Monday, August 31, 2009

bought at a price...

1 Cor 6:20 for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.

I was shopping at a drug store last week in desperate need of sinus medication, which (don’t ask me why) was located next to contraceptives. While looking for my particular medicine, I saw a young boy looking for condoms. He was about the age of, oh I don’t know, FIVE?! I desperately wanted to shake his acne-scarred shoulders and tell him that he was making the biggest mistake in his life. But I didn’t. I quietly prayed in my head that he would have a Damascus Road experience and God would cosmically intervene. Because really, the Holy Spirit can convict in ways I cannot.

I know this to be true because I was tremendously convicted while walking out the electronic doors. 1 Corinthians 6:19 asks a rhetorical question, do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? Therefore, the degree we take care of our body is going to affect our abiding relationship with God.

I remember reading an article about some kids who broke into a church and ran amuck in the sanctuary. Chairs were over turned, trash thrown on the floor, and worse of all, they graffitied their names onto the walls, permanently leaving their mark. I was outraged. This was someone’s place of worship and it was ruined in minutes. But my rage flattened when I thought of how many temples are being ruined in metaphoric fashion and I’m not saying a word. I have friends who are allowing vandals to “break into their temple,” run amuck, and permanently leave their mark in the temple where the Holy Spirit dwells.

Today let’s glorify God with our bodies and remind those who have forgotten that they were purchased at a price. Internet, if I see that kid again at CVS I promise you I’m going to hug him, slap him upside his head, then sit down and talk about abstinence! Can I get an amen? J

Friday, August 28, 2009

a super model doing super things....

I wanted to look like her. I wanted to talk in low tones like her. I wanted to smile like her and laugh like her and catch the light on her face the way she knew how. Bottom line, I wanted to be her.

I remember looking at her aqua blue eyes and milky skin and thinking to myself, Could anyone be more beautiful?! I was about eight years old and supermodel Kathy Ireland was at the pinnacle of her modeling career... you know, when models actually modeled and were super at it. She lived a glamorous life featured on magazine covers and spent time with rock stars spending money like it wasn't important.

Today this supermodel has become a bona fide superwoman in my book. Instead of hanging out with rock stars, she spends her time hanging out with those in need; in need of hope, joy, and reasons for living. She gives money away because deep down inside, she knows it's not important. I know this for a fact because I got the honor of partnering with her for her annual Kathy Ireland Mentor Tea last year. Years have passed but in the few moments that I got to speak with her, I felt like the eight year-old little girl again; I wanted to be her. But this time it was because of the lives she was changing, not the life she was living.

Her organization takes inner-city teen mothers and pairs them with mentors to encourage and guide them in their first year of teen-parenting. Here's where YOU come in. As keynote speaker for this event, I was asked if I knew any professional women who would be interested in making a difference in the life of a inner-city teen mother. If you live in the Los Angeles or Orange Country area and would like to make a difference in the life of a young woman, contact 9-1-1 for Kids at (714) 894-5450 and ask to speak to Shumaila or Nichole.

Note: The comments have been turned off. For more mentor information, contact the number above :)

Thursday, August 27, 2009

speaking in silence...

They gathered around the atrium and hoped upon hope that their prayers would be heard and answers given through raindrops. Every drop which dripped onto the floor of the villa spoke of hope. Hope that the divine would speak into the deafening silence of life. Stiff as the marble statues in the garden before them, they waited for the oracle to speak through splashes or see answers pictured in puddles. For the ancient Romans, their gods would speak through rain and thunder when the answers to life were lost.

I remembered this art history fact while visiting the Getty Villa in Malibu. I touched the marble columns and stared at marble statues which once adorned Romans villas. I stared at the blue, cloud-less California sky and prayed for rain. And wind. And fire. And something miraculous. I didn't want to hear from Zeus on power or Athena on love, but from God Almighty. I was tired of asking the same questions because the deafening silence was too painful to listen to. The questions echoed internally and ricocheted off the walls of my mind. I wanted answers, but I received silence.

God are you there? Are you even listening to me?

“A great and mighty wind was tearing at the mountains and was shattering cliffs before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake, there was a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire, there was a voice, a soft whisper. When Elijah heard [it], he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave”(1 Kings 19:11-13).

