Monday, December 13, 2010

The Least of Men

(I have never shared this story with anyone other than family, nor have I written about it other than a short poetic piece. I shared my experience primarily with my father when he was battling cancer in his last days. It was an intimate moment for us both as God slowly began to reveal His face to us in different ways. I will always cherish that tender moment with my father. I invite you to read on.)

I can still see his face. I can still envision those sad, yet curious eyes gazing upon me as I stood smiling at him. We stood at the intersection of A Street and Front Street, the same place I would always find him. I still remember the gentle sound of his voice, the innocent nature of his being, the beauty of his heart, the look of fear and hope wrapped up into one stare. I still remember the way his worn hands felt as I took them into mine. He looked at me with great anticipation as he waited to find out what I would say next. There we stood on the street corner...

Several weeks prior, I met him for the first time. His name was Martin. I was on my lunch break enjoying a fruit smoothie, high heels clicking and on my way back to the high rise on Columbia Street. It seemed like any other day in San Diego - 75 degrees, exquisite sunshine, a cruise ship or two in the bay and undoubtedly, fabulous weekend plans were in my near future. Yes, it seemed to be just another ordinary day in paradise. Little did I realize, my world would soon change in ways I never could imagine. Just as I hurried through the crosswalk, I saw him sitting there. He was resting between a trashcan and a lamp post, just in front of a large potted shrub. When my eyes first found him, he was staring at the ground - most likely hoping for a passerby to drop any amount of change on the unfriendly sidewalk. At that moment, I suddenly felt an undeniable, relentless urge that I cannot begin to explain through mere words. It was an incredible feeling that twisted my heart into a complete knot. I took a moment to absorb the scene around me before making a move. Then, I reached into my wallet, pulled out my remaining cash and bent down towards Martin holding out the money. He lifted his face, the sunlight hitting his eyes as he squinted and barely spoke a sincere "thank you, ma'am." I hurried on my way, wiping tears and trying to regain composure until I reached my building.

Several days had passed and I was on the familiar stretch of sidewalk between my office and one of my favorite sandwich shops, only this time I drove. As I sat in my Honda Accord waiting for the light to turn green, I casually tapped the steering wheel while listening to the radio. It was a fantastic day! Before the light changed, my eyes skimmed over a figure stooping beside the trashcan. It was Martin -and this time he held a sign that said "I am hungry." Before I even had time to think, I was crying and frantically merging into the right lane so I could loop back to the sandwich shop. That day, Martin received a roast beef sandwich and vegetable soup for lunch.

....There we stood on the street corner, and the lunch hour was in full force. People were rushing by and I was, no doubt, receiving several unapproving glances.
"What is your name?" I asked.
"Martin," he whispered.
I unabashedly took his hand and ushered him to a nearby table.
"May I please have a hug?" I asked in earnest.
He quickly answered, "I probably don't smell too good."
"I surely don't care about that," I replied.

After a five second embrace, we sat down at the table. Seagulls scattered into the air as we took over their territory. I set my purse to the side and leaned forward.

"Martin, do you know Jesus?" I inquired as I put my hand over his.
"I've heard of him once before," he answered with increasing curiosity.
"Martin, Jesus loves you so much - so much - that He died for you. He was God's Son....fully God, yet fully man.....and He paid the penalty for our sins so we can live in heaven forever. He died, but then He rose back to life three days later. And He still lives. And He loves you. And He can be your Savior if you ask Him."
We sat in silence and Martin thought about this for awhile as he continued to hold my hand.
"Martin, can I pray with you?" I urged.
"Yes", he whispered.

For several months, I purposely took the same route home each day. I prayed for the traffic light to be red and always had my wallet close by. I don't remember how many times I had the pleasure of summoning Martin to my car, but it happened the same way each time....quick hand-off before the light turned green, a quick "God bless you", and a lump in my throat the entire way home.

The last time I saw Martin was the day before Thanksgiving, November of 2006. I was on my way home to enjoy time off with my children and Jose, who was my boyfriend at the time. There was always a good chance I would see Martin and being prepared on this day was certainly no exception. Sure enough, I saw Martin standing on the corner. It was the Thanksgiving holiday, my heart was overwhelmed with gratitude and I remember giving him double what I normally did. The entire way home, I thought about turning around. A big part of me wanted to invite him to my house for Thanksgiving, but I never turned around to go ask him.....
and I never saw Martin again.

