The only New Year's Resolution you really need

Monday, December 22, 2014

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Every new start begs for change. Hopefully change that brings a positive outcome. Even when the new start is just a new number on the calendar, it feels like a new chapter, empty lines ready to be filled with potential successes, conquers and positive experiences. Thus it is the New Year. Time to reset, turn the page and start the chapter anew.

The man Habakkuk made the discovery that it wasn't by raising but by lowering his material future expectations, that true happiness would follow. That even if the next chapter was filled with depressing words scribbled between the lines, such outcomes would not influence his emotions.

He said:

"Though the fig tree should not blossom,
nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
and there be no herd in the stalls..."

Well, basically a future without food, money, safety, enjoyment, prestige or success. Basically facing death, starvation, sickness and pain. I suppose his expectations could not go lower than that.

And yet, he concludes, even if all the above happened:

"Yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
I will take joy in the God of my salvation."

Why? How is that even possible?
Maybe it was because he understood that...

"God, the Lord is my strength; 
he makes my feet like the deer's;
he makes me tread on my high places.

I stare again at my New Year's Resolution mental list and suddenly the items stated one after the other have lost their importance. What would it matter to tread water at the valley's creek, when I could be up on the mountain! What would it matter if the fig tree blossomed, if the vines had fruit, if the olive tree produced, if the fields gave food, if the flock multiplied, if the herd filled the stalls, but my strength rested on lower places?

A new year means the beginning of another round trip around the Sun. Not around itself. Not around the moon. Around the light. Around the source of life. Around something bigger, stronger and brighter. 

The higher place cannot be climbed with degrees, a fit body or material possessions. The higher place requires different feet, a different walk, that moves up, that faces the light, the source of life, someone bigger, stronger and brighter. 

And He is the only New Year's Resolution I really need.

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A time to be born

Thursday, October 30, 2014

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For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven... So why the rush? I ask myself. Why to impatiently wait for hours not in existence, moments not yet threaded and events not yet unrolled?

Maybe my daily training in fast feedback is not benefiting my growth of patience. Fast food, fast Internet, fast lights on, fast hot shower, fast mail. Who has the time anymore to plant the seed, watch it grow, respect the seasons, harvest the fruits, prepare the bountifulness?

 Who has the time anymore to light the candle, hold a feather and dip it, flatten the paper dancing the ink into the space, fold it and seal it, walk the dust path to the mail building and drop the message meant to warm somebody's heart across an ocean, hoping there would still be a breath of life when the paper reaches the hands?

A time to be born, and a time to die,
A time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.

And I read over and over again, as we move along lines during our family reading, "My hour has not yet come, my time has not yet come..." Nothing happens by accident. The time to be born, the time to die... Time is important, relevant. Time must be respected.

Time is not in my hands. The time maker holds time in His hands. I wish I could hold time back and stop the fast growing happening every second inside my kids. Too fast! Those first nine months felt like forever, but as soon as they proclaimed their first cry, the minutes have raced.

And yet where am I rushing for?

If today is the time to live today?

If today is the time to accept today?

If today is the time to be thankful for today?

"My times are in your hands" said David. There was a time to be a shepherd boy, there was a time to fight Goliah, there was a time to run away from enemies, there was a time to be king and there was a time to die.

The hands that hold time don't make mistakes. I make the mistake of rushing, being anxious about tomorrow, sometimes without any palpable reason, maybe only for the fear of losing today.

And that is why He offers the antidote for feeling trapped in time. Eternal life. Today is the day to receive it, He says. Because with eternal life, future extends beyond death. A future taken care of, meticulously prepared, arranged since eternity past.

The hands that make time, were pierced in the appointed time, to embrace me and my finite lifetime into Him and His eternal time. 

Today is a time to embrace,
A time to seek,
A time to keep.

And because He lives I can also face tomorrow.

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How to raise children to be successful in marriage

Sunday, August 24, 2014

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"No, not until you're satisfied, fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone..." read the poem.

