Welcome Home, Danny!

Dany,

I hope one day you will be able to read this, and praise the Lord with me.

True love’s kiss

Daniel “Aury” Nunez is home. He was born on Tuesday, October 6th, 2020. He weighed 8 lb., and measured 21 inches. Since he was born at 11:33 pm., and because the tests he needed to be discharged had to be run at the 24-hour mark, we made it home until Thursday.

I am officially in love. I don’t think, I mean… it’s still pretty surreal that I have three children. And that I have another son 🙂

I don’t think this post will be too long, I hope not, although I do have so many things I would like to write down for my own memory’s sake. That’s why I started blogging years ago – I am very forgetful. I also want to praise God and give Him all the glory for Danny’s life, and not only for his life, but also for being my refuge and strength, my ever-present help in the time of trouble (Psalm 46:1).

I know labor has been painful since Adam and Eve disobeyed, but I have never experienced so much pain in labor like I did with Danny. We were praying faithfully during all my pregnancy that I would start labor on my own, so that I wouldn’t have to have Pitocin administered. When Libby and Enzo were born, I got to the hospital having contractions of my own, so I was not technically induced. Libby’s labor lasted for 17 hours, and I was on Pitocin for only nine; with Enzo, I labored for 8 hours also with Pitocin, and then he was born.

Danny’s story is different.

This time around, my file read something like, “Multigravida of advanced maternal age, with a history of macrosomia and shoulder dystocia.” Basically, I have had several big babies, I’m over 35, and my babies are so HUGE at birth than one actually got stuck. LOL!

9:30 am – tolerable contractions. I was still smiling 🙂

Danny’s ultrasound at 37 weeks showed he was around 7 lb. 10 oz. So I think it was pretty accurate for a test with a ±15% error. My doctor ended up suggesting to have an induction at 38 weeks due to his weight, and so when we got to the hospital that morning at 5 am., everything was running smoothly. I was a little bit nervous to have to go with the Pitocin from the very beginning of the process, but overall I was excited to meet my son that day.

I was 2 cm. dilated and 80% effaced, so the doctors (both my OBGYN and another one I saw the weekend before) were very confident that I would have a quick labor since my body had already done this before. My body would just remember, and it would be quick – or so they said. They started me on Pitocin at 6:30 am., and broke my water at 8 am. What was supposed to be a quick 6-8 hour process, ended up being 17 hours long.

I don’t think I was consciously thinking about all these things prior to the induction, but maybe they were somewhere in the back of my mind. I know that the main reason I grabbed Emerson by the arm when Enzo was born, and told him, “I am done having babies,” was because I did not want to experience that kind of pain again. As THE day approached I was very anxious for my body to do its own thing – without the Pitocin. I was scared of the pushing, and the children and all my friends were praying for peace and for a safe delivery.

There was also the anxiety of losing too much blood. I lost quite a bit with Enzo because of that drug, and the night Enzo was born I had horrible labor chills that had me shaking uncontrollably. At least now I know they are normal due to the rush of adrenaline going through your body after labor. I just didn’t want to go through all that again.

Texting with Libby @ 1:09 pm – It took 7 hours to dilate 1 cm.

I am sure all these things were playing a role on how I prayed – the things I was taking to God in prayer – and basically everything I was feeling and thinking as the induction day was approaching.

My pastor always says, “We will pray that if it is the Lord’s will, such and such will happen.”

Pastor Bray has taught me the importance of submitting to God’s will, and the fact that I cannot bend the arm of God in prayer. Ultimately, in prayer we bow down to God’s will for our lives. Prayer is not to be a way in which we try to manipulate God into giving us what we want. While we do ask things from our Father – things we need – we confidently rest upon the fact that He hears us and that He does answer with whatever is best for us.

I know this in my head, I can hear myself on repeat, “For His glory and my good, for His glory and my good.” It just never occurred to me to pray that God would give me the kind of labor that would bring Him the most glory. Honestly, I was just focused on having an easy labor, I mean, a not-so-painful-labor. I knew it was going to hurt, but again, I was sure that if my body started things on its own (like with my other two children), things would go well with me.

I’ve been thinking about the two wills of God since I came home from the hospital. This is why my brain has no rest LOL! I have a point to make here. Stay with me.

If I pray to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, of course God will grant that because that is part of His revealed will for my life. God grants my prayers to be answered when I pray according to His will. At the same time, I don’t have to go and pray whether or not God would want me to cheat on my husband, because the Lord has already revealed that I am not to do that. This is something called God’s revealed will – His commandments and precepts. On the other hand, though, there are things that come to pass that are part of God’s hidden will, or God’s will of decree. These are the things that will happen because the Lord has ordained that they will happen, like say, He predetermined that His One and Only Son would die on the cross. When Pilate, along with the Jews and the Gentiles killed Jesus, the apostles knew that God’s hand had predestined that to take place, and so they prayed accordingly (Acts 4:27-28). I hope this article from Ligonier helps explain what I am talking about.

Libby texting me @ 1:32 pm

Understanding these things has made me grasp the fact that OBVIOUSLY, it was not God’s will of decree for me to start labor on my own, otherwise I would have started labor on my own – without medicine. I prayed for it -fervently – and it didn’t happen. To say it was His will to happen, but that somehow it didn’t, would be to deny His sovereignty. He just had a different plan for my life than the one I wanted. That’s all. Again, I knew these things in my head going into the hospital, but it was really hard to deal with the realization that God did not answer my prayers the way I expected Him to answer them – specially when I was in so much pain after 12 hours of labor with Pitocin.

While I don’t know exactly why God answered my prayers in a way I did not see coming, I can look back and see that He is altogether good and wise. There was so much mercy on His part. I truly believe He prepared me before hand to go through all that. That was His grace to me.

This is what I mean.

The night before the induction, I read the Bible with the children. I usually don’t do that since I read the Bible in the mornings with them, but Emerson is following a Bible plan with them at nights. I can’t remember what Emerson was doing, but he asked me to read it with them. We read from the book of Isaiah. When we got to Isaiah 26:3-4, I couldn’t stop thinking about what I had just read.

You keep him in perfect peace

    whose mind is stayed on you,

    because he trusts in you.

Trust in the Lord forever,

    for the Lord God is an everlasting rock.

Nothing really happened after that. But after everybody went to bed, I kept thinking about it. As usual I ended up going to the bathroom around 2 am, and I sat on the couch to read that verse again. Then it just dawn on me that I had not been at peace the whole week – or the weeks leading to the induction. I was praying, but I was anxious. I wanted labor to come.

That night the Lord showed me that I had been relying on labor starting on its own as the main reason why my mind would be at peace. It was sinful for me to rely on that, instead of relying on the Lord.

Emerson took this photo around 6 pm.

I thought peace would come if labor started on its own, but it was time to call the nurse letting her know we were on our way to the hospital and labor hadn’t come, and it was very likely it wouldn’t. I wanted to be at peace so I prayed. I know I should have known better, right? I wish I could say I was always focused on the Lord, but I wasn’t. I was focused on having a baby as quickly as possible, and with the least amount of pain possible.

On our way to the hospital, I was trying to memorize those verses from Isaiah, trying to think about what they meant – how to apply their principle in my present situation. Labor didn’t come naturally for me, and I had to confess that I wanted things to be peachy… Ultimately, I asked the Lord to help my mind and my heart to be focused on Him that day. I knew (better late than never) that the reason I could be at peace was nothing other than trusting in Him.

I would say I was in good spirits until about 4 pm. They had checked me several times, but I was only about 5 cm. dilated. I was beginning to feel tired. I think my contractions were still manageable, but every time the nurse would come she would increase my Pitocin dose because I was talking through them. By the time it was 6 pm., I finally broke down. LOL!

I was sad, I was tired, and I was crying. I thought my baby was supposed to come at 2 pm. The nurses thought he was going to come at 4 pm. Nobody knew why I was progressing so slowly. My doctor had left to have dinner with her family, and she said she would probably try to come back, but that she didn’t know, so she introduced me to the doctor on call, who by the way, increased my Pitocin once more.

