Friday, December 29, 2017

Trust enough to Surrender?

With the end of the year approaching, I started thinking about the word that I want to use to label 2018.  I couldn't decide what word I wanted to use, so I thought, maybe if I look at the last two year's words, I could, perhaps find inspiration.

The last two words I used were:


They totally make sense together.  The two words work in an continuum. Usually, trust allows us to surrender.  The question that lingers is:  Do I trust enough to surrender? 

I think of my most priced, valuable, irreplaceable, important, meaningful, dear, beloved possession I may have...then...I think about surrendering this possession...could I do it?

Among all the precious gifts God has given to me, my husband and my sons are right there below salvation.  Could I give them up?  The thought alone makes me shudder in fear and anxiety.  The trust involved in surrendering them is not of this world.  The trust necessary to open my hands and let them go must come directly from the Divine, otherwise, I'd keep a grip so tight on them that I'd asphyxiate them.   

In order for me to open up my hand and offer them to the Lord, the measure of trust needed for such an effort must emerge from sources beyond what I can produce.    

I think of Mary, and how she must have held that little baby in her arms, thinking she could never let him go...but...knowing, the day would come when her heart would be pierced by the pain of His departure.  

In Your hands I commend all that I love, because it belongs to You, Lord...they are with me only as a loan.

Trust and surrender go together.  What next?


The peace that surpasses all understanding.  And that's the word I'm looking for.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

Ready or Not...Christmas Came and Went...

Wrapping up the Christmas Season at Phipps Conservatory in of our favorite places to marvel at the cheer of the moment.

I can't believe today is already December 28th.  I woke up this morning and the entire Christmas season seemed just like a foggy memory of something I saw in a movie a long time ago.

It  always goes by so fast...I try to grasp it as it moves along, but I can't help feeling it just slips by...I try to tighten my grip on it, but Christmas always seems to drain through my fingers, leaving me empty and blue...


I climbed out of bed, and decided to organized my Christmas season pictures into one folder in my computer, as to capture it for a little longer.  The process was surprisingly cathartic.  A spark of joy was ignited in my heart as I filled the new folder called Navidad 17 with priceless pictures that bring back to life the memories we made this year.  From our traditional visit to Kraynak's after Thanksgiving to our trip to Pittsburgh right after Christmas, the file is full of wonderful gifts that the Lord gave us this year.

While transferring photos from my phone to my laptop, the Lord gave me a chance to re-live the season so I would realize it hadn't slipped through my fingers after all.  He also gave me another chance to remember that the season is not about what we do.  Christmas is the celebration of an event that changed history.  God becoming flesh with the purpose of saving His creatures from eternal damnation and the added bonus of having Him dwell in His children as a Helper and Guide while still walking through this valley of tears and sorrow.

Emmanuel, God with Us... the presence of the Living God in us... That is a truth that cannot be altered regardless of how fast time moves or how distracted we are.

Baby Jesus is finally born.  In our home, we leave Baby Jesus out
until Christmas morning.  The kids have to find Him.  Whoever
finds Him, places Him in the Stable and then starts distributing
the presents.
Thank you, Lord, for another Christmas.  Thank you for another opportunity to celebrate your presence and the gift that You are.

The wonder of Christmas Morning.
Christmas with the Dieters is always fun!

I love this little tree and the items around it.  The horse and the chair were made by Dan's paternal Grandfather a long time ago.  The wooden box where it stands is from the factory where his maternal Grandfather worked for many decades.  The "Santa Stops Here" sign is a present from Rosa.
Grant made Mama proud many times this season!

Our traditional visit to the Kraynak's Christmas display...the boys felt too old for this this year, but they didn't want to give it up just yet...Praise the Lord for that!

Wonderful Church Moments!

We saw Dylan's first trumpet performance!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Am I Ready for Christmas? Well... it depends...

It is December 23rd...
I'm pretty much all done with the shopping and I have watched most of our Christmas movie collection, but I have no cookies baked, nothing is wrapped, I didn't send any Christmas cards, and there is no snow falling...

Am I ready for Christmas?  I guess it depends...

I'm home with my kids, husband and dog, still wearing my pjs at 10 a.m.  I like that...but I have work to do for a class I'm teaching online and I'm trying a different menu for our Christmas-season meals which could go either way.  I'm chilling, but I'm stressed out at the same time.  How is that even possible?

Am I focusing on all the wrong things?  Perhaps...

Far away, in Panama, my sister is distributing gifts to underprivileged children in our hometown, but here, I'm over-stuffing my own kids', already fully-stuffed stockings... Outside the weather looks just yuky.  I don't like rain at Christmas.  Never had it while I was growing up in Panama...don't like it when it happens here.  It's supposed to be snowing! C'mon!

How inconvenient!

Wow, am I spoiled, or what?


One quick glance at that very first Christmas reveals how through all the greatests inconveniences: pregnant without biological explanation, trekking to an out-of-the-way-good-for-nothing-tiny-town, no room at the Inn, facing early labor, and having to give birth at a stable assisted by a husband who is still wondering what in the world is going on, surrounded by cows and sheep, greeted by outcasts...lit by a star...and I get slapped back into reality.  Inconveniences are the roadmap to the fulfillment of God's will.

Am I ready for Christmas?  I am getting there.  I'm getting ready to receive the greatest gift ever given...and not all the cookies, snow, shopping, cooking, jobs, inadequacies, disappointments in the world can compare to the joy of the Christ born.

Friday, December 22, 2017

Am I Ready for Christmas? I don't know...Maybe?

Once again, I wake up distressed thinking I'm not taking time ... setting time aside, to meditate on Christmas... I feel as if I'm the Inn-keeper, telling Joseph: "sorry, no room."

I don't know what to do?

Then, I read my morning devotional and I believe that the Holy Spirit pointed me to a way of looking at my dilemma from a different perspective:

"it's not about 'doing' ... it's about receiving."

I know, I feel like Charlie Brown's sister, Sally in that little Christmas short where she is writing a letter to Santa or a school theme, I can't remember, and she says:  "Christmas is about the joy of getting." 

That short episode always makes my kids laugh! and me too...but this morning, I wonder if Sally is up to something?

As I think about my morning reading and what the Holy Spirit prompted me to meditate on, Christmas IS about the joy of getting.  It's about the joy of receiving the living Christ in or soul and renewing our mind to encounter His presence within us.  It is about the joy of receiving the Light that will guide us to an eternity with Him. 

