Friday, March 31, 2006

The longest month of the day

"And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love."
2 John 1:6

It's the last day of the month, and I'm happy that even though these last three days have made this month seem like a very long one God has shown His faithfullness to me yet again. These last few days I have struggled with anger and I have been depressed. It was a new sort of experience for me, because eventhough I know what I believe about life and death, and eventhough I know the Lord is here for me, I have been feeling so helpless when it comes to how others think. Anger and sadness was not what was worrying me actually, but the lack of love and peace I was feeling in my heart. I was angry at my colleague for making this choice and at the other people I work with. How could they think this way and be this way? But, I also knew that if there was no love and peace in my heart, it wasn't so much their fault, but my own really. We are told to love, so, that means that it is active and I can make a choice to love. I wish I could say that I have just made the choice to love and this gave me peace... but it didn't really go that way. I have been so exhausted these last days because I'm tired of thinking, of not sleeping or eating well these last two days, of not having peace or knowing what to do, and of not being able to love. I wanted so much to be in touch with Vicky... my colleague, and hold her hand and walk her through this, but she had let us know that she didn't want to be in touch or see anyone. But, I just prayed and told the Lord that I really wanted to send her an SMS (mobile message) and let her know that I have been thinking and praying for her. So I sent it and about 20 minutes later I got a reply from her. She thanked me for my message and apologized for not answering my e-mail. She told me that she was now going to a better place and hoped to maybe see me there one day. I wasn't expecting to hear from her at all, let alone talk about life after death, so you can imagine my surprise. I just had to cry again, thank the Lord for the message, but I was also pretty much begging the Lord to not let her go this way. Not this way, but ultimately let "Your" will be done Lord. I have just finished sending her an e-mail. I thanked her for her message and I also shared a bit more with her and gave her some verses on Jesus, the gift of eternal life, on death, on paradise, on trusting God. I also told her that I hoped to see her again some day. I wonder what April is going to be like, but as I continue in this walk and I keep experiencing new things no matter where or what I hope I will also keep growing in love. Love truly
is the greatest thing.

"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."
1 Corinthians 13:13

Thursday, March 30, 2006

A child for a special need

After yesterday's news you can imagine that my colleague's decision to die is what has been on my mind all day. I went to work not feeling much. We had the company's psychologist there to talk to us if we needed it. She came up to me to ask how I was dealing with the news and what I was planning to tell the children. I told her that at the moment I wasn't able to grief because I had too many questions floating about, and I hadn't thought about what to tell the children either. I told her I would come up with something and let her know. While I was talking to the psychologist the team coordinator was listening and she told me that eventually I would be able to mourn. She also asked me if I was Catholic and told me that she was sensing a bit of anger coming from me. I told her that I figured I would be feeling some kind of emotion eventually, that I wasn't Catholic but that I was indeed a Christian and that this obviously has a lot to do with the way I feel. I explained a bit more and they wanted to know what questions I had and suggested I write them down and talk about it. It wasn't the right time to talk about any of this so we agreed that I would get back to them whenever I was ready to talk and so on. Something that I thought was great was that the team coordinator told me that she was really interested in knowing what I was thinking, because a lot of what I said were things she hadn't thought about before.... o_0