It’s a bunch of lies that Pitocin helps making things move faster. LOL!

Besides all the pain, I had an over-obsessed daughter texting me and inquiring of my status constantly. Never mind her Mommy, she wanted a Baby. I wanted to be mad at her, but I just couldn’t. She did’t mean anything by it. If it had been my mom, then sure. Libby, however, was so anxious to know if I had had the baby that she was truly disappointed every time she texted me and I had no baby to show her yet!

So I began crying telling Emerson that I wanted labor to come on its own, but that obviously God had other plans, and that I was in pain. I was asking him to pray for me, that God would give me endurance and perseverance. By the time it was 8 pm., I was still just at 5-6 cm. I just kept looking at the clock, and every time a contraction would come, I seriously thought I couldn’t take another one. I think those were the most painful. Emerson says I looked pale, and I did not talk anymore. He relates at some points he was afraid I was gonna pass out.

Emerson was amazing that day. He helped me so much. He would take me to the bathroom all the time, bring me water, pray for me. He would hold me and hug me. He would rub my back if I asked him to. He even pulled up my undies when I had to go to the bathroom – he was so sweet. I felt he was really there willing to serve me and support me.

So my crying lasted for about two minutes, but then, really, an overwhelming peace was there in the room – all the time. I was at peace. I felt that peace of God that transcends all understanding. My mind was at peace. I was praying that with every contraction God would help me go through one more, and one more, and one more. I really felt everybody’s prayers that night. And now that I look back, I know that God had a plan for me reading Isaiah 26:3-4 the night before. It was those verses that really got me through the whole day, and really through the last three hours.

finally home – october 8th, 2020.

In the midst of the whole ordeal, I knew His grace was sufficient for me. I knew God was there. I knew He had not abandoned me. I did feel like quitting at some points, but I knew God was taking care of me even though I didn’t exactly know the reasons why things went they way they went. So after three more hours, I couldn’t take it anymore, and I screamed, “I NEED TO PUSH!!!!”

The nurse checked me once again, and I was totally ready to push. There were like eight people in the room; a whole team ready in case this baby got stuck, and another whole team ready for the extra bleeding. Thank goodness that at 11 pm. they took away the Pitocin, and my pain stopped. That actually gave me a much needed break. I was so relieved.

I had to push three times per contraction. I don’t know why they ask you to hold your breath while you push. Anyway… I pushed nine times over the span of maybe fifteen to twenty minutes. And once Daniel’s head was out, I couldn’t hold it, and kept on yelling that I needed to keep pushing.

And so he got out – FAST – in eleven pushes!!

The doctor on call, by the way, was amazing. I am so thankful she was the one delivering my baby. She was kind with me while she was checking on me, and she was funny. She was relatable, and I had never experienced that connection with any OBGYN since my doctor, who delivered Libby and Enzo, passed away.

HI, Danny!!

Once Danny was out, I just couldn’t believe my eyes when I saw him. He looked exactly like in the ultrasound. He was perfect. He also cried a lot.

I was praying every time I had to push, and I began thanking God in the middle of it. I was just so amazed at the goodness of God for caring for me, and keeping Daniel and I safe throughout the whole day on medicine. His heart rate was always great, my blood pressure was always good. Yes, I lost blood, and had to be given medicine for that. But he didn’t get stuck!

I was exhausted, and I was starving, but I had a baby in my arms. I was able to see God’s grace plainly.

Seeing grace is not necessarily about looking to the sunny circumstances of our lives. People think they will only find grace where there’s no personal struggles or battles with sin. Grace is everywhere, as much in the difficulties and struggles of our lives as in the good times and the victories, if not more so.

Ultimately, however, if we are going to see grace, we need to look at the cross of Christ. We will need to return to the cross again and again to recalibrate our vision and refocus on the grace of God so perfectly displayed there.

Todd Wilson – Commentary on Galatians.

Being home has been great. I have felt many fears again – the same fears that were there before the pregnancy, and through the pregnancy. The temptations to fear death are still there. Hormones have been crazy, I am operating on little sleep, plus I had been worried about Danny not eating enough since he was not peeing or pooping. My milk hadn’t come in yet, he had lost weight, he was jaundiced, and yada, yada, yada…

Having Emerson and the children support me through all this has been really humbling. I broke down crying telling the children I felt like I was abandoning them because all I was doing was taking care of the baby. Libby basically said it was all in my mind. She was so sweet. She said, “Mommy, we don’t feel the way you think we feel. You think that we feel that you don’t love us, but it is all in your head. We don’t feel the way you feel we feel. We love you, and we know you love us.”

They have been so kind to me. They clean the house, they do the laundry, they pick up the dishes. Even Enzo is making quesadillas! He refuses to change a diaper, but he loves his Baby Brother. Our friends have been bringing us meals. I am so blessed.

my boys ;)

I have felt overwhelmed at times, but it’s getting better. Every time I look at the clock, it is time to feed Daniel again, and it seems like I don’t do anything anymore. Even Twitter doesn’t seem interesting anymore. LOL!

The whole first week after coming back I was reading a book on Motherhood for my Book Club, and I was crying all the time with the things I was reading. It was almost as if God were intending to bring more trials into my life.

Why would He do such a thing? Are we not done yet? I thought waiting 21 months to have this baby in my arms was enough…

I listen to myself right now, and I’m like, “Oh, Karla, will you ever learn that trusting the Lord is something that you are never done with? You need to trust in Him. Every. Single. Moment. Of. Every. Single. Day.”

It was as if God was gently, but firmly saying, “Daniel is mine. Trust me.”

So even when Danny was not peeing or pooping or whatever… there was God’s grace being renewed every morning with one more diaper, or with a humongous poop. And the book I was reading, Treasuring Christ When Your Hands Are Full, by Gloria Furman, was talking about Lamentations 3:22 – The Lord is my portion, therefore I will hope in Him.

And I began crying even more!

I knew this! I know this! Didn’t I just write a post about the book of Lamentations some weeks ago? Okay, so, now the Baby is out of my womb… Would I trust the Lord? Is He my portion?

The book said, Nothingnothing happens without the sovereign Lord’s ordaining it. He is trustworthy and praiseworthy in every circumstance. God is the one who has created this child, and God has far more intentions to glorify Himself through this kid than I could ever dream up. God made this child for Himself – for His name’s sake. Every mitochondrion in his little body exists for God’s glory. The Lord knew my child’s destiny before the sperm ever met the egg. He commands his destiny from before the foundations of the world. He knows the number of his days, and no part of his story surprises Him. He is the God to whom we actively, daily entrust our children. The sovereign Lord of the universe deserves my faith-filled acknowledgement of His ownership of my kids. We all belong to our Creator.”

I think I could go on and on talking about how happy we are that we have Danny home. Everybody is thrilled that we have a baby in the house. He is such a blessing and we cannot praise the Lord enough for his life. I will finish this post, though, with Emerson’s side of Danny’s story. I want to preserve that for the future 🙂

Danny,

On February, 2019, I took a little trip to Singapore and India. While I was there, I took a stroll to the neighborhood where we used to live. We used to spend all our time together when we lived there, and many memories came back. We had a lot of fun, and it was a great place to live. We would see the sunrise and the sunset on most days because we had a terrace in our building. When I was there, I felt so guilty.

I saw Enzo’s videos from when he was two years old, and I remember we were so frustrated because he was disobedient and angry all the time, and tossing things. But now that I looked back, I felt so guilty… he was only two, he was a little boy. I called Mommy, and I told her about it. She said she knew I was feeling guilty, and she read to me Psalm 103.

I guess the Lord had been working in my heart already, but that Psalm and also looking back at Enzo and Libby when they were little, made me think it had been a mistake. It was not the right decision to make on 2012 when I had a vasectomy. We thought, “We are done, our family is complete, and we don’t want any more kids. When we are 47, our children will leave the house, and we will be free. We are still young and we will enjoy our lives.”

