Coincidence…I think not!

Coincidence – the occurrence of events that happen at the same time by accident but seem to have some connection. (Merriam-Webster)

Have you ever thought and said to yourself, wow, that’s such a funny coincidence? Oh my goodness, how crazy is that? Or that can’t be possible? What are the chances? All comments that connect to what we believe are coincidences, serendipity, or synchronicity.

Right?

Wrong!

I am convinced all moments that collide that have some kind of connection are moments quietly orchestrated by God!!!!

He knows who, what, where, and why?

He knows what we need when we need it,  how we need it, and why we need it!

Not too soon and never too late.

In our human nature, we rush the process of the experiences butchering the outcome, ruining relationships and damaging ourselves along the way because we refuse to wait.

In the waiting, which is the season I am right now, comes the revelation.

A few days ago I was feeling sorry for myself, yup, I sure was. With all the beauty that surrounds me, there I was in a pool of self-pity. I decided to go for a walk and listen to a podcast on waiting. It was encouraging and devastating.

No one likes to wait!!!

As I continued in my self-pity party a package was delivered that I was expecting a few weeks prior, but it was delayed. It arrived on the same day as my 1) self-pity party and 2) my “waiting” podcast. I had no idea what was inside. I knew who it was from but not the contents. As I opened it, it literally shook me to my core. Just a few minutes prior I was feeling a certain way and here right in front of me was a gift from a dear friend that spoke directly to my state of mind and heart. It pierced right through everything that was breaking me down.

I cried…no, I wept. 

Coincidence…I think not! It was a GOD orchestrated moment.  I felt the pain of helplessness and in an instant, I felt the soothing balm of comfort that only comes from a God orchestrated moment!!! 

I challenge you to reflect on moments where you thought- oh what a coincidence that was. Sit still enough to process the outcome of that experience- there are no accidents in God’s weaving of our lives. 

So, I will continue to wait. I will continue to listen for God’s whispers and I will continue to be in awe of God’s orchestrated moments. 

It’s the best way to live…living with purpose.

What, where and how have you seen God orchestrate a moment in your life?

Lesson:

Don’t ignore the details of your life. In them, you will find God’s orchestration and his whispers.

‘Til Tuesday

My soul counts…

How do I keep my faith when those representing Christianity keep failing me!!!!!

Who are we?

What have we become?

A divisive people fighting each other over politics

A divisive people arguing over moral rights

A divisive people judging the life of one another

A divisive people that tear each other down

A divisive people that hold onto grudges

A divisive people that will falsely accuse one another

A divisive people that will subjugate the role of women

A divisive people that throw each other away because of our differences.

Here we are at another crossroads.  Questioning the role of women in the church.  So many years later and we are still having this debate!!  Where do they belong?  Do they belong?  Nah, sit down and be quiet!  Better yet…Go home!

Priscilla Shirer

Christine Caine 

Beth Moore

Joyce Meyer

Sara Roberts…just to name a few!

And then there is Aimee Garcia Cortese.

Of all these names you may recognize, the least recognizable will be Aimee Garcia Cortese.  But to me, she is the thread that held me together when my faith was tested.  She was a teacher, preacher, pastor, evangelist, chaplain, counselor when it was truly frowned upon in the Pentecostal church.  She stood tall during a season of false accusations.  She stood tall when the very church she helped lead with her dad asked her to leave because there was no room for a woman minister. She stood tall when those of her same faith let her know she was not welcome in their homes, their churches. 

She simply stood tall. 

Pastor Aimee did not Go Home!  She went to the masses, traveled the world, served the least fortunate.  Touched the lives of thousands in intimate spaces.  She knew and understood her calling and walked, skipped, and ran towards the one who called her.  She never coward even when the shouts were loud and offensive.  If it weren’t for her fierce determination to stand tall in her calling, tens of thousands of people would have never heard the gospel including many members of my own family…  

and my soul would not have been impacted.

So you see, there is a place for women in ministry, there is a place for women in the pulpit, there is a place for women to share the gospel all over the world.  

