#ImGonnaPopSomeTags

Browsing in the thrift store is a fun past time for my daughter and I. We like to search for fun odeities or vintage decor amongst the cluttered shelves of unwanred keepsakes. Sometimes, we encounter friendly and eccentric individuals to make our trips all the more interesting. Last time, I met a wonderful woman whom I ended up talking to for about an hour, sharing my testimony, hearing hers, and praying for each other in the parking lot with our bags in hand. 

This time, however,  went slightly different. I found a piece of furnature I needed for a steal. So I took the tag up to the cashier to go ahead and buy the item before someone else scooped it up and then I would continue browsing. Well, as I stood next to my eight year old at the register two men standing behind me commented on my daughter. “Wow, she’s so cute” one said. “Thank you. She knows it though, I think they get in more trouble when they know they’re cute”, I joked and turned back around. Then he said “you must get in a lot of trouble then” in that tone where you know you’re being looked up and down without even needing visual confirmation. Now, let me take a moment to note that I did not have any make up on, I was sweaty from the heat, my hair thrown in a haphazard pony tail with my baby hairs sticking in all sorts of ways, and I was in a loose t-shirt and jeans. Literally nothing special. 

So, maybe he needed glasses himself. Nevertheless I attempted to difuse the situation by turning around once more and replying “actually, I’m a pastor. So I do my best to avoid ANY trouble”. One looks to the other and said, I kid you not, “S#!/… makes ME wanna go to church” and the other replies looking at me “huh… me too”. So, naturally I sweetly said “well if you’re wanting to go to church, it’s called Providence Wesleyan Church, about two miles past Cane Bay High right up that way. You’re welcome any Sunday”… And that is how you invite someone to church while they’re hitting on you. Seize every moment, ladies and gentlemen. Every single one. And, as always, guard your heart… wait for the one GOD sends for you, not the first one to compliment you. 

“Now go out to the street corners and invite everyone you see.” Matthew 22:9

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.” Proverbs 4:23

Corazón DeSueños 

#FamilyFeud

I recently returned from a trip to visit family out west. I woke up and God had placed the overwhelming need to go. I was convinced he wanted me to visit my mother’s small hometown to visit my grandmother whom I hadn’t seen in years. I assumed it was to spend time with her before her health declined. After only a few days I realized God had something much deeper in store for me.

As we loaded up the car- My mother, daughter, nephew, and I- I was so sure that I knew what God was calling me for… big mistake. Never assume that you know what God is doing. He will always surprise you. Sometimes it will be joyous, sometimes it will hurt, but it will always be for part of His plan. We Began our 28 hour drive with the intention of making the most out of the 10 days we planned to be gone. This meant deciding on the sacrifice that my mother and I would trade off driving shifts to avoid stopping for the night, thus saving time and money.

I attempted to look up Wesleyan churches in the area so that I could attend church while I was away. I found that not only is the closest (and only two in the state) is 3 and a half hours away from our destination. The more research I did, the more I discovered the vast distance between churches in this region. Few and far between is an understatement. As I looked at the map on my screen, God gave me the words “blank canvas”. That was the first spark in the beginning of a journey soon to come… more on that in the future…

Twenty-eight hours later we arrived at my grandmother’s around 10:00 pm local time. She was very excited to see us, and stayed up talking for a long time before we went to bed. The next morning we had breakfast, prepared for a day of errands with her had lunch, and caught up. It was wonderful. Then came the third day…

After running some more errands and a day planned out of full tasks, things began to change. It had began to rain and we decided to take the kids to the indoor pool the town has. When we returned, she was a different person; yelling and angry. I was confused. I had no idea what changed. The next day it was twice as bad; yelling, screaming, throwing things, accusing us of things we hadn’t and scaring the children. She kicked us out and we didn’t even understand what we did. We were all in tears, we packed the car and were ready to begin the trip home after only a few days. I’m almost sure that my bipolar disorder does run in the family now. I saw two completely different people that day and the image I had of who my grandmother was shattered.

My aunt told us not to leave town yet. She opened her home and her heart to us. Her children, my cousins, did the same. In that moment I realized that at 28 years old… I didn’t even know my aunts and cousins. So much of my family were essentially familiar strangers to me. I retreated into the car to pray alone and spend time with the Father. I knew there was a purpose for this pain but at the moment I couldn’t understand what that purpose was. My sister called and we talked for a while. Granted, we have had a trying relationship at times but when it came down to it, she was there for support when I needed her. That is family. My sister helped me to realize that God was using this one broken relationship to deepen six other relationships for me and other family members. She also helped me to see that God was, in a way, showing me something to remember if I ever think I should come off of my mental health medication again.

