A Time to Mourn and a Time to Dance.

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“A time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance…” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

As a child, I spent countless hours at our family’s country house, ‘La Morita’. We would travel there every weekend with relatives and friends. The adults would play cards, dominoes or bingo in the evenings after a tasty home-made meal. All of the children would laugh often when sharing stories at the hammocks zone, play Marco Polo at the pool, ride horses in town or hike the mountains at sunrise.

I certainly miss ‘La Morita’. Those memorable times were filled with joy. I don’t remember experiencing any sadness then. Our families were united, loved one another, and were energized by fellowship, outdoor activities and mesmerized by the beauty of nature.

As I grew older, I soon realized life was not ‘picture perfect’. There are moments filled with contentment and other times filled with great distress, anger, emotional pain, grief and/or sorrow.

God promised to be right there with us thru it all – the fun, the boring, the best, the ugly and the worst times.

The Lord is our Refuge. He will never leave us nor forsake us. That is His promise.

When dad passed away, mom relocated back to our home country in South America. Since then, I have only seen her once. We don’t get to walk at the local park nor shop at ‘Sawgrass Mills’ Shopping Center anymore. It has been over two years since I last had a meal with mom at the table. I miss her voice, enthusiasm and most importantly her presence. I wish I could sit with you right now and share the details of my next trip to Florida. The truth is I may never be able to visit mom again and this is a reality I have recently come to terms with. I am in a season of loss, grief and sorrow indeed. It is time to weep, mourn and embrace the loss of mom’s current living situation, geographical distance and deteriorating health conditions.

Are you grieving at this moment, my friend? Are you reminiscing on ‘how’ your past circumstances are quite different than todays? Perhaps, you are facing an ‘unexpected’ loss and you are quite overwhelmed with the intensity and impact of the sudden challenge.

Do not be dismayed or broken-hearted, my friend.

We are in a season of grief but His mercies are new every morning. Today is filled with opportunities for us to briefly reminisce about the past then spend the rest of the time counting our blessings. We have been blessed for all the countless memories and unforgettable moments with our loved ones. They have left their ‘forever’ fingerprints on our minds, hearts and souls. My heart rejoices every time I think of mom.

Let us not dwell on the emotional distress or pain of our recent past. Let us acknowledge our loss, lament and journal our painful thoughts until we are comforted by His promises. Our Lord listens to our melancholic cries and painful thoughts and He comforts our shattered hearts over time.

We will dance once again as soon as our hearts are healed and restored.

Lord, there are so many seasons in our lives and some are difficult to process and get thru. I know we may be in the midst of a tough season. As we lament our losses, we know you are comforting us with your faithfulness, morning mercies and compassion … You hear all of our cries and wipe our tears away. You heal our brokenness and bind our deep wounds. You are our only Hope and Refuge. Turn the gaze of our hearts towards the beauty of all of your promises and fill our hearts with never-ending Hope.

Lord, I’m willing to embrace the new season in life. Spring is here! Flowers are blooming. I want to rejoice once again. Jesus, hold my hand and come with me and waltz together at the dance floor.

In Jesus’ name we boldly pray, Amen.

“You, LORD, hear the desire of the afflicted; you encourage them, and you listen to their cry,” Psalm‬ ‭10:17‬ ‭NIV

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

“The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” Psalm‬ ‭9:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.” Psalm‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭NIV

Photo courtesy: Jared Weiss @ Splasher

The Spanish Version of the Bible Reading Journal Series is coming soon to Amazon!

Behind the scenes…

Let me introduce you to the Spanish Editor for the Bible Reading Journal Series, Dr. Angelica Langham, who retired successfully from the field of Medicine seven years ago.

Dr. Langham is both a conference speaker and a teacher of God’s Truth who now disciples women in Florida, Tennessee, Colombia, and Peru. She is fulfilling the Great Commission passionately one day at a time.

Jesus encourages all of us to “… go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew‬ ‭28:19-20‬ ‭NIV

Discipleship is a priority for the church.

When I asked Dr. Langham how did she begin discipleship relationships, her response was the following: “The Lord has laid on my heart to serve Him. Pursuing my calling, I began to evangelize women in a non-profit Christian organization and participated in different evangelistic events in my local church. Even though many people repented, believed and received Jesus as Savior and Lord, I realized that something was missing in ministering to them. New believers and Christians in the church need an ongoing relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ. They need to grow and become mature in their Faith. However, many of them have become stagnant or even have abandoned their faith….”

Dr. Langham was discipled for two years before she started to disciple women locally and internationally. She is so grateful to witness how God is changing the lives of many of her students and even her own life. In these relationships, women have an opportunity to build spiritual disciplines, such as reading and meditating on the Bible passages, praying fervently with thanksgiving, worshiping the Lord and confessing their sins on a regular basis.