I still think about him to this day. I wonder what has become of dear Martin. Is he eating? Is he in good health? Did he realize I loved him? Is he.... alive? My heart aches at times and I long to be on the corner of A Street and Front Street once again so I can find my friend. I long to take him a Bible. I long to find out if our conversation led him to a relationship with Jesus. I may never find out the answer & I may be left to wonder for years and years to come, but there is nothing I would trade for the precious time spent with my San Diego friend.

Indeed, there is nothing on earth I would trade for having my heart broken for Martin - for even though he was the least of men in the world's eyes, he was so much more to Jesus...
He was so much more to me.

What breaks your heart?
What makes you cry?
What would I see if I looked through your eyes?
I want to grow closer and closer to you
Til what breaks your heart will break mine too.
-Scott Krippayne

Friday, September 10, 2010

God Qualifies The Called

When I decided to take on the tremendous task of homeschooling, I accepted the fact I would face challenges and bumps along the way. What I failed to realize, however, was how quick those challenges would surface. My life, at present, would best be compared to a section of road currently undergoing an expansion project. Our comfortable routines have been reconfigured, sanity has taken a detour and my faith has been steamrolled. And steamrolled. And steamrolled.

After one week of chaos followed by another week of exhaustion, I realized I can no longer contain my homeschooling routine in its cute little box. Instruction & learning will not always take place between the hours of 8 a.m. and 12 noon. Lunch will not always be sitting on the table precisely at 11:45 and my 2 year old daughter will NOT always be quiet when I am in the middle of a geography lesson. She might even try to eat South America, but you know what? It's OKAY.

It's okay...because God has me in the palm of His hand.
It's okay...because God is overseeing this expansion project and has full control.
It's okay...because God will not give me more than I can handle.
It's okay...because God will not allow me to crumble.

I am convinced (despite my tears, headaches and messy kitchen) I am moving closer and closer to God's will for my life. I need to remind myself our homeschooling journey is not about how much curriculum we can cram into our day. In fact, I did not make the decision to withdraw my children from public school because I felt the academics were insufficient. If I am being quite honest, I became convicted on the issue after two years of snarling at the idea! I finally resigned myself to the fact I must teach my children at home due to several reasons. First, I know this is God's best for OUR family. Secondly, the influence and power my leadership will have on my children is colossal. My greatest desire, more than anything else, is to see my children love Christ first and foremost. I want my children to serve others, always considering their needs second. I want to shape their character and instill virtues that will last beyond this lifetime. Although it is certainly my great hope to be a proud Mom of four college graduates someday, it is not my main goal. I long to see my children maintain an eternal perspective, live selfless lives and store their many treasures in heaven.

And so, we have begun our homeschooling journey. First grade, fourth grade, seventh grade and a prissy 2 year old sprinkled on top...
Challenges there will be, but I wholeheartedly expect the joys and rewards to far outweigh the negative. I am clinging tightly to God's word and recalling a statement made by Dr. Ruth Martin at the GHEA Homeschool Conference:

"The task ahead of you is not as great as the power within you."

Amen to that! The task that lies ahead is surely not as great as the power within me... and that power is none other than Jesus Christ. It is He who enables me to accomplish everything in life! His power alone, and nothing else, will guide my steps and qualify me for the task. His power will keep me grounded, even on days when the algebra solution is nowhere to be found. Even on days when my dyslexic child is frustrated beyond measure and cannot read any longer...

...EVEN on days when my 2 year old tries to eat South America.

"To God be the glory
Great things He has done
So loved He the world
That He gave us His son
Who yielded His life an atonement for sin
And opened the life gate that all may go in."

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

A Time For Purification

At first glance, today seemed like just another ordinary day. I took my boys to Vacation Bible school, played with my 2 year old, worked on laundry, and made a banana creme pie. As I sorted through tiny socks and character t-shirts, I began to quietly reflect on my days as a single mother. During that time in my life (it just seemed to drag forever), I carried around so many burdens. I worked from dawn until dusk to barely put bread on the table. I relied heavily upon my mother to pick up the slack with my own children... and I had a deep, deep longing to be loved & appreciated. I had not yet moved to the point of realizing Jesus was the only love I would ever need and the only One who would truly validate me.... and it wasn't until I finally accepted this truth that He gave me a wonderful husband. A husband that, although not perfect, fills my heart and is truly committed to our relationship. You see, God does have a perfect order for everything - and when we love HIM first, he will grant us the desires of our heart. You know why? Because when we relinquish control, His desires suddenly become our desires. I am totally convinced of this.