But the more and more I read the Scriptures, the more I saw that children are a blessing from the Lord. We were thinking more like the world than biblically.

On the way back from India, I took a 17-hour flight from Doha to Houston, and I sat down next to a mommy with a little girl. That baby was holding my finger, and she reminded me so much of your sister, her big brown eyes, very cute and tender. I felt even more conviction from the Lord. I thought, “What did I do? This was a mistake…”

So upon my return, and after praying more, I scheduled a vasectomy reversal. On May, I had surgery, and we prayed that if indeed it was the Lord’s will, that Mommy would get pregnant, but it was not happening. On January 2020, I traveled again, and we had missed the window, but we tried anyway. The Lord, in his grace and his mercy got Momma pregnant, and nine months later, here you are in my arms. You were supposed to be born today (October 20th), but you were born two weeks earlier because you are big.

You are gorgeous, you are a little angel, and your Daddy loves you very much. And I’m probably gonna make mistakes like I did with Enzo and with Libby, but it’s gonna be mostly your fault.

I love you. I love you, Son.

What else can I say?

From the beginning of Daniel’s life, God has glorified Himself. I never thought Emerson would come home after a trip telling me he wanted to have more babies. However I think about it, God knew this was His plan for our lives, for our family, even before we began praying for it. We actually prayed for it because God put that desire in my husband’s heart.

And so my book, where it says, “Nothingnothing happens without the sovereign Lord’s ordaining it. He is trustworthy and praiseworthy in every circumstance. God is the one who has created this child, and God has far more intentions to glorify Himself through this kid than I could ever dream up.” – this keeps reminding me of God’s goodness, and His purposes.

It all has been for His glory, and my good. For His glory and my good. The surgery, the waiting, the pain during labor – everything – was worth it.

I pray we will get to see Daniel grow into a young man who loves the Lord.

In the meantime, he’s hanging out with his siblings whenever he is awake 🙂

reviewing latin/spanish vocabulary. october 21, 2020.

Rachel Jankovic, on Baptists

This is a very long comment I posted on a Facebook thread . I had to divide it in three parts because FB said it was longer than 8,000 characters LOL!

The comment had to do with a video that Rachel Jankovic, who I really like by the way, posted regarding Parenting. You may want to watch the video here so that you know what my comment was all about. I am just saving it for my own personal records, since Emerson jokes around saying I write Chapter Books instead of texts.

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Somebody commented that my words had blessed her, and that meant a lot. My friend Katey from church also commented on it. You might think I’m just babbling, but the fact that women can actually interact with each other in conversations like this is proof that:

  1. Women are super smart. Not that I was doubting it, but many seem to assume we want to talk about our feelings all the time, having it all dumbed down, and therefore, many Women’s Ministries in the Church just exist to give us milk – or less than milk. We want meat. Although I can’t generalize, I can say that there are many women who want solid teaching – not weak sauce. Also, lest you misinterpret me, my smarts don’t give me the right to disobey the Lord, and therefore preach on Sunday morning or exercise authority over men. Let’s be perfectly clear about that.
  2. Women (and I will argue Moms) need theology. We need theology to raise our children. We need theology when our children get sick, when our children disobey for the hundredth time of the day, or when our husband dies. We need to constantly be looking to Jesus – the founder and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:1-2).

I wish I can explain every single one of my points here, but I can’t. Also, if you happen to be reading and I sound like I am talking Chinese, take heart. This also would have sounded like Chinese to me five years ago. I just want to encourage you to know there are wonderful resources out there, and I hope I can link some of those at the end.

So watch the video first. And here we go:

I began reading about Covenant Theology because the Presbys (on a Presbyterian meme page) were always making fun of the Reformed Baptists saying we cannot be really Reformed. Which granted, being Reformed in your Soteriology (aka, you are Calvinist) doesn’t mean you’re thoroughly Reformed. Like say, John Piper is Calvinist, but he is not Reformed. 

And I think Rachel is coming on this video with her understanding of Covenant Theology as a Presbyterian, and how their children are to be considered part of the Covenant. In my understanding, a truly converted Presbyterian couple is in the Covenant, right? Therefore, they baptize their babies assuming that their children are IN the Covenant, too. They do this just the way parents circumcised their children in the Old Testament. Parents in the OT assumed their children were part of the Covenant God made with Israel. Eventually, though, those parents had to recognize that a child of Israel may not be a true Israelite. This is exactly the point Paul is making in Romans 9 – that not all Israel is Israel. There was a true Israel within visible, ethnic Israel. I think that’s why Rachel says that eventually they would have to kick them out of fellowship if the children show no signs of true conversion. So I think that’s her presupposition to begin with since she’s Presbyterian. 

So I got angry at the memes 😂😂 and I bought a book that’s published by Founders Ministries written from a Reformed Baptist Covenant Theology perspective. After reading that book, I understood my position even better. The book gave words to what I actually believe because I have seen it in the Scriptures. The way I see Covenant Theology as a Reformed Baptist is very different than Rachel’s, and there’s no way I can elaborate on the whole book, LOL! 

But as I understand, the New Covenant was bought by Jesus’ blood. That means God made a Convent with His Son in eternity past (Covenant of Redemption) in which the Son would come to buy A people. Now, that developed in history in different dispensations, if you want to call them that, but the people is A people from every nation, and tongue, and there is no way that you know someone is IN the New Covenant unless that person repents and puts faith in Chrsit.

That CALLING happens in time, but it was PREDESTINED in eternity past. So if Chrsit bought you by His blood, you ARE in the New Covenant – you are CHOSEN (that’s precisely the L in TULIP), even though it takes time for you to realize that. So in that sense, I have always been a sheep. It’s not that I was a goat, and then I became a sheep. I have always been a sheep, but I had never HEARD Jesus’ voice calling me until I was 23 y.o. – that’s the language John uses in John 10.

So Chrsit did not die to make my salvation depending on my “free will” a mere possibility, but He actually bought my faith and my repentance at the cross, to make sure that I would eventually come (which is the I in TULIP). The father gave A people to the Son and those and only those will come. Those are the ELECT. That’s why Jesus said those who the Father gives to me will come to me… that’s why Jesus said to the Pharisees that they were not His sheep, and the reason they didn’t believe is not because they didn’t see, but because even though the saw everything he was doing, they were not of His sheep, and therefore didn’t believe. 

That’s just the beginning of my argument LOL!

So THAT being said, I can’t assume my children are IN the Covenant. Given my understanding on Covenant Theology, and what the New Covenant represents, I can’t assume my children are IN that Covenant unless they profess faith in Chrsit. She seems to assume her children are IN the Covenant. So we have to disagree on that. Not on whether or not the children are ELECT (they might as well be), but whether or not we can assume they are.

But I do see her point, because when I realized TULIP was biblical, I was enraged. And for a long time I was in the cage stage, which happened at the same time that Enzo was at his worst, and so it was very tempting for me to say, “This child is a reprobate” LOL! 

I was not saying, “This child is unregenerate.” I was given to despair and doubt and saying he was not of the elect since I didn’t see any fruit in him at all. Maybe, and I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt on that, that’s what she’s talking about. Maybe she’s talking about Baptist parents who see their children do not produce fruit right away, and they give up as in “You are not saved, you‘re never gonna be saved”.

I was always thinking, “Are they saved? They sinned again, even though the say they believe. Maybe they are not truly Christians, blah, blah…” And it was exhausting, because I was always crying. Maybe that’s what she is referring to. 

Fast forward, God has worked in my heart to know that their ELECTION into the New Covenant is not my choice, nor their choice, but His choice. I’m sure Rachel will agree with that. I feel more comfortable teaching the children from the Scriptures all these realities and saying to them, “Look, God bought A people, and I pray and pray that you are part of those people. But the only thing I can do is share the gospel with you and call you to repentance. I can’t change your heart. I can’t give you light, I can’t open your eyes. When you sin, I can’t see whether o not the Holy Spirit is in you, but I’m calling you to examine yourselves.”

