This week I am reading Psalm 73. Every morning this week, I intend to read the entire chapter and study one verse in the context of the entire chapter. Today it was 2 verses; 16 and 17.

“When I tried to understand all this, it was oppressive to me till I entered the sanctuary of God…”

From this verse, I chose to study the one word that stood out to me; oppressive. As a person of color, one definition of oppressive resonates with me; unjustly inflicting hardship and constraint, especially on a minority or other subordinate group. Still, as I read the subsequent meanings, another meaning stood out and I believe it is the one most pertinent to today’s passage—weighing heavily on the mind or spirits; causing depression or discomfort.

Psalm 73 talks towards the unfairness of the world. How the wicked prosper and never seem to face any difficulties; and, those “who are pure in heart” tend to get the raw end of the deal everytime. Just the thought of this, causes the psalmist to feel discomfort and heavy weight on his mind and spirit, to feel oppressed.

Can you relate? Is there something in your life that is weighing heavy on your mind or spirit, so much so that it causes you to be depressed? If nothing else, I believe at one time or another we are able to relate with the psalmist. We work hard and try to do everything by the book and someone who tends to skate by, gets all the glory, while we just get to keep working hard. It’s simply unfair. Yet, there is hope!

In our darkest times, if we chose to enter in the presence of God, hope is restored. We are reminded of the fate that awaits those who do not follow Jesus and chose evil. We are reminded of the beauty and wonder of a Sovereign God who is always with us, how He “leads us by the right hand” (v. 23), and how He is always ready to take away that which weighs us down. When we enter His presence, our oppression turns into freedom and like anything good that happens, we cannot help but share of His goodness towards us (v. 28).

Pesky Gnats

Among the several things and people I pray for, my daily prayer for years has been (in no particular order) for finances, Jake, general anxieties, and ETA of my husband. As I journaled this morning, the Lord took over my pen and wrote these words to me. My prayer is they are an encouragement to you as well:

“You don’t trust Me enough to guide your heart. Trust Me in all things. Trust Me to take care of Jake. Trust Me to protect you in the car. Trust Me to provide for you in so many more ways than food or rent. Trust Me to protect your heart and your mind. There are tons of things you covet in your mind. Help Me as we both, together, fight the thoughts that enter your mind. You are so weak mentally. There is no type of protection over your mind. The anxiety you have, the lust you allow, it is because you haven’t given Me your mind. Your husband won’t come until you give Me your mind.

I love you and the plans I have for you and your husband are wonderful! Way more grand than you could ever comprehend. I am excited for you to meet, fall in love with Me as a couple, and walk on the beautiful and hard terrain I have for you, but you need to be ready to walk that road. You need to prepare now so you won’t fall later. You are My beloved. It hurts Me when you fall, when you allow such things to control what you see and what you do. That is not of Me.

I give you desires for you to control not for them to control you. Those desires are a reminder that I have not forgotten you. But I also know a deeper desire is to follow Me, to do as I have designed for you.

Fear. That thought that just came into your mind that you aren’t good enough; that you can’t do it. See how we caught that thought like a gnat flying around? We can catch it and kill it or we just swat it enough for it to fly away for it to come back at some point. Sometimes you think you have killed it, but you weren’t even close. Don’t let the gnat or the thought of it returning distract you.

Let Me handle the gnats of your mind.”

I pray you are able to identify the gnats in your mind!

But God…

I was recently reminded that often when we are tested and tempted, it could be a sign that a reward for our faithfulness could be right around the corner. That with God and the Holy Spirit within us, there is always victory no matter how often we doubt and stumble.

She awaited the revelation, the appointed time, which spoke of the end and would not be proven false. Though it lingered, she waited for it because she knew it would certainly come and would not delay[1]. She had always prayed for falsehood and lies to be kept from her; she wanted neither poverty nor riches, but only her daily bread. Because she knew if she had too much she would disown her God. Or too little, she would steal and dishonor His name [2]. Yet she sat alone looking out the window, thinking, longing, “Surely it was for my benefit that I suffered such anguish? In Your love You kept me from the pit of destruction; You have put all my sins behind Your back”[3].

He reminded her that He knew her deeds, her love and faith, her service and perseverance, and that she was now doing more than she did at first[4]. “Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. You will forget the shame of your youth and remember no more the reproach; for I am your Maker, your Husband”[5]. Though once comforting, His words now seemed distant, unattainable. Knowing her heart so well, He continued, “forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you now perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland”[6].

