Why blog?

It's therapeutic... specially for dorks like me who communicate better when they have the chance to process their thoughts, select their words, and write precisely what they want to say. As much as I'm a "talker", I stumble, stutter, and don't always say things right. English as a second language might have something to do with that (unfortunately, I don't think I could blog in Spanish... I lost my grammar in that language). I like to pour out my thoughts and leave it out there in the cosmos (or the world wide web) for other people to mull over...

Friday, October 15, 2010

Just a more recent update...

Wow I haven't blogged in Eons!

Mostly because I've been moving. Out of the church and into our cozy little place. I'm happy. It feels like home already. It looks like home - kid's toys and stuff all over the floor! We have a lot of work ahead of us.

Caleb has a horrible cough and cold, and we're trying to hold him over until he goes to the doctor next week, but I don't know if he'll make it! His coughing wakes him up during the night at times. But during the day he's all happy and trying to walk and getting into his toys, like nothing is wrong.

Anakin and Brielle are a bit too funny in their conversations. My gosh, Brielle can argue out of both elbows! She never quits! And I'll ask her when I pick her up from day care, "What did you learn at school today?" And she replies, "That you don't eat rocks. Rocks are yucky. They are not food." Which makes me wonder what she was trying to accomplish that day... And Anakin likes to read and is a fan of X-Men now...

Actually, Anakin likes Marvel superheroes period. He came up to me one day and asked, "Mom, do you know about "stanley"? " I thought he meant the little cartoon boy with the fish in the bowl that likes animals, so I say, "yeah, is that the movie you want to watch?" He goes, "No Mom..." Shuffles through one of his dad's Game Informer magazines, and turns to a page... "I mean, Stan Lee. See this guy? He's really cool. He's the guy that drew Spider-man, and Iron Man, and the X-Men..." My 4 year old likes comic books! And he has pretty good taste too... none of that Spongebob or Nickelodeon junk now... no "Chowder" or stuff like that. The challenge is that I have to screen his comic books/cartoon shows for content - because they aren't exactly drawn out for 5 year olds...

Which brings me to another point where I was pleasantly surprised: Anakin was watching an X-Men revolution episode where they are talking about "angel" sightings around New York for the holidays on the newspaper. The "Angel" is a mutant, but that's beside the point. In the newspaper article, Professor Xavier is reading it aloud...:

Professor X: "For those who have entertained strangers have entertained angels unaware..." Where is that from? Is that Shakespeare?

Beast: The Bible.

And then they go on to discuss whatever yada yada. I was just shocked that they quoted Scripture and said the word "Bible" without dissing Christianity, throwing in a non-religious spin, getting anyone offended, etc. There was no argument or discussion afterwords on whether or not the Bible is the inerrant Word of God. That was that.

It was incredibly refreshing coming from today's media. I wish it would be that simple.

Friday, September 3, 2010

1 Peter 4:7-11 “Basic Instructions Before Leaving Earth”

The end of the world is coming soon.  Therefore, be earnest and disciplined in your prayers.  Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.  Cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay.

God had given you a gift from his great variety of spiritual gifts.  Use them well to serve one another.  Do you have the gift of speaking?  Then speak as though God himself were speaking through you.  Do you have the gift of helping others?  Do it with all the strength and energy that God supplies.  Then everything you do will bring glory to God through Jesus Christ.  All glory and power to him forever and ever! Amen.”

I just glanced over this and I felt the … sense of urgency?  Not under the whole “gloom and doom” of the end of the world or what not, but more like the nudging from Christ…


Life is too short to put to waste what God has given you!  Life is too short to be self-centered, and too short to hold on to grudges.

I mean, think about this for a second.  “The end of the world is coming soon…”  Most people would assume that God would finish the phrase by saying something like, “so be sure you are not caught in sin – never ever!  Because I’m watching and if you screw up you’ll be left behind!!”  or others would think God would say, “pray and fast a lot, and spend all your time at church, and tell everyone you are a Christian just so you can depart with a clean conscience.”  But instead (and refreshingly), His end-of-days, apocalyptic instructions are: “love each other deeply… share with each other… use the gifts God has given you with all your might.”  I almost do a double-take (really?).

But that’s what so beautiful about God.  He doesn’t tell you how to save yourself because He knows you can’t.  He doesn’t really tell you how to prepare yourself because He knows that’s useless.  And He doesn’t nag you with a list of “don’ts” for “holiness” because He loves you more than that.  Not that there isn’t any merit in holiness, because there’s a whole book on that (and if Christians lived in holiness better, we’d be better witnesses to begin with… but that’s another sermon).  But He selflessly wants us to live in such a way that we have no regrets!

Love each other deeply… share… and do what you were born to do.  This gives me hope!  It won’t be easy, but it’s definitely doable.  If I sit there and imagine what my life would be like if I and all of my family in Christ lived like this, I know that Jesus would be lifted high.  And I would be blessed.  And I would be a blessing to others.  Just picturing a family that loves each other deeply enough to cover the wrong-doings we inadvertently do to each other would blow my mind away and bring me to tears!  God has been teaching me about sharing as I live, and I found that if I’m generous once, it’s easier for me to be generous again and again (which takes faith, because our instinct says, “HOARD!!  It’s MINE! MINE! MINE!” but we have to trust in the God who meets all our needs).

I have to admit, I’ve fallen way behind in using all the gifts that God has given me.  I just now adjusted my career to be where I know with all of my heart God created me to be.  That took a cut in payroll by about half, a lot of hard work (and still at it!) and an immense amount of faith. But at church I’ve been operating at… 10% of what I’ve done or love to do or am good at.  I haven’t preached in about 4 years for a Sunday morning service.  I haven’t sung as much as I liked to, and I definitely have stopped acting and “dancing” since Oklahoma City.  I haven’t directed plays, or worked with the children’s ministry to prepare programs for the church, or raised funds for missions, or done Bible quiz.  Not that I have to do it all at once, but these are all things that I know I can do with the creative ideas and the strength God gives me.  I just haven’t used some of these in years!

Well, I’ll be praying more about where to start.  I’ve been journaling a lot more to track my journey, so to speak.  My prayer is to share this scripture with others and inspire YOU to start living under these “basic instructions before leaving earth”.  Love each other.  Share with others.  Do what you were born to do.  It may take a brain transplant for some, and a heart transplant for others, but oh the kind of people we would be if we did!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Living the Adventure

So for the past month I have been living at our church… we have our beds set up in Sunday School rooms and have to drive around borrowing showers.

And how is it going? Awesome!

I have to admit, I wasn’t so psyched at first.  I was actually freaking out.  I was frustrated because Hampstead Heath screwed me over at the last minute and then blew me off.  I was wondering how the kids will take it.

Well we are actually getting along just fine!  Paul and I spend more time actually together instead of in the same room because we are not so distracted by internet/tv.  The same with the kids.  Maybe the kids also hit a maturing point, because we are communicating a lot more.  The kids are more verbal, more “with you” now than they were before.  We have great times, great laughs, homemade dinners and creative play time.

I’m learning who my friends really are by seeing the ones that actually come through for me (versus the ones that give lip service).  More than that, I’m finding friends in the most unlikely of places – friends that any other time I would’ve passed by!

My faith has been tried and tested, but I feel more “atuned” to God than ever before.  I’ve had to spend a lot of time in prayer, but I’ve definitely experienced God talking back and letting me know which way to go.

I wish I could fully write out everything that I’ve been experiencing but it’s… a HUGE life lesson!  So it all kind of has to sink in a bit more.  I feel like I just survived a tornado… “Toto, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore!”  That kind of feeling.  But I also know that I survived, that I am stronger and more confident now than I was before, and that I’m wiser too.

It would be an incorrect assumption that being homeless would make me more stingy, greedy, or self-centered.  After all, we need a place of our own, right!?  Well, oddly enough, I feel more grateful – and as a result, I’m more generous.  After all, my Lord and Savior spent his last adult years technically homeless, following His Father’s leading and ministering wherever God led…  And sleeping wherever God provided.  And in this lifestyle He preached for us not to worry, that the God who feeds the sparrows considers us much more valuable than the birds.  Its an honor to be sustained right out of my Master’s hand!

I guess what could’ve been the most difficult part about this trial is the impact this could have on the kids.  But I quickly learned that God’s grace is sufficient even for us parents.  What impacts the kids the most is our attitude and the climate we create by it.  My kids just want our company and our love – and with these needs being met, they’ll pretty much handle anything in stride!

Well these were just a couple of notes for those of you who were wondering how I was doing.  I’m not lying or being sarcastic when I say, “I’m doing good!”  There’s more to life than the material stuff… the luxuries of life are the icing on the cake, not the cake itself!  And as far as my soul is concerned, I’m being fed steak and potatoes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Sermon...

