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Archive for the ‘Faith’ Category

Forever Jones Song

He Wants It All Lyrics by Forever Jones

This week I heard the words He wants it all in my spirit and I heard it the way Forever Jones sings it in their song He Wants It All. What’s crazy is I haven’t listened to the song since I lived in Atlanta 6 years ago and then all of a sudden, I hear the tagline, “He wants it all…He wants it all.”

So I immediately looked up the song again that I used to play on repeat and sing my heart out to in my car and I remembered why I loved the song. Check out the chorus:

and He says, love Me, love Me with your whole heart
He wants it all today
serve Me, serve Me with your life now
He wants it all today
bow down, let go of your idols
He wants it all today (x4)

It’s beautiful how much God loves us! It’s infatuating! It’s exhilarating! It’s romantic! And all God asks for is All. All!? You might say, “All is too much!” Or you could read the lyrics above and probably just see the words Serve Me and Let Go in big red warning letters flashing before your eyes. You think to yourself, “Why does following God have to be so hard?” Actually, it’s not. Giving God your All is easier than you think when you remind yourself of the vastness of His love for you. When you know that He first loved you and because He loves you so much, He craves your affection, your attention, your All.

How can you know He loved you first? Go to His Word. I’ll share my top 3 verses that you can claim as your love promises too:

Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. Isaiah 43:4 (NLT)

I remember a time I told God that I wanted to find a place where HE said the words I love you in the Bible and that’s when I found that verse in Isaiah.

I will make you my wife forever, showing you righteousness and justice, unfailing love and compassion. Hosea 2:19 (NLT)

I absolutely love this promise of unfailing love! This verse is so powerful when you realize that His unfailing love for us also contains promises of righteousness, justice and compassion. It means we are never forgotten, we are never without His help. Do you need justice in a particular situation? He has betrothed you and His justice is yours. Are you struggling and no one cares? You’re not alone. You’re married to the King of Kings and His compassion is there for you. Do you feel like no matter how hard you try, you keep making the same mistakes or taking more steps backwards than forward? He is your righteousness.

I gave you my solemn oath and entered into a covenant with you, declares the Sovereign LORD, and you became mine. Ezekiel 16:8b (NIV)

If you continue reading a couple more verses you see a vivid picture of what His love and care looks like. God is exorbitant in His generosity and His lovingkindness towards us.  When He enters into covenant with you, you become His and He will not withhold any good thing from you. (Psalm 84:11)

So, actually, at this point, He doesn’t even have to ask me to love Him, I really can’t help but love Him. When I think of how much He loves me, I am filled with love and gratitude and I want to love and honor Him back. If that looks like giving him my whole heart, I do it willingly. If that looks like serving Him with my life, I’m running to serve Him. Side note: Serving Him with your life just looks like becoming the person you were created to be and letting your talents, gifting and your uniqueness for which purpose you were created be manifested. He made you for a unique calling and you’ll be happiest in that so serving Him is actually great on so many levels. 

Letting go of anything that comes between such a strong and all-encompassing love becomes an easy imperative because you don’t want anything getting in the way. There’s a grace and ease in letting go of distractions and casting aside false idols. You realize no one else has loved us like the LORD, who loves us just as we are, who can never cast us aside, who looks at us with tenderness, acceptance, approval and a fierce pride because we are His, made in His image and likeness. And if that weren’t enough proof of His love, here’s everyone’s favorite verse and proof of love:

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. John 3:16 (NIV) 

Sometimes, because we’ve heard this verse so many times we forget just how powerful it is. It’s really SO POWERFUL. It’s the ultimate expression and fulfilled promise of His love for us. And it makes His ask so simple to concede. He wants it All because He gave it All. “I gave others in exchange for you…because you are precious to me…and I love you.” He gave His Son Jesus for you and for me. Don’t ever let go of this proof of His love for you! I hope you too respond as I do:

“Lord, I give you All my Love. Lord, I give you All my Life. I give you my All.”