God put on a real show with the wind blowing, the earth shaking, and fire darting, but he wasn’t speaking to Elijah in any of those powerful and visible ways. Elijah was learning that God, who once spoke by fire that consumed a soaked altar sacrifice, does not always reveal himself in powerful, miraculous ways. What does this say to us? Some people think that the only place to find God is in something big, the impressive, or the miraculous. We look for God in the spectacular but miss him in the silence. I'm currently in silence, but I know that it's the still, small voice that will answer me when I finally shut my mouth and listen.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009


Several years ago when my friends and I were in high school, the concept of blogs and internet communities were farcical to me. I would scoff at people who met online, snicker at people who met friends in a cyber chat room, and smile blankly at bloggers wondering if anyone actually read their online diary. It was all very odd to me. You know, the online community.

A few years later, I'm the weirdo who is blogging and excited to be connected via the web to people in various locations. Prior to the blog, I was a Christian speaker and bible teacher who loved ministry and hugging people. Now I'm a Christian speaker and bible teacher who loves ministry and hugging people AND I have cyber friends who I can connect with. {Whoa, that was SO dorky, I can't believe I said it. But I did. So there.} The blog has been a platform to share the hope, love, and faith in Jesus Christ. But through my new cyber community, I've connected with other amazing women who share this same passion.

A new website has been started by Hallmark/Dayspring as a place for women to be encouraged... or rather, (in)couraged :) I've been asked to be a contributing author and I'm VERY excited to partner with these amazing women in a community of those who believe in hope, faith, and love. I'd encourage you to check out the site and be blessed by the authors who post everyday.

For those who read this blog daily, I really am touched. I've been blessed to actually meet some followers and super stoked that they were not cyber weirdos or video gamers, but actually normal like me... well, I'm almost normal--minus the whole cleaning the shower with a toothbrush thing and counting syllables in spoken paragraphs. But that's a whole other blog!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

come-to-jesus moment...

Ok, so I'm not sure I'm using the expression correctly, but a friend of mine says, I had a come-to-Jesus moment with my kids. I guess it's kinda when you're all stressed out and about to beat your child to a pulp and the only thing that prevents that is having a sublime moment of intervention. I think it's hilarious and now I'm always saying it all the time in reference to a wit's-end moment.

Last week I had a come-to-Jesus moment when I was at my wit's end (if it indeed has an end). It's like I proverbially vomited my problems out to the Lord at His feet and in some weird paranormal experience, it was appreciated. As much as I try not to, I walk around like the mythological Atlas with the weight of the world on my shoulders. Decisions to be made, deadlines to be kept, budgets to keep; it's a daunting task and one that was never asked to complete. Matthew 11:29-30, Jesus tells us to take His yoke for it is easy and His burden is light. When I lay down my burdens through talking to the Lord, I get to trade it in for something easy and light. Amazing trade off!

Blind Bartinaeus was a non-entity of society who loudly vocalized his belief in Jesus. He yelled out to the Lord to heal him, which was an odd request because obviously Jesus knew he was blind. But things got a little bit more ridiculous when Jesus asked Bartimaeus what he wanted. Really?! He was blind--was he going to ask for world peace? No. Yet Jesus patiently asked him so he could vocalize his need. In the middle of my come-to-Jesus moment, I realized that God knew my needs, but I need to vocalize them. It's so easy for me to call out like Bartimaeus my belief, but what about my needs? I equally need to yell above the masses, to push past the disciples, and ask the Lord to heal me from my spiritual blindness.

In your next come-to-Jesus moment, take the weight of the world off your back, realize that He cares, and allow him to hear your requests.

Monday, August 24, 2009

sweet tweets...

I've admitted several times before that I'm not afraid to admit I'm a nerd. In fact, I'm quite proud of reading books at the gym, visiting the Getty museum to watch the sunset on a Friday night, and listening to National Public Radio. I was home-schooled as a child so I think I'm naturally qualified to wear the crown of Nerdom and carry the scepter of constant affirmation.

It's no surprise then to discuss a statistic I learned while listening to NPR at the gym. New research shows that 73% of Twitter updates are "pointless babble." When I heard this statistic, I immediately grabbed my phone and tweeted that I can wink with both eyes just to perpetuate this stat (note: I'm obtuse when offended).

But in discussion with a good friend about Twitter and this new statistic, he encouraged me to use Twitter as a vehicle of change, discussion, dialogue. Sometimes I tweet scriptures or update facebook with encouraging words just to generate discussion, he said. A lot of my friends aren't Christian so I rarely include the scripture reference just start a dialogue about the words of Christ without them even knowing it. It was an interesting thought. But not a novel one. Scripture is full of life-changing tweets... you know, maxims and proverbs less than 140 characters. Ever since I discussed this, I've decided to make my words count! People, redeem the time for it is short. We only have one life to live and soon it will pass; only what we do for Jesus Christ will last.

