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.

On Memorizing Scripture – Part 2

I have been trying to write this post for at least two weeks, but other things got in the way. This may be considered Part 2 of the post I titled On Memorizing Scripture.

In that post I said I have been memorizing the Book of Philippians. I also mentioned that when I read the Bible I go very slowly, and sometimes it takes me days to move forward because I keep thinking and thinking about one particular word, or verse, and then I go on rabbit trails.

So I was in the book of Philippians for probably two solid months – reading it every day, and reading my commentary along with it. It is not a particularly long book. You can read it in one sitting, and be done with it in less than an hour. My commentary, however, has at least five to ten pages to read for every three or four verses. So it took me a long time, but I just finished two days ago 🙂

I truly loved Philippians 3:1-16.

I was fascinated by diving deeper into this section. I was convicted by the words of Paul, and I was also deeply encouraged in my walk and my pursuit of Christ. I felt a lot of love for my Savior. And that might sound cliché, because every Christian should love Jesus, correct? But I personally never had emotions and/or affections that arose deep from within my heart when I was exposed to the Word of God.

I had never experienced that until I began studying Biblical Doctrine.

Paul has so much passion when he talks about Christ – it is contagious. He wants to know Christ. He wants to gain Christ. He wants to be found in Christ. And as I have said, I usually go on rabbit trails trying to find out what all that means. There are things that I cannot relate to when I look at Paul’s life. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have anything to teach me, of course. But there are other things that I can practically apply to my own life.

Daniel Aurelius on September 30th, 2020.
He was upset the ultrasound tech woke him up.

So that whole section in Phil. 3:1-16, really gave me hope. It also made me ponder on questions like: How do I gain Christ? What does it mean to be found in Christ? How do I keep pressing on to make Christ my own? How do I forget what lies behind, and keep pressing on what lies ahead?

I want an answer to all these questions because I want to follow Christ as Paul followed Christ. The fact that I am not Paul does not grant me an excuse to not pursue Christ in the same way Paul pursued Christ. Actually, Paul is instructing the Philippians to imitate him, and to keep their eyes on those who walk according to the example they had in Paul (Phil. 3: 17). So Paul is assuming we will be doing this – imitating him as he imitates Christ (1 Cor. 11:1). As we do so, we in turn can encourage others to do the same.

I want to do that. I want to look for people who will encourage me and keep me accountable to live a life worthy of the calling to which I have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph. 4:1-3).

I want my love to abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment so that I may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Phil 1:9-10). I want to orient my heart towards God in such a way that I can confidently say, without the shadow of a doubt, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” (Phil. 1:21).

The whole Book of Philippians was amazing.

October 1st, 2020. Evening walk after eating Enzo’s cake.

Something that truly struck me was the fact that the apostle Paul was actually hard pressed between two choices – to remain in the flesh or to be with Christ. He was just not using figure of speech. And it convicted me deeply because I am not struggling with that choice. I know that were God to give me an option today, I would choose to remain. There is so much work left for me to do – or at least I think so. My children need me.

I am pregnant. The child in my womb needs to hear the gospel. I know Christ is more valuable than life itself, but I want to remain in the flesh for their progress and joy in the faith (Phil 1:25). I don’t feel like Paul yet, but it was good for me to understand that I should be fighting my self-desires that go against the self-dying that is necessary for my family, and that as time passes, God willing, my desire to be in heaven should be ever growing.

It was good to know, that Paul’s conviction was rooted in his knowledge of God’s sovereignty. Paul was trusting in God’s will – regardless of the outcome. So his joy was the result of growing closer to the Lord Jesus.

Paul really wants to depart and be with Christ. Am I in sin if I do not feel that way?

The whole book of Philippians sings with joy, and Paul’s desire for his entire life to revolve around Christ – his Savior. It made me want to sing, too.

When studying theology does not prompt us to adoration, we must question whether we are more concerned to puff ourselves up with knowledge than to glorify God. I have sinned greatly in this area. I have confessed that, and I have repented of studying theology for the sake of  head knowledge in the past. The Lord has been very gracious to me in that arena. I know He has forgiven me.

But now more than ever, when I think about the ways my life has been transformed within the last four years, I have come to the realization that it wasn’t counseling what transformed my world. It wasn’t a book on how to deal with abuse that produced perseverance, forgiveness, and compassion. It wasn’t a magic formula on how to raise godly children what has helped me remain faithful in my parenting when I don’t see the fruit of the Spirit in my children’s lives. Nothing special about me has made me mature spiritually.

My life has changed as a result of being taught the Word. This has happened through many means: podcasts, Bible Study, and particularly, my local church. And this is something that didn’t happen in one day, it was a long process. That process is still happening and will continue to happen until the day I see Christ. As I read my Bible, listened to sermons or podcasts, God worked in me.

Enzo’s early birthday celebration in case Daniel is born on Enzo’s birthday.

By God’s grace I am living like Paul lived. I am not talking about sinless perfection for I sin every day. But it is a mercy and a grace from God to be able to see that I am growing in holiness – even my husband has noticed some of that change. So I know it’s actually happening, and that I am not making that up.

And you know what? That process has actually involved suffering. Granted, maybe not like Paul’s, but suffering nonetheless. I have struggled with seeing my idols being stepped on, and fighting for the Lord to be my portion. I have had to confess my unbelief to God in times of anxiety. I have had to recognize that my desires and my wandering often pull my away from Christ. Sometimes I really think I can do all things through ME.

But with Paul I can say, “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.” (Phil. 3:12).

Paul did not consider that he had made it his own (Phil. 3:13). Me neither. But with Paul, I do one thing: forgetting what lies behind, and straining forward to what lies ahead. I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 3:14)

This section comes after Paul lists his pedigree as a Pharisee, and lists all the things that could have made him rely on his own righteousness, rather than the righteousness that comes through faith in Christ – the righteousness of God that depends on faith (Phil. 3:9).

The most astounding fact is that in this spiritual growth in my life, God has been the driving force – not me. That is not to say that I am NOT pursuing Christ because I am. But the fact that I am pursuing Christ springs from God himself, who is working and orchestrating that desire in me.

Who, then, does the actual work? Is it God, or is it I?

The answer is: YES!

Philippians 2:12-13, says:

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.”

This comes as Paul’s instruction to the Philippians after he has explained the humiliation and exaltation of Christ, and the reason why we, as Christians, should be the most humble of peoples – willing to sacrifice for others and serve them.

Therefore – because of all that Paul just said in Philippians 2:1-11 – they should be working out their salvation with fear and trembling. This has nothing to do with earning one’s salvation. Paul is very clear in his other epistles, that justification (being declared righteous, having peace with God and not condemnation from Him) is by grace alone, through faith alone. And we contribute nothing to that process.

But in the process of sanctification (which is becoming more and more like Christ) we do play an active role. We have the responsibility to actively pursue obedience. And as we do pursue Christ, the Lord by His indwelling Holy Spirit is who actually produces the good works and spiritual fruit in our lives.

Now everything that I just said is doctrinal in nature. The whole Bible is a doctrinal book. I have personally grown in these areas because I have been exposed to great sound teachers online, but more importantly because my pastor feeds me the Word of God. He cares for my soul as he preaches on Sundays.

I am always beating the horse on social media that we, women, are biblically illiterate. Men are biblically illiterate, too, but I am not talking to men here.

Now, I am not saying women do not know how to read. But I am saying that we are not provided, for the most part, with the tools we need in order to read the text, contextualize the text, apply a good hermeneutic to the text, and exegete the text in such a way that we can actually detect false teaching. So I am not surprised when many women think I am a hater when I tell them their favorite Women Bible teacher is a false teacher, or when many Christians are falling for false gospels like the ones espoused in the Woke Church Movement.

That’s what gaining 17 lbs. looks like LOL!

This has been obvious to me for a while, the fact that we need to learn biblical doctrine. But it wasn’t until I had a conversation with a friend of mine the other day that I realized I was wrong in assuming people knew what I meant. I wish I had all the time in the world to write every single thought that comes to my mind regarding this, but I will try to provide some examples of what I mean when I say we should go deeper, and pursue Christ harder.

I was listening the other day to a sermon I heard by John Piper. He preached it in 1984, when I was a one year-old. I’m not entirely sure if Piper has gone fully Woke – that would be a disgrace. I can tell you I trust the John Piper of 1984, and that’s why I am willing to write about this sermon.

Piper quotes from the book The Pursuit of God, written in 1948, in which Tozer writes:

How tragic that we in this dark day have had our seeking done for us by our teachers. Everything is made to center upon the initial act of ‘accepting’ Christ . . . and we are not expected thereafter to crave any further revelation of God to our souls. We have been snared in the coils of a spurious logic which insists that if we have found Him, we need no more seek Him.

