#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

 

Know Your Truth

My “normal” is being redefined constantly. It has been about a month since I have started getting treatment for my Bipolar disorder which is about how long it takes for the medication to be in full effect. One thing I am getting used to is remembering to take my medication the same times everyday to avoid the splitting headache that accompanies missing a dose. Remembering the hopeless despair that I have felt at my low’s helps keep the importance of maintenance in perspective. I mean, you don’t only open the hood of your car when something is wrong, right? No, you change the oil preventatively; check the fluids preventatively.

This attitude is important to remember with our spirituality as well. When the proverbial “stuff” hits the fan, we pray harder than ever. We dive into our word. We call upon God. Why? Because He saves. He is our savior. He brings us hope when we can’t seem to find any. So, how about when things are going well? We should be praying JUST as hard when things are going great and spending just as much time in our relationship with our savior. Being someone who struggles with anything other than extremes, I admit this can be difficult for me.

In addition to extreme moods: my interest, my motivation, my diligence… it all fluctuates from one end of the spectrum to the other. This means that one day I will throw myself into my work and accomplish a weeks worth of work. However, another day, I will struggle to find the motivation to tackle even one task. My spiritual life, if I am not careful, can go from reading several books of the bible, writing a sermon, and spending hours in devotional to … a desert.

Maintenance is key. Whether it is spiritual, mental, physical, etc. Maintenance is key. Know your warning signs. How can you recognize that you are falling off of course? For me, I don’t typically see it until I am out of control in one or all areas. Until I get better at this I need to trust in those around me. Accountability partners are so important.

KNOW YOUR TRUTH.

Whatever that may be. My truth is that I need others to help me. My truth is that I am bipolar. My truth is that I am a single mother. My truth is that I am lonely. My truth is that I am a new pastor, insecure about my age in a leadership role. My truth is that I am still finding my way and still growing; there is still SO much that I haven’t learned yet. But knowing these truths does not limit me. On the contrary, acknowledging them helps me to grow and to be a better mother, friend, christian, pastor, family member, employee, etc. Humbleness will allow me to learn from others around me. I have had to ask those close to me to catch me when I fall out of balance and to call me on it when I don’t do what I need to. Relying on them and on God will bring me closer to being the woman of God that I am striving to be.

So… What is your truth and how are you going to grow from it?

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. 

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. 

Get out the GUNK

Preparing for your future spouse starts with seeking God and spiritual cleansing.

Who here loves spring cleaning? … Yeah, me neither. I tend to procrastinate until the task becomes something I can’t ignore anymore. I keep saying “I’ll get to that later” until that embarrassing moment when you open the car door any your empty water bottles start falling out. Even if you don’t have this problem with physical tasks, you may be experiencing this problem with another type of ‘spring cleaning’… Spiritual cleansing. 

Believe it or not, spiritual healing and growth is some seriously hard work. It takes dedication and determination but even more so, it takes a deep desire. If you’re praying “God, bring me my future spouse” you should also be asking “God, what do you want to change in me for my future spouse? How can I be the best person I can be for you and for them?”. Just like you don’t want God to bring you someone who isn’t ready for you, He is not going to bring you to them if YOU are not ready either. 

I had an experience recently, a weird one. I recently had a period of time where I was unmedicated for my bipolar disorder, long story but if you’d like to check it out, the video is here: https://youtu.be/Eoi1fR3py9U . Anyway, since I’ve gotten back on track, I’ve still struggled personally. Its like God is trying to speak to me but I am underwater and can’t hear him clearly. I was still desiring things that God had clearly said were not for me and I couldn’t understand why God wasn’t taking the desires away when I prayed so many times for Him to. 

In the most random of moments I began praying in the shower for spiritual cleansing. I dropped to my knees, crying like some mad woman, and just begged God to renew me. Revive me. Bring me back from the dead. In that moment it felt like the Spirit reached inside of me and grabbed all of the filth, all of the sticky tar of unholiness that was still clinging to the corners, and yanked it out of me. I physically vomitted. Now, stick with me because I know that sounds super gross, but I felt clean after. I felt like the grime that was built up inside had been scraped out. God was doing some spring cleaning on my soul and was just waiting for that deep longing desire from me. I’m not saying everyone will have some weird, supernatural, vomiting experience, but He is waiting for that deep desire in you as well. Start seeking Him. Seek Him in His word, seek Him in prayer, seek Him in quiet time. Never stop. Let the spring cleaning begin. 

Tonight, I heard the word from several fellow pastors, members of my Christ family, and as always I am amazed by how much the Lord is moving. A few preached in the importance of witnessing, talking about the story in Mark 5 when Jesus drives a legion of demons out of a man and tells him to go share his story. Really that is why I’ve decided to share my story. Even wierd ones like this which I was going to keep to myself. Tonight’s messages reminded me that God needs us to share our experiences, even when it makes us uncomfortable; especially when it makes us uncomfortable. 
I’d like to leave you with this piece of scripture where Jesus works in the life of Saul, a man who has not only sinned and murdered but his job was specifically to murder Jesus’ followers. Specifically to persecute Christians. Man, if God can cleanse him and make him new… He can work for us too. Nothing is too big for God. But remember… Its a journey, not a moment. Even if you’ve been saved. There are times where you will need to be cleansed again, to confess again, to fall to your knees again. And that is okay. Never stop. 

 ““ ‘Who are you, Lord?’ I asked. “ ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting,’ he replied. My companions saw the light, but they did not understand the voice of him who was speaking to me.  “ ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ I asked. “ ‘Get up,’ the Lord said, ‘and go into Damascus. There you will be told all that you have been assigned to do.’  My companions led me by the hand into Damascus, because the brilliance of the light had blinded me.  “A man named Ananias came to see me. He was a devout observer of the law and highly respected by all the Jews living there. He stood beside me and said, ‘Brother Saul, receive your sight!’ And at that very moment I was able to see him.  “Then he said: ‘The God of our ancestors has chosen you to know his will and to see the Righteous One and to hear words from his mouth. You will be his witness to all people of what you have seen and heard. And now what are you waiting for? Get up, be baptized and wash your sins away, calling on his name.’ ” – Acts 22:8‭-‬16 NIV

Lord, thank you for the amazing ways you are moving. Thank you for your unending grace ans mercy. Oh father, prepare us and change us. Lord, lead us to desire your desires. Lead us to want your path and plans. God, scrape out the gunk that is stuck inside of us. Break down the sinful desires we still struggle with. Break our chains, Lord. Create in us a deep desire for you and for righteousness. Lord, we love you and we thank you. In Jesus’ name we pray, 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.