Monday, April 24, 2017

The Twig

The orthopedic surgeon’s office is a buzzing place. There are elderly people in wheelchairs. There are children of different ages with casts in slings running around. There are entire families that come to support one solitary child and there’s me, all alone with my son.
I often feel tempted to feel sorry for myself. That was until I noticed a woman with twin babies looking frazzled. My son and I found a sit next to her and I kept observing her. One twin was wiggling in her lap (they seem to be 4 months) the other one was happy in the car seat. My heart felt that familiar twig of compassion because I have had that frazzled look in my face due to the estate of my heart. I make conversation.
“Are these your first kids or do you have more?” I ask with a smile.
“No, these are my first kids,” she politely answers.
“You’re a super mom! Great job handling two all by yourself!” She replies,
“My caretaker called me at the last minute and told me she couldn’t come, so here I am by myself.” I still feel her pain but a little deeper. No one likes those last minutes let downs. I offer help.
“If you need a hand, any mom would help you. I know I certainly would.” She says thank you as she returns to caring for the wiggly baby in her lap. Three minutes later she gives me the firm nod. I quickly sanitize my hands and I get baby number two out of her car seat. She started to feel unhappy and a simple change of position totally satisfied her.
I got to help super mom better not because I’m better, but because of that twig of compassion in my heart. I learned from my family that compassion should move me to action and those actions are a blessing to others.

Have you ever felt a twig of compassion in your heart? Don’t ignore it my friend.

I have learned that we all have chances to show compassion to others. We just have to be attentive to that twigy feeling in our heart.

I always wondered how my grandmothers and my mother always embraced others as their own. It was because of the twig of compassion. My mother had a chance to spend 6 hours with a woman my age who is a missionary and who told her “I miss my mother so much, would you be my mom?” to which she promptly responded “yes my daughter.” Those 6 hours were precious and refreshing for both my mother and the young missionary. That act of compassion and mutual Christian love made a mark in my life. I learned that a mother of 5 children and more than a dozen grandchildren still has time and capacity to extend her arm to embrace another child.

During a recent field trip I learned that one of my daughter’s classmates lost her mom in the Fall. My heart ached big time. I know I can’t save her world and I perceived she was in good care with family but for that field trip, I extended my arm to embrace another child.

I know you wonder if you have time. Yes you do. I know you wonder if you have the capacity. Yes you do. God is not asking you to starve your family emotionally. I do believe He is expecting that like Jesus, your heart is moved with compassion and that as a response, you extend your arm to embrace another.

Who can you embrace this week? Open your heart and wait for that twig in your heart.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

The Secret Life of a Pastor’s Wife

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.” Matthew 6:6

Got you. You thought I was going to give you the juicy stuff right? I can still do that! Let’s see… Easter Sunday was an awesome time for us. As a Worship Pastor’s wife, I got really smart and started preparing ahead of time: outfits for the kids, everyone’s hair was done, shoes were ready to go and oh, the food! I cooked the kids’ breakfast and got started on our lunch. I was super tired by the kids’ bedtime so I fell asleep just to wake up at 4 a.m. We were all in church ready for the 6 a.m. sunrise service. The kids enjoyed their experience and I’m glad we all were together to greet the day and to celebrate Jesus’ victory on the cross. Four services later we were back home where I finished lunch, washed a bunch of dishes and prayed that the kids would sleep that afternoon so I could rest too.

This Pastor’s wife does a lot of things out of sight and my secret life fuels my public life. Matthew 6:6 speaks about being seen in secret. I understand that’s challenging because nowadays our sense of self-importance is in an all time high. I know some doctors who are less available than the ordinary person with a cell phone. Those little screens give us the impression that we should be available 24/7 and there are no restraints on what we show. I must remind you that I’m a social media user and I love the benefits of different platforms but I also believe in balance and self-control. God sees in secret. If my phone is there, I’m open to the public. I also understand that some of my readers pray with others believers through phone groups and on Facebook Live. If that’s the only time you pray, we have a problem my friend. There’s a place for praying with other people but we should prioritize praying in secret by ourselves. I believe that there’s where refreshment happens.