"Come to Me and rest in my presence...the mystery of Incarnation is beyond your understanding.  Instead of trying to comprehend...learn to follow and fall down in humble worship..." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling)

Praise and Worship, that's what Jesus wants.  "My Lord and My God!" the words of the apostle Thomas when He finally realized Jesus was God...(John 20:28)  That's all He wants.  Jesus wants us to have that Thomas-moment and worship Him in humble adoration with whatever we've got... a little drum, a beautiful voice, a broken down spirit, a patched up heart, a frazzled mind, an anxious doesn't matter.  We don't need to "do" anything...we just need to come to Him in adoration and humbly accept His gift...the only gift that truly matters...

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Are You Ready for Christmas? I'm Trying to...

"Do not be weighed down by the clutter in your life: lots of little chores to do sometime, in no particular order.  If you focus too much on these petty tasks, trying to get them all out of the way, you will discover that they are endless.  They can eat up as much time as you devote to them." (Sarah Young, Jesus Calling daily Devotional)

Yep, when I read these words a couple of days ago in my morning devotional, I felt the gentle hand of conviction poking a finger right to my side. 

My life seems so cluttered right now, I have a hard time finding my mind.  I feel unsteady, as if walking on slippery rocks (pun totally intended :)   But really, often I have so much to do that I feel paralyzed.  It's like when I walk by Dylan's room.  I know better than to look inside.  Sometimes, however, my eyes don't obey my brain's command, and they turn as I pass, boom! I can't help but stop in mid step. 

The shock is so grave that I can't move.  In that room, it is impossible to discern what is what.  When Dylan is in bed, you really have to sharpen your focus to be able to find him in the midst of the mess.  He rolls himself in his blanket like a burrito and the entire experience of trying to locate him is like one of those I Spy games.

I wonder aloud, "how can that kid even find his thoughts in that room?"

Then I remember he is only 12 years old.  He doesn't need to be concerned with petty things such as thoughts.

My point is, I don't want to be consumed by clutter, either material or spiritual.  I want my house to reflect the openness I want in my soul.  I want open spaces where I can walk freely and breathe clean air.  I want my soul to have plenty of room to not only allow the Baby King to be born in me again this year, but to allow Him to stay and dwell in me forever, not as a faded background that gets pushed to a forgotten corner throughout the year, but to stay at the foreground, as the Guiding Light of every step I take.

I don't want my head to be filled with the endless tasks I feel I need to fulfil.   I want my mind, spirit and soul to be focused on seeking His presence in my life every day.

I want to take the advice I read in Sarah Young's devotional and:  "Instead of trying to do all my chores at once, choose the ones that need to be done today.  Let the rest slip into the background of my mind so HE can be in the forefront of my awareness."

May these few days before Christmas bring an opportunity for us to Seek Him first and let all else fall to the background.  Let us make room for the King!

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Ready for Christmas? Not Even Close!

I've kept thinking about the question:  "Are you ready for Christmas?"

I get it anywhere I go this time of the year, from busy cashiers at the stores to frazzled family members and dear friends.  Like I said yesterday, the question is meant to ask whether I'm done with all my shopping or not.  This last couple of days, however, I have felt a certain tension in my spirit every time anyone asks me this question.  I believe the tension has to do with the fact that I am truly NOT ready...not even close!

The reason I'm not ready has nothing to do with shopping.  Thanks to my shopping is pretty much all done.

The reason my soul shudders when I get the dreaded question is that I have been so preoccupied with the urgency of the mundane brought up by every-day-insignificant-emergencies, that I can't believe it is December 20th of the year that I'm leaving my 40s behind, and I had just, literally, just five minutes ago, for the first time, actually taken time to read the lyrics of one of my favorite Christmas Carols:  "Do You Hear What I Hear?"

Another question pops into my mind:  "Have I ever been ready for Christmas?"

The thing is that last night, at the High School Christmas Concert where Grant played in the Jazz Band and Concert Band very beautifully by the way, the Chorus Director introduced the song "Do You Hear What I Hear?" before the performance by saying that the song was written in 1962 during the Cuban Missile Crisis as a call to peace.  The thought intrigued me. 

I didn't grow up with American Christmas carols.  But I've always liked this one because of the tune and melody.  The lyrics, however, I could never really decipher.  I knew that they were talking about things as big as other things or is it "bigger"?...but I was never sure if it was a star as big as a pike? Or if it was a shepherd-king or a boy dancing in the sea? Then, how did the Snowman from Rudolph end up bringing silver and gold? 

My point is, I did not know what was going on in this song until just now.

I woke up with the song in my head...the tune, that is...then I remembered what the choir Director said last night.  So, I looked up the lyrics and I was in awe...I realized what a wonderful son this is!  Instantly, I grew to love this song even more...but now for the right reason...for the content and the truth that it brings forth, rather than for the frills and the tune.

Lord, I've been so busy taking care of things that have no eternal consequences or dazzled by the frills and superficial glitz of the season, that I have forgotten the reason and the purpose for the celebration.  Thank you for bringing me closer to being ready to acknowledging the miracle of Christmas and Your sacrifice...Your gift...the gift of Your presence among us.  Allow me to proclaim this truth with a voice as big as the sea, and to be as brave as the mighty king to say:

Said the king to the people everywhere
Listen to what I say
Pray for peace people everywhere
Listen to what I say
The child, the child
Sleeping in the night
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light
He will bring us goodness and light

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Are You Ready for Christmas?

The last few days have been truly crazy and hectic.  The regular semester FINALLY ended on Friday then, tomorrow, Wednesday, the Winter Term begins.  As the genius that I am, I decided to teach a course during the Winter Term.  It's an online class so I have been frantically working since Friday to organize and display all the material needed for students to begin tomorrow.  I'm still not done.  And I'm so focused on the stuff I still have to get done, that I'm having a hard time being able to relax and realize that I have done a lot...and reality...there isn't much left to do...

Then, of course, I get all distressed once I start thinking about Christmas!

My distress comes not so much from the fact that "I'm not ready," but from the fact that "I'm NOT ready."  You know what I mean?

When people ask me: "are you ready for Christmas?"  I know they are truly asking if I am done purchasing all my presents.  I say stuff like: "mostly, yes...I'm ready."  (And the only way I actually am ready in that respect is thanks to However, that question stirs conflict in my soul.

Am I really READY?

Of course I'm NOT!

I have spent hardly any time meditating on Scripture and on the significance of the birth of my Savior!  Of course I am NOT ready!

In Sunday School last week, it was mentioned how those who are in Scripture KNOW...