Anyway, then my boss came and we had a meeting and she also wanted to know how I felt and also asked if I was angry. I told her that I wasn't, that I just didn't understand. Then she started to cry and tried to have me see how this is the way it should go. All of a sudden I started to feel angry. I was so angry hot tears started to flow down my cheeks and I was just angry and sad. I decided to stay outside and cry it out before going back in the classroom. It was almost time for the kids to go home so I came in to get the kids ready to leave. The parents came and left with the kids... all except one, one of my special needs kids with behavioral problems. For some reason this child's parents were late, and as they weren't coming he decided to get up, run down the hall towards the entrance and hide behind the curtains. I went after him, got him out from behind the curtain and as I was holding his arm he pulled himself away and slapped my leg. I was already angry so it didn't take much to make me lose my temper. I got down, looked at him and told him that that wasn't a good choice. He knew that hitting meant getting a time-out. Anyway, after a short time-out he told me that he was sorry for hitting me, and I helped him put on his coat. We went out to the hall and sat down to wait for his parents. I didn't sit next to him as I usually do but across from him. He asked me why I was sitting there and I told him that it was because the chair was bigger. I wasn't really looking at him, but just sitting there waiting and thinking and he said, "Miss Meira, (he can't say my name) why are you sad?" So I said, (still not looking at him) "Well, sometimes things happen that make us sad." Then he said "Miss Meira, you should go home and sleep in your bed." Then it hit me that here I was getting advice from a little special needs 4 year old boy. So I looked at him and asked him how he knew that I was sad. Could he tell or did somebody tell him that I was sad? He said "Oh, I can even see it." He told me that that's what he does and it would make me feel better. My heart just started to melt right then, and his father walked in and took him away. My eyes were a bit swollen, but that's how they look when I'm tired; I had just given him a time-out and I was crossed, but yet he didn't ask why I was tired, or why I was angry, but why I was sad. And his advice is really the best advice I got today. They are indeed children for special needs. First thing I'll do tomorrow is give him a big hug and thank him for his advice. No wonder Jesus said that the kingdom of heaven belongs to those such as these. Mat. 19:14. I didn't sleep when I got home, I will do that now, but I have thought some more about the whole thing. I've searched scripture and it seems very clear to me that this is just not right, and it makes me think about Job. About his suffering, pain, loss... about his wife, and about how she seems to have been the kind of person that would also agree with "mercy-killing", because of the pain she saw her husband go through. But I will end this with Job's words which say it all. Please pray for my colleague if you read this.

So Satan went out from the presence of the LORD, and struck Job with painful boils from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head. And he took for himself a potsherd with which to scrape himself while he sat in the midst of the ashes. Then his wife said to him, "Do you still hold fast to your integrity? Curse God and die!" But he said to her, "You speak as one of the foolish women speaks. Shall we indeed accept good from God, and shall we not accept adversity?"
In all this Job did not sin with his lips.
- Job 2:7-10

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Good Riddance?

As I was unpacking my things in my new apartment I got a phone call from a lady from the head office. I was expected back at work at 18:00 for a meeting with the whole team. I knew that it was going to be about one of my colleagues. We have a colleague that has been diagnosed with a very aggressive cancer and she was only expected to live for a short time. Since it was a last minute kind of meeting I figured it was to give us really bad news and I thought I would prepare myself by praying for all to go well. I figured she was probably going to die sooner than we all thought. Turns out, I seem to have gotten some very "good" news. I just need time to let it sink in to be able to understand it apparently. See, my colleague is indeed dying, but thanks to the modern society I live in I know exactly when, where, why and how she will be dying. I was told on what day she would kill herself, where she will do it, and how she will die. This is good because it helps us to plan our days so that we can go to the memorial service, which I now know where and at what time it will be held. Convenient. Then we were asked to share our feelings about everything. If we had all been the doctors or dentists mentioned in a commercial I guess I would have been the one out of the eight that didn't agree with something. I kept hearing how this was very good because she shouldn't have to suffer anymore, how everybody could go on with their lives, how we could plan things better and how this was a better way for us to deal it as well. When I was asked what I thought, I didn't know what to say. I had been preparing myself to deal with bad news, to mourn for her to remember her, but I just wasn't expecting to talk about euthanasia. So, when I was given this kind of "good" news it just sort of turned everything upside down. All I could say was that I thought it all seemed so planned and organized that it almost didn't even seem real. I told them that I almost felt like I was reading a story where I knew the character would die on page 87, but it's just a book. I told them that I felt like I was living in a place where anything that was not pleasurable but painful had to be gotten rid of in any possible way. I told them that I just didn't know how to mourn like this. I said a lot of other things that were just brushed away as cultural differences. This culture is different from mine and that's why I don't understand this, but here... this is good. I walked out of the meeting not really feeling anything. I couldn't cry because it wasn't sad anymore, it was just plastic. A few weeks ago I did get a chance to write this colleague an e-mail where I shared that Jesus came so that we could have life, eternally. I know that a lot of people imagine heaven as a place where we will just sit around on clouds and we will all know how to play the harp, and we will be stuck with people that we probably didn't even like on earth for making us feel like they were better than us. I wouldn't want to be in a place like that, and thank goodness this is not the way the Bible presents it. I don't know if she read my e-mail and I really don't know what to think. All I know is that this just doesn't seem right, but good riddance they say.

