Even in Rural Areas

IMG_8232

I had a meeting with Lara Olson, an advocate for youth in crisis,  about how we as the church can help impact our at-risk youth in our county. She said that one of the things we must do is get STD awareness out to the public because what we don’t know is harming us. That caused me to begin reading and learning.

Here are some facts:
Chlamydia is on the rise in Merced County and shows very few symptoms, pain in the eye, abdomen, or pelvis. If left untreated it can cause infertility.

Syphilis is also on the rise. Symptoms include, sores or legions, skin rash, headaches, fatigue, patchy hair loss (alopecia). If left untreated it can affect the organs.

These are two serious diseases that are plaguing our county. If you think you may have one or more of these symptoms please do not hesitate and go and seek medical attention.

Do I think the church should be involved in these conversations? Yes. We, the leaders in the church, teach about the sin of premarital sex but we often fail to teach on the why. God isn’t a fun spoiler. He is merely trying to save us a lot of heartache over decisions that have consequences that we can’t take back. He is protecting our hearts, our minds, our physical beings from the things that could pollute us and change forever the course of our lives. That word forever is no exaggeration. So while these are delicate and difficult discussions, let’s be honest, who really wants to talk about this, they are necessary conversations. We can’t pretend that it isn’t happening or that it doesn’t affect us all in some way. We must be wise and we must be informed if we are going to help others navigate what can sometimes be difficult heart-wrenching decisions. We can’t be afraid to speak up and we certainly can’t be afraid to tackle the tough stuff.

I choose to lead with eyes wide open and ears listening to the pulse of humanity and to what God is saying and sometimes that means I have to get uncomfortable as we bring to light what is trying to destroy us in the dark.

What is happening in your community that is needing your attention? Are you ready to get uncomfortable in order that it could help someone?

Published in: on September 18, 2017 at 2:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

But She’s The Bride

church-pic-e1414448010735

I just read another social media rant about what is wrong with the church. As a follower of Christ it makes me sad. Is she perfect this church of ours? No, she is far from perfect. However she is my neighbor, she is my sister, my brother, she is ME. So when you talk about her, when you disparage her, you are talking about me, you are talking about my family, and maybe you are talking about yourself.

Here is what I know for sure. She is the vehicle in which Christ chose to move his message forward. He could have picked any number of things, he is God and God doesn’t lack resources. So for better or worse, in her glorious imperfection she is here to stay. She is the only thing that will last when all is said and done. She is the one that the Lord said the gates of hell shall not prevail against, and most importantly she is the one for whom he returns to take home with him.

20882058_10214238212571615_2491023361306927418_n

You see, finding fault with her is a cheap shot. It’s too easy. She’s human and therefore fallible but finding the solution and putting your hand to the plow is the work. The harvest of beauty is there and plentiful. Are you willing to get messy? Are you willing to be a laborer or will you continue to be a critic? A critic is someone who determines the value of something and usually decides it is not good. Only that doesn’t work for the church. Because if we are saying she isn’t good then what we are saying is God chose the wrong way in which to express himself.  He made a mistake and I don’t think he did. It’s especially harmful coming from ministry leaders. They are in the wrong profession and confession when they are critical of the very thing they profess to give their life for. Let’s love her through the process of becoming. Let’s come up with solutions to the problems we see. Let’s love her to wholeness.

B.A.T.H

12963426_10209483415784667_8583413950944866241_n

In our house we don’t say the word bath, we spell it out until we’re ready to do the deed. You see, the word bath invokes a rebellion in Lulu the Wonder Dog. Immediately upon hearing the word she goes and lies in her bed, curls up and closes her eyes. When I go to get her to take her dreaded bath she won’t open her eyes. When I grab her by the collar she becomes deadweight. When we are finally in the tub and giving her a bath her ears are down and she moans loudly refusing to move and making me maneuver to get her all cleaned up. Once out of tub and all scrubbed down and toweled down she runs throughout the house jumping on furniture that she isn’t allowed on and refusing to come near me. I offer her a treat for her misery and she takes it, but isn’t quickly forgiving.