I still remember how much those words impacted me, when I was in my early twenties looking around for my "prince" to make me happily ever after.

The text keept on saying: "with giving yourself totally and unreservedly to me; to having an intensely personal relationship with me alone; discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be planned for you."

God. He was letting me know that no matter how perfect is the prince, there is no one on this earth that would fill a hole the size of God in my heart. And to place such a burden upon any one, would be unloving and selfish.

Ten happy years of marriage later, the message is as fresh today as the day I read it first. The secret for a successful marriage lays in becoming first and foremost completely satisfied with God and then from such a place of fullness of love and satisfaction, I can extend my love to my husband next, and then to my children, to my neighbor and to the world. 

True lasting love is not the same as a romantic passing fling. The first kind of love is a daily selfish-less choice, God centered, from an eternal perspective. The second, a transitory selfish feeling, self centered, from a narrow perspective.

The samaritan woman at the well was with her sixth partner and she was still thirsty. Statistics show us that the success of a marriage decreases with every next spouse. Only living water can fill the love tank up. 

In an age of consumerism, marriage has become another product for the sake of happiness seeking. Shop around for the best one, and if it does not work out, run back to the store and start shopping again. The more individualistic a society becomes, the more marriages fall apart. Because after all, it is all about me, right? 

That I may have the wisdom to teach my children that inside an entire universe, and inside an entire timeline that runs back and forth into eternity, they are not the center of either one. So why should they live their daily lives as if they were?

There is a center to the universe and there is a center to the timeline, and there is a center to which we should center our entire hearts around. And when God is at the center of two people lives, everything else falls into place, including their marriage. That is the secret to be successful in marriage.

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When losses keep overtaking the news

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

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The only way to grow up is to face loss. Loss of baby teeth, loss of baby smells, loss of toddler babbles, loss of toddler cute smiles, loss of childhood beliefs, loss of childhood hide and seeks.

Loss. As the clock tickles, losses abound. Lives, hopes, plans. The daily reminder that losses are happening, at the speed of light. Dead are all the cells that have been replaced. Gone are all the present moments that became only memories.

Mary. She knew about losses, life had been hard but now she had found the hope for all of her losses. Living water overflowing. But as she looks into the empty tomb, the emptiness inside her heart reaches a new level. Where had they placed him, her only hope? Emptiness, loss.

It hurts, deep inside. To stare at the emptiness of the loss, with nothing big enough to fill the void. How to go back to daily life, when every day, reminders will keep the pain awake? Mary's senses were overtaken by sorrow, she became blind to the one approaching, she became deaf to the one speaking.

It may take a while to realize that the same empty tomb is also the source of hope. Can you see the invisible? Can you picture a life beyond death? The presence of resurrection taking over the stage of death? Mary, move your eyes beyond the empty tomb! Mary, He is risen!!

There is hope in Jesus for every loss. The clock may not be feared anymore, the grain is going to die but there will be many fruits. The children are going to grow up, the clock will keep moving, losses will keep overtaking the news. Outside of resurrection, there is no hope. But He is risen! 

I lift up my eyes... my help comes from the Lord!

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The best summer camp for your child will always be yourself

Thursday, July 3, 2014

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The options are endless, summer camps have gone from a few days away on the countryside, playing games, swimming and having fun to advanced courses that can teach your child just about anything. Cooking, riding horses, sports, arts, music, theater, science, robotics, engineering, you name it, there is a summer camp available for every and each child's desire. 

There is nothing wrong with learning new skills or abilities, but a mother's got only a few years to mold a child's heart, and then they are gone like the wind, never to be a child again. A child's heart is a very precious treasure, available to be nurtured, guided, trained and loved for a limited amount of time. To hold a child's heart in your hands is the most important job in the world you will ever have because at the tip of your fingerprints lays an eternal soul, a breathing miracle, comparable to nothing a company, an artist or an industry will ever produce. 

