me the fact that coming face to face with the reality that God knows us should make us feel different. His heart-felt statement made me look at my current challenges from a new perspective. It reminded me that because God knows me and all my issues, I am different and my emotions need to acknowledge that.

I am not just some dust in the wind (pun probably intended). I am someone grounded on the Solid Rock. My name is written on the Palm of the Hand of None Other than the Maker of Heaven and Earth. He has known me and my struggles since before they and me materialized. And He loves me.

If I don’t feel different after remembering such truth…I have missed the entire point of what it means to be a child of God.

I know my wrestling match with anxiety is far from over, but with each day God finds new ways to make His point on the lessons on trust that He is teaching me. And with each day I feel more and more confident that I, indeed, am starting to finally feel the difference in my soul.

The Spirit of God has made me; the breath of the Almighty gives me life. Job 33: 4

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