As I bathed her this past week I wondered what God has to spell out in my presence? What am I refusing to do that ultimately is good for me? For Lulu the Wonder Dog bathing means we get all of dirt off, we hopefully avoid things like fleas, and it gives me a chance to check for ticks or anything unusual on her skin, not to mention she smells good again. Yet, the mere mention of the word brings on such a refusal of action. Honestly, this is the only thing she fights me on. It makes me wonder and stop to take inventory of what I have an absolute refusal of?

So what is it? Does the Lord have to spell E-A-T  H-E-A-L-T-H-Y? Does he have to spell E-X-E-R-C-I-S-E? Is it more like, F-O-R-G-I-V-E? C-L-E-A-N-S-E? Or is it deeper still? S-A-B-B-A-T-H? Is it a sentence like, What does the W-O-R-D say about that? What consequence does our refusal hold for us? If Lulu the Wonder Dog understood that her bath does nothing for me and everything for her would she still see it as the worst thing she has to do in life?

Do you want to know the most interesting thing about Lulu The Wonder Dog’s bath? Once she settles her issue, she gets on her dog bed and sleeps in such sound peace, snoring she doesn’t even wake up to shift positions. I don’t know if she’ll ever go willingly or understand that there is a benefit to it, all I can do is continue to do my part and that’s all our Heavenly Father does. He speaks and hopes we’ll understand the benefit.

Think about it. There is a benefit to what the Lord is asking of us. Will we be deadweight or will we rise up and follow?

 

Published in: on May 10, 2017 at 2:10 pm  Leave a Comment  

Confirmation

purple

I am having lower back pain due to a pinched nerve. Some days it’s so severe that it hurts to put one foot in front of the other and it feels like needles are being stuck in my back. I was in so much pain one day that I walked over to the Chiropractor across the street from my job to get an adjustment. I had cute sparkly heels on. His assessment came quickly and clearly.

“Fortunately the inflammation is contained on one side. Get out of the heels for a few months and allow the back to heal and you’ll be fine.” 

I’m Mexican, heels are our trademark. Surely, there is something more to this back pain than heels. Surely there is. Heels are just too simple of a solution.

I know! I have to pray for a healing because obviously my faith isn’t strong enough.

When the pain became unbearable I went for a massage. Tisha said,

“Heels aren’t good for you.” 

“Ugh! I know but flats hurt my feet.” 

Lord, I know you have a healing for me. Please give me some relief.

I got it! I’ll go to Dr. Deldin and see if he has a magic pill that will make me get better.

Dr. Deldin said, “Bend your knees every time you go to pick something up, even if it’s a piece of paper.” And then in a sterner voice he added,

“And get out of those damned heels.” 

Which actually, the heels I was wearing that day were super cute AND I feel like he cursed them. They aren’t damned at all. So I prayed for my heels and for those haters of heels.

However, I am still waiting on a word from the Lord regarding the healing of my back.

Vikki, my sister from another mother, said, “Are your migraines back? The Lord told me to pray for your ache and I thought it was your head.”

“No, not my head, my back.”

“You’ve been hurting for awhile. What’s up?”

I go through the whole scenario with her to which she responds. “You’re crazy. I’m swamped at work.”

That’s her way of saying, you already heard the truth so just quit it.

Monday my back hurt so much I wanted to cry but I had cute heels on, wedges because those are more comfy.

And so I keep praying for my healing and a confirmation from the Lord as to what to do.

How about you? What are unwilling to face facts about?   

Published in: on August 17, 2016 at 10:13 pm  Comments (4)  

Drama Free Zone

Quotefancy-4025-3840x2160“You must constantly ask yourself these questions: Who am I around? What are they doing to me? What have they got me reading? What have they got me saying? Where do they have me going? What do they have me thinking? And most important, what do they have me becoming? Then ask yourself the big question: Is that okay?” — Jim Rohn

I read this last year and began to assess. I had some work to do in the drama department. So I resolved to make my life a drama free zone. I decided not to get caught up in the day to day stuff that wasn’t mine to own. I decided that if I had an issue, I would go to a select few women who could tell me the truth and point me in the right direction.