Jesus’ obedience to the Great Commission has impacted our lives today. Dr. Langham has discovered that the missing link in ministering to women is to establish a discipleship relationship in which both truth and life are shared in real life circumstances.

She further shared, “We cannot evangelize without making disciples. We cannot gain people without feeding them. We cannot leave believers alone, but we must help and encourage them in their faith. Therefore, following Jesus’ example of making disciples should be the primary goal in the body of Christ. Disciple-making is an intentional process to build up believers, to mend them, and to equip them to be fruitful and multiply, obeying the Great Commission. In these changing and difficult times, I believe that every Christian needs to be discipled to grow and be mature, to receive healing of past wounds, to build spiritual disciplines, to be accountable to other believers, to multiply and make discipleship relationships.”

Photo courtesy: Tomoko Uji at UnSplash

A Steadfast Love

When reading the book of Hosea in preparation for an online Bible study, I was so overwhelmed that I did not finish the rest of the book that night. I immediately shut the Bible and sat in my recliner silently for a few minutes.

I was in shock the way the Holy Spirit convicted me.

The prophet, Hosea, was encouraged to marry Gomer, a prostitute. Gomer was promiscuous yet Hosea faithfully loved his beloved wife.  I was blown away by Hosea’s steadfast love.

Hosea 5: 4 highlighted the importance of acknowledging God in everyday pursuits. I was appalled when I was convicted of my sinful nature; ” … a spirit of prostitution is in their heart; they do not acknowledge the Lord.” My initial thoughts were, “Me? not possible!”  yet I felt repugnant.  When I envisioned myself having ‘a spirit of an harlotry’, I was ashamed for grieving the Holy Spirit then.

In the book of Hosea, the ‘spirit of prostitution’ addressed Israel as a nation who had been unfaithful to the Lord, and disregarded His commands. The nation was corrupted and rebellious. Israel maintained a ‘spirit of prostitution’ when the people did not acknowledge the Lord.

A couple of years ago, the Holy Spirit had convicted me of excessive retail shopping. As much as I have been mindful of frivolous spending in the recent past, I continue to overindulge myself. I always find the best excuses such as, “I truly need this new tote for the upcoming trip.” In my most recent retail experience, I even messaged the retailer and encouraged her to ship the personalized item no later than the 10th of this month. I was precise and persuasive. I was a woman on a ‘lifestyle’ mission.

Have you ever been in pursuit of joy? Have you ever been in pursuit of satisfaction? I find both satisfaction and joy in retail therapy. Do you have a personal habit that you wish to break but have not been able to do so as of yet?

I realized how much I had grieved the Holy Spirit that afternoon. I had monogrammed another handbag for an upcoming trip. If you and I were having a late afternoon coffee break, I would have shared with you how much I love to shop. I spend time on the internet searching for beautiful totes. I am quite obsessed with totes, I admit. When I shop,  I forget about the reckless, spending habit and my unwillingness to change my desires. It sure is an ongoing struggle!

Every time I choose retail therapy, my soul is not fulfilled and it will never be. Nothing on this earth will fulfill my deepest longings. When I fail to pray, I am not relying on His comfort or rest. When I neglect His Word and do not step out in obedience, I am being rebellious. When I do not acknowledge His presence in today’s plan, I am being self-reliant and prideful. The book of Hosea convicted me of having a ‘spirit of a prostitution’ when I obsess over anything else for either joy, satisfaction or relief and disregard the Holy Spirit’s conviction.

Lord, please forgive me for not acknowledging your ways or stepping out in obedience.

The Lord will remain faithful in the midst of our sinful acts.

He wants for all of us to repent, change our careless ways and acknowledge His presence in all we do. “…Let us acknowledge the Lord; let us press on to acknowledge him. As surely as the sun rises, he will appear; he will come to us like the winter rains, like the spring rains that water the earth.” (Hosea 6:2-3 NIV)

Lord, please forgive me if I get so distracted by frivolous spending that it drives me away from your presence. I know I can be rebellious, disobedient, prideful or unwilling to change my selfish ways. I can be quite stubborn too.

Help me. Forgive me. Love me. Do not give up on me. You are a God of second chances.

I dislike having the ‘spirit of a prostitute’ but every time I pursue pleasure instead of God’s ways, I am exchanging His eternal perspectives for temporary ones. I am exchanging a Holy Beautiful lifestyle for a lustful lifestyle that may lead me astray.

Lord, I want to renew my mind and change my actions so I may pursue a Holy Beautiful Lifestyle always.  I pray I acknowledge you in everything I do, be prayerful and press on.

Jesus answered, “It is written: worship the Lord your God and serve him only.” (Luke 4: 8 NIV)

God is steadfast and His reckless love is bountiful.