Mr. MacArthur, you are wrong.  It is not your place to squash any calling by God.  You mocked every woman that has ever been called to share the gospel, and you are mistaken.   It is written that “the devil comes to rob, steal and destroy, “…but lately, I have seen that in the hands of those who clothe themselves under the cloak of “Christianity”. As someone said, we are no longer different from the world, no longer separate, we have started slinging mud at each other. 

We will pick up the ball you (Mr. MacArthur) dropped and run the race, which we are called to!

Women are strong, fierce, loyal, powerful, capable, nurturers, intelligent, insightful, discerning, providers, helpers, educators, lawmakers, caregivers, listeners all equal in the eyes of God.  

Where would we be without the boldness and indignation we battle with every day?  We wake up each day carving out our role and purpose and rightful place at the table.  

We belong…everywhere!

This grieves my heart, and for that, I apologize to the unbelievers because I understand why you don’t believe it.  

We continue to fail…BUT God!

Lesson:

“Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace” (Helen H. Lemmel, 1922)

Mere men can’t take away what God has called, appointed, and anointed, and that includes ALL OF US!

Crazy Faith!

“Crazy Faith! Don’t just pray about it, ACT ON IT! Normal begets normal. Crazy begets crazy!” – Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

So I decided to go back to school after 25 years!!! Yup, 25 years since I earned my Bachelor of Arts.

Not only did I choose to return to obtain a Masters Degree, but not any Masters. I chose a field of study that I have no expertise or experience- LAW!

So you see I have taken a CRAZY leap, that has required CRAZY FAITH.

The excitement that comes with doing something that takes you out of our comfort zone is exhilarating! Yet it comes with great risk. Fear of failing, fear of embarrassing myself and fear of not completing the degree!!!

Yet I have CRAZY FAITH to believe that I will not fail, I will not be embarrassed, I will complete the degree. 

What have are you facing that requires CRAZY faith? What are you teetering with? What are you walking away from that you should embrace? What have you said is an impossibility?

A relationship, money decisions, buying a home, changing your job, going back to school, reconciliation in a relationship, starting your own business. Saying yes to something that scares you to death. These all require Crazy Faith.

Embrace CRAZY Faith! Act on what you believe is set before you. Reach out, walk towards it, pick it up! Don’t expect others to do for you what only you can do!

I challenge you to live creatively, live generously, live joyously…

Lesson:

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all” – Helen Keller

‘Til Tuesday

He keeps answering my heart!

Have you ever sat still enough to ask, God, do you see this? Are you listening? Do you know my heart?

Have you ever sat still enough to recognize that God sees all things, He listens to everything, and yes, He understands the desires of our hearts!

Our hearts hide the most intimate details of our wishes, dreams, and desires…and HE sees them!

I have come to understand and accept that though I may not see the answers to my heart prayers instantaneously, I have lived long enough to see them answered in God’s perfect time.

I love it when God shows off in the little details of our lives. It’s there when I see the perfect hand of God moving. It’s when I know that HE so profoundly sees my tears, and is paying attention to my life.

Someone once told me to “pay attention to the details.” I didn’t quite understand that at first, but in the details are the finishing touches that perfect room, a table, design.

It’s in the details that we see the intention of the artist in the completion of their work.

When you walk into someone’s home most folks notice the big picture, but it’s in the details, that we get to the person’s character, know their likes and see their personality.

God is in our details, not just the big picture.

We miss a lot because we focus on the big picture. Yet, if when we are still enough to focus on our life’s details, we will see the visible hand of God sketching out the perfect outcome and in those details, as in all details, is thoughtfulness that is specific to our heart, our prayers, our desires and God sees those.

Those are the answers to prayers that blow me away. Yet, those take time to get answered.

So you see, I have come to know that He still answers my heart. It’s in my heart, my core, that the most intimate desires live! There is a reason it is said: “Guard your heart”…

We keep our hurt, joy, and aspirations in our heart. We love our heart. Our hearts can stop beating, and our hearts provides the flow of oxygen that we need. It is the epicenter from which all things flow.