So this year who am I around? I am around people who challenge me to think positively. I recently had a wonderful time with a friend who after I left her presence I realized we talked about absolutely no one but ourselves, fashion, music, God, dreams, skin care products, books we were reading, our favorite travel destinations, our bucket lists. Not one single thing about anyone else. I am mostly around people like this these days. It makes for a very happy well rounded life.

What are they doing to me? They are making me see the life beyond the drama. I have to tell you I love, love, love it.

What have they got me reading? Novels, The Federalist Papers, ministry books, and the bible.

What have they got me saying? Positive things. Life-giving things, things that matter and are thought provoking, oh and politics which I’m not sure is positive but definitely thought  provoking.

Where do they have me going? Church, dinner parties, concerts, plays, book readings, game nights, book clubs.

What do they have me thinking? Life beyond drama. Life beyond chaos. Life worth living.

What do they have me becoming? A person who isn’t caught up in the urgent and by that I mean, a person who isn’t looking at the chaos that comes from the day to day urgency but at a life that is lived with more compassion, more space, and more freedom.

This is a critical point. Did the last year leave you stressed and angry and caught up in nonsense or did it bring you peace? I can’t say 2014 brought me peace but I came back to myself and changed it all in 2015.

There is so much more to the earth than the stuff going on in your world. There are stances to take on issues, there is a desperate need to pray for needs that far supersede the confusion of small-mindedness. There are moments to be still and let the Holy Spirit begin to bring revelation to your soul that breathes life not only into you but to those whose life you touch. There is a banquet served to those who wish to explore possibilities. I used to get discouraged by the naysayers who want the world to swing their way. I have a deeper understanding of life and the bigger picture than the one I see in the mirror.

Is that Okay? It is absolutely beautiful to your soul’s purpose.

 

Published in: on January 28, 2016 at 8:06 am  Leave a Comment  

You’re Not Allowed

prohibted_img

It bothers me when a spouse says in public what their spouse is allowed to do and what they aren’t allowed to do. I can only imagine what that nightmare of a marriage looks like in private.

“My husband is not allowed to drink his coffee in the living room.”

“My wife is not allowed to work.”

“My husband knows better than to think he’s bringing home a recliner.”

I stay quiet as I hear these statements but in my mind I think, “Bully”. I believe when we try to usurp authority over a person we are in essence saying we are higher than God. The bible reads that God is not one who overrides your free will instead he offers choices. Those choices usher in his presence or not.

Revelation 3:20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.

Mark 8:34 And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me.

Revelation 22:17 The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.” And let the one who is thirsty come; let the one who desires take the water of life without price.

My husband and I are very strong people in very different ways. I am verbal and will say what I think. He is non-verbal and votes with his action. So when we disagree we tend to stop until a compromise is reached. He has never said to me that I wasn’t allowed to do something and I have never forbid him anything. We both take into account the free will of the other.

Are there forbidden things in a marriage? Of course! Adultery, Abuse, Addiction, Manipulation, Lying are things that are forbidden in a marriage but I would think if I have to demand a ceasing of these actions then I married the wrong person who lacks love and character.

When we  continually call the shots, continually admonish our spouse as if they are our child, continually manipulate the finances, I wonder where Christ is in all of that? When it’s our way or the highway whole people sometimes cower for a season but they eventually fall away. Maybe they don’t leave the situation. Maybe they just go away emotionally. Maybe they begin to spend time alone not meeting our needs. Maybe they find someone who respects their opinion.

We can argue that the person who is experiencing the violence of the violation of free will, chose to give it up and I would say that is true. In counseling I often hear that they feel stuck because of a circumstance such as children who will be devastated by divorce, so they bide their time. Then there is the lack of work or experience where they can’t support themselves which often keeps them in this situation as well.

It can happen in the work place. There are those who feel threatened by their boss or their employee. The employee who continually threatens to quit, who calls in sick as a pattern on critical days. The boss who lords that there are plenty of people out of work over their employees. It isn’t right.

