Archive for March, 2017

Nothing Is Wasted

All of us experience a measure of loss in our daily lives. Loss of time. Loss of finances. Loss of a job. Loss of housing. Loss of a friendship. Loss of a dating relationship. Loss of dreams. Loss of passion. Loss of peace of mind.

12 I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation, whether it be a full stomach or hunger, plenty or want; 13 for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power. Philippians 4:12-13 (TLB)

Try being content with your less-than-rosy situation as a New Yorker who’s often asked, “What do you do?” even before being asked one’s name. And then it’s: Where do you live? Do you have roommates? How much rent do you pay? Where did you go to school? Are you married? Are you dating? Where do you go to the gym? What do you do for fun? Well, if you just lost your job or you still haven’t found one, that means there’s no cashflow  and no cashflow in your life ends that convo pretty quickly. How about if, and I have friends going through this and have been through this myself, you don’t know what you want to do or you hate what you do or what you want to do and what you love to do seems like it’s just never going to happen? Well, then contentment seems fleeting…

If you’ve learned to walk away from the comparison game and ignore the people approval need then there are the subtle and internal pressures like knowing you come from a family of hard workers who worked their tailbones off so that their kids didn’t grow up with the nothing they themselves experienced.  I’ve had conversations with children of immigrants of diverse cultures who all admit that the pressure is on when you’ve grown up hearing stories like:

 I had one pencil and no sharpener so I learned to whittle it down with a knife…  When I ran out of money for notebook paper I took whatever paper I found and wrote my notes in the margins… I had one uniform for school and I took care of it because you couldn’t go to school without a uniform.

You just know you owe it to your family, your culture, your neighborhood, your gender, YOU, to hurry up and get out of that situation of loss or nothingness/emptiness! And those self-imposed pressures can work strongly against allowing you to get your joy back or not allowing you to be rid of worry and anxiety. I know because I’ve been through lots of seasons of loss and loss in lots of areas. And since this is not uncommon to the human experience, every one will at some point experience loss. If you want to come out of that loss triumphantly, there are a couple of secret weapons you can use so that NOTHING IS WASTED.

merriam webster contentment definition

I just want to start out by saying that God is the Hero of this story and every story I’m going to ever tell. It’s just what it is. I can’t take credit for what only He does. He gives the joy. He gives the help. He gives the answer. He gives the restoration and He gives His UNENDING LOVE.

On that note, I’m going to share 2 ways I partner with Him to stay in the secret place of contentment in the midst of loss.

for I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ who gives me the strength and power.  Philippians 4:13 (TLB)

The first thing I do is to remember and remind myself that I am in the palm of God’s Hand and that He is very aware of my circumstance. How do I do that? Letting go of all worry or restlessness, I remind myself of the times He has showed up before and turned my situation around. I keep a journal of daily miracles, and answers to situations, prophetic words I’ve seen come to pass. I make mental notes of stories I’ve heard of impossible situations being resolved. I celebrate with friends who see breakthrough. I am grateful for the smallest things and I see everything as a gift from my Beloved. I’m not talking about seeing the bad stuff as a gift. I mean stuff like I don’t have money for a metro card so I go on a walk with God and take in the sights and sounds of daily life as a present to me. I say, “that bird sang for me, that dog wagged its tail for me, that shop window that looks all cute as I walk by or that perfect cloud in the sky– it’s all a part of a living tableau for me. It’s art, outside the museum, captured by Holy Spirit who prompted me to look that way in that instant as a gift to me.” Grateful like that. It makes me happy and because it finds its foundation in Christ and His Love for me, well,  then seeds of power, strength and joy are planted in my heart. Joy that’s contagious and enters other areas or extends to other people.

There’s just something on focusing on the steadfast love and faithfulness of a powerful God and Father that chases out all worries and doubts and anxieties. When I start worrying, I always go back to this secret weapon first.