Every day during my daily reading I am finding one scripture to tweet or update my facebook as an encouragement or chastening that is beyond my wisdom... for the power of God's word is far more capable of reaching my Twitter followers or facebook friends.

If you have 140 characters to dispense encouragement or wisdom, what would it be? Francis of Assisi said, Preach the gospel at all times. When necessary use words. People, it's necessary.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

just be real...

We've all made committed a fashion faux pas at some point in time, it just seems that lately I'm getting really good and laughing at my mistakes because they occur quite often. Don't be surprised if I show up dressed like Punky Brewster and sport my new copper colored coif. Oh, you didn't know I butchered my hair on vacation? Well, if you follow me on Twitter then you know that I was charged WAY too much for a haircut and color that only a mother could love. Remember those mermaid Barbies from the 90s that when dipped in water their hair changed color? Yeah well, that's me every time I wash out the purple/red/rustish color from my long rat-tail now.

But what's worse: having a bad haircut or having a bad haircut and having no one tell you? I spoke to several people in the past few days and I knew they saw my copper-colored, anorexic ponytail and said nothing. I saw their eyes glance towards my scalp... then my eyes... glance at my ponytail... then my eyes again and still remained silent. I'm sure the blind Ray Charles knows my hair is ugly, but he has an excuse not to say anything. Do you? If your friend looked as heinous as I do, would you have the courage to say something? Proverbs 27:6 says that wounds from a friends are better than kisses from an enemy. Essentially, it's better to hurt someone you love by telling them the truth, then having them believe lies from people who don't even like them.

Somewhere in our PC culture, it became uncouth to tell the truth if it meant being honest. Yesterday I sat down with someone I love and told them candidly that they were making a huge mistake. They had purchased a ticket, decided to move, live out every 20 year-old's dream, and I felt like a jerk because I had to be a dream-killer at the expense of speaking forth the truth. Because sometimes the truth hurts. I love people and when they are making a mistake, whether it's wearing a stone-washed fanny pack, having spinach in their teeth, or dating someone they shouldn't, I'm going to call them out. Can we be a generation and a culture that stops acting like we are on the set of the OC and start acting R.E.A.L. Just keep it real, friends! Be honest. Be authentic. Be real. Isn't that what we want more than anything?

Speak the truth in love... even when it hurts.

**Edit to post: Since a few people wanted to see the rat's tail (aka my hair), I posted a picture on Twitter here.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

forbidden fruit... (part II of II)

Temptation is something we all face as Christians, no matter how long we have been following Christ. Yesterday I used mangoes as a personal temptation, but really, there are WAY more tempting things in my life... but I would like to be perceived as holy so I'll plead the fifth on this one :) There are a few practical things, however, that we can do to grow stronger and smarter in our struggle against sin. You can learn how to avoid temptation by practicing these five steps.
  1. Recognize your tendency toward sin.

    James 1:14 explains that we are tempted when we become enticed by our own natural desires. The first step toward avoiding temptation, is recognizing our human tendency to be tempted by our own fleshly desires. Temptation is a given, so don't be surprised by it. Rather, expect to be tempted. Be prepared for it.

  2. Run away from the temptation.

    I love the New Living Translation of 1 Corinthians 10:13. It says, "But remember that the temptations that come into your life are no different from what others experience. And God is faithful. He will keep the temptation from becoming so strong that you can't stand up against it. When you are tempted, he will show you a way out so that you will not give in to it."

    When you are face to face with temptation, look for the way out that God has promised and then run as fast as you can.

  3. Resist with the Word of truth.

    Hebrews 4:12 says God's Word is living and active. Did you know you can carry a weapon that will make your thoughts obey Jesus Christ? If you don't believe me, read 2 Corinthians 10:4-5 One of these weapons is the Word of God.

    Though it can be helpful to read God's Word when you're being tempted, sometimes that's not practical. Even better is to practice reading the Word daily, so that eventually you have so much of it inside, you are ready whenever temptation comes. If you are reading through the Bible regularly, you will have the full counsel of God at your disposal.

  4. Refocus with praise.

    How often have you been tempted to sin when your heart and mind were fully concentrated on worship to the Lord? Praising God takes your focus off of yourself and puts it on God. You may not be strong enough to resist temptation on your own, but as you focus on God, he will inhabit your praise. He will give you the strength to resist and walk away from the temptation. May I suggest Psalm 147 as a good place to start.