We were pondering the question of whether or not Mary and Joseph "knew" what was going on.  The conclusion was that, perhaps they did have an idea.  They were most likely taught the Word and especially all the prophecies that dealt with the coming of the Savior.  So we think that maybe, yes, they were definitely taken aback  by the news of Mary's Holy they pondered...the Holy Spirit was able to help them find peace in the knowledge of fulfilled promises.

By the time Mary visited Elizabeth, the Holy Spirit had already brought up to the front of her mind all the knowledge of Scripture she had learned in her short life, as she was able to offer her song. Prompted by Elizabeth's greeting:

“Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” Luke 1: 42-45

Mary went ahead and proclaimed:

“My soul glorifies the Lord
 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.” Luke 1: 46-55

To be able to "magnify" the Lord in such a way, the Word needs to be hidden in our hearts and souls.  

Those who know the Word...KNOW.  That's why Elizabeth knew.  That's how Mary accepted.  That's why the dream Joseph had was not dismissed as yet another nightmare.  That's how we will know that that He is Emmanuel.

Christmas is almost here.  Let's become ready by going back to Scripture and fixing our eyes on Him who came and will come again. 

I'm going to dedicate the last few posts before Christmas to Christmas.  Then, I will continue with my comments of the book You Are Going to Be Okay, by Holley Gerth.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? The Truth

“We all need to go to bed early tonight!” Yep! In our household, that would solve a lot of our issues. We need to be more intentional about our bed-time…about keeping it an early, bed-time. That is an example of a plan, as author Holley Gerth advices in her practical guide to guarding our hearts.

She says that after we have identified what we are feeling as well as the source of such a feeling and what we need to do in order to feel better, it’s then time to make a plan. The plan should also try to meet the need as soon as possible, even if in a small way, but if not, at least it should aim toward meeting the need in the near future…I’m telling you, the cookie/chocolate thing…that is a plan that will solve many of my problems in a most efficient way…

But anyway…the part that I really loved about this whole segment was the paragraph that she titled: “Reclaim Truth.” It’s so simple and so profound that I’m going to reproduce it here because I believe it could be beneficial for you to read, in case you haven’t yet:

“Finally, when our hearts are unguarded emotionally, the enemy will try to take advantage of the opportunity. You will probably hear some kind of lie that goes along with what you’re feeling. So, after you’ve worked through these steps, ask God to show you what truth you need to believe right now.

Your emotions might be saying, “you are unloved,” but God says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Your emotions might be telling you, “you have completely blown it,” but God says, “I work all things together for good for those who love me.” (Romans 8: 28)

Your emotions might be insisting, “you have no hope,” but God says, “I have a hope and future for you.” (Jeremiah 29: 11)”

I love it! The truth…that’s what we need. The truth of God’s unique kind of love for all of His children…the truth of His Faithfulness despite our unfaithfulness…the truth of His constant presence regardless our inability to perceive it…the truth of His sacrifice on the cross…the truth of His forgiveness… the truth of His resurrection…the truth of everlasting life in Him.

No matter how disciplined and intentional we are about following all these steps and recommendations on a daily basis...what we need is to seek Him first, His Kingdom, His Truth...all the rest will be given unto us according to His perfect will...His perfect plan.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? Hangry??

“Mama, can I wash my jersey?”


“Hey, where’s my wallet?”

“Probably in your backpack.”

“No, it’s not there. I already looked…”

“Mama, I forgot my saxophone at home, can you bring it to the school?”

“Mama, what soap do I use?”

“I found my wallet.”

“Where was it?”

“In my backpack.”

“Mama, how do I get this washer started?”

“I don’t need any help with math.”

“Then, why do you have a D?”


After naming our feelings, author Holley Gerth advices to pray that God helps us recognize the source from which those feelings and emotions are emerging. In page 76 of her book, she refers to the “immediate why,” the current issue, not the long-term, long-ago cause. Why am I so irritable right now? Why am I annoyed at my kids at this moment? Why did I just lose it? In my case, probably because I’m tired and hungry.

The author says:

“An immediate why is not about the past. It’s about right now. It’s valid at times to analyze those deeper “why” questions. But I firmly believe that it’s best not to do that on our own – and especially not when we’re stressed.” (76)

Once we identify the “immediate why” of our current emotional state, the next step is to “figure out what I actually need.” (76)

This is a very practical advice which can save a lot of bitterness and ugly moments in my house. If I can pause long enough to name what I’m feeling and find out what is triggering it at that moment, I can do something about it!

Some examples of needs could be: sleep, food, companionship, help, or truth. In the book, the author says to ignore our mind’s first suggestions such as “cookies, slapping someone or running away to Hawaii,” but I have to say that a cookie might save lives in my case. So, I might not slap someone (too hard) or run to Hawaii, other than in my imagination, but I might go take a nap if I’m tired, or I might have a bite to eat if that’s what’s causing the issue at the moment. I suffer from “hanger” (anger while hungry) so sometimes, a cookie might solve it!

But anyway, we will continue with the rest of the steps on the next post. Right now, I have paused long enough to identify that I am hungry, so I’m going to go and have a piece of chocolate…

Am I Going to Be OK? Give Me a Break

Activating my God-given, internal stop light called the Holy Spirit, by hiding more and more Scripture into my heart takes time and intentionality. However, it is so very important for volatile people like me to not skip this step. The Spirit floods me with the Word at exactly the right moment when I need it most. He creates a perfect “flow” of Bible verses to settle my nerves and allow me the strength to pause long enough so I can name the feelings I’m experiencing.

Naming the feeling is important because it gives me a level of control and ownership over them. Naming something or someone is a powerful act of authority. He/she who names the pet, owns it, right? He/she who names her emotions, may be closer to be able to control them. In other words, if we are able to exert authority over our emotions, we have most of the battle won…because we would be more apt to master them, rather than letting them master us.

None of these things are automatic, though. They develop over time and through constant prayer and intentionality. That’s where patience comes in handy. Praying without ceasing for the Lord to grow the fruits of the Spirit within us is a must.

It’s not magic…it’s life. Therefore, let’s not be so hard on ourselves that we stop trying…I’m talking to myself here…

The thing is that we should not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. (Galatians 6: 9)

When we have set backs, and we will, instead of letting the enemy win as we quit; we need to persevere, repent and pray! We need to give ourselves a break and move on.  Otherwise, we would be letting the enemy gain more of a foothold in us…

So, let’s not despair and continue to lift up our heads and our hearts to the Lord of All who reigns in our lives and is the King of all that we are. He will not leave us in the pit. He will pull us out again, and again until that glorious day when we see Him face to face.