Monday, March 27, 2006

Shared Odyssey

Well, I've been very busy with the move. My apartment is practically empty and a bit cold, but I am looking forward to going to the new place with the nice beams. I think they make the rooms look warm. Eventhough this move is taking a lot of time and energy, I have only had one thing on my mind... well, maybe two, but one in particular. Yesterday when I was taking a little break from packing, I sat down at the laptop where my blog profile was open. I remembered putting Transverse Myelitis as one of my interests, and I clicked on it. I then realized that I'm one of three people here with this same interest. I then started to read one of the blogs called "Odyssey" and... I think that it's perhaps the first time in my life I have felt like I was reading part of my own life. It's a blog about a gentleman that writes about his recovery from Transverse Myelitis. Now, even though this person is older than I was when I got sick (I was 17, and he has two grandchildren), and even though we come from completely different backgrounds, family situation, environment and the way we got hit with T.M. was very different, we have one important thing in common. We were both Christians at the time we got sick and I think this is what most likely made all the difference in the way we dealt and still deal with it. It really blessed me to read about how he was dealing with it in his faith. I know it made all the difference for me. I was just a baby Christian at the time, I was very confused, didn't know what had just hit me or what was happening. For those who don't know me or know what T.M. is.... I'm not really going to get into it, but suffice it to say that in a matter of minutes I went from being a normal 17 year old, to being paralyzed and completely numb from my waist down, and well... my life has never been the same. When I first started my blog I wasn't really thinking that I would share much about T.M., because eventhough it might be hard to imagine that I could feel normal even if I do have a handicap, I don't feel handicapped on a regular basis. By God's grace I can walk... not perfectly, and my balance sometimes seems like a 2.5 year-old's, but I have a great life. I love my family, the friends that I have are great people, I have a job that I love, and I have found a church that feeds me and were I feel at home... best of all... my walk with the Lord is an exciting adventure. Yesterday when I was reading this blog and I remembered what it was like for me, I had to get up and cry and cry. Not because I was sad, but because it is still hard to believe that this even happened to me and that I actually went through this at 17!!! Then to think of where I am 11 years later. After I was told that I would never walk again, after I was told that my arms would be my new legs, after I was told that I was being too positive for even thinking that I might ever walk again, after I was told that I might not be able to go to school again let alone graduate from university. God is good. Getting Transverse Myelitis was at the time the worse thing that ever happened to me, but after all, I believe that it is one of the best things that ever happened to me. I wholeheartedly believe that by God's grace I will be made strong in my weakness as Christ's power rests on me. II Cor 12:9-10

31. But those who wait on the LORD
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
- Isaiah 40:31

Friday, March 24, 2006

Yes, not bad... but I can do better!

I walk quite a lot everyday, and this is great because it gives me the time to think, observe and talk with God. One thing we have been talking about lately is my new little apartment/studio, where I will be moving to tomorrow. I'm really looking forward to moving there because there are a lot of great things about it. I have had to move three times already this last year and a half because of work, and the first two times I moved I was doing most of the work. Looking here, posting there, calling here and there, calculating, evaluating... stressing about it... But this time I thought I would just let the Lord provide and take care of things. I trust Him and I believe He will provide for all my needs, but eventhough I have been learning to not only believe this but also rest in it, I still don't let go of things 100%, which is why I still had some pointers for Him. This is exactly what we were talking about. See... when I started looking for a place some months ago I told the Lord that I would let Him direct me... it was all up to Him, but... all I would say is that I thought it would be wise to find a place close to line 9, which is the tram I take to go to work. I didn't know how familiar He was with dutch public transportation, so this was valuable inside information. Tram 9, 'Dr Kuyperstraat' stop, or 'Javastraat' stop would do just fine. He could decide which town I would live in, if it would be an apartment, a room, a studio... I was feeling proud that I was doing so well at not giving Him much direction and that that which I did share with Him was intelligent information so... with a little help from me I knew it would be just perfect. Then it was as if I could hear Him say..."Yesss... that's good... not bad, but.... I can do better than that."
I have to walk quite a bit from the tram stop to work, and eventhough I don't really mind walking, it's not always easy because of some weakness in my legs caused by T.M. It can also be a bit tiring, so what did He do? He got me a place right across the street from where I work. Iv'e walked by this house many times but it never occured to me that I could live there one day. I'll have to share the apartment with a young girl I don't really know yet, but she seems nice and the more I think about the place the more I feel that it really is of the Lord. Just the fact that it will take me a minute to walk to work instead of 30 minutes is a great blessing for me. I'm only planning to stay there for three months and I won't be taking much as it is already furnished. I just feel like it's going to be my own little sanctuary. A haven. I'm going to post some pictures of what it looked like when I was there yesterday.
I'll be living in the attic, which is devided in two small rooms.

