He Saw and Believed

Dear Cameron Joshua and Erin Marie,

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Today there is a crisis in our nation and the country is in a Stay In Place order due to a virus called Corona virus, which means we aren’t able to meet together for what for us is the most blessed celebration of our faith, Easter Sunday.  I have been missing you both so profoundly as you, Erin, turn 6 weeks old, and you, Cameron, turn 3 in a few weeks. I am missing more of your life than I ever thought I would but today Hope resurfaced.

Today my beautiful grandchildren, today, your Papa got up and made coffee for us, then he showered and put on a suit and tie. I followed his lead and dressed for church as if it was any other normal Sunday. We got in our car and drove off to the church.

John 20:1 Now on the first day of the week Mary Magdalene came to the tomb early, while it was still dark, and saw that the stone had been taken away from the tomb.So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, “They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.” So Peter went out with the other disciple, and they were going toward the tomb.

Today your Papa went into an empty church, and said to the essential staff that it takes to preach an online message to and said, “The church may be empty this morning but so was the tomb and we are going to proclaim the WORD to more people than we would have reached normally.”

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Then the other disciple, who had reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed;

Your Papa met Jesus when he was not much older than you are and he has proclaimed him since. He wasn’t going to stay home and not reach anyone on this day, THE DAY,  our faith is built on. He was going to go to his pulpit and shout it out to the world. This isn’t any ordinary day and this isn’t a day to be taken casually. Is any day really?

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If you’ve ever preached to an empty room it isn’t easy. You get feedback and body language from those who are present and came to hear. It helps you move forward but your Papa has been doing this a long time. And he pushed through knowing he was called by God to give Hope and an invitation.

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So today he was a Pastor to a world who is scared that they will get a virus. He preached for you both, that you always know that Jesus is the center of our life. He preached to the ones who still don’t know about Jesus and he reminded me and himself that Jesus is the center of it all. While God has sat us all down, Papa is still doing what he has called to do.

I wrote all of this out in my bible today but just in case it is lost, technology will live on. One thing you will have forever is that Nana and Papa love you with their whole heart and you have a strong legacy of prayer and service to the Church and Jesus Christ. Hallelujah! He is Risen. We have hope and God’s Promises.

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Left Behind

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Yesterday driving between appointments I heard on the news that Kate Spade had taken her own life. Beautiful, fun, adventurous, Kate Spade. The woman who seemed to be on top of her game. A beautiful family, a career of her own making, launching a new line, and yet we will never know what was going on inside of her. Life is like that. We see the outward success and aren’t privy to the inward struggle.

If you are suffering from depression I urge you to seek help. Suicide is often an act done in hopelessness. Think about it, it’s not having anything at all to live for. There is nothing that depression doesn’t take away, depression lies to you and mental illness is a very real thing. Depression torments and tells you that there is nothing worthy about you.

How do I know this? I witnessed it first hand. Those of you who have read this blog for years know that my husband committed suicide. The questions, the guilt, the anger, the despair are overwhelming for those of us left behind, those of us who loved, and some of these issues are never resolved. Oh sure, you learn to live with the feelings of not being or doing enough, but you never get over it.

Was there something you could have said?

Was there something you could have done?

Were we not important?

The simple and complete answer is No. However knowing the answer doesn’t change the mindset. Knowing that there was nothing you could do to stop it doesn’t make it better.

So with a heavy heart I write to you to tell you to always take threats seriously. Always, always, always, get help if someone you know is contemplating suicide. Don’t think they are attention seekers or just talking, or not really going to do it because you honestly don’t know anything of their internal struggle. Take every single threat seriously. Then in the same breath that I say this, please understand that there is NOT ONE SINGLE THING you can do to stop them if they choose to do it. Sometimes, those who commit suicide never even say anything at all. They leave their feelings in a note after the fact. Or they leave nothing behind that would give you any sort of clue as to why.

I have firsthand knowledge of how suicide can destroy the lives of loved ones left behind. I know firsthand how therapy can help but nothing ever truly heals completely. Today I am praying for every person who has lost hope. I am praying for Kate Spade’s family who is devastated, and for their lives whose course has changed forever.  I am praying for you too, the survivors who have lived through it, and for you, who are watching a loved one suffer and are scared it may just happen.

 

Reflexology

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My friend Roxanne kept telling me to go get reflexology for some issues I was having. She swears by it. Then another friend Linda said the same. They both told me it would be painful so I made an appointment for my husband to try it on a day I could go with him. I mean, he’s tougher than I am and I wanted to see in action before I committed to getting it done. Admittedly I was quite skeptical. I am not one who jumps on the latest fad band wagon and yes I know reflexology has been around for much longer than a fad, but enough justification, off we went to see what it was about.

And this is how I know God has a sense of humor because just as we arrived there was a cancellation and guess what? My husband pipes up and says, “My wife would like to take that appointment please.” He’s such a thoughtful gentleman.

So the next thing I know I am putting my feet in hot water and getting ready to enter a room. The room was just like an examination room. I lie on the table the reflexologist begins to talk to me as I explain it is my first time and I have no idea what to expect. Then he grabs my toe and says, “Have you had your pituitary gland checked? Something is weird with it.”(Insert Twilight Zone music) Those of you who have walked, no pun intended, with me on this blog know that I was diagnosed with a tumor on my pituitary gland in 2014. Was this a lucky shot or was there something to this reflexology thing?

My first session was very painful. At one point I was holding my breath and my heart was pounding and I wanted yell STOP and fly off of the table. He wasn’t by any means Jesus but he told me about myself, my health and the pain I’d been having. So, I’m going to give this thing a try. I have to go every six weeks. It’s supposed to get less painful as we go and I’m supposed to get some relief from pain as we move forward. Stay tuned for the updates.

What do you know about reflexology?

 

Boundaries

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I admit it. I was a little crispy fried a couple of weeks ago. I hadn’t had a full day off in a few weeks. A few hours here and there but there were a couple of short term projects that needed to be completed and this wasn’t the normal schedule.

Finally, Wednesday came, our day off and and I took full advantage of it. I woke up early, and stretched out and decided I had nowhere to go, so I read, watched some TV and stayed in my pajamas. Until about 10:30 then Doug and I got ready to go out to eat.

He surprised me by heading out of town to go have some fun. Both of our phones kept ringing. Work, counseling, work, advice, work. At one frustrated point, I said,

“Wait! Everyone knows it’s our day off. Why do they call us anyway with non-emergencies?”

The answer was simple, we didn’t have boundaries.

The calls weren’t emergencies. They were simple things. I wasn’t mad at the people, I was annoyed with myself knowing that I hadn’t set boundaries to protect time off.

Sometimes, things are your own fault. So when you are feeling frustrated, ask yourself, “What am I doing to cause this?”

No, you didn’t set up the phone calls but you did respond even if it was just to open and read the text message or the email or listen to the voicemail.

What boundaries do you have to put into place so that you can get quiet and have some down time?

Remember, Sabbath is not a suggestion. It’s a commandment.

 

 

 

Even in Rural Areas

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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?

But She’s The Bride

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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.

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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

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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?

 

Confirmation

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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?   

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.

 

You’re Not Allowed

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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?