I am sure Rachel will also agree with that. I personally don’t think I am putting doubt in their minds. Yes, I was doubting as a parent, but not anymore. I know their salvation is not of me, and therefore I can’t assume it either just because I am raising them in a Christian household.

I am pregnant, right? As I see the Scriptures, this baby in my womb is an enemy of God. He is going to be born as a God-hater. He already is. Like, you don’t have to go far to know they will disobey, and they will rebel, right? 

Libby was listening to pastor Bray like a month ago, and at the end of the sermon she broke down crying cause I think she put 2+2 together, and said, “What if Baby is not of the elect? It’s right there in the Scriptures, Mommy. It’s a true possibility.”

And Pastor John called her and said, “That’s is true. BUT I have a lot of hope for Baby Daniel because God works through means. He calls His people though the proclamation of the gospel, and I’m sure that Baby Daniel will hear the gospel since Day 1. He has already been hearing the gospel, and you are praying for him, too. Baby Daniel has already an advantage over many other children in the world, because he is born into a family who loves the Lord, a family who will read him the Bible, a family who will pray for his salvation. So while we don’t know for sure, we have many reasons to rejoice and hope that God will indeed save him.”

But that doesn’t mean I’m gonna baptize Daniel just on the assumption that God will CALL him, you know what I mean? 

I agree with her in everything – almost. But I disagree with her first comment that I am teaching my children to doubt Chrsit. On the contrary, I think I am teaching my children to be realistic about their spiritual condition. I am teaching them to examine themselves to see if they are in the faith,  and trust that if Chrsit is really IN them, then the Holy Spirit will testify TO THEM (not to me) that they are children of God.

If Chrsit is IN them, they will love Christ, they will experience conviction of sin, they will weep when their Lord is blasphemed, they will love God’s people. I have grown in this area, too. God has testified to MY Spirit that I am saved, that I am truly one of the Elect. You can know you are one of God’s chosen ones. People who misunderstand Calvinism always attack this issue. And I’m not saying this in pride, but you can actually know you are CHOSEN because the Scriptures teach us to see these beautiful realities. God did not reveal these doctrines so that we will be doubting, but so that we can be confident and be assured of our salvation, knowing that what He starts, He finishes (the P in TULIP). 

I can say, “Well, Rachel, you are teaching your children to over confide in Chrsit because of their baptism.”

She seems to assume that 1 John, and walking in the light means salvation or fellowship with God. The child in my womb is in darkness, he is dead in sin and trespasses. Until God raises him from the death and grants him repentance and faith, he is blind, he is of the devil. He has a heart of stone, not a heart of flesh. Those are Scriptures terms, not mine. If you know your Bible, you know those verses.

Does Rachel mean I am still called to love that child dearly, and teach him the LAW so that they can say, “My family loves the Lord and they are teaching me how to obey the Lord.”? 

If she means that by being in fellowship, then yes, I am raising my children that way. I am not only gonna teach my 2 year-old, that He is God’s enemy and that God hates evil doers, therefore God hates him – although that is true to some extent (Psalm 5, Romans 5). But I am also going to teach him that God died for His enemies, and for those who hated Him, that God is full of compassion.

So I have to preach the FULL gospel. Am I making sense? I am not going to wait until my child has a conversion experience to teach him Law and Gospel, or to teach him that breaking God’s Law will bring punishment. However, all the teaching, I will be doing it that under the assumption that all my toiling work is like planting seeds. I can’t assume God will bring the rain. But while I can’t have the assurance that the Lord will bring salvation, I can be faithful as a parent, and do MY part. I can preach the gospel, take the weeds out when I see them, pray for them, raise them in His ways, and then IF the Lord chooses to bring down the rain, everything is already in place. I toiled for it, and He gave me the perseverance in doing it, but bringing down the rain is still His choice.

I am not NOT going to do all these things just because I don’t know if the Lord WILL. My job as a mom is to do ALL those things, for His glory, even if HE does not save them. As painful as it might be, I know I will still hear, “Well done, good and faithful servant” because it is about MY faithfulness in doing what He required of me as a parent. My faithfulness has nothing to do with whether He saves them or not.

When she mentions Ephesians 6, I agree. I am training them in His ways, and I don’t even have to assume their salvation. I am training them, and I do it with joy. I am not gonna raise Daniel telling him he’s not chosen or that he might as well not even obey cause who knows if he is one of the elect. I will teach him to love the Lord, and to sing praises to Him. I’ll teach him that God is good, and compassionate, and kind and faithful, and mighty – and HOLY. 

So who knows the kind of Baptists she is talking about. LOL! 

Libby and Enzo will officially be recognized as part of the church if they get baptized and begin having the Lord’s Supper. We were doing Lord’s Supper with them until Pastor Bray told us that was not biblical since they had not been baptized. He also explained us why. Even if they are baptized, and they continue to live in sin, Pastor Bray will withhold the Lord’s Supper from them, and will start church discipline. So Baptists, we also remove people from fellowship. I am shepherding my children to be about Christ – their whole identity. But even though they are being raised as part of the visible church, I cannot assume they are or will be part of the actual Bride. Does that makes sense? 

There’s a danger on her side, too. She can see her children sin, and assume they are believers because she’s training them that way, and they really aren’t, so she will have to remove them at some point. We, as Reformed Baptists, will remove them, too – even though they are baptized later. We will excommunicate them, until they repent, and then we vote to bring them according to Matthew 18. I mean, the process doesn’t have to go that far. It can stop short of removing them from the church if they repent.

Anyhow, that’s why I am in agreement that faithful parents, either Presbyterian or Baptist, can look very similar. I will say I am in that category in which both parents eventually will have to get them out of the church if they continue to walk in sin.

I am glad she mentioned the dangers of her position with parents who baptized them and never deal with the sin in their children, or Baptists who might assume a child cannot know the love of Christ. I would say, my children may not totally understand everything, but my job as a mom is to show them Christ in my parenting: grace, faithfulness, discipline, etc.

Maybe by KNOWING Christ, she means teaching them to love Christ?

Again, I don’t believe my baptized infant child knows Christ, because you actually KNOW Chrsit until you come to him in repentance and faith. 

Also, sinning does not equate not knowing Christ, if it did, then I don’t know Christ because I sin everyday. So maybe she’s talking about the parent who’s obsessed with their child walking in obedience always. Like the parent that wants perfection in their children, and freaks out when they are not perfect, and therefore doubts their salvation?

I agree, I am a sheepdog, bringing them back. Spanking them is how I bring them back LOL! One of the many ways anyway… so I do see her point.

I do believe she may have painted with a broad brush putting all Baptists in her category of how Baptists raise their children. Maybe she should hang out with us, cause we are Reformed Baptists, who are also Covenantal, although the memes might disagree. 

I’m gonna stop right there. It took me very long. Sorry about that! But this is a public forum, and I officially said I disagree with Rachel Jankovic… I needed to explain at least why.

I honestly like her a lot. I don’t think she meant wrong. I think she may have assumed many things about Baptists, in which case, she needs better Baptist friends, or actually, she needs Reformed Baptist friends, LOL!

THE END

RESOURCES

Those are not all, but it is a good place to start 🙂

On memorizing Scripture

The children and I have been working on memorizing big chunks of Scripture lately. I found that Libby was able to memorize a ton of stuff one day when she came back from school. She quoted this “prophecy” from a book about dragons she was reading with her friend in second grade.

The Lost Continent

Turn your eyes, your wings, your fire

To the land across the sea

Where dragons are poisoned and dragons are dying

And no one can ever be free.

A secret lurks inside their eggs.

A secret hides within their book.

A secret buried far below

May save those brave enough to look.

