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

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

A Prayer for Macy

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How sweet when Scriptures are ‘active and alive’ in the midst of unsettling circumstances.

Jesus reminded me of his Truth, 1 Corinthians 4:12. His timing was perfect too.

“We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly…”

On Friday, I noticed a young woman’s desperate cry to save her kitty on social media.  People demanded the young woman to consult with the vet immediately without acknowledging or addressing the core treatment barrier.

The reality was ‘Momma cat’ didn’t have the money to pay for the vet bills after she had rescued ‘Macy’ from a gloomy, rainy, cold winter night.

After reading multiple, critical and harsh commentators on Facebook, I established a ‘gofundme’ campaign.

Some contributed and supported the campaign, others ignored it and few were insulted by its noble mission.

And, who knows ‘how many’ individuals reported the link to the page’s administrator after the campaign was posted on his/her social page!

Praising  Jesus right now!

I’ve got the Veterinarian and mamma cat’s contact information. Macy is on her way to the clinic at this very moment and I will be able to wrap up with the campaign this week, and most importantly follow-thru with Macy’s progress after her eye surgery💕

Her eye will be surgically removed in the next 24 hours.

I heard Jesus say in my disbelief, ‘pray for those who reported you and for the administrator who banned you from the page!’

“Are you kidding with me?!” it was the initial, candid response.

I was angry, disheartened and in disbelief when I found out I was banned for posting a campaign on social media. There were no warnings or alerts regarding rules.

Since then, I’ve been taking all negative thoughts captive to Christ and will continue loving ‘unlovable’ citizens on this earth today and always.

I love Jesus.

He wants us to love everyone 💕 including the unlovable ones.

Please pray for Macy’s eye surgery and post-recovery phase.

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(Courtesy picture: Gwen Dean — 5 weeks after the eye surgery)

If you like to donate to Macy’s campaign, please click the link below:

http://www.gofundme.com/help-ms-rescued-kitty

“I’m Greatly Disappointed, You are Forgiven”

Lester and I immediately connected when we first met at Wood Grove.

The Holy Spirit brought us together on a sunny day!

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Lester has a leadership role at an H.R. department and executes life-altering decisions daily.

We shared about our recent struggles in leadership.

“How do you handle disappointment?” I solicited.

His candid response was “I am greatly disappointed but I immediately forgive”.

The core of my soul was forever touched. A fresh perspective was unexpectedly heard as I strolled down the streets of the neighborhood with my hubby.

God had answered a prayer in His perfect time.

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How many times family or friends disagree with our views? How many times do co-workers ignore our suggestions? How many times do others reject our participation in a decision?

Way too often!

We may feel betrayed or disheartened along the way.

What matters the most is how we process these emotions? Do we hold onto them for a prolonged period of time? Do we let them go?

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it”  Prov 4:23 N.I.V

Our tender hearts need to be protected from negative emotions. The Lord wants us to forgive immediately. Not once or twice but ‘every’ time someone disappoints us.

Forgiveness nourishes the heart, saves our souls and it is the ultimate antidote for bitterness. Taking every negative emotion ‘captive’ to Christ, confessing, repenting and praying over our sinful hearts are key ingredients to healing and spiritual growth.

“Lord, help me release any angry thoughts I may have right now, cleanse my heart from ‘un’forgiveness, protect my heart from resentments and alert me of bitterness. Remind me of taking every thought captive when feeling angry so I may surrender upsetting thoughts and related emotions right there and then. Help me forgive those who are offensive and are evil in their ways.  In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen”

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:

Refreshed Soul

Life altering circumstances transpired and I soon realized I had drifted away from God’s wisdom and unfailing love.

Did I shut the door?!

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I was inconsistent with church attendance and Bible reading for a season in my life. I desperately needed His truth daily yet I had unintentionally drifted away from Him.

Life disappointments, busyness and overwhelming grief led to despair, discouragement and emotional pain.

I was in a desert with no living water!

One Sunday morning, Lord reminded me of His tender truth.

“Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”
‭‭Joshua‬ ‭1:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Daily Bible reading renews the mind, nourishes the soul and prepares us for combat and adversity.

The truth reminds us to meditate on scriptures day and night.

‘How do I get fit, Lord?’

He answered, ‘one day at a time’

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In the mornings, I complete a lesson from bible study, spend time in prayer and highlight the blessings of the day in a gratitude journal.

(30-45 minutes)

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In a 15 minutes break, I use S.O.A.P method when I select a Scripture verse.

S: Write a Scripture,

O: Write an observation,

A: How can I apply it in my personal life?

P: Write a prayer asking God for His will, guidance, and most importantly ask for wisdom.

I take advantage of the two ’15 minutes’ breaks at work.

At lunchtime, I read a Psalm or a Proverb for the day. It only takes another 15-20 minutes to read, reflect and pray over today’s lesson.

A 3-ring “Journaling” binder helps track the day.

Spend 15 minutes in an activity of your preference 3-4 times each day and

stay ‘refreshed’ all week.

I will never drift away from His wisdom much less ‘shut’ the door ever again.

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!”

Joy in the Lord is her strength

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I was sitting next to a vibrant, young-looking 65 years old woman when I heard the nail technician ask a routine question, “would you like your eyebrows trimmed today?”.

Her gentle response was, “I no longer have eyebrows since I’m a cancer patient… I’m blessed though”

“The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭28:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

She was soft-spoken, gracious and well-mannered.

All I heard was, “Cancer… Blessed!”

Agh?

“How many of us feel blessed after six years battling  with a rare form of cancer named ‘Leiomysarcoma’ on two different occasions? ” The cancer is now located in her lungs, kidneys and lymph-nodes .

I’m not convinced as of yet if I can ever bear 27 radiation treatments and still be blissful and undisturbed by a life altering event.

Her joy and strength were unshakable, her gratitude and optimism were palpable and her hope was in the Creator, the Alpha and the Omega. She had no doubts about His protection, unfailing compassion and never ending love.

She enjoys reading her Bible. She relies on His promises indeed.

Even though the white blood cell count is low and an infection may occur at any given time, she was grateful when she took the last chemo medication dosage.

She was even exhilarated by the trendy color of today’s manicure and genuinely smiled during our brief conversation.

She noted, “I’m truly content and in peace”. She gave me a  firm hug on her way out.

Today’s perspective on ‘challenging work circumstances’ instantly changed!

I grasped the importance of the here and now, the value of good health and most importantly the ability to live every moment as if it would be our last!

Our days are numbered indeed so I hope and pray I never lose sight of what’s relevant in life.

God always makes a way!

At 7:50 a.m. I was on my way to work when I heard the phone ring. Doctor’s demands were harshly voiced over the telephone,’quit smoking immediately’. He later added, ‘I don’t care if you inhale the nicotine, you must stop now. It suppresses your immune system…’

I was embarrassed  and remained quiet at first.

‘Yes, sir’ I softly answered.

 I never knew how difficult it was to quit smoking when our bodies depend on nicotine. I used to smoke a pack a day of ‘Marlboro – ultra lights’!

I was battling addiction then.

There are all types of addiction; alcoholism, workaholism, gambling, overeating, pornography, drug and sex addiction just to highlight a few.

Withdrawal symptoms are typically signs of dependence; an ongoing struggle during the initial stage of recovery. Relapse is another factor to keep in mind.

For over six years, I had been battling ‘atypical cells’ in my body and I still need to be tested every six months.

When I initiated the healing process, I decreased the number of cigarettes each day until I no longer needed to purchase a pack. I also replaced smoking with healthier, relaxing activities.

I find exercise, arts and crafts, reading, journaling and prayer to be quite relaxing. Most importantly, meditating on God’s Word calmed my anxious heart.

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In Christ, anything is possible.

“It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭18:32‬ ‭NIV‬

 Let’s trust in Jesus Christ, surrender our addiction and live an abundant life filled with healthier choices.

I am ALL in. How about you?