Psalm 51: 1-12 (NIV)

“Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight; so  you are right in your verdict and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Yet you desired faithfulness even in the womb; you taught me wisdom in that secret place. Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.”

In Jesus’ name I boldly pray, Amen.

Photo courtesy: Ornella Binni @ Splasher

Abide in Me

When life gets hectic, I have a choice whether to take the next step or honor a break. I can either slow down and pace myself or continue to hustle ‘non-stop’ all day long.

The Lord wants me to spend time with Him throughout the day, every day. I will bear fruit in everything I do when I rely on His wisdom and strength.

“I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.”  John‬ ‭15:5‬ ‭NASB‬‬

When I don’t rely on the Lord for His rest and wisdom, I am typically frustrated, exhausted or even ill at the end of the day. Has your energy ever been depleted at the end of the week? I literally crashed this past weekend. I was emotionally and physically spent. I felt overwhelmed, overly anxious, empty and had a headache for a couple of days. When I neglect the Lord, I typically rush thru my morning readings and fail to take short breaks throughout the day. I do not take time to pray when facing adversity.

This is a typical response of my self-reliant tendencies or should I say pride? I may be in such a rush that I can barely whisper at Him and say, “I’ve got this, Lord, I don’t need your help right now. Take a break and allow me to take the lead.” Who am I kidding? This attitude will not help me get too far ahead. I will not bear much fruit.

Our bodies react to life stressors when working under these conditions for a prolonged period of time without much rest. Cumulative stress has an adverse impact on our lives without a doubt. It affects us emotionally, physically and spiritually over time.

Let us be mindful of our time with the Lord so we may bear much fruit at the end of the workday and be able to manage stressors in a healthy manner.

I cannot accomplish much without Him. Even if it is an on-going struggle, I can never overlook this issue ever again.

Help me, Lord, to be wise with my schedule at work. I want to maintain a reasonable life balance so I may care for my mental, physical and spiritual well-being throughout the day. I need rest and frequent breaks to stop and meditate on your precious Word. I want to relax at the end of each day, dig deep in your Word, maintain good nutrition and sleep hygiene so I may not be burned out by the end of the week.

In Jesus’ name, I boldly pray.

Amen.

“LORD, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the LORD, the spring of living water.” Jeremiah‬ ‭17:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come, and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life.” Revelation‬ ‭22:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”John‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Photo courtesy: Rawpixel @ UnSplash

Enjoy The Process!

“There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under the Heaven…He has made everything beautiful in its time…” Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:1-2, 5 NIV‬‬

There will always be a season for a “fresh start” whether it is a new career, a church community, a job, a friendship or even a ministry. I delight in the freshness of ‘new beginnings’. When we embark on a new path, it is normal for us to expect favorable outcomes right away. In a world of instant gratification, I like for circumstances to unfold quickly in my favor or be resolved immediately.

When I was in High School, I wanted to finish the academic coursework in three years… When I was a young adult, I wanted to marry and move out of the house… When I was in college, I wanted to graduate in less than four years! I tend to rush. I sure do. As I got older, I soon realized there are no shortcuts or healthy quick fixes in life.

Time is of the essence! Be still and know He is in control of our lives. (Psalm 46:10) Let us sit back, relax and be present in the moment.

We may need additional time to select a new career path. It takes a while to get settled in a new community. There is usually a learning curve to master and be proficient at new tasks. In relationships, we need time to learn one another and build trust. If we are serving in ministry, we may need to wait for direction, wisdom, and understanding.

God’s timetable is different than ours! His ways are higher than ours. His timing and plans are perfect. Let us be open-minded and flexible in the midst of our wait. It may take longer than expected!

If we want to be fruitful in life, let us break down our goals, and zero into specific action steps. Just know, God is orchestrating all of our circumstances and He does not miss a beat! Over the course of time, suitable conditions will flourish. God makes everything beautiful in His time. He is in charge of the Harvest.

The more I wait and persevere, the more I trust His plan. In my last wait, the Holy Spirit reminded me of the following;

Let us honor our new beginnings and trust His timing. Do not rush or grow weary. “So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me.” Acts‬ ‭27:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Let us take a leap of Faith and take the next step without anxiety or distress. Do not be afraid. “But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage!…” Matthew‬ ‭14:27‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In Christ, we have His wisdom to face challenges along the way. Do not doubt yourself. For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.” 2 Timothy‬ ‭1:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do not be distracted by external circumstances “…And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lord, help us be in your presence so we may experience serenity in the midst of our wait.“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV

In Jesus’ name, I boldly praise and pray.

Amen

Photo courtesy: Danielle MacInnes @ UnSplash

God illuminates our Darkness!

