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

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

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

 

Empowered by Jesus: Original by Design.

Lord,

Thank you for creating me in your image. I am ‘original’ by design. Even though I am a sinner, I am your beloved daughter. I deeply treasure the royal kinship with the King of kings. I am loved and forever cherished by our Heavenly Father and His only Son.

”How amazing is that?!” I am a child of God (John 1:12).

His truth reminds me of how wonderfully I was created even though I tend to be self-critical at times. Let me never forget ‘whose I am’ ever again. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.” Psalm‬ ‭139:1-4, 14, 24‬ ‭NIV‬‬

I am … Chosen. Forgiven. Redeemed. Loved. Treasured. Set Apart to God.

“How special is that?!” I am unique and one of a kind.

No one can snatch me out of my Father’s hand either (John 10). I feel protected and secured right about now, Lord.

You always hold me close to your heart.

I praise you boldly and will sing a song of Thanksgiving always!

I am alive and well in Jesus Christ.

Let me be mindful of our enemy though, the father of lies, who wants to destroy or distort our  well-being and your divine master plan. “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy…” John 10:10 NIV. The enemy planted the seeds of doubt and insecurity and convinced me I was ‘not good enough’!
Back in high school…
My girlfriends and I were gathered outdoors in the patio for a short recess and held an informal conversation about college. Everyone was inspired about future possibilities and asked relevant questions to the School Counselor. When our morning break ended, everyone rushed to their scheduled classes except me. I was unassured of the aptitudes needed to succeed in college so I asked for the counselor’s opinion.
After a brief silence, she answered gently “I don’t see you in college.”
“Ugh? Did I hear correctly?” I silently asked myself, was downhearted then walked away in disbelief.
Was I not good enough for college?” this sentence repeatedly echoed in my mind for the rest of my high school years. Discouragement settled in my heart soon thereafter. I never inquired again about college admission, SAT prep courses or career choices.
The self-deprecating message ‘not good enough’ replayed in my mind intermittently for almost three decades. It was a lie the enemy had planted in my mind and it played out throughout college and career life. I never thought I was good enough.
Academic life was ferocious
But God…
He granted me the confidence to overcome insecurities, fear, and doubt. By breaking down challenging tasks into manageable action steps, developing effective study habits, and learning from past mistakes, I overcame hurdles in both my personal life and career development. In Christ, my spirit was renewed every day, a steadfast character was built, and spiritual maturity evolved over the years.
The unexpected materialized twenty years after high school graduation!
I poured some Colombian coffee in a mug, grabbed the wireless headphones out of the leather tote then rushed to the home office at sunrise, “Lord help me be alert, organized and articulate in today’s conference call”  I whispered to myself. As I dialed the conference number, I meditated on His promise, “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20 (NIV).
I was astonished about the progress all team members had made so far in previous conference calls.
I was invigorated when the State Commissioner’s genuine appreciation for Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was initially displayed.  ABA is a treatment modality for children and adolescents who are diagnosed with intellectual disability and pervasive developmental disorder.
Never in my wildest dreams, did I expect to be in a regional leadership role much less conversing with a State Commissioner at 8 a.m. on a monthly basis! God’s vision is bountiful. I’m not letting the enemy plant another seed of doubt in my mind ever again.
No more lies, Satan, not today or ever again!

Lord, you have orchestrated favorable circumstances in my life. When these circumstances are unexpected, overwhelming or tragic, you give me the strength to persevere thru it all.

I am shifting my attention and focus to your heavenly ways and I will embrace your never-ending grace when I fail or experience setbacks. I know you love me even though I’ve got plenty of character defects (John 16).

“I am a work in progress.”

You are a forgiving, loyal and merciful God. You love me for who I am even at my worst. I am devoting the rest of my life to serve and worship you, “Serve and worship the awe-inspiring God. Recognize his greatness and bow before him, trembling with reverence in his presence.” Psalms‬ ‭2:11‬ ‭TPT‬‬

My heart is filled with gratitude, Lord.

Some say I have a type A personality. Others may not even notice the difference! I am much more interested in what you have to say, my Lord. Help me not be bothered by others’ critical opinions.

Man’s critical opinion is irrelevant. Your eternal view matters to me the most.

“How can I maintain eternal focus today, Lord?” I have asked myself repeatedly over the years. There are so many distractions, temptations, and earthly influences.

