Friday, November 09, 2012

A Dios sea la gloria!

That's what my Nicaraguan granma would say if she was alive, "To God be the glory, mi'hijita", if she were to read the incredible humbling honor my brother Rudy Carrasco gave me in graciously including me in his list of 14 Latina Christians in America to Know. When I read this story & all that lives between the lines, I stopped & meditated on 2 things:

I humbly think back to how God spared me and my brother from getting on the Tan Sahsa Airlines Boeing 727 plane, on that ill-fated Saturday morning, October 21, 1989. The plane going from Managua, Nicaragua to the USA, was supposed to stop in Tegucigalpa, Honduras. The fact that God, who is great in mercy, stopped us from getting on that flight that my mother got on, is just as miraculous as the fact that you are reading my words and you have air to breathe. JUST. AS. MIRACULOUS. My mother immediately went to heaven when that plane crashed, and according to survivor, Vivian Pellas, who told me face to face, "The last thing your mother thought about was you." I believe her now that I'm a mother to a son. I believe I was the last thought in her mind.

The second thing I think back to, is what I wrote Rudy as a thank-you for thinking of ordinary Latina women who are trying to make a difference in the Kingdom of God. Twice a minority can be something to overcome. This is what I wrote to him. Raw. When I hit send, I thought, "Now, why did I just do that? This guy is going to think I'm crazy!" But it's my story. Where I come from, we're story-tellers. We tell stories that are testimonial in nature. We tell stories to remember what God has done. We gain strength from what we've had to overcome.

Dear brother--
Reading your e-mail that my husband Rob forwarded to me brings tears to my eyes. To have a brother like you stand with, alongside, affirm, and empower us Latinas followers of Jesus doing normal, routine, daily life, as well as advancing God's Kingdom on earth, is like a warm fire on a cold day.

I know how hard it is to be twice a minority - Latina and woman in the USA. Yet thankfully, I had a very strong Nicaraguan father who always told me I should care less about what men/women thought about me, and tremble more at disobeying God. That it didn't matter that I had a uterus, the command to "go and make disciples" is for ALL. So he told me, "Woman, speak!" Speak of God of course, not my own thoughts. But the walls have always been there, whether in Nicaragua, Texas, or Arkansas where I have lived & served in ministry. The first time I translated a sermon for a Southern Baptist missionary in Managua, Nicaragua, I was 14 yrs old, and you can imagine this pastor did NOT want me, a woman and teenager, to interpret for him. But my dad said, "She's the best we got, she knows better English than me, you're just going to have to deal with it." And 20 people came to Christ that hot morning inside a Nicaraguan wooden church with no air conditioner, and no fans, and the little abuelitas were saying "amen, gloria, aleluya" at the teaching from Philippians "I want to know Christ and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Him in his death." That was the first time I understood Holy Spirit power, because I was throwing up in the bathroom 15 mins before I went up to the pulpit, where God forbid a woman stood with pants on and not a skirt.....
do you smell what I'm stepping in?
A Dios sea la gloria,
~Ines Velasquez-McBryde

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

True freedom...on #election2012 day

This past weekend 33 women (and one guy, the worship leader) retreated to a beautiful camp to seek God's voice in quietness, solitude, silence in the middle of orange, red, yellow fall leaves in Central Arkansas. I've lost count of how many Silent Prayer Retreats I've led in the past several years. All because one day I was looking for a movie to entertain me on a Friday night, and while scanning the blockbuster aisle, I stumbled on a documentary about Being Still & Silence. I had no idea God's voice in silence could leave me speechless.

On Friday night (Nov.2) I shared my struggle with the woman caught in adultery from John 8:1-11. Struggle. Mental block. Numbness is what I felt a few days before as I read, again...that passage that was making me uncomfortable. It wasn't the nicely-packaged-story, with the nicely-packaged-lesson, and a nicely-packaged-encounter between Jesus and a woman. It was controversial. Scandalous. Naked. Shame. Guilt. Violent. Stoning of  a woman. Blood-thirsty. Legalistic. I didn't want to enter the story...I didn't want to be that woman...I didn't want to be the blood-thirsty Pharisee either, picking up the stone. Savage. I wanted to be the merciful-Jesus. But I wasn't. A friend prayed for me. A pastor. A brother. Spirit anointed prayer. Broke me. Pierced me. Tears. Snot. Shame. Swimming in the sludge of my sin for a minute was quite enough. Quite. Enough. To ask for Forgiveness. Who was I kidding? How could I speak before these women? teach what? hypocrisy? Damn it. Thank you for making me enter the story. I had been walking around it. But I entered it. Found my place. Sat down. Found my view. My spot. Watched it all unfold. Colorfully. Heart beating. My face in a mirror. My shame. My guilt. My wounds. Redemption.

Saturday we woke up in silence. Got ready without saying a word. Ate breakfast slowly. Ahhh! the dream of a mother to eat in silence & uninterrupted. Coffee in a cup. Hot coffee that didn't grow cold as you multi-tasked on a normal morning trying to rush out the door to work/daycare! Heart slowing down. Mind starting to let go of busy-ness. Heart anticipating a rhema Word from God. Discerning the Lies of the enemy. Replacing the holes with Truth.

I do not condemn you, either. 
The one with the authority to condemn, didn't. The ones with the desire to stone: walked away one by one.

Go. Be free. Nah'. Don't worry about it. A beating will take place. But I WILL take it for you. Mercy.

...and sin no more.
Jesus wasn't clueless. He knew her sin. But he said it like it is. SIN. NO. MORE. You can't get any better until someone tells you the Truth, right? preach it bro, preach it, with mercy. grace. forgiveness.