Kairos Moment: When God reminds you daily that He loves you, in a remembered lyric, in His Word, in His touch, in His creation.

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My Father

Dad and UsAs I reflect on my dad’s birthday this week and how grateful I am to him for being such a huge influence in my life, I realize my life story begins, all thanks to my dad.

You see, my mother was sterile her whole life. She didn’t menstruate till it was surgically induced in her 20s and it only lasted a year. But when my dad met my mom, he fell in love with her at first sight and he knew then and there she would be the mother to his children. It was the late 70s and as you already know from a previous post my parents were seeing miracles, signs and wonders everywhere; so it seemed like nothing was impossible for God to perform and my dad was convinced my mom would be healed and get pregnant.

Why did my dad believe my mom would get pregnant? God helped his Faith in 3 specific ways: the prophetic, His Word, and a vision he had as a child.

1) My parents received many prophetic words of encouragement from people who knew about their situation and even complete strangers at healing services, prayer groups, bible studies or just people who would be praying at home and would hear from God to tell my mom and dad to not lose hope because she would soon be a mom. 2) Every time my mom and dad sat down to pray and read the Bible they would inevitably find themselves reading the story of Abraham and Sarah in Genesis. 3) My dad, as a child, had a vision where he saw that he was older and a father and was surrounded by his children. He likes to tell us he saw us just as we are when he was only a child. He held onto that vision as proof that that word would come to pass and God was certainly faithful by giving him 4 of us kids!

As  children we were first introduced to God by my mom as “Papa Dios” or “Daddy God” and it really was very easy to believe in a Divine Father who loved us, who cared for us, who provided for us, who watched over us and who was a happy and fun Father who only wanted the best for us because we saw an earthly dad who did the same things each day. My dad was very affectionate with us, always present at our school on school trips and being a lunch dad who helped in the cafeteria and at recess. All the kids loved my dad.

My dad got us all the treats my mom wouldn’t let us have (seriously not good but wonderful at the same time). My dad was in the electro-mechanics field so when my mom, a teacher, asked him to put a lock on the TV, he installed a keyhole into the side of our TV that would open the circuit so that it was impossible to watch TV while they were out and he did it with one of those round tubular keys so that we wouldn’t be able to pick the lock. He was such a softie though, that every once in awhile he would tell us where he hid the key as long as my mom didn’t find out.

There was very little my siblings and I didn’t have or get to experience growing up in Astoria and while both my parents worked, most times my dad worked two jobs at the same time but he did it with a willing heart and he did it joyfully. I remember one time he worked for Dominos as his second job and even though we were sad we didn’t get to see him so much on weekends, we loved getting to experiment with him in our kitchen testing out new pizza combos. My brothers especially loved Dad’s pizza job!

One of my most precious memories happened in high school. My parents were very traditional in our upbringing and culturally if you’re under 15 as a Latina you are still considered a young girl so you can’t do things like shave your legs or wear make-up but it was NYC and not shaving your legs in 9th grade meant being made fun of. After one completely humiliating incident where a girl in my class told all the guys I didn’t shave, I came home in tears and was inconsolable. My dad lavished me with words of love and encouragement about how I was beautiful, loved, special, blessed and stronger than the hurt of that incident. And then, practical as ever, my dad took one of his yellow Bics and taught me to shave.

There are so many different aspects of my dad’s character and his gifting that I love about my dad! I really love his creativity and his artistic abilities. My dad hand-painted my baby clothes with scenes of Bambi, birds, butterflies, flowers. His mom was a seamstress so he and my mom used to make my sister and I beautiful dresses when we were growing up. Musically, he has a superb ear and could help us with our prep orchestra and marching band practice at home because he would always catch our wrong notes. But my favorite is his voice. I love it when my dad sings. I love the strength of his tenor and I love being able to pick his voice out in a choir because it’s the strongest voice. I remember as a child people at church used to tell me my dad sounded like Placido Domingo. I have always loved hearing him sing and even though my dad says we sing because his side of the family has always had singers, musicians and songwriters, I know that I sing because I learned to love singing  when I sang with him.