The secret of life of this pastor’s wife is fueled by prayer to the Father in secret. I become closer to God because that prayer life increases my intimacy with God. I know that might sound funny but I wouldn’t exchange that for 1 million followers on my favorite social media platform.

I wonder how your secret life of prayer to the Father is going. Can you increase the frequency of your connection with Him? Jesus gave us full access to the Father and trust me, there’s not a person on earth that has more magic when it comes to prayer. Use the access Jesus died to give you. Develop a secret life of prayer that will fuel your public life.

More on this Series:
5 years of Houston: Stuff I can say
4 years of Houston: Reflections
3 things you may not know about people in ministry
Pastor's Wife: Purpose and Security

Monday, April 17, 2017

Green 6.2 Recap 2017

 My 5th year running the Green 6.2 race might have been the most fun year ever! We took the whole family this year. While my husband and I ran, our dear church friends took care of the kids.
The race had a new course this year, which was lovely. Instead of going through a major road, we took second loop through a neighborhood. It was nice to enjoy that shade for a second time.
The water stations were great and the water was COLD! Oh my word, that helped a lot and I was super thankful.
I haven't raced since January so the goal was to cover the distance and to have fun. I took pictures along the way, I went on Facebook Live and at the end, I couldn't believe how much fun I had. I knew I loved this race for a reason. My time was 1:13:52, which I am okay with because I had so much fun!
 I am super grateful for another opportunity to participate in the Green 6.2 and I want to encourage my friends to sign up for next year. They also have a 5K option and this race is for runners and walkers.
I loved running the Green 6.2 and diving deep into our Easter celebrations as a family. You bet I'll run this race again!

Green 6.2 over the years:
2016 recap
2015 recap
• 2014 recap
• 2013 recap 

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Refreshment if you've been Crying

I search for solutions when I have a problem, don’t you? 10 years ago I had a health problem and I found the solution was to eat better, manage my stress and exercise. I wish I could tell you all my problems ceased since. Good thing I ran into this:

"When they walk through the Valley of Weeping,
   it will become a place of refreshing springs.
   The autumn rains will clothe it with blessings.
 They will continue to grow stronger,
   and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem." Psalm 84:6-7 (NLT)

As a Bible student, I know not to take things out of context so I looked closely at the verses before and the verses after. The writers were clearly speaking about the joys of people who go to church and look to God for help. That basically describes me.
I found it interesting that the authors mention that such people live in God’s house singing His praises (you KNOW that’s me). The psalm seamlessly moves to the verses I shared with you. They write “WHEN they walk through the Valley of Weeping” because we all weep. We don’t show it on Facebook but weeping we do.
I’ve had my share of weeping too. I search for solutions to such tears. As I read Psalm 84 I find that my valley of weeping will become a place of refreshing springs if I keep walking. I can’t park in my valley of weeping, I have to keep walking till I reach the autumn rains that will clothe it with blessings.
Another undeniable key theme is that the psalmists are writing about people who are planted in the house of God. I find it very important to be planted in the house of the Lord because those who live in such way flourish (Psalm 92:13).
Back to the crying. If like me, you’ve cried many tears, let’s keep walking towards refreshment. Remember that as you refresh others, you will be refreshed (Proverbs 11:25). I am advocating for taking a break from crying to be useful to others. We all have much to give. Time, a listening ear, a word of encouragement… we all have something to give.
I know you have been crying, I’ve been crying too. Let’s stay planted in the house of the Lord. While we’re weeping, let’s keep walking. When you take a break from all the crying, lend somebody a hand. Trust me, there’s refreshment coming.

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Lent Part 4 of 4

Here are the lessons friends:

• I'm not doing God a favor by praying (or fasting, or reading my Bible, you get the point);

• Life is hard but God is greater;

• I'm as close to God as I choose to be;

• Lent feels like ashes, Easter feels like  new beginnings. I will take a new beginning any day because of Jesus' sacrifice and victory on the cross.

Thanks for reading!

Previously in this Series:
• Part 1 
• Part 2 Part 3
• My non-traditional way of observing Lent