Sunday, November 27, 2011

Advent Conspiracy Week 1: GIVE MORE

In college I read a challenging, life-changing book about world missions. I read about a Chinese pastor of a large underground church who wrote a letter to another pastor and friend of his in the United States. He wrote to his friend something paraphrased like this, “We’re praying for the American church and for our brothers and sisters in Christ there. It seems that we’re handling our persecution here better than you are handling your prosperity.” I have seen this personally played out in my own life. It seems that I grow desperately closer to the Lord during trials and problems, but it’s easier to coast through life independent of God when things are going well.

When I read the title of this week’s challenge during the Advent Conspiracy, Give More, my mind drifted to what that really meant to me in light of the lesson I learned from that Chinese pastor. How do I handle prosperity? How do I handle consumerism during a season where we’re supposed to “stop and look at Christ” like my friend Sarabeth prayed this morning in church? If God owns everything in my life, how do I give of Himself to others through what He has entrusted me with (all year long, really)? Note to self: whether you have $1000 or $10, the responsibility to manage well what God has given us and for His glory is the same.

To simplify the thought in my mind I came up with this: Give More = Give Differently. The challenge is not to stop giving, right? God is a Giver. But how and what to give? Below I will share 2 ways of giving that I challenge myself with. Perhaps it’ll change how you give the rest of the year.


My 2 year old toddler has the same love language as me: Quality Time. If you want to make him (or me) happy, just sit on the couch with him watching Dora the Explorer or Elmo, or sit next to him while he plays cars. I recently read a blog about an NBA player who is a single dad of two boys. He travels a lot and said the bottom line with his boys is that they need “attention and affection.” That struck a chord in my heart. Even when I think I’m giving my time away, I’m doing so hurriedly, half-heartedly, distracted, with a mental list of what more productive things I could be doing during this time of just “being” with another person. So how about giving your full attention, full affection to those you are spending time with? Wherever you are, be all there!

Give homemade gift certificates to family members and/or friends to have lunch, coffee or some other activity together. My younger sisters love our tradition of “sister time.” Sometimes they ask me, “can we have some sister time this week?” I know it’s time to just spend one-on-one & away from the rest of the family so they can be known and be heard without interruptions. Do you have children? I only have one, but in the course of writing this blog I have been “interrupted” five times because he knows I’m not paying attention to him. He says to me “Mommy, sit here with me, Mommy!” And I stop. And I do sit & look at his eyes when he speaks. And I give him my full attention and all my affection. Laundry can wait. Life can’t.

I have a pet peeve that I may have alluded to earlier. If you didn’t catch it it’s this: I absolutely hate “seasonal giving” and then being stingy with our money the rest of the year. Thankfully, I have been a part of churches that encourage both: to live a surrendered financial life to God during Christmas, as well as every other time of the year.

I have another pet peeve. I prefer gifts that keep on giving. This is partly because I grew up 18 years of my life in a third world country, and being practical is engrained in me. Or maybe it’s also that thing about “don’t give a man a fish…teach him to fish.” I come from a large family being the eldest of seven children. One year I was overwhelmed with the “consumerism” of trying to buy gifts for all of them (and also overwhelmed with a three month old newborn). I realized I wanted to give something different. I didn’t want them to come to expect things-things-things all the time. So they each got $20 and a Heifer Gift Catalog where they could choose to buy chickens or a goat for a family in a developing country. I gave them the gift of having the ability to give. Maybe when they make their first $20, they’ll do the same.

I realize there are a gazillion ways to get involved in our communities locally & abroad. The following life-giving, long-term sustainable avenues are dear to me simply because I have been personally involved in them & they’ve captured my heart.

Living Water International (
I grew up in Nicaragua and know first hand how we had to boil our drinking water to kill germs, bacteria and/or parasites so we wouldn’t get sick. In other countries worse off than my own, women & children walk for hours & miles a day to go fetch water, and dirty at that. Clean water is life-giving, life-changing, improves quality & longevity of life. It costs an average of $1 for 1 person to have clean water for 1 year. Got any change in your pocket?