My dad’s birthday was Tuesday and today I celebrate my dad by sharing with you a snapshot of the great man of Faith God gifted me with as a father. I hope it inspires you to look for the gold in your dad. To the girls, I hope it encourages you to hold out for a man of God. To the guys, I hope it gives you proof that being a beloved husband and dad is an achievable goal you can aspire to, if you hold fast to God’s help, always.

Kairos Moments: When you see that God’s word in Proverbs 20:7 is true. “The just man walketh in his integrity: his children are blessed after him.”  When you purpose to do the same with your life, thereby leaving a legacy of righteousness to the next generations.

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Stop, Listen & Go

I LOVE to travel. I mean I ABSOLUTELY LOVE IT. I love being introduced to the new. I love the change of scenery.  I love the instant gratification of arriving at a destination. When it’s long-form travel, I love being able to sit back and allow myself to be carried forward into the next experience and moment. I love the movement of travel and I love the stillness.

But travel doesn’t just speak to a physical sensory awakening, travel speaks to my spirit.

There’s something about the physical act of going from one destination to another that always causes me to sit back and think about where I’m headed in life. My dreams and decisions are birthed in the forced stillness of an airplane covering long distances and crossing timelines…as if I am being carried forward towards dreams that are within reach and closer than I’d imagined…

Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Proverbs 4:25 (NLT)

Sometimes the days are so busy, it’s easy to get caught up in the constant activity and forget to take the time to dream or check-in on my dreams. The daily grind becomes more about reacting to a full schedule or workload. Staying at work late trying to finish projects given around the closing bell (sigh), fitting in time at the gym, coming home late hungry, making dinner, social media socializing, Netflix unwinding, going to sleep late, snoozing 3-4 times the next day and rushing to start another cycle of just trying to make it to the weekend.

And yet God is reminding us in Proverbs to Look straight ahead, and fix your eyes on what lies before you. Asking you to believe they are within reach and closer than you imagine because His plans for you are greater than your day-to-day and He wants to birth Hope in you to believe and imagine again.

Now, as you know, last year I traveled to Paris and “backpacked” through France & Italy mainly, with some Belgium and Spain thrown in, so I spent lots of time travelling between geographical destinations. Journal in hand, I had hours to sit and listen to God and reflect on next steps as the train rushed by lush landscapes and I saw how accessible the next destination could be. I would dream of lushness in every area of my life and actually see and hear how easy it could be.

“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.” John 15:5 (NIV)

I’ve decided and I hope you join me too, to bear MUCH fruit EACH day. I’ve decided to bear the fruit that I’m meant to. Yes, God’s Grace and the Fruit of the Holy Spirit allows me to be kind, loving, gentle, peaceful and patient each day, bearing fruit each day, but I also want to fulfill His purpose for me and in that way yield the most of my talents and abilities. So, this is what I’ve done since my sabbatical and what I’m purposing to do as I step into the Greater Unique Calling for which I was created. (Watch this sermon series by Jeremy Pearsons‘ on getting Fit for the Master’s Use, HERE.)

First: Take time daily to STOP.

STOP and DREAM. STOP and ASSESS where I’m at in the dreams God has placed for my life. STOP and PRAY over those dreams and project. STOP and DECLARE God’s Goodness over every part of my life and the glorious future that He’s prepared for me. STOP and write down what He’s showed me and what goals I’m pressing forward to.

Second: LISTEN for His Voice and His Direction. John 15:5 is SUPER IMPORTANT. Apart from Jesus, I can do nothing.

What does remaining in Jesus, practically look like? It’s saying, “Jesus, Help! Holy Spirit, Help!” throughout the day. It’s finding His promises about that situation in the Bible and writing them down to carry with on your person, as a lifeline. It’s spending time in His presence throughout the day, EACH day.