My aunt was a life saver and a trip saver. She embraced us and refused to let that bad situation be all we remembered of our trip. We saw so many sights, had so many experiences, and didn’t want to leave when the time came. Sundays sermon was broadcasted on live stream from my church back home and I made a point to watch it. The message that was shared was so on point that I rewound it and made sure to have my family gather around the phone to listen to it. The spirit is alive and moving. He spoke to each one of us in that sermon.

All in all, throughout the trip, God deepened relationships. He showed me my next calling and told me to wait and prepare. He spoke to my family members. He gave me a deeper understanding of my family as a whole. He gave me a deeper understanding of my mother and her upbringing, even of my grandmother and her brief upbringing. Sometimes pain brings understanding, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t still hurt. We can understand how someone became who they are and forgive them without excusing wrong behavior. It is a hard thing to do though. My grandmother and I haven’t spoken so far since that day but I pray for her mental and spiritual healing. I do believe that God has started a healing in my family and the future holds so many big things that have yet to come.

Thank you, Lord. Thank you for the hard lessons and the hard times as well as the good.

“Don’t be impressed with your own wisdom. Instead, fear the Lord and turn away from evil. Then you will have healing for your body and strength for your bones.” Proverbs 3:7-8

“If you claim to be religious but don’t control your tongue, you are fooling yourself, and your religion is worthless. Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.” James 1:26-27

Corazón DeSueños

 

See You At The Mountain Top

This weekend we attended our district conference for our denomination. Instead of the usual hotel stay, we took a differnt route and stayed in the cabins at Table Rock Wesleyan Campgrounds. Our pastor planned a climb up the mountain to a waterfall. Now, being someone who despises the heat… in July..  I’ll be honest i wasn’t too stoked about this. Especially when I  heard it would be about an hour ONE WAY. I almost “nope”d right out of there. Nevertheless, I laced up my sneakers, bathed in a cloud of insect repellant, and joined. 

The hike was long and the further we went, the harder it got. We stopped to pray and share devotional at a few points along the journey. I feel like these stopping points marked the “Beginner”, “Medium”, and “Advanced” difficulty levels ( had this been a video game. 
Near the top I was breathing hard, face hot, and realizing just how horribly out of shape I am. But then… the top. Most of our group stopped at a point just under the waterfall where some of the water pools about knee deep. My body was on fire and I said “finally”. But as I looked up and saw the waterfall where a few continued up to, I thought “no… I’ve come too far to not feel the waterfall on my face”. 
I climbed higher where a few others had gone ahead and sat beneath the water fall. With the water rushing around my ears and face, drowning out any sounds of the world, I closed my eyes and prayed. I shut out the world and there in nature took a moment to be still and feel God. The beautiful moment will stay etched in my memory.  The rushing water cold on my face and sweet to the taste. The warm embrace of the Father as I focused on only him. Even if just for a moment, it was everything.  

On the way back down we all began to realize just how steep the trail  was at some points. Going back down was a whole differnt story than our ascent. I found myself staring down at my feet to ensure my safety. Then, I stopped and realized… look up. If I stay looking at my feet and worring about my safety so much I would miss the beauty of the mountain all around me. And also, if I stay only looking up, I could fall and risk injury.  
Balance. This journey taught me that balance is everything. This is something I  logically know and have been struggling yet working on in all areas. As someone with bipolar disorder… balance is foreign to me. And yet, in accomplishing this small journey, balance transcended my logical understanding and was something that I FELT. 
I praise God for this experience.  I praise him for the blessing of even the smallest moments. Seek first the kingdom of God, brothers and sisters. Seek God above all else. Climb your mountain to steal away a few small moments with Him. Taste the sweet water and marvel at his amazing creations all around you. Look up. Be safe. Find your balance. 

Seek the Lord above all else and everything will fall into place. He restores balance. 
Lord, thank your for our moments with you, big and small. Thank you for the mountains -literal and metephorical- in our lives and for strengthening us enough to conquer them. Spark in our hearts a desire to seek you above any and every thing in our lives. Let us seek you above money, materials, spouses, etc. We love and thank you. In Jesus name, amen. 
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Patience Is A Virtue

Patience… this may be one of my weakest areas. Seriously. Even when I buy people gifts I end up having to buy replacement gifts because I simply can’t wait for them to open it and I give it early. We live in such an instantaneous world. A microwave generation, I’ve heard it called. We want everything now, now, now. Think about it, a world of knowledge is right at my fingertips. With my phone I can search for almost any answer. With that same phone I can also order dinner, video chat, file a claim on my insurance… heck, you can even do your taxes via app now! 