Sometimes, God will put us through a time of testing or purification so that His will may be see us refined like gold. I believe this time of testing or purification is necessary in order to receive God's blessing and complete favor. All throughout the Bible, this is evident. It rained for 40 days & nights when Noah and his family lived on the arc. The Israelites wandered in the desert for 40 years. Moses stayed atop Mount Sinai for 40 days. Eli led the Israelites for 40 years. Goliath came for 40 days before being killed by David. Jesus fasted for 40 days in the wilderness....and those are just off the top of my head. The list goes on. I thought about my own circumstances and wondered if there was a period of time in my life when God put me through the same thing.

So, I am realizing yet again just how much the Lord has transformed my life. I am pretty amazed at how quickly things have changed for our family. Lately, my mind has been set on Fall activities for my children and purchasing a home school curriculum. I am quickly moving into uncharted waters, so it's very easy to allow fear and uncertainty to set in. With our current schedule, I am beginning to wonder how I will ever fit everything into a 7 day week. I anxiously walked over to the calendar to count the days until we start. I think I must have laughed a little when I realized the number of days left....

Forty, to be exact.

May I embrace tomorrow with open arms. May I keep my eyes and ears open to everything God wants to show me. May I find the strength and courage to teach my children and lead them down a righteous path. May I move into full obedience to Jesus Christ, never compromising who I am. May the Lord purify my heart. May He refine it like gold.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

And A Wise Tongue Will Bring Healing

Today brought on a bag of mixed emotions I was unprepared for. I found myself struggling with feelings of anger, turmoil and unrest as I dealt with a business relationship turned personal that had actually soured. I know all too well anger is unhealthy, and God specifically warns us against this in the Bible. It is easy for our fallible nature as humans to succumb to this devastating emotion, and maybe even more so as Christians. The devil is constantly on the prowl for those who are seeking to live in the Light of God's word.

Today, I found the following excerpt on anger as I was having my Bible study:

Angry people usually justify their anger, saying it's someone else's fault they are angry. Yet the Bible repeatedly warns us against giving in to anger when we are upset by other people's words or actions.
There is such a thing as righteous anger. And sometimes we need to talk about problems or deal with dangerous situations. (Even at these times, we must exercise self-control.) Yet most of the time, our anger is not righteous. As James wrote, "Man's anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires" (James 1:20).

Furthermore, it says in Proverbs that 'a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger.' When we give in to anger, we often focus on our own welfare, comfort or happiness. Instead, we should be primarily concerned about other people’s welfare and being a good witness for God.

So, it begs the question... am I turning away wrath with a gentle answer or am I stirring up anger with harsh words? I knew in my heart if I examined this closer, the honest answer may find me guilty with the latter. In Ephesians, we are told to offer words that are helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And so I continued to read the words I know to be truths...

"Let your gentleness be evident to all." - Philippians 4:5
"And the Lord's servant must not quarrel; instead, he must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful." - II Timothy 2:24
"Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult, but with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing." - I Peter 3:9

Wow. The Bible doesn't tell us to be gentle only to those people who we deem worthy, but it says be gentle to ALL. As servants of the Lord, we are to show kindness to everyone we come in contact with, without arguing, being able to teach through example, and abounding in love as Christ loved us and gave His life for us. Lastly, we are to repay evil with a blessing, for God has called us to be obedient and faithful so that we may receive His blessings – blessings of peace, joy, love and most importantly, eternal life.

Make my tongue wise and prevent me from wrong,
Be near me, Lord; help me be strong,
Expose my heart so others may see,
The Light of the World lives inside me.