And all this treasure has been entrusted to you, the mother, the most important summer camp your child will ever have. No other skill and ability matters most to a child than to be molded by you. To experience all your love, direction and attention with purpose, discipline, and intent. 

Eve, the first woman, called the "mother of all living" was tempted into wanting to be more than just the "mother of all living", she wanted to be like God. As if "mother of all living" was too little of a title because there is always another step up the ladder, right? Not really. "Mother of all living" was the most important position, title and job she could ever find, and by leaving her position and trying to be like God, she just went down that ladder right to the bottom.

In God's eyes, to be caring for an eternal soul and a breathing miracle is the most important position, title and job a woman can ever find. And all her efforts, her hard work and her disposition to do the best job she can according to the way God intended, are not gone unnoticed. Behind the description of most kings in the Bible, the name of his mother is acknowledged, right before stating if that king did what was right or what was wrong in God's eyes. Of course it does not mean that the mother or the father is solely responsible for the outcome of her children, but it does mean that she has a great influence over their outcome.

I like to think of Abijah, the daughter of Zachariah in 2 Chronicles 29:1. Her father must have been a great influence on her as it is said that he had instructed another king called Uzziah "in the fear of the Lord". So, even though Abijah's husband, Ahaz, did not do what was right in the eyes of God, when he died, their son Hezekiah, did an amazing job as a king, restoring the temple, the passover and conquering enemies. It is said of him that "Every work that he undertook in the service of the house of God in accordance with the law and the commandments seeking his God, he did with all his heart, and prospered" (2 Chro 31:21).

Abijah once had that same heart in her hands. And it seems that she shaped that heart in the right direction, even when her husband was not being a good influence on him. An entire kingdom was lifted up from idolatry, and learned to live "in the fear of the Lord" again, because a woman took her job as a mother very seriously. 

"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the holy one is understanding" (Prov 9:10).

"Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1Cor. 1:24-25)

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When raising well balanced children is not enough

Thursday, May 15, 2014

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How do you raise a well balanced child? Would a mix of 20% culture, 20% sports, 40% academics, 10% entertainment and 10% religion do it? Or maybe a different percentage depending the aptitudes, the environment and the family background? Is that the equation for a well balanced child and therefore a well balanced adult?

So what does a well balanced adult life looks like? Maybe 70% work, 10% entertainment, 5% sports and health, 5% culture, 5% travel, 3% volunteer work and 2% religion? Is that what we would call a well balanced life?

But what if well balanced adults were actually called lukewarm by the very same person who created them? As if the car manufacturer tell us, after all these years, that we have been filling our tanks with the wrong gas all along. Filling our lives with the wrong percentages. That if we thought we were well balanced adults, we were just deceiving ourselves.

The creator recommends the right percentage: "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you." Wait a minute, are we supposed to submit 100% of our lives to God? Like all our love, our thoughts, our life, our will, our future and our plans? What about all the other important things? Well, He promises they will be added unto us, look at the birds, look at the flowers, He says. But what do we get back if we give 100% of our lives to God? Well, we get God. Is He enough?

There is a promise to the ones ready to leave a well balanced life behind, lukewarm life behind, the ones that want to open their door to Jesus. The promise? "I will come in to him and eat with him and he with me" and "I will grant him to sit with me on my throne".

Is there a better place to be? Just imagine! Having a meal with the person that loves you more than anybody else in this world? Sitting with the creator of the entire universe on his throne! Is there a safer, more fulfilling, more loving place to be? With the one that loves you so much that He does not stop pursuing you, ever? That He accepted forever a human body, and let human hands hurt his flesh while letting God hurt his being with all punishment that you deserved, so that you could have the same fellowship with the Father as Jesus has? Can you imagine what would be like to be so close to Jesus that you are actually sitting next to Him? 