Yet, when God sees our hearts, he sees the brokenness we hid, the fear we mask, the pain we ignore along with the dreams and desires, and when we are ready, he heals our heart and answers our heart prayers.

What prayers have you guarded in your heart? What desires are you holding onto? What dreams are you still believing for? Keep praying in your heart!

Lesson:

Don’t give up on the secret dreams that you guard in your heart. God sees them and knows when you are ready they will be answered. Believe God

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭4:23‬ 

“Til Tuesday

He’s whispering…can you hear it?

While doing my spring cleaning I came across a folder that was full of writings. They were each dated, and I was curious to read where my heart, mind, and soul were living those many years ago. What was my current state of mind? What was I thinking about? And I came across one entry that spoke to my heart and the season where I am right now, and it was titled.

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“God’s Silence” (dated  October 4, 1993)

Moments of uncertainty seems to surge into my life creating pangs of loneliness.  Silence a form of communication of which God has chosen to speak to my heart. Stillness has enveloped me, making my days go by allowing open lines between God and Me.  Hardship has been a part of my growing up, and now stillness and silence seem to comb through my days soothing any open wound that may have been left sore.  Being and knowing God’s will in my life is an ever-pressing challenge, often allowing for bitter tears to be shed to allow strength to move on to God’s plan.  Strength has been a common thread through all of life’s trials

Silence -“ God’s Silence, Then What” a so appropriately titled devotion of “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers.  As I read these words, they rang in my heart, they ripped through me and encourage my wounded spirit. It read as follows:

“Has God trusted you with His silence a silence that has great meaning?  God’s silences are actually His answers…His silence is the sign that He is bringing you into an even more wonderful understanding of Himself.  He will give you the first sign of His intimacy – Silence. 

I thought to myself, what a privilege!  Though these moments are the most painful you can experience, it’s through these moments we can audibly hear the voice of God speaking to our hearts.  My greatest job through this is to be still. And being still is humanly difficult.  We battle again our very own flesh, hoping that one day we can discipline ourselves to be still. 

More importantly to be understood that stillness is the exercise we will practice so that we can be found in God’s perfect will.

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As you can read over 24 years ago, I was still being chosen to be close to the heart of God!

I learned that if I intended to grow and be more like Him, I needed to be pruned by Him so I can reflect Him.

I didn’t have all the answers when I wrote these entries, but what I do have is an incredible sense of Hope.

That no matter your circumstances, if you are in the midst of a season of Silence, it’s not a bad thing, but a blessed one,  because there lies your ability to listen to…

God’s whispers. 

Are you going through a season where you feel invisible? Alone?

As if you no one is listening?

Be still.  God is whispering.

Lesson 

The noise in your life can often be a distraction to what is supposed to be in your life. Embrace stillness. 

“Til Tuesday

The Waiting Room (Part 2)

When his name was called, we walked into the lab room.  They asked my husband to hold Rob in his lap and hold down his little arms so that they could draw a significant amount of blood.  My husband’s legs began to shake, his tears just flowed as he watched Rob so quietly, without a whimper, allow the phlebotomist draw blood from his tiny arms.

We were then escorted to the exam room, where a team of doctors along with Head of Pediatrics were waiting for us. They poked and prodded, they took notes.  They told us that he looked incredibly healthy for a patient with such devastating bloodwork.  Before we left, we were given explicit instructions that every week for the next 8 weeks we were to take Rob to the pediatrician’s office for bloodwork.  They needed to keep track of his blood cell count.

And so we did.  

During that time we traveled to Florida to visit with family and celebrate Rob’s first birthday. Rob became incredibly ill. He developed a high fever that sent him into a seizure.  An ambulance ride, more doctors, more blood work, turned our visit with family into a medical emergency. This birthday and everyone thereafter was memorable.

Upon returning to Los Angeles, the last test showed a marked improvement, so much so that the doctors at Cedars did not believe that there was any need to continue with the bloodwork, but simply keep an eye on his yearly checkup blood tests.