As Christians we are supposed to have no unwholesome talk come out of our mouth. When we think of unwholesome talk we think about cussing, gossip, but what about bullying? What about dragging about someone by a leash demanding our way? Isn’t that the tearing apart of a person of free will? Un-whole-some?

 

 

Year End Wrap Up

image
This past year and a half I tasked myself with the goal of rediscovery. Through a wake up call, I took the hint and applied it. I took on no new projects, I had alone time as much as possible and I gave no explanations to anyone as I trekked through this season of health issues and heart issues alone with the Holy Spirit. I knew those who loved me would pray and not judge and those who didn’t wouldn’t understand and I had to be fine with the criticisms as it was my journey to take. I am peeking my head out and arising slowly back to my place in the life I have chosen with surrender. I am wiser, stronger, and realize that sometimes the Lord is doing a power shift where he is carefully orchestrating a new level. It doesn’t mean you are going anywhere necessarily, but it means there is a new focus or a refocus of things that were set aside for what you felt was a bigger issue but wasn’t where the Lord was taking you.

As this year unfolds I will share the journey and what it has taught me as I don’t believe lessons you learn are just for you. It would be selfish to think you’re the only person going through any issue.

My main focus as we end 2015 is don’t be afraid to be set aside for a season. Don’t be afraid of the No in life. Sometimes demanding your way and kicking in the door isn’t wise. Sometimes you have to trust and really mean the Thy Will Be Done part of your prayer. It’s not about people trying to hurt you or make you feel less than. It’s about a whole picture that only God sees. Wouldn’t it be great if we could see the whole picture but for now we catch a glimpse.

Was there pain? You bet! Was there hurt in the criticisms? Of course! Were there people whom you care about who resented you were not in place? Yes. The main question is did the Lord set you apart for this season? If so, then all the other stuff is washed away. Forgive those who chose to condemn. Forgive those who tried to kick your door in and force you into their agenda. It’s been a long season but inwardly productive. I am pleased with the progress and ready to go! I pray in whatever season you are in you can listen carefully. There is work to do in your community. There are people to reach for Jesus. Taking your ball and going home is not helpful but knowing what the Lord is calling you to do is. Praying for you always!

Published in: on December 28, 2015 at 8:26 pm  Leave a Comment  

A Good Life Always Start With A Vision

 

IMG_5566

The family game we played last night sits left over on my dining room table this morning. Last night we laughed until we cried, we came up with a team name that shall not be repeated out of the circle of those who were there. I sit here and write this post on the day after Christmas as google reminded me with a ding on my calendar this morning. Those of you who know me know I write a vision statement each year. I make a list of things I want to accomplish personally and professionally. Then I write ideas for vacations, home improvements, a budget, a savings plan. Yes, I know it sounds too hard and it doesn’t sound like there is any adventure or spontaneity in it does it? Oh, but there is! Life takes twists and turns that you can never plan for, and some ideas need to be tweaked midway, and some ideas although great in December in June you can see aren’t going to cooperate. The point is to have a plan that can keep you on course even in the midst of chaos. It sounds complicated but it really is the key to freedom! Knowing exactly where you stand and how you can proceed in the current conditions takes a big worry off your mind. You don’t find yourself in a car lot, excited about a new car if the budget isn’t there because you have a plan in mind and on paper. Instead you may find yourself at the mechanic’s shop getting a quote on a transmission fix which is much cheaper in the long run.

So as you can see by the picture, I look back at 2015 and write down what went well and what didn’t work. I make determinations on whether I am going to try again or scrap the idea. I look at what projects aren’t quite finished and if my time was used effectively or is it just taking a little longer. Did I squander too much time or did I have just enough rest? What old habits never died? Where did I need more discipline. Where is this going in the New Year?