Nope, I'm not preaching any time soon, other than in this blog... I haven't done that since 2006 back at Sooner Rd in Midwest City, but then again... I haven't been asked. I don't preach on Sunday mornings unless I'm asked to. But I titled my blog this way so that if you are not particularly interested in "religious" topics you can gracefully exit to your left... right now. =)

But I have been praying and thinking and thinking and praying and I had some thoughts that I just had to turn to my Bible and Blogger and see if I can put it together in a way that makes sense. Specially since I slept for about... 5hours today? Some ridiculous amount which means I won't be able to fall asleep any time soon. Hopefully after this I'll get to my Veterinary Assisting course, I've kinda' neglected it for a while.

So I've been praying for our little church, and about church, and then church in general. One of my biggest questions, personally, is why I go to church. Is it my Sunday morning ritual? Because it's tradition? Because it makes me feel better about myself for going? Because it's what "Christians" do? I honestly don't really know, but I believe that any kind of dissatisfaction you may have about going to church roots from your reasons. Example: If you complain that your church doesn't provide childcare, it may be because you go to church expecting a break from your kids on Sunday morning, thus when your needs aren't being met - you have a problem with your church. Same thing if "your music" isn't played, or your aren't hearing the right kind of sermons, etc... it all stems from your expectation of what the church should do for you and why you attend. Capische?

So I was asking myself, why do I go to church? And why this particular church? And I've been praying about it for a long time. Because usually my prayers are focused on me: Lord, I need help with the rent/car/kids/daycare/husband/pet/job etc. I need, I need, I want, I want. Then, realizing how self-centered I've been lately, I prayed for others... I have an online acquaintance named Carla who just had a premature baby due to strokes, which are the result of a heart infection that requires major heart surgery, which is postponed because now they found two sources of cancer in her body, for which she is going through chemo... all the while the husband isn't working to stay by her side and to be with the little one, who has really immature lungs and needs all the physical touch he can get to grow and get strong enough to breathe and eat on his own.... (and I thought I needed prayers? Seriously!) I came to the conclusion that we all NEED something, and I acknowledged that I'm just used to having the Lord help me with EVERYTHING! I can't handle any trial on my own two feet. I can't even do my job without His help. I pray on my way there, and back. I need help to love my kids and have patience because I'm exhausted ALL THE TIME and my kids are another full-time job at home. Lord, I'm just needy. I need God with me every step of the way. I may not have needs as urgent or difficult as others, but I'm needy all the time. I'm completely codependent.

Then one day I was driving and it hit me to ask, "Lord, what do YOU need?" And my first answer was the logical one: Nothing! He owns the earth and the sky and He doesn't need anything. And yet, He chooses to partner with us to bring His kingdom to earth. He doesn't do it Himself, He depends on us to reach out and love and serve each other and those that aren't so lovable... He needs us to be His hands and feet, and His ambassadors, here on planet earth. God, I'm so sorry that we've been failing miserably at this!

So in this train of thought (over the past few weeks) I've been praying to see what does God need from me regarding my church (specifically). And while that is still an intangible concept to me, I began to pray about what God may want the church (general) to be like.

Acts 4:32-35 (The Message)

32-33The whole congregation of believers was united as one—one heart, one mind! They didn't even claim ownership of their own possessions. No one said, "That's mine; you can't have it." They shared everything. The apostles gave powerful witness to the resurrection of the Master Jesus, and grace was on all of them.

34-35And so it turned out that not a person among them was needy. Those who owned fields or houses sold them and brought the price of the sale to the apostles and made an offering of it. The apostles then distributed it according to each person's need.

This was one section of my Bible that I highlighted as I went over and over it. Unity! In other words, the absence of complaining! Now this scripture seemed a bit ... communistic for me? Which in politics communism is a BAD thing but I'm seeing that in the Church, if the church (general) would be willing to share and love as the church first did... It would be such a powerful testimony! That we could say, within our own, that we have helped and sustained our family in Christ! I can't help but have a difficult time imagining this Scripture come to life... Because I can see all the justifications: "Oh, he just needs to get a job." "They just want to mooch of the church." "I worked hard to get myself where I'm at, and they should too!" I can't even fathom what it would look like if I personally lived like that... maybe because we tend to be on the "needy" side more than the generous side. There was a season where we could be generous and we paid medical bills and helped other with groceries and it was no sweat off our back. Now, more than ever, any aspect of generosity comes at a great sweat for us. I have to fight off anxiety attacks (honest truth) to give to something that isn't our rent or our bills. And I am fearing homelessness now more than ever (but at least we're in the summer, right?)

Acts 2:41-47 (The Message)

41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.

46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

This one is fully loaded:

- "committed themselves to the teaching... the life together... the common meal, and the prayers." Commitment is the biggest phobia most people have within the church (general) to begin with! But it wasn't a commitment to a church position or program... it was to each other! They committed to spend time together to study the Word, to "do" life together, and to pray together! What would it be like if we lived with open doors and hearts? That everyone could plainly see what our life was like and how we treated our family? That we would welcome each other on more than just a Sunday morning basis to study the Bible together and pray?

- They followed a daily discipline of worship at the Temple followed by meals at home... yeah like that would fly well at church today! Really? But I can see that this wasn't a mandate obviously, rather more of a consequence of their love for God and each other. It was joyful and "exuberant". It overflowed out of their commitment to do life and bible study together.

- "People in general liked what they saw." Oh Lord Jesus, help us! Because that is not what our city is saying of our church (general) today! Can we honestly say that people in general like what they see about us? Is there anything to like left in us?

So in reading and studying what the church should be - as these are the Scriptures showing the history of how the church began in the first place - then I could see that so many things are extra. They are like icing and cherries on the cake. And yet, for many places of worship, they are trying to sustain themselves on nothing but icing and cherries!

At the very foundation for the church is Christ, and a love for Him, and from there is built up a group of people who love Christ and love each other, and these people experience life together as they seek to learn more of God and live more like Him, and in these endeavors they support each other and they do it together... Then they go to the temple to worship God and come back home to help each other out.

Well, from where I'm standing right now I'm having a hard time imagining this in a real life scenario. But there is one little element that I am missing:

Acts 2:1-4 (The Message)

1-4 When the Feast of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Without warning there was a sound like a strong wind, gale force—no one could tell where it came from. It filled the whole building. Then, like a wildfire, the Holy Spirit spread through their ranks, and they started speaking in a number of different languages as the Spirit prompted them.

Acts 4:31 (The Message)

31While they were praying, the place where they were meeting trembled and shook. They were all filled with the Holy Spirit and continued to speak God's Word with fearless confidence.

Acts 10:39-46 (The Message)

39-43"And we saw it, saw it all, everything he did in the land of the Jews and in Jerusalem where they killed him, hung him from a cross. But in three days God had him up, alive, and out where he could be seen. Not everyone saw him—he wasn't put on public display. Witnesses had been carefully handpicked by God beforehand—us! We were the ones, there to eat and drink with him after he came back from the dead. He commissioned us to announce this in public, to bear solemn witness that he is in fact the One whom God destined as Judge of the living and dead. But we're not alone in this. Our witness that he is the means to forgiveness of sins is backed up by the witness of all the prophets."

44-46No sooner were these words out of Peter's mouth than the Holy Spirit came on the listeners. The believing Jews who had come with Peter couldn't believe it, couldn't believe that the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on "outsider" non-Jews, but there it was—they heard them speaking in tongues, heard them praising God.

46-48Then Peter said, "Do I hear any objections to baptizing these friends with water? They've received the Holy Spirit exactly as we did." Hearing no objections, he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Then they asked Peter to stay on for a few days.

I will not even begin to pretend to explain the mystery in the bible known as speaking in tongues. I will say that I have not read any particular evidence that would demonstrate this no longer happens, or that there is a formula to make it happen. So because, as I read the Bible, I don't see it telling me anywhere that speaking in tongues no longer happens, I firmly believe that it still does. Beyond that, I have no theological doctorate. My faith and my belief is as simple as that of a child: If God says He did it, then He can do it again even now, unless (like the flood in Noah's day) He specifically says He won't do it again.

I will tie this in to the church that there is overwhelming Scriptural evidence that we need something supernatural to happen in the church - a God-touch, if you will - and it can't just be our efforts. No where in the building of the early church does it show that the church was built up out of "good intentions" or "sound biblical doctrine", at least not exclusively. The power of God was present as they prayed and moved in such ways that people took notice and things happened! There was healing! There were miracles! And a church that doesn't experience these things to some degree or other is a church that is not functioning in partnership with God Himself. And while I cannot put a measure on what it would all look like, I have to assume that a church sees God answer prayer, experiences some kind of supernatural intervention, believes in miracles (otherwise, why pray?) because without any of this supernatural stuff all you have is a social club (sorry!).

So there is this divine dance of God-touches and committed people weaving back and forth through the book of acts. And I assume that I need to do my part as far as being committed, but only God can do the supernatural aspects (duh), and I honestly don't know what should come first. Historically, the supernatural (pentecost) came first, and then the church disciplined themselves into a functional body. But now, should we wait? Should the church (general) sit around and wait for something supernatural to happen before we start living like the church Christ originally intended? Or would this be wishful thinking?

Could it be that God needs us to start being about the church, lining ourselves up with what made the early church successful in the first place, and then the supernatural will follow as God assists us in building His kingdom?