His words reminded her that He was faithful to all of His promises and loving toward all He has made. He was near to all who called on Him[7]. That if she delighted herself in Him, He would delight in her ways and make her steps firm. Though she stumbled, He would not fail her and give her the desires of her heart[8].

In her anguish, she cried out to the Lord and He answered by setting her free[9]. She then knew that if she only put her hope in Him, her strength and her spirit would always be renewed[10]. For perhaps the reason they were separated for this short while, was that they may be together forever[11].

[1] Habakkuk 2:3
[2] Proverbs 30:8-9
[3] Isaiah 38:17
[4] Revelation 2:19
[5] Isaiah 54:4-5
[6] Isaiah 43:18-19
[7] Psalms 145:13, 18
[8] Psalms 37:4, 23-24
[9] Psalms 118:5
[10] Isaiah 40:31
[11] Philemon 15

Standing Strong

An email I got from my best friend, Ana. Definitely thought-provoking and encouraging!

Yesterday during my devotional I was reading about our “battle” and the equipment God gave us in order to fight effectively and successfully; the  whole armor of God.  And as I started to break down the verses, I felt so inspired to share about our battle and how God, our Commander-in-Chief, has graciously and fashionably adorned us to fight.  So, I decided to share.  By sharing, I am also enforcing the Scripture in my head.  Hope you are blessed as I was.

Ephesians 6:10-20

Part 1: The Battle – “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual  hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.” (v. 12)

The enemy has a strategy; evil spirits and powers placed in different stations on this earth and around it.  Some think that this verse can explain the 4 different levels of hierarchy in the enemy’s strategy for this battle of good and evil.  Principalities being the highest under the enemy himself. It is them against us; the devil and the fallen, against The Lord and the heavenly hosts. Their weapons are to blind us, confuse us, mislead and lie to us, weaken us, to make us lose our stand, our ground, to shake us, ultimately take our eyes and faith off of God and onto them;  causing us to stumble, become taken, and die in this battle. They are well-organized in order to cause the most confusion and chaos.BUT, God has given us what we need in order to fight back successfully!!!  The full Armour of God!

Part 2: The Weapons – “Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you might be able withstand on the evil day and having done all to stand.” (v.13)

  1. The Belt of Truth: Gird (To encircle with a belt or band. b. To fasten or secure (clothing, for example) with a belt …) your waist with truth.   A belt helps keep your pants up; but it is also an accessory, displaying the outfit.  Truth should be our accessory.  It is what keeps us covered.  It prevents gaps on the rest of our armor.  Displaying it separates us from the rest of the world. It shows who we are Children of God. Display truth like a nice expensive belt.
  2. Breastplate of Righteousness:  The breastplate protects our bodies from trauma and death.  It covers our core and major organs. Righteousness protects us from being banged up by the enemy, preventing serious blows from to our most vulnerable parts.  A hard covering, protecting our faith, our major organ in the spiritual sense.  Saved by Grace through faith, our salvation!
  3. Shod your feet with Preparation of the Gospel of Peace:  (Shod: past tense and a past participle of shoe.)  We are to over our feet, prepare to walk in peace and spread peace everywhere we go.  Let peace be the way we approach things. It is also another accessory for our armor.  A public display of the difference between evil and good, Christian and non-Christian; The Lord and Satan.
  4. Shield of Faith: The shield protects us from all darts and weapons being thrown at us.  It absorbs the impact instead of absorbing it ourselves. Faith is similar in fashion. Faith in the Lord and His Son, Jesus Christ, makes the darts of the enemy less harmful. In a sense they bounce off, causing us to not be afflicted or to recover more quickly. It makes us impenetrable,  difficult to afflict.  It can also be a weapon, to bash the enemy in the face with!
  5. Helmet of Salvation: Helmets are head-gear that keep us safe in potentially hazardous environments. Helmets keep us safe from trauma and death.  They protect our head and our brain, where our thoughts and the control of bodily functions occur. It is also another accessory.  Beautifully displaying the brilliance of God’s salvation.  A sign to others that I am ready for battle!
  6. Sword of the Spirit:  The weapon of choice –  The Holy Spirit!  Through the spirit, God’s work can be transferred to our physical.  It is sharp and dangerous to the enemy; cutting into his plans and schemes.  If used correctly, after much practice and preparation (prayer), it can be a definite weapon of destruction of evil.
  7. Prayer: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.” (v.18) The combination of prayer and the Sword of the Spirit are critical techniques in our fight. The only way to improve on our technique is to practice it over and over and over.  Let us pray without ceasing; praying for each other, praying for godly things, and for God’s will in our lives. May we remain watchful of our surroundings, and diligent in praying for all of our fellow soldiers who are fighting the very same battle; the battle of our lives.

