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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Be Intentional!

Lord,

Every year I choose a different action word to be mindful of and prayerful throughout the entire year.

Believe, trust, surrender and persevere were my last four choices.

These words have made an impact on my life and recurrent themes play out in today’s life happenings.

‘Intentional’ is the new choice for the upcoming year.

Help me be more intentional, Lord!

Since I was a young adult, I have always been intentional, passionate and committed to all sort of personal and professional goals.

Graduate school – check. Marriage – check. Relocation – check. Build a new home – check, check, check. Leadership- check. The endless list continues to be checked off today.

I praise God for all of His blessings and provisions over the past five decades.

I was never intentional with friendships though!  I struggled to slow down on any given day and visit a friend.

Jesus Christ was intentional in all of his relationships and created community everywhere he went. He enjoyed sitting around a table with his twelve disciples, took time to help others, healed many, fed thousands, shared valuable lessons in all of His parables and teachings, interacted with people from all walks of life, and walked alongside sinners in his short-lived ministry.

Jesus shared his life with the twelve disciples and got to know them well.

Jesus took time, was never in a hurry or busy for His beloved family, friends, and others. When His timing appeared to be delayed, Jesus’ had a divine purpose and glorified our Abba Father along the way.

“Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts,”
‭‭Acts‬ ‭2:46‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I have friends in different States and in various countries. Geographical distance is not an excuse in today’s economy; social media, facetime, and other available phone applications make our lives so much easier today to stay connected. Travel opportunities are even affordable nowadays.

I still struggle today in connecting with friends who appreciate a two-way conversation at a kitchen table. I would rather be checking off tasks from my ‘to do’ list than sharing a meal with a friend at her house. Both personal aspirations and work consume my time. Busyness was my ‘numero uno’ (number one) excuse for decades! I was way too busy. Community was not a priority then.

Because I never took time to nourish past relationships, I am now embracing the pain of loneliness in my everyday life.

I live far away from immediate family and relatives; dad passed away several years ago, mom has Alzheimer’s Disease and the few friends I do have, I have failed to connect and do life with them over the course of time.

It is never to late to recognize the value of community though.

I am now ready to change my ways, Lord, show me how!

Local community offers a sense of belongingness and brings joy, fulfillment, and comfort to our hearts and souls. Unforgettable memories are created over the course of time! Friends make a difference in one’s life. Doing life together is priceless.

I will always treasure the memories I created with my folks and childhood friends.

Being intentional in relationships may be defined as ‘sharing one’s life’ with a friend or two in truth and action at a kitchen table. Since I do not know how to cook, I hardly ever invite others for a meal at my place.

Lord,  I want to be intentional with heart connections! My heart’s desire is to be more like Jesus, one connection at a time.

A text message was the starting point for me…

It was mid-afternoon when I received a text message from one of my local friends, “We would love to have you and your husband for dinner this afternoon.”

I was thrilled and immediately accepted it.

My husband and I would like to socialize with local friends more often. There is only one problem…we have not made friends in our local community as of yet. We have co-workers at our job site, professional colleagues in our network, acquaintances in Church, long-distance friendships and relatives, a ton of virtual friends yet no one to share life in our local community.

“Isn’t that strange?” Not really. When you are so caught up with professional goals, challenging family circumstances or just everyday life happenings, it is not unusual to neglect community.

When we arrived at our friends’ home, we were warmly welcomed. We exchanged ideas at the dining table, learned more about each other and wrapped up the evening with corporate prayer. The highlight of the evening was when my girlfriend admitted she did not know ‘how to’ cook yet she had been watching videos on youtube.com! I was pleasantly surprised by her honesty. I soon realized I could learn to cook by watching chefs as well. When we both admitted to our struggles in the kitchen area, I was no longer alone and in distress. Perhaps I too could learn simple recipes at age fifty-one and start having friends over my place real soon.

It is never too late to learn a new skill or establish a new habit or have a new dream in life. I choose to be intentional in the kitchen next year, and most importantly nourish the relationship of selected friends whom I want to do life with.

Have you considered connecting with a local friend today? Slow down and be intentional with a friend or two this week.

Are you ready to step out of your comfort zone? I’m already searching for easy recipes. This is definitely a foreign topic for me.

“ Progress not Perfection” is my new motto.

Let us schedule a visit with a friend and don’t excuse yourself!

In Jesus’ name, I bravely pray.

Amen.

Let us sit at our Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had a need. Every day they continued to meet together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved (Acts 2:42-47 NIV).

Memory Verse: Do not be yoked together with unbelievers. For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness? (2 Corinthians 6:14 NIV).

Weekly Challenge: Are you ready to be intentional today? If so, what would be your first step?