According to Piper, the Spirit is not deadening; he is addicting. I agree with that. The evidence that you have HIM – the Spirit, indwelling you – is that you want more of HIM. Continued indifference to growth in grace is a sign of NO grace.

Matthew Henry is right: “Wherever there is true grace there is a desire for more grace.”

Paul went hard after Christ, forsaking all the things people normally boast about; and he did it in order to know Him. Why did Paul do this? Because knowing Christ is a value that surpasses everything else. The evidence of conversion is whether or not you continue to pursue Christ, obeying Chrsit, and walking in holiness (Heb. 12:14).

Again, that doesn’t mean you never sin again, or that Christians cannot fall into grievous patterns of sinning. But if you have been really given a new heart (Eze. 36:26), if you have been made alive after being dead in sin and trespasses (Eph. 2:1-10), if you have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into Jesus’ Kingdom (Col 1:13), then now you are not who you were before Christ. So it is literally IMPOSSIBLE that if you have the Holy Spirit indwelling you, you will remain loving your sin.

A born-again person has a new heart with new desires. He wants to please the Lord in everything he does. A genuine convert enjoys fellowship with Christ (1 John 1:6), she is sensitive to the sin in her life (1 John 2:3), she is obedient to God, she rejects the world (1 John 2:15-17). She loves other Christians, she experiences answered prayer, she sees a decreased pattern of sin in her life (1 John 3:5-10), she is rejected by her faith in many cases (Phil. 1:28). She is able to discern between spiritual truth and error.

Tozer rejected the false logic which says, “If you have found God in Christ, you need no more seek him.”

All this is doctrinal in nature. It involves an understanding of the Doctrine of Regeneration, and what it means to be truly converted. Is it a simple prayer you pray, or is it God who causes you to be alive, and therefore, you put your faith in Christ as a result? What happens at conversion? More importantly, who makes it happen? God in His Sovereignty or you in your Free Will? And while I respect what you think, it is not about what you or I think, but about what the Bile actually says.

These are things that may not matter to you right now, but I can guarantee you, they will matter when your daughter is crying because she doesn’t know if she is truly saved. She sees her sin, she sees that God is holy, and she has this sinful pattern of behavior that she can’t seem to break away from. God forbid I give her a false assurance based on that one time where she said she repented, and that prayer that she said she spoke. That is NOT what the Bible tells me to tell her. The Bible never calls her to accept Jesus into her heart, but to repent and believe. And to keep repenting and to keep believing is the Christian life.

Paul commands my daughter to examine herself to see if she is really in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5). You may say, “Well, Paul is not Jesus. And Jesus loves her.”

Sure… I guess?

To accept that answer would only reveal a lack of understanding of the Doctrine of Inspiration, and who exactly wrote the Bible. Are Paul’s words to be taken as commands, or just as good advice for wholly living? Paul indicates what he writes are God’s commands (1 Cor. 13:37). This actually is one of the many loopholes female Bible teachers use in order to say they can actually be pastors. They are following Jesus’ calling for their lives, you see. They have this deep desire in their hearts, and if the desire is there, then it must have come from God, right?

Uh… no. They are being disobedient, because the same apostle who commands us to rejoice in the Lord always (Phil. 4:4), also says, “I do not allow a woman to teach or exercise authority over a man, but to remain quiet.” (1 Timothy 2:12). Very unpopular now a days, but that’s what the Scripture says. Are we going to submit ourselves to it or not? You can watch this debate if you’re interested to know more about those passages.

Should Women Preach in Our Lord’s Day Worship Services?

The same with homosexuality. Was that only forbidden back in the Old Testament days, but really, Jesus is pleased with those relationships as long as they are monogamous and committed as Jen Hatmaker says? Is homosexual so-called marriage even a marriage? What is marriage? Why was it created by God? Who says it has to be between a man or a woman? By what standard are we supposed to evaluate the culture? Another great debate on that here.

Is Homosexuality Consistent with New Testament Obedience?

So we need to go deeper in pursuing Christ and His Word so that we can be rooted and grounded firmly in our faith. We need this not only to be able to defend it, but so that we ourselves are kept from following false teachings, and are not tossed back and from by the winds of this godless culture.

What has changed my perspective in the areas of womanhood, marriage, parenting, and Christian love has been going hard after the living Christ. And that has been accomplished through the study of theology.

You see, it is not that I was not a Christian before becoming intensely persuaded that women need theology. It is not that I was not secure in Christ. But there was really a way in which I did not really know the God I worshipped. I was very content knowing Jesus. However, I was not really pursuing Him. I think I romanticized Him, and I thought everything was about me, when in reality it is all about Him. And in our minds, we have no trouble saying God is in control, but when things really get rocky, we cry, “Why is this happening to me?”

The fact that I was struggling in my marriage, and my child was out of control, really made me bow down to the God of the Scriptures, and for the first time I saw Him in ways I had never done before. I understood what grace really is. Again, while not vocally confessing it, I was living for my glory – not God’s.

Going deeper in my knowledge of who Christ is has also helped me to become a better mom, and a better friend. I also hope I have become a better wife. I will ask Emerson. LOL!

Enzo loves Daniel already 🙂

Biblical doctrine has helped me to fight the daily battles in my mind. Sometimes I get sad out of the blue. I recognize lies that are whispered by the enemy of my soul. And that’s why I have loved memorizing big chunks of Scripture with the children. When Libby was sad about her sin, I was able to pray for her, and all that was coming out of my mouth was the Scriptures. I was able to confront her in her sin, encourage her to pursue Christ, and assure her that she will never be sinless. I also told her that if indeed the Holy Spirit lives in her, then He will keep on testifying to her that she is a child of God (Rom. 8:16). And that if so, then no one will ever be able to separate her from His love, and we began quoting together the new chunk that we are memorizing beginning in Rom 8:28.

When life brings suffering, I want to rely on the Doctrine of the Sovereignty of God. I want to trust that my God ordains all the things that come to pass for my good (Rom 8:28-32). I want to trust that even on the days when I’m feeling like trash (because I have days like that), my God has blessed me with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Eph. 1:3).

It is the Doctrine of Election that takes a hold of my heart, and helps me focus my attention and redirect my heart to the God who chose me in Christ before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). And his choosing had NOTHING to do with my performance, or how I would be feeling on that particular day, but He chose me so that I would be holy and blameless before Him, and to the praise of His glorious grace (Eph. 1:5). He chose me according to the purpose of His will (Eph. 1:5) in order to demonstrate that it does not depend on human will or exertion, but on God who has mercy (Rom 9:14-18).

He gave me mercy. He gave me compassion. What else do I need?

Maybe I have been saying these things regarding theology, and people think my life is boring and consumed by books. Well, of course I read books. But I am talking about devouring the Bible. Doctrine comes FROM the Bible.

In days when I feel worthless or super unproductive (that has happened lately as I have grown super tired because of my pregnancy ), I remember the Doctrine of the Atonement. And no, I don’t say, “Atonement is the reconciliation of God and humankind through Jesus Christ. DONE. I feel much better.”

No, I tell myself that no matter how I am feeling, I am not justified by works of the law, but through faith in Jesus Christ. I tell myself that I have been crucified with Christ, and it is not longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And that the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. I tell my heart not to put its trust on how much I can do with the children for school lately because if righteousness were through the law, or through all these things that are good in themselves – if Christ really died for those, if I begin to rely on all I can do to make myself feel better – the Christ died for no purpose (Gal. 2:15-21).

I can go on and on giving more and more examples on how this has helped me personally in my faith. But I guess I just want to encourage the women who might be reading this that they can do this. It is not rocket science. People go hard after the things they really care about. We do make time for the things that we love, don’t we?

Start reading. Start listening to podcasts and/or sermons of pastors who preach in an expository fashion. Technology is – LITERALLY – at your fingertips.

You don’t know who preaches that way?

Here are some names: Paul Washer, Steve Lawson, Tom Ascol, John McArthur, Josh Buice, Richard Caldwell, John Bray (YAY for my Pastor), Jeff Durbin, James White – that should get you started. Many of those pastors also have either a blog, or a podcast.

Find a healthy church that preaches the Bible in this way. You want to learn more? That’s fine, but it begins with your local church. It is actually your Pastor’s job to watch over your soul. He will give an account one day (Heb. 13:17). You may want to read this article.

So really, the question is:

Do you love Christ?

Do you want to know Him, and the power of his resurrection, so you may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death? (Phil. 3:10-11)

Do you desire to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in you hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God? (Eph 3:14-19).

Do you want to advance the gospel regardless of the consequences it may bring in to your life? (Phil. 1:12-14). Do you want to learn contentment? It will involve suffering (Phil. 4:10-13).