Am I Going to Be OK? Stop Light

Dylan has already made about 5 Christmas lists. I find them everywhere. He just wants to make sure I don’t miss them, so he makes several versions and strategically places them all over the house. Grant, however, is a different story. He doesn’t even want to make a list. I have to guess what he might want. He keeps saying he doesn’t want anything. I love that about Grant, he is really not into the materialistic aspect of this world. But that doesn’t help me! I need to get him something, so I spend a lot of time searching through the mother of all online stores:

Gosh…what don’t they have in there? Sometimes I think that if it isn’t in it doesn’t exist! It’s awful! But I’m hooked. I’ve been searching and searching, until finally I think I found a few things I think Grant might enjoy. Now…this searching, brings me back to the book You’re Going to Be Okay…

In the book, author Holley Gerth says that naming our feelings will move the emotions we are experiencing into a more rational/reason-oriented part of our brain, which will help us tame them a bit. In my case, however, how do I make myself stop long enough so I can examine my feelings and identify them?

I need a stop light.

Hmmmm…. Where do I get one of those for my heart? I wonder if Amazon has it?


Maybe, there is an app for it?

Nope again…or should I say: “not yet”? Someone will come up with some kind of app that sounds an alarm in your phone when it senses you are getting “emotional.”

Anyway, that won’t work for me, since I don’t have my phone in my hand 100% of the time…soooooo…what then?

My stop light is incorporated into my soul. It’s called, The Holy Spirit.

But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. John 14: 26

I just need to get out of the way and let Him do His thing!

First, I have to ingest Scripture and commit it to memory. I need to be able to proclaim that:

I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you. Psalm 119: 11

That way, I will know that,

…the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it. Deuteronomy 30: 14

Then, I will be able to,

…Let us examine and probe our ways, And let us return to the LORD. We lift up our heart and hands Toward God in heaven… Lamentations 3: 40-41

So, the promise of Christ could blossom in my heart:

If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. John 15: 7

Becoming familiar with the Bible and actually memorizing verses is a practical way for me to be ready as the Holy Spirit brings them to my remembrance during times of trial.

Memorizing Scripture is one of the most powerful ways to activate the internal stop lights in our hearts. That way, the Holy Spirit brings it back even without us consciously thinking about it at the right moment when we need it. But if we don’t have it memorized, it would take the Spirit through unnecessary rerouting which could be avoided if we had Scripture already abiding in us.

Please Lord, open my mind so Your Word may dwell in my heart forever.

Am I Going to Be OK? Inside Out

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4: 23

Where do we start doing our part when it comes to guarding our hearts?

I believe Holley Gerth has good advice on practical steps we can take in order to guard our hearts and begin to restore the balanced and healthy flow of everything we do.

In her book You’re Going to Be Okay, the author talks about how it is helpful and important to first, identify our feelings. We need to name our feelings, put them into objective, concrete words. There is a long list of different feelings on page 75, but there is also a short list of basic 6: anger, disgust, fear, happiness, sadness and surprise.

While I type this list, I can’t help but to think of the movie Inside Out. I really like that movie. We see there these basic emotions represented, except surprise. Also, in the movie, happiness is Joy. I like that better! The basic premise of the movie is that as we mature, our emotions get more and more complicated because they blend into one another. When we are adults, sadness is often not just pure sadness, but a mix of fear, disgust and also joy. The movie also furthers the idea that often, joy comes after sadness:

Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. (Psalm 30: 5b)

Naming the feelings, therefore, becomes more and more challenging as we grow up. It’s not so clear-cut to be able to isolate and identify our emotions at any given circumstance. We have to do a lot of soul-searching in order to realize what really is going on inside of us. We totally have to bring the inside all the way out.

And that, might be hard for someone like me. Someone who lives in a constant state of rushing and hurrying has a hard time stopping to ponder.


But just like the traffic lights on the streets of my small-town attempt to keep the mid-December traffic flowing, I need to install and activate traffic lights in my heart, so I can too keep the flow balanced. How do I do that? Let’s explore that idea in the next post.

Am I Going to Be OK? Traffic

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4: 23

“A steady, continuous stream of something.” That’s basically what my friends Merriam and Webster say is the meaning of “to flow.” In the current context of being just a few days before the end of the semester, and less than 2 weeks before Christmas, when I think of “flowing,” I picture traffic. At this time of the year, traffic is everywhere, even in an otherwise sleepy college town like this one where I live. When traffic moves in a nice, constant and continuous stream, life is not too bad. Even though the streets are busier than usual, it all “flows” so nobody is too frustrated.

As soon as there is an interruption to the smooth flow of traffic, everything changes. Young people start revving their car engines. Not so young people’s faces distort in the rear-view mirrors. Some at the end of their ropes even blow their horns (this is kind of funny because if we were in Panama, the sound of loud horns is just the everyday background soundtrack…but around here, some people have never even heard the sound of their own car’s horn).

My point is, once traffic flow is interrupted by whatever, the flow of life is disrupted. All becomes out of balance. You see some cars on the other lane moving and think, “why are THEY moving and we’re still stuck in here?” You move two inches only to come to another halt and wonder what &%$#@(I try to bite my tongue here, but sometimes…yikes) is happening up there? You start looking at the clock. You fiddle through the car radio as if looking for someone to tell you what’s going on? You hyperventilate. You start reviewing all the things you are going to be late for. Your hands start sweating. Your jaw starts tightening. Your knuckles become white as you grip the steering wheel. (I know I’m saying “you,” but what I really mean is “me”)


It’s simple, when the flow is disrupted, life gets out of whack.

I think that’s what author Holley Gerth is telling us in chapter 4 of her book You’re Going to Be Okay. Guarding our hearts means, in a way, allowing the Holy Spirit to be Lord over our lives in a way that the flow is balanced, constant and uninterrupted. The first aspect of maintaining such a flow is to pay attention to our emotions.

Praying that the Holy Spirit gives us mastery over our emotions is the first step to gaining self-control. Rather than letting our emotions control us as they run wildly, stumping over everything they run into, we pray that the Holy Spirit gives us discernment and awareness, so we can react to circumstances with wisdom and kindness.


Please Lord, help us to guard our hearts in a way that the flow of our emotions is balanced and loving so we can express our feelings in a way that is not damaging to others or ourselves.

The next posts will deal with the advice author Holley Gerth gives us in order to take the necessary steps from our end to begin to restore the healthy flow in our hearts.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? Too Many Feelings

A while ago, Dylan was joking about the two of us having way too many emotions. I don’t know where he heard that expression, but I agreed with him. He and I are very similar that way. We might not show them in public often, but we are a bundle of nerves and feelings…actually, everyone is!