As for me, personally, doing the Sunday morning thing is not at all beneficial. Just doing Sunday morning at church because it's such a nice tradition... quite frankly... sucks. It is exhausting to get up early on a Sunday and get three kids ready and out the door for a whole morning at church... my kids don't find it a whole lot of fun, and on my day off I'd rather sleep in. So I know already that I'm going to church on Sunday mornings expecting... more. I want to sing my heart out to God, be fed with His Word, and pray with my brothers and sisters. And I still want more! I don't know quite what I'm missing here, but under God's direction I have to keep at it until I find it.

I want it to be a point in my week where God comes down and touches a group of humble, needy people that are hungry to be touched by Him. And I have the faith to believe that God can do so in more than just the proverbial "tug of the heart", but something a lot more visible and tangible within the congregation. I don't know whether it will look like Pentecost (tongues of fire falling on people and they pray and speak in a different language from what they originally know) or like the revival in the fictional story "In His Steps" (where there was a large crowd just praying, long after the service, and committing themselves to living "as Jesus would", in such a way that it revolutionized the city). Heck, why not ask for both?

So I pray and ask God what He wants from me, and what I need to be. The biggest thing burning in my daily walk with God was when He told me, "What's with all this concern of what you are getting out of church? Whatever happened to coming to church asking what you can do for me?" Behold my reason for being in Alaska (and not in Florida). But what can I possibly do to help bring the church (specific) from point A (where we are now) to point B (a book-of-Acts type church)?

Friday, July 16, 2010

Spent the Day with Anakin

Since I'm a working mom, and I have 3 kids, it is very rare that I can just sit with my oldest son and get to know him. One on one.

Today was that day! He stayed home from preschool because he was sick yesterday, although by today he was fine.

We planted seeds in his hydroponic container, which he's looking forward to seeing sprouts soon. He cut out and pasted a tree out of construction paper (I was impressed! He really doesn't know how to use scissors, and he's left-handed... which I'm righty, so I don't know how to teach him... but he persisted until he got it done!) and then drew his family standing under the tree picking apples from it. We talked about many different things that go through his head, which is wonderful for a four year old! Then we painted on stones (another craft he wanted to try), and he showed me how he can play Reader Rabbit on the computer all by himself.

He loves Bible stories, and we are all about Creation right now between Sunday School and home. He knows that God is in his heart and that God made everything. And then he asked me, "But mom! what if I get a bug that climbs in through my mouth and eats my heart! Will then God live in my belly?" LOL I encouraged him not to worry too much about that... But I love his love for God's Word and through that, for creation! He's "all green"... so I think together we are going to venture into gardening for a little bit. He really enjoys it!

We went for a walk to my chiropractor's visit and he helped the masseuse work on my back. Then we walked back and I saw him stop at every flower and nut on the floor to see what it was. It was wonderful! I had been so busy being "Commando Mom" that I have missed enjoying seeing my kids grow.

Truthfully, between work and home chores, and three babies - I was on auto-pilot... all about what needed to get done and what they weren't allowed to do. I was functional, but not very relational.

I'm thankful that I have such a sweetie pie for a son. He is so loving and caring! And I got to see him that much more today. I think on my next weekday off I'm keeping my baby girl home and spending the day with just her. And then Caleb.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Rantings of a Mad Woman

I normally try not to blog on days like these... but I find myself so cynical and bitter I kinda' need to let it out. So please allow me to just vent and don't feel obligated to leave a comment or offer encouragement. Meaning no disrespect to anyone, I just don't need to hear about the attitude I SHOULD have instead. I know.

Everything is just a bit more difficult and I'm having a bit of a harder time seeing a reward for any of it. I'm beyond frustrated with how tough things are right now, specially with the waiting game we've been playing with day care assistance and with a new place. Seriously, how is it that some people just walk in, fill out paperwork, and have everything handed to them? And for us, it's always a nightmare? We always get the employee who loses our paperwork, or forgets what they are supposed to do, etc... And so now, whenever we get a denial or complaint or a call asking for more of what we've already done I just respond with a "Go figure." Because it is too much to ask for our particular efforts NOT to be in vain.

Our direct deposit for payroll doesn't even go through smoothly. Paul puts in every number correctly, and a WEEK later we STILL haven't seen his first paycheck even though UPS says, "We paid." And that's all we get.

This is the kind of crap I'm sick of. It's like constantly walking around with a rain cloud specifically over our heads to screw things up for us in every possible way.

Then the kids get sick. Of course, they were healthy for MONTHS. Paul starts working, as do I, and BAM! All three of them. Day cares calling me left and right at work to pick one or the other up because they have a fever. We go to the DR and it turns our there's nothing the kids can take, no antibiotics (except for the BABY with an ear infection).... nothing except Motrin to help them if they feel better. No quick fixes for that. And it's not the kid's fault. But a little break from this would help.

If they paid either one of us well enough so that one parent could stay home with the kids until they are in elementary school, we would. But seeing as that's not the case, we both have to work or we're all homeless. So something - in one direction or the other - HAS to give.

So today at work I got the call at 3:45pm that now my oldest son has a fever of 101.4 and we need to go get him. I called Paul, but I know that at his job he can't take calls until 5pm. So I wait until 4:30pm to finish my shift, and head to the bus stop... to wait for a bus that never comes, so I walked about 20 blocks to Anakin's day care to pick him up. In the rain. And it's not like I wear sneakers at work either, so all the while I'm walking and doing a lot of thinking.

Most of the thinking sounded like this: "I suck! I suck! I suck! I suck!" I kept thinking over and over on how I seem to be doing nothing but screwing up at work because it's more the things that I do wrong over the things I do right... my bigger frustration being is that I have the head knowledge of the right answer and for some RETARDED reason I can't seem to get my head and the rest of my body to connect and do the right thing. I don't know how else to explain it, but I find myself in A LOT of areas (not just work) knowing what the right result should be and the steps to get there, but completely incapable of producing that result with my two hands.

And this is a new thing for me. I wish I had gotten hit real hard upside the head because then I'd have an excuse.

And then there's always the nagging fear that either Paul and I could be fired ANY SECOND. Because it's happened before. It's definitely blindsided us before. So I have no job security, no faith and no trust. I just put my best foot forward and hope when I walk in one day that I'll be expected to walk in the next. It doesn't help when my best sucks and I'm ashamed to call it my best to begin with.

And this whole time I'm just praying to not have to move back to Florida. Because, as much as I love our parents there, I know that everyone else I miss does not miss us just as much, so moving back there again would be a complete waste for us. It would only make it more painfully obvious that everyone we thought was close to us really isn't and could care less. Because at least with us being here in Alaska we have the 3 time zones, 6000 mile excuse. It actually works as a good fascade, although it pains me enough to want to completely withdraw. Yeah... if I was going through this kind of tough times in Florida and was just as lonely, I'd probably want to die. Oh wait, I've been there already.

Like I said, these are the rantings of a mad woman. I'm just bitter. And the hurtful things I can pull up quickly by memory heavily outnumber the good when I am bitter. I'll just take some pain meds, go to sleep early, and try again tomorrow morning.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Is a Dying Church a Tragedy?

Just some random thought that was weaving through my mind all day...

So for most people within a church, having to close the doors of that church and sell the building is a tragedy. It would be like losing a home and being fired on your birthday.

It carried tremendous stigma of defeat: Were they not spiritual enough? was God punishing them? What about the Pastor? Did he do his job right? What would everyone else think? You failed!

I've experienced losing a responsibility within a church and it feels like having to accept death itself; a sinking feeling like "it's all over"... I can't imagine losing the church itself.

But even in my own, small experience, I realize that it wasn't the end - it was the beginning. God had to cut some ties in order to move me because I was too deeply rooted. And He had other plans - definitely other church organizations He wanted me to see. In God I also learned that He can demote me and He can promote me, and "it ain't over till ... we're in heaven!" Sometimes we feel, at a point of loss, like we'll never mount up to that height again - and if we lived by FAITH instead, we would realize that we needed to get off the stool to climb the ladder, proverbially! All in His timing, of course. But I'm slowly learning that the past (and more specifically, the failures in the past) don't need to walk around behind me, kicking me in the rear for the rest of my journey... unless I allow it.

In Christ, the past really doesn't matter. We're the ones who are attached to it for sentimental reasons. He's more concerned with our present and our future than with our history.

So thinking in a bit of a grander scale, with the condition of the body of Christ in America as a whole.... the tragedy of all the churches that are dying... the lack of true Biblical growth we are experiencing... I don't know. I wonder if we have it all wrong.

Does it really matter to God whether you have a band and some mics for praise and worship? Is He less satisfied with an acoustic guitar in someone's living room?

Is it absolutely essential for the pastor to have a tie and a pulpit? Would he fail God if all he had was his Bible, a passion for God's Word, and an understanding of it?

Is God as attached to our programs as we are?

Do we attend and do church for the routine, or for the fellowship? And is God as impressed with our Sunday Morning show as He is with the relationship we have with our brothers and sisters in Christ?