Open your hearts, your minds, your wings

To the dragons who flee from the Hive.

Face a great evil with talons united

or none of the tribes will survive

Wings of Fire Series

When I heard her reciting all that without skipping a beat, I thought, “And here I am thinking you should only memorize one cute little Bible verse at the time.”

Last year – I kid you not – the three of us memorized Genesis 1. The whole chapter. It took us like a month. But like they said, Use It or Loose It.  We lost it. So this year, I’m trying to strategize better.

What we do is that I read the section we are to memorize. I explain it to them word by word so they know what it means, and get familiar with the context. Then we memorize one or two verses, depending on how long they are. The next day we go back to the verses we already know, we recite them again, and we memorize a new one. And we keep on going like that until we finish the section.

I got this idea from a podcast that you can listen to right here. I have modified this method to the way my brain works, because I memorize better by reading the text, instead of by listening to the text.

Enzo is a listener, but Libby has to see what she is memorizing. Somehow the Lord is working it all out for us. This school year, I am happy to say we haven’t lost anything so far. We are spending time reviewing the verses that we had already memorized every ten days or so. As a reward for reciting them all, I give them extra time watching shows or candy.

They will do anything for extra candy.

Doing this seems like a lot of work, and it might be, but this method has actually been very helpful for us – even for Enzo – who is the most distracted 8 year-old that I know. He is a boy. He is always moving and jumping around. He seems to never be paying attention, and this drives me crazy. I just want him to sit down and listen – without even blinking. But in these eleven weeks of school, we have memorized Psalm 1, Philippians 2:3-11, Philippians 3:1-11, and Philippians 4:4-9.

In my own personal time I have memorized the first chapter of Philippians and Philippians 2:1-16ish. And I’m stuck there because I am not disciplined.

If you take the time to listen to the podcast, this women will say that memorizing Scripture this way is very powerful. It has served them well in counseling women. When you have stored in your heart not just one verse here, or one verse there – but whole sections of the Bible – you will be better equipped to pray for others, pray for yourself, and for understanding the context of a given Bible verse.

Consider this example from social media:

KJV Bibles Store on Twitter: ""God is in the midst of her; she shall not be  moved: God shall help her, and that right early." Psalm 46:5 #KJV  #bibleverse… https://t.co/MuhmSQgQFG"

It is true. It’s in the Bible, so I believe it. An image like that, however, may make the reader think that the SHE in this Bible verse is talking about a woman. We, women, want to be strong. We don’t want to be moved. Some Bible versions say WITHIN HER, so that works out even better to convey the message, I guess.

God is in ME [within ME], therefore I shall not be moved. 

When you go read Psalm 46, though, you will realize that the SHE in verse 5 is not talking about YOU – an individual woman in need of self-confidence.

Psalm 46 talks about God being the refuge and strength for those in trouble. It encourages us not to fear though the earth gives way or though the mountains move into the heart of the sea. And why shouldn’t we fear? We don’t fear because the holy city of God is inhabited by Him. God is in the midst of HER (the city), and SHE (the city) shall not be moved. God will help HER (the city) when morning dawns (Psalm 46:4-5).

I am willing to be corrected if I am wrong. I just find it extremely hard to believe Martin Luther  wrote A Mighty Fortress Is Our God while thinking about a woman.

As Dr. Steve Lawson writes in his blog:

It was 1527, and the bubonic plague was sweeping through Europe. This vicious epidemic brutally struck the country of Germany.  A large number of deaths occurred because of the plague. People were living in fear. Many were escaping town in search of safety. The issue for Luther was: should he flee for the health of his family and his own preservation?  Or should he stay and minister to those who remained and expose himself to the deadly disease?

Luther made the difficult decision to stay in order to shepherd the German people. With his wife Katy, Luther turned their house into a hospital for the dying. Tragically, their young three-year-old son Hans contracted the disease and nearly died. During this season, Luther became so overwhelmed mentally and emotionally that he fainted at the dinner table more than once and had to be carried to his bed.

It was in the middle of this grim situation that Luther anchored himself to Psalm 46. In a time of weakness and pestilence, Luther wrote “A Mighty Fortress is our God” as a testimony to the strength he found in the Lord Himself. One of the verses of this famous hymn reads, “A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing/Our helper, He amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing.”

It was Psalm 46 that gave Luther the inner strength he needed during this devastating plague. This psalm begins, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (verse 1). Here, we see two profound truths, that God is both all-powerful and all-present.

As the psalmist writes this, the city of Jerusalem is surrounded by enemy forces, undergoing a siege. There was a very-present threat––foreign armies that threatened Israel’s very existence. God was ultimately the walled fortress around the psalmist, protecting, preserving, and empowering him.

The same is true in our lives. God remains our refuge and our strength. It is in times of our weakness when we should turn to Him with the greatest trust. God is all-powerful, and He ever promises to uphold us. 

So, can this be applied to me as a woman? Sure. And it can also be applied to a man because, again, the psalmist is talking of HER as the people of God. THEY shall not be moved. You can see the application of Psalm 46:5 here.

So when I see images like that on social media, I really struggle in assuming the best of people. Who knows who makes those images, right? But I see them everywhere. There are so many false teachers who love to make us, women, the center of the universe when we are not. GOD IS.

In short, this is why we are memorizing big chunks of Scripture this year. We want to honor the Word of God, and that includes not twisting it to satisfy our fleshly passions.

I was hoping to go into how memorizing Scripture this way has been particularly helpful for me as I am studying the Book of Philippians with a commentary in the mornings. But I guess I will have to write another post on why we should go hard after Christ.

Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.

Philippians 3:12

Enzo is 7 :)

We’ve been doing mostly “fun” stuff, although the children might not realize that it is actually fun. I enjoyed going to The Alamo, and learning about the Battle of Gonzalez. I checked out at least ten books from the library (if not more), and then we religiously study them so that we would know what we were looking at when we went to the missions of Texas.

3

The Alamo

 

I think that reading a book is fun if you later go and see what you read about. That doesn’t apply to everything, though. I am reading about Marxism, Socialism, and Communism, mostly to be able to explain to them that we hear on podcasts here and there. Sometimes I get bored and I want to quit, but I want to be able to explain to Libby and Enzo why children under eighteen years old are not legally allowed to be taught about Jesus in China.

What does it mean that China is a totalitarian state? What does it mean that there are presidential candidates in the U.S. that actually would want to take away the tax-exemption status from organizations that do not cheer the LBGTQ+ agenda? What is the worldview of those candidates? What philosophies are vibrant in the culture that God has planted us in? How can you recognize buzzwords like patriarchy, oppression, racism, deconstructing, and misogyny? What do they mean? What worldview do they come from?

I am so thankful that I am able to use my own spiritual gifts to train them to think critically. Of course, in my ideal world, we talk about all these interesting issues while learning about Math and History, but the thing is Enzo cannot sit still for five minutes during Catechism and Bible. There are many tears in some of our days lately because, in his words, I ruin most of them by telling him what to do.

God is teaching me patience. I’ve had a photo of Enzo in my office since he was three years old. Our trials were different back then, but this is still a season that God is using to grow me, and I am sure Enzo is growing, too.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

James 1:2-8 (v2)

 

6

2015

 

I read an article in Ligonier that explains that the concept of rejoicing during trials is the idea of reckoning or considering. We are to consider what we are going through as a matter of joy, not because the thing itself is something that is pleasurable, but because tribulation works patience within us. Our suffering is not an exercise in futility. God has a purpose, and that purpose is always good. In order to be able to count it all joy, I have to be able to trust God.

Do I have that kind of confidence in the sovereignty and goodness of God? Do I look to Christ in the midst of my sufferings, or do I tend to focus on the present situation until I are consumed by it?

I want to trust God with my life and the life of my children, and I am very happy and thankful that He has allowed me to parent Enzo these seven years. They have not been easy, but I wouldn’t change a thing. All things will work out for good for those who love God, for those who have been called according to His purpose 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

White-Qadhi Dialogue

I hope you find these videos interesting: Dialogue 1, Dialogue 2

We – Muslims and Christians – need to learn to dialogue like this.