  5. Repent quickly when you fail.

    In several places the Bible tells us the best way to resist temptation is to flee from it (1 Corinthians 6:18; 1 Corinthians 10:14; 1 Timothy 6:11; 2 Timothy 2:22). Yet still we all fail from time to time. We fail to flee. Notice I didn't say, repent quickly if you fail. Having a more realistic view—knowing that at times you will fail—should help you to repent quickly when you do. It is not the end of the world when you fail, but it is very dangerous to persist in your sin. Going back to James 1, verse 15 explains that sin "when it is full-grown, gives birth to death."

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

forbidden fruit... (part I of II)

From the bag on the table it called my name. With an accented voice, it hithered me nigh. As I squeezed it gently the sweet aroma captured me like a shepherd's crook. It was if the serpent himself tempted me while slivering onto my arm to whisper half-truths in my ear... and like the mother of all women bit into the forbidden fruit, so did I.

Some theologians believe that the forbidden fruit in the Garden of Eden was an apple. I think it was a mango. And I have the swollen lips and hive marks to prove it. For as long as I can remember I've been allergic to mangoes and I usually have enough willpower to stay away from them. But while on an island far removed from my normal reality, I fell like Eve. We both knew the consequence was far greater than the cost, but our desire trumped our logic and we fell into the belief that we would be the exception and not the rule.

See, I know what happens when I eat fresh mangoes. My family knows what happens when I eat fresh mangoes. My friends know what happens when I eat fresh mangoes. I have an infrastructure of support of those who know to keep the girl with the mango allergens away from sweet, orange balls of goodness. Even while on my vacation my father reminded me, B, don't eat those things. You know what happens. I nodded in dutiful obedience but ripped into the fruit in the solitude of my hotel room. I torn off the skin with my hands and sucked, gnawed, and chewed off every sweet yellow fiber from the seed. Then watched as my lips swelled and hives appear on my arms. Like James 1:14 warns, I had been dragged away and enticed by temptation.

Sin is just like this. From the beginning of time, we've believed that we could handle the repercussions of sin and the lure of temptation... but Eve couldn't, Adam couldn't, and I couldn't. In honor of my healing swollen lips, tomorrow I will post a few thoughts about how to avoid temptation :) In the meantime, stay away from your forbidden fruit!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

live with the holy of holies...

Exodus 26:33 And you shall hang the veil from the clasps, and bring the ark of the testimony in there within the veil. And the veil shall separate for you the Holy Place from the Most Holy.

Holies of Holies. Sounds like an uber-holy expression, but it comes from the Old Testament locale of ark of the covenant and other very important articles. Most importantly, it was where God Almighty dwelt. Back in the day, people would want to meet with God so they went to the temple with sacrifices which the priest would offer to the Lord. They would sing and worship the Lord. They would fellowship with each other. They would find forgiveness of sin… even if only for a moment. I, being a gentile woman, wouldn’t even be able to worship the other Jewish women, let alone in the inner courts with the men!

The priest, however, had special privilege. The priest actually made the sacrifices! The priest got to go to the altar! The priest got to go into the sanctuary! And once a YEAR, one sinless man would timidly, humbly, fearfully pull back the veil and there he would dwell with God in the Holy of Holies. One man, once a year, on one platform above the others would ask for the remission of sin and be with God. Truly amazing!

What’s more amazing, that we, as a sinful, jacked up, messed up, tore-up-from-the-floor- up, motley crew of beings can enter into the presence of God Almighty, creator of heaven and earth—every day. AW Tozer, in his book, The Pursuit of God said it best: Ransomed men need no longer to pause in fear to enter the Holy of Holies. God wills that we should push on into His presence and live our whole life there… It is more than a doctrine to be held; it is a life to be enjoyed, every moment of every day.

The heart of the Christian message is that God Himself is waiting for his children to push into Him and be in His presence, to pull back the veil and be with GOD! Doing Life living in the outer courts, worshipping like an outsider, and momentarily dwelling in His presence is not how we are to live. So why do we continue to let the veil separate us from the Holy of Holies? The veil was torn from top to bottom upon the last breath of our Savior on Calvary. Do not continue to live outside the veil, but push into His presence today.

Friday, August 14, 2009

the iceberg off the island...