This is the living room.

It only has one small window which makes it a bit dark, but there will be light.

This is the bedroom. It is a bit lighter as it has two windows.

I found the little one in the corner quite interesting.

This is the closet and where I'll get to hang my clothes to dry.

And these are the stairs. They are a bit scary because there is nowhere to hold on to, but I think I will just get used to them and this can be a good exercise!

Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.
- Proverbs 3:5-6

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Spring is here!

Today was such a beautiful second day of Spring. It was bright and sunny, you can see the birds and ducks protecting their nests, the flowers are blooming... it's still quite cold, but it's just good to feel the sun again. I thought the purple carpet of flowers looked so beautiful I just had to take a few pictures.

There was this tree right in the middle of the field that reminded me of something a friend has just shared with me. He has been reading a book by Henri Nouwen entitled "The Only Necessary Thing", and he shared from a chapter called, "Converting Loneliness into Solitude." I'll just paste part of what he wrote.

"Aloneness: It is a natural fact that we alone are ourselves, there is no one in the world who thinks exactly like us, who undergoes life experience as we do. We are very unique. Now the question is how we deal with our "aloneness"?"

Then he explained that aloneness can become two things, either loneliness, or solitude. When we view aloneness as a wound, it becomes loneliness, which is something that hurts. But, we can also convert our loneliness into solitude. This can then be experienced as a gift from God, and not a wound. "So that in our aloneness we can truly see how deeply God is in love with us. When we are most alone, God is closest to us."

I told my friend that this is something I have been experiencing these couple of last weeks. I get lonely sometimes, especially if I have just spent some days with family or friends, but lately I find that I have been delighting in my aloneness, only because what I'm really delighting in is God and my walk with Him. I have realized that when I just spend time with Him I get to know Him and myself more and then I have that feeling that there really is no one and nothing more important than Him. It's like the story of a man that was studying his Bible. I don't know where this story came from but it was about how this man got a phone call from the Queen of England while he was studying and he sent a message saying, "The queen will have to wait, I'm meeting with the King of the universe!" - We see how Jesus was involved in ministry, helping people, serving them, healing them, teaching them, but we also read how he took the time to be alone to spend time with the Father.

Yet the news about him spread all the more, so that crowds of people came to hear him and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed. - Luke 5:15,16

Now, if the Lord Jesus needed to take the time to be alone and pray, how much more would we need it? It's like couples, isn't it important for married couples to take the time to go out on dates, without the kids, without having to think about work and bills and what not? I don't know, but I would think that it would be important to do so to strengthen the relationship, so too I think that it is good for us to take that time to spend with God, and hey, if you happen to be single and living alone then.... great! That should make it a lot easier! The Lord is passionately and compassionately in love with us... I don't know but one day, when we can see each other face to face, when we can see clearly I would love to look back and see what was really going on during those lonely times I (we) chose to spend with Him. Just like this tree, instead of having loneliness feel like coldness and emptiness, let's just be silent in Him and see how He will fill us with His love from within and beauty all around us.

12 For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. 13 And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.
- 1 Corinthians 13

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Feliz Cumpleaños Mami!!!