If you really desire that (and there are many more promises in the Scriptures), things are not just going to happen. You need to actively pursue Christ knowing that you won’t be perfect in your pursuit, but that the God who bought you with his blood is the same God who will hold you fast as you run hard after Him. What He starts, He finishes (Phil. 1:6).

HE WILL HOLD ME FAST

YOUTUBE VIDEO

When I fear my faith will fail, Christ will hold me fast;
When the tempter would prevail, He will hold me fast.
I could never keep my hold through life’s fearful path;
For my love is often cold; He must hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

Those He saves are His delight, Christ will hold me fast;
Precious in his holy sight, He will hold me fast.
He’ll not let my soul be lost; His promises shall last;
Bought by Him at such a cost, He will hold me fast.

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

For my life He bled and died, Christ will hold me fast;
Justice has been satisfied; He will hold me fast.
Raised with Him to endless life, He will hold me fast
‘Till our faith is turned to sight, When He comes at last!

He will hold me fast, He will hold me fast;
For my Savior loves me so, He will hold me fast.

RESOURCES/PODCASTS/MINISTRIES
  • Philippians For You. Commentary by Steve Lawson.
  • Founders Ministries. Tom Ascol.
  • Alpha and Omega Ministries. James White.
  • Ligonier Ministries.
  • The Sword and The Trowel Podcast. Tom Ascol, Jared Longshore.
  • Just Thinking Podcast. Virgil Walker, Darrell Harrison.
  • CrossPolitic Podcast. David Shannon, aka The Chocolate Knox.
  • The Women’s Hope Podcast from the Master’s Seminary.
  • Delivered by Grace. Blog by Josh Buice.
  • Grace To You. John McArthur.
  • Sheologians Podcast. Summer White.
  • Christ Church. Doug Wilson, Rachel Jankovic.
  • Founders Baptist Church. Walking In Grace Ministries. Richard Caldwell.
  • North Houston Baptist Church Podcast. John Bray.
  • Apologia Radio Podcast. Jeff Durbin.
  • Sovereign Nations Podcast. Michael O’Fallon.
  • Relatable. Allie Beth Stuckey.
  • The G3 Conference Podcast. Josh Buice.
  • HeartCry Missionary. Paul Washer.

Enjoy!

The Bible, Billy Joel, and AC/DC

A recent conversation with my son helped me realize one more time the truth that children learn/absorb more than we think they do from the environment in which they are spending their time.

We were listening to For The Longest Time, by Billy Joel, on my iPhone. I love that song, I love the tune of it. There is something about it that makes me feel happy, and it’s not the lyrics. It’s literally the music. My husband says it’s harmony. I’m not a musician, but I trust him, so let’s just say it is the harmony in that song what makes me smile.

Believe it or not, after 13 years of living in America, listening to music in English has never been one of my favorite things to do. I still can’t understand what most people are saying if they’re singing, and I still use the subtitles when I watch a movie. That’s why I don’t like talking to people on the phone. Unless I can have a conversation face to face, or I can communicate with them via text, I get very anxious.

So Enzo and I were playing Catan while listening to the song, and I was reading the lyrics on my phone. Then I read this:

Maybe this won’t last very long,

But you feel so right, and I could be wrong…

Who knows how much further we’ll go on,

Maybe I’ll be sorry when you’re gone.

I’ll take my chances,

I forgot how nice romance is,

I haven’t been there for the longest time…

I literally stopped the song, and said, “Did you hear that? What is he talking about? What does that even mean? He is saying he doesn’t even know if this is the woman he wants to spend his life with. He knows this relationship might not last for long, but she feels right for him, at least right now. Even if they end up breaking up, maybe – just maybe – he’ll miss her. But for now, he just wants to be with her because romance is nice. You are not to be that kind of man, you hear me? I am not raising that kind of man.”

He said what he always says when I give him that tone of voice, and he knows that a talk is coming. He said, “Yes, Patootie.”

We talked about the reality that his dad grew up listening to that kind of music. Emerson has also always listened to Classic Rock ever since we were dating sixteen years ago. He has also listened to Pop Music (from the 80’s, I guess). I think there’s some kind of nostalgia there, and it is totally understandable. I think Emerson’s inheritance from his dad will include at least seven hundred – SEVEN HUNDRED – records. So Emerson was raised listening to lots of different music.

I told Enzo that I had never asked Daddy to stop listening to that kind of music because I know that he likes it, and honestly, I really like the tune of many of the songs, too. I like some songs by Queen, or Paul Simon. There’s something about Diamonds On The Soles Of Her Shoes – specially if you hear it in my husband’s music room.

Anyway, this was actually the first time that I had realized what Billy Joel was singing. So we talked about how music can really get you into certain kind of mood, and how you always have to be aware of what you’re singing because the reality is, most of the time, the more you sing something, the more your end up believing what you are singing.

And then Enzo said, “I know what you mean Mommy. Like, when it says, ‘So lock up your daughter, lock up your wife, lock up your back door, run for your life.'”

I asked him what in the world he was talking about.

He said it was from AC/DC’s T. N. T. I had never caught that’s where the lyrics said, since all I understand from that song is the “Oi, Oi, Oi” and “T.N.T, I’m dynamite.”

No, we don’t rejoice when we hear those songs, and as far as I know, Emerson has respected my wishes of not listening to specific songs that bothered me, like Queen’s Fat Bottom Girls, or AC/DC’s Highway To Hell.

What I am saying is that children are aware of those things even when I am not, or even when I think they are not. I firmly believe I should not isolate my children into a Christian bubble, otherwise they will be shocked when they go into the world. It is my job to train them, and to expose them to the evils in this world. I want to be the one introducing them to those things.

You may not agree with me, so I am posting this podcast for your consideration. Tom Ascol, who is one of the pastors that I respect the most (after my own pastor), relates the story of his high school daughter. She was homeschooled, and at one time there was an incident (involving cursing words) at the community college she was attending that made her vulnerable. He realized that there had been a gap in her education by her not knowing those foul words.

I really encourage you to listen to it. The podcast The Sword & The Trowel, by Founders Ministries, is also available wherever you get your podcasts. The YouTube link is below.

Parenting And Government Schools: How Not To Raise Little Pagans

So with our children we watch all kinds of movies. We have watched Jaws, The Meg, all Jurassic Worlds, all the Marvel movies, all the Harry Potter movies, The Mandalorian (Season 2 is coming – YEAH!!), among others that might make many Christian parents cringe. I understand and respect that.

We talk about those movies. We talk about Moana’s false narrative that Unreached People Groups do not need the gospel. We talk about demi-gods like Maui, and the reincarnation of the grandma. Also, Moana seems to just be following her heart. We have talked about Frozen – particularly Frozen 2. Let’s just say it’s pretty dark if you think long and hard about the voices Elsa is listening to. We have watched Onward, and we have talked about the scenes in which there’s the push to normalize homosexuality.

They don’t watch nudity if there is any – including scenes where people are kissing in suggestive ways (like Anakin and Padme in Star Wars). We talk about cursing words. They are also watching The Simpsons with Emerson. I don’t like that show, but the children love it. They, along with Dad, think it is hilarious. Emerson also grew up watching them.

I actually interviewed Libby for this blog. I asked her to tell me about The Simpsons while I typed.

Homer is kind of an idiot, and because he is an idiot, he is kinda funny. He is a bad dad, and a bad son. He doesn’t even care for his father, and because of that, the children don’t care for their grandfather.

Marge is kind of nice to people, but her sisters are horrible. They hate Homer, and they smoke. Bart is a terrible kid, and when he does bad things, his parents don’t really discipline him. I don’t really think much about Lisa, other than she’s very smart. The Itchy and Scratchy Show… I don’t know why it is funny to them, it is not funny to me. Violence should not be funny.

Principal Skinner still lives with his mother, but he doesn’t really care for her. He acts like she is a burden. Maggie, you don’t see her very often.

Mr. Burns is very rich, and everybody works for him, and he is so selfish. Overall, I like The Simspons becasue they are funny.

Libby

And that’s that.

Emerson says that the fact that we know all that about the characters is precisely what makes them funny. I guess it’s like watching The Office. That show is so politically incorrect… and that’s exactly what makes it hilarious.

This is what takes me to my main point. The Simpsons was not the first thing I introduced my children to, nor has been it what I have filled their minds with. If Libby, an articulate almost 10 year-old, can have such an opinion of the show is because she has a biblical world-view.

My children have a standard for righteousness. They know what is right and what is wrong, and they know (for the most part, I mean, they are still children) how to evaluate the reality to which they are exposed to. Since they were super little we have worked very hardly to expose them to the Scriptures. They understand the gospel, and to the best of our ability, and by God’s grace, we are training them in the discipline and instruction of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4).