Hope you have been blessed by what God has revealed to me. Let us pick up armor and stand strong!

Shine vs. Shield

In the Bible, when we read about a person, their name is usually followed by a description of where they are from or their trait; Jesus of Nazareth, John the Baptist, Ruth the Moabitess. Now, Jesus and John had it pretty good. Their titles were positive and had no negative connotations associated with them. Ruth’s, on the other hand, said she was a foreigner, an enemy of the Israelites.

What if we all had titles that described who we are? Some people already do. Someone with a title of  M.D. or PhD, is known to have gone to school for a long time, they have knowledge in their field and quite often are immediately respected. Anyone would be proud to have such a title. But what if our titles had nothing to do with our career or our accomplishments, but our character? What if the world gave us our title? Would you be proud of your name?

When Ruth left Moab for Bethlehem, she was known as Ruth, the Moabitess. Now, this may not mean anything to us, but in those days, her title basically said she wasn’t welcomed and wasn’t able to take part in certain freedoms. It said she would have to struggle in this land. In addition to her title, people knew she was a widow, had no family and no wealth. She was lower than low. Imagine that kind of life?

So many of us have similar struggles with our titles, but what is even worse are the traits associated with those titles. Let’s use my titles as an example. Some of the my titles are divorced, single parent, non-degreed. Traits associated with those titles are failure, damaged, used. Because of these titles and their associated character traits, my success/happiness expectancy plummets.

Now, the Biblical/Christian response to the whole “title” thing is God doesn’t see our titles or isn’t limited by the expectancy of such titles. True, but what if I said He was the one who gave us such titles and allowed such negativity to be associated with those titles? I believe this to be true and Ruth is a prime example.

Ruth’s title said that she wasn’t worth much and nothing worthwhile could ever be expected to come from her life. I believe God loved that. I believe He used it to His and Ruth’s advantage. Because He knew that when He turned Ruth’s life around by allowing her to marry Boaz,which in turn included her in the lineage of Jesus, it all could only be attributed to His divinity! No one would have ever seen that coming! God proved her title and the character traits associated with it did not determine nor described her future.

What if the same is for you? What if the title of weak, fearful, failure, lost, damaged, or used may be the truth for your past, but not the truth for your future? What if the titles you have been given or given yourself, make His promises and victories for you only that much sweeter? What if instead of holding you back, your title is actually what God is using to  push you forward? What if instead of hiding behind your title, you stood in front of it proud of how God is and will continue to shine through it?

Good Enough…Is It Really?

Why go for great when good is so easily accessible?  That question is something that so many of us struggle with. Something good comes along and we are distracted by the fact that something good is actually coming our way. We jump on it because well, come on it’s the best we can do, right? I mean, we surely couldn’t go for great without eventually proving to ourselves and to the world that we should have just stopped at good (Please note my sarcasm!). What lies we [choose to] live.

John 10:10 tells us that Jesus came that we may have life and have it abundantly, but so many of us tend to only focus on that part of the verse. We ask God, “why can I never catch break if this verse is so true?” I believe God’s response to that question is that we need to read the whole verse. The beginning of that verse says “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy.” So, if we are promised abundant life, we are also promised that someone, a thief, is out to steal, kill and destroy it. Yes, it stinks, but it is just a part of this fallen world we live in.

God calls you to step up and be a great person, but you don’t believe you have the ability because “the thief” has stolen the confidence (in Christ) you need. God tells you that  He will fulfill the promise He made to you, but you believe that if it hasn’t happened by now, it will never happen. You move on from that promise and stop pursuing it because “the thief” had killed the little hope you had.

The word abundant means “exceeding some number or measure or rank or need”. Having life abundantly is having over and above; more than is necessary. To me, that qualifies as great…not good. So, why settle for good when great is, not only attainable, but promised to us? I don’t know about you, but I’m willing to take the chance and wait on my great to come along!

Not of me, but He who lives in me!

I can’t share how amazing it feels to know I am worthless and I can’t do anything. It is great knowing that whatever task is placed in front me, I will completely mess it up. Most people tell us that we have to believe in ourselves. We need to believe that “we can”!