And yet another Birthday in March!
Last night my mom and brother came to pick me up so I could spend today at home with them to celebrate mom's B-day. It was funny because eventhough I would have liked to have spent a lot of time talking with her and just hearing about how things were going she spent all, ALL day long on the phone. She got phonecalls from Bonaire, Colombia, Curacao, Spain, the U .S., and here in Holland. She is just a very popular person, and I also think a lot of people consider her to be a good friend. I think she's lovely. We didn't plan to do anything special at home, but our neighbor and another friend of the family also came by with her son. My uncle also came with a pile of CD's to play. He likes parties and loves to dance. Here are some pictures.

These are some of my mom's presents.

This is my uncle. He's too cool to be in a group picture.

Querida Mama,

Feliz Cumpleaños!
Gracias por todo lo que haces por mi y por todos. Pienso que eres la mama mas buena, mas linda y la mejor mama del mundo... y esto te lo digo sin exajeracion, porque lo he venido analizando hace mucho tiempo y siempre llego a la misma conclucion! Para mi eres como esas 'Tulipas' bellas que siempre traes a casa. Te quiero, y espero que hayas tenido un dia muy feliz.

»El Señor te bendiga y te guarde;
el Señor te mire con agrado y te extienda su amor;
el Señor te muestre su favor y te conceda la *paz.
- Numeros 6:24-26

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Keys to Heaven

I remember about a year ago or so I visited a Christian chat room with a friend. We soon realized that we were the only non-catholics in the room. When I thought of this I figured I could ask some questions I had wondered about for a long time. So, I asked if I could ask some questions and I was told that I could, so I began. I can't tell you exactly what my questions were because I don't really remember, but I do know that I did not intend to offend anyone or be confrontational. There was a girl in the room that was patiently trying to explain some points which I really appreciated, but then there was another guy that was becoming very defensive and seemed annoyed. To make matters worse I thought my friend was also becoming confrontational with them so soon enough it seemed like there were two teams against each other which was not my desire at all! Anyway, this guy finally said something like, "Don't you know that Jesus gave Peter the keys of heaven!!!" I'm ashamed to say that I had no idea what he was talking about. So I said "no", and he said "Don't you read your Bible?", and I said "Sure, sometimes... and that's why I would like to know where it says this." And then after a few more words he told me that he would go get the verse. He never came back and I thought "Well, I guess he couldn't find it." Eventually I left the chat room because it wasn't at all the uplifting kind of experience I was expecting from a Christian chat room. Well, today I came across a blog from a catholic man, and I started to read what he had posted. I got to one of his posts called "How Old Is Your Church?". I knew that he meant religions/denominations and not the body of Christ, but I was interested and read on. Well, eventhough I was raised on a catholic island I was a bit shocked by his last statement.

"If you are Catholic, you know that your religion was founded in the year 33 by Jesus Christ the Son of God, and it is still the same Church. Matt 16:18-20"

I was like "What?". So I looked up Matt 16:18-20, and guess what it was about. Yes, Peter getting the keys of heaven.

Matt 16:19 "And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

So, ok, I read it and thought about it; I went through a study by Pastor Courson and remembered that I had actually already listened to a sermon on this a while ago. Now, I think the reason I forgot or didn't remember that I had already learned about this is because we are so materialistic. See, when this guy told me that Jesus had given Peter the keys to heaven I thought he was talking about real keys and this is why in my mind this was just crazy. But, you know, I bet a lot of people actually do believe that these were a real set of keys. I think the reason this guy is quoting this verse in his blog to explain when the catholic church was founded is because I think they believe that Peter's successor was the second pope, or the second bishop of Rome. I'm not going to get into that, but this sort of sinks my heart. I think that what shocked me when I was first told about this verse by this guy was the fact that I believe Jesus is the key to God's Kingdom. How are we saved? Through Jesus Christ. John 14:6. So what's the deal with the keys??? Well, I think I have just realized two things. One of them is that this explains all the Pearly gate cartoons with St. Peter checking people in or out of Heaven. (I get it!!!) Secondly, when was Peter given the keys? If we go a few verses back we read this.

13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, "Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?"
14 So they said, "Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets."
15 He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?"
16 Simon Peter answered and said, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God."
17 Jesus answered and said to him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. 19 And I will give you the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed[d] in heaven."
20 Then He commanded His disciples that they should tell no one that He was Jesus the Christ.