I used to brag that I started writing vision statements back in my 20’s and I would always accomplish my goals by October-ish. I used to pat my self on the back and say to myself, “Girl, you are just that good at getting things done.” However one day I heard a still small voice within me say, “You get your goals met each year because you don’t dream big enough. You play it safe.” OUCH! I felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit to go deeper and to be more daring. You see, I thought I was just that good. Now I am older than my 20’s, much older, and I have learned to set up bigger dreams. I have learned to set dreams that will actually take 2-3 years to complete, like the two week trip we took to Hawaii that required us to save up rather than charge it. Or the one where my husband announced he wanted a Camaro in 2011 but it took us until 2014 to buy it because there were plans in motion that had to be completed first.

IMG_5565.JPG

So what is your dream for this next year? What are you planning to accomplish and what will take some time to fulfill? I pray you have been thinking about it and I hope you are working towards your destiny!

Take your time. Make it clear in your head and then advise your heart because honestly, if your heart isn’t in it, it won’t get done.

Published in: on December 26, 2015 at 6:15 pm  Comments (1)  

Pruning

prmitivo-close-up-2-24-15

Prune – verb

1. to cut or lop off (twigs, branches, or roots).
2.to cut or lop superfluous or undesired twigs, branches, or roots from; trim.
3.to rid or clear of (anything superfluous or undesirable).
4.to remove (anything considered superfluous or undesirable).

Over the last year I’ve allowed a pruning in my life. My blogs became fewer, my days were no longer intentionally set the way I wanted but instead often changed up in a weird, chaotic seeming to me, but divinely purposed to God way. To tell you that it was easy or that it wasn’t on some days excruciatingly painful would be a lie. I wish we could be pruned like a haircut where you feel excited at the anticipated outcome. For me, a Type A, there have been days when I want scream STOP! ENOUGH! OUCH!, only I grew up in the Central California Valley, where vineyards grow in abundance, and I know pruning is necessary for the next season. Pruning is an ugly necessary part of bearing exceptional fruit. In the Central Valley, the winter is ugly. Everything is pruned, fog sets in, money is tight because few are working, and there is this stillness, this holding pattern as we anticipate the coming of Spring and the new abundant crop and the action that comes along with it. All the while the vineyards are digging deep and baring their souls and most look away because it’s uncomfortable and desolate and a process that is completed deep within.

I remember some years ago, I was walking my father’s vineyard at winter time, and I told my dad that the vines look gloomy without leaves. He answered “They don’t look gloomy… They are showing you their soul. Looking at them you can see their essence, their strength and weakness… You can see their skeleton and help them to become in what you want them to become by encouraging their natural process through the pruning”~By Mariana Onofri The Vines of Mendoza

So quietly I went about my business and agonized over things I thought were important but The Lord said had to go. It would be simple if you got to prune yourself. If the vine could say to the vinedresser,

“Please take a little off the top, but you see that strong sturdy branch there, yes that one, please leave that one alone, I’ve cultivated a following there, and there is much fruit that came from it.”

It doesn’t work that way. Pruning takes away all of the pretty and all that is left is the stump. This is why it’s so crazy hard to do. To be stripped away of things you felt were important and worthwhile but weren’t for you in this next season. To be looked at by your peers as dropping the ball or worse no longer a team player because you weren’t showing up in uniform ready for the action and instead were taking time to sit on the bench and observe the frenzy that you once loved so much.

Baby, sometimes the season is over.

Sometimes you’re the star quarterback who thinks they have a season left. It doesn’t mean life is over. It just means the chapter is finished and it’s time to start a new one.

When your definition is your title, there will be pruning. Truth be told we’ll be in denial over this. We’ll proclaim to anyone who listens that our title isn’t what defines us because we’re richer than that but the fact remains that we cry out: THIS IS MY CAUSE! THIS IS MY PASSION! Yes, that is what the vineyard says to the vinedresser. The vineyard who also professes to be a surrendered soul.

Our cause and our passion belong to the Master

or is that simply a statement made for those who choose to listen to us and the lie we tell our heart as we pilgrim forward on the way to the things that are meaningful to us? Just something to think about.

 

 

Published in: on October 19, 2015 at 8:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Breathe

Breathe Flyer

Published in: on June 26, 2015 at 8:35 am  Leave a Comment