I saw it on the first day we arrived. It was odd to see an iceberg floating in the warm Atlantic waters, but then again, Puerto Rico is magical so I just shrugged and began reading. I was lost in the pages of my book when I heard my name called from the water. Louder and louder and with increasing rapidity, my family pleaded with me to join them in the water. Uh, no thanks. I heard there were fish in the water. I buried my head back in my book until my brother came ashore to tell me that the iceberg is an inflatable climbing device that all of us were going to climb. I laughed, rolled my eyes, and continued reading. There was no way I was going to a. swim with fish, and b. climb an inflatable iceberg. It sounds about as fun as trying to open a coconut by banging it with my head.

But alas, peer pressure is not overcome with maturity because the teasing and baiting remarks lured me like a Siren to my death. And like the Titanic, it was humiliation by an iceberg.

My sister and I were the only ones yet to climb the iceberg so everyone bobbed in the water like buoys and and cheered. She climbed first, rung by rung until she made it to the top of a small landing. I was trailing right behind her, grasping ahold of the rungs for dear life. The landing was very small and as I said, my sister was already on it. I pulled with all my strength and swung my legs to the top of the landing. I touched the top with my foot (or my toe, but who really cares?). If this was American Gladiator I would have gotten my points for beating Laser at The Pyramid. If this was the search for the Americas, call me Christopher Columbus because I came right to the tip and completed virtually everything (minus the standing part, but who really cares?). The landing was small (yes, I'm mentioning that again) and inflatable, therefore slippery when wet. By all logical reasoning, there was no way for two people to stand on the landing. Naturally, I fell into the water but I felt like Christopher when he wrote to Queen Isabella to recount the beauty of his conquest. I buoyed with my family members and jeered as my sister was still paralyzed by the heights of the platform. She was frozen on the iceberg :) When she finally jumped off we all swam back to shore and laughed at her.

But somehow in the metaphysical science of iceberg climbing, one must stand on the landing to get the privilege of claiming that you actually climbed the iceberg (she apparently wrote the rulebook on climbing inflatables). My whole family turned against me except my mother (love you, mom!) and said that I didn't complete it. So today I will swim out to the iceberg, climb to the top like an American Gladitor, bang my chest in Columbus fashion while screaming, Viva Espana, and do a double twist half pike dive with no splash into the Atlantic Ocean just to prove that I climbed an iceberg off an island in the Atlantic Ocean.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

reasons and seasons...

Many moons ago on the island of Puerto Rico a young country girl dreamed of owning a large hillside house with rolling fields, grazing sheep, and blooming flowers. She wanted a home and a pet pig and a garden and children. But as each moon set, the young girl grew older and the dreams drifted further and further from her country reality.

The young girl became a young woman who had new dreams of a life in the Land of Opportunity. Rolling fields, grazing sheep, and blooming flowers were replaced with sweatshop labor, a cramped New York apartment and a man who wooed her with a diamond ring. Flor Maria left Puerto Rico in search of a new life for herself, but ended up meeting her match and dreaming new dreams, not just for herself, but for her children and her children's children.

Why she left paradise is still a mystery. Fruit grew on trees, food was always on the table, and life was beautifully simple. She left her Eden only to learn a new language, live life as an outsider, and sacrifice her life so her children could have what she never could: hope. Hope for a hillside house with rolling fields, grazing sheep, and blooming flowers. And yes, a home, pet pig, garden, and children.

On a boriquena hillside her children and her children's children honor her legacy of life and celebrate the sacrifice she made so we could know the language, live as an insider, and not have to sacrifice what she did: her life. In true sacrificial form, she, like Jesus, gave what she didn't have to give so others may reap the benefit of her sacrifice.

Today we finally bury my grandmother in paradise, near her hillside home where sheep graze, flowers bloom, and hope remains in the hearts of her children's children.

To everything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under Heaven

A time to be born, a time to die
A time to plant, a time to reap
A time to kill, a time to heal
A time to laugh, a time to weep

To everything
Turn, turn, turn
There is a season
Turn, turn, turn
And a time to every purpose
Under Heaven
(Solomon, Ecclecsiates 3:1-8 and Pete Seeger, 1962)

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

artichoke hearts...

I’d seen her around, meandering through offices, lightly dusting and cleaning windows to pass the hours. She was a pretty girl who texted her boyfriend incessantly, but was willing to do virtually anything our secretary asked of her. As the time passed away, so did her community service hours as she remained to her self and kept a prickly guard of protection around her. See, occasionally we’ll have youth from the surrounding area ask if they can work off their penalty hours for crimes they have done. The case officer will call and verify that we agree to signoff on hours for minor offenses committed and we in turn work alongside these youth, hopefully encouraging them to get their lives on track.