I mean, really! The reality is that everyone feels. The thing is that we all have different ways to express what and how we feel. A person without feelings is, simply, not a person!

I remember at the beginning of our relationship, I used to call Dan a robot. He was just SO cool and collected all the time. I have to admit that often I did things just to see if he’d lose it a bit. Later I realized that he has just as many feelings as me. But he just doesn’t wear them on his sleeve the way I do.

God designed us to have feelings and emotions. They are God-given qualities. They remind us that we are alive. They are precisely what make us human. And that is exactly what God wants us to be: alive humans!

Had He wanted a bunch of heartless, reason-only, analytical beings, He would have created Himself a bunch of C-3POs…though even he shows emotions, that’s why we love him, right?

And that’s exactly it! How would we ever love if we couldn’t feel anything.

God is Love! Of course, He couldn’t create us any differently. In all our imperfection, God granted us a heart big enough to love. What a gift!

Too many emotions? Well, yes! I’m human! What do you expect? Out of control at times? Yep! I’m not fully grown yet! Unable to keep the heart guarded? Right again! That’s why I need a Savior!

I’ll try to get back to what the book says regarding how to guard our hearts tomorrow, for today, I just wanted to celebrate the fact that feelings and emotions are a true gift, and as such, I receive them and express my gratitude to the Almighty who granted them to me and to all of us.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? A Guarded Heart

Guarding the heart is like guarding a place that holds something of great value. Author Holley Gerth says, it’s like when a King sets up the defense system in his castle. There are guards, walls, motes, crocodiles in the motes, electrified fences, motion-sensing alarms, metal detectors, x-ray and sonogram machines at the gates, satellite-intercom systems, weaponized drones with cameras feeding video to the head of security 24/7, navy-seal/secret service officers wired for constant/instant communication…well, you get the drift…I’ve watched all the James Bond movies, so I know what I’m talking about!

If you think about it, all these defense mechanisms have three basic roles:

1. Keeping harmful things out

2. Letting good things in

3. Letting the king go out into the world to spread cheer

This is kind of what guarding the heart is like. According to the author of You’re Going to Be OK, guarding the hear is “an in-and-out flow we carefully watch.” (71) However, she says, we run the risk of sometimes, focusing way too much on only one of the three main roles, that we neglect the others, causing our heart-guarding efforts to become unbalanced.

When this happens, then, four other things develop:

1. We go on heart-lockdown: we close up. Nothing comes in or out of our hearts.

2. We open for all business: there is no protection. We let everything in.

3. Exit only: we allow some stuff out, like giving our time and resources, but we don’t let anyone or anything come in.

4. Entrance only: we get all we can get from others, but we don’t give anything.

This sounds extreme. The trick is not to see them as static categories. In my case, I’m not just one of them. I have experienced a combination of these situations at times. I’d say that in my case, I’m more of a person who tends to go into lockdown/exit only mode. For instance, often I feel insecure about my adequacy as a Mother, Wife, teacher, you name it. In those moments, I go into lockdown. I isolate myself. I project my own rejection of self onto others, and I don’t let anyone in or out. I shot down. Like a storefront in a ghost town. There are other times, and I see this happening quite a bit with my students, I give my time and dedication to them in the classroom; but I stay distant. I don’t want to get too close to them, because I don’t want to be involved in their personal dramas. I call it “protecting myself.” However, it seems more like a deliberate attempt to keep the relationship as a business transaction: impersonal.

I call going into these modes, “guarding” my heart. However, I’m learning that what I call “guarding” is actually a disruption of the flow.

A guarded heart shows the following characteristics:

1. When a heart is guarded, emotions are felt and expressed appropriately.

2. When a heart is guarded, relationships are based on give and take.

3. When a heart is guarded, Jesus is on the throne.

We will continue exploring what the author means by these three characteristics, so we can start recognizing what a truly guarded heart looks like. Let’s continue this tomorrow. Hopefully, we’ll discover some useful stuff in here.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK?

HALTing the inner Hulk is not an easy task. It took years for me to become who I am today. Therefore, it will be silly to assume that reading a few chapters of a good book will change me. Regardless of how great the book, You’re Going to be Okay by Holley Gerth is, the Holy Spirit is the One who changes us. If we could right all of our wrongs on our own, Jesus would be just a historical character from long ago, whose inspirational life impacted many, but that would be it.

If we could save ourselves, who would need the Savior?

Realizing that my lack of self-control at times might be caused by hunger, anger, loneliness or tiredness is a wonderful tool that could help me be more intentional about not hurting others with my outbursts. HALT cannot save me, though. Only Jesus can. However, God inspires and endows His children with amazing gifts, so they can use them to help others on the way. I believe the Lord has placed this book in my hands as a tool that He knew I could use and apply because it speaks the language I understand: honesty and vulnerability.

So, I don’t proclaim the methods and tactics in the book to be the miraculous cure for common humanity. But I believe the Lord can work miracles through anything.

HALT is not magic, but, like the author says, it can potentially help me realize that my defenses are low, which means, that my heart is unguarded. Therefore, is a good tool to use so I can then proceed to taking the necessary steps to guarding this precious thing God has given to me and to all of us.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4: 23

So, let’s see what the Holy Spirit has to say about guarding our hearts through Holley Gerth’s writing as we remember that,

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. 
Psalm 73: 26

Monday, December 4, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? Mommy Hulk

“You yell so much, that sometimes I don’t think you love me…”

Dylan actually said this to me not too long ago…and it broke my heart.

My emotions and feelings are so out-of-control so often, that I am ruining the most important job God has ever given to me: Motherhood. For some reason out of my ability to understand, God decided that I should have kids. Selfish, self-centered, control-freaks should not be allowed to have children. However, here am I. God’s wisdom is unexplainable to the human mind; therefore, the paradox of a person like me being a Mom is something that I am not going to question. My emotional reality, however, does not excuse my actions. I cannot use the “God made me that way” line as a copout for my behavior. Change is in order.

The change I need is within my reach, because it has to do with the Fruits of the Spirit, and since the Spirit lives in me, His fruits will, one day, hopefully soon, bloom in my soul and be evident in the way I act.