The more I know your truth, the more I witness how your truth has set me free.

I am engraving all of your precepts in my heart so I may never forget them or sin against you (Psalm 119:11). I enjoy meditating and discovering heavenly treasures in your Word every day! I take captive every thought on fruitless habits and ask for your strength to overcome temptations.

Apart from you, I cannot do anything, Lord (Psalm 16:2, John 15:5).

Yes, Lord! Help me overcome today’s temptations.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me, you can do nothing. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” (John‬ ‭15:5, 7-8‬ ‭NIV‬‬)

When I am drifting away or get distracted Lord, gently nudge me back to you so I may abide in you and bear much fruit. Your spirit of truth guides me and shows me how to persevere thru turmoil, confusion, chaos, and uncertainties (John 16:13). In the midst of life happenings, I would like to grow spiritually and be much more steadfast in my walk with Jesus.

The Holy Spirit gifts us with a range of blessings. Thank you, Jesus, for the power and blessings of our forever companion, the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit filled life is full of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness. goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).

I need help with self-control, Lord.

I believe but help me with my unbelief when it comes to frivolous spending. I have thought of  being ‘not good enough’ to build a retirement plan. I know this is a lie!  Help me stop and walk away from the next shopping extravaganza. Some days I do well and other days I just want to shop non-stop. One of my current concerns is to manage the finances well and display self-control when faced with temptations over the Holidays. I want to be content with all I have today. I’ve got enough! Help me stay within the boundaries of my established budget. I am worthy of maintaining a solid retirement account. Yes, Lord! I know you want me to be a good steward of your resources.

I know if I rely on the power of the Holy Spirit, I will have the strength to walk away from needless spending. I need wisdom every time I make financial decisions and your strength to walk away from temptations of all types.

In Jesus’ name,

I bravely pray.

Amen.

Let us sit at the Lord’s feet:

Inscribe and Meditate: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. 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. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭12:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Memory Verse: “But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen you and protect you from the evil one. We have confidence in the Lord that you are doing and will continue to do the things we command. May the Lord direct your hearts into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” 2 Thessalonians‬ ‭3:3-5‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Weekly Challenge:

Identify a lie that has played out in your life over the years. Pray for God to replace it with His Truth.

Weekly Tip:

His Truth will set you free (John 8:32).

 

Photo Courtesy: Javier Reyes @ Splasher89CF692D-36A3-4CA8-BA9A-4BAE7064998C

A ‘Heart2Heart’ Note to a Faithful Father ~ Bible Journaling 2017 ~

My heart is filled with gratitude and hope after prolonged exposure to ‘spiritual warfare’ originated from a sinful world.

We live in a broken world. People’s mind are perverted, hearts are hardened and actions are undoubtedly conniving and evil.

Spiritual warfare is real. We can easily be sucked into it. It’s an on-going struggle.

Hearing the latest news on TV, navigating thru unexpected circumstances, facing adversity or adopting world’s views will either consume all of our energy or exhaust our emotional, intellectual and/or physical resources. If our resources are depleted, we will drift away from our close fellowship with Abba Father.

Be alert, a thief comes to steal, and destroy one’s relationship with the Lord!

I often pray, ‘Lord, guard my mind, heart and soul’. 

Because the Lord is faithful and merciful, I just wrote Him a “Heart2Heart” note today.

Dear beloved Father, you have been my refuge since I invited you to come into my heart. You acknowledge all struggles and distress, and counsel me when facing dilemmas. You are a shining light to a disturbed and chaotic world.

You know me by name and even pronounce it correctly with a Latin flavor.

Help me capture the essence of your promises so I may remember them in the midst of intense, unexpected  spiritual warfare. My deepest desire is to always be courageous, brave and stand firm in my Faith.

Spiritual warfare is real and is here to stay!

But, there is victory in the name of Jesus.

If I seek you, I will find you. You are my strength in my weakness. Your faithfulness is my shield in any given challenge, Lord.

Your love never runs out and I appreciate when you extend grace when teaching the hardest, life lessons. Yes, I heard you ‘loud and clear’ this afternoon when you highlighted the importance of being still and relentlessly prayerful right before entering the battlefield.

Shape my thoughts, mold my character and set my paths straight. I always want to act justly and walk humbly.