I have concluded that the tragedy of a dying church is that all it's members split, go separate ways, and stop talking to the people they have had fellowship with on Sunday for the previous couple of years. The biggest tragedy is that it usually involves a big, nasty scandal to bring a church back to the basics.

I pray we wake up to the true definition of "church" and see that its the network of believers that define it, not the denomination or building. We need to go back to the basics voluntarily. We need to identify the needs and the wants, the must haves and the bonuses of what we are doing and get it right... soon! Procrastination is bringing us closer to a much greater problem: the lack of faith in the church as a whole!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

A Million Strong

They'll remember we were here...

Tell me who'd have thought that we would be so controversial
And stand against the normal
Are we too outspoken, loud, and messing up the comfortable?
Well we've been messed up also

But how can we be silent
When a fire burns inside us
'Cause we're a million strong and getting stronger still
They'll remember we were here
With a million voices breaking silence till
They'll remember we were here

We were made to start the riot, take on the impossible
And we will stay the giants
We are done with fake religion fighting now to find the movement
Won't stop till we find it

But how can we be silent
When a fire burns inside us
'Cause we're a million strong and getting stronger still
They'll remember we were here
With a million voices breaking silence till
They'll remember we were here
We're a million strong and getting stronger still
They'll remember we were here
With a million voices breaking silence till
They'll remember we were here

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


Acts 2:42-47 (The Message)

41-42That day about three thousand took him at his word, were baptized and were signed up. They committed themselves to the teaching of the apostles, the life together, the common meal, and the prayers.

43-45Everyone around was in awe—all those wonders and signs done through the apostles! And all the believers lived in a wonderful harmony, holding everything in common. They sold whatever they owned and pooled their resources so that each person's need was met.

46-47They followed a daily discipline of worship in the Temple followed by meals at home, every meal a celebration, exuberant and joyful, as they praised God. People in general liked what they saw. Every day their number grew as God added those who were saved.

I love this passage. I read it, and I yearn for it. I want to live like that every day. I feel called to that. I read this passage, and it centers me - helps me to see how God wants ME to be in the big picture of His church.

I am 15 minutes or so away from working out, then I'll begin studying for my Veterinary Technician course. I already have an old "study guide" for the certifications department of the State. And tomorrow, I begin my job at Petco! I'll be doing the boring first-time-employee stuff anyhow. Then finishing the day at the law firm, because I told them I'd help for another two weeks part time. They've been good employers! But I'm really, REALLY excited about Petco! YAHOO!

God has been answering a LOT of prayers lately, the more I actually pray. I have to be thankful! And I'm still praying about a couple of things, but we will see! We will see... I am trusting. God will open the doors He wants me to go through and He will close the doors He does not want me walking through. We may be able to buy our own place here. Big maybe, but God has opened doors and led us to professionals who are not profiting off us and say there is a way. If not, we are happy where we rent and if God opens up for a less expensive place to rent, we'll be happy there too!

Paul has to go re-do his fingerprints for UPS but at least they are still hiring him if they want him to do that again and he'll be in training soon. And I'm sure we'll here from UAA soon, once they get his transcripts from the Air Force.

God already provided for my Vet Tech Cert free!

I was praying for a specific asylum case and I got news that the government didn't oppose to giving the guy a second chance to present his case. Which is really good news, because if the government doesn't oppose, then it's more likely that they will allow him to re-do his whole case! And for someone applying for asylum, that is HUGE! So I'm thankful for that.

On my other things I read today, I also read:

Nehemiah 4:11-23 (The Message)

11-12 And all this time our enemies were saying, "They won't know what hit them. Before they know it we'll be at their throats, killing them right and left. That will put a stop to the work!" The Jews who were their neighbors kept reporting, "They have us surrounded; they're going to attack!" If we heard it once, we heard it ten times.

13-14 So I stationed armed guards at the most vulnerable places of the wall and assigned people by families with their swords, lances, and bows. After looking things over I stood up and spoke to the nobles, officials, and everyone else: "Don't be afraid of them. Put your minds on the Master, great and awesome, and then fight for your brothers, your sons, your daughters, your wives, and your homes."

15-18 Our enemies learned that we knew all about their plan and that God had frustrated it. And we went back to the wall and went to work. From then on half of my young men worked while the other half stood guard with lances, shields, bows, and mail armor. Military officers served as backup for everyone in Judah who was at work rebuilding the wall. The common laborers held a tool in one hand and a spear in the other. Each of the builders had a sword strapped to his side as he worked. I kept the trumpeter at my side to sound the alert.

19-20 Then I spoke to the nobles and officials and everyone else: "There's a lot of work going on and we are spread out all along the wall, separated from each other. When you hear the trumpet call, join us there; our God will fight for us."

21 And so we kept working, from first light until the stars came out, half of us holding lances.

22 I also instructed the people, "Each person and his helper is to stay inside Jerusalem—guards by night and workmen by day."

23 We all slept in our clothes—I, my brothers, my workmen, and the guards backing me up. And each one kept his spear in his hand, even when getting water.

And going back to Nehemiah, and reading how they faced the struggle of rebuilding, encouraged me. They were mocked, and threatened, NOT to rebuild. But they just said, "I'll do it or I'll go down fighting!" I want that attitude. About my service at church, my career/dream goals, my family, my fitness plans. "I'll get it done or I'll go down fighting!" And then trust God with the results. I will labor with one hand and hold a weapon on the other hand. I'm not stopping. I'm not backing down.

I love how Nehemiah said, "If we heard it once, we heard it ten times!" I've felt that voice of discouragement too. How many times I was told I was too optimistic?! I had set my hopes too high. Paul and I can't even begin how many times we heard, "No." or "It won't happen." Or how many times we were kicked out, yelled at, insulted, or out-casted. We've had people tell us, "You are not coming back here again." Sadly these were ol' church folks. Too bad - they don't realize what they are missing!

Lord, we are going to keep serving You, or we will go down fighting. We are going to keep rebuilding, or we will go down fighting. Rebuilding our ministries, our credit, our home... or go down fighting. Rebuilding the youth that fell astray, as much as we can, long distance... with bricks of sound advice and mortar of love, even from 6000 miles away. We will rebuild or go down fighting.

At the end of the day, I know first I have to let God rebuild my heart. Kinda like the Casting Crowns song, "Voice of Truth". I have to choose to listen to His voice and believe - above all the nasty and painful things recorded in my head. And I need to choose to forgive - EVERY day, because that ugly root of bitterness sneaks up on me oh so quickly.

I know that the Enemy had planned those things against us in hopes that we will hide in some corner of anonymity, unheard of ever again. But Paul and I were raised in the faith to be "History Makers" (I don't think you could sing that song for a thousand youth services and not have it embossed in your brain!).

Rest assured of this: MY fighting won't be with manipulation, whining, or scheming (like some I know), and I won't be back-stabbing, or bad-mouthing either. Don't be expecting me to find ways to make the opposition miserable at every opportunity I can. And I will not make them feel as un-welcomed as they have treated me.

Because I know my victory lies in living like I was dying, dancing like no one is looking, smiling like nothing is wrong, and loving like I've never been hurt before. Serving at my church as if I've never been kicked out of one before. Being generous as if I've never been broke before. Giving second chances as if it was always the first. Opening my heart as if I was not afraid.

I will rebuild! Or go down fighting!

Monday, June 14, 2010

A bit of relief!

I was frustrated at hitting so many "dead ends", and looking at all the things I need to do but haven't gotten around to yet... And I just wondered if there was any sense to the madness!

And then I did my devotionals and read a bit and I felt a little bit more at ease. I definitely felt more re-affirmed through reading my devotionals, because it was about my identity in Christ. Then all the stuff I'm going through now doesn't matter because it doesn't change who we are. Sometimes we need that kind of foundation to lean on - a love that is secure, that doesn't change with what we do or don't do.

Let's pass that along!

Then I read the first three chapters of Nehemiah, and I was reminding that the rebuilding process is not easy. Nehemiah prayed and cried and held his breath when talking to the king. Then he surveyed the work that needed to be done, and saw that it was indeed a bit of a mess. But I know that in the end they did rebuild the walls of Jerusalem, amid a lot of opposition.

So in all we are trying to rebuild here, God is with us. And it's ok if it doesn't happen as quickly as I thought or would like, I can keep laboring. There's a LOT of rebuilding; jobs, home, credit, family, church. It's overwhelming!

I'm struggling a bit with the concept of rebuilding at the church, because I always have the nagging voice of "what if?" Is it really worth my time and my effort? I'm not referring to laboring for the Lord, because I know that is rewarding more than paychecks... I've seen it... My question is, if at my particular church, it is worth it... ?

I wonder a LOT if it's going to stay like a social club or a close-knit family and not much more than that. And I wonder because doing anything feels like such an uphill and lonely climb! But that's the dilema of many small churches. I've tossed this around back and forth a lot.

I know that my brothers and sisters in Christ there appreciate and love me. There's no doubt about that. And they are a praying church for sure.