Well, like I mentioned in my last post, I’ve been swamped with work and been drinking the Koolaid of thinking my work is more important than my calling. For the last year or so, my mantra has been, help others, love others, serve others. With this perspective, I can do what I do without regard to selfish ambition, promotion, or recognition. But sometimes I get in the way of myself. Which is what happened last week when the secretary told me that the mother of the prickly, pretty girl who texted incessantly needed help with her daughter. Desperation oozed through the phone as I heard the voice of a tired mother needing intervention for her wayward child.

I know what the protocol for advising is at work. But I never follow protocol. Like, never. But since I was busy, I decided to pull the protocol card and pass the advising off to the person who is in line to do an advising (knowing he was just as busy as I). I hung up the phone and felt like a like a big, fat schmuck! You say you want to do ministry work, I said to myself, but you passed this girl off like you pass the buck. I knew it was wrong and I was poisoned by my Koolaid.

As sovereignty would have it, I saw the pretty girl who texted incessantly sitting on the stairwell—texting her boyfriend. I knew this was my chance to make amends, so I busted out like Nike and said to myself, Just do it! I called her into my office with wine colored walls and crème colored couch and we began to talk about her life. Before I could even reach across my desk to grab a tissue box, the pretty girl who texted incessantly, stopped texting her boyfriend and cried in my arms. In my arms she felt like a steamed artichoke whose prickly layers were being pulled back to reveal a soft, delicate, and tender heart. As God commanded me to be salt of the earth, I seasoned this young lady with the love of Christ and prayed for the private matters of her heart, the reasons for dependency upon her boyfriend, and the lonely ache of feeling unloved by her parents. Each leaf that was pulled revealed some fleshy pulp of pain, but also revealed the artichoke’s heart… still soft, still tender, still willing to be enjoyed by God.

Help others, love others, serve others. PS Don't drink the Koolaid J

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

a tree planted by waters...

Psalm 1:3 ...he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth its fruit in its season whiles leaf also shall not wither and whatever he does shall prosper.

This morning I set my alarm and hit the gym. Yes, I’m on vacation but I actually like working out in the morning J Unfortunately, the gym at my hotel is under construction, so I hit the sand and enjoyed the blue ocean, white sand, and warm sun. I was taken back by the palm trees which spring up out of nowhere. Seriously, nowhere! There is no grass or flowers or dirt, just sand. I love how King David alludes to trees and water because today I saw first hand how something can flourish in a barren and arid landscape.

Water is symbolic for the word. When we are planted by water, we are planted by God’s word. Fruit and leaves are also mentioned in this scripture. Why? Because fruit is substance, seeds can be shared with others, and leaves provide shade. What a great analogy, David!

Trees are a sign of freshness and vitality. When people are hurting, dry, or tired, am I a tree to comfort from the heat and provide shade and fruit for those who are weary? I was totally convicted because lately I’ve been so swamped with work that I haven’t taken the time really be a tree. Truth be told, I’ve been so focused on ministry and serving, that I’ve been a bit dry, empty, and it’s felt a little barren. But this verse is so rad because I will bear fruit in my season. Maybe I’m not suppose to bloom right now; maybe I’m suppose to just provide shade and drink of Living Water J Either way, I am encouraged by Paul not to grow weary in doing good for in my season I will bear much fruit.

When we delight in the law of the Lord and His word, we will prosper (verses 1-3). Maybe not financially, maybe not economically, but you will be blessed emotionally and spiritually, here and in heaven.

Monday, August 10, 2009

this how we do it in LA...

I was in downtown Los Angeles this past week and was hypnotized by a group of tourists with swagger and braggadocio to make Liberace look docile. I stared out of the corner of my eye (because that's what I do when I don't want people to know I'm staring) and eavesdropped on their boisterous conversation that could be heard in their hometown (New York to be exact). I couldn't help but stare because they obviously were not from LA by the way the acted, assimilated, or accented their words. The loudest one of them all kept say, 'Cause this is how we do it in New York, son! This is how we do it!

I'm on vacation today in San Juan, Puerto Rico with my entire family who puts the FUN in dysFUNctional. We're a loud and crazy and obnoxious, but we love each other and agreed to spend eight days together with the promise of returning as one cohesive unit. There are personal reasons why we chose this particular destination, but it's with a great joy that we are going and hope to create memories on the island my grandparents were from. I will be blogging about my adventures with photos and words, so be forewarned that if I post a picture with me attempting to dance salsa with professionals and I look like a professional LOSER, I'll copy the cool kids from New York and say, 'Cause this is how we salsa in LA, son! This is how we do it!

