Let there be true light!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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Photography is about letting light in. Capturing the picture without shadows, the emotions without distractions. Waiting for the sun to explode with the right hues, so that when you hear the click, the light will transform any darkness into beauty.

As a baby brought into light through birth, Earth was brought into birth through light. "Let there be light", echoed the command right in the beginning. There could be no life, beauty or birth without light. Earth had to be bathed with brightness before being shaped into art. 

Light exposed the beauty of creation as a spotlight announcing every new detail included. And it was good, very good. 

That is until darkness sneaked in. Until men chose darkness instead of light, thinking that light was not enough, or not convenient enough. As a result, the photos started to lose their beauty. With each click, a new stain of darkness showed up. It became almost impossible to capture light. 

On a dark night, around 2000 years ago, it was announced with great brightness that Light had come again into the world, this time true Light, the author of Creation. Light which gives light to every man coming into the world. The final solution to the stained pictures. 

Christmas lights brighten the darkness of winter, but only Christ can brighten the darkness of every human heart. 

Let there be true Light in your heart this Christmas.

"I am the light of the world. He who follows Me shall not walk in darkness but have the light of life." John 8:12
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Religion on the road to Damascus, Syria

Sunday, August 25, 2013

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My boys love to yell across the house: "Mommy!" repeatedly until I finally give up and come to meet their needs. I have tried to remind them several times that if they want to talk to me, they should move their little feet in my direction instead of yelling the breath out of their lungs. But for laziness reasons they prefer the yelling method because it usually works!

There is something about maternal instinct that allows mothers to recognize the voice and even the cry of their offspring from far away. My heart is always touched when I hear a baby or a child cry, but something deeper goes on when I hear one of my kids cry. That cry pierces my heart, time stops, there is only one thing going on in the entire universe and my motherly heart would pay anything to have access to the cry off button. That cry is not just a sound, it is a person squeezing out their pain through their throats and flooding their eyes with sadness. I know their voice.

"And the sheep follow him, for they know his voice" John 10:4

Saul and Mary

He is on a mission on the road to Damascus, Syria,
She is on a mission hushing to the tomb early,
He sees death as the solution,
She sees death as the tragedy.

He moves forward with anger,
She wishes the past had lasted longer,
He is surrounded by human strength,
She is surrounded by angels,

He suddenly sees a bright light!
She has her vision blurred by tears.

"Saul, Saul", says the voice that scares him,
"Mary", calls the familiar tone,
"Who are you?", Saul asks.
"Rabboni!", Mary rejoices!

He had never heard that voice,
She loved that voice!
He believed in his zealous for God,
She believed in a person.

(poem based in John 20 and Acts 9)

Religion is not personal, Jesus Christ is. 

"My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me". John 10:27

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Girl talk: If you got to Lean in; Lean in to this

Friday, July 19, 2013

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There is a place, and only one place on this Earth where you can find peace.
There is a place, and only one place on this Earth where waves come down, winds surrender and trials are paused.
There is a place at Jesus' feet. Lean in to this place.

There is a place where love is not promised, it is proved.
Where tears can fill the scars,
Proof of how far He went to bring you near.
At Jesus' feet. Lean in to this place.

At Jesus' feet you will find Mary drowning in forgiveness, you will find Peter surrendering his willful heart, you will find Paul being filled with true light, kings and servants brought to sight.

And when you look up don't be amazed to find Jesus glancing back,
There is forgiveness in that look,
There is a person behind that look.
A person who wonders why have you been following the wrong feet,
Why have you been running after the wrong steps?
When He was always there, not running, but patiently waiting.

He is waiting for you to stop, offer all your perfume, all your worth and importance,
And break it, break every drop of it at his feet.
Find peace.

Grab the opportunity. Don't let it go.

And don't be surprised to find that the leaning in to the very ground, strength bowed, is also the beginning of the way up.

He offers his hand, He lifts you up.
The mess of you, tears and perfume and entangled hair,
He brings you to a table, filled with a feast.
A table you could have never found on your own. Living bread and living water.

There is a place, and only one place on this Earth where you will find peace. Lean in to this person.

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Behind the scenes: How to take beautiful pictures

Thursday, May 30, 2013

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In a world filled with blogging professionals, Pinterest specialists and touched up photos, art born from such different venues amazes the spectator, but unfortunately also increases our own feelings of inappropriateness. It makes us feel as if we are the only person wearing pajamas standing in the middle of a formal dress up party, like the ugly duck in the pond.

Reality is already subjective, and the internet has the power to further transform reality into a shiny blur of real life. The one we wish we had, and maybe we do have, but not always that perfect or through those special lens. 

And yet, no artist hangs his pictures so that people may stare at the back of the frame, because even though we all know that every frame and that every piece of art has a back, we rather not see it. We don't want to see the "behind the scenes", the structure that actually holds the beauty on its arms. We seek beauty.

However, there is no beauty without the structure, no art without the messy brushes, no Pinterest project without the unpublished trial paths that led to the final product. And finally, no life story without the back of the frame. Where the nails were pierced, the canvas cloth teared, the fibers stretched to the bone. The structure that holds beauty.