Change can start with small/very practical steps…

Earlier we saw how, we can help the brain think different by pausing, praying and pondering. Now, in chapter 4 of Holley Gerth’s book, You’re going to be Okay, she talks about the heart, the emotions and the feelings that cause us so much of our pain. She says that “in times of stress our defenses are down.” She continues, “we each have a threshold for what we can take before it becomes really tempting to do something we know we shouldn’t. Stress takes us across that threshold much more quickly.” Then, she brings up a method called HALT which describes how this works. “In essence, when we are Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired, then we’re more likely to make poor choices…remembering HALT helps us pause and recognize that we’re vulnerable in some way at the moment…and we need help of some kind. It might be rest, a good meal, or a conversation with a trusted friend.” (70)

Just like with the triple P: pause, pray and ponder, HALT can be used effectively if we are intentional about it.

Instead of blowing up because Dylan left garbage on the couch, I need to pause and think about why I am so irritated by this: Am I hungry? Knowing me, the answer to this question is inevitably YES! Am I angry? Well, what a silly question, of course I’m angry! That’s the whole point! I’m the Hulk of all Moms!!! I AM ALWAYS ANGRY!!!! Am I lonely? Often, I do feel terribly lonely, even in a crowded room… Am I tired? This time of the year, I am always tired…

Being aware of my basic emotions at the moment helps me realize that the irritation I’m experiencing due to the display of candy wrappings, empty bottles and crumbs on my couch is mostly provoked not by Dylan’s actions of negligence; but my own unattended feelings.

What to do?

First, EAT! Many afternoons I get home without having had lunch and, before I do anything else, I should just eat. It is amazing how many arguments could be skipped if I just do this. This will help with me not being so angry to start.

Second: breathe…

Third: look around and realize the blessing of my family. I am not alone!

Fourth: go look at the disaster area and see if the flame of irritation is still ignited. Then, walk away and lay down for a few minutes if just looking at the mess makes my blood boil. Nobody ever comes to visit us, so who cares if the couch is full of garbage for another 30 minutes. Also, that could give Dylan a chance to clean it up without me having to say anything to him first! Yeah, wishful thinking, but hey, it’s the season of miracles, right?

Of course, this type of behavior requires discipline, self-control and intentionality…concepts that only come once we have dealt with deeper issues that have to do with guarding our hearts. But that will be for next time. Right now, I’m going to HALT the Hulk before Dylan comes home…so I can begin to erase the pain from him thinking I don’t love him…

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Am I Going to be OK? Everyone Hates Me

I am the reason everyone in my house is miserable…

That is a thought that has been puncturing my heart quite insistently in the last few…years…making me bleed, consuming my time and energy, depriving me of joy.

I cower in shame, covered in a blanket of darkness knitted by my own destructive, self-inflicted guilt. I don’t even know how to knit…but, there I am, daily knitting this blanket around me, aided by the enemy, who seeks to entrap me in this cocoon of death that slowly asphyxiates me and separates me from the Only One who can save me.

Jesus called in a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.
Jesus said to them, “Take off the grave clothes and let him go.” John 11: 43-44

This is the good news!!! When we belong to Christ, He does not leave us in the tomb! He comes to us. He weeps (John 11: 35). And He rescues us. He calls out our name, and at the sound of His voice…we rise up again, still wrapped up in the grave clothes, but alive…in His presence…free.

This is the kind of lesson that author Holley Gerth tries to teach us in chapter 3 of her book, You Are Going to Be Okay. This chapter deals with the powerful minds that God has endowed us with, as she teaches us valuable tactics to gain some semblance of control over our thought-live, so we don’t have to stay in the darkness of the tomb all of our lives.

Like we saw earlier, using the Fruits of the Spirit as a measure to test our thoughts, she wraps up the chapter by reminding us that it is possible to replace our toxic thoughts because Christ has equipped us to do so in order for us to not have to walk around with our grave clothes on after He has brought us back to life.

Every time we are bombarded by nasty thoughts, we are to pause, pray and walk away to ponder whether the thought that is tormenting us is of God or of the enemy. And the way to do that is by isolating the thought, then, testing it against two pieces of Scripture: Philippians 4: 8 and Galatians 5: 22 this way:

“Is this a thought that’s true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent, or praiseworthy? Is it a thought filled with love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control? If the answer is yes, keep on thinking it! If the answer is no or not completely, then replace it. Look at it from a different perspective. Think of it from a God’s perspective.”

For example:

I am the reason everyone in my house is miserable…

This is the type of thought that when tested against the questions above, the answer is a resounding NO to all the instances.

How can I replace it? How can I look at the issue from a God-perspective?

Maybe if I pause, pray and walk away to ponder, I could perhaps, rephrase the issue in this way:

I am worried about the happiness of my loved ones. It seems that I don’t know how to contribute to making their lives better, and that often, my actions and words may actually cause them to be unhappy. But I don’t know how to avoid that. I take responsibility for what I have done, and I pray, Lord, that you will help me improve. Please show me the way to becoming who you need me to be in order to love well all the people You have entrusted to me. Please forgive me for my short-comings, and fill me up with the Fruits of the Spirit. I don’t want to dwell in the dark tomb anymore.

Your turn now...what thoughts are tormenting you at this point in your life?  Pause, pray and ponder.  Put them to the test and if you need to, replace them.  Praised be the Lord for giving us those who help us take away the grave clothes off so we can go and be free. 

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? The Tools of the Spirit

Continuing with the fruits of the Spirit dilemma and how ashamed I feel most of the time the phrase is uttered, the core of the issue has to do with my self-centeredness.  I think it all revolves around me.  Therefore, I think I have ultimate control over all I do, feel and think.  This is one of the biggest fallacies the enemy uses to manipulate us and make us walk away from Our Lord… when we feel in control, we don’t need a Savior… we don’t need a Lord… for we are both…

I really think the approach Holley Gerth uses in her book You’re Going to Be Okay is really interesting and ultimately, very useful.  She explores the mind and the command to transforming it in a way that seems very practical.  I particularly appreciate the reminder that we want our thoughts to be controlled by the Spirit, not by our flesh.  One very realistic way to accomplishing this state is by intentionally testing our thoughts against the Fruits. 

She offers a little chart with the fruits of the Spirit on the left, matched by a list of what I’m calling the fruits of self-annihilation, on the left, preceded by the question: “Does this thought bring …?” We are supposed to think of a currently pressing thought and then check or circle all the applicable items from the two lists in the chart.  I’m going to reproduce the chart here, because I believe it is super useful:

o   Love
o   Joy
o   Peace
o   Patience
o   Kindness
o   Goodness
o   Faithfulness
o   Gentleness
o   Self-Control
o    Isolation
o   Depression
o   Anxiety
o   Striving
o   Condemnation
o   Shame
o   Doubt
o   Harshness
o   Self-punishment/self-indulgence

“If all the checks are o the right, we are to consider that the thought is NOT from God.  If some of the checks are on the right, there may be some truth, but there are lies too.  If all of the checks are on the left and the thought aligns with Scripture, it’s of God.”