I set apart daily quality time and stay connected during the day as I’m working, eating, commuting, working out…by saying things like, “God, I love you. You are so awesome. You love me so much. I think you’re so kind, so great, so amazing to me. I see how you care for everyone in my family. I see what you’ve done in my life. I trust you. Thank you for your help. Thanks for making me smart. Thanks for making me beautiful. Thanks for setting up this opportunity for me.” (In “thought-seconds”- time spent is like speed of light status)

Third: I GO. I get moving. I take action. I write the blog post. I apply for the job. I make the decision. I go to the gym. I make the coffee date. I take the class. I research the idea. I look up cost-of-living in the new city. I practice the skills I feel I’m losing. I set the money aside for the dream. I read the book. I quit the time-draining activity. Whatever Holy Spirit has told me the Father and Son want me to do, I endeavor to do.

Jesus told him, “Stand up, pick up your mat, and walk!” John 5:8 (NLT)

This isn’t always easy. I would say from looking at my life and the conversations I’ve had with friends the hardest part is to GO. Doubt likes to creep in at this step and tell you, you heard wrong. Passivity can saunter in and say, “Not yet, you have time. Status quo looks good.” Fear, (I hate it!), will show you every possible worst-case scenario of you taking action. So, what do I do? I do it anyway. I arm myself with the WORD and if I can’t shake off the what-if, as Joyce Meyer says to do, “I do it afraid,” but I do it.

Then the LORD said to Moses, “Why are you crying out to me? Tell the people to get moving!” Exodus 14:15 NLT

Personally, I like the verse above and I use it as an exhortation to myself, when I know that the next step is contingent on me actually getting myself in gear and taking action. By this point I have Stopped to Listen and I know what I have to do but instead of doing it, I’m like God, You need to change my situation, and He’s like, “Ok, Raquel, you know what you have to do. I’m on your side. Your move. Get moving; I’m going with you. I’m going in front of you, I’m watching your back, I’m holding your hand, but you have to take the step, if you want to see all My promises come to pass in your life.”

You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore. Psalm 16:11 (ESV)

What’s the result of Stop, Listen & Go? A life that promises the presence of Yahweh. Fullness of joy and Pleasures Forevermore.

Kairos Moment: Taking the time to dream with God, lets Him speak into your life the dreams He has for you and the direction you have to take. Staying connected daily means fullness of joy and rest and peace and hope; surely those are a taste of the pleasures and treasures He has set apart for His children who love Him and seek after Him.  

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My dear and talented friend Julie is a composer and she recently shared with me that composers often find inspiration while in transit. It’s so beautiful to know that melodies and scores are birthed from the sounds and rhythms of a subway car, a drive, the physical act of walking and the syncopated beat of footsteps, your own or those around you.

I was sitting here replaying the poetry of her words, visualizing and understanding that word picture she shared with me and I remembered the start of a blog post I never wrote. It began like…

There’s something about the physical act of going from one destination to another that always causes me to sit back and think about where I’m headed in life. My dreams and decisions are birthed in the forced stillness of an airplane covering long distances and crossing timelines…it’s as if  being in physical transit makes dreams feel within reach and closer than I’d imagined…

I was in my early 20s and recently out of college so I’m sure it was more florid. I was so lost in those two first sentences and the idea of the story I could write, that I actually pitched it to the Huffington Post Editor at the time. It was the mom of the family I babysat for and for a moment I wanted to be a faith/Latina/millennial blogger. She replied, “Sounds interesting. Write it and send it to me.” I felt a rush of excitement at the promise of the unknown, as I assured her I would write it and email it to her as soon as I got home. The problem was, once back home in the Land of Familiar, I remembered I hadn’t majored in journalism or English at school so what did I know about writing? I let feelings of inadequacy discourage me from writing what might have been published. The door closed and since it had only been a passing thought on a plane ride out to LA to babysit, I let it close and never looked back.