But Jesus said to pray for laborers to be sent into the harvest, because the harvest is ready but the laborers are few. That's my dilema. Lord, we need workers! We need people that would join our congregation with the full intention of putting and sacrificing a lot of "sweat equity"! The sweat equity is just something we do not fully have. I know that there are those who put in a lot more sweat than is required of them or they should be physically capable of doing. But this accounts for a few and not the majority.

I'm not trying to badmouth the church, it's an earnest prayer request. And I know many friends in small churches who are struggling the same way. Truthfully, it IS a lot easier to go to a medium sized church and jump right in to help than it is to build a small church.

I just don't want my efforts to be in vain. And I love everyone there, and I believe we'd all be good friends and family in Christ regardless. I guess I don't really know what I'm praying for. I feel like a mouse in a milk bucket - am I drowning? or churning butter? I can't tell right now.

And yet I pray and I read and I feel this peace that reminds me that God knows. Right now I'm hearing Anakin pray, "bless Mommy, and Daddy, and Aunt Vi... and Leo (the cat)..." I know that a three year old is praying for us. I know that He cares and He is trustworthy. I know that years down the road I will look back and understand what He was accomplishing in us. It's in this relationship with God that I've survived thus far!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

It's quiet... TOO quiet...

The kids are asleep! Without much fussing! THANK YOU JESUS!

So now its quiet but I'm waiting for Paul to come home... and I'm bored! We watched One Tree Hill (Vanessa got me addicted to this show! Seriously! It helps that the guy who plays "Lucas Scott" is pretty darn cute too LOL but I never watched these TV shows before.)

I am patiently waiting for the new season of House MD to go on the air.

So I finished one work week, in full. Accomplished a couple of things, though now I'm exhausted! Work was heavy. And then I came home and did a pretty heavy work out on top. The p90x is ridiculously intense. But after an hour of working out I feel great! Sore, but great. Why? Because I feel strong. I feel prouder of myself for eating healthy all day, skipping on the coke and chocolate, and working out to a sweat. The only thing I'm disappointed about is that I don't have any time to jog anymore.

I really like jogging because it clears my thoughts and gives me some alone time. So does Blogging. Hey! Jogging and Blogging rhyme! I can start a rap! (I just did a "Tim" here. *ahem*).

But in the end I can't really complain. It's amazing that I even DO anything with as little energy as I have! And so much mental stress. I feel like my brain is juggling 20 different things at the same time. It's hard to focus on one thing.

I am leaving my current job as a paralegal to go to work for Petco as a dog groomer while I do school full-time to be a Vet Tech. So I'm preparing for both jobs, and I will have to do both jobs through the end of the month. *eeeek!*

So today I look at my first set of books and study materials and my first thought is, "There is no way!" The house is too messy. My brain is too messy. We have too much going on for me to even pretend that I can retain some of this information - as interesting as it is to me!

I'm still trying to move. But after 3 applications of some sorts everyone has just put us on hold. No word. No yes. No no. I mean, tell us something! That we have to wait, or that we won't be accepted, or ... something! But we leave messages and we call and no one - NO ONE - has called us back. Which I wish they did because then I can "drop those balls" so to speak, mentally! If they would actually return our call then I wouldn't have to force myself to remember to stay on top of them.

So today I got bored and planned a birthday party for Anakin. LOL. Yeah pay some cash and plan a birthday party because you are bored during your lunch time, right? Maybe not. But it worked out ok. We'll see. I found this place that is like a chuckee cheese and a starbucks combined. There's an indoor jungle gym for kids, and lattes of all sorts for adults. I reserved the place privately too so I don't have to worry about someone else taking my kids, or have to deal with someone else's kids.... Anakin loves Chuck E Cheese - I HATE IT! I hate the crowdedness, the rudeness of the other kids, the parents that pick fights there (really mature!). I think I found an appropriate compromise.

Now I only pray people come. Like, at least the 10 kids I was thinking about that were the max that would show up! Because if it just ends up being Vi, Paul, the kids, and me... well... that would be ONE CRAZY EXPENSIVE get together! I would've taken the money and gone to Girdwood! LOL

I've never been to Girdwood... not past the gas station where we got gas on the way to Seward.

Mundane things, I know. I wish today I had some deep spiritual truth to impart. But the truth is... today I'm just mundane! I'm functioning on auto-pilot, stretching my faith by exercising when all I think about all day is SLEEP. The peak of my motivation is getting to bed. Pathetic, I know!

On a different note, I am going to a First Time Home Buyers workshop tomorrow. It's all day, and you are eligible for certain credits/grants if you attend (it depends). It's with the Alaska Finance and Housing Corporation. I'm looking forward to it. I'm sure Paul is too.

I had the chance to audition today for a play and I got cold feet. I felt unprepared. I couldn't even find the time to memorize an audition piece, everything was so half-butted, and I didn't have enough notice to get a babysitter. It felt like a train wreck.

Then again, most of my life I feel like I'm on wheels, spiraling out of control into an evident crash in the near future. I want the dust to settle. I want to feel like I'm in control of my own two feet.

Monday, June 7, 2010


I did it! The most uncomfortable part I had to face was done. I gave my notice of resignation to my bosses and talked to them face to face. Nothing personal, strictly a career move. They seemed disappointed but not angry. And I do appreciate them. I also pray they find someone that really REALLY wants to work in Law and Immigration. It was difficult, but God gave me the strength to stick by my guns so to speak.

So now I'm ready to start transitioning into my veterinary technician schoolwork and my dog grooming job. And yes I'll be very happy. It's not beneath me to wash a dog. Dogs are more forgiving than people. And they don't have a bad day and take out their frustration on you!

My other adventure was the working out. I am starting the P90X (eek!). I realized I'm a bit fitter than I've been before. Still not fit enough. It's rough because I know this work out is going to kick my butt and I'm going to feel so defeated at how little I could do and how wimpy I am! At the same time, I know that I'm not going to have the energy and strength I want if I don't start somewhere! And I still believe I can lose 25 more pounds.

I thoroughly enjoyed coming home and sitting with my kids, as they told me all about their day. We had a long conversation about what they ate for lunch and what went on in the TV shows they watched. Then Anakin told me he wanted a "smaller big guitar" (not a toy one) because he really wanted to play it. But as we were talking about it, he remembered he had a drum set, and made up his mind that Daddy can play the guitar because he wants to learn to play the drums. We will see! I gotta get ready for his birthday. What are we doing? No clue. Maybe a party. Maybe a family day out. I have NO idea.

I am reading through the book of Joshua now. It's taking me forever, but at least what little I read I absorb. That phrase of "getting into your prayer closet" or "going to the secret place" is kinda' a joke in my life! If I'm home at any given time I'll hear Brielle (RRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRRR) or Caleb (AAAAAAAAAAAAAGGHHH) or Anakin (MOMMY MOMMY MOMMY!!) and my bible reading time involves seeing the kids jumping off furniture and whacking each other with toys... and Caleb puking on the carpet. And to truly hear my own thoughts when I pray I HAVE to go for a jog! But I need to go for a jog with Paul just to talk to him too.

Which brings me to an odd turning point: I love to run! I love to go for jogs, I put on my sneakers and I'm ansy to head out the door. Not to lose weight. Not to check off "exercise" from my list. Only because it gets quiet enough around me for me to hear my own thoughts! I cannot get three words in my MIND without stuttering!! IN MY HEAD! When I jog all the tension leaves my body and I feel like I can catch my breath. Like I can finish my thoughts to where they are finally cohesive! And in doing so I can actually pray and ask God for what I want and think about what God may want.

Yes its ridiculous, but my biggest struggle in prayer is that my attention span is that of a gerbils and I can't get past "dear heavenly Father" without jumping through 20 different unfinished thoughts and end up staring out the window. If you were to stick a mic up my ear and plug it to a speaker that would broadcast my thoughts, it would sound something like this:

"Dear Jesus - Anakin did you pee on - Brielle don't eat - Caleb is crying again? Anywhoo - Yikes! I forgot the car insu - we've never registered the ca - what's up with my car tag? DFY 777 are they tryin' to say something? I'm going to change it to - what Scripture? - Man I remember waking up at 6:33 am every morning I was stressed when I was memorizing the book of Matthew - I haven't memorized Scripture - Anakin hasn't memorized - what am I gonna do for Children's - I haven't seen XXXX or XXXX - Did Paul call - I hope someone remembered to switch the loads - if we move, I need a washer - need a new vacuum - I want a food scale - church needs a projector - maybe w/ our tax refu - can't wait till we get our PF - ♪ Cuz' you've had a bad day, you've taken one down ♫ Oh God I'm sorry I'm trying but - Hi Leo! I'm glad you're home today..."

Behold, why I HAVE to blog. I need to blog. Writing forces me to finish my thoughts and my sentences and organize them to where they make sense. When I'm really tense I write out my prayers - pages and pages of journals - because at least I feel like I PRAYED. It's also why I do so many blogs on Bible Studies. If I didn't, I wouldn't remember what I learned at church or read or even if I did. It is that hectic.