Gardens in the Desert – (
In 2008 I spent 10 days in a Saharawi refugee camp in the middle of the Sahara Desert in Algeria. In the desert, there isn’t even water underground for wells to be dug. Water is brought in by trucks via the United Nations. I didn’t see anything that grew in the sand. But with $50 you can provide a bag of specially-engineered soil that needs low-water & seeds to help a Saharawi family grow food in the desert (desert that gets to be as hot as 130 degrees Fahrenheit)!

God promises that not even a glass of water given out in His name will come without reward & He challenges us to build treasures in heaven not on earth. So this Christmas (and the rest of the year…), may it be on earth as it is in heaven.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

~i'm afraid of the yeast in my freezer~

So I love my small town and the fact that they have a locally-grown farmers market in the Argenta district. Saturday I woke up and hauled my hubby & toddler promising them to stroll around and breathe better just by going to the outside market rather than a retail convenience store. I'm smiling from ear to ear with my cute recyclable shopping bag. I only came for blueberries really and as I'm tasting a couple that the farmer offered me to taste, before my purchase, I glance over... "OH! and can I get one of those cucumbers you have there?!" The farmer, poor thing, looks at me, baffled, and respectfully responds, "Ma'am, those are zucchinis." SHOOT! I think. Dang it. I've done it again. Hiding my ignorance I blurt out, "Well, I'd like one of those anyways..." Farmer grabs a couple and says, "Here. Take two." I smile, embarrassed, and pay him cash the price of 1, while placing my ZUCCHINI's and quart of freshly picked blueberries in my plastic bag. Stroll away laughing at myself...cuz it's better to laugh than to cry! Here I've been looking for zucchini's a whole year to make this delicious zucchini bread recipe I have, and kept thinking, "gosh, this store never carries zucchini!!" Come to find out...I don't carry the right mental image of what one looks like!

Later that same sunny, breezy Saturday, I'm feeling even more hippy/organic and I'm reading the instructions for this bread I've never made. I like to follow instructions. I'm a little bit of a perfectionist with a side of procrastination. Is it my Biology/Pre-Med background that does this? You gotta be exact when you're in the Chemistry lab. You can't just miss a decimal point or something in there might explode. So when the recipe says "squeeze the extra moisture from the zucchini..." Dang, I think. I wash my hands again and grab bunches of those freshly shredded green things and *squeeze* I go.... SQUEEZE in between my hands and trying to just let the juice out and not let the zuch slip down my arm.... I'm telling my friend, who gave me the recipe, "hey, do you really squeeze the zucchini in that recipe to get the extra juice out? or do you just shred it?" My friend says, "Did you SQUEEZE it?" and I felt that warmness in my cheeks, yet again, when I looked into her eyes....DANG. I've done it again. Who would've thought using a STRAINER is the next best thing to using your hands to *squeeze* things?...

Earlier I said I'd rather laugh at myself. It really is better. Just join the fun and laugh WITH yourself. When I used to take Spanish flamenco classes growing up, my teacher always threatened us that if we made a mistake, we never EVER ought to make a face showing our horror, nor stopping and losing track of our steps in the dance. She said we just had to look down at whatever we had dropped, if anything, and laugh at it, and keep going. So that's what I do when it comes to cooking and I make a *blurb*.

Deep inside you don't know what I've had to overcome to get myself to not care about this issue. It used to give me a lump in my throat if someone teased me. You see, I grew up without a mom my formative years. Then my widowed father hired a maid to cook and clean for us because we couldn't deal with our grief, among other things and he needed help. I wasn't really allowed in the kitchen. My one duty in life, per my dad, was to 1. Study, 2. Study, 3. Study, and lastly, if there was any time left over, 4. STUDY. So cooking? out of my orbit. I didn't have a need nor desire to learn about it. I had to learn English and get straight A's to get into a good university in the USA because I wanted to be a doctor. *phew* Later in life, once in college, I started feeling insecure about the fact that I had never boiled an egg, and everyone here seemed to have a fetish with those darn (yet delicious) chocolate chip cookies and I had never made them....ever....never boiled an egg. Remember?

So you know. Insecure. Me? a Latina woman who doesn't know how to cook? What? AND you don't cook spicy food? (that's a whole other blog post about the difference between spicy Mexican food and our bland, but still flavorful Central American food...) So I used to feel insecure but now I just laugh WITH myself. I made it thru college eating who knows how much cereal and other potluck leftovers and oh, the blessed Cafeteria food. When I got married, GEESH, now I had to feed him? Uh.OH.