Peter received the keys to the Kingdom of heaven when he confessed that Jesus is Christ. And as I post these verses I'm understanding something else at this very moment. Jesus asked them who they thought he was, and Peter answered that he was the Christ. Then Jesus says, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. 18 And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church...." and so on. See, once Peter came to this realization another thing happened, Jesus first told him that the Father was who revealed this to him, and not his flesh or blood, and secondly, Jesus says 18 "And I also say to you that you are Peter..."
Wow, see this is what I'm getting. Jesus asks each of us who we think he is, not who people around us think he is, no... who do YOU think he is? Secondly, if we believe in our hearts that he is Christ the Savior, we know that this has been revealed to us by the Father. Thirdly, once we know who Jesus is and that this was revealed to us by God, then we will know who we are as well. WOW. By the way, this is really the reason I just can't agree with women being pastors...or pastorettes. See, maybe I'm wrong, and I do hope I don't offend anyone but isn't it a woman's thing to start talking about one thing and ending up with another? Ok... I think I wanted to say more about the keys, but now I just want to repeat these questions I think we can all ask ourselves.

  1. Who do you think Jesus is?
  2. Who is revealing it to you?
  3. Who are you?

Ok... I think I will go to bed and let this all sink in. I'll have to also think more about these keys. Notice that it's a plural word, keys. I wonder why more than one. Is it because Peter is not the only one with access to Heaven, as in we all can have a key to Heaven, or, on a more material note is each key perhaps for a different place like the front gate, the front door, the back door, the mail-box...

Mind you, I do want to say something else. I don't have many but I do have a dear Catholic friend whom I admire for his walk with the Lord Jesus. He is a great example of humility, kindness and generosity. Let us all be of one accord in Christ Jesus our Lord.

"Fulfil ye my joy, that ye be likeminded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind." - Philippians 2:2

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Happy B-day Mariana!

On Sunday was Mariana's B-day. She is from Romania and she is like an older sister to me. I really admire her because she is a hard worker and a very humble person that always tries to do what's right and honest. She also has a big heart and makes great fruit cakes that I absolutely love. I also think she is a bit crazy but aren't we all? Mariana, I wish you all the best always. God bless you!!!

Here she is cutting her famous cake while we sing.

Here we are after the guests left and we could eat more cake!!!

This is a cute house I saw on my way to Mariana's B-day party.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Mr. Wrinkly shares the Word...

I had such a great Sunday again. I woke up about three hours before I even had to leave to go to church, so I tried to sleep a bit more, but I couldn't. I got up and as I was getting ready my heart started to feel happy and excited about going to church. This is not at all the case on most Sundays; sometimes I'll be walking to church thinking, "Wow, are my legs really taking me to church?" Since being in Holland I hadn't really found a church I could call home, but by God's grace after years and years I have finally found a small church that I just love. I'm being fed. (in a spiritual sense) I still have to get used to going on Sundays, and you know how the spirit is always willing but the flesh is weak at times. But I made a deal with God, I wouldn't use my alarm clock on Sundays; if He wanted me to go to church He would wake me up early. I think waking up three hours earlier speaks volumes. Well, yesterday I was so excited and happy I was almost late. Now my church is not fancy at all; there were about 40 people max. yesterday. Three young girls (including myself), a few children, one teenage boy, and the rest are mostly much older people. But, I just absolutely love being there. I have been going there for about three months on and off as I have had a few holidays in between when I've been away. Anyway, after singing a man got up and told us that he had prayed for some scripture to share with us that morning, and he shared Psalm 34:18, which is the same verse I had written about in one of my posts about being broken. And he shared with everybody about how the Lord is close to us when we go through difficulties, and it was just lovely to hear this from someone else' perspective. Then I think the oldest man at church got up to preach and he talked about prayer. He asked us if praying was worth it, because God says that He already knows what we need before we even ask for it. And he talked about how most of us just have it all wrong, as we think that praying is about giving God directions or instructions. We have it all figured out, we know how we would solve problems perfectly so we just give God some pointers on how to get things done. He also said that some of us think that prayer is like playing the lottery, it's a lucky game. Sometimes your prayers are answered, sometimes they are not. It's all about luck, and when we are not winning, we quit, and that's when the jackpot hits! He was gently teaching us that prayer was not to direct the Lord, but to change our hearts, to be in touch with God. He closed his wrinkly eyes real tight, put up a soft fist to his face, his shoulders up to his ears and said..."Dear people, when we pray let us be really quiet, let us be good listeners, let us be sensitive to what the Lord is saying to our hearts, let's not give directions, but ask for the Lord's good will to be done in our lives." I was sitting there thinking... "Wow, what love and passion for God and His people; this old man is super cool!" Then he went on to divide the Lord's prayer, which I will do in another post otherwise this one will be too long. But, it's just good to be in the Lord's house and to know that the Lord is there among us. I also got a good deal as the pastor was preaching in Dutch, but there was a lady behind me translating the whole sermon in Spanish to another lady sitting with her. This is a funny church because I have met people that speak absolutely no dutch and don't always get a translation, or, like me don't really have peers, but you know in your heart that love is what brings this diverse group together. It's all about Jesus.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