I mean, really?  How simple is that?!  I don’t know about you, but using the Fruits of the Spirit this way changes them from an anxiety/dread-inducing list of out-of-my-reach attributes that I desperately need, but don’t seem to ever get, to a tool directly given to me by the Most High to help me gain control of my thought-life and begin to allow the Holy Spirit to start the renewing of my mind!

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is —his good, pleasing and perfect will. Romans 12: 2

Praised be the Lord.  His ways are not my ways, but His ways are perfect!

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? The Fruits of the Spirit

How we display or not, the fruits of the Spirit in our lives is a way to measure our spiritual maturity.


Yep, double gulp, actually.

I have to admit that hearing this idea did not fill my heart with joy. When our dear pastor developed this concept at church last Sunday, I sort of cringed. I wanted to become invisible. I felt my face turning red with the blush of shame. I thought I perceived a subconscious, split-second glance coming my way from the members of my family sitting next to me on the pew. However, I don’t think it was them, really. I think it was me, having a momentary out-of-body experience, staring back at my pitiful self as an outsider…judging myself in silence.


I do not feel like I do a good job displaying the fruits of the Spirit in my life. Therefore, I am not a matured Christian. I am in the infant stages of my spiritual walk with Christ. I might not even be crawling, if you ask me… I’m a baby on her back who can’t even lay on her side.

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law. Galatians 5: 22-23

I struggle to display some, more than others, but the truth is, I struggle with all of them. I can’t honestly say I display any of them in any significant way.

I have meditated on them. I have prayed that God grows them in me. I have tried to incorporate them in my life. I have failed in all my attempts.

Notice how many times I have said “I” so far. I stopped counting at 20 times.

Jon Courson’s Bible commentary says, on this topic of the fruits and “I”: “Too often we want the fruit of the Spirit in our lives so we can be satisfied, so we can be happy, so we can be fulfilled. But that’s not the purpose of the fruit…fruit bearing is not for our own satisfaction, but in order that others might be nourished from the fruit produced in, through and often, in spite of us. Focus on yourself, and you’ll be miserable. Be a lover of God and of people. Get your eyes off your problems and pains, your tears and fears. Look for ways to refresh, satisfy and bless others… and you’ll find the secret of life itself.”

It’s all about remembering that it is not about us. Living by that concept, however, requires a transformation of our mind that will allow the shift on perspective. Change is difficult. I have spent almost half a century being self-centered. Changing that fact is not either easy nor quick. I am part of the “microwave-instant-right-now” generation, like Holley Gerth calls it. Therefore, I tend to think that change should happen as soon as I decide it’s time. As she so clearly states in the chapter about the brain in her book You Are Going to Be Okay, change simply doesn’t happen that way. The brain is not wired in a way that the transformation of our way of thinking and how we handle events could happen instantaneously.

Of course, God can work a miracle in us whenever and in whichever way He’d like to. He designed our brains, however, so He knows exactly how it works. Therefore, the demands that we impose on ourselves are just that: self-imposed, unrealistic demands. We need to give ourselves permission to be imperfect. When we lift our demands for perfection…when we stop making it about us, God moves forward. Releasing ourselves from our own traps is a transformation in and of itself. This transformation is not easy or quick either. Therefore, the exhortation to praying without ceasing. Being intentional about praying as we step aside of our own lives to allow the Holy Spirit to move forward in the messy garden of our souls is of the utmost importance.

Holley Gerth’s exploration of the brain in chapter 3 of this powerful, little book is extremely interesting and revealing. Her strategies on how to change the way we handle our circumstances and how we think about them is very thought-provoking. Her idea of using the fruits of the Spirit as a tool to measure our thought-live against, in order to rationally collaborate with the Holy Spirit in the transformation of our mind is life-altering. I will focus on this particular aspect of chapter 3 in the next post. In the meantime, hang on to Christ and thank Him for the healing power of His presence at all times.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? I’ve got nothing going for me…

Another hectic day full of stress is over. I lay my exhausted head on the pillow and instantly, like a programmed back up system, I begin to go over the insane events that happened just before bedtime. The screen of my mind fills up with horrible scenes. The scenario plays back as if on repeat: I yell. Those around me duck for cover. I feel ashamed. I feel like a failure. I feel like I’ve got nothing going for me. I feel like I’m the worst everything: the worst friend, the worst co-worker, the worst teacher, the worst aunt, the worst niece, the worst daughter-in-law, the worst cook, and most of all, the worst Mother, the worst Wife and the absolutely the worst Daughter of the Most High…


Then, I remember Holley Gerth wrote something about this in her book You’re going to be Okay:

“Stress and bad days seem to empty our hearts and our hands. We think, “I’ve got nothing… or at least very little.” But the reality is, you still have a lot going for you…When life presses in on us, we can lose sight…sometimes it helps to ask someone you trust, ‘What do I have going for me?’ You might be surprised by the answer. It could be your great sense of humor. The way you faithfully pray. Even that your new hairstyle looks fabulous on you. Whatever the answer, big or small, the real point is to begin to shift your perspective.” (P. 45)


There is so much good stuff packed in this little paragraph, I don’t even know where to begin…

The thing is that our circumstances can wreak havoc in our souls, hearts and minds. In my case, when I’m having a particularly stressful day or I’m going through a challenging situation, I lose it. My temper becomes so short that Daisy Duke’s short-shorts look like Capri-pants. I lose it. I lose it. (You know how in the Bible they repeat things for emphasis, yeah, that’s what I’m doing here). Then, the result of my emotional surge is inevitably always a combination of remorse, shame and guilt…a devastating combination.

I have a hard time ever thinking I have anything going for me, let alone on those moments of hysteria. During the aftermath of my losing it, I feel like there is nothing good in me at all. That is a trap from the enemy, though. In my case, that is one of the biggest lies he uses to entrap me into a pit of darkness.

The truth is that, even though: As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one;” (Romans 3: 10) Like the author says, we do have a lot going for us! And I mean, A LOT! Regardless of the fact that nobody can claim that he/she is righteous and good on his or her own, we do have the righteousness of God in us:

This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. Romans 3: 22

Therefore, the lie of the enemy is unmasked, and his deceit is revealed once we put it to the test of the Word.