I've made great strides and I now make some mean Black Bean Soup, chicken tacos a la Nicaraguan with my own twist, and have even learned some American recipes. I had to write about this more than anything to allow the humor to crush any insecurity that may creep up about my cooking. And who knows...maybe you "gentle reader", could relate with how I'm scared to death about this yeast package that's sitting in my freezer that my friend Rachel gave me to make honey oatmeal bread....Does that yeast have teeth? I'd rather keep it frozen. Just in case.

~I ain't no Rachael Ray

Monday, June 13, 2011

~2 alka seltzer's~

You know when you wake up moaning and something in your insides just doesn't feel right? like, you know it's not hunger pain? I hate to wake up on a Monday when my dear hubby is still out of town thinking I have to juggle the day with a toddler on my own...AND get Montezuma's revenge on top of that. Was it last night's hotdog? or yesterday's lunch burger? You guessed it. Probably both!

So I grunt and moan in silence so as not to wake up the baby, hoping that this buys me some time. I remember my father saying one last thing before they left last night, "if you need us, just call us, we're here to help." And I remember feeling that nudge in the heart that I usually feel when God tells me, "something's about to happen". And it's as if time slows down for 2 seconds. I can't explain it. This has happened to me since I was a little girl. That I know things are going to happen, but I don't know how they're going to happen.

So I remember what my dad says and I grunt, "Grrr. This is why he said that." And sure enough. I don't want to bother anyone. But he said it to remind me I can count on him. And he says it to remind me that I can count on HIM. That God I tell you...finding every possible way to remind me of His presence.

So I text and say, "bad. stomach. can you come? please pick up kid. take him to daycare." My stepmom responds, the angel that she is, "will be there ASAP."

My dad cracks me up. He comes with his home remedy, tried and true for years. I make a face. But first he's sure to ask me, "you sure you're not pregnant?!" I make another face as if to say, "whatever, hand me the alka seltzer." He chuckles and continues to give me a hard time about I have to swallow the medicine water fast and in his presence or I just won't do it. Why are you taking your time? Gotta be brave! Forget the bitter taste! Come on! He's messing with me and makes me laugh. Which also makes my stomach muscles grunt in more pain.

I managed to have the kid ready to jump in the carseat and my angel-step-mom takes him to daycare. Meanwhile, I had not idea 2 hours of storytelling with my dad ensued. The first thing I noticed was that the house was quiet. (of course, the toddler-kid is gone). The 2nd thing I noticed: I hadn't talked with my dad this long since before I gave birth. Always a kid crying or needing attention, you know?

I love listening to my dad. How we ended up talking about the time war broke out in Nicaragua in 1978, the year I was born, when we started talking about my stomach pains...I don't know. OH yes! I know. He told me how he almost *died* of indigestion one time in Nicaragua for not watching what he was eating (pork, chicken, and shrimp all in one day). When the doctor at the hospital asked him what he had eaten that day and my dad told him, the doc asked, "really? and a bag of nails you didn't want to eat as a side?" He made me laugh again. And the Alka-Seltzer's were starting to work.

I've always told my dad he needs to write a book. He's always wanted to. This year I think he's finally going to sit down and record himself telling us stories, in order to start figuring out timelines, dates, events, and put them in order. Today I was captivated as he started telling me details of events I've always heard about... were a few months old when you came home from Spain...Nicaragua was in chaos... I used to be the assistant to the Vice-Minister of Urban Planification... great job, big bucks, I thought I had it made...

...few days before the dictator, Somoza, decided to flee the country because the Sandinista Liberation Front was taking control neighborhood by boss came and offered me an escape route...the promise of a job and safety in Miami, Florida, if I left with all of *them*. My dad said, "no thanks. I'm staying here. I'm not leaving my country. I'm not leaving my family." and the promise to keep his mouth shut about "The General" leaving in his military plane with all his monies and all his peoples...