 


And there arose a fierce gale of wind, and the waves were breaking over the boat so much that the boat was already filling up. Jesus Himself was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke Him and said to Him, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” And He got up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Hush, be still.” And the wind died down and it became perfectly calm. And He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?” Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea,and after getting into a boat, they started to cross the sea to Capernaum. It had already become dark, and Jesus had not yet come to them. The sea began to be stirred up because a strong wind was blowing.Then, when they had rowed about three or four miles, they saw Jesus walking on the sea and drawing near to the boat; and they were frightened. But He said to them, “It is I; do not be afraid.” Mark 4: 37-41 (NASB)

In the midst of a storm or should I say a tsunami, do not forget to look up to Jesus first.

God challenged and refined me for almost four years although he did not give me more than I could handle at the time.

Have you ever been choked or paralyzed by a life storm? Have you ever experienced unbelief? I sure did yet cried out boldly and loudly, ‘help me with my unbelief, Lord’ periodically. Some of you may be going thru some challenges today… If you are going thru a storm, how would you label your storm? 

I labeled mine, “The Pit of Darkness.” The Lord was ahead of me working out every detail of my dire circumstances. 

“Lord, You light my lamp; my God illuminates my darkness.” (Psalm 18:28 HCSB) Let us never forget He is our Light in our journey.

A few months after my dad had passed away, I was promoted to a regional leadership platform. Today, I oversee the quality of clinical services for close to 1,300 children and adolescents. During this time of grief and sorrow, I was asked to make daily Clinical decisions on behalf of these needy children. While I successfully provided adequate coverage, I was also intertwined with family affairs and daily decision-making processes on behalf of my dad’s Estate.

My “pit of darkness” was steep and intense. I will explain next.

I was out of breath at times and my health was compromised on several occasions. My life circumstances definitely got grotesque before the circumstances got any better. I know our Lord will train us for today’s battlefield. His Truth reminds me, “He trains my hands for war; my arms can bend a bow of bronze.” (Psalm 18:32 HCSB) The Lord will fight on our behalf, we just need to be still, be quiet, listen and follow His lead (Exodus 14:14).

“Every time my eyes were not on Jesus, I was horrified even paralyzed when facing these stressors,” I thank the Lord for having a supportive husband who challenged me to take the next step in the midst of confusion, chaos, loss, and persecution from those who resisted change. Most importantly, I have a great God who clothed me with inner strength and filled my heart with hope (Psalm 18:39). He makes my way perfect (Psalm 18:32).

“The Lord is My Banner” (Exodus 17:15).

I was overwhelmed and frazzled at the beginning of my leadership role, I experienced a panic attack on one of my business trips. At the end of the first year, I literally experienced heart-attack symptoms such as discomfort in my arm, pain in my chest and shortness of breath. In my second year, I experienced severe vertigo signs. In one occasion, the medical doctor ruled out a brain tumor with an MRI!

I thank God for ‘good health’ today!

The season of grief and sorrow, a fast-paced demanding work environment and family distress contributed to the pit of darkness. Slowly but surely, I began to read His Word daily and started to journal as I dealt with these life stressors.

I knew I had to handle these life stressors God’s way! It is the only way, my friend.

Once I was convicted, I prayed for His strength, mercies, and inner peace. I begged the Lord to show me ‘how’ and to give me the strength to persevere thru it all.

Three years later, I changed the cultural climate at work, implemented new systems and mobilized community resources for the least restrictive placements, and held strategic, monthly conference calls with the former Commissioner.

At this time, my eyes are on Jesus and no longer on my circumstances. In Christ, there is victory without a doubt!

Out of the pit of darkness, the Bible Reading Journal Series was birthed.

There will be seven volumes addressing the core spiritual disciplines that involve life application, confession, repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving, and prayer. In the midst of the storm, let us not forget to look up to Jesus, not our circumstances my friend.

In my darkest moments, I felt hatred, unforgiveness, resentment, loneliness, isolation, and depression. These negative emotions took root in my heart temporarily. When I was convicted of the darkness in my life, I knew I had to look up to Jesus immediately for His help, guidance, inner peace and most importantly a new heart! 

He was forgiving, compassionate and faithful.

As soon as I would inscribe His Word, apply the lesson learned that morning, and submit my prayer requests, I was able to focus on the next task, experience less distress and endure the hardships at work.

His grace and faithfulness carried me one day at a time.

And, when I submit all of my prayer requests at sunrise, my heart and mind are in peace and I am much better prepared for today’s battlefield and the unexpected events.

Today, I not only inscribe those Scriptures that speak to me when I’m reading the Bible, but I read these verses in different translations, apply them to my life, and step out in obedience.

As I go thru any of my journals, I have an opportunity to confess to God any sin(s) whether it is unbelief, anger or unforgiveness. I also ask the Lord to help me forgive those who have hurt me throughout the day.