Photo courtesy: Priscilla Du Preez, Blubel & Toa Heftiba @ Splasher

 

Heart Connections ~

There is no rush or urgency most weekends. The slow rhythm in tempo is invigorating on Saturday mornings. I get to choose the time I wake up, relax throughout the day, change plans as often as needed and choose a variety of activities.

On this date…

I met up with two of my girlfriends for breakfast!  I had not seen them for a few weeks and we wanted to celebrate the Holiday season, have a gift exchange and get caught up before the New Year.

“How much fun is that?!”

The Holiday season is here and tender hearts intentionally connect…

The gift of friendship is an eternal gift.

We blessed our hot meal, laughed at times, confided in each other, took snapshots, rejoiced over answered prayers, exchanged gifts and prayed over our most recent circumstances. We celebrated for over three hours and didn’t even notice the crowd behind us nor the level of noise at the restaurant. Even though the restaurant was ‘jammed packed’, we truly enjoyed each other’s company.

Heart Connections are distinct, cherishable and memorable.

I’ve got to admit spending quality time with a girlfriend in our local community brings joy to my heart and these unforgettable moments are forever treasured in my mind, heart, and soul.

God is relational. He is love. He wants for all of us to connect and love one another as He has loved us (John‬ ‭15:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬).
God created all of us to live in a community so we can love, help, support, pray and encourage one another. I truly appreciate quality time with all of my girlfriends whether it is in person, by telephone or on social media!

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I realized how blessed I am for having godly friendships in my life. Yes! Each perfect gift is from above. Friendships are priceless for all the eternal blessings they bring to our lives.

It is a privilege to establish and maintain a friendship for a period of time. Some friendships last for a season and others for a lifetime.

Value the present moment and make unforgettable memories with a friend today!

Gift of Time: When we prioritize our day, week or month, let us consider reaching out to our network of friends and take the time to connect. God wants for all of us to fellowship with one another regardless of our ethnicity, race and socioeconomic status.

Love everyone, and learn the difference in fellowship styles!

Gift of Listening: When I spend time with sisters in Christ, I am heard and understood. If I have a concern or an unresolved issue in my life, I am able to openly voice them and process my upsetting thoughts and emotions without being judged.

Gift of Love: True friends love me for ‘who I am’ and they accept my character flaws. These trusting friends are accepting and nonjudgmental.

“We ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love all of you have for one another is increasing.” ‭‭2 Thessalonians‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Gift of Vulnerability: An ability to be transparent in a relationship is critical for growth and intimacy. When someone is vulnerable, She will entrust you with information that shall never be shared with anyone else.

Trust is an essential ingredient for a forever friendship.

Gift of Fellowship: We all celebrate differently. When sisters in Christ celebrate, we all honor Jesus Christ in their thoughts, speech, and actions.

“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Philippians‬ ‭2:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Friends are not selfish and are much more concerned about the well-being of others.

In a community, we grow and have an opportunity to sharpen and encourage each other, and a true friend will make us accountable for our actions.

Gift of Prayer: Sisters in Christ pray for one another. We all have different needs, challenging circumstances and emotional distress.

42AA477E-3386-478C-B4A1-2A696B77AF26Photo Courtesy: Ben White @ UnSplash

Let us sit at our Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate on His Word: “May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other and for everyone else, just as ours does for you. May he strengthen your hearts so that you will be blameless and holy in the presence of our God and Father when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse: “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬

Weekly Challenge: Call a friend, wish her Merry Christmas and invite her for a cup of coffee or a meal at your house.

Create an opportunity to learn more about each other and pray for each other.

God’s awesome presence.

“If you bow low in God’s awesome presence, he will eventually exalt you as you leave the timing in his hands.” 1 Peter 5:6 TPT

88ACCEE4-D2FC-44A8-AD7C-7E70DA5A2BFBPhoto credit: Victoria Sereda @ Unsplash

Abba Father,

You are always opening up new frontiers. I  will relax, be humble and allow you to conquer the world on my behalf (Exodus 14:14). You are in charge of all life happenings (Psalm 46:10). 

Forgive me if I attempt to hurry things up. As you know, I am impatient and don’t mind wrestling with you at times! I also know you don’t appreciate when I anticipate or imagine the worst (Matthew 6:25). Forgive me if I have worried way too often in the recent past.

You speak to me in all circumstances. 

When an incoming email calms my heart, you reassure me I’m on track… when a photo exhibits a friendship, your heart is on display and I know I’m loved…when a neighbor assists me, your commitment is manifested and I no longer feel helpless…when strangers are kind, I know you deeply care… when I‘m excited about training, I know you want me to grow and reach my potential… when I hear a ‘warning’ from law enforcement, I know you want me to be on alert, on guard and honor your celestial ways on earth.