How were the people of the bible so patient? How were they able to wait YEARS or even DECADES for God’s answers? Well, for one, they didn’t have cellphones. If they needed groceries they didn’t just hop down the block for a gallon of milk. They had to work and wait for EVERYTHING. Need something from the market? Better be ready for a two or three day walk, one way. Want milk for the house? Better get a bucket and go milk the cow. We are far more spoiled and have forgotten what it means to simply be still.  

I am impatient in almost every area, you can imagine when I went back on meds (catchup story below) and I got the “it can take up to a month” warning I freaked out a bit. I would love for God to send my future husband right this second. I would love for a lot of things to happen right this second. But timing is everything. The right time and right place are essential in His plan. God has said “not now” and “not yet” so often lately because he ‘s working on strengthening my weakest area. After all,  what kind of wife would I make if I don’t have any patience?   Whether your wait is for progress, medication effectiveness, your future spouse, or answers from God, let’s remember how to sit our behinds down and be patient. 

https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U #EndTheStigma video sermon on mental health as a Christ Follower. 
https://youtu.be/pwn7Y8L5usY #ChristianSingle video sermon about being a single Christ Follower. 

Lord, thank you for strengthening ourweakness. Empower us to be better. Give our hearts the desire to be the best we can be for you, for ourselves, and for our future spouse. Lord strengthen our motivation to do the work when it is hard. Deepen our patience and help us to be still when we need to. We thank you and we love you. Amen. 

Corazón DeSueños 

Loneliness Is Not Weakness

Loneliness. Let’s be real here, we all experience it. If you haven’t you’re lying. Plain and simple. Why do we act like admitting to loneliness is some kind of weakness. Our society is slowly deeming any piece of humanity as weakness; calling people “thirsty” for showing even the slightest sign of interest. We are losing our softness and becoming hard. Why is that the goal? The answer: its not. That is a trick from the world to help you lose yourself and give in to sin. Ezekiel 36:26 says “And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh”.

Don’t let the world turn your heart to stone. It is okay to feel. You will get lonely. Period. How will you deal with it? Will you hide it, proclaiming to be a strong woman “who doesn’t need a man” or pretending to be a man who doesn’t need solid woman in his life? will you pretend that you don’t long for real love and companionship? If we succumb to this practice of the world then will we next succumb to the common practice of premarital sex and hollow relations? Resist and go against the grain. Be strong and listen to God’s word; to truth. “Desire without knowledge is not good – how much more will hasty feet miss the way!” – Proverbs 19:2

Here’s the truth: it is okay to be lonely! Men and women of God, hear me, you are Children of the all powerful! You are sons and daughters of the king most high! You are princesses intended to be queens and princes intended to be kings. It is up to you to RISE. “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3

Now, let’s address guilt. The next very real issue we can face as single Christians is guilt because “God should be enough and you shouldn’t need anyone else”. Well, I was feeling this guilt and a wise mentor of mine put it in the best terms. He told me God designed us to need a mate. God designed us to need companionship and a partner. We are not meant to do life alone. That loneliness is something he put within us to seek out our partner. He could have made us without that need but he didn’t. That is why he created Adam and gave him Eve. God was not enough for Adam, he needed a helper. He made it that way on purpose. When he told me this, the lightbulb went on. I’ve prayed for that loneliness to go away and and honestly, the pain of it has, but the need to find my other half persists because God wants us to find our person.

There is no shame in this!

When you are lonely, pray. Read the word. Talk to your small group members or your spiritual family. You can even write letters to your future spouse or keep a prayer journal for them. I recommend praying for your future spouse often, not just that God will bring them to you, but praying for them as a person. Pray for their protection. Pray for their preparation. Pray that God prepares you. Pray for their spirit and journey. Pray for their heart. As you seek them out, pray that God will keep away the wrong people and shut all the doors to you except the one He has intended for you. Pray for His guidance. I have read 31 Days of Prayer for Your Future Husband which is a great daily devotional to pray for your future spouse. If you are a single parent, I highly recommend reading 21 Principles for a Healthy and Happy Single Mom (It can apply to men too!).  Remember to focus on preparing yourself and to be patient!!! Wait for your Boaz or Ruth. Wait for what is right (If you haven’t read Ruth, please do).

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” – Proverbs 4:23

Corazón DeSueños

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https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U #EndTheStigma video sermon on mental health as a Christ Follower. 
https://youtu.be/pwn7Y8L5usY #ChristianSingle video sermon about being a single Christ Follower. 