Counting my blessings fills my heart with gratitude.

When I surrender and write out my prayers and praying for others, our Lord comforts me every morning.

I am boldly praising Jesus today! “Sing to the Lord, for He is highly exalted; He has thrown the horse and its rider into the sea.” (Exodus 15: 21)

In Christ, there is victory so look up in the midst of a life storm. Do not fix your eyes on the circumstances, my friend.               

Join the FB Bible Reading Journal Community today!

Bible Reading Journal: Growing Closer to God One Day at a Time.

Bible Reading Journal Series 2019

Volume 1 & 2 & 3 (Available Now on Amazon)

The Bible Reading Journal: Growing Closer to God One Day at a Time.

Bible Reading Journal: Growing Closer to God One Day at a Time.: “Your Word i… https://www.amazon.com/dp/1793923728/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_BmWwCbJH8J0HQ via @amazon

The Bible Reading Journal: Rest and Be Refreshed.

Bible Reading Journal: Rest and Be Refreshed.: “Your Word is a lamp to my fee… https://www.amazon.com/dp/1794685421/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_gnWwCbA0V0NCK via @amazon

The Bible Reading Journal: Praise and Be Content.

Bible Reading Journal: Praise and Be Content: “Your Word is a lamp to my feet… https://www.amazon.com/dp/1795055677/ref=cm_sw_r_tw_dp_U_x_OnWwCbVRW0168 via @amazon

Volume 1 (Spanish Version, Spring 2019)

El Diario de Lectura de la Biblia: Cada vez más cerca de Dios, un día a la vez

Volume 4 & 5 (Summer 2019)

The Bible Reading Journal: Trust and Be Courageous.

The Bible Reading Journal: Mourn and Be Comforted.

Volume 6 & 7 (Fall 2019)

The Bible Reading Journal: Forgive and Be Restored.

The Bible Reading Journal: Love and Be His Light.

The Bible Reading Journal 2019 is now available on Amazon.com

Two Foundations

B3B764A8-9AE2-4C55-BF11-CCCEC0C57EE9.jpegPedro Sousa @ Splasher

“Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell-and great was its fall.” Matthew‬ ‭7:24-27‬ ‭NASB

Several years ago, I was standing on sinking ground with my Faith walk. Church attendance was ‘hit or miss’, bible reading was inconsistent, and prayerful life was nonexistent. I was distant from the Lord. I was consumed by ‘cultural busyness’ and distracted by a fast-paced lifestyle. No margin for rest, adequate self-care or time for His Word.

Yes! You heard me right. I was standing on shaky territory.

I was a reckless woman who did not read or act on His Word. I was vulnerable and helpless. “Enemies of the heart” took root in my soul from paralyzing fear, doubt,  hatred, unforgiveness, isolation to bitterness. I was resting at the bottom of the pit,  ‘darkness of depression’, in the midst of loss and separation, and overwhelming life circumstances. I was grief-stricken with dad’s sudden death, overwhelmed by a regional leadership platform and troubled by mom’s relocation back to South America.

My world had drastically turned upside down in less than three months.

But God …

He never left me or forsake me.

When the Holy Spirit convicted me of His faithfulness, I immediately turned back to His Word one day at a time. Re-building an intimate relationship  with the Lord was a gradual process yet it was worth the time and commitment.

Spiritual disciplines; repentance, forgiveness, thanksgiving and prayer transformed my life one day at a time.

He is my Refuge, Comforter and the Best Counselor. He is my Rock today. The more I read and apply His Word to my everyday life, the closer I am to the Lord. His faithfulness, favor and grace are evident, and His mercies never runs out.

I am standing on a firm foundation today. How about you my friend? Would you stand next to me? Jesús Christ is our strength, inner peace and our only hope.

“You shall walk in all the way which the LORD your God has commanded you, that you may live and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.”
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭5:33‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“by loving the LORD your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them.””
‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭30:20‬ ‭NASB

“The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge; My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭18:2‬ ‭NASB‬‬

“This Faith Journal is an experiential journey for you to deepen your relationship with God.  As you read God’s Word, His promises will strengthen your heart and following the guided prompts will inspire forgiveness and restoration in your relationships. Journaling helps you build a prayerful life that allows you to rest on Him when burdened by today’s challenges.  Journaling His Word invites the Holy Spirit to counsel and guide you through burdens, hardships, and pain.” 
Kathy Bornarth, MA, LPC, President of the National Association of Christian Journal Writers www.nacjw.com

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Drop The Magnifying Glass

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Lord,

At sunrise, I bring all of my petitions to You and reflect on my blessings with a grateful heart. When I am reclined in my favorite living room chair, the thinking process is smooth, friendly and convenient. I even have the time to ask you to search my heart and allow extra time for you to speak, “Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts.” Psalm‬ ‭139:23‬ ‭NIV‬‬.