Sunday, August 9, 2009

cleaning my room...

I'm leaving for Puerto Rico in less than 2 hours and instead of cleaning my room, I'm blogging.

I get so dramatic before I leave on a trip. Whether its travel for work or a leisurely vacation, I always fear something will happen to me and leave me unable to do my mundane activities like clean my toilet with a toothbrush, run in the rain on Christmas, or dance to Michael Jackson in my underwear.

I need to clean my room in case something happens. Say someone pushes me off the curb at LAX and I get hit by a taxi. Or I get accosted by the Hindu monks because I won't accept their religious leaflets. Or a crazy soccer mom with a headset and a baby carriage wheels over my big toe, backing me into some scaffolding, which shakes loose a lead pipe, which lands on my head. What then? After the ambulance, the hospital, the funeral, and the trays of cheese cubes on foil toothpicks, someone will have to clean my room.

As of now, my bed has gone unmade and I have laundry sitting of drawer begging to be put in its appropriate place. To make things worse I decided to clean out my closet, but got bored halfway through, and opted to blog in my maid-of-honor dress from Jennie's wedding two years ago. So here I am... typing on the floor... in a black evening gown... because my desk and chair are covered with clothes that have no home in my room.

Before I end my dramaticism, I just wanted to say thanks to the crazy people who check this blog daily. Okay, okay, maybe you're not crazy, but like I said, I'm dramatic. In all honestly, I'm humbled by the fact that people visit the site, but I'm truly grateful that you do. I don't want to get sappy and start hugging my computer, but in case anything happens to me I wanted to let you know that I love sharing my daily ramblings. And if anyone wears a size 9, I will you my new pair of Michael Kors heels if anything happens to me.

I will be blogging from Puerto Rica and uploading photos, so hope you join me on the journey. But right now, I've got to put on my running shoes, clean my toilet with a toothbrush, and start dancing to Michael. Adios!

Thursday, August 6, 2009

she's sweet, i'm saucy...

We were introduced by my sister who swore we were like kismet matches from a parallel universe. Just call, Bianca! You both are SO alike and I know you'll hit it off. In true blind date dread, I called and arranged for us to meet. I wore boots and a dress because that's my favorite thing to make me feel girly yet comfortable and nervously walked into the church office to meet my kismet match. Before I could stick my hand out to meet my match, Diandra pulled me in and gave me a great big hug like we'd been friends from a parallel universe. She wore gaudy jewelry and large rings, had tons of pictures from missions trips hanging on her office wall, and a heart and zeal for the Lord that was undeniable. She was my kismet match.

Over lunch we discussed life, fashion, theology, the woes of being a pastor's kid, and this crazy little thing called love. She's one of the youth pastors at her church and an aspiring photographer who loves the unloved, wears her heart on her sleeve, and laughs loud enough to reassure anyone that they are funny. And I love it. From that day on I knew I found a yoke-fellow who understood the need for all-nighters, the pain of peer-pressure, and the drama of highschool dorkdom that comes with youth ministry.

After trying to coordinate schedules for an eternity to find a date for me to share at youth group, I just rolled the dice and texted her, What about tomorrow? And like that, our kismet lives matched. Last night I got to speak to a gymnasium of teens who are loved by two amazing youth pastors and one amazing God. At the end of the message, kids came forward for prayer and I even got the luxuary of leading a guy by the name of Jimmy to Christ. To add frosting to this already delicious night, I got to meet two people who follow my blog! Before we ended the evening Javi and Diandra blessed me with calorie-laden cakeballs of sheer deliciousness from Sweet and Saucy Shop in Long Beach. And how apropos because she's sweet and I'm saucy and together, they taste quite good.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

prayer changes things...

Sitting around the dining room table, my mother unrolled a large roll of bright yellow butcher paper. With a large black marker, she wrote in capital letters PRAYER LIST. My mother told her ten year-old twins to write down everything we were in need of… which was pretty much everything from toilet paper to food, gas to a car. We asked for food. We asked for clothes. We asked for simple needs.

But mother pushed us to not just ask for what we needed, but what we wanted deep in our hearts. We wrote down my grandfather’s name and Salvation in parenthesis. We didn’t just write down a car, we asked for a specific car that we saw on a billboard off the freeway. We even asked for the dog seated next to the car on the billboard. At the end of our time together we prayed over what seemed to be like a long list of impossibilities.