It is not about giving 100% of your life to a religion. It is not about giving 100% of your life to a church, organization, leader or cause. It is about loving God so much, with all your heart, soul and might that when you talk with Him you are not repeating words, or going through sentences, you are in the presence of the definition of love itself. And all that love just pours into your heart and there is no extra space for anything else. Because what else could be so important that should take any percentage away from fullness of love? And what else does it matter when you got the attention and the presence of the most beautiful being a person could ever find?

He does everything He can to drag your attention, because He knows that the ultimate gift you can ever have and the ultimate gift He can ever give, is always going to be Himself. He is the giver and He is the gift! 

Let the children come to Him! He is the eternal father, the only one who can raise children to become children of God! As a parent, my ultimate role is to guide my children to the giver, so that they can taste the gift and never again be thirsty for anything else besides Jesus. 

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The right reasons for Let it go and be Frozen

Sunday, April 6, 2014

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My neighbor's daughter introduced my kids to the Frozen movie. At first they had no idea what she was talking about, but as they play together quite often, now I can hear Luke singing to himself "Let it go" more times than I wish to hear!

I read the lyrics and I am not impressed. "Let it go, let it go, Turn my back and slam the door". Is that really what kids should be singing? There is a fake feeling of freedom in letting it go, as if what enslaved us in the first place were the rules, grown ups, and lack of power. As if our inner self would be the answer to freedom, happiness and success.

As children let it go, turn their backs and slam the door, they won't find freedom at all! They will find that their own hearts are broken, and that they don't hold the tools to fix it. It is just a false sense of freedom, while still slaved to never satisfying desires.

"If I could just be in control of my own destiny then things would be fine" is at a first look, a very appealing, confident and positive message. The popular independence from all higher powers, no one telling me what to do. I remember of a very confident man that after Jesus had said "you will all fall away because of Me this night", he replied: "Even thought all may fall away because of You, I will never fall away." Peter was in control of his decisions, he had decided then and there that even if God Himself had said something different, Peter was free to decide how he would write his own destiny.

Jesus tried to warn him "This very night, before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times." But Peter was not convinced as he said "Even if I have to die with You, I will not deny You." Don't we all want to raise confident kids? The ones that are able to stand up and speak for themselves? I surely do. I hope my boys stand up for what is right even if that costs them something. But there is a difference between being confident in Jesus Christ and being confident in themselves. 

Peter was very confident in himself. However, he finds out a little later that he would in fact deny Jesus three times, not even at risk of death, but just to protect his image in front of regular servants and bypasses. And when the rooster crows, he remembers and he weeps. The pain of learning the hard way that he was in fact slaved by his own desires and that freedom does not come from within.

Let it go of yourself for Jesus, Let it go of yourself for Jesus, the lyrics should say. Don't try to pretend that you are strong enough to take care of yourself, that you are wise enough to know the future, that you are brave enough to win the battles, because you are not! Because I am not! And it is ok. It is ok to need someone stronger, to trust someone wiser, and to receive help from someone braver. It does not make you less, it makes more of you. Because someone so strong, so wise and so brave cares enough about you to offer His hand, His pierced hand, for you to hold on. Because someone so important loves you enough to have Let it go of Himself, when He could have taken the entire world apart. He froze Himself on that cross, so that all of our slavery could be broken. 

"While being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." Guess who wrote this piece? Peter did! He had learned his lesson.

Sometimes you got to freeze yourself too, but for the right reasons. 

"Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth." (Psalms 46:10)

Children, Let it go of yourself, Let yourself be loved by the biggest, deepest, highest, largest and longest love of all. He does not want to hurt you, He wants to stop you from hurting yourself. Be frozen, be still and let Him take you in His hands and you won't need to turn your back anymore, or slam that door shut, it is not your fight, it is His. Don't lie to yourself that you were not bothered by the cold. There is warmth in his arms, run into the direction of light, not darkness. 

Let it go and be frozen.

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Words, are they ever too many?

Thursday, January 30, 2014

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Words, are they ever too many?