Until he turned 4 years old and everything changed…again.

It was a usual four-year-old checkup.  This time Rob was talkative, aware, inquisitive and a lot of fun.  This bloodwork was not good.  They didn’t even let us go home.  The pediatrician asked that we go to the hospital immediately.  I looked up at her and said, “can we wait a week, please give me a week.”  She looked at me puzzled.  Not really understanding how I would consider delaying something so serious.  But she obliged.  That week was the week I prayed, pleaded, fasted, anointed and believed that my son was healed, and he was whole.

A week went by and that Saturday morning we had our follow up blood work.  Before we left the house, we prayed over Rob and anointed him with oil, and he immediately said, “why are you putting oil on my head?” I said, “because we are going to get our miracle.”  It’s was a 25-minute car ride yet it seemed like an hour.  We drove in complete silence.  When we arrived at the pediatrician’s office, this time there weren’t smiles, our nurse was quiet, the mood was solemn. They drew blood and asked us to please wait.  The doctor came in and said she needed to double check something. At this point, our hearts were pounding out of our chests.  Upon her return, she said, “I can’t explain this, but last week Rob had full blown Leukemia, and today his results are of a patient with a cold, you can go home – he’s healthy.” My husband immediately walked out of the exam room and out of the building…he needed to be alone.  I knew he needed the privacy to weep.  I picked Rob up, held him tight and told him, “we got our miracle.”  My beautiful curly haired boy is now 22 years old.  A strong, healthy young man that has seen his share of trials.

 Yet, I can never forget that afternoon, 22 years ago when I  screamed, why me, why him, why us?

I now know why. God trusted us with him. God trusted us with this trial. Rob was never ours, to begin with. He belongs to God, and we will forever be thankful that God chose us to walk through that valley to acknowledge his great love and mercy.

Can God trust you?

Lesson:

Why me, why him, why us?  Why not. Surround yourself with people that will hold you up when you can’t stand on your own and trust a living God that will carry you when you can’t walk

‘Til Tuesday

The Waiting Room… (Part 1)

It was like any other 10-month-old check up.  We walked in, greeted all the wonderful staff and were escorted to our exam room.  We stripped Rob, the nurses weighed him, check his growth, and conducted his usual blood tests.  Nothing unusual, nothing exciting, but as new parents, everything was fascinating.  I recall my husband always kissing Rob before he placed him in the car and as soon as he took him out of the car.  There was nothing we wouldn’t do for our beautiful son, our first born, the son that I was once told I would not be able to conceive (that’s another blog).

After a pretty uneventful drive home we went about our day.  Playing, feeding, singing and laughing and trying to get him to walk...until the phone rang.  The pediatrician’s office calling the same day?  That’s strange, they usually call a day later with blood test results, but this time it was different.

There was something wrong.

Our sweet little baby was sick, and the news that awaited us on the other line was devastating.  We had to take him to Cedar’s Sinai Pediatric Oncology, you see our son had all the signs of Leukemia.  His blood work in the past few check-ups was not improving, and now we needed to see the big guns. We could no longer wait, the appointment was scheduled for the very next day.  My body went limp. I fell to the ground, my pediatrician asked me if anyone was with me.  All I could do was cry.  You see my family was no stranger to this pain, my mom lost a child (a brother I never met) at 2 years old with Leukemia and she was never the same.  Rob was 10 months old, the exact age her son was diagnosed.  I just couldn’t believe this was happening to us.

 I cried bitterly, screaming, yelling, telling God you cannot take him from us, you can’t!  You gave him to us…how could this be happening…

why me, why him, why us...

I walked over to his crib, picked him up while he slept and held my beautiful baby boy tightly as my tears gently fell on his thick black curly hair. I looked down at him full of wonder, and yet my heart was full of fear. Fear of the unknown, fear of the diagnosis, fear of what his tender little body would have to endure.