I turn to the number one best seller book in the history of the world, where one can read about beauty but also about the back of the frame. The entire picture, the beauty we seek, and the "behind the scenes" we rather not think about. The story of a Savior that showed that the path to glory and beauty passes through the pierced nails, the teared skin and the stretched arms. 

"Behind the scenes" is what feeds beauty. Art is complete when all the "behind the scenes" moments have ran their course. The life that produces the most beauty is the one that accumulates more "behind the scenes". 

And when the nails are too sharp, the tears too deep and the bones about to break, I am reminded to imagine what lays on the other side of the canvas, about to be uncovered in Eternity. 

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Savor your veggies: how to help kids eat healthy foods

Friday, May 3, 2013

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Healthy eating can be done in two different ways: Out of fear of disease, gulping down as many recommended ingredients as possible, hoping that the magic concoction will delete any possible disease from our hardware; or out of pleasure, a deep belief that fresh, wholesome and pure ingredients taste better. 

The first option creates stress, guilt feelings and the fear that perfection may never be reached. The second option relaxes the body, turns cooking and eating into a creative and joyful experience, and does not seek anything else besides living in the moment and savoring every bite.

The table is the sacred place where the tablecloth warms the room, the beautiful china rests next to the full set of silverware. There is soft music in the background, my favorite: Chopin. The meal is not rushed. A fresh serving of vegetables or salad makes its appearance first, before any eyes see the main dish. Why to set dishes for competition and blur their unique appeal?

The boys practice with their eating utensils. How to hold the fork and the knife does not come naturally but as walking and talking, it is a process, not a goal. As well tasting each and every ingredient, because it takes time to tune ones palate to different flavors, an ever ending journey of discovery.

However, how to navigate all this romanticized dinner experience inside a culture that values speed and results? It helps the process when one day of the week is set aside to chop and steam, or roast ingredients, maybe fresh out of the farmers market, like broccolis, mushrooms, zucchinis, peas, corn, kale, sweet potatoes and even some fish and chicken. While some ingredients soften to the steam, there is plenty of time to wash and chop into individual containers, herbs like basil, parsley and cilantro, and succulent cucumbers, tomatoes and peppers. It does not hurt to go ahead and chop also enough for the week: onions, carrots and garlic. 

The result is a refrigerator full of fresh and ready to use ingredients for the week just waiting for creativity spikes. Special names written at the menu entice the children: "Rainbow in a Bowl", for some cooked grains like rice, buckwheat or quinoa with favorite toppings. "Wrap the Power Burrito", with the leftover grain, some beans and the previously prepared vegetables. The options are endless: "Omelette to the Rescue", "Planetarium Pizza", "Treasure Dive Soup", and more. 

It does not hurt to finish with a pleasant dessert like baked apples with some sugar and cinnamon or yogurt with frozen red fruits. Real foods that create real experiences.

When meals are restricted to the table, including the snack time, there is conscious eating, focused on every bite, not multitasked. There is healthy eating, yes, but that is not the goal, it is the consequence. 

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When Siblings Fight

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

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Every day they love each other, they fight each other, they care for each other, they compete with each other, they explode in emotions good and bad, attracting and repelling. A journey in learning how to relate.

And I am the observer, the moderator, the last word if things get ugly. They are usually so focused with each other that it is as if I am transparent, or maybe just a distant voice in the background. And yet, as I watch, I am intrigued: How can you understand the dance of siblings? As they move closer and distant, in tears but craving for more, addicted to the highs and lows of sharing moments?

Relationships are complicated and the dynamic between siblings enigmatic. Much easier for me the outsider to prescribe treatments, figure out solutions to their conflicts, see the entire picture without the emotions. However, amidst their laughs and tears they see the world different, as in a blur, unaware of strategies to extend their peak moments and prevent the downsides.

And then I am reminded of myself. How many times emotions blur my vision and I am there lost in my ups and downs, unaware of the big picture? And I look up and see God's eyes, following me, as I move from laughs to tears, watching me when I fail in improving relationships, or when words are used to hurt.

God was watching when the first siblings didn't flourish in their relationship, when anger and envy led to wrong decisions, when the beauty of being the first siblings on Earth was tinted by being the first crime on Earth.

He is still watching, God is still watching as we hurt each other, despise each other, neglect each other. The dance of siblings could be beautiful, harmonic, leading to choreography. Jesus took the first step and showed how to follow the music, bend your knees, to the lowest and dirtiest, and wash the feet, as many as needed. There, and right there is the place to start the relationship, with a humble heart and strong grip.
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Stories for my boys

Thursday, April 11, 2013

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I love making up stories for my boys. There is nothing like watching the excitement in their eyes unfolding before me as I turn stories around to please their little imagination. But as soon as they come, the stories vanish from my memory. This one won't! 

Luke has been telling me that he wants to be a scientist when he grows up, so I made up a story about a scientist Squirrel. 