...then I was at church one Sunday and got a radio-call from someone saying I shouldn't attempt to drive home because the Sandinistas were taking over my neighborhood and killing all young dad said, "should I follow my heart or should I follow this warning?" I wasn't able to return home that day and had to flee elsewhere. then about 20 members of our family were hunkered down in our other house and hearing bombs drop...every morning your aunt Cloty would say, "let us pray for guidance about what to do today." and every morning the prayers and the decisions were life or death...

Life. or. Death.

My mother, Marivalle, with a 1 year old to care for, took the bold decision to disguise herself and get in her friend's Volkswagon, and drove/walked 20 kms to reach my aunt's house and try to get them out...cuz she had kids...cuz 500lbs bombs were being dropped in that neighborhood and they didn't stand a chance.

HOLD IT. I have diarrhea today and I couldn't even make it to the restroom without thinking how hard it is to care for a needy toddler while you got tha' runs. And I had to call my family to come help me....But you're saying that my mother did WHAT??!! and YOU LET HER??!! Dad responded. She was brave. We decided this together. If I went, they would kill me. I worked for the government. But a woman, a woman stood a *better* chance. my mom and her friend, Mercedes, get all the way there amidst gunfire, trenches, and such, to find a stubborn sister in law with her 3 kids who didn't want to leave her husband. Why husband staying? If I told you I would have to kill you. Anyways. Off they go AGAIN, thru all the crap to return home to her mother in law going, "where's Zela? how come she's not with you??!!"

All I asked was for help. I got 2 Alka Seltzers and a history lesson. I need to start the recorder next time my dad begins speaking. He's getting old and sometimes the dates jumble in his head and we have to figure this out. It's good to remember where you've come from. I grow strength out of it when I feel weak. I remember the lessons that others have learned in their own skin, and try to not make the same mistakes. I would like to say I'm a brave and bold woman. But I'm still thinking that I act like a wimp sometimes and the things that make me fear are nothing like 500lbs bombs falling around you. And am reminded that the enemy has always tried to instill fear in my little soul.

So today I'm thankful for the diarrhea and staying home from work in my cozy house with my cozy bed and my delicious Ritz crackers. Time alone with my dad. Precious time listening to courageous stories. Need to write them down, for the record, so I don't forget the big God we have always served. Once I heard of Him. Now my eyes have seen Him.


Wednesday, June 01, 2011

~we found our way, on the way~

I forgot to share this blogpost that Donna invited me to contribute to at our Fellowship North blog. About 40 of us women from Central Arkansas went on a 24-hour Silent Prayer Retreat near Hot Springs. Here is a nugget of what happened on the way. I'd also like to share another account of that beautiful weekend together. My sister-friend Alison Chino wrote on her own blog with pictures that I didn't capture. She will bless your soul as well.

We stood in a circle on Saturday afternoon, about 40 us, before the Communion Table and I noticed that the table beautifully summarized the beginning and end of our retreat time together:

At one end of the table was a broken, red heart made out of metal.
The night before we had immersed ourselves into Luke 24 and joined the saddened, downcast disciples on the road to Emmaus. The journey started marked with loss and grief. Hope deferred. Wounds. Pain. Regrets. Confusion. Emptiness. Clenched fists. We all came with the same cry of our hearts “search me Lord”.

Then after the broken heart was a small trail of rocks and candles in the shape of hearts.
These symbolizing how the hearts of the disciples were burning when Jesus spoke words to them on the road. This path of rocks and candles reminded me of the journey we began Saturday morning. We woke up in silence, got ready, had a delicious breakfast without speaking to anyone, and then took off by ourselves for hours. We were on our own solitary path of silence, listening to the words of Jesus. Some sat by the lake, some under the gazebos or benches, some brought lawn chairs, some entered the peaceful prayer garden (more like a forest with trails!). During our silent journey we followed a prayer guide that started with the Cleansing Room, then the Abiding and Comfort Room, Identity Room, and finally, the Thanksgiving Room. We allowed the Spirit to speak. Some even chose their own path as the Spirit led them.

The path of rocks and burning candles led up to the Bread & Juice of Thanksgiving at the other end of the Communion Table.