Joyce Meyer, in her book, Battlefield of the Mind, talks about how we often let our reasoning keep us from believing what God has spoken to our hearts and shows us what’s really happening:

“As Christians, we need to learn to decide to believe. God often gives us faith (a product of the Spirit) for things that our minds just can’t always seem to come into agreement with…The devil never runs out of fiery darts to throw against us when we are trying to go forward.” (p.59, Ch. 6)

At the time, I didn’t believe I could write the blog post I wanted to write because it would be scrutinized and found wanting. Many of us miss opportunities and fail to walk through open doors because we think we aren’t ready- we don’t have the right background, we have made too many mistakes, we didn’t study enough, we didn’t make the right decision, we picked the wrong major or the wrong college, we didn’t finish college…all the reasons/darts that the enemy throws our way when we are trying to go forward into what God has called us to do. I’m sure you can think of many other “reasons” we’ve heard that have prevented us from stepping forward and reaching towards dreams and visions God has placed in your heart.

Here’s the GOOD NEWS:

“But forget all that– it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.” Isaiah 43: 18-19 (NLT)
“…Rejoice in the LORD your God! For the rain He sends demonstrates His faithfulness. Once more the autumn rains will come, as well as the rains of spring. The threshing floors will again be piled high with grain, and the presses will overflow with new wine and olive oil. The LORD says, “I will give you back what you lost…” Joel 2: 23b-25a (NLT)
I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me…You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever! Psalm 30: 1, 11-12 (NLT)

There’s actually so much Good News, it was really hard to just stick to 3 Bible verses. Open up your Bible today and I guarantee you’re bound to land on at least 1 of his 3000-5000 promises! And those promises are all yours, in Christ Jesus, so don’t let go of what is yours! Our God promises us, “I will give you back what you lost.” That means the big stuff- the big opportunities we thought passed us by, that are really circling around for us waiting for us to step out in faith for, and even the small things we’ve forgotten we lost, like the blog post I never wrote.

In a divine reminder of restoration and His loving-kindness towards me, as Julie spoke the words of birthing creativity in movement and transit she breathed life into the whisper of a story never written and never told. I agree with Mark Batterson, when he says in The Circle Maker, “God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is great because nothing is too small for Him.” (p.115, Ch. 10)

He restores EVERY thing that was lost because Jesus accomplished total restoration on the Cross for us and we, who are in Christ, are now co-heirs of all the promises found in the Word of God. His love for us is HUGE and ENDLESS. And the best is that what God has placed in you and what He has for you can never be lost because He said it in His WORD:

For God’s gifts and his call can never be withdrawn. Romans 11:29 (NLT)
Kairos Moment: What I didn’t write in my 20s isn’t lost but is now transformed and made richer in my 30s. Next week, I’ll share about being in transit by taking steps of faith but also about being in stillness to hear His voice and I’ll start the post with two very simple lines etched in memory and brought back to remembrance by a Father who always loves and always speaks.

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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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Being Different

I grew up in an atmosphere of revival. It was the 80s in NYC and my parents were participating in the Catholic Charismatic Revival that had started for them in the 70s. This meant prayer groups, preaching, bible studies, conferences, retreats, all night prayer vigils, fasting, prophecy, tongues, miracles and healing masses where words of knowledge were called out and people came out of wheelchairs. I myself had been a miracle baby, whose birth was prophesied to a mother who had been diagnosed with the Stein Leventhal syndrome and did not ovulate.

By the time I was a tween it was the 90s and the NYC Charismatic revival was dying out and there were fewer and fewer events to go to and more bible studies and home groups disbanding because of lack of leadership. But it was too late for me or my family to go back to religion as normal. We had already experienced too much glory, seen too many miracles, felt His Presence and Leading too palpably to be okay with less and without realizing it we were already too DIFFERENT.