Tom Ascol mentions in the podcast (around minute 21) that the word INSTRUCTION (paideia in Greek) involves that you just don’t give your children facts, but you train them, you inculturate them. You actually instill a way of understanding the thing that you are teaching, and that goes along with Deuteronomy 6:4-9. No subjects are off limits, and of course, you don’t expose them to all the evils in the world, and they don’t have to experience it, but children do need to learn about evil from their parents.

By God’s grace, we have talked with our children about LBGTQ issues, sex, masturbation, pregnancy, rape, pornography, sexting, bestiality, sexual immorality, drunkenness, etc. It is all in the Bible if you are consistenly reading it with them. This has not been done in ONE sitting, and it’s really a long conversation that has happened over the span of many years. Maybe you might think they are too little for that. Libby is 9.5 y.o., and Enzo is almost 8 y.o. I respect your opinion, but I want to challenge you to think through it.

A long time ago, in an article from Focus on the Family, I read that what robs the innocence of a child is NOT the information you give them, but actually the self-discovery of such information, specially if they discover it or experience it in sinful ways.

I am not going to sit down with my child and show him what porn looks like, but I can describe it to him. I can give him wisdom on what to do if such images were ever to pop on a screen. I am not encouraging them to have sex before marriage, but I am going to explain to them the consequences of it. I have many consequences from it that I still carry to this day. And we always go back to the Bible, and what God has said about those issues, and the reasons God has for having set those boundaries for His people. It goes beyond just telling them that sex before marriage is sinful. We have to engage their hearts and explain why.

Government education is secular, it’s humanist. It is committed to train up your child in the way they should go without ever referring to the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jared Longshore

You see, sex in itself is not wrong or evil. Sex is a beautiful thing that God gave married coupes to enjoy each other, and when practiced between a man and a woman who are committed in covenant for life, it speaks to the relationship Jesus has with His Bride – the Church. That’s the kind of intimacy God wants with His children. Marriage is supposed to testify of the loving, long-suffering, compassionate, forgiving God. Jesus would never give up on His Bride, and say, “I am done with you, I don’t love you anymore.”

No! He died for her, He drank the cup of the wrath of God for her. “What then shall we say to these things?” says Paul. “If God is for us, who can be against us? He [God] who did not spare His own Son, but gave Him up for us all, how will He not also with him graciously give us all things?” (Romans 8:31-32)

And that’s why God hates divorce.

So I’m very welcoming of your criticism if you think I’m wrong in talking about these issues with my children. BUT – and this is a big one – IF you have your child enrolled in public school, and you think somehow they are not being exposed to all of the craziness going around in this culture already, then somebody is being naive. And I know it’s not me. Very respectfully I challenge you to think through it. I am not saying you have to homeschool. Maybe you do have to work, and private Christian school is not affordable (even a Christian school can only be Christian in name). I understand that. There are many situations that I don’t know about. I am talking about the parent whose child is in public school, and thinks his children are too young to know about these things. To assume your children are not being exposed to this already, in my opinion, is to be naive at best, and irresponsible at worst.

I think I’ve talked too much already, and haven’t said what I originally intended to say. Oh, well…

My point is this:

If we are to raise godly children whose minds are saturated in the Word of God, then we have to be mothers who first are saturated in the Word of God. We are to be filled in order that we can overflow and fill our children as a result. It is our responsibility. It is our calling.

You know I have been reading Philippians. This morning I was in Philippians 4:8-9: “Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you.”

I read my commentary, then I went for a walk and I listened to a sermon on it. I am linking the sermon here. It is a great sermon, and actually part of a whole series Pastor John McArthur taught on the book of Philippians. He says, “In order to be spiritual stable you must focus on godly virtues. Spiritual stability is a result of how you think.”

How true is that. As long as we don’t dwell and meditate on God’s Word, then we cannot train our children to do the same, and teach them how to think critically and biblically about the world around them.

I hope the photos of the commentary will help you see what we as mothers should be meditating on, dwelling on, and filling our minds with. You might as well buy it. It is awesome!

SPOILER ALERT: WE MUST DWELL ON GOD’S WORD.

Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 200

Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 201
Philippians For You, by Steve Lawson, p. 202

I woke up in the middle of the night to finish typing this. It was around 2:30 a.m., and I couldn’t sleep. “One hour,” I said. “It will only take me one hour to finish.”

It is almost 5 a.m. LOL! Guess I am getting ready for those sleepless nights for when Danny is here 🙂

Daniel Aurelius is coming to town!

The last time I wrote something was about four months ago, but for some reason it seems an eternity has passed. Of course, in the middle of it,  we have had the Rona, the BLM situations all around our country, and churches arguing over whether or not to gather on Sundays – with or without masks. Much has happened in our family even though it doesn’t feel like much since we have been in the house most of the time.

To start with, we successfully completed our first year of homeschooling. For many weeks straight I felt that Enzo would never love writing, and still he doesn’t. But it has been wonderful to see that consistency in disciplining him have been key in dealing with his rebellious heart. Last year I was so worried about curriculums, but if my first homeschooling year taught me anything, it is that the curriculum is not the most important thing to focus on. I am NOT saying it is not important. What I AM saying is that shepherding the hearts of my children should be my first priority. 

I had to constantly look  at our “Mission Statement” when I felt overwhelmed by the question, “Why are we doing this?” 

My children are very smart, I have no worries about their academic future life. I sometimes worry about Enzo and his choices in life – what he will do for a living. But it is not because he is not smart, but because he struggles with laziness. Although, he wakes up at 4 am. sometimes to go running with his dad, so he is an early riser… My point is that even if their brains would allow them to become the next Nobel Prize or whatever, that in itself is a gift from God Almighty, and I am convinced that nothing they might accomplish in  this life is worthy of praise – at least not praise from God – if they do it apart from knowing Jesus Christ savingly.

That is a hill I’m willing to die on – daily.   

1.jpg

Deuteronomy 6:4-9

 

Among other happenings, we also had a fun summer despite the virus. We went to the beach when I was about 20 weeks pregnant. Oh, yes, I am pregnant. That’s a long story, so long story long, God changed Emerson’s heart regarding having more babies. So he had a VR, and after nine long months of trying, God answered our prayers, and I am pregnant with a boy. I think during this season of waiting, God taught me many things regarding His goodness. He is good no matter what. No matter how I feel, or what I think. Even if the answers to my prayers are a NO from Him, He is still good.

 

baby

IT’S A BOY!!

 

During the first nine months of not being pregnant, the anxieties in my heart were a bunch of WHAT IFs – What if I don’t get pregnant? What if the VR didn’t work? What if I’m too old, and the baby is not healthy? 

God really showed me things about my heart that were not right. Even after getting pregnant, the questions were different, but altogether the same, What if the baby dies? What if I have a miscarriage? What if I die during labor? What if Emerson dies?

Fear of death has always been a recurring sin for me. I know that for the Christian death has no victory – no sting. I know that. This is the worst fear I have: If Emerson dies, I don’t know how to handle the finances of the house – that’s it. I simply don’t know how. And that may be super silly for other women, but it paralyzes me.

The issue here is that in every fear that I’ve had, there’s always been unbelief on my part. So during this season God has shown me that I don’t take Him at His Word. Do I believe He will take care of me? Do I believe He will help me go through the death of a husband, and the raising of three children alone? Do I believe He will equip me with whatever He might deem necessary in order to administer the finances? And even if I go broke, do I truly believe in my heart that God will provide for me?

 

IMG_6259

South Padre Island, June 2020

 

God is so good regardless of my circumstances. DUH… yeah.  But when you are going through a season of anxiety, and fears, how do you deal with those?

When we were in the middle of the last school year, we were studying the history of Israel, and so we were pretty much reading the Bible chronologically. The lessons were kind of a helicopter view, but I wanted to study them deeper, so that I could explain it to the children better. So for the first time in my life, I read the book of Lamentations in context. I have read the Bible chronologically before, and it has been a tremendous blessing, but sometimes when you follow a Bible reading plan, you just want to finish. This time, however, I had to stay in Lamentations for a while, not only because I wanted to explain it to the children, but because it really opened my eyes to real suffering and real joy – both at the same time.

I was not pregnant yet, so I was really struggling. Why would God change Emerson’s mind regarding babies, only to NOT give us a baby? On top of that, Emerson told me he was not okay with me taking any medicine to increase my fertility as the doctor suggested. He said this was something about his obedience to the Lord, and that God would be the one to decide whether or not we were gonna have more family. And I was like, “So you spent thousand of dollars in a procedure just for the sake of obeying the Lord. That’s great. I understand that, but if I got cancer, wouldn’t you want me to have chemo? Why is this medicine different? We can have babies faster!