Friday, June 4, 2010

A little bit TOO much adventure!

So when I thought I was topped off with excitement and adventure, I find out the Lord is not done with me yet.

Surviving a plane crash when you are in your car on the road is bizarre. I mean, you never drive looking up at things coming down on you! I wasn't even sure what hit me (or near missed me) until I drove away and listened to the radio. And I keep thinking, "God! It missed me! It didn't have to - it was a disaster - but You were in control! In the chaos!" I read in the news how the surviving family members were thankful to the 25 or so civilians who immediately started tearing apart the plane to rescue them. They have a long recovery to go through, which includes healing for the loss of their son Myles. Myles was 4 years old, and his little body flew to the front of the plane and ended under the dashboard. He wasn't rescued because they didn't see him among the seats of the plane before the engine tank blew up. And still, in the midst of chaos and crazy and disaster... An airplane crashing into a city right on time for rush hour traffic... by a gas station... Nobody else died. No one except those in the plane were even injured.

And the people in the plane survived due to the heroics of the passerbys. How many people could've said, "Oh, I'm getting away from that!" or "Wow! That's bad! But I have an appointment to get to!" 25 people didn't. 25 people dropped what they were doing, and rushed to help - before the police or the fire department made it. I read in the newspaper that they tore apart the remains of the cesna with their hands, and ripped out the scalding seats of the plane with the victims still sitting in them! And I'm sure more people would've stopped to help if they could. And the passengers on this plane have all sent their deepest gratitude for the heroes of the city of Anchorage.

And as thankful as I am, my life didn't stop to have pity on me. The landlord didn't say, "Aw! You almost got hit by a plane? Poor you! I won't charge you rent until next month!" You know? And I'm still dealing with the struggle at work of being constantly reminded that I suck (by one person) and at the same time, while doing the same things, being told by another person that my work is good enough... All the while wishing I was doing something else... Bills to pay, not really sure HOW, but knowing that they gotta get done. Paul is getting his application in to UAA for music, his dream, but we have no idea how to pay for it yet. Still, there has to be a reason why Paul's job w/ the FAA ended. But he hasn't gotten a start date for his job at UPS, which isn't going to bring in boatloads of cash.

I want to work with animals. I've been wanting to for a while, frustrated that I have to move to Fairbanks or Colorado to get a degree in vet tech because UAA doesn't have a degree program. In the mean time, the FAA is withholding about $1300 for his annual/sick leave that he was supposed to get paid for oh... 3 weeks ago? And his thrift saving plan sent a letter saying they are just now aware that he is eligible to withdraw his funds, but they haven't made a deposit yet.


Now today I get a call from the Grooming Manager at Petco and she wants to interview me. Which is terrifying because I would LOVE a job there but I'm afraid I won't be able to afford it! If I have to start out part time, minimum wage, there is no possible way I can take that now! At the same time, it's not like I feel a whole lot of job security where I'm at. What do I do?

On a great news, I had signed up with a Distance Learning College (accredited) for their Animal Care Specialist Degree, and I had made payment plans (small) and made a small deposit for the first set of lessons. And then I got a call that I was awarded the Tyra Banks Project Working Mom Scholarship, and the whole - WHOLE - degree is free. All paid. All of it... They are even giving me back my deposit! YAY! I just gotta do my schoolwork between 9-11pm when the kids are asleep.

I also got a call from another apartment manager asking for Paul and me to complete the paperwork to be put on a waiting list for a cheaper apartment, with one more bedroom, but there's a waiting list. Can we wait? I don't know.


I wish all the pieces just fell in place already and I knew that everything was going to be ok. But there's so many balls up in the air I'm afraid I won't catch them all. I'm horrible at juggling anyways.

Well, here's to the adventure called life!

Did I mention that Paul and I are running a 5 miler on Saturday the 19th? And that on top of everything else, I am trying to lose weight... and get athletic... and jog. And there are a ton of spiritual goals I didn't even mention. And the kids? I haven't even started.

Monday, May 31, 2010

The Tragedy of The Rich Man - Part 2

Matthew 19:20-22 (Amplified Bible)

20The young man said, I have observed all these from my youth; what still do I lack?

21Jesus answered him, If you would be perfect [that is, have that spiritual maturity which accompanies self-sacrificing character], go and sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have riches in heaven; and come, be My disciple [side with My party and follow Me].

22But when the young man heard this, he went away sad (grieved and in much distress), for he had great possessions.

We read this and tend to feel sorry for the Rich Man. Poor guy? Give everything up? All he worked so hard for?! Gosh, Jesus was harsh! Couldn't Jesus have cut him some slack?

God is so demanding. I'd rather be comfortable pretending I'm a Christian than to actually pursue God. I don't want to let go of what I've got going for me. The whole "Christ" thing isn't worth it!

Are you kidding me!? Is there anything worth more than an experience with Christ!? He took ignorant, uneducated fisherman and made them into world-altering history makers! The face of half the planet was changed because men like Peter and James walked through and shared with people from all regions their experience with Christ!!! I mean, James was a half-brother of Jesus, and at the face of painful death, with all he could muster, still proclaimed that Jesus was his Lord and Savior, the Messiah! Peter, who denied Christ at the resurrection, refused to be crucified right-side up - because he wasn't worthy to die on the cross like Christ did, and thus was crucified and hung upside down! There's no possible way you could live - and die - like this, without having an impact on someone else.

And there's no way anyone could live - and die - like this, without having experienced Christ. And that's what the disciples did. They drank the wine that was made from water. They handed out the never ending supply of bread and fishes from just ONE poor boy's lunch. They saw the dead girl rise in the middle of her funeral service and come back to life. They saw lepers healed, blind eyes opened. And more than just SAW it, Jesus sent them out to DO it! They were able to see the power of God working THROUGH them to accomplish the same miracles themselves.

Can you put a dollar figure on that? Can you put a dollar figure on seeing the dead come to life? On seeing total healing? On seeing supernatural provision? Nope. I sure can't! But the problem is, when we read this passage, that we focus more on what the Rich Man has to give up that we fail to see all that is being offered by Christ at this moment! And what we focus on determines our reality.

We can't experience true fulfillment in our life if we put our identity in ANYTHING other than our relationship with Christ. Even your greatest assets will be your greatest liability if you aren't using them for what God purposed!

Maybe those that walk away from Christ, or aren't convinced of Him, are the ones who never really stepped out of their box (everything THEY wanted) to see what a relationship with Christ is like. Maybe instead of accumulating possessions we should be accumulating experiences with Him.

Because I'm not crazy in saying that I've seen, through prayer, God raise someone who's heart had stop beating for 10 minutes. I've seen God take my unborn son at 6 weeks, who had a lower heart rate than I did, and form him into the now 4 year old child who is without defect. I've seen God take my car on an empty tank and with no money and still drive it - without damage for the car - for a full work week. I have been at home, looking at Paul, wondering what in the world are we going to eat - only to receive a knock on the door and have a neighbor offer us Chinese take out. I have seen a demon-possessed woman walk up to me with the full intention of cursing me and being forced to walk away without ever speaking to me - while I did nothing but sit. You can call me crazy, but you can't take away my testimony from me. All three of my kids are walking miracles only because they were GOD's first. I could've lost all three, Anakin at first, Brielle and Caleb closer to child birth, had not God intervened. Heck, I could've died giving birth to Brielle. I was in the ICU six hours after the delivery because I was going unconscious and would stop breathing.

You can call me crazy, but you can't take away my testimony from me! My life experiences, what happened to me as I lived it - and those around me as witnesses - are the truth whether you think it would happen or not. And make no mistake, it wasn't me or Paul, or a doctor, or a bank, or a model of car, or luck.... it was Christ. It was only and exclusively Christ.

I'd rather have a treasury of experiences where I can "taste and see that the Lord is good" than anything this world could have to offer anyways...

Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Tragedy of The Rich Man - Part 1

Matthew 19:16-28 (The Message)

16Another day, a man stopped Jesus and asked, "Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?"

17Jesus said, "Why do you question me about what's good? God is the One who is good. If you want to enter the life of God, just do what he tells you."

18-19The man asked, "What in particular?"

Jesus said, "Don't murder, don't commit adultery, don't steal, don't lie, honor your father and mother, and love your neighbor as you do yourself."

20The young man said, "I've done all that. What's left?"

The rich young man was obviously very religious. All the basic commandments, he had kept! That says a lot considering that God Himself says, "All have sinned, and fall short of the Glory of God." And yet, Jesus doesn't call him a liar! But the Achilles' heel to Christians is that we can get so caught up in the "don'ts" of sin that we fail to do the "do's" - and thus we are sinning! The Bible is not all about the "don'ts", Jesus gave us a lot of "do's"; love one another, forgive one another, pray, share, serve... etc... and NOT doing what Jesus asked us to do is as much disobedience as keeping from the things He doesn't want us to do!