Like the disciples on the road to Emmaus, we looked back at our hardships, situations, wounds, pain, loss, hopes, questions, doubts, and realized that Jesus had been there all along, we just hadn’t seen Him. The grief sometimes is too much to bear. But as we stopped, stood still and listened to His voice for about 5hrs, we couldn’t help but notice that He was present. He illumined our minds and our hearts. It was in the breaking of bread and thanksgiving time that He was most recognized as being with those disciples. Yet, He had been there all along. The journey that had started with loss and grief had ended in praise & thanksgiving. By the time we broke the silence at noon, we had bumped head on with the Grace of the Resurrection, Redemption, and Communion. All of which we already possessed, just hadn’t remembered, because we are forgetful daughters sometimes.

The sharing time after lunch & breaking the silence is one of my favorite parts of the Silent Prayer Retreat. The intimate things that were shared cannot even be uttered because they were so deep. Some women wrote poems. Some said even the trees, rocks, and clouds spoke to them. All read Scripture. We did some sacred journaling. But all women listened. Spent time with the Master. Slowed down our hearts.

We finished praying around the Communion table. One-word prayers. Love those. We just spoke one word that God had burned deep in our hearts, out loud, as well as writing the word on one of the rocks on the table. We left joyful and changed back to our community.

I’d like to end with this joyful invitation taken from a Mennonite Songbook that we read before taking communion:

This is the Welcome Table of our Redeemer, and you are invited
Make no excuses, saying you cannot attend; simply come,
for around this table you will find your family
Come not because you have to, but because you need to.
Come not to prove you are saved,but to seek the courage to follow wherever Christ leads.
Come not to speak but to listen, not to hear what’s expected, but to be open to the ways the Spirit moves among you.
So be joyful, not somber, for this is the feast of the reign of God,
where the broken are molded into a Beloved Community,
and where the celebration over evil’s defeat has already begun.

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

God whispers, it's both a verb & a noun

My beloved friend Margaret Feinberg writes in The Sacred Echo, that God whispers so that we can be still long enough to listen. I've been drawn even more to this thought as I read through a HUGE God whisper by another beloved author, Ann Voskamp, in one thousand gifts. God speaks to us in the every day mundane things and I've been making a list, as I shared with you all on my last post.

So I received one such God whisper in the mail a few days ago. It was a belated birthday card from a lady who always signs at the bottom, "your American Grandmother". This lady is over 75 years old and for the life of me I don't know how she remembers my birthday. Whether I move from one college apartment to another, to now the home I share with my hubby & son, she ALWAYS finds my address! I mean, why keep up after 22 years? I think I know. She gave my dad a ride to the airport on the most tragic day of his life. She made the invitation for my family to come to the USA. She's always been there for us ever since. Like a little angel of the Lord reminding us of God's gentle hand when your world turns upside down and then explodes. But still, God speaks thru her persistence. Such is His love. He runs after me. No matter how far away I've gone from Him. No matter where I've been or stand today. No matter the juxtaposition of offending emotions in my small little heart. He's there. He finds my forwarded address and finds. Me. HERE.

The whisper was so loud in this card that I had to share it with you, friend. Because it's my turn to whisper Truth into your confused, tired, dried up heart, perhaps? Here it is. The card came late because it got returned to her. I've moved on her, again! But she insisted. Sent it back to me. Do you send God's message back to Him because you don't want it? Holy Spirit asks. But. God sends it back. RETRY! Try again to hear my love whisper child. You doubt? okay. Here again:

You're a Gift from God

Remember, you go nowhere by accident.
Wherever you go, God is sending you.
Wherever you are, God has placed you there.
God puts you there for a reason.
Christ goes with you and empowers you.
It is His Spirit that works through you wherever you go or wherever you are.
So believe this, and then go confidently in His name,
knowing that the love, joy, and grace of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit
will be with you always.

Enjoy the path God has you in! Walk forward with joy in the Lord!
He has you here for "such a time as this"!

You are loved, your American Grandmother, Donna Thomas

Monday, May 23, 2011

~one thousand gifts~

I know. *gasp* I'm writing again. Carlos Fuentes, one of my inspirations in the Latin American prose & fiction, told me one day that he believes in no such thing as inspiration when he writes, instead he believes in discipline. We must write daily, whether we want to or not. Practice makes perfect.

So, I was challenged, but the rebel in me sometimes doesn't obey just to prove the opposite. That I can still write well, even when I don't write often (or at all!) as it has been this past year! GAH!