The prayer rooms we entered were intimate:
Abiding Room - with a list of the Verbs of God from The Organic God by Margaret Feinberg.

Forgiveness Room- keep wanting to delete it from the prayer guide, but I can't, women always get stuck there for hours...hard to let go of a hurt, so used to it, where would we be without it?

Renaming Room - intimate. God giving us a new name. New identity. Seeing ourselves how God sees us. I was disappointed I didn't get a name, but He gave me 2 words: "Speak. Stand Upright." Intimate...too much to say.

Contemplation Room - yep. Don't think. Don't ask. Don't read. Relax. Be still. Walk. Nap. Sit. Take in the silence. It's like a Q-tip that unclogs the crap.

Sharing time....too intimate. No room for details here. But nevertheless my friend & sister, Caffhanie Calloway captured it all. She started listening from God and writing a poem about our time. She listened to God. She listened attentively to her sisters. She listened to the tears, the unfinished words, the pain coming out of our throats closing up, afraid to speak the truth of the lies we've believed. She kept writing. Talented. Creative. Rhythmic. Poetic. Raw. Honest. Soulful. She wrote not only for the page. She also wrote for the voice. When she read it with her expressive cadence,accentuating those important words, my mouth dropped. I wanted that voice recorded. That voice. God's pleasant voice. Smiling voice. Voice pleased. Delighting in His daughters. No condemnation.

Funny. Today is Election day in the United States. But true freedom is captured in this poem.

(shared with permission by Caffhanie Calloway - all rights reserved).

She Free

She free
She wit da broken heart—mended
She wit da battered soul—tended
            Her tattered cape flapp’n
            Holey and dirty
                        Yet da King—He clapp’n
She free
She wit da bruised body—heal’n
She wit da heated stare—chill’n
            She swimm’n like dem dolphins
            Her mangled arms gettin stronger
            Needle points and razor cuts
                        The Spirit accepts hah every touch
She free
She wit da untreatable disease—surviva
She wit da unplanned baby—momma
            She smil’n thru hah tears
            She won’t give up cuz dem fears
                        Hands callused and covered in sores
                        But the Son, He love hah even more
She free
She wit da dark eyes—lighten
She wit da weakened mind—fightin’
She covered in mud
She froth wit fatigue
She crawling thru the anger, violence, and deceit
She plummets thru the ravage, the danger, and the wraith
She naked and unguarded
            All she got wit hah is faith
She hit from all angles—chest, arms, and legs
            Bleed’n from self-deception, pride, and dread
She wit da damaged armor haphazardly hang’n on
            Took that seed thru the field wit hah
Body dragg’n low—pull’n, strugglin’—strugglin’
Strength gain’n, gain’n
Love grow’n. grow’n
 She wit da exhausted state—enliven—layin flat to the dirt
            dredging to the line where love comes first
She wit hah crusted fingers—grasp’n
            Wit renewed force abound—
Securely wit’n the Hand she found
She free

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

~leaves fall in the Fall~

So I was trying to be all "spiritual and stuff" in this monastic, silent room at the Arkansas House of Prayer, last October of 2011. Starting slow & tapering down my breathing. Quiet enough to hear my heart beating. Beating for a rhema word from God. Revelation that there's still hope for this struggling heart. I thumb through my Bible. Slowly. Don't want the pages to turn too loud lest I'm not quiet enough & I miss His Voice. Don't wanna miss His voice. So He voices...

Why do leaves fall?

Huh? Wait. I'm in Ephesians. What does that have to do with anything? I'm trying to read the Word but missing some words hanging on a branch. Again He voices...

Why do leaves fall?

I look out the window at the turning leaves. Never grew up with this in Nicaragua. Was always fascinated that in the USA leaves changed to fiery red, bright orange, lightning yellow...and then they fell. Well DUH. Leaves fall because they fall! That's why it's called Fall, remember? I tell the Voice.

Go home & do a search on why leaves fall.

Fast forward to a search at a website called "science made simple". Because Lord knows I need simple. The rhema came alright. It came after digging through some scientific mumbo jumbo about the intricate processes between summer & winter, between the tree, the sun, water, roots, food, leaves... Simple. Yet hard. Yet common. Yet I had never paid attention. I was looking down & not looking up at the trees. 

During the winter there's not enough light nor water to produce food for the tree, so the trees rest and live off of the food they have stored up in the summer. Then the brown got me. The brown color in the leaves that fall is made from wastes left in the leaves. Leaves fall. Let go of this unnecessary waste. If they don't fall, they weigh down the tree inside and out. They stunt the tree's growth. There's no room for new growth come Spring around the corner.

So...moral of my story is... did you know trees poop thru their leaves when they fall?!

Deep sigh. Maybe I'm in the winter of my soul. In need to throw off unnecessary weight, waste. Store up Truth in my heart. Make room for growth. Don't stop my growth. Some things have GOT to go if I'm going to see some Spring in my future. In the wise words of one unnamed brotha' when I shared this story for 3rd time, at Castle Bluff, "I think I've been constipated for a long time".

So this happened last year. And today I found a letter that I wrote myself last year to remember what God taught me thru the Fall leaves. I opened the card and a brown dried up leaf fell off onto my lap. My heart leapt. My rhema came again. At just the right moment. Just when the heater broke down, the car broke down, my heart broke down at the fees associated with said heater, the other car is making strange sounds, hard conversations, hard repentance, hard waiting, hard-to-receive-Grace, choosing not to worry, rebuking the Lies. Just when I needed Him. He walked by me & called my name. Last year's faith was stored up in the mail & I'm living off of it today.

Encounter the person of Jesus in this story: Read Mark 10:46-52.