The second way I partner with God and another favorite secret weapon to battle loss that I’ve learned is sowing a seed. It’s a natural law that what you sow reaps a harvest and it’s found in Genesis. I’ve heard tons of sermons and miracle stories on this throughout the years, but I’ve also seen tons of daily miracles in my life so that’s why I do it. First the scripture:

“As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease.” Genesis 8:22 (NIV)

And now the stories. 😉 Ok, so I just want to say that this 2nd practical step is a very natural response to being in contentment and being sure that God is with you in every situation. That’s why focusing on Christ and God’s help is so important. When I’m thoroughly convinced of His love for me, I’m free from worry and restlessness, doubt and anxiety. I’ve traded all those in for peaceful satisfaction in knowing “Christ in me, the hope of glory.” (Col 1:27)  I have joy in my heart. I’m not depressed. I’m not being a loner. I’m not in survival mode. Instead, I’m thinking about how I can help others, where I can invest my time to make a difference, who I can encourage that needs a kind word. It looks like: giving an extra tip to the waitress who was mean because you’re extending love and forgiveness. It’s going to spend time with grandparents who are older and don’t get to many visits from grandkids instead of going out to brunch with friends. It’s stopping to help someone with directions, engaging the bank teller or cashier with a smile or conversation so they know you notice them and are grateful for their service. Sometimes when you don’t have a job or cash you feel like you have nothing to give or sow but really there is so much you can do! I mean sometimes it can just be something like taking the time to really do the dishes well or thoroughly clean that bathroom.  All of these are seeds that say, “My time isn’t stolen from me, my finances aren’t stolen from me, my relationships aren’t stolen from me, my joy isn’t stolen from me. What seems like loss, what seems like waste, is just an opportunity for me to enter this time of sowing and investing in others, in myself, in the Kingdom and I will see my harvest because it’s in the Word of God and He is faithful!!!”

And when you are in CHRIST and in HOPE you know NOTHING IS WASTED.

Kairos Moment: God’s faithfulness in helping me share the lessons learned in loss. Each new hurdle, new mountain to climb, new loss to await restoration for is easier to run towards as Paul did so that I too may say, “I have learned the secret of contentment in every situation.” Jesus, keep my eyes lost in love with you because a girl head over heels in love can’t help but feel content!


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Holy Spirit picks my nail color.

I was recently reminded of this, when for my sister’s birthday, we did joint spa mani-pedis. I woke up with a vision of my nails in pale lilac and as I walked into the nail salon later that day, I flash backed to that color. Now I’m not someone who thinks about shades of nail polish or the newest color palette, which is how I know this wasn’t my thought. Last year, Holy Spirit was sending me to the salon so much that I ended up asking Him to help me choose nail polish colors because there are just too many choices.

“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” 1Peter 5:7 (NLT)

Have you ever had a hard decision to make that took you months to make because you weren’t sure what the right choice was? Are there certain areas in your life that are so important to you, you fear taking the wrong step and dashing it all on the rocks? That’s me with decisions that pertain to my career because I worry about missing out on my destiny.

For He will order his angels to protect you wherever you go. They will hold you up with their hands so you won’t even hurt your foot on a stone. Psalm 91:11-12 (NLT)

Going on sabbatical in 2015 was a decision that took me about 5 months to make and this is why:

Before I went back to a position I had already held 5 years before, as Director of Public Affairs for a TV station, I really thought the decision through. I prayed going back was the right decision. I wanted to make sure it was where I would make the most impact with my talents and ability and I wanted a place to stay at long term. The station manager had made a great case for why I should take the position, promising a comfortable environment, great office, less work and opportunities to network with her outside of the office. The title was nice, the salary decent and I got to work in a field I love and excel in, with full time stability.

Well, you know all those success books that say if you get to work early, leave late, work beyond your job responsibilities, take on more work, make your boss’ life easier and give 110% at the office that you will succeed and get promoted? NOT THIS TIME!