Milestones

Milestones for a parent and for a pastor’s kid

Yesterday I dropped my daughter off at her first summer camp. I was way more nervous than she was, which is easy to say because she wasn’t nervous at all. Packing the bags of my one and only child to go four hours away for 5 days was one of the hardest acts of trust and faith that I’ve ever had to tackle, believe it or not. Since my daughter was born eight years ago there have only been a few times that we have been separated. She is an only child and I am a single parent. Its been us against the world until we came to Christ. Entrusting her with the (more than capable) camp counselors was hard for me. But, it IS bible camp, after all. I was reassured by my church family of all the memories she will make and the life-changing experiences they had all encountered there. 

As the children’s pastor for our church I was faced with the next challenge… My daughter is a PK – Pastor’s Kid. What does this mean? She goes to church with me, she goes to work with me when I do ministry, she even goes to work with me for my other job. When I asked her about her interests in camp, her first question was “will you be there?” Now, this wasn’t a nervous ‘please come with me’ question, on the contrary, it was more ‘mom, please say no’. I take no offense to that at all. Being a PK can be hard from what I’ve learned and seen. So, I decided she needed some independence. We both do. I decided to sit this one out. 

Fortunately, I was blessed to have a friend who’s child, my daughters friend, was attending as well and we could make this hike together. That was a little bit of comfort along the way, praise God. And in dropping my daughter off it was nice to see a few other familiar faces including a pastor I know. He asked me ” you aren’t helping with kids camp?” As my daughter shot me a “please, no” look. So, I explained the PK situation which, as a dad, he totally related. 

A few things that God is showing me through this experience is an appreciation for friends and fellowship, an appreciation for other parents that can let me know they experience than same things, to understand the struggles of my PK without offense, and a little reminder of just how hard it is to do this alone while showing me the blessings that it has also brought. 

“Say to them, ‘This is what the Sovereign Lord says: Will it thrive? Will it not be uprooted and stripped of its fruit so that it withers? All its new growth will wither. It will not take a strong arm or many people to pull it up by the roots. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it—wither away in the plot where it grew?’ ” – Ezekiel 17:9‭-‬10 NIV

I have to give my daughter room to grow as her own person, into a woman of God. I have to help her along the way without smothering her. And I, also, have to be a little unformfortable in ordee to grow as well. We each need to grow our own strong roots. 

Father, thank you for the blessing of my daughter. Thank you for our friends and family. Thank you for opportinities of growth and for your protection. I ask that you protect our children this week and help them to experience you. Work in their hearts and speak into their lives, Lord. We love you God. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Corazón DeSueños

A parent, a pastor, and a christian…

Life as a single Christian: dating as a parent and a pastor.

I sat at my desk this afternoon writing my sermon while my beautiful daughter played outside with members of our church family. As we waited for our monthly family volleyball night to start, I heard the sound of her laughter while she ran by with two of the other children. I took a moment to just breath in the sweet blessing that God has bestowed upon me. 

I have found two things about my life that seem to intimidate men are 1- that I have a child and 2- that I am a Christian, not to mention a pastor. I have had to learn that if someone can not see these two areas of my life for the immense blessings that they are, well, then I don’t need that person in my life. 

Parents, pastors, Christians…. Listen, these roles that God has entrusted us with are so very important and shape who we are. God has granted us with our children -no matter the situations in which they were conceived – to change us and help us grow. Just like he has graced us with our callings. They are blessings and it is up to us to not forget that. It is up to us to LET it change us for the better. 

When I concieved my daughter it was by no means a healthy situation. I was living an unhealthy life devoid of God. Not that He wasn’t there but that I would not let Him in. My child softened me. She changed me. And when I came back to Christ, from that moment on, she has pushed me to go deeper in my faith. She has been instrumental to my spiritual growth and she even holds me accountable and calls me out when I need it. 

I have since then received my calling from God to be a children’s pastor. God has changed my heart and grown me so much since then. I am now pursuing my calling aggressively and can’t picture my life without these blessings. 

I say all of that to land on this: don’t let someone make you doubt the blessings for what they are simply because that person is unable to see the real value. The right person will come along. A person whom God has opened their eyes to see the value of you and your treasures. 

““Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:19‭-‬21 NIV

“May my cry come before you, Lord ; give me understanding according to your word.” – Psalm 119:169 NIV

Lord, thank you for the blessings you have given me. Thank you for entrusting me with such important roles and blessings. Father, please help me to be patient and appreciative of the gifts you have given me. Lord, please give me discernment of those who I come into contact with and help me to protect and care for those blessings that you have trusted me with. Lord, I will wait patiently for the right person that you have planned for me, please protect me from the people who are not meant to be in my life. Father, I thank you and I love you. I pray in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Corazón DeSueños

https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U #EndTheStigma video sermon on mental health as a Christ Follower. 
https://youtu.be/pwn7Y8L5usY #ChristianSingle video sermon about being a single Christ Follower.