The visitor

After I got home from work I was thinking that it would be nice to post some pictures. So, I sat at my computer and went through all my pictures. I found a lot of nice pictures but I didn't want to post any old pictures. Unbeknownst to me there was a cat snooping around in my little unkept garden. When I finally saw him and he saw me I thought, "Great, get your camera!" But, he didn't know what I was thinking of course, so he just turned around and started to walk away.

But then, he turned around to get one last look at me...

... and he soon realized that I was actually trying to get a picture, nothing more. So he sat down....

and posed....

and posed some more...

And when he had enough he said "Miauu" (ciao), and vanished...

... through the fence into the neighbors' neat garden.

Actually... now that I think on it, he might have been here before. About three weeks ago when I looked out the door I saw a dead mouse right where the cat was sitting. I didn't have a blog back then so I didn't run to get the camera. I figured he wouldn't be going anywhere and I had to figure out what I should do with it. Should I bury it, should I wrap it in papertowel, or should I put it in a paper or plastic bag. But then, a few moments later about three birds came and took the mouse away. I don't know much about cats...
I'm more of a dog person for sure, but what does that mean? When you find a dead mouse in front of your house, is it a kind gift or is it some kind of ill natured statement? He was cute though ;)

Friday, March 10, 2006

The Fool

I'm a bit low on energy right now but I heard a funny story about D.L. Moody I wanted to share.

When D. L. Moody was conducting evangelistic meetings across the country, he frequently faced hecklers who were in rather violent disagreement with his tenets. In the final service of one campaign, an usher handed the famed evangelist a note as he entered the auditorium. Supposing it to be an announcement, Moody quieted the large audience and prepared to read the notice. He opened it to find a single word: "Fool!"

The colorful preacher was equal to the occasion. Said he, "This is most unusual. I have just been handed a message which consists of but one word, the word 'fool.' I repeat, this is most unusual. I have often heard of those who have written letters and forgotten to sign their names, but this is the first time I have ever heard of anyone who signed his name and forgot to write the letter!" And, taking advantage of the situation, Moody promptly changed his sermon to the text: "The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God." --Moody Monthly

-Psalm 14:1

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

It's good to be broken

After work I got home, and turned on the radio as usual. I was listening to two pastors taking calls from people in need of prayer. These pastors are very young guys that usually get phone calls from young girls asking for dating advice, but today was different. The callers today were people that were in very difficult situations. Abusive relationships, bad marriages, pain... these were broken people. As I listened and prayed along my heart was moved by these people and their stories. You could hear the fear, the heartbreak, pain, distress, the hopelessness they felt in their voices. I couldn't help but cry along as I listened to them, but as we prayed I also had to cry of joy, because where they are right now is actually a great place to be. Job hopelessly cried out:

17:1 My spirit is broken,
my days are cut short,
the grave awaits me.

But the Lord reminds us in Psalm 34:18 that:

18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted
and saves those who are crushed in spirit.