The enemy reminds us day in and day out what failures we are; how we are just good for nothing; that our mistakes and our past will never allow us to be seen as anything more than mediocre. And if you sit and think about it, as much as you want to believe he is lying, he isn’t!

I have learned that until I realize I am what the enemy and people tell I am, only then will I truly realize how much I need Jesus! How much I need to fully rely on Him for guidance, protection and purpose. I am nothing without Christ living in me. I am prone to mistakes and failure, but my Savior is not!

This weekend has already been so amazing! Yesterday, I got to spend time with some girlfriends. It started up as a fundraiser, and ended up being a hair salon! Gotta love it when girls get together! As fabulous as last night was, I can’t even begin to imagine what the rest of the weekend holds!

Tomorrow is the 39th anniversary of Roe vs. Wade. Many of you know my story and know I feel called to help others find the restoration I have found in Christ. I feel the Lord calling me to blow the door down on the subject of abortion…and it begins this weekend at my church, Calvary Baptist!

With the support and encouragement of my Pastor, he and I will speak candidly about abortion…during his sermon. We will also have a table set up with more information on the study I lead, Surrendering the Secret, and details how to begin the journey towards healing and forgiveness that we can only find through Christ!

I am not worthy of this calling. I am not worthy to be used as the voice of the many children that are with Jesus because of our poor choices, but I can say the Lord has called me to this and only through Him who lives and strengthens me, can I be a light in the darkness of abortion!

I invite you all to attend any of our 3 services: Saturday 6:30pm, Sunday 9:15am and 11:00am, 110 North McMullen Booth Road, Clearwater, FL 33759. Also, please keep  in your prayers those who will hear this message. My prayer is that seeds will be planted, watered or given the strength to break through the ground as we “surrender our secret”!

We will be starting a new Surrendering the Secret study in February. If you are interested in joining or finding out more information, please contact me at 727-687-4693 or at secretsurrendered@gmail.com.


Crimson Cleanse

On a day when we are supposed to be thankful, I can’t help but be amazingly grateful for the blessings I have. My boy, who although may be quite sick today, we are grateful for his health and that we are only dealing with a cold and not a debilitating or terminal disease. Our beautiful home, car and food we are able to enjoy everyday.

So many things we are able to be thankful for, but there are no words to express our gratitude for the sacrifice our Lord and Savior made in order for us to be free from eternal suffering. The shedding of His blood covered our sin and washed them away.

By this Crimson Cleanse, we were made white as snow. Yes, that is so cliché. How can we be made white as snow when we continue to sin everyday? That is one question we may never understand and I am not going to waste time trying to figure it out.

I don’t know about you, but I have done some pretty bad things in my life. So many times, I have chosen my own ways and ignored that a better path was designed for me. When I was cleansed of my sin, I was given access to a plan better than I could have ever chosen.

On this earth, I may not ever be perfect, good or even mediocre but everyday, I will choose to shower in the Crimson Cleanse before facing the world, so I may be better today than I was yesterday!

This is the day the Lord has made and I will rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Home, Sweet Home!

Being home is wonderful! The comfort of being in your own home, sitting on your own couch, the freedom of knowing your surroundings is indescribable. I guess living in a hotel room, out of a suitcase and being limited to going out only if someone comes and get you can make you appreciate being home.

I moved to Florida in 1997 from Boston. I was 19 years old and, if I am completely honest, running away from “home”; It really wasn’t home anymore. I wasn’t happy where I was or even felt like I belonged anywhere. Living at different friends houses for about 6 months; I was homeless. So, moving to Florida, starting anew, felt right.

Although I was a Christian at the time, I wasn’t walking with Lord. I had lumped Him with the people who had (in my eyes) disappointed me and felt He had nothing to offer me. I guess to an extent, I was running away from Him, too.

Now, 14 years later, I am making plans to leave this “home”. Not because I am not happy here or because I don’t feel like I belong. I’m not running away from the Lord this time…I am running to Him!

Being away from home is difficult. I know being away from what has become our home here in Florida will also be difficult because I still often struggle not being close to family and friends who are still in Boston. Yes, God can use whatever circumstance we put ourselves in to His Glory, but unlike my move to Florida, I have comfort in knowing that this move is ordained and Blessed by God.

As our move date has moved to June, 2012, we will be organizing more fundraisers and would appreciate any suggestions, help and prayers. Also, please consider how you can help support our ministry either with a one-time donation or a monthly commitment. Thank you!


When we are Available!