You don’t get it, Karla. Stop trying to control things. If God wills, we will have a baby; if He doesn’t, then we won’t. I had the VR not to give you a baby, but to obey the Lord and go back to my natural state. And if you get pregnant, He will get the glory – not a pill your doctor gave you.

Emerson

Of course, I argued back. If God was gonna get the glory anyway, then He might as well give us a baby without Emerson even getting the surgery – if it was all about not using medical procedures. Of course, I was selfish, and God was merciful to me in my irreverence. Also, Emerson ignored me LOL!

We tried super hard to get pregnant during eight months. But that last month I had been studying Lamentations for a while already. I was asking God to change my heart because the things I was reading were convicting me of my sin. Somehow I had made the desire to have another baby into an idol. I was crying every time I went for my morning walk, afraid that the answer to my prayer was going to be, “No, you’re not going to have another child.” I was doubting God’s love for me over this. I was questioning His goodness over this.

So the only day when we literally could have tried making a baby, I was so exhausted that I told Emerson maybe we could take a break and try next month. I didn’t even know if I was ovulating so there really was no rush. He refused, and then BAM – I got pregnant because of that one time LOL!

 

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Ballon Fight to start the 2020-2021 school year – I hit Enzo right on the face!

 

Of course I didn’t know that night was the night that eventually would lead me to buy a pregnancy test, but I do remember one night when I was crying – again – and I told God I was going to praise Him in the middle of my fear. I did want a child, but I refused to worship the desire of having a baby. I wanted to worship Him. I wanted Him to be my portion, like Jeremiah said in Lamentations. That I was okay if God chose not to give us more children. Of course, I was gonna be sad for a while, but I didn’t really need a baby. I wanted God to teach me how to wait for Him like Jeremiah also said.

I wanted to know whether the answer was going to be YES or NO, but I asked God to help me learn how to wait for His answer – even if the answer was delayed, and even if the answer was NO.

I dwelled on the verses below for months before getting pregnant. I was really expecting not to get pregnant, but the day after I prayed for God to help me wait, I realized my period hadn’t come. I was late. And I was late not for two weeks or four weeks. It was actually day 28, but my hormones had been so crazy, and my cycles had been so random that I never made it to day 28 – ever. So I bought a pregnancy test that day and it was positive. That was so weird. I mean, I had just prayed the night before for God to help me learn how to wait, and then He answered the next day. Then I realized I still had to wait nine more months battling the same fears and anxieties in my heart.

 

But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;

his mercies never come to an end;

they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

 

Lamentations 3:21-26

 

Why has the book of Lamentations meant so much for me before the pregnancy and during the pregnancy? Well, this might get long, but I need to write about it.

Right in the middle of the destruction of Jerusalem, Jeremiah is praising God and rejoicing. He is suffering when he sees what he sees, but he also rejoices IN God. He is not enjoying his circumstances, but Jeremiah KNOWS his God is sufficient.

I wanted that for my life. My fear of not having a husband to provide for me, or my fear of not getting pregnant, or even losing the pregnancy at any point are things that may happen at any point in my life. God never promised me a bed of roses. So if bad providences were to come my way, where does my hope really lie?

Does my hope lie on people, on my circumstances, or on the God who cares for me? Little by little during that time, I realized that I don’t want to suffer. I don’t want to be bothered with life-pain (that affects believers and unbelievers) or with Christian persecution.

And yet, God tells me suffering for the faith is something every true disciple has to go through. These are some verses, just to name a few.

“In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

1 Peter 1:6-7

“When they had preached the gospel to that city and had made many disciples, they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, encouraging them to continue in the faith, and saying that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”

Acts 14:21-22

This is a clear sign to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,  engaged in the same conflict that you saw I had and now hear that I still have.”

Philippians 1:28-30

 

People suffer for a variety of circumstances. Christians suffer on top of that for the fact that they are Christians. The world hates us. So if suffering is a given, how would I deal with it when it comes? What is the framework that my mind and my heart have to be aligned with, so that I don’t fall for my feelings, my own ideas or any other false teachings?

The frame work is God’s Word. The Word is what I should believe regarding who God is, what He does, and why He does it.

I wrongly thought God was just enjoying my suffering, like He was enjoying being mean to me. And that is just so… stupid. Over and over as I read my Scriptures, it was super clear His discipline springs out of love (Hebrews 12:4-11). He wants to make me like His Son (Romans 8:28-30). And even when He does afflict – because it is also super clear in the Bible that He does afflict –  He doesn’t do it out of spite or just to get even with me. His wrath against me was put away at the cross. Any punishment was dealt with in Christ. There is no more condemnation for me from God (Romans 8:1). In His dealings with me, God deals as a Father, not as my adversary.

 

For the Lord will not
    cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
    or grieve the children of men.

Lamentations 3:31-33

 

Lamentations is a sad, sad book. Jerusalem is being sacked, the temple destroyed (Lamentations 1:10), and famine, pestilence and the sword are coming – just  as Jeremiah and Ezekiel had warned the people. And Jeremiah is watching all this happening. He recognizes it is the Lord inflicting all this on His people because they sinned grievously (Lamentations 1:8), and Jeremiah weeps (Lamentations 1:16). He recognizes the crown has fallen from Judah and Israel – no more Kings until Jesus is born (Lamentation 5:15-16).

But Jeremiah never makes excuses, he actually acknowledges the Lord is in the right for judging them (Lamentations 1:18), and also that the Lord warned them this would happen (Lamentations 1:21). Jeremiah’s eyes are spent with weeping, he sees babies dying, children who faint from hunger, women eating their own children (Lamentations 2:11,19, 20).

And yet all this is happening according to the plan and purpose of God (Lamentations 2:17). God spoke it and it came to pass, good and bad comes from the Most High. Why would men complain about the punishment of their sins? (Lamentations 3:37-39).

Jeremiah sees the affliction under the rod of God’s wrath. God has made him dwell in darkness, God has filled him with bitterness; Jeremiah has suffered so much that he has forgotten what happiness is. Jeremiah’s endurance has perished and so has his hope from the LORD (Lamentations 3:1-20). And then the most beautiful, contrasting verses come in the middle of all of this.

 

But this I call to mind,
    and therefore I have hope:

 

The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.

“The Lord is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”

 

The Lord is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.

It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the Lord.

Lamentations 3:21-26

 

I think every woman loves that Bible verse – the one about God’s mercies being new every day. I just never had read the whole book of Lamentations in context, so I could not grasp how deep Jeremiah’s suffering was. This is not a “I am terrified of not knowing how to handle the finances of my household if my husband were to die”- kind of suffering that Jeremiah is going through.

And I am not belittling my suffering or my anxieties by any means, but in perspective, I really have never experienced this much suffering. I do not know what it is to eat your own child out of hunger, or seeing the tongue of your infant sticking to the root of his mouth because of thirst. I do not know what it is to beg for food, with no one giving it to me; or seeing people looking blacker than soot, with their skin dried as wood, and shriveled on their bones due to starvation (Lamentations 4:44). I do not know any of that.

In Lamentations 3:18, Jeremiah’s endurance and hope have perished, but two verses later Jeremiah remembers something, and it fills him with hope once again.

Jeremiah calls to mind that the the steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, that His mercies never come to an end, that they are new every morning, and that His faithfulness is great. All this while people are dying around him (v. 22).

Jeremiah then says that YHWH – the LORD – is his portion. It is Jeremiah’s soul confession that makes Jeremiah hope in the LORD. The fact that YHWH Himself is Jeremiah’s portion is what makes Jeremiah regain his hope in Him (v. 24).

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I’ll have great helpers 🙂

It really took me months of pondering every day, I wish I were quick in dealing with my issues. In situations like this, I stop, and I go verse by verse on rabbit trails. I ask Google,  “Google, what does it mean that the Lord is your portion?”

So I end up with answers like the one below that I then double check against my trusted preachers – which involves listening to sermons, or reading articles. It takes FOREVER, but my soul needs it, and that’s how I deal with my sin.

When a biblical writer says, “God is my portion,” he means that God is the source of his happiness and blessing. He is content with all that the Lord is and provides. He has the best inheritance imaginable and does not seek any possession or comfort outside of God. Riches, honor, friends and fame—nothing is as valuable as the promises of God. “My flesh and my heart may fail, But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever” (Psalm 73:26, NASB). If God is our portion, we need nothing else.

GotQuestions.org

I realized God was not my portion. I could say He was all I wanted, but the fears and anxieties revealed He wasn’t. So it has taken a lot of time, praying and reading my Bible, asking God to help my soul say the same things Jeremiah’s soul said.

