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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Empowered by Jesus: A Fountain of Hope.

“Now may God, the inspiration and fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭TPT‬‬

Photo Courtesy: Evelyn Mostrom

Lord,

You are a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace, and God of Hope. (Isaiah 9:6)

“How remarkable is that?!” We are never alone. He is always with us. He is our beloved Immanuel (Matt 1:21).

You are our Savior who shines a bright Light to the World!

“She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus because he will save his people from their sins.” Matthew‬ ‭1:21‬ ‭NIV‬ . My heart rejoices when I think of you, Jesus, as my Savior, who rescued me out of the pit of darkness. You were crucified at the Cross on my behalf. You cleansed me from all of my sins when I humbly brought them all to your attention, surrendered my heart and pinned my repentance to the Cross.

I have been set free for eternity.

You chose the ordinary, the unexpected and sinners like us!  Your heart is pure and willing to save us all.  

“Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!” 2 Corinthians 9:15 NIV.

Lord, you are our only source of true Hope and my Salvation. You are an indescribable gift to my heart and soul.

I wait expectantly for miracles to unfold throughout the day. We all have a fresh start at sunrise! Yes, you are the source of my confidence as I make decisions all day long. I am not trusting any of my circumstances or people who are in my sphere of influence.

I am trusting you alone, Lord.

Life circumstances abruptly change and relationships either evolve over time or change, a few of our friends walk away unexpectedly and others lose contact when they move away geographically.

But God…

I can trust you to be always faithful. Your character never changes regardless of the season of the year. Lord, you never cease to exist, never disappoints and your love never fades away.

How incredible it is to fall in love with Jesus all over again as we move forward in a new chapter of our lives, a fresh start in the New Year.

I have always enjoyed the Holiday season. It is my favorite time of the year.

It is a season filled with unlimited opportunities for festivities and my heart is always filled with gratitude by Thanksgiving. I treasure the smell of freshly-baked carrot cake and chocolate chip cookies, and beautifully wrapped gifts under a 6 foot tall Christmas tree ready for the gift exchange event. It becomes an unforgettable season when we all fellowship, serve, encourage one another and celebrate with family and friends.

Let us be mindful though, Holiday seasons are quite a challenge for many. It has been for me in the past few years! Many of us are hurting silently and others may be too ashamed to reach out and voice their emotional angst.

There are sisters in Christ who may not have friendly neighbors, and others do not have family or friends to share the Holidays with. Many end up skype-ing or Facetime-ing their loved ones who may live in another country, some may even be suffering in a hospital bed or bedridden or perhaps you have lost contact with loved ones over the years. Everyone’s circumstances are different yet our struggles are universal. We are all united by our sense of distress or loneliness or sadness over the Holidays.

The struggle is real!

If this is you, my sister, just know the only connection that truly lasts until eternity is our intimate relationship with the Lord. He will always be inviting, unconditional, steadfast,  and faithful.

He is our beloved Immanuel. He is with us all the time!

My Holidays were redefined three years ago when dad passed away and mom relocated to our home country in South America. Since then, I reminisce every year in how I used to spend every holiday season with my folks. We traveled, and celebrated together over four decades. I treasure our unforgettable memories in my heart today.   I just didn´t know how painful and lonely this season was going to be until recently. I certainly miss both of them! My heart aches at times when I am in touch with their absence.

Are you feeling lonely this Holiday season or experiencing distress or emotional pain? If you are experiencing anguish then just know you are not the only one. Take refuge in our Lord´s presence. He will comfort our tender hearts and will love on us every day until we rejoice in His presence. Our Lord is near the broken-hearted and saves everyone whose spirit is crushed (Psalm 34:18).

Lord, relieve our troubles of our hearts and free us from anguish always (Psalm 25:17). Hear our prayers and comfort us today!

Let us embrace a new season, a new dance, a new song of praise as we all move forward into our Holiday celebrations this year! I am beginning to embrace new traditions nowadays and reaching out to others makes a difference in one’s life.

We may not have our beloved family member or a close friend this Christmas, but we will always have an intimate fellowship with our Lord.

In Jesus’ name, I bravely pray and boldly praise my King of kings.

Amen.

Let us sit at our Lord’s feet:

Inscribe:

“But God will never forget the needy; the hope of the afflicted will never perish.” Psalm‬ ‭9:18‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.” Psalm‬ ‭25:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.” Psalm‬ ‭31:24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Meditate:

“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced, you his servants, the descendants of Abraham, his chosen ones, the children of Jacob. He is the LORD our God; his judgments are in all the earth. He remembers his covenant forever, the promise he made, for a thousand generations, He brought out his people with rejoicing, his chosen ones with shouts of joy; he gave them the lands of the nations, and they fell heir to what others had toiled for— that they might keep his precepts and observe his laws. Praise the LORD.” Psalm‬ ‭105:5-8, 43-45‬ ‭NIV

Memory verse: 

“Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice. Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” Psalm 105:3-4

Weekly Challenge:

Let us be hopeful during these Holidays in the midst of our loneliness or sadness or distress. Reach out and encourage someone to come alongside you.

HOPE redefined:  (H) Help a stranger at the grocery store or an elderly person at your local community, (O) Order a meal for a homeless person or a cup of coffee for a church member (P) Prepare a Holiday cookie tray for a neighbor or friend or co-worker, and  (E) Enjoy listening to Christmas Carols or soft music as you drive to work or write down a list of today’s blessings in a journal at sunrise. The possibilities are endless. Be creative when your HOPE is redefined this Holiday season. Share the greatest news of the World, Jesus Christ. He is the best gift anyone can receive.