My time with you at sunrise is a delight!

Philippians 4:6 reminds me of how important is to breathe, take a break, arrest all of my disturbing thought(s), surrender these troubling thoughts to Christ and pray with You in thanksgiving. Most importantly, you do not want me to be anxious about anything. You are already taking care of all the details and fighting the best battle on my behalf.

At times, it is an ongoing struggle to react well in the midst of adversity or when faced with the unexpected or a life-altering moment.

Do you ever struggle my friend? I hope your struggles are not as debilitating as mine. The ”what if’s” in life will bring high levels of anxiety and distress without a doubt.

I immediately anticipate the worst scenario when I intentionally answer all potential ‘what if’ questions. It is like holding a magnifying glass closely, searching for both irrelevant and relevant clues and creating my own, ‘Pelicula de Accion’, action movie with a dramatic plot and ending. Every time I am creative with an imaginary action movie, I imprisoned myself at a maximum-security prison.

Confined. Shackled. Helpless. No Freedom.

Lord, help me put my trust in you alone (‭Psalm‬ ‭56:3‬ ‭NIV)‬‬. Help me establish a steadfast, prayerful life. I want for prayer to be my immediate response to shocking news, unexpected circumstances, troublesome, threatening or disheartening information. I need your help. I cannot do this on my own.

Please forgive me, Lord,  for all of the times I have overreacted.

I lose perspective when I think about the worst scenario and even catastrophize at times. When I catastrophize or visualize a tragedy, I experience a full-blown anxiety attack. Shortness of breath, restlessness, heart palpitations and debilitating fear are some of the symptoms I typically experience.  If I cannot breathe well, I may not think clearly much less pray right there and then. At that point, I am no longer able to reflect on or apply truth to my personal circumstances.

I have to stop the “what if” line of questioning, my sweet friend! It is where it all starts before the decision-making process goes downhill.

Your truth reminds me that our emotions are fickle and the heart is deceitful (Jerimiah 17:9).

The Lord wants for us to think of whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, and admirable—“if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Recently, I freaked out over an email that I was expecting for quite some time. My emotions were hijacked when I held a ‘magnifying glass’ closer to the printed information on a web-article. The more information I read, the more “what if” questions I answered without any evidence.

Once my overwhelming emotions blurred my vision, I then anticipated the worst scenario when I read over the leader’s profile at work. Her track record in past performance was outstanding. She was a Judge in our local criminal court. She is highly respected and her flawless reputation was palpable. I was quite excited for this young woman to be selected for a three-year term. I kept reading the web-article for relevant details. When I read the word PROSECUTOR, it jumped out of the page and I completely lost it as soon as I visualized being cross-examined in our future, casual conversations at work.

“How irrational was that? Lord. I already had a movie plot with a dramatic ending ready to be published!

An irrational thought led to irrational emotion and before I knew it I was gasping for my next breath. By the time I finished reading the article, I was paralyzed by the high level of anxiety. Once my emotions were hijacked by the visualization of day-to-day cross-examinations, I felt threatened and fearful of the upcoming change at work. I literally thought the new leader in command would cross-examine employees outside of a courtroom. How irrational was that?  Friend, there is no need to answer. I bet Satan enjoyed every minute of my agony and emotional distress as I failed to pray and created my own short-lived, dramatic action movie after I had answered all of the potential “what if’s.”

I am not honoring Satan’s deceitful plans by answering any “what if,” the question. The enemy’s scheme is to plant the seed of doubt, confusion, and/or anticipation. I will probably stop, take a deep breath and change my focus next time I ever think of another “what if”. I plan on quitting this vicious cycle right there and then.

If you are an attorney, my friend, I have great respect for what you do. As a matter of fact, I have great working relationships with local attorneys and even served as an expert witness twice in the past. It was quite uncomfortable to be on the stand at first and I even disliked the motives behind cross-examinations. It is definitely outside of my comfort zone.

But God…

Your eternal perspective is my refuge. I stand on Your solid ground when I stand on your Truth.

Lord, may all of my meditations be pleasing in your sight! (Psalm 19:14).

You always hear my cries, petitions and it comforts me in the most debilitating circumstances (Psalm‬ ‭6:9‬ ‭NIV).‬‬

I am ready to ditch the magnifying glass so I may experience victory in Christ! You are the author of my Faith and the Prince of Peace.

In Jesus’ name, I boldly pray, Amen.

Photo: Marten Newhall @ Splasher

Let us sit next to Jesus:

Inscribe and Meditate

“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the highest will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings, you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. If you say, “The LORD is my refuge,” and you make the Highest your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. With a long life, I will satisfy him and show him my salvation.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:1-16‬ ‭NIV

Memory Verse

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge

Every hour take a few minutes for breathing and stretching exercises.