Lord, I know you are managing all of my affairs relentlessly and faithfully. I truly appreciate how you are orchestrating all life events on my behalf.

Help me ‘be still’ (Psalm 46:10). Your palpable presence is appreciated and I know you are cheering me along the way. 

You make everything beautiful in your perfect time  (Psalm 18:30). You are an awesome God! I love you with all of my heart, soul, and mind. (Matthew 22:37)

Your beloved and faithful servant.

(sign your name here, and make this prayer personal)

 

Sisterhood

 

‘Misunderstanding’ is a forceful presence among friends dividing hearts and perhaps abolishing today’s divine plans.

‘Open communication’ promotes  fresh insights, diffuses anger and grants clarity to challenging occurrences.

 ‘Transparency’ is the cornerstone of genuine, mature friendships.

‘Forgiveness and Grace’ are vital ingredients for  friendships to flourish over time and weather the rugged times.

Even if our human tendencies is to distance ourselves when angry, it’s pivotal to be intentional about the reconciliation of our hearts.

All of us possess strengths as well as quite a few character flaws.

“I am happily imperfect. In God’s eyes, I was wonderfully and fearfully made!”

We all think and communicate differently.

When steered into troubled or heated discussions, let us be mindful of our differences and let us honor these inequalities with great respect and in love.

 Cindy and I embrace each other’s strengths,  and sense of humor at all times!

‘How many times should I forgive?’

“Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭18:22‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Christ wants us to forgive others not once but as often as necessary.

If Reconciliation is possible then pursue it today!

Our days are numbered and tomorrow is not secured.

God knows our hearts and He will work everything out in His perfect time!

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!”

Just show up

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One of my colleagues from graduate school would always be available. If Dayra would say she was going to be at your house or call you, she would always follow thru with her commitment.

Yes! She would always show up.

Her level of commitment was remarkable and admirable.

I’ve lost contact with Dayra over the years yet she is much alive in my heart today.

Dayra is a dependable gal, a perfect role model.

I’ve never been 100% there for anyone, not even for myself.

‘How come?!’

Busyness, hardships, high fatigue level, and a fast-paced lifestyle are just few circumstances that may hinder the progress towards building community.

Today, I value existing ‘Dayras’ in my life. As a matter of fact, I want to be more like a ‘Dayra’ and nourish these relationships one day at a time.

“Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously.”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭9:6‬ ‭NIV

Over the years, I’ve learned not only to prioritize but focus on what’s relevant in life. The relationship with God, others and self are paramount.

Taking time to nourish my relationship with God, family, friends and self on a daily basis takes commitment, energy and focus.

Waking up early in the morning, praying for courage and strength, and showing up in life also matters at the end of the day.

Are you ready to show up? I’m all in.

Gifts from above!

It’s my Birthday month!

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I’ve been so blessed over the last forty-nine years. I’ve been alive for almost half a century!

Even though I’ve faced multiple, challenging scenarios both in my personal and professional lives, God has led the way over the past decade.

God has reassured me over and over again He’s got a plan written out just for me, and my full name is on the cover sheet.

How do I know He does?!

Every time I’m about to doubt His plan and grow weary, He reminds me of His grace and memorable gifts.

Co-worker’s smile when walking down the hall, the gift of friendship;

A wise friend who suggests the ‘next step’ for a project, the gift of wisdom;

A graphic designer who is willing to do work for FREE, the gift of fellowship;

A local church where God is glorified, the gift of the Gospel;

A bakery’s free bagel, the gift of community resources,

A co-worker’s readiness for an upcoming training, the gift of team work,

A replacement of an item free of charge and no shipping fees, the gift of customer service,

And so many other gifts!

I just have to be mindful of His unexpected gifts in ordinary moments.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”
‭‭James‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

A friend loves at all times.

 

“A friend loves at all times, and a brother is born for a time of adversity.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭17:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Over the years, We’ve met unforgettable women in school, community or college.

Women who were married or single, worked in school projects or work tasks, lived in our neighborhood or in another state or country.

Women who initiated a conversation or nourished a relationship or even created a special bond with us.

Let us treasure these faithful women who we’ve experienced life with, and those who even shared life lessons with us.

Some women may still be part of our lives today and others may have moved on. And, that’s okay too!

I’ve got few friends whom I don’t see for years but our friendship is always evolving thru the seasons of life. We know in our hearts we can reach out at any given time. We are still there for each other whether we want to laugh, share our random thoughts or even cry in moments of despair.

Praise God for faithful communities.

God manifests His love in all circumstances and most importantly in friendships. His deepest desire is for us to love, help and forgive one another.

A friend’s hug, kind words or even the quiet presence of a trustworthy friend makes a difference when life throws unexpected, curve balls.

I’m forever grateful for every woman’s journey whose path has crossed with mine!

Greece