And there we were, the next day, sitting in the waiting room of the Pediatric Oncology department. Waiting for our son’s name to be called to go meet the doctors that would now take over his care.  Waiting to walk down a long hallway to begin the bloodwork process.  As Robert and I sat silently in the waiting area, across from us was a Rabbi, he immediately sensed our sadness, our fear.  He walked over to us and said, “Hold him.”  Excuse me?  I said.  He repeated, “Hold him, he will be healed if you hold him.”  Then he kindly walked away.  I looked down at Rob and picked him out of the stroller and held him, I held him tighter than I ever had.

Why me, why him, why us?

To be continued.

Is there someone you need to hold?

Lesson:

Some tests are truly unbearable, this was one of them. We were barely holding on, but we did. Hold on, during your trial. Hold on, in your time of testing.

In everything give thanks.

‘Til Tuesday

When the Year to be Brave…becomes a Blanket of Blessing…​

It was January 8, 2014. Robert and I were enjoying dinner, in the city of Miami.  I felt to tell him that things were going to get challenging. I felt it in my spirit.  At that time I thought it was only about his mom’s cancer battle, little did I know that when given the words “2014 was The Year to be Brave”…what lied ahead was more than I could ever imagine…

Death was imminent, almost unavoidable for so many during the month of January.  No sooner upon my return, Jean’s health worsened, my brother’s wife passed away and a week later my husband’s uncle.  My son would have another critical injury during a Lacrosse game, that changed his trajectory in the sport for the rest of his academic career. It was only January!!!

All I kept hearing..it’s your year to be Brave.

We were managing grief and trauma all at the same time.  My son and I hit a crossroads in our relationship that warranted him to leave the house.  Jean’s return to the ER would be her final.  Oh God, ….it’s only February!!!

Yet, I kept hearing it’s your year to be Brave.

Jean’s homegoing was beautifully attended. Death seems to bring out the real character of people, and during that season we experienced an incredible amount of challenges.

My son returned home, and we began the process of healing and restoring.  He was getting ready to leave for college, and we were entering a new reality without Jean. It was only March.

In the midst of it all, changes were taking place in our home life and in our personal life. We walked through some of the darkest moments of our lives, not really understanding how we got there, well, maybe deep down we did know.  Just not wanting to accept this was our new reality, or so we thought.

The summer months brought change, a decision to homeschool our youngest, a decision to move away for several months.  These were hard decisions.  I had to give up my comforts to save myself and my family life.  We needed to be together.

Before our departure, our home was financially devastated.  We’d never experienced anything like it.  But I kept remembering – it’s my year to be Brave. I knew it was a test..how much were we truly going to trust God and not fear.

In my bravery, we moved.  We left everything behind and moved away.  I walked into our new quarters.  A lovely apartment. It was small but comfortable.  But what immediately stood out to me were the windows.  Ceiling to the floor and they ran across the entire length of the apartment.  The view was spectacular.   Nothing but the ocean. As I walked towards the windows and took in the view, I immediately sensed in my spirit the following. God showed me, as I stared at the ocean, – it is a blanket that has been spread before me, like a covering and wherever I go, it is before me. It has life, light, peace, joy, laughter.

A blanket of blessing.   The ocean view was endless, and I understood the blessings would be the same.  He’s seen my heart, and he has seen our faithfulness and is blessing us in this season. I felt an overwhelming sense of peace.

I stood there with tears running down my face.  I knew that there were still two more months left of the year, but I was able to look back at the months gone by and see where courage was all I had.  Where bravery stood in the place of fear.  I knew in my spirit that the following year would bring change, unimaginable change, that would require me to draw from The Year of Bravery.  

The shift was beginning, I could feel it in my heart.  I chose to be brave.  Brave for myself, for my family, for my friends.  The cost was great, but the reward was greater.

Lesson:

We are stronger than we imagine.

When trials come that seems unimaginable, breathe, and trust that God knew this moment was going to happen.  Choose joy in your trial, choose laughter while you cry.  There is never a moment where God doesn’t have his hand reached out towards you.  

‘Til Tuesday