Point in case: If I tell Anakin to clean his room, and he doesn't, isn't it disobedience? And isn't disobedience sin? So when The Rich Young Man tells him "all these I have kept", he isn't lying, and Jesus doesn't need to point that out... but yet, there was something painfully missing, wasn't there? Apparently, being religious wasn't enough because he was still seeking eternal life. He did not have it.

The end result of this lifestyle can be described as the difference between an animal in the wild or in a zoo. The Animal in the zoo can do everything it's supposed to, eat like he is supposed to, sit in a pen that looks like what his home would look like. Yet you and I both know that what we are looking at is ... not a third of what that animal really IS, what it is capable of, what it was created for!

"I wonder if the church does to Christians what the zoos do to animals? We take the danger, the risk out of being a Christian and we just want to make everyone comfortable... We forget that Christ didn't save us to take away the danger from us: He saved us to make us dangerous to the Enemy!" - Mark Batterson

We forget that when we build disciples solely on the basis of staying away from sins of commission (don't steal, don't kill, don't commit adultery...), and we blatantly ignore the sins of OMISSION (forgive, love, share, evangelize... or actually, NOT doing these things), we have clipped the wings of believers to fly on the winds of the Holy Spirit as God intended! After all, are we saved ONLY to stop doing things that are wrong? And would that mean that everything we are now doing is right? Not necessarily!

Fortunately, like the Rich Man, even if we ask Jesus the wrong question, He will always give us the right answer!

Saturday, May 29, 2010


Deuteronomy 28

1-6 If you listen obediently to the Voice of God, your God, and heartily obey all his commandments that I command you today, God, your God, will place you on high, high above all the nations of the world....11-14 God will lavish you with good things: children from your womb, offspring from your animals, and crops from your land, the land that God promised your ancestors that he would give you. God will throw open the doors of his sky vaults and pour rain on your land on schedule and bless the work you take in hand. You will lend to many nations but you yourself won't have to take out a loan. God will make you the head, not the tail; you'll always be the top dog, never the bottom dog, as you obediently listen to and diligently keep the commands of God, your God, that I am commanding you today. Don't swerve an inch to the right or left from the words that I command you today by going off following and worshiping other gods.

Deuteronomy 29

1 These are the terms of the Covenant that God commanded Moses to make with the People of Israel in the land of Moab, renewing the Covenant he made with them at Horeb... 2-4 Moses called all Israel together and said, You've seen with your own eyes everything that God did in Egypt to Pharaoh and his servants, and to the land itself— the massive trials to which you were eyewitnesses, the great signs and miracle-wonders. But God didn't give you an understanding heart or perceptive eyes or attentive ears until right now, this very day.

5-6 I took you through the wilderness for forty years and through all that time the clothes on your backs didn't wear out, the sandals on your feet didn't wear out, and you lived well without bread and wine and beer, proving to you that I am in fact God, your God. 14-21amGod, our God, yes, but also with those who are not here today. You know the conditions in which we lived in Egypt and how we crisscrossed through nations in our travels. You got an eyeful of their obscenities, their wood and stone, silver and gold junk-gods. Don't let down your guard lest even now, today, someone—man or woman, clan or tribe—gets sidetracked from God, our God, and gets involved with the no-gods of the nations; lest some poisonous weed sprout and spread among you, a person who hears the words of the Covenant-oath but exempts himself, thinking, "I'll live just the way I please, thank you," and ends up ruining life for everybody. God making it with you who are standing here today in the Presence of won't let him off the hook. I'm not making this Covenant and its oath with you alone. I

Deuteronomy 30

1-5 Here's what will happen. While you're out among the nations where God has dispersed you and the blessings and curses come in just the way I have set them before you, and you and your children take them seriously and come back to God, your God, and obey him with your whole heart and soul according to everything that I command you today, God, your God, will restore everything you lost; he'll have compassion on you; he'll come back and pick up the pieces from all the places where you were scattered. No matter how far away you end up, God, your God, will get you out of there and bring you back to the land your ancestors once possessed. It will be yours again. He will give you a good life and make you more numerous than your ancestors.

6-7 God, your God, will cut away the thick calluses on your heart and your children's hearts, freeing you to love God, your God, with your whole heart and soul and live, really live. God, your God, will put all these curses on your enemies who hated you and were out to get you.

8-9 And you will make a new start, listening obediently to God, keeping all his commandments that I'm commanding you today. God, your God, will outdo himself in making things go well for you: you'll have babies, get calves, grow crops, and enjoy an all-around good life. Yes, God will start enjoying you again, making things go well for you just as he enjoyed doing it for your ancestors.

10 But only if you listen obediently to God, your God, and keep the commandments and regulations written in this Book of Revelation. Nothing halfhearted here; you must return to God, your God, totally, heart and soul, holding nothing back.

11-14 This commandment that I'm commanding you today isn't too much for you, it's not out of your reach. It's not on a high mountain—you don't have to get mountaineers to climb the peak and bring it down to your level and explain it before you can live it. And it's not across the ocean—you don't have to send sailors out to get it, bring it back, and then explain it before you can live it. No. The word is right here and now—as near as the tongue in your mouth, as near as the heart in your chest. Just do it!

15 Look at what I've done for you today: I've placed in front of you
Life and Good
Death and Evil.

I LOVE how Moses preached it! He was about to die, and BAM! I mean, this just... explains the whole concept of a relationship with God.

He can bless us if we obey Him. If we disobey, we will fall into the destructive consequences of our own choice. But when we realize that, and turn back to God (for realz), He's not like, "Well, I told you so!" But rather, He will OUT DO Himself in restoring us and putting us right back in place.

How great is our God!

It's funny how people would have a problem with the old testament. They say it promotes slavery. But if you read it as a whole, you see that God set a higher standard for the people that would be called by His Name. A standard of compassion, and love, where every soul MATTERS.

You could be rich or poor, slave or free, native or foreign, male or female... born or unborn... you mattered to God, and He set laws in place to protect you, to restore you, and to provide you with second and third chances when life went wrong.

The Israelites were the ONLY ancient nation to permanently release slaves... and not just when they earned it, but every 7 years - whether they paid their price or not. They were the ONLY ancient nation to demand by law restitution for the harm or murder of a slave. They were the ONLY nation to create inheritance laws that protected women. They were the only ancient nation to demand restitution for the harm of an unborn life.

They did so because God was their God! Because He gave Moses the wisdom to set laws that would bless the people - ALL the people. And every time I read Deuteronomy I'm like, "Wow! God You cared! And You still care!"

I just love it.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Went for a jog!

I was really stressed out because my job wasn't going great. I felt more like a failure than an apprentice, and I was truly discouraged. I guess the challenge is that in my job right now, I will never "get it"... not unless I go to law school and become an attorney myself! (not likely!)

Basically, I'm in a job where I'll never master it, never really be independent, because at the end of the day in my job its my boss that has to do it. I'm always evaluated, and I never have it right. And it's not failure on my part - it's just the job!

So how can I work someplace where I will be held down like this? I don't mind serving, I guess... Actually, let me take that back. I love feeling like I helped. I like working at a place where I am an asset to the place I work at.

At the end of the day, I want my job to be blessed because I was there.

I'm not quite feeling that way at my current job.

So I prayed about it, and decided I'm going to give my best until God moves me out.

Then I also prayed about God would move me out. I realized that I really, REALLY want to work with animals. I want a career with animals. So I looked around and found places that are hiring to work with animals and I went ahead and applied. I figured, I'm not quitting to go to another "whatever" job. But I will make a move if the door opens for me to work at my heart's desire. I leave the timing up.

And then, I felt at peace. So much, that I put shoes on and went for a jog. I put on my Runtones and ran, all the way around the lake. I took in the scenery, the fresh air, the sunlight at 9pm. The mountains, the pain in my chest, the burn in my calves.

I truly thank Jesus for the hope I have in him. The strength I have in Him. I failed PE because I didn't want to run - it hurt my knees. I did a mile in 16 minutes in high school. I go around the lake and back in 30 minutes - and it's about 6 miles (so the hiking map says)! He gave me the strength to reach, to hope, and to try things that I had never tried before. He gave me the confidence to believe that I can jog, lose weight, get healthy, have energy, and live exactly the life I want.

I love being out here! I love the summer, the sunlight! The playing outside late! The family energy! I feel like I'm alive! Bring it on!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Another wetback story

I'm going to call this guy Pablo... because... well, I know a Pablo - he happens to be one of my cousins. I also have a cousin named Julius Cesar. But that's not what this blog is about. (All of my relatives are either in Venezuela or Canada LOL).

So Pablo grows up in this town in South America, that is in the middle of a Civil War. He is the oldest, and his family is poor. So poor he spends most of his childhood hiding in the woods instead of on his actual farm - because the property was used for a war zone. They had to hide up in the woods for days at a time, and sleep there at night.

They dressed in rags made by their mom, and shoes made from cow rope and cow hide. They ate whatever the fires didn't burn and the trucks didn't run over.