When in distress, stop, take a break and breathe immediately. Then, pray to our Lord. He is our Refuge and Prince of Peace.

Serve One Another

“God has given each of you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts. Use them well to serve one another.” ‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NLT

Mom was gifted in the kitchen area. For years, she cooked and baked for anyone who visited her at the last minute. She never complained about the preparation time for mealtime or the number of visitors she had at any given time. She was hospitable, fed a multitude and smiled often (1 Peter‬ ‭4:9‬)‬.

The kitchen area was her joy at breakfast, lunch, and dinner!

She fed everyone around the table with simple, traditional recipes yet tasty ones. The ‘arepa’, the Venezuelan bread,  was available all day long. It is easy to make with only three ingredients; flour “Harina Pan”, water and a pinch of salt.

Voila! you had Venezuela bread baked in less than 20 minutes. If I was hungry and mom needed extra time in the kitchen, I would always eat an arepa or two with shredded cheese prior to any given meal time.

Mom’s kitchen was always open. Everyone was invited. I bet you, my friend, would have also been invited in a heartbeat.

Mom had the gift of hospitality indeed. She used it well and serve others wholeheartedly and unconditionally. Part of mom’s legacy was to bring people together in her cozy and informal kitchen table day after day.

We are equipped  differently though. His Truth reminds us of how each one of us is gifted differently and uniquely. “He has given each one of us a special gift through the generosity of Christ.” (Ephesians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NLT)‬‬

I miss mom’s cooking and all of her Venezuelan’s dishes today!

Mom is no longer able to cook for others or bring people together. She does not even remember her favorite recipes anymore due to the progressive disease of Alzheimer’s. Mom will always be remembered for her long-standing legacy of ‘bringing people together’ around an ordinary tabletop and most importantly serving all of us well.

“If you would ask me today if I have any regret(s) in life?” I painfully admit to one… not ‘getting together’ with others to do life in the kitchen area just like mom did for decades. I did not inherit mom’s gift of hospitality nor was it a priority of mine in life in the past.

Friend, we don’t have to be gifted in this area in order for us to serve lovingly and compassionately. There are so many different ways to connect and serve others well in life.

As I watched others in social media this past Holiday season, people were reunited with family and friends and celebrated together over a Holiday feast. I was so delighted to witness others do life together. I wish I could have been part of these reunions and extend grace, serve well and love on everyone at the celebration.

If this was you, my friend, just know you have embarked yourself on the most unforgettable journey in life by creating memories with loved ones, friends and relatives. God does not want for us to be alone (Genesis 1:18).

We were born to socialize and be part of a community.

My husband and I  have agreed to open up our home for regular gatherings with women, men and/or couples in our local community who are willing to do life with us. Women, men or couples who are willing to embrace an opportunity to learn from each other, encourage one another, and build community over the course of time. I am also going to learn not only ‘how to’ cook but develop a passion for simple hospitality, not the elaborate type or Martha Stewart’s style.

In God’s economy, we will bear fruits in His perfect time and season (Psalm 1:3). Lord, help us build relationships in our local community. I am trusting in Your timing and provisions.

Author Margaret Feinberg describes ‘table time’ as transformational. An opportunity to connect, live and grow together. Every time I gather with others, there is always an opportunity to know the other person a bit more. When we connect and learn about each other, we are doing life together and making memories for years to come.

Jesús appreciated living life around others and visited many communities throughout His three-year ministry. He would sit down at a table with all of His friends and blessed their meal times. Jesus always brought the multitude together and valued connectedness in His local community.

As I embark on a new journey in the kitchen area, I am not sure where to start but I’m being prayerful and intentional about building community at my kitchen’s tabletop. Mom was the perfect example of sharing her time with others. It was her priority in life.

Do you enjoy the preparation time before any social gatherings?

I bet it is a lot of work and some of you may or may not even have time. I  never had time in the past myself.  I don’t need to have all of the answers right now. I may not need to worry about who is coming or if I will set up the table right.

All I need is to have a desire for community and being around others. I love people so I plan on taking time to gather, not be busy or rush thru our time together and serve others well one moment at a time.

What about you, my friend? How are you planning to serve others this year? Are you ready to schedule margin for ‘community building’ in your calendar?

Lord, help us find godly friendships in our local communities, in Jesus’ name I bravely pray,

Amen.

Let us sit at Jesus’ feet:

Meditate and Inscribe

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people,” ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.” 1 Peter‬ ‭4:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
“You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love. For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.”‭Galatians‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse

“Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭34:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge

Check out at least three YouTube.com cooking videos and select a new recipe of five ingredients or less. Tip: Insert “recipes with less 5 ingredients” on the search engine in youtube.com

 

Photo Courtesy: Calum Lewis

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Melodies of His Heart

Our surroundings are way too loud for me right now” a friend gently adjusted her hearing aid when we both walked into a local restaurant for a Holiday celebration.