I’ve realized it is a command to rejoice in my suffering – not a suggestion. I am to rejoice regardless of my circumstances, knowing that the Lord is good. It is right there in the text. Jeremiah was able to do it when he took his eyes off the destruction and placed them on his portion, on his everything: the LORD. God is good to those who wait for Him, to those who wait for His salvation.

Jerusalem was not spared, and Jeremiah eventually died, but it is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD. Jeremiah’s consolation was that God always sits on His throne enduring all generations (Lamentations 5:19)

This takes me to other rabbit trails, but I’ll stop right there. I cannot possibly write about what has been happening in my heart since Emerson had the surgery sixteen months ago. It’s definitely been a season of God confronting me with my lack of trust, and His abounding love for me, His patience and mercy towards me.

 

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Rooting for the Patriarchy – pregnant, barefoot and cooking in the rain LOL! 

 

Of course, I’m not excited at the prospect of suffering, but my God is good. I know He loves me, and that His love for me extends far beyond my existence – it reaches back into eternity past, where my God choose to enter into a covenant with His Son in order to rescue a people – a Bride for His Son. I am part of that people that Jesus Christ died for.

Nothing makes me feel safer than that – whatever suffering life brings. To know that I have been so profoundly loved by the Creator of the world, even before I was born… even before I came to Him. To think that He had already bought me with His blood even before I was conceived. Even if the loss of a child, or the loss of my husband were to be part of His plan to make me more and more like His Son (Romans 8:28), I rest knowing that I am totally and completely loved. I heard a teaching by Steve Lawson on The Unfailing Love of God. You should check it out.

Christ is sufficient.

 

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4 weeks/ 30 weeks

 

In Memory of Dori (2004-2020)

Dori was a sweet dog. She was the best dog a family could ever wish for.

Dori came into our lives when Emerson and I were dating. I had recently lost my husky and Emerson saw how sad I was. Emerson was not really fond of dogs at the time, however, one day he called me and said he was on his way to my house with a present. That present was Dori. She was so young. The vet said she was probably a year old, and so May 16th became her birthday.

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Dori on the day she arrived at my home 🙂

 

Since then, she became Emerson’s dog, really. When we were considering moving to Ohio, he was very sad about having to leave her, but she ended up coming to the U.S. with us. She always kept me company when I was sad, and she also loved the snow. She would run in the snow, play in the snow, swim in the ponds and chase the geese in Ohio.

 

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She was with us during my pregnancies, and she even waited for us when we moved to India. She actually escaped the house we left her trying to look for us at our old apartment – twice!

While in Houston, she loved swimming at the dog park, she swam at the beach, she hiked on trails, she camped with the family. She was a very active, happy, sweet, meek dog.

Enzo describes Dori as a loving, never-barking, sweet dog.

 

 

I cannot describe in a post everything that Dori represented for us as a family during the almost sixteen years of her life, but she was truly loved, and truly well taken care of. There are no regrets in our hearts or in our minds about the life that we gave that sweet puppy.

She will be profoundly missed. Emerson reminded our family that death is a consequence of sin. This is not how life is supposed to be. Death and its pain should make us hate our sin all the more, and we rejoice in the fact that we know the One who conquered death, and that one day there will be no more tears, and no more pain, and no more suffering.

Although we do not really know if we will ever see Dori again, we know that the One who created her will embrace us, and will wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death will be no more.

 

 

 

Cleopatra, Caesar and Jesus

This is probably a very silly post, so you have the right to stop reading now.

I was having a conversation with my husband during lunch today and I was so excited talking to him about the History lessons I am having with the children. My husband was not amused. Long story short… Rome was a Republic governed by two consuls at the same time. In our time line – 60 B.C. – those two men were Crassus and Pompey.

These two men had a lot of disputes. Then, cunningly, another man joined a coalition with them (known as the First Triumvirate). This man was Julius Caesar. Julius Caesar – who was actually Pompey’s father-in-law – becomes a great military leader, and eventually, scares Pompey to fled to Egypt. Crassus is dead by then, and so Julius Caesar becomes the dictator Rome never wanted.  This happened in 49 B.C.

Only some years earlier, Ptolemy Auletes, was one of last rulers of the line of Ptolemy. The Ptolemites were one of the four families who took over Alexander the Great’s Empire. Ptolemy Auletes was actually Cleopatra’s father. So Cleopatra was not even Egyptian. I did not know that!!

So Cleopatra is a cunning, manipulative 18 year-old who is only looking for a way to gain power. She was beautiful, she spoke many languages – whatever, she used men to her advantage. She marries her brother to become queen. Brother dies? No problem! She marries the next brother. So when her dad sees they are in trouble in Macedonia, he decides to ask for help from Rome. And who is the power of Rome of that time? Julius Caesar.

So when Caesar is chasing Pompey, he ends up in Alexandria, and that’s how he meets Cleopatra, who is 21, and he is in his fifties, and they become crazily in love and what not. Stupid idiot. I’m still very upset about this. Don’t care about her delivering herself  to him in a carpet showing determination.

Fine. Julius Caesar spends all his time in Egypt with his new lover, but then gets killed by a mob of senators who stabbed him up to 35 times, many of them his closest “friends”. Then Rome forms the Second Triumvirate with Lepidus, Octavian and Mark Antony. Lepidus is kicked out of power, and the other two do not have a great relationship with each other. To add more drama to the tale, Octavian’s sister was Mark Antony’s wife.

 And I’m super pumped telling my husband the story, right?

Why are you so excited about this? You are supposed to know this. I learned this in middle school, Karla.

Well, I didn’t. And if I did, I forgot. LOL!

Okay, so. Caesar is dead, Cleopatra is all alone, and her dreams of becoming a great ruler come to a halt. Mark Antony and Octavian after their many disagreements decide to divide the land, and Mark Antony gets to rule over the East – which includes Egypt.  So he decides to visit Cleopatra, and in an elaborate display of wealth, she travels on a golden ship, with purple sails and silver oars. By using her perfumes and with music filling the air and young boys fanning her, she catches the eye of Mark Antony, and he falls in love with her. He marries her in 37 B.C., abandoning his wife. Another stupid idiot. SMH.

We have had History five times a week this week just so that I can read the end of the story. I seriously told my husband I wanted to read her end, that I was hoping she would die a terrible death. I think I was still very upset at all the pain she definitely caused. I am thinking of the wives. Even if there were political marriages, and there were no feelings involved in these marriages… I mean, the humiliation. So I went ahead and finished the lessons by myself.

If I were Octavian, I would be livid. Mark Antony left my sister for another woman, and on top of that he seems to be more loyal to her and to Egypt that to Rome and his people. The guy even walks behind her chariot like her servant. Heck, no! Mark Antony and her Cleopatra have got to go.  So yes, Octavian accused Mark Antony of treason – which was technically true. So Octavian declares war against Cleopatra.

So Mark Antony has the support of Cleopatra and her navy against Octavian, and history records that as Octavian’s ships appeared to overtake Antony’s, Cleopatra panicked. With her gold and purple ship, and with her fleet of 60 warships, she started to sail away. And when Mark Antony sees this, he abandons his own men to run after her. He leaves behind 19 legions of foot soldiers (that is 19 x 6,000 men), and 12,000 men on horse only to sail after her!

I was livid reading this. Poor Mark Antony sat down alone, below deck, buried with his face in his hands. What a coward!

 

You Can Act Like A Man GIFs - Get the best GIF on GIPHY

 

So Octavian, obviously hunted them both down. At some point Mark Antony thought she was dead, so he tried to kill himself, but was taken to her side before he died in her arms. Ugh. Spare me.

Octavian, of course, conquered Alexandria, and this woman, tries to win his heart, just like she did with Julius Caesar and Mark Antony. I told the children before I knew all this, that she didn’t love anyone, but herself, and that her actions reminded me of the prostitute in Proverbs. But, man, I cannot wait to see the children’s faces when I tell them all these details.

So pretending to cooperate with Octavian, Cleopatra asks him to allow her to visit Mark Antony’s tomb, and after perfuming herself and what not, she kills herself, and gets buried next to Mark Antony. Ugh. Spare me, again.

So that’s just the background for my post. LOL! No, seriously.

As I was reading the fate of this woman, and the whole drama of all these lives, I was pretty impressed with Octavian. He literally became the hero in my eyes because he didn’t fall for her. Call me silly. So I kept on reading about him. He was the great-nephew of Julius Caesar who had written in his will that Octavian would be his adopted heir. So Octavian becomes a dictator, but a good one, in a sense. He actually worked with the senators, who ended up giving him the name of “emperor”, and called him Augustus. He also adopted the name of Caesar, in honor of Julius Caesar. So he was known as Caesar Augustus.

And for the first time in all this saga, I was like, “Oh, I’ve head that name before”. And then it hit me.