Monday, May 24, 2010

"My Name Is Pride" by Beth Moore

My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
I cheat you of your God-given destiny…
because you demand your own way.
I cheat you of contentment…
because you “deserve better than this.”
I cheat you of knowledge…
because you already know it all.
I cheat you of healing…
because you are too full of you to forgive.
I cheat you of holiness…
because you refuse to admit when you are wrong.
I cheat you of vision…
because you’d rather look in the mirror than out a window.
I cheat you of genuine friendship…
because nobody’s going to know the real you.
I cheat you of love…
because real romance demands sacrifice.
I cheat you of greatness in heaven…
because you refuse to wash another’s feet on earth.
I cheat you of God’s glory…
because I convinced you to seek your own.
My name is Pride. I am a cheater.
You like me because you think I’m always looking out for you.
I’m looking to make a fool of you.
God has so much for you, I admit, but don’t worry…
If you stick with me you’ll never know.

-written by Beth Moore, copied from the book Praying God's Word

Thursday, May 13, 2010


I lost my little brother at only 19 years of age in a car accident.
I have experienced divorce.
I lost a child through miscarriage.
I lost my Daddy at age 53 to a rare and aggressive cancer.
I have contemplated abortion.
I have experienced pregnancy alone.
I have stolen, lied and cheated.
I have experienced depression, self doubt and hopelessness.
I have been ignored.
I have been disregarded.
I have been financially distraught, emotionally stripped and incredibly shaken.
I have been face on the floor, at rock bottom, begging for a Savior.

And Jesus heard me.

He gave me compassion in the place of judgment.
He gave me wisdom in the place of folly.
He gave me love in the place of hate.
He gave me joy in the place of sorrow.
He gave me assurance in the place of uncertainty.
He gave me peace in the place of obscurity.
He gave me truth in the place of falsehood.
He gave me understanding in the place of confusion.
He gave me praise in the place of criticism and idleness.
He gave me desire in the place of rejection.
He gave me hope in the place of despair.

He rescued me and purified my heart.
He gave me forgiveness.
For I was lost, but now I am found.
I can sing again.

-TNL, 2010

Thursday, May 6, 2010

The Seven P's to Spiritual Success and a Stress FREE Lifestyle

This afternoon was not the most convenient time for writing. I was attempting to work on laundry, clean the kitchen and dust my bedroom. However, thoughts continue to roll through my mind at a very fast pace. God has impressed certain things upon my heart this afternoon, so I must transfer them to paper. As I have dealt with a good amount of stress these past weeks, I have also resigned myself to the fact that I must engage in a lifestyle change. No matter how much we (as mothers) believe we have it under control, troubles are bound to hit. However, God tells us in James to consider it pure joy when we experience trials of many kinds. Now, that is not to say we feel especially joyful; rather, in our moments of sorrow and pain we are presented with a magnificent opportunity to take a step back, reevaluate our circumstances, and press forward with gratitude and a change of heart. God intends for us to learn from our hardships; He promises peace, understanding and wisdom to all who genuinely seek the truth.

Proactive: Take a proactive stance in your life. Don't wait until the last minute to accomplish something on your to do list. To use the words from one of my childhood books, don't wait until “just a little later.” I can promise you procrastination will be your arch enemy at some point.

Practice: Practice a healthy lifestyle. Get plenty of exercise. Maintain a good balance of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and drink plenty of water! God gave us a wide selection of food to nourish our bodies. He wants us to feel energized.

Persistence: Don't give up. You might feel sluggish during the first few days of your new exercise regimen, but it will pass. Press forward, continue at the pace, and be persistent in physical fitness. The energy and well-being you reap in the long term will pay off.

Preventative: Take vitamins! Go to the doctor for routine check-ups and physicals. Don't wait until you are sick to visit the man in the white coat.

Prayerful: Get on your knees daily. Thank God in good times as well as bad times. There is a lesson to be learned, a mission to be accomplished, a goal to be met. Pray without ceasing and ask those prayer warriors in your life to lift you up. You shouldn't feel ashamed or embarrassed to ask for prayer. God tells us to carry each other's burdens and He also says when two or more are gathered in His name, He will be there.

Purposeful: Dive into your day with an open heart and open mind. God has a purpose. He designed you for that very reason - to complete His purpose and provide you with total fulfillment.

Patience: BE PATIENT. Be willing to persevere. God never promised to answer all of our prayers and solve our problems all at once......BUT, he does tell us in Jeremiah 29:11 that He knows the plans He has for us. He tells us they are plans for good, and not for harm. Patience builds character and strengthens our faith. Lastly, character and faith is what defines a person who is living in the light.

May God bless you today and always.