I haven’t had as much computer time as I thought I would so I haven’t been able to post anything all week. I find myself with sometime, so I will do my best to do a recap now. Sorry if this is long, but there have been so many God moments I want to share as much as I can, so here goes:

I came to Guatemala with not many expectations because if I have learned anything from past trips, the keyword is flexibility. I knew coming to this time would be different because I didn’t have a set minute by minute agenda or anyone to really do anything with. (Yes, I never meet a stranger and I could easily tag-along with people, but in my insecurities, I don’t like to bother anyone.) So, lesson number 1: Being a missionary can be lonely. People have told me this, but to actually experience it is a different story.

I am grateful I was able to experience this on a small dose because, although difficult, it is a reality of being in a new country!

Lesson 2: It’s good to have plan, just don’t be disappointed when things don’t go as planned. I knew I may not be able to get much done, so I wasn’t surprised when I wasn’t even able to open a bank account. My passport wasn’t enough…I needed a letter from immigration and a utility bill. The utility bill wouldn’t be so hard to get, but  I wasn’t able to get to the immigration office, so I wasn’t able to open account.

I also wanted to go visit places to live and Jake’s school. Yesterday, a new friend took me to the neighborhood where the school is. We were able to drive onto the grounds, but did not have time for a tour. She also lives in that same neighborhood so I was also able to see what we could expect when we are looking for rentals.

Lesson 3: Network, network, network. Participating with the 2 mission teams that were here working with the church allowed me to interact with the families from the church and the community. I was able to meet the Pastor and his family, but with all that was going on, (understandably) I didn’t get to spend much time with them. However, I was able to get to know a few people who gave me awesome advice and offered help us with the move and getting acclimated.

Lesson 4: I have a passion for nursing. This isn’t a surprise to me or to most people, but I love having the reminders every so often.

I was able to go into a hospital yesterday to drop off something items for a friend of the person I was with. The mom was spending the night with her son who had surgery earlier on his cleft palette. The hospital was a small Catholic hospital (nothing compared to the larger hospitals which are all over, but very expensive.) The room was a large room with about 8 beds. It is intended to be a pediatric surgical recovery room (mainly for children who had cleft palette surgery), but the other units were full so an older woman in a coma was placed there. It was pretty crowded.

A baby next to the little boy we were visiting was crying. He was so sweet! His mom was holding him, trying to console him, but nothing was working. Seeing them there, with their moms next to them consoling, praying, loving on their children, made my heart break. I tried to hold back my tears, but I couldn’t. I wanted to do something!

Lesson 5: God does speak, we just have to listen. My ultimate goal was to receive word from God as to when we should make the move; I needed to know if February was my timing or His.

Earlier in the week, I was able to spend some time with a friend I had met on a previous trip. She mentioned that coming in February would not be wise because it may require Jake to repeat a grade  since it would be the middle of the school year. She suggested we wait until June. This would also allow us time to find a place we are both comfortable with, get settled and then Jake could start the new school year with everyone else.

I can’t say this advice wasn’t a tad disappointing to hear, but it was an answer to my prayer. Although the thought of moving in June instead of February had been introduced, I did not want to only lean on that advice and asked the Lord for further confirmation…which I received from numerous people who gave me the same advice. Yesterday, I believe was the concrete confirmation I was looking for. I was able to spend time with someone who’s children are in the school and had recently moved here from the States herself. She provided TONS of advice and specific details we need to move forward.

I know this still requires alot of prayer, but I feel peace in knowing Jake will get to finish out the school year at home, we will have more time to raise funds and I will be able to continue to serve and hopefully grow the post-abortion ministry at Calvary.

God is good ALL THE TIME! As long as we are available, He will reveal Himself and His plan for us. He is so Gracious to allow us to experience things in small doses so we are better prepared when the larger dose comes our way.

I may not have been successful in completing all I set out to do, but I did try to make myself available to Him. However He chose to speak, I wanted to be able to listen.

The trip isn’t quite over yet…I get to enjoy worshipping with the Vida Nueva congregation tomorrow, and then hopefully spend some times with friends before heading to the airport early Monday morning. But today as I sit here, I have a chance to look back at the week and see His hand over it all, and all I can do is PRAISE HIM. I PRAISE HIM for speaking to me. I PRAISE HIM for making this trip a time for He and I to spend time together. I PRAISE HIM for the uncomfortable times.  I PRAISE HIM for being with me throughout this week! I PRAISE HIM FOR MY SALVATION AND HIS GRACE!