One day Pablo's farm was ambushed in mid day by military trucks, loaded with men firing brutally at the villagers that were trying to defend their land w/ machetes and sticks. So per his mother's instructions, he grabs the baby - less than a year old - and runs into the woods again, assuming the rest of the family was close behind. He hears his dad yell, "Don't you dare run back until you don't hear them anymore!" Up in the mountains, he could from time to time hear the sounds of the trucks and the firearms getting closer, so he would go up further... Carrying his baby brother. Then fear set in. He was running further and further away from what was familiar... He was getting lost.

One night turned to three before he found his way back to the farm in the dark - still carrying his baby brother. He didn't realize that the baby was lifeless - he had probably starved or maybe didn't make it through the cold night. This is where Dad teaches him a lesson about being a man - and orders him to take the shovel and bury his baby brother up in the woods where the baby had died... Maybe that will teach him not to panick, to do better, to pay better attention...

As the years go by, there is no such thing as school or childhood. It's nothing but work - cut wood, peel corn, whatever would bring money home to provide for food. One day as a young teenager he sees once again the military truck pull up to his town. This time he's angry, not afraid. So he doesn't run. He stands there, ready to greet the truck and whatever that brings.

He gets picked up by men w/ AK-47s and loaded into the truck. Then they line up all the boys and do a physical exam. He considers himself unlucky because he passed. They buzz cut his hair and voila! The boy is in the army. No papers to sign. No option.

Basic Training for him is nothing like the glorified boot camp of American movies. Two meals of stale bread and coffee. Dirty buckets of water to shower. Nothing but exercise - till they dropped dead or made it through to be strong. As soon as they are handed real weapons one of his mates commits suicide by blasting his brains out. Apparently his friend was strong physically, but not strong enough mentally...

In the military he ordered to drive up to towns, very similar to the ones he grew up in, and shoot at young men and their fathers... very similar to his own. No options.

Then one night at camp the guerrilla comes in and ambushes the army in their sleep. They fire at everyone, granade the place... they take the commanders that were still alive and slit their throats. He's lying on the floor, witnessing all this. Then they leave, and it gets quiet. And he waits to die. He has shrapnel in his face. He is in pain.

But he doesn't die. What does happen is the sound of 5 other surviving soldiers, struggling to live. They get up and start moving out. Pablo is carrying a man who lost his foot over his shoulders. They are found by a helicopter and air lifted to a hospital.

He gets off on leave and visits his Mom, his sister, and two other brothers. His uncles are a part of the guerrilla. His cousins want to kill him. His family considers him a traitor. He goes into hiding.

He returns to the military and they question his loyalty. Who's side is he on? Does it matter? Was it ever his choice? They give him one warning - and one alone: Disappear. Because if he doesn't follow these orders he will be executed... just in case.

He is living in hiding. An old friend offers him money and a ride to the U.S. He is gone - doesn't think twice.

As he is making arrangements to come to the US, before he even has a chance to consult an embassy, or save money... his vehicle is ambushed. He runs for his life but gets shot. His friend, who is helping him come to the US, rescues him and takes him to an unknown ambulatory (clinic). Three days later, before he was fully recovered, they escape in the night. Injured, he crosses several international borders to come up to the United States. A month after his arrival he applies for asylum.

Now over 16 years later his case is still floating back and forth in court. He has been scammed by a guy with good spanish that took advantage of his illiteracy to take about $6000.00 from a cannery worker and ruined his chances at asylum.

During this time he has received mail from his mother... One of his brothers was murdered. His sister has been raped, repeatedly, over an unknown period of time, until she lost the ability to walk and she is crippled. His next brother is also in the US, in hiding, in proceedings, but no one knows where. His brother changed his last name. His mom tells him, "Don't come back. Whatever you do, don't come back."

Obviously he has a lot of questions... and over the years he has pieced together pieces of information... hunting down newspaper clippings, asking friends and attorneys to read documents to him, to make sense of all that happened.

But he is as far north as he can get. He figures he's safe.

Until he's threatened at work by an unknown gentlemen, who knows Pablo's name - and the name of Pablo's deceased brother, and he receives a warning... And then a month later, he gets a phone call on his cell phone. Same message; same threat that he is not to come back to his country. He shows his cell phone to a friend and they find out the phone number was from Minnesota. He's never been there. He is not even sure where in the United States that is!

But he's one step away from being deported. He's accepted that possibility, if need be. Just not back to his country. Anywhere but there.

Does he ever sleep well at night? Does he ever experience peace? Will he ever feel secure? Have a place to call home? I don't know...

It's here where I would love to say that OF COURSE he will be granted asylum, that he will be given a permanent identity in the US, to live and to work, with a new name if he needs it. But I sincerely don't know; and that's what bugs me right now.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

There's a Reason for the Promise

Deuteronomy 8:17-18 (The Message)

17-18 If you start thinking to yourselves, "I did all this. And all by myself. I'm rich. It's all mine!"—well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors—as it is today.

This Verse stuck in my heart as I went for a jog. I have been thinking about all the recent events, even the trials I have endured over the years, trying to make sense of them all. I think sometimes we undergo a trial and then get stuck on it because we can't figure out why it happened or what to learn from it.

I've also been thinking a lot about our Leadership Bible Study. I've been thinking about Francis Chan, in the video, talking about a Korean minister who among a few others survived being captured in Afghanistan. His pastor and most of his fellow church co-workers were martyred. And now that he was back in the safety of Korea, through interpreters, he tells Francis that he wished he could be there again! Because in the middle of that extreme suffering and torture he experienced a closeness with Jesus that he could not experience once he was comfortable and safe.

I also think about how Francis Chan sells over $500,000.00 in books and sermons and tithes 90% of his income. Still drives a 92 Honda scooter, and his family (wife and four kids) live on the "poorer side of town" in California. He sends a lot of money to an organization that rescues sex slaves overseas. He's perfectly comfortable in a good way - in a "living simple" kind of way. And yet he is stretched in a passion to see God's work done here on earth. And by all worldly accounts he seems successful, though you wouldn't think that by what he drives or where he lives.

Would I live the same way if I had that kind of income? If I can't trust God enough to give 10%, why would He give me more so that I could give 50%?

We have made decisions to live more simple and thus be able to be more generous comfortably. Ditched a couple of things that we like to spend money on (like got two good pairs of sneakers and an at-home exercise program instead of a gym membership), we're looking for a new place to live that may be smaller and thus cheaper, but its ok (and we really REALLY like our apartment! And our landlord! And our yard!). We share one car and I'll be taking the bus when Paul has to drive it. Our car is also old and paid off so we don't have car payments, and we don't really need another car as a couple as long as I work downtown (it's a pretty central location!).

And I hunger for the opportunity to GIVE a little bit more!

We did Relay for Life and we fundraised a total of $571 for the First Church of God team in Anchorage. That's a BIG DEAL! We are a VERY SMALL CHURCH! And then for March for Babies I fundraised $110. Which the cool thing about these things is that not all that amount came out of my pocket - but I did sacrifice some time and energy.

May I interject here, KUDOS to my hubby who stayed all night in the 30 and under degrees freezing cold at Relay BY HIMSELF so that I could go home and get some rest. THANK YOU HUNNY BUNNY!

But I want to do a little bit more... find a way to make a bit more of a mark.

And here is an issue that I'm praying about but it has Paul terrified: I want to do foster care. Paul is kinda overwhelmed w/ the kids - and rightly so, because our house is full. But it's full of love too... and I know a lot of kids in Foster Care could benefit from a home like ours, even if its just temporary, to encourage them thru their very, VERY tough time.

It actually started with a desire to adopt - from China, Haiti, or the Middle East. I did my research and we can't adopt from Haiti or the Middle East. Haiti requires you to not have any biological children and be over 35. The Middle East requires you to be practicing Muslims to adopt overseas. But it's an expensive and long-term decision, something I still have the heart for. So I prayed about this and thought, well, maybe God wants me to support an orphanage overseas or something. I dunno.

But I still want to ... love on children other than my own in my own home. I don't think I'll ever adopt here locally because I want to reserve those efforts for a child who, in an orphanage overseas, is not doing nearly as well as any child in the U.S. But I feel that even temporarily, even while things are being worked out...

And Paul is like, "You got your cat. I want my dog and my fish before we bring ANYTHING ELSE into our family." And he's also like, "We're overdone w/ 3 kids. We're full."

And yet I'm still praying... Are we? Maybe right now is not the time, and we have some kinks to work out here at home... I'm not naive in saying that doing foster care would make our home like the Brady Bunch... I know it would stretch us, even try us.

But at the end of the day, I'd rather be stretched and tried for attempting to do something selfless than to have to be tried and stretched out of my comfort zone. At least I know that the trial in my attempt to bless someone else won't be in vain.

On a different but similar note, I've reached a conclusion towards suffering: It's bound to happen. Life on earth won't be a complete cakewalk for us. And through it all, the only thing the trials have done are strengthen us, and build us up. We have seen the faithfulness of our God to sustain us through the ugliest times. We were not destroyed. We did not go without. He has always been faithful to us and He always will! So like the song says:

There's a raging sea right in front of me

wants to pull me down, bring me to my knees

so let the waters rise, if You want them to

I will follow You

I will follow You!