 

To Muslims, on Ramadan

I’ve been hesitant about whether or not to write this post. There’s pain involved – my pain and others’ – and I’m not sure I will be able to communicate exactly how I feel. But being Ramadan, I felt compelled to write this piece. It will be long for sure. I wanted to share this for the sake of my own memory keeping. It’s easier to write down my thoughts once they’ve been processed.

I know some things about Ramadan. I spent a Ramadan in India. I wanted to fast with my friends, but I just didn’t seem to have the guts. I know it is one of the pillars of Islam. I know it is a time to get closer to Allah, and that Muslims abstain from food, drink, and sex to purify their souls. They feed the poor and the homeless. They make a big deal out of family. They help each other and the community. They pray. They give.

If you’re Muslim, I say to you, “Go for it”

Fast. Pray. Thank God for what He has given you. I love the idea of you wanting to please the Lord of the universe – The Creator of this world who is above all names. The God who made this Earth – so immense and full of glory. I love the idea of celebrating Him and Him only. I love the idea of worshipping Him with all our might.

Make no mistake, though, you will never be able to earn God’s favor. So watch your motives this Ramadan. I pray the LORD will reveal His glory to you this month. That’s exactly why I want to share what has been of me during the past few months: I’ve been in counseling.

I’ll skip you the details of how I got there, but there were some behaviors towards my spouse, and my children that were not right, or good, or healthy. I did not know this, of course. I thought my spouse was the only one in the wrong, and I wanted his behaviors to change. I was angry, but mostly sad – heartbroken. A friend who came alongside me encouraged me to get some help. So I did.

I was terrified of going to counseling. I think I had a panic attack while driving one night. I couldn’t take a deep breath. What am I gonna do? That is all I could think of. I had no idea about my future or my children’s future. I could only see what my fear was allowing me to see – a divorce. I mean, what else, right? If you go to counseling, and your husband doesn’t ever change… What did that mean? It obviously means he doesn’t love you enough to change.

Right?

I cried myself to sleep some nights thinking I was a liar. I had lied to my children… All those times in which I had told them Mommy and Daddy would be together forever might not be fulfilled. But what was I going to do as a divorced woman? I did not work. I had forsaken every single thing that could have allowed me to work. Plus, I was in a country that was not even my own. If I divorced my husband, that meant I was getting out of the country. Would I then stay with him just for my children? And I was so fearful of everything. Of every possible outcome. Then, if we divorced… my parents, his parents.

Oh, God! What was I going to do?

Why would God be doing this to me?  Maybe I didn’t pray enough. I always said I’d pray more for my marriage or my children, but I end up forgetting to pray more. Maybe I didn’t have enough faith. Maybe God was just testing my faith. Maybe I just had to persevere… Persevere? Doing what? I didn’t like my situation…

I just read an article this morning so full of everything I am feeling. You can read the original article here.

You might be feeling that if Jesus really cared so much for your comfort, then you would not be dealing with such pain. But that is not true. What is true is that you likely prefer the comfort that comes from the absence of discomfort, while Jesus prefers you to have the ultimate comfort of your holiness.

So while you might feel frustrated over a very uncomfortable situation you’re being forced to deal with, Jesus is actually pursuing your long-term comfort through that very situation.

That did not make sense six months ago. That Jesus wanted to achieve something in me through pain. Yet, in my counselor’s office, there’s a plaque that says:

Every true strength is gained through struggle.

The article continues:

If you’re a Christian, you are a disciple of Jesus. And by necessity, a disciple undergoes discipline. If a disciple is a student, then discipline is training. Jesus’s discipline for you, however severe (and it is severe at times), is not God’s wrath against you. If you are tempted to believe that, don’t. It’s your unbelief or the Enemy talking to you.

No, discipline is training. Training in what? Training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). The unique training course that Jesus has designed for you (he designs a unique course for each disciple) has one great aim: to teach you to trust him in everything. That’s his goal for you. Jesus wants you to learn to trust in him in all things at all times. For the more you trust Jesus, the holier you become.

And this is horrible. It has felt terrible at times. To trust God in everything…

Fearful, yes, but I went to counseling. Alone. I thought my marriage needed help. I needed help. I needed perspective. Hands down, it has been one of the best decisions of my life.

Of course, I wanted my counselor to tell me if I was gonna end up having a divorce. Or for her to tell me if the situation that had led me to finally look for help was really that bad. Maybe it wasn’t that bad, you know? Maybe I was overreacting, or maybe I was making a big deal of something that was not a big deal.

During my very first session I learned that I am prone to make idols of things or people. And that was so weird. My counselor said, “If you cannot say NO to something or someone, you have made an idol out of that thing”. She then told me to go, and ask the Lord to reveal things to me. I was supposed to do that for the next week. Just to ask the Lord.

“Why do I make idols, God?  Why do I get in these kind of relationships? Why do I feel the need to rescue or care for people?”. 

I kid you not, the word CODEPENDENCY came to my mind. I am familiar with the word because my sister has always said my mom is codependent. I had no idea of what that word entailed, though. And, of course,  I never thought it would involve me. But after reading about it, I realized the condition fits me quite well. Like a 100%

I have always felt that I’m stupid. That I am unworthy. That I am a failure. That I am not enough. I have always felt the need for approval and recognition, the need to control people, and how dreadful it is to make a simple decision. I know about low self-esteem, and compulsive behaviors like trying to be the best mom, or the best cook, or the best wife. Always trying to find purpose in something outside of myself because it helped me to avoid dealing with myself. Pleasing people.

It’s taken me some time to read about codependency, and the reasons that drive my behaviors – specially with my husband and my children. My family of origin played obviously a big part on that. My dad is an addict, and my mom has always enabled him. I can’t generalize a whole culture based on my childhood experiences, but my culture revolves very much around shame.

 I lived in a very dysfunctional family where pain, and anger, and fear – feelings in general – were not to be expressed. There was never confrontation. I learned to repress my emotions, and disregard my own needs. I became a survivor. I developed behaviors that helped me deny, ignore or avoid difficult emotions. I don’t think I had every trusted anyone for real – not even my husband. Just until recently I thought self-control was meant to be swallowing what you were feeling. Stuffing it deep down inside you, and you never talk about it. That was not right.

But that’s how I learned to do life. I asked my counselor, “Where is God in all this? Where has He been?”. She said, “What do you mean? He is in the middle of it…”

I did not understand what she meant at that point, but little by little it’s beginning to make sense that God IS the One revealing all these things to me. He is the One guiding me through all this process. And I’ve been given the opportunity to face who I am – to know who I really am. I heard a sermon the other day in which Rich Nathan said that we really are worse than we think. But God loves us more than we can ever imagine.

Also, God has been singing a lot of songs to me. With me, I think. So I will share many of those lyrics…
Why are you striving these days? Why are you trying to earn grace?
Why are you crying? Let me lift up your face. Just don’t turn away.
Why are you looking for love? Why are you still searching as if I’m not enough?
To where will you go child? Tell me where will you run, to where will you run?

Idols. My husband. My children. My friends. It all made sense. I am always trying to make people happy. Somehow I grew up like this. Trying not to rock the boat. It has become clearer than water that all I have ever wanted is for someone to love me. And the need for love has been so great that I went way too far in so many relationships to make that happen. I would lose myself – if that makes sense – so that other’s would love me.

It was painfully obvious with my husband. He never asked for this, but I put him on a throne. The throne that God deserved. I was expecting my husband to fulfill something that God did not create him to fulfill. I was setting my husband for failure really – expecting him to make me happy and to satisfy my most deepest need for love.

Dear God, won’t you please…  Could You send someone here who would love me?

Who  would love me for me, not for what I have done or what I would become. Who would love me for me… ’cause nobody has shown me what love really means.