Which brings me to my reason for writing today. Same thing happens with my journaling. I used to write so often, but then I had a baby...ha! (Insert first year of baby's life here. No more explanation needed) A few months ago, though, I started reading a life-changing book, One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. Challenging, thoughtful, riveting to the soul. One way that it moved a crazy small group of us who meet at the un-godly hour of 7am on Saturday mornings, was by starting a thankfulness journal, or gratitude journal. Ann talks about the Road to Emmaus and how Jesus was best recognized by the sad disciples at the end of the road, during the breaking of bread and giving thanks. It was in the moment of giving thanks that the resurrected and glorious Christ was seen to the naked eye.

So our author, Ann, was challenged by a friend, to start a gratitude journal. Giving thanks in order to "see" God perhaps, in her day? so our little group of women, we started one, too. I loved the formula because it didn't force me to write the long paragraphs that I'm resisting to write *lately*. It was like a grocery or to-do list.
I liked the simplicity. Looking for God's touch. God's provision. God's light. God's presence. God's voice. God's warmth. God's gifts. In the every day. In the mundane. In those little things that, if you aren't looking, you don't see Him walking by you.
Some seemed silly. Some deep & huge. All Him. And I found that in my "thanksgiving", I was starting to see Him, walking on the road to Emmaus. And so I've been searching for Jesus since December. I haven't lost Him, mind you, no worries. But, I've been looking closer, deeper, more intimately. Looking for not the same old-same old. And I've found Him. In this journal that I hope to reach 1000 gifts. Or perhaps I'll go beyond that and my children will read it as my gospel of how I saw Jesus face-to-face.

So now it's evening, and I'm following Dr. Fuentes' advice of writing with discipline. My son's asleep. My husband's tweeting. It's time to write. Short words. Short phrases. Words of Thanksgiving that feed my trust in Him. Open my eyes wide to see Him. Wanna see the silliness? I flipped back in my journal to see what happened "on the road" since I started writing...

#2. dirty, cakey, sticky sippy cups by kitchen sink, because it means my baby had milk to drink.

#10. God's angels protecting me during car crash in snow

#13. Dove chocolate

#60. hubby doing 3 loads of laundry

#62. warm folded towels

#78. road trip with kim roth

#80. daffodils at the monastery

#103. my son kissing me on cheek as i rocked him to sleep in the dark

#111. money to buy groceries

#145. nash's hair standing up when he wakes

#186. nash and abe strolling down the road in a gardening cart

#192. killing the tick crawling up my leg

#205. mediterranean bday dinner with my hubby

#222. hubby getting job after 3 years in the waiting room with God

#235. seeing a pregnant friend getting 3 free kids meals at Chic-fill-a

Silly Jesus. Showing Himself to me in the every day. Silly how much He loves me (and you). Will you look for Him on the road? Believe me. He's there. My eyes have seen His glory.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

abandonment & trust

"Ines was *burn* on the 16th of May, 1978 in Spain, but I was in Nicaragua at the time, and when her uncle called me with the news, it was around 9:00pm on 15th of May" my father is telling the story that he tells every year on the eve of my birthday. This time he's telling the story to my inquisitive husband. And oh, he meant I was "born" not *burn*. I didn't burn. Excuse his English-as-a-Second-Language accent. So, this is why he always calls me wherever I am on May 15, to tell me "today is when I got the call and I could hear you crying on the other end of the line. I was so upset that I couldn't be there with you and your mom, that I went by myself to have some pizza and a whole pitcher of beer to celebrate."

If he knew I was writing this, he'd kill me. Please don't tell.

Far away from my father before I even came out of the womb.

Fast forward a month after I was born, and I was back in Nicaragua visiting in person for the first time. Fast forward a few more months when the political situation in Nic was getting hot, and you will find my mom packing our bags (again) and about to jump into a Hercules airplane from the Spanish Air Force embarking with other Spanish citizens quickly being evacuated from Managua. My dad, mom and I are headed to the airport. We're all supposed to get on that plane. All, right? Well, we get there and my dad pretty much shoves my mom who's got me in her arms, into the airplane and says, "you're getting outta here, I'm staying. Go where you'll be safe. I can't leave the country. I need to stay." She's mad. Have you ever seen a Spanish woman mad?? She mad.