In 5th grade, I had an idea. I had children’s books of early church saints and martyrs, who had had a face to face encounter with Jesus and received a calling to either extend the gospel, care for the poor, heal others or just stand firm in their faith in the midst of persecution and possible execution. People who had given their lives to Christ.  I attended Catholic elementary school so I also knew the stories of shepherd boys and girls around the world who because of their piety and love for God had gotten to see Jesus face to face. In 1981, some real kids/non shepherds in their tweens and teens in Medjugorje, Bosnia had gotten to visit Heaven and meet Jesus! I thought, surely, this still happens and if so, I want it.

So, I thought, this must be something that happens because of how much time you spend in prayer and I don’t want to waste a single moment that can get me closer to getting to see Jesus in the flesh. During lunch and recess, instead of chatting or playing, I stood off to the side praying. Some of the boys in my class noticed and after taunting me just decided it was easier to rough me up. I got into my first real fight in the school yard as I fended off the pushing and ended up in the principal’s office. I quickly realized NYC schools were not the place for piety and heavenly apparitions.

I look back on this incident with tenderness for the naive yet always head over heels for Jesus girl that didn’t realize she was so DIFFERENT from those around her. I recently told my brother, “You know I’ve never cared to fit in,” and he smirked as if to say, “That’s been obvious!” I’ve probably cared a lot more since leaving college and entered a workforce/world that equates Christ with being ignorant. Yet, in spite of this I can say with Paul:

For I am not ashamed of this Good News about Christ. It is the power of God at work saving everyone who believes…” Romans 1:16 NLT

As an adult and a Christian who believes the Word of God, I know we can all see God face to face and hear His voice any time we take the time to listen. It’s not reserved to the holy and pious few. We are all His treasured possession:

“for you are a HOLY (set apart) people to the LORD, your God. Out of all the peoples on the face of the earth, the LORD has chosen you to be His treasured possession.  Deuteronomy 14:2 NIV
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession (KJV says a pecular people)…” 1 Peter 2:9 NIV

and we ALL have  the promise of seeing Him face to face.

“…(The LORD) will still be with you to teach you. You will see your Teacher with your own eyes. Your own ears will hear Him. Right behind you a Voice will say, ‘This is the way you should go, whether to the right or to the left.'” Isaiah 30:20-21 NLT

And that is what Being DIFFERENT is all about, my dear friends. Living your life guided by Him.

Kairos Moments: Knowing we are all called to spread the gospel, heal the sick, eradicate oppression and stand for what we believe. Being chosen to be His treasured possession. But even better than all that is the grace and promise to see Him daily that comes from His Love and not from works, or prayer time or being perfect. 

 

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Being Overwhelmed

In an instant I can go from feeling completely confident, on top of the world, master juggler and super woman to feeling overwhelmed. All it takes is one item on my checklist to not pan out and I suddenly question my competency at everything. It’s an instant before my action steps kick in and I’m on top of the world again. Still, that interminable instant can feel devastating.

The speed of thought is scary at times. I feel like I can do an around-the-world trip in my mind several times over about everything that is not as it should be or everything I could have done better before I remember to STOP and breathe.

And when I breathe, I remember the One who gives me breath. I remember His Faithfulness. I remember His Love for me.

This helps me start my “action” steps which I keep ready for times such as these:

  1. Remember how much you are loved.
  2. Remember what He has done for you.
  3. Remember who you are.
  4. Remember who you are called to be.
  5. Remember your guarantee that all will come to good.

The Guarantee: We know how much God loves us and we have put our trust in His love. – 1 John 4:16 NLT

I am now overwhelmed with possibility, overwhelmed with joy, overwhelmed with hope, overwhelmed with excitement. I remember the tangible manifestations of His love for me: my family, my friends, my church family, the great opportunities God has given me, the places I have traveled to, the people I have met, the successes I have had, the positive encouragement I’ve received, the daily miracles.

Kairos Moment: A flood of Faith fueled by Love now overwhelms me. Being overwhelmed now feels so much lighter, so much brighter, so full of Him.

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