In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered.  This was the first registration when Quirinius was governor of Syria.  And all went to be registered, each to his own town. And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the town of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

– Luke 2:1-7

This is the Caesar Augustus who ordered the census that brought Mary and Joseph all the way from Galilee to Bethlehem.

I mean, “Who writes this stuff?,” I asked myself. And automatically, my answer was, “God does. He writes history.”

The birth of Jesus was not an afterthought in the mind of the Creator. It happened that way not because Caesar knew he was an instrument of God in bringing a prophecy to come about, but he actually did. The Messiah had to be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). God has always used rulers to accomplish His purposes. We see it with Moses and Pharaoh, and Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus and all those prophecies being fulfilled over and over. By the way, you should check out the Mystery of History I, if you are interested in learning the Bible chronologically, and understand all the prophets and how they all come together. It’s a wonderful resource. I loved it this year. It puts together everything happening around the world at the same time that say, Ezra is coming back from Babylon.

So, if you are a Christian, I hope you already know this, but our faith even though experiential in nature, is not based on feelings or experiences, but in truth. The Bible is authoritative in itself, and claims to be the only truth. I believe that. The Bible is sufficient. At the same time, we also have all these incredible amount of historical data that anchors our faith within a very clear historical background that only gives us more confidence.

Just studying Homer and Plato this year in History, we found out there is no other document in history that compares to the New Testament when it comes to manuscript reliability – meaning no one has altered the text. And I think I have posted somewhere else about Textual Criticism. It is just a myth that the Bible has been corrupted over the years. A myth that Mormons, Jehova’s Witnesses, and Muslims all love alike. They love it because without it, their religions crumble to the ground.

So this lesson on Cleopatra ended up really opening my eyes to this truth again, and it is beautiful: I can trust the God who governs the universe. 

Who writes this stuff? God does. I forget. I forget that God is in control of History. I forget He has already written my history, too, and although it is unfolding I can trust that He wants His glory and my good because I am His child and He loves me.

In this COVID-19 season, I am just thankful that God is not a God of chance. God is not trying to hold it all together, making His best attempt to juggle His wishes and balancing it all out with the choices He foresees humans taking in the future.

Who ordained Caesar Augustus to command a census? God did.

God is in control of History. I have loved studying with the children about Assyria, and Babylon, and Alexander the Great, and now Cleopatra and Caesar Augustus. I am thankful I don’t have to trust my gut or my feelings, but that I can trust His word, and I that I know the One who rules the universe, and the best thing is that He knows me. He loves me. He  has loved me before He created the world.

These are some Scriptures that have encouraged me over the years, but the one from Isaiah is my favorite. There is a wonderful article about it here. 

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.”

Proverbs 16:33 “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the LORD.”

Job 42:2 “I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted.”

Isaiah 46:8-11

“Remember this, keep it in mind,
    take it to heart, you rebels.
 Remember the former things, those of long ago;
    I am God, and there is no other;
    I am God, and there is none like me.
 I make known the end from the beginning,
    from ancient times, what is still to come.
I say, ‘My purpose will stand,
    and I will do all that I please.’
 From the east I summon a bird of prey;
    from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose.
What I have said, that I will bring about;
    what I have planned, that I will do.

Fixing my eyes on Jesus

A lot of things have happened recently. We are in our fifteenth week of homeschooling, and the magic has disappeared. Maybe I mentioned that already in another post. I am not as excited as I was at the beginning, and homeschooling is not as “awesome” as I thought it would be.

Let me rephrase that. My definition of “awesome” was: effortless, leisurable, and comfortable. Homeschooling has been anything but that. Yes, it has been awesome, but my perspective on what “awesome” actually is has changed.

I heard this at a conference, you know – it’s not like I was clueless. They said this was going to be hard – that I should expect it to be hard.  What was I thinking? That somehow my children somehow managed to escape the Total Depravity of man? LOL! 

9 What then? Are we better than they? Not at all; for we have already charged that both Jews and Greeks are all under sin; 10 as it is written,

THERE IS NONE RIGHTEOUS, NOT EVEN ONE;
11 THERE IS NONE WHO UNDERSTANDS,
THERE IS NONE WHO SEEKS FOR GOD;
12 ALL HAVE TURNED ASIDE, TOGETHER THEY HAVE BECOME USELESS;
THERE IS NONE WHO DOES GOOD,
THERE IS NOT EVEN ONE.”
13 THEIR THROAT IS AN OPNE GRAVE,
WITH THEIR TONGUES THEY KEEP DECEIVING,”
THE POISON OF ASPS IS UNDER THEIR LIPS”;
14 WHOSE MOUTH IS FULL OF CURSING AND BITTERNESS”;
15 THEIR FEET ARE SWIFT TO SHED BLOOD,
16 DESTRUCTION AND MISERY ARE IN THEIR PATHS,
17 AND THE PATH OF PEACE THEY HAVE NOT KNOWN.”
18 THERE IS NO FEAR OF GOD BEFORE THEIR EYES.”

– Romans 3:9-18 NASB

The children and I spent a couple of weeks memorizing these verses as we have been studying the true condition of man’s nature after The Fall of Adam and Eve. I am a loyal ESV Bible reader, but lately I’ve been using the NASB. It capitalizes the text of the New Testament every time the Old Testament is quoted. How amazing is that?

In Romans 3:9-18, the apostle Paul is simply quoting the Hebrew Scriptures. He quotes Psalm 14:1-3, Psalm 53:1-3, Psalm 5:9, Psalm 140:3, Psalm 10:7, Proverbs 1:16, Isaiah 59:7,8.

And it makes sense, right? That as Paul is making the case for the sinfulness of man, the Jews are affirming everything they hear. They probably are thinking those non-Jews are the worst, and then Paul goes on to say, that EVERY ONE is under sin, both Jews and Greeks [non-Jews] alike. For there is no distinction, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23)

During Bible time we have also talked about how the doctrine of Total Depravity does not mean you are as evil as you could be, but it does mean that the fall of Adam was so radical that the body, the mind, the will, the spirit—indeed, the whole person—have been infected by the power of sin. So our only hope then to overcome that condition is the mercy of God. We cannot just make some small adjustments or behavioral modifications, but we need a new heart. We need to be regenerated, we need to be born again from above. And as Jesus would explain to Nicodemus, being born into the kingdom is not a matter of man’s will, since flesh gives birth to flesh. But being born of the Holy Spirit is like the wind – it goes wherever it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes.

So how can someone be born again?

Do you put your faith in Jesus [pray a prayer or do whatever you need to do] and as a result of that action you are born again into the kingdom of God?

OR

You are born again from above [without your input, God changes your heart without your permission] and as a result you willingly come to faith and repentance in Christ?

I am convinced from the Scriptures that the latter is the biblical explanation for why anybody is a Christian. Anyways… it’s not new (at least in my own circles) that Reformed Theology has changed the way I see everything in life, and homeschooling is no exception.

I think this is what I have been confronted over and over again these fifteen weeks. My children were very responsive and excited the first week. They listened for the most part, and were obedient. Now, however, most of our days we are angry at our neighbor who is annoying us for the 24th time in the day…

 

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Civil War Weekend 2019

 

Libby and Enzo sit together side by side, and Enzo gets on her face all the time. Change seats, right? That’s the answer!! Well, nobody wants to change seats. Most of the classes they have to take together, so it is only natural that the older will be faster at some things, like writing or taking notes. The other morning, Libby started a whole argument in the bathroom trying to control the amount of time Enzo brushed his teeth. She is prone to have cavities so the rule for her is that she has to brush her teeth for two minutes using a small sand clock that she has. Enzo had one, too, but he broke it one day when he was angry. So… Libby was brushing her teeth and Enzo did not brush his teeth for the whole two minutes since she had already started with the clock. Well, that made Libby upset and she began bossing him around. He snapped at her about how he doesn’t have to obey her, and in retribution, she stuck her tongue at him and walked away.

Pretty funny, right? Although, it is not.

He then tossed his toothbrush full of toothpaste at the mirror, and made a mess which he proceeded to clean, but was having a difficult time cleaning. Then I realized all this had happened in less than two minutes, and I was not even aware of it. I was making my coffee in the kitchen and the only reason I got involved is because Enzo asked for help  on how to clean the mirror. I just asked him what had happened, and he got all hot again, which is and has always been a struggle for him – his anger. Then he began raising his voice at me, and I was not even part of this argument, but he began disrespecting me.  It took us probably more than ten minutes to settle the whole argument, with both parties involved, and without yelling at each other.