Direct my steps, and cleanse my heart from unforgiveness, bitterness and hatred.  I surrender my plan(s). Your plans are better than mine indeed!

I do believe so help me with  my unbelief. I’ve wrestled with you way too many times. I know you understand my struggles, dilemmas, and uncertainties. I repent for hidden sins in my heart.

I will trust you with all of my heart, mind and soul regardless of current circumstances.

Let your will be done always, in Jesus’ name I give praise and pray, Amen.


Bible Journaling refreshes our minds, hearts and souls creatively. The experiential activity will redirect our attention to what’s true, trustworthy, lovely, admirable and noble. When our minds are renewed, we can endure the next challenge, rejection and/or opposition. When fully engaged  in creative bible journaling, I love using a confetti-colored, royal blue pair of scissors to cut out the elements, strategically place them on a bible page, highlight a verse or two, reflect on His message and engrave it permanently in my heart. It’s a fun way to unwind at the end of a hectic day,  diffuse the intensity of toxic stress and preserve the fellowship with the Lord.

In 2017, I created at least 43 different page layouts and prayed over these Scriptures. God speaks to us thru His Word.

D0745453-1972-42C7-9CB5-9BED1DAA974E“Is anything too hard for the LORD? I will return to you at the appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.””
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭18:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬D9E69226-71F6-44AC-BD03-5E3207DA1562“I will surely bless you and make your descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky and as the sand on the seashore. Your descendants will take possession of the cities of their enemies,”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭22:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬592A4AB0-6E10-4C8C-BE10-F6EAD77235A2“And the LORD said to Moses, “I will do the very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.””
‭‭Exodus‬ ‭33:17‬ ‭NIV‬‬ED4D2CDD-337D-49D1-A5AB-6AEA4CB73774“Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God. I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt to be your God. I am the LORD your God.’ ””
‭‭Numbers‬ ‭15:40-41‬ ‭NIV‬‬90F241B9-FAA8-4E0F-8845-CC672F351343“But if from there you seek the LORD your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul. For the LORD your God is a merciful God; he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors, which he confirmed to them by oath.”
Deuteronomy‬ ‭4:29, 31‬ ‭NIV‬‬DD57E277-3228-463D-831C-459A618D8ECEAnd now, Israel, what does the LORD your God ask of you but to fear the LORD your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul,”
‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭10:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
DEF0A2A7-1D5A-4736-A3E5-8A91C23F987D“But Ruth replied, “Don’t urge me to leave you or to turn back from you. Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God.”
‭‭Ruth‬ ‭1:16‬ ‭NIV‬‬CAF24EE1-1061-4E50-A134-002DA3416EA2“So he sent for him and had him brought in. He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features. Then the LORD said, “Rise and anoint him; this is the one.” So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the LORD came powerfully upon David. Samuel then went to Ramah.”
‭‭1 Samuel‬ ‭16:12-13 NIV4D83828F-C281-44A3-AAE3-3231B10A81F4“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭16:34‬ ‭NIV‬‬FCA94ED7-5E55-404C-B9E1-40757A76CE16“Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all. Now, our God, we give you thanks, and praise your glorious name.”
‭‭1 Chronicles‬ ‭29:12-13‬ ‭NIV‬‬1FC00CBF-C94D-4D10-954A-DBD58750C0F6“if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”
‭‭2 Chronicles‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬611F6404-F4DC-49F8-A8BA-5304FA858CEFFor if you remain silent at this time, relief and deliverance for the Jews will arise from another place, but you and your father’s family will perish. And who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?”
‭‭Esther‬ ‭4:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬B8EA74C5-73BC-4AED-85C4-BEAE2B2B5B22“Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭4:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬671602E3-C0CB-4D97-B152-F8B30ADA4215“The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭19:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬
BA83B8EE-3546-402F-9355-E0D4423A35D5“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭23:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬010CE9AB-46F6-491E-9830-6EE0D70E23F3“Show me your ways, LORD, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭25:4-5‬ ‭NIV030C5F26-66A4-4A41-9CC2-A5C352B3167D“He says, “Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.””
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭46:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬
01314719-C794-4183-8D3D-4F59B60424CD“I know every bird in the mountains, and the insects in the fields are mine. If I were hungry I would not tell you, for the world is mine, and all that is in it.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭50:11-12‬ ‭NIV‬1A4ADB5B-EDFF-4A30-894D-A5B020EC3489“In your righteousness, rescue me and deliver me; turn your ear to me and save me.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭71:2‬ ‭NIV‬‬7664399C-2BF5-47F4-A11F-4DBF9D288F6A“He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭91:4, 7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
5417558F-EE0E-425A-9483-0920E8CE9A8A“Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭100:4‬ ‭NIV‬‬
DAB524DF-01F7-46EE-A2AE-111FBB38114A“Remember the wonders he has done, his miracles, and the judgments he pronounced,”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭105:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬2B72F5EC-79E8-419A-866E-F2CAD2C67D15“Blessed are all who fear the LORD, who walk in obedience to him.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭128:1‬ ‭NIV‬‬
6A07FC51-10F7-485B-A363-95B6FE85BB05“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NIV‬‬C2B8E7DF-812F-4FE7-8D96-D193ABC1783B“a time to tear and a time to mend, a time to be silent and a time to speak,”
‭‭Ecclesiastes‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
C6BF5B2A-FD71-435E-B5A8-BEE361798A71“Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭7:14‬ ‭NIV‬‬EC71DD35-7B9C-4A08-A72D-9409DF697FA7“Awake, awake, arm of the LORD, clothe yourself with strength! Awake, as in days gone by, as in generations of old. Was it not you who cut Rahab to pieces, who pierced that monster through?”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭51:9‬ ‭NIV‬‬E04ED18B-94C8-4C72-9A89-271F0139C24A“Yet you, LORD, are our Father. We are the clay, you are the potter; we are all the work of your hand.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭64:8‬ ‭NIV‬880F71AE-FA09-4ADD-8616-16AA252C206A“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬B9A1E89A-73A7-410D-9447-5B0CFBED7671“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 ‭6:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬
596B33DA-2733-43D1-842F-6176296766D2“He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.”
‭‭Micah‬ ‭6:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬930DB0B1-17BF-4A8E-BBA7-BC668D41C968“After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi from the east came to Jerusalem and asked, “Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him.””
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭2:1-2‬ ‭NIV‬‬
8F944160-E25C-4FD1-91B0-76D33072AF97“Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.””
‭‭Luke‬ ‭22:42‬ ‭NIV‬‬
9AC090B7-96B3-4085-911D-6DA7A770D352“When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.””
‭‭John‬ ‭8:12‬ ‭NIV‬‬
17DA4EB9-DE3B-4053-ACE4-456D7AE87ECF“For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin— because anyone who has died has been set free from sin.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭6:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
D896ED53-1647-4B9A-BD13-95C0772D126ALove is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭13:4-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬
D437FA1F-2CCE-49EF-AF1C-72D7E43746B2“Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong.”
‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭16:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬
722C42A9-7EFE-4AEA-AABE-28F19A16BFEF“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”
‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭5:17‬ ‭NIV
9FC03FE8-E62A-42AE-A411-9803A20BF7DD“Speaking to one another with psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit. Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord,”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬
D27707B3-564C-4E25-A791-EF4098E56136“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.”
‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:15-20 NIV
71094258-A666-4C1A-BC5E-0C43641A1816“Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”
‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬
4B4E1D5C-6902-49DF-9070-8B6C6AD29CBA“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure. It enters the inner sanctuary behind the curtain,”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭NIV‬‬
9CD2F9EA-9164-4CD1-842C-51CF3AF207AD“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
‭‭Revelation‬ ‭21:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬
—————————————–  Bible layouts can be purchased from Etsy store titled “Lot95Designs”. There is also a FB community available for encouragement, teachings and ideas led by Lynn Shokoples. You may request membership at the following link: https://m.facebook.com/groups/1592533074392323

 

 

God hears our Prayers

As I hustled towards the double doors of Corporate building in despair, I prayed “Lord, I don’t want for GQ to suffer any longer…let him rest… Take him now if its your will”.

“Answer me when I call to you, My righteous God. Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer” Psalm 4:1 NIV

The veterinarian had left me a voicemail by the time I unlocked my office door.

By then, I knew the Lord had seen my distress and had heard a piercing cry for His mercies.

image

Our last morning together. He was relaxed while I drank morning coffee and ate breakfast.

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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!”