I know you’ve murdered, and I know you have lied… And I watched you suffer all of your life. And now that you listen, I will tell you that I – I will love you for you. Not for what you have done or what you will become. I will love you for you, I will give you the love, the love that you never knew.

What love really means

After my first session – that obviously rocked my world – I told my husband that I was going to start making changes for me, and that I hoped that we could really have a good relationship, and work through the challenges that lied ahead. I said I did not want to be afraid anymore of anybody or anything. I was going to follow God wherever He would lead, even if that meant that our relationship would have to come to and end. I never felt that God was telling me to divorce my husband – let me be clear about that.

The Lord has been very gracious to me, showing me that it was not my husband who needed to change, but me. Mainly ME. It was liberating to see that this person I thought was perfect, was so imperfect. It opened my eyes to the fact that I had been trying to get my worth based on my husband, or my children, or my friends. On what people thought of me. Counseling has really changed my life. The Lord is changing my life through it.

God has shown me that even when I had been so unfaithful to Him (basically breaking the Shema Yisrael, and the first three commandments since EVER), He still wanted ME. God wanted ME. He was pursuing me. He was like a husband in love with His Bride.

And I was His Bride! 

I have always wanted someone to love me like this. And I was so angry at God, because this love that He was offering to me, I wanted it. Yes. But I wanted it from my husband. I wanted to be everything to my husband. God showed me, very gently, that I would always be disappointed if I kept on expecting this from my spouse. That was not my spouse’s role. He was not meant to make me happy. That was not what marriage was all about. Marriage meant something much deeper. Marriage was about intimacy.

An intimacy that I had never had – not even with my husband. Intimacy meant more than sex. Intimacy meant feeling wholly accepted just the way I was. Marriage was a mirror, like a reflection of the intimacy God wanted to have with me. But all those dreams, and hopes and expectations were for the Lord to fulfill – not my husband. I would keep hitting a wall if I expected somebody else to fulfill them. Only the LORD was perfect to meet and surpass my expectations of love.

Another thing was I didn’t even know who I was. And I’m still learning. I know this might sound weird, but it’s difficult for me to know what I like or dislike. I was raised to mirror everybody else. I am afraid of making mistakes,  I’m afraid of being rejected. I was rejected as a child. I felt rejected by the people who were supposed to love me the most – my parents. I was abused emotionally. It’s difficult to say those words because maybe it wasn’t that bad. I’ve tried to find memories – good memories – but it is so difficult. I cannot remember my dad telling me he loved me while sober. And I cannot remember my mom not being worried, or angry, or crying, or yelling, or taking care of him. And it hurts.

But it was bad.  Yes, it was that bad. It was not okay. It was not normal to go through what I went through. No child should ever need to hear a parent calling her stupid. No child should ever have to beg for forgiveness from a parent. No child should ever have to wake up in the middle of the night, and decide if she should stay with her dad or go with her mom. I think I faced these feelings and for the first time I said, “Yes. It hurts. And no, it was not okay.”

I had never done that before.

Do you dream of a home you never had?

An innocence that you cannot get back

The pain is real. You can’t erase it. Sooner or later you have to face it down. Down.

You have to face it down.

You are loved.

Do you keep your thoughts inside your head? Will you regret the things you never said? You have a voice. You have to use it. You have a choice. Don’t let them shut you down. Down. Don’t let them shut you down

You are loved

Do you feel the ache inside your soul? You know you’ll never make it on your own.
Sorrow is too great for you to hold it. You’re gonna break. Why don’t you lay it down?
Freedom comes in letting go. Open up the window to your heart.

Freedom comes in letting go. Open up your heart.

Loved

Why would you want to be with me, God? Don’t you know who I am?

I cannot relate to a loving father. Let me be fair. I know my dad loves me – in whatever his idea of love is. I give him that. But then you tell me about a Heavenly Father who loves me. Uh… I know what the Bible says. I know.  It is the very first time that I am experiencing this kind of love, though.

God also has revealed to me that I know nothing about unconditional love. I grew up learning behaviors, and I made them my own to survive. Making people feel guilty, putting people down in order to feel better myself, I manipulated and controlled others. I basically knew emotional blackmail very well. I have blamed others for my lack of self control, and I have let others abuse me. I have tried to fill my need for love and acceptance the best way I had known so far. I don’t forgive. I always remember so that I can bring it back.

God has been been so very gentle and sweet while giving me a reality check of who I am now. I feel like I should not use these corny terms to describe the Maker of the Universe, but He has been so very gentle. Like if I was dating somebody for the very first time, He would be the perfect date. He has shown me that He has loved me forever. That even though I have rejected Him, He is still waiting for me to come back. That now that I had a clear picture of who I was, I was able to walk towards the woman He made me to be. And all this, He does because He loves me. Nothing else.

God is not codependent, that’s for sure. He doesn’t need me. And He loves me. Unconditionally. So it began to make sense. This intimacy thing. This is what it means. It means that God knows who we really are, and He loves us. There’s acceptance. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. It meant that I didn’t fear divorce anymore. Becasue the truth is that my husband is a gift God gave me. He is my husband, and I want to know him, and I want him to know me. So I’ve been open in sharing with him these feelings and issues, and he says he loves me. It means conflict and arguments are there. It means I don’t need perfection. It means I feel accepted. And I also need to work on being accepting.

God loves me. I wanted this with God. Yes, with my husband, too. But God. With God. This is the relationship God wants with me. Why would I say NO to that?

I bought myself a ring. I married God. My other marriage is fine, by the way. We are learning to communicate better, and I’m not stuffing my feelings when I am angry. I’m learning to be assertive, and we are not divorcing – this goes beyond divorce. God is changing ME.

I am the Lord’s wife first. He is the one that will fulfill ALL the expectations of love I have. He is actually showing me what love really means. He has been faithful to me even when I have been a spiritual prostitute. He has shown me what a Covenant Keeper He is. He does not leave nor forsake me based on my performance. He has lived with me the book of Hosea. Even after I had gone after my Baals, my lovers, and forgotten Him; He has betrothed me in righteousness and justice, in steadfast love and mercy.

He is a devoted husband.

Your love is devoted like a ring of solid gold,
like a vow that is tested like a covenant of old.
Your love is enduring through the winter rain,
and beyond the horizon with mercy for today.
Faithful You have been and faithful you will be.
You pledge yourself to me, and it’s why I singYour praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You Father the orphan. Your kindness makes us whole.
And you shoulder our weakness, and your strength becomes our own.
Now you’re making me like you, clothing me in white.
Bringing beauty from ashes, for You will have Your bride

Free of all her guilt and rid of all her shame
And known by her true name and it’s why I sing

Your praise will ever be on my lips, ever be on my lips

You will be praised. You will be praised.
With angels and saints we sing worthy are You Lord!

You see it? It is LOVE. It is nothing else. If you know what I am talking about, if you have struggled with acceptance and your self-worth, you understand the need to be loved. And you understand that you would give yourself to people, and do things in order to get a tiny crumb of love. You may not be aware of it, but you stay in relationships that deep down you know they are not good for you, or you don’t even like to get something – acceptance, praise, whatever it might be.

I have given myself to get something in return. Always. Becasue I want to be loved. But God? What does He need? He doesn’t need anything. Why would God give Himself to me like this?

He wants me to be FREE

All my Christian life, I have been a slave. To my idols. I had failed to see that Christ died to set me free from my sin, but also from the things, and behaviors, and patterns of thought that have entangled my earthly life. This is what it means to walk with Christ. Yes, I get heaven, but I also get to enjoy my life here and now. My Lord and my Savior died so that I could be free to choose Him.

That’s what God’s more interested in – my freedom. I understand slavery. I have been a slave to my anger, and to these behaviors that I’m working on changing. Along the way, I had been raising little slaves… They don’t deserve this. No child deserves what I went through. And while I am not and will never be the perfect mother, I do want to change my family history. Without realizing it, I had been encouraging the same patterns of family disfunction that both my husband and I were raised in. It is so clear now.