Slowly but surely dark lines began to scratch through our requests as they were answered. Neighbors would drop by extra food that they didn’t want to waste, boxes of clothes and bags of food mysteriously appeared on our porch, and we thanked God for His provisions and answered prayer. God didn’t just give us necessities—He gave us our heart’s desire. We never starved, we never lost the home, and we had clothes on our back. But what’s greater is Grandpa is in heaven, we got the exact car we dreamed of (same color, make, and model), and even though we didn’t get the labrador featured on the billboard, we did end up with a crazy mutt who we loved!

Lately I’ve been feeling like Mister Rogers trying to sell Belief in a bottle. Buy this book, drink this drink, memorize this scripture and you too can have the life you always wanted! If anything else I’m sharing hope. Hope that things can change because seasons change, hearts melt, and time heals. In the midst of our trials we knew that prayer changed things. Not that was got what we wanted from prayer but that our hearts changed to accept whatever we were dealing with and yes, even with what I currently dealing with.

Prayer changes things.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

joy... (II of II)

When I was little and I would hear older folks say, As Christians we don't need happiness because we have joy! They said it in such a manner that I envisioned glitter and sparkly beads to spring from their finger tips and mouth. Uh, call me carnal but I would really like to be happy at some time in my life. Their point wasn't to proffer of a Prozac-induced high, but an understanding that joy is not happiness. It's almost like joy and happiness are twins; similar, yet very different.

Happiness is temporal, joy is lasting despite trials. Happiness is an emotion, joy is a state of mind, heart, and soul. The reason Christ encouraged us to live in joy is because righteous living is not easy. Jesus warned us that we will have trouble in this world (John 16:33) and Paul foretold all who want to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted (2 Timothy 3:12). Here's the best news:

  • Joy is not dependant on our circumstances. We have joy because of the gift of salvation, because of His goodness, because of God's unconditional love.
  • Joy is not based on efforts. No amount of willpower can produce joy because it comes from our relationship with Jesus.
  • Joy is not merely an emotion. Joy is looking deeper into our situations and realizing that Jesus is in CONTROL of everything! We need a supernatural outpouring of joy, a filling of His joy, an overflowing of His joy.
No matter your situations in life, God can provide joy in your situation. But do you know this to be true? If you need some reminders, let me pass along some promises to you that will put joy in your heart: God will never leave us nor forsake us; if we seek him and we will find him; if we cry out to him and he will answer; if he clothes the lily and feeds the sparrow, He will clothe us and feed us; He's got our back... our front... and walks by our side. Really, the list goes on. Focus on what do have and a supernatural gratefulness will overwhelm us. Hebrews 13:5, Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you."

Okay really, why do I feel like glitter and sparkly beads are coming from my mouth? Just know that it's not Prozac but Jesus :)

Monday, August 3, 2009


Tiffany’s, Zales, Harry Winston, Robbin’s Brothers are known for selling diamonds. But have you noticed that the commercials all show diamonds against a black background? Or if you've ever gone diamond shopping, dealers always place the diamond on black cloth. Why? Because when placed against something so dark, the full brilliance is shown to all who are viewing it. True spiritual joy is the same way. It shines brightest against the darkness of trials, tragedy, and testing. The darker the background, the brighter the brilliance.

Similarly, life’s dark struggles make Christian joy more intense and our praise more glorious!

Why? Joy is an expression of Godliness. Joy is a sure sign of the presence of God in our lives. As children of God we have many things to be grateful for. I have ten toes, I'm grateful. I have my sight, I'm grateful. I have a bed, I'm grateful. I can breath on my own, I'm grateful. Health and life are given by God therefore I'm grateful. Paul encourages us to rejoice in the Lord always (Philippians 4:4)! But no matter the circumstances we are called to be joyous. So if I lose a toe, wear a glass eye, sleep on the floor, and develop asthma, I am going to deliberately choose to praise God's name because it is the perfect will of God for my life (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

Sometimes when we are depressed and don’t feel like being Christian, its easy for us to give up. In dark moments when praising God seems too hard and joy seems impossible, let someone else help you. Put on some worship music and let the praises fall off your lips. Better yet, put on some gospel music! Bust out some Kirk Franklin, Martha Munizzi, and Fred Hammond any day and I'll show you a simple rule: when we glorify God in the midst of our trials, we become a beacon on light in the dark world around us.


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