Far away from my father before I was 2 years old. Again.

Abandonment is a big word. It's a deep word. It's my wound. My father NEVER abandoned me. EVER. But as I look back at my life and other hardships, it seems that the devil would have me *feel* and *believe* that I was abandoned. And since they say little girls get their view of their Heavenly Father confused with their earthly father... I get stuck.

Did God really say....? the serpent taunts in the perfect garden. Plants the devil seed of doubt. In my mind what the serpent hisses is, "did your father really do all these things to protect you? if he really had loved you, he would've never left you..." and on and on the list of "if your dad really loved you, he would've never ___________"

And so it is with my Trust in God. FAR away from my Father before I even came out of the womb. Far because I have *felt* abandoned. Although, I've NEVER been. That's the devil trick. Making you *feel* things that aren't true. So you gotta wade deep in the murky waters of hardships, wounds, trials, tears, heart losses, mistakes, and wonder, "am I abandoned?" So then what do you do? You look for the Light to show you the way. The darkness doesn't have a switch to turn OFF. So then, you turn ON the Light.

Abandonment. Well then. If this happens, then I better get control of the situation. If not, who else will? So, I trust only me. Myself. And I. That's what you do when you don't trust your Maker. Your Creator. Then you hear things like, "made in His image. He is transforming you into His image. He rejoices over you with singing. He loves you with an everlasting love." So, I look at my father at over 1 year old, don't know who he is, I jerk away and my fingers grip my mom. And my mom says to my dad, "don't worry, she doesn't remember you, it'll take time, she has to warm up." Few days later you can't take me away from my daddy's arms. I wanna go with him everywhere. The opposite of abandonment. Daddy's little girl. Happy-happy-joy-joy. Isn't that our faith-trust? You come close. Intimately close.

You get so terribly close though, that the serpent comes hissing again. Then you find yourself at the door of that airplane. Not understanding. I'm getting in the airplane with my mom. Dad is staying. Months go by until I see my daddy again.

So it is with this Faith-Trust. I've come to grips with my wound. My faith is shot down if I allow myself to believe the lie that I've been abandoned. Multiple situations. I come close. I leave His side. Repeat. So why trust Him? Oh, but He CAN be trusted, child. He will never leave you nor forsake you. But if all I know is seeing my dad wave goodbye from the little window, with my nose pressed on the cold glass and the loud engines firing away before we take off, what do I do with that?

So the formula is this. I feel abandoned, then I know it's devil-lies. I struggle with trust, then I know devil wants to sift me like wheat. So Trust is my word against *feeling* abandoned. So then I pose the question to my God and shut devil's-filthy-mouth: Daddy, heavenly Father, did you really say that you will be with me forever even until the end of days? Oh yes, child.

I sit on my deck. My father drinking a glass of red wine telling stories about when I was born and I'm thinking deeper into the situation. Those stories don't bother me. I need to write them down to remember the details. Those times of separation do nothing to wound my heart now. But they did remind me of my wounds that I've struggled with. Giving my wound a name was the beginning of my healing process. Recognizing it when it attempts to come back into my life to paralyze me with fear was the next step towards freedom. I listen to my dad. Wounded man that he has been. But healed. Healed with the blood of the Lamb.

I don't drink the red wine. But I do remember the blood of the same color code. The one that gives me life. Heals the wound. Kills the word. Gives me Life-Trust. And I write my Life-Word down on a rock. I stand in front of the Remembrance Table. The Thanksgiving Table. Heart-broken at the beginning of the Road to Emmaus. Sad. But my heart burning as the God-skin walks alongside me. Listening to my loss. My grief. Reminding me to Trust. So at the end of the road, at Emmaus, I recognize Him. Recognize Him that in all those times of *feeling* abandoned, feeling lost and unloved, I never was. He was on the Road. I just never saw Him. So my abandonment-road ends with praise-trust.

Too much for tonight....too much for not having written in a while...too much for turning 33. Isn't that how old Jesus was on the road to Emmaus? Oh God grant me eyes to see you on my road.

melting in His peace,
~Ines de Maria