Sometimes I feel that by adding words to an already overwritten world, I am feeding the confusion. Over the Internet words multiply, repeat themselves into the infinite, change configurations and get reworded endlessly. Information becomes frustration, as one try to navigate a planet that is drowning in sentences.

Anyone with a mind can transform plain white into characters. The tweeting that once sounded like a bird now resembles a never ending ringing clock, adding unnecessary noise to golden silence. How will my kids access an entire world and still be able to listen to their own hearts pounding?

"Take everything away, but the Internet", future generations will chorus. Maybe we all got hooked to a fast stream of stories. All civilizations treasured stories, told over firelights before sleep, rocked to the sound of moving chairs. Until suddenly we have access to all the stories of an entire world. Hard to fit into a lifetime, let alone before bedtime.

Words tell stories, confirm that the world is not a stagnant ball, but a dynamic knot of happenings, alive. The sound of life is always attracting, enticing. But what if excessive life starts to kill your own? What if the knot of outside happenings stops your own story on its tracks?

Words, are they ever too many?
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What Is True Love?

Monday, January 27, 2014

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I dedicate this song to my boys, that their lives may be filled with true love.

True Love Lyrics

Everywhere people are looking for love, love
Love to fill the emptiness that never fulfills
Different kind of love may do it
But it is never enough
Because true love comes from above

Everywhere people are looking for love, love
Keep your eyes low and love will trick you
Into believing love is a trill, a buzz
Something you can buy with your money, your looks
But it is never going to be enough

It is in the movie screen, in the musical scheme,
The lights, the glitter, the virtual theme
Keep your eyes low and busy
Don't give a second thought to reality
Because love is all we need, right?

Open your eyes wide, look up
Because love cannot be found on the ground
Mixed up with lies and darkness
True love is the size of God
The size of open arms giving up breath
True love is given with blood, with death

Everywhere people are looking for love in the wrong places
Can you believe true love is all about grace?
About ending the endless cycle of approval seeking?
And accepting the gift of forgiveness God is giving?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life,
neither angels nor demons,
neither the present nor the future,
nor any powers, neither height nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation,
will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

True love from God is all we need, have you found it?

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New year resolution: Making time for the things that really matter

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

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 When the new year dawns its enthusiasm upon me, the excitement is contagious but sometimes dangerously short lived. Goals still ring true by the beginning of February except the fuel starts to run low and if not cultivated, the future starts to look a lot like the past, a sequence of fire extinguishing moments that seems to never step back.

A common stress factor that keeps me running around in circles are the many activities grouped inside the term "Household Chores". From the moment the alarm clock rings, or in my case, my boys surround my restful habitat for the night, one after the other the chores line up, or worst pile up, overflowing the next awake hours!

I keep wondering... what if any Fortune 500 company started running its business like my household, how many hours, or minutes, would it take to break? Because the sad reality is that most households have not advanced in efficiency and effectiveness as most of the corporate world has. 

A common thinking thread related to corporate management has to do with the question: "How can I work with efficiency (doing things well with the least amount of waste, expense and unnecessary effort) and effectiveness (producing the desired result)? 

Problem: It is 4:30 PM and I have no idea what to feed my family for dinner. 
Result: Pizza is ordered or chicken nuggets are defrosted or the drive through comes in handy again.

Now imagine if a hospital kitchen was run like that. Or a restaurant. Or a supermarket. Or a school cafeteria. Or anything out there!

So why the disparity? Why do some successful people in the corporate world apply all their management skills at work but as soon they cross the door to their living rooms, the survival mode kicks in? No planning, no efficiency and no effectiveness! How odd is that?

And I keep wondering... How can I produce the desired result with the least amount of waste, expense or unnecessary effort? ... so that I have time and energy for the things that really matter or that I want to pursue?  

During these next days, I would love to suggest, as you go through your activities at home, stop at every single action and think... Is there a better way to produce the desired results with the least amount of your energy, time and money?

I look forward to sharing with you during my next posts the small changes I have learned to implement management skills at home. What about you, any tips to share?

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