The thing is that we are very quick to forget. That is why the advice the author gives in this section is so valuable: ask someone you trust to remind you of what you’ve got going for you! We all need a support group. We all need people around us who can help us stay on track. We are not designed to be alone. We were created to be in community. Look at the Trinity! Our God, Himself is in a divine fellowship within Himself. It is not a surprise, then, that He created us to live in fellowship. He knows that is the most effective way of existing.

Church can be the most important source of friends we could ever have! In my case, God has given me the blessing of placing me in a church where I have found other sisters in Christ whom I can reach out to always, but especially during my times of trial and fire…and you know what the miracle is? That they actually walk with me through those trials and fires. That is the beauty of Christian sisterhood.

We should seek those relationships, and if you are lacking them, I believe, the place to start finding them is at a Bible preaching place of worship, where it is evident that imperfect people are followers of a Perfect God, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? Peace is a Person

It’s the day before Thanksgiving and I’m home with my boys, enjoying a peaceful, cold, November afternoon. My belly is full and so is my fridge because Grant, Dylan and I spent the entire morning working on our Thanksgiving banquet. Ever since the grandchildren stopped being babies, leftovers at the Dieter Family Thanksgiving dinner became non-existent. Therefore, I have been making a whole meal for us here at home, so I can enjoy the holiday without having to worry about cooking for a few days. This year, the boys were interested in helping with the cooking, so it was very special.

Now, I’m sitting here with joy in my heart and peace in my soul, which brought me back to the book You’re Going to be Okay by Holley Gerth. Today, I wanted to meditate on one of the many wonderful concepts that the author offered in chapter two: You Are Stronger than You Think. In this chapter, she walks through several of God’s Names, but the one that touched me the most was: Jehovah Shalom: The Lord is Peace. (Judg. 6)


Peace… from my perspective, peace is the most sought-after treasure … and in this chapter, I came to the realization that Peace is not a thing, a place or even a state of mind. Peace is a Person.

“While external circumstances may be difficult, it’s the inner turmoil that often wears us down most. We worry. We fret. We lie in bed and stare at the ceiling…We think if things were only different, we wouldn’t be so uptight. But then, when things change, the worry stays-we just switch the focus.” (43)

I read that, and I had to pause…I had to pause because that is so true. I never heard it articulated, but it is completely true in my life. I get done worrying about something I didn’t even need to worry about in the first place, when thoughts of other things that may be bad pop into my head, transforming what should have been a season of peace into a fleeting moment, too short to even appreciate.


And that is because my peace is based on my circumstances. Circumstantial peace is not real. It’s an illusion. It’s unstable too because circumstances change with every breath we take. Therefore, peace cannot be based on anything that could be attained, grasped, purchased, manufactured, manipulated, shaped, controlled, packaged or locked away. Peace is not a thing. Peace is a Person:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16: 33

Jesus Himself is Peace. He is the Prince of Peace:

For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9: 6

He is Peace made into flesh, and He is with us at all times, regardless of our situation or circumstance…He stands with us in quiet, slow, lazy, November afternoons when everything is right with the world, as well as in dark, stormy, frightening nights when the world is at war inside our souls.

Peace is a Person who lives in us, not a thing to be attained.

He is stable. He is strong. He is always with us. And most amazingly of all, He loves us. To whom then, shall I fear?

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Am I Going to Be OK? I am an Overcomer!

Well, like I mentioned in an earlier post, one of my dear, dear, dear friends and sister in Christ recommended the book You’re going to be Okay by Holley Gerth, and it has been such a blessing to me, that I decided to blog about my experience reading this wonderful little book. Of course, I’m not just going to re-write this book here on my blog. I’m simply going to meditate on the things that touch me the most. Since the book is proving to be really speaking to me, I anticipate this series to take a while.

Today, I wanted to write about the segment where the author talks about the fact that we are overcomers. We are! Jesus Himself told us so:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16: 33

I’m not a native speaker of English, as you can tell, so I find myself consulting my good, old friends Merriam and Webster quite often. Today, I looked up a quick definition for the idea of overcoming. Here’s what I found:

1. to get the better of in a struggle or conflict; conquer; defeat: to overcome the enemy.

2. to prevail over (opposition, a debility, temptations, etc.); surmount: to overcome one's weaknesses.


Pretty powerful word that is, isn’t it? To say that Jesus overcame the world is totally verifiable, acceptable and unquestionable. To say that I have overcome the world, however… yeah… not so much.

I look at my life… my every-day-life, and see nothing but defeat. My struggles, my day-to-day struggles drown me in worry, fear, anxiety, panic, and make me feel weak and often hopeless.

I am definitively a glass half-empty person. Actually, I am an empty glass person because even though the glass might still have water in it, I know, I see it already empty in my head...just waiting for someone to knock it over and not only spilling its content but shattering it into a million pieces.

Pathetic, I know… what can I say? This is my greatest struggle in life. To trust God enough to let go of my fears… to let go of the idea of control I have ingrained in my mind. And just let Him be God in my life… all of my life.

The good news is that Jesus does not leave us where we are. He moves us along in the path that He has designed for us. In my case, He usually drags me kicking and screaming, but He does get me moving. His power is made perfect in my weakness, remember? (2 Corinthians 12: 9) And boy, He is really strong, ‘cause I’ve got a lot of weakness in me…

The point is that, He speaks to me, through His word, through song and music, through the people He has placed on my road, through teachers, through books, so, here comes this book stating that:

“God’s victory in this world does not depend on you. It depends on one thing alone: Christ’s death on the cross and resurrection three days later. You can’t lose the war for God or for yourself. It’s not about you or me at all. We simply get to partake in the victory. That means there is no shame in losing a battle now and then. It means we are imperfect people in a broken world.” (page 26)

How I love these words!

Let’s take another look at what Jesus said, again:

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16: 33

He has done it all! He is not saying here that we have to do anything at all in order to overcome the world. He is telling us that He already has, so we don’t have to. He is telling us that all is left for us to do is to have peace in Him. Regardless of the troubles that we will have, ‘cause He does state the fact that we WILL have trouble, we can rest in Him and be at peace in the truth that He has already taken care of it all and we get to be a part of that victory that we did nothing to obtain. Therefore, I don’t have to worry about being ill-equipped or inadequate for the battle because He has already won the entire war all on His own!

It is mind-blowing! We get to win the war that we didn’t even have to fight. And it is all because Jesus fought it and won it all by Himself… for us…

How could I still be concerned, afraid, anxious or worried? Because I’m imperfect and live in a broken world…but He has overcome it, and He is here, reminding me of it so I can take heart again.