The Best Squirrel Scientist

Spring was blooming with brushes of colors and shapes. Mr. Squirrel was busy running up and down trees covered with yellow pollen, feasting on the first abundance of the season. He once again was looking forward being surrounded by all his friends that had gone South for the winter. The chattering of birds recalling their adventures in tropical lands and the yawning of bears as they started to wake up for life again.

But Mr. Squirrel, over the winter, had decided to take upon himself a new career. It was not enough being just a squirrel, he wanted to have an important tag on his lap, maybe a few medals and a lengthy resume. So he had developed a plan. As soon as the sun was warm enough for heating the stones around the creek, he was going to start doing Science experiments with heat. 

Heat, he had learned from an old book he borrowed from Mr. Frog, could do amazing things. Like evaporate drops of water! Or create fire when scratched by little pebbles! He also wanted to explore how heat was transfered between different materials. Would heat jump from the stone to the water as fast as to a piece of wood?

Mr. Squirrel could picture himself standing in front of a class of little mouses and bunnies, explaining the results of all his discoveries. Or who could deny the possibility of writing scientific articles to important magazines filled with graphs and numbers? Mr. Squirrel was so excited for his idea, that during those first weeks of Spring, he spent most of his time spreading the news around the forest about his unique plan. 

The forest animals were excited to hear about Mr. Squirrel's plan, but after a few weeks, as Mr. Squirrel kept talking non stop about his heat theories, one by one the forest animals lost their interest and went back to gathering food for the winter months. 

The summer months would have been perfect to put in practice all Mr. Squirrel's heat experiments, if it wasn't for the extreme heat that left Mr. Squirrel always so tired, and more ready for a dip in the creek than to stare at hot pebbles. The tree shades were way more exciting for taking longs naps than the hot stones for studying heat!

Laying on a makeshift hammock of leaves, Mr. Squirrel was sure that just around the corner, he would feel energetic enough to start his hard scientific work. But for now, every scientist was entitled to rest and to do a little bit of career daydreaming. 

Little did Mr. Squirrel noticed when the leaves started to fall, and his Science dreams had become just that: Dreams. And yet, lost in his heat theories speculations, he forgot that soon the lack of heat would also mean lack of food! Without doing any heat experiments, Mr. Squirrel had become the experiment himself! And the results were not that exciting! Mr. Squirrel's painful conclusion was that without hard work, a scientist squirrel is just a hungry squirrel!

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This Moment

Saturday, March 9, 2013

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This Moment

This moment, this moment is all that you have,
to live, to breathe in and out, to absorb it all,
to love and be loved, to serve and be served, to fullfil purpose on Earth.
This moment, this is all that you really have.

The past is just a memory, good or bad, gone.
The future of tempting worries won't improve this one, 
This moment, this is all that you have.

Mothers witness that this moment will pass,
little hands will leave their little trains behind and pursue the world,
little babbles will become narrative and this moment will be gone.
Children like wind, are blown into adults, leaving dry tears behind. 

Even if this moment for you is one to grieve and to cry,
to hurt and to survive, to anguish and to heal,
moments of sorrow will also vanish behind.

And then when all is said and done,
when all the moments have sung their song,
You will look behind, and wonder what moments flourished
and which ones were buried to die.

When only eternity lays around, 
Time gone to hiding aside,
All the little moments will matter,
for what they brought to Heaven.

Moments of praises and worship stand out,
thanksgiving breaths to the greatest moment of all,
when the Son of God, author of time and life,
chose to give His last moment to make yours and mine abound. 

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Mars is not home

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

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The room features a round ceiling, disappearing on all corners. My neck stretches out, eyes wide open, awaiting for the spectacle to start. Our family's visit to the planetarium is a first, and the boys can't decide between feeling excitement or fear of what is about to come. As the lights go off, the darkness is broken with grace by a multitude of stars, shining their smiles, as the expedition through the universe is about to begin. 

Not a real sky, but still an amazing way to step back, look at the universe from the outside of Earth. Travel along planets, learn about their uniqueness, and marvel at such a beautiful miracle. Yes, there, nestled among many other grayish, reddish and opaque dangerous environments to life, Earth thrives. A miracle! An anomaly to such a perilous universe.

My soul bows as I watch Earth from a distance, my breath is taken away to imagine that someone cared enough to transform chaos into home. Explosions of green, blue and brown testifies to darkness that this planet is special. It has a purpose, for you, for me. It was made for us.

A blank canvas filled with astonishing details, microscopic beauty, all serving the only purpose of keeping you and I alive and amazed. Amazed by the glory of a Creator that from day one catered oceans and mountains and rivers and flowers for you and for me!

Why? Why is the only question that floods my thoughts. Why did He care? Why did He care enough to bless nothings with life, and then again, bless broken lives with new life? Why did He care enough to treat ungrateful creatures with even more love and a new creation?

The first couple doubted that God had blessed them enough. If they could step back as I do, inside a planetarium and look around at the empty and void available planet alternatives, would they believe? Do you believe?

Mars. There is so much excitement to conquer a place where the canvas is still blank, where love has not been poured. And man, wishing to be God, plays God, trying to create life from emptiness, and beauty from dust, and yet far from being good, very good.

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