Has it ever happened to you that you are overwhelmed by the level of noise?  ‘Information or sound overload’ happens often, whether we are wearing a hearing aid or not. Our Lord’s voice will gradually fade out and not be heard in the midst of our hectic lifestyles or loud surroundings!

D0B6A5C6-5285-4177-8946-A7E97BBFC3F6Photo courtesy: Luca Volpe @ Unsplash

Lord, I want to hear your subtle whispers! Help me tune into the rhythms of your voice and the melodies of your heart, Lord. “You are gracious, righteous and full of compassion.” (Psalm 116:5)

We are also bombarded with tragic news on the radio, disheartening family updates, conflicting information at our work sites, countless projects at home, unwanted medical diagnosis, unresolved parenting issues or endless social media feeds.

If our days get too noisy, turn the volume down a notch so we may hear the whispers of the Holy Spirit and nourish our relationship with our only Savior, Jesus Christ and honor our Abba Father.

Yes, Lord, I want to hear the melodies of your heart!

By the end of the day, I am physically and mentally fatigued from what life demands out of me. My soul is drenched and thirsty for His living water. If I am feeling annoyed or frustrated then I know I need to stop, breath, take a short break and call on the name of Jesus.

“Come, let us bow down in worship, let us kneel before the LORD our Maker; for he is our God and we are the people of his pasture, the flock under his care. Today, if only you would hear his voice,” Psalm‬ ‭95:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Let us slow down a bit so we may be in tune with the nudges of the Holy Spirit.

Lord, help me slow down and not be so distracted by technology…Your heavenly presence is my forever refuge.

35F978BF-3E4F-4E2D-B7CD-032CBE211486Photo Courtesy: Rawpixel @ Unsplash

I was surprised when I noticed my friend had deactivated from Facebook. “Did anything happen?! I was intrigued. Personally, I would miss my virtual friends so much just like I had missed seeing her smile in all of her FB posts!” I thought to myself. I truly enjoy scrolling down social media and interacting with everyone yet I do neglect my loved ones at home at times.

I missed seeing my friend’s updates on FB so I invited her to lunch one afternoon. She shared how ‘simple’ and ‘less complicated’ her life had been without social media. “What?! How could you live without FB?” I bluntly asked.

Even though I have no plan on quitting social media, I did appreciate my friend’s intent to simplify her life.  She introduced me to the ‘screen time’ application for the iPhone as an option. It keeps track of the amount of time I spend on my phone applications each day. Once the selected time is over, the selected application(s) are locked for the rest of the day unless you request an additional fifteen minutes of use or even override it for the rest of the day. I figured three hours a day for social media would be enough time for me to check in with all of my virtual friends and still have time to work a full-time job, spend quality time with family and friends on weekends and most importantly quality time with my Savior every day. Not only did I set up the ‘screen time’ for the phone applications but I also established ‘downtime’ away from technology. It even reminds me when I have five minutes left of screen time before the scheduled downtime! How cool is that?

Lord, I am ready to turn on the celestial volume of your melodies and loving tunes!

E19CFB44-6D85-4E1B-B5BF-473E40D4D298.pngCourtesy Photo: William Iven @ Unsplash

Lord, If I am not inscribing and meditating on Scriptures, writing out my praises and petitions, and worshiping Jesus throughout the day, then I know I will eventually drift away and be distant from You. Oh no! I can’t afford to drift away from you, Lord.

You have guided me thru unfamiliar territories and led the way, have smoothed out the circumstances along the way so I could endure hardships, have never forsaken me and you have turned darkness into light in my presence! (Isaiah 42:16)

Lord, I am praying over Psalm 27:8 at this moment, “help me seek your face and
help me not take my eyes off from you!”

Let us, “Worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness; tremble before him, all the earth.” Psalm‬ ‭96:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Let us Worship the LORD with gladness; come before him with joyful songs.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭100:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬

in Jesus’ name, I bravely pray.

Amen.

Let us sit at our Lord’s feet –

Inscribe and Meditate:

“The LORD is my light and my salvation— whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life— of whom shall I be afraid? One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple. Hear my voice when I call, LORD; be merciful to me and answer me. My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek. Teach me your way, LORD; lead me in a straight path because of my oppressors. I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.” Psalm‬ ‭27:1, 4, 7-8, 11, 13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse:  “One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the LORD and to seek him in his temple.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭27:4‬ ‭NIV

Weekly Challenge: Try out the ‘screen time’ on your phone and establish ‘downtime’ away from technology.  Do not be surprised if you establish the habit once you have done this challenge for several weeks consecutively.