So after pulling out my faith arsenal of prayer, patience, praise, turning the other cheek, blessing my boss in prayer, praying over my work space, enlisting prayer help, refusing to give up, spiritual warfare, more praise and worship, surrendering it to God, partnering with God to do my part, trying my hardest not to complain or gossip or become bitter, not saying anything negative, humbling myself, standing up for myself in my identity but with respect, trying to endure and wait it out, memorizing scripture for the occasion and situation, I finally gave up and decided to walk away.

Even though I decided to walk away, I still gave  110% at work because I wanted it to be perfectly clear that what was happening was in no way my fault. I trained my replacements, simplified work processes, de-cluttered my office and all the forgotten spaces of the TV station/building. I doubled up on work so that when I left there would be taped programs and completed reports that would extend several months into the new year. Deep down I hoped that somehow my situation would turn around and I wouldn’t have to give notice but it didn’t, so I found myself on a Friday in October 2015 cutting into a Best Wishes cake, saying goodbye over pizza to the production crew members who had come in for a taping that day.

I didn’t even tell friends and family I was going to quit  or had quit because I kept thinking, “No one is going to believe that this is not my fault.”

Now, I had just finished the book, “Dreaming with God: Secrets to Redesigning your World through God’s Creative Flow” by Bill Johnson so I was excited about this time off where I would figure out what my next steps would look like and I was telling myself, “This is good, Raquel. You were made for more. That place was stifling! Go where you are celebrated and appreciated!” But I was carrying shame about giving up and fear of how I was going to tell my family I let the boss beat me and I left work without unemployment benefits. I was also worried and trying not to be anxious about whether I had made the right choice.

I didn’t have long to worry. That first Monday morning of my sabbatical as I set out on an itinerary of cultural activities that included signing up for museum passes, finding a foreign language meetup, a cafe to sit and journal at, my first weekday care-free lunch, signing up for a NYC Parks free exercise class, etc and all the other activities I had built a weekly sabbatical schedule of so that I could convince myself this sabbatical was just what I needed…Holy Spirit stepped in with a request.

He said, “Go and get your nails done.”  I was like..”What???  I don’t have that in my budget right now! I’m about to step into 3 months of NO salary. I can take a break and all but my activities can’t be luxury activities. I have nail polish at home and getting my nails done is not relaxing to me! It’s a waste of my time and money. I’m not that type of girl-this is going to stress me out!”

“What sorrow awaits those who argue with their Creator. Does a clay pot argue with its maker? Does the clay dispute with the one who shapes it, saying, ‘Stop, you’re doing it wrong!’ Does the pot exclaim, ‘How clumsy can you be?’ Isaiah 45:9 (NLT)

I was wrong. I went in and for the first time in my life getting my nails done actually relaxed me. It felt like REST. Holy Spirit began to speak words of Love and Restoration over me. I heard God tell me He would care for me during this time and He would supply financial provision. I heard Him tell me not to fear and not to feel shame or guilt. I heard Him tell me to trust Him. I heard Him tell me He liked that I was taking the time to care for myself and that He loved pampering me. I heard Him tell me that I was getting my nails done because during this time I would rest and not labor. He would work while I would rest and trust Him.

If you think about it that totally makes sense that He would tie that message of rest to getting a manicure because every woman who has paid for a non-gel manicure knows that if you want that manicure to last out the week you can’t do a single thing because you can literally chip a nail with a strong breeze.

“The LORD will complete what His purpose is for me. LORD, your gracious love is eternal; do not abandon your personal work in me.” Psalm 138:8 (ISV)

From October 2015 through January 2016, right before my Europe trip, every time I stressed out about wasting time or feared making the wrong decision He sent me to the nail salon and we met by the nail polish wall where He assured me that if I could trust Him to make the time to help me choose a nail polish color, I could trust Him to help me make every other decision I needed to make.

Kairos Moment: Holy Spirit reaching out to remind me He has a personal work in me and for me. God can be trusted to complete His purpose in me and guide my steps.  I don’t have to worry about missing out if I take the time to listen to Him and respond to Him. 

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