Friday night I made an unexpected trip to the mall. When I pulled into my parking space, my car met another car that had 2 teens in it. They were smoking a joint & passing it back and forth between each other. Not being one to have a poker-face, I quickly grabbed my purse & walked inside. But for the life of me, could not get what I just saw out of my mind. As I walked through the mall, I had this convo with myself (scary) but also with God. Over and over, I asked myself, “Should I have said something to them?” “Should I have found some authority or security and reported them?” “Should I just pray for them?”– a firing range of “should I’s” running through my head at 60mph. And in between, I prayed for them. “God, help these kids.” “God, don’t let this be the beginning of a dead-end future.” “God, let them be caught if it means saving them.” I am confident God heard every prayer, but I am not confident that I did the right thing. It’s been 3 days since this happened. I’m blogging because it is still on my mind…and because those two kids are still on my heart. Just wondering what you would have done in this situation?
This is my church, Church by the Glades. To publicly share my church with you is an American freedom I don’t take for granted. To serve at this church is a joy. To be under the leadership of my pastor is an honor. To walk onto this church’s stage is a privilege. To have our kids grow up here is a gift. To have friends here (so much so that a better word for them would be family) is a insurmountable blessing. To park in this church’s parking lot, to walk through this church’s doors & to worship in this church’s audience–are perks you don’t buy with money or gain with points. They are weekly droplets of God’s favor. I’ve been at Church by the Glades for a little over a year & I’m grateful. I hope you have a church & I hope this finds you grateful for it too. 🙂
As Christians, God challenges us to love one another no matter what and I wondered why in the world He would do that—it’s not easy! I discovered that it’s not because He wants to boss us around or make us do things we don’t want to do (and there are definitely times where I don’t want to!), but it’s because people need love. We are genetically wired to desire love…His love.
Before I became a Christian I thought Christianity was simply a set of rules to follow, a life of limitations and I thought I was too imperfect, too outspoken and too lost to be loved by God. But I couldn’t ignore the brokenness I felt in my heart. There was a void and no matter what I did or what I tried, it wasn’t filled until I accepted His love.
I wouldn’t have this amazing loving relationship with God if someone hadn’t extended His love to me through their actions. I’d still be fumbling around in the dark unknowingly trying to fill that void that only He can fill. God loves me unconditionally in spite of my imperfections and He loves you in spite of yours too!
I think because I had spent so many times in the hospital that I learned to have peace with death. One particular year, my hospital stays were so frequent, that I actually planned my funeral party. Morbid. I know. But being sick for so long and not getting good prognosis’ gave me a unique window to look at my life & consider its last days. Which, so many (including my Cuban) are (understandably) uncomfortable with. But if I had to sum it up, I’d like it to be said that I lived life laughing and I left this life smiling. Now will I have any say in the matter? Who knows! But in my heart, since I truly desire to live laughing & die smiling, it’s oddly helped me navigate life in a more positive way. I don’t know where you stand with all of this. But I do know this: if you know where you’re going when you’re gone & you know Who you will spend forever with, a laughing life & a smiling death is not a bad thing to consider. 🙂
Unlike my Cuban, who is a fabulous rule-follower, I’m guilty of being rebellious by nature. I don’t intentionally break rules, I just don’t like them. That being said, there ARE five rules I live by–or at least strive to. They are derived from 3 decades of experience–both good and bad. And they are…
- Forgive the person who hurt you.
- Encourage the person who isn’t as good as you.
- Compliment the person who is better than you.
- Love the person who hates you.
- Worship the One who created you.
We don’t need pats on the back & pithy accolades to make it. BUT we do need encouragement. And there IS a difference. In Hebrews 3:13, God speaks directly to this: “You must encourage one another each day.” Each day! Did you see that? Lemme spell that out for you…E-A-C-H-D-A-Y. In recent days, I have experienced the power of encouragement through Pastor David (@PastorDHughes) & Lisa (@LisaHughes). What has that looked like? It’s like getting pegged by a big nail of tough circumstance & God using people like them to patch that hole & fill that tire. It’s the power of turning what is hole-y into something solid again. It’s turning what is wobbly into something steady again. It’s turning what was stuck on the side of the road into something that can get back into the lane again. Life is hard, God is good, and encouragement is its catalyst. Be an encourager. Let God use YOU to get others back on the road of life again. You can never out-encourage & you can never over-encourage. And as a side-note, if you are feeling DIScouraged, one way to counteract those blues is to ENcourage others. If you are discouraged that you are single, or jobless but you encourage someone who is dying of cancer or homeless, I know–in a way only God can maneuver–you will feel encouraged, too. I hope this encourages someone today! 🙂
Theatrically speaking, our marriage is like a mystery-thriller-comedy. Due to its uniqueness, I thought it might be fun to invite you onto our bed for some honest convo: Over the years, Raul & I have been misunderstood & we get that. We are not normal. OK, I am not normal. So how have we made it 12 years? Though we don’t have a Dr. Phil answer, we can share our answer. Unlike the ole’ adage, it’s actually not our opposites that attract–it’s our one similarity….G-O-D. You see, we don’t have the luxury of having a plethora of similarities. We don’t have the same I.Q., same childhood experiences, same strengths or same weaknesses. We don’t handle conflict the same. We don’t always love each other with the same intensity. We don’t lead the same, we don’t follow the same. So when alllllllllllllllll these differences are challenged, we HAVE to have SOMETHING that holds us together. Thank God we have God. For some, opposites may attract, but for us, God is the attraction. We both love God; seek to obey Him & hope to one day hear him say, “Well done.” Without our similar foundation of God–our differences would rip us apart. Circumstances can divide; humans can repel; but God attracts. So what will keep Raul & Heather under one roof, in one bed, for years to come? One God. 🙂 Thanks for joining us on our bed today. We hope this encouraged someone.
Different seasons, different verses.
These days I am parking on this verse so I thought I’d share it.
Who knows, maybe it is the same verse you are parking on too–how cool would that be?!
Or maybe you were on the look-out for a go-to verse and this could be the one!
Either way, I am loving:
It’s been fun doing book reviews with my Pastor-Friend-Colleague, Kory Cassell. As I’ve stated in our earlier book review posts (here & here) we couldn’t be more opposite if we gallantly tried. Without further ado, please enjoy our final book review. It is by my dear (virtual) friend, Marie Wikle. Her passion is joy & joy is her passion. Here is how Kory & I took to her book, “Spreading Joy Daily:”
Kory: Practical and authentic. Two traits we are all looking for when it comes to day to day direction and motivation. With her simple daily ideas, Marie will stretch you and and inspire you to grow in small and significant ways. Fun and creative, these daily insights will make as much a difference in you as they will in all those around you.
Heather: I’m a big advocate for joy–because the bible tells us it can happen IN suffering & because “it comes in the morning.” So when I discovered Marie’s “joy” tweets on twitter one day, I followed immediately and got inspired daily. And then? When I learned she had a book with 365 joy ideas, I couldn’t wait to get my paws on it. There would no longer be any excuse for me to not find joy every day…nor help others find it too.
Kory and I don’t agree on a lot, but we DO agree on the joy of getting to peruse this book. So on behalf of both of us, we are giving away 2 copies. Leave a comment on what brings you joy. We will draw two winners & get these shipped out to you ASAP. Thanks!