The LORD is near to those who have a broken heart. Why? Well, I had to go and prepare dessert before I could answer this question; but I have found answers in His Word. I asked myself, if God is close to the brokenhearted, how is He with those with a proud heart? And well, I could go on and on because I found tons of verses, but I'll try to keep it simple. A lot of things seem to happen when our hearts are proud, and two important observations I made are that a proud heart corrupts our wisdom (Ezekiel 28:17), and most importantly, when our hearts are proud we will forget the Lord our God. (Deuteronomy 8:14) There is a lot more to be said about all this but; I could go on and on, but back to the the broken hearted... I think the reason the Lord is near the broken hearted is because usually when we are broken is when we realize that God alone can help us and we seek Him with a sincere heart. I think that's what the Lord desires. That we come to Him with an open heart. Psalm 51:16-17 says:

16 For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
17 The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart—
These, O God, You will not despise.

So... let us be glad when we do have a broken heart, when our spirit is broken, for the Lord promises that during those times He will be close to us. Let our hearts not be proud before the Lord that we may forget who He is and what He has done for us. I end with one last verse.

Before his downfall a man's heart is proud,
but humility comes before honor. -Proverbs 18:12

Sunday, March 05, 2006

Salu ku bolo nos ke

Nice... I just finished talking to my brother who is celebrating his 27th B-day. I didn't think I would be able to make the phone call to Spain, but then I remembered that there hasn't been a year we haven't talked on his B-day so I couldn't let this one be the first one, not this one. Right now it's raining and this morning it snowed, but that's Holland. It's a good thing I've been able to enjoy a good old fashioned Sabbath. I have just finished reading Leviticus yesterday and now I'm in the middle of Numbers. I have to be honest and say that I thought Leviticus seemed long and confusing and discouraging, especially when I got to chapter 21 which talks about the regulations for conduct of the priests. It says that no one with any defect can approach God. Then there is a list of all the defects: the blind, the lame, the brokenfooted, the brokenhanded etc. That disappointed me; in my heart I couldn't see the Lord having this heart and besides that it would totally disqualify me! But then I thought about Jesus and about how in Him we are made perfect and it reminded me to not read books such as Leviticus in a material or physical way, but always thinking of it in a spiritual way. In a way that could apply to me and my walk with God today; in balance to the New Testament. Today I listened to a great sermon by Pastor Courson on this same Chapter and he pointed to Jesus as the answer, but then he also said something that I had read before but didn't understand. He talked about how in the New Testament it says that we are called priests ourselves. I have read this in the New Testament before but everytime I read it I was like... "Oookeyyy, whatever that means..." But now, I'm blown away because I can make the connection with this and what I had been reading about in Leviticus. There were so many rules and regulations and priests had to do everything so perfect to be acceptable to God and yet here I'm told that in Jesus I am a priest! I had to look this up later on and I have indeed found many verses in the New Testament about this. I Peter 2:4-5 says: "Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ." - I can approach God Almighty and am acceptable to Him through Jesus Christ, our high priest. "Lord, your wonders are infinite." Happy Birthday Nene and God bless you!!!

Saturday, March 04, 2006

El Gaucho

We just got back from having dinner at an Argentinian Restaurant. It was very nice. We met a lively entertainer that spoke Spanish and told us jokes and sang popular South American and English songs. He even said my name during one of the songs... anyway. There were two couples celebrating their anniversary and another group was celebrating a B-day. It was a lot of fun to just sit and eat and talk and enjoy all that was happening around us. I think this picture captures the mood of the evening. We were missing my dad and Octavio but I hope we can all go out together again real soon. I'm very thankful that I can share moments like these with my family. You can click on the picture to see it bigger.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Do good and communicate

Ok, well, I know my blog name is not very exciting but there is a very simple reason for that. Yesterday while I was about to send an e-mail, I was thinking of a verse to go with my message. I decided on Hebrews 13:15. Then I read the following verse and it said, "But to do good and to communicate forget not: for with such sacrifices God is well pleased." Heb 13:16 (KJV) Other versions say "sharing", "giving to others" or "fellowship" instead of communicate. I'm no Bible scholar but I think it's about being in touch with people and this can indeed feel like a sacrifice at times. Sometimes we have to sacrifice our time to stay in touch, other times we might not even feel like it or we just forget to, but it pleases God that we take our time to communicate with one another. So, this is what this blog is about, it's for me to communicate with you, to share about what I've been pondering, what I've been up to and hopefully a lot on what the Lord has been revealing to me. Sooo, let's do good, let's communicate and enjoy!