Everybody had to be confronted about their own sin in the situation, because everybody did sin. Libby was controlling to say the least, and then she showed contempt for her brother in sticking her tongue at him. I had a hard time not laughing when he told me he was upset because of that. It is hilarious for me as an adult who sees this from the outside, and has perspective on it, but seriously, what was happening in her heart at that particular moment that made her do that? I have showed contempt for people and for God. In a way, I have stuck my tongue at God when I have disregarded His ways, and have gone my own way.

Enzo, well, he lost control. He let his emotions rule. Yes, she sinned against him, so now how is he supposed to respond? Should he offer forgiveness or should he pay back evil for evil, and made a whole mess out of nowhere? Of course he was angry, and he had a good reason to be angry. One of the things I have learned to do in marriage is to overlook minor offenses, otherwise Emerson and I would be arguing more often!

How do we learn to do that? God is giving us plenty of daily opportunities to practice forgiveness while at the same time learning to confront sinful behavior by talking instead of throwing stuff at each other! God willing, this will be very helpful for their future marriages.

So this was the start of our day… we were just getting ready to start with Bible. I think that’s basically how all our days go – on and on throughout the day. Forget Math and Grammar, what gets me tired is fighting for the spiritual state of my children.

 

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North Houston Baptist Church Camping Trip 2019

 

A while ago I shared with someone that I was gonna be homeschooling my children. They looked at me in horror, I am not kidding – HORROR – and exclaimed, “WHY?!”

LOL! I did not take offense, this was not a Christian woman, so of course we had zero agreement on what matters the most in this life. But Christian or not Christian, situations like the toothpaste are exactly why we chose to homeschool. I don’t think I have ever written it all down. I have the privilege to address my children’s hearts as only I can. I get to disciple them and spend my days teaching them what matters the most in this life.

Who is going to teach them those things if not my husband and I?

Am I really naive enough to think that their home room teacher will? Even assuming the teacher is Christian, that person has no time in the day to address my child’s heart or the other twenty children in her classroom. They do not know my children. We never intended to get the children out of the public school system to put them in a Christian bubble in order to isolate them from sin. I am stuck with these little sinners every single day, and they are stuck with me. Sin is alive and well in our household. I guess it was way easier to send them over to school where somewhere else was bothered by their misbehavior. And what would the teacher do? Have a ten minute talk about sin and how sin gets in the way of our relationships? Of course not. So basically, at the end of the day I am exhausted, but I am so thankful we are doing this.

We are studying about other cultures, and other religions, and the questions have been great so far. I was not expecting Libby to ask me how do we know that Christianity is true.

 

You tell us all the time the Bible is true, and that every other religion is false. But the Muslim mother is teaching her children that Islam is true, and that everything else -including Christianity – is false. How do we know who is right?

– Libby

I froze for about five seconds LOL!

I didn’t have to deal with that question until I was 31 years old. Nobody ever prepared me to answer those things. And it is awesome that I get to use my spiritual gifts in teaching and preaching the gospel to my children over and over again [to my children – you know, in case you are not familiar with the uproar after Go Home].

The LORD has been so good to me and He has equipped me with so much knowledge and understanding about other religions, particularly Islam after living in India. It is a great opportunity that I get to teach apologetics and theology to my children. God has wired me with a passion for this, and it is great to be used by Him in that way. It doesn’t happen often (we do not follow a curriculum), but I think it comes often enough because we are studying the Scriptures every day. And as I write this post, I realize that the things that we have talked about have happened over a period of weeks, not necessarily in one sitting.

We have talked about the nature of truth claims, and how the most zealous sincere believers can be sincerely wrong. We have talked about how all religions share some truths together, but in reality, it is also nonsense to say that all religions teach the same things, because when you really study them side by side, they contradict each other at critical points. Simply said, Islam, Christianity, Jehova Witnesses, and Mormonism all have a different Jesus. For the JW, Jesus is Michael the archangel; for the Mormon, Jesus is the actual literal son of God who had sex with one of his many wives, brother of Satan, among other things; for Muslims, Jesus is a great prophet, but ultimately a man who, by the way, did not die on the cross (despite all the historical evidence from Jewish historians); and for Christians, Jesus is the Son of God, not a physical son, but of the same nature of the Father.

It takes a lot of time to go through many of those things. And I think that’s what I LOVE about being with them all the time. If I were not with them, all these hours that I am investing in their spiritual present and future would be spent somewhere else, with someone else, and they would be learning something else. They would still be discipled, but by other people. I know the LORD saves no matter what. He saved me, and nobody ever homeschooled me. God is mighty to save, but if I can spend this time with them, why wouldn’t I?

 

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He decided to get a haircut 😦

 

Ultimately, what I am striving for is to help them see what the Bible says about the condition of fallen man and how Christ is our only hope.

I have tried to make clear to them that if at any point in their lives (including right now) there is any real desire to follow after Christ in their hearts, that desire did not originate in their sinful hearts, but that God gave them that desire. Even though I believe their confession of faith is true, ultimately only God knows whether or not their faith in Jesus is genuine. And so, if they came to Christ is because it was granted to them by God, the Father, since nobody comes to the Son unless the Father draws him. That is the plain reading of the text.

We have memorized Romans 3: 9-18.

Who seeks after God? No one. There are no true seekers apart from the Holy Spirit already working in the hearts of those people.

Who is righteous in their heart that they fear the Lord? No one. So if they really believe, it is because God changed their hearts. How or when, I do not know. But I believe what Jesus said about the Holy Spirit blowing wherever He pleases, and we only see the effects of it.

If they are Christian, it is not because they are smarter than their peers, or because they are more reasonable than the unbelievers down the street, or more humble than other children or adults who refuse to accept Jesus. No. They are Christian because God had mercy on them. They are Christian because He chose to open their eyes. They are Christian because God chose them in Christ before the foundation of the world, that they should be holy and blameless before Him. Another plain reading of the text.  They are Christian because God, in love, predestined them to adoption to Himself as children through Jesus Christ, not according to their free will, or according to how amazing they are, because the text does not say that anywhere. If they are Christian, it is according to the purpose of His will, for the praise of his glorious grace. Therefore, they cannot really boast in their ability to choose for Christ, because if there is repentance and faith in their lives, even that is a gift of God, so that no one can boast.

So I guess, we pretty much are hanging on the mercy of the Lord at all times,  and that is a sobering thought. I have been very anxious about several things lately, and the original intention of my post was to talk about it, but I got sidetracked… I have been realizing that, literally, my every heart beat is a gift from God – every single time my heart beats depends on the LORD keeping it beating.

So apart from the grace of God, no matter how much evidence I could provide them so that they would believe Christianity is a factual, historical, reliable faith, they would never believe it anyway.  They cannot. That is exactly what the Bible claims. They are blind. They cannot please God on their own. Apart from Christ, they are God’s enemies. Apart from Christ, they are all alone in the world, without hope, following Satan. Apart from Christ, they are dead in their sins and trespasses, and by nature, children of wrath (Ephesians 1, Ephesians 2, John 6, Romans 5, Romans 8, John 3).

So they do not need evidence, the evidence is there, and will always be there. What they most desperately need is a miracle. They need the Holy Spirit to illuminate their hearts. They need to be born again. While I cannot birth them spiritually, I know that my prayers and my teaching of the Word of God to them are some of the means that God might use to bring them to faith. And even if He doesn’t, I am still commanded to do it. I need to trust God will glorify Himself through our lives.

This is basically why we homeschool. If we didn’t, we couldn’t compete with the 16,000+ hours that they would have spent in school. I want that time for Christ.

Oh, yes. Other than that, we are into crocheting, and rock climbing lately. My arms were sore for three days. I am also learning to play the piano 🙂

 

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Libby climbing.

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

Dr. Naik fails Geology

I really value this girl’s passion. She reminds me of myself, and the many reasons I decided not to become Muslim. I analyzed the information I was given – methodically. I just didn’t believe whatever I was told by Muslims.

We did not come to the same conclusions. I didn’t leave Christianity, but she did. Maybe she could analyze the text of the New testament as passionately as she has the Quran. Still, that won’t win her back. It all ends up being a personal decision on what is most likely to be true given the data you are looking at.

There is NO certainty when it comes to faith. You can only just make a choice based on the evidence you are given.

Are you kidding me on the tectonic plates, Dr. Naik? (Min 7:25 of this video). 

Muslims turning to Christ

I read this article recently, and it gave great joy to my heart. I am not in the field per se, but I have heard many testimonies like this from missionaries.

Also, reading quotes like the following, really encourages me to put things in perspective.


If you’re persecuted just thank God that you haven’t been beaten, if you’ve been beaten, thank God you haven’t been thrown in prison, if you’re in prison, thank God you haven’t been killed, and if you’ve been killed, thank God that you’re with Jesus in heaven.


YHWH is out to save His people 🙂