 

Overnight Delivery –

“I haven’t received the certified mail as of yet, Tita”   Niece had sent a text message Friday afternoon.

In disbelief, I wanted to reassure niece the package was going to be delivered soon or I was going to scan and email her a copy.

Mom had traveled to Florida on Thursday.

After 38 years of residence in Miami, mom had finally applied for U.S. Citizenship for the first time. She was ready  to complete her fingerprints.

We were all excited for  Mom was on her way to be a U.S. citizen.

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By Monday afternoon, I was quite flustered, discouraged and had ran out of possible solutions.

Time was running out!

Mom’s appointment was scheduled for the next day at 3 p.m.She had not received her appointment card as of yet.

“Trust in him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge”, Psalm 62:8 NIV

The Holy Spirit nudged me to contact the local UPS store at 5:05 p.m. on Monday afternoon and so I did.

“The UPS truck picks up at 5:30 p.m. today and your delivery is guaranteed by tomorrow morning” I heard the well-mannered, staff from UPS store say on the phone.

I  rushed to the store, contacted sister for temporary mailing address, and delivered the appointment card by 5:25 p.m.

“Whew! How come I did not think of it sooner?”

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When I heard sister say, “the package arrived 15 minutes early than expected and we will be on our way soon”

I realized I had focused on the challenging circumstances ‘way too long’ and had not prayed at all …

Praising God for His faithfulness in the midst of uncertainties.

Mom is relaxing today in South America while she waits for the formal interview to be scheduled.

“Lord, I believe. I’ve got to pray more often”

Hidden Bay

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For over fifteen years, my folks lived across this Bay with a panoramic view of North Miami and Aventura.

Mom was vivacious for countless years.

Mom exercised regularly at a Gym and walked daily to a local park, cooked ‘arroz con leche’ often, traveled to Venezuela at least twice a year, played cards with girlfriends, was diligent in taking care of dad and was determined  to overcome her Alzheimers.

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“It’s a new day under the sun”,

I reminded myself as I drank coffee quietly near the pool and momentarily reflected how our lives have forever changed in less than sixteen months.

When dad captured his last breath of fresh air, and waltzed right into the presence of our Lord, family dynamics forever changed.

Mom’s health has deteriorated since then.

Mom gets easily fatigue today. She sleeps often throughout the day, is unable to recollect new information, gets confused at times, is reluctant to wear her dentures, needs supervision, is unable to drive a vehicle, isolates herself, suffers from bodily aches and pains, and disengages from the world often.

The bellyaching fact is mom will never remember how many days  we recently embraced together.

As I hugged and kissed mom, I grasped how our lives will never be the same.

When I approached the counter of Delta airlines, my heart was filled with affliction and sorrow.

Because the Lord is near the broken-hearted, He comforted me as I headed towards the gate, D2.

The Lord reminded me of an inevitable reality,

“In old age, your body no longer serves you so well. Muscles slacken, grip weakens, joints stiffen. The shades are pulled down on the world. You can’t come and go at will. Things grind to a halt. The hum of the household fades away. You are wakened now by bird-song. Hikes to the mountains are a thing of the past. Even a stroll down the road has its terrors. Your hair turns apple-blossom white, Adorning a fragile and impotent matchstick body. Yes, you’re well on your way to eternal rest…”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭12:3-5‬ ‭MSG‬‬

It’s a new day under the sun, indeed.

The Lord will never leave me nor forsake my beloved mom.

Our lives may have changed. Nevertheless, mom’s unconditional love will always prevail in my heart, and her fingerprints will forever dwell in my soul.

For: Chicken Soup for the Soul: Living with Alzheimer’s & Other Dementias: 101 Stories of Caregiving, Coping, and Compassion. Click the image below to purchase:

Balancing Work and Rest!

Ecclesiastes 4:8 NIV

“There was a man all alone;

he had neither son nor brother.

There was no end to his toil,

yet his eyes were not content with his wealth.

‘For whom am I toiling,’ he asked,

‘and why am I depriving myself of enjoyment?’

This too is meaningless-

a miserable business!”

Daddy’s girl!

“Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them,”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭69:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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Happy first anniversary dad! I’ve missed you.

Enjoy the serenity, sea breeze, singing birds, tropical weather of your heavenly estate.

Dad and I would sit together for unlimited hours at a time! We talked about anything, laughed at funny jokes, shared updates on ‘novelas’, arranged for auto repairs, shopped for office supplies, ate ‘Arepas’ every morning, dealt with disappointments and grief, watched ‘Sabado Gigante’ traveled to Scandinavian countries…

YES! I was dad’s little girl.

In my teens, dad enjoyed my piano practices at sunrise, and even dreamed of piano performance in concert halls. As I grew older, dad was delighted about college plans and career opportunities.

I vividly remember dad’s tears of joy when I graduated.

If I could whisper in his ear where I’m possibly heading next… He would smile at me right at this moment and would say, “you can do it, Adriana”

Dad never graduated from high school yet lived in two countries, retired in his early 40s, traveled around the world and provided us with life-time opportunities.

Praise God for His faithfulness!

 Dad was a remarkable man who also battled Parkinson’s disease for over 35 years, shared his wisdom, loved unconditionally and left fingerprints engraved deep in my soul!

Dad’s integrity, humility and forgiving heart will forever be treasured.

Dad is much alive in my heart!

YES! I’m still dad’s little girl.