On my last session I was so very happy to share with my counselor some changes that I’ve made, and some tough conversations that I had with people I was afraid of. I felt different. I turned around, and I read a verse that meant a lot to me:

Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19-19

This is in the context of the prophet Isaiah speaking to the Israelites. God is telling them He will deliver them AGAIN from Babylon – another “exodus”. Where there is no clear path ahead of me, God will create one. He is always a step ahead of me. He knew about all this. He knew about my fears, and about my shame. He has covered it all.

I am learning a lot about being a parent in counseling. I am learning to show my children who they are, and who God is. To show them, not to teach them. I was teaching them one thing, but showing them a completely different one. I was being harsh, laying down the law. If they did something, they paid. Again, God is changing ME.

I am being more patient. More forgiving. I think that can be mistaken as if I’m letting them off the hook many times, but I don’t think I am. I am just showing my children what I have been learning myself. I am showing them how to regulate their emotions, and really, how to manage them. I just feel that I haven’t been very gracious to them in all these years. I have been expecting a behavior that it is right -like obedience – but I don’t think I have taken enough time to cultivate what it takes for that behavior to develop.

Basically I haven’t been a very good listener. It’s taking a whole lot of help from the Lord to wait fifteen minutes by my son’s side while he cannot stop crying. Waiting until we can talk about what triggered that anger explosion. It was easier to spank him because he pushed his sister, and then make him apologize. And then he would cry more and more. And sometimes I do think, “You know, all this emotional Let’s-talk-about-it-crap takes a lot of time, and a lot of effort…”

And the truth is I don’t want to deal with it. I don’t. Then I close my eyes, and I’m like, “Yeah, well… nobody showed you how to deal with your emotions. You have stuffed them all your life and when they explode, it has been disastrous – in family, in friendships, in marriage… “

The Lord reminded me of this the other day at the library:

The Lord is merciful and gracious,
slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
He will not always chide,
nor will he keep his anger forever.
He does not deal with us according to our sins,
nor repay us according to our iniquities.
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
As a father shows compassion to his children,
so the Lord shows compassion to those who fear him.

Psalm 103:8-13

 

I have been treated so tenderly by my heavenly Father. He is showing me how forgiving He is. I deserve the worst, but I don’t get what I deserve. He loves me. Are there consequences? Yes. Is there discipline? Yes. But I am just happy that God is working something in me through both my children and their strong will. He is showing me how to be more like Jesus. Isn’t that the point of the Christian life anyway? Jesus will not leave me alone…

So yeah, feelings are not being stuffed anymore. I think it is being particularly difficult for my husband. Sometimes I think that what I do here at home does not really have an impact on anyone. But I am realizing, basically, that God is helping my husband and I to get closer to each other, and also to potentially change future generations. God is helping me to break away from the cycle of abuse and codependency of at least four generations on my side.

I’ve been swimming, so this next song means a lot to me. I’ve never swam before, so learning to breathe correctly and all that was very challenging for me. All those feelings of inadequacy, of being a loser, would continually come to my mind. But I kept on trying and I’m getting much better. In my class, sometimes we practice drafting for triathlons. When there is a lot of people swimming next to you, the water gets really choppy. And even though I know how to breathe correctly, sometimes when I open my mouth all I get is water inside. No air. I have to put my head back in the water, then lift it up again, and try harder.

This time in my life has felt a little bit like that – like swimming in choppy water trying to get air. But God has been with me every step of the way. We are not done yet. I’m sure He will keep on revealing things to me, things that as of right now I have no idea about.

I like swimming because God showed me that I can swim. When I see a lake or a pond, I feel like swimming there, even though I have never swam in open water before. The idea of drowning in an open-water swim terrified me, but I can’t wait to try it now.

One final thought. I began this post with Muslims in mind. If you are Muslim, and you are reading this, I think you can relate to a lot of the issues I talked about. We do share honor and shame societies. I wouldn’t be surprised if you have been treated like this. I pray that one day you will be able to relate to God in this forgiving, accepting, and unconditional-loving way.  There is no other way,  but through Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.

Life gets choppy at times. Being Ramadan I know you want to please Allah. I know. Ask Him to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him for a dream. Test Him on that. Dare to call Him Father. And always remember that if God calls you to swim, He will keep you breathing above the waves.

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep. My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name. And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise. My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You’ve never failed and You won’t start now

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you’re my God!

Oceans

first love

YOUR FIRST LOVE

I’m currently studying the Book of Revelation at Bible Study Fellowship (BSF). It is going great. It’s going to be some thirty-something weeks of deep learning into Scripture.

Some weeks ago, I was sharing with my group how “affected” I have been by Apologetics – I’ve described it as dating Jesus and marrying Jesus. When I became a Christian, everything was awesome. I was so on fire for God, and I spent so much of my time reading my Bible. Reading my Bible was all I did all day long – literally.

I’ve never worked because of my visa status, and I didn’t have children, so I had tons of time in my hands. Of course I’m not blaming India or Islam or any other thing that might have happened, but it is true that ignorance is bliss – for everything.

Studying apologetics has deepen my faith, but it also has challenged it. Actually, the challenge of studying apologetics is what has deepen my faith. It is really great. Do not get me wrong, apologetics is not bad at all. It’s awesome. Last year was very challenging, tough.

Circumstances changed for me, and the spark of my love for Christ was gone. At least the ‘feeling’. I remember crying and calling Jesus a liar. Oh my goodness… I am writing these things because I don’t want to forget how I felt. I want to remember. I want my children to remember with me. I never called Jesus any name – other than a cheater. I really thought He had lied to me, and that He was not my Savior.

I mourned for Him. I clearly remember telling Him that if He was not who the Bible portrayed Him to be, I seriously did not see any reason whatsoever to follow Him, or any other religion for that matter. I felt betrayed because I had reorganized my entire life – my whole worldview – based on His teachings. But if His teachings were a lie, then my life was just a show.

I knew Muslim apologists might argue that Jesus was a great prophet of Islam, so it would still be worth it to follow His great moral example. But while I called Him a cheater, I also didn’t find any other role model better than Him. So if not Jesus, then who? Who was I supposed to follow?


So Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’  Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life’


I am just glad Jesus never took to heart my  against Him. And even though that feeling of being born-again gets lost somehow, this week I felt amazed at how directly Jesus can still speak to me.

This is when I go WHOA because the Bible comes alive .


I [Jesus ] know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false. I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first…

Revelation 2: 2-5


I felt comforted that Jesus has seen things that I have endured. It’s encouraging to know that He is with any one who endures hardships for His sake. And I also felt convicted, because even when the feeling is gone, Jesus doesn’t want the spark to be gone. He commands us to repent, and to come back to the love we had at first.

He wants me to love Him again like I used to 🙂

How does this look for everybody? I don’t know, but lately, I am trying to sing a lot. I remember that was one of the things that made me fall in love with Jesus. I used to sing. So today before going to my Bible Study, I listened to this song. It made me smile, and my attitude changed.

I just wanted to share the song with you. It might be corny, but it’s full of Truth 🙂

GREATER (Mercy Me)

Bring your tired, bring your shame, bring your guilt, bring your pain

Don’t you know that’s not your name, you will always be much more to Me

Everyday I wrestle with the voices that keep telling me I’m not right,

But that’s alright…

‘Cause I hear a voice and He calls me Redeemed

when others say I’ll never be enough

And greater is the One living inside of me than he who is living in the world

Bring your doubts, bring your fears, bring your hurt, bring your tears

There’ll be no condemnation here… You are Holy, Righteous and Redeemed

Every time I fall, there’ll be those who will call me a mistake. Well that’s ok…

There’ll be days I lose the battle, Grace says that it doesn’t matter

‘Cause the cross already won the war

I am learning to run freely, understanding just how He sees me

And it makes me love Him more and more