Breaking down the walls!

I recently had the opportunity to be the guest speaker of a monthly celebration meeting for a local women’s recovery center. The women who I had been asked to share with were not your typical pastor’s wives gone bad drug addicts. Most of these women came from the streets, ex gang members, convicts and dealers were more like it. The majority of these women had been court ordered into the program because of the severity of their addiction, which almost cost them and their children their lives.

It’s one thing to choose to enter into a program but when one is forced by law to give up something that one deemed necessary to survive brings with it walls that are thick, high, and hard to break through. As I sat in the room amongst the ladies listening to them share their dates of entry into the program and the dates they gave up their addiction, from days to months, I prayed for the Lord to give me an opportunity to break down the walls and connect with these women immediately.

Right away it came to me, thank you God for answered prayers! As they introduced me, I walked up, greeted them with a smile and informed them that I had just returned home from prison five days ago. I then stayed silent for what seemed like an eternity to let it settle into those, who had, without words questioned my credibility, I saw it in many of their faces as they looked me over when I stepped up to the podium.

In my silence I could hear the walls coming down and feel the tension in the room come to a rest. The connection was instantaneous and I just entered into my role as a participant in their story that day as I shared how I ended up in prison myself. OK, mine was not court ordered and I choose when and where I go but I had just been in prison and that was all they needed to know at that moment to bring them to a place of trusting and connecting with me.

I spent the next thirty minutes sharing about my past and how God had turned it into a present. I shared the process of walking through the discovery of excuses, to explanations to purposeful living based on a past that use to hold me captive.

Though these women were from the streets and I was from the pew the one thing we so desperately had in common was our brokenness, by the time I left there I had once again witnessed the most precious, beautiful broken women in places where most people never look.

We are in this together!

Christmas card outreach for woman intmates....................................................................................

There is know doubt in my mind that the Lord has given me the most amazing group of friends. When I called out for help, an answer was received, not by one or two and not just from inside my own town, all over this nation fellow friends stepped up to the plate and said yes to helping make sure fellow sisters in Christ who are behind bars are not forgotten. There are those who joined us last night in filling out cards, greetings and praying. There are those who couldn't join me but dropped of stamps and cards and envelopes to boot. It has been an amazing out pour of love and willingness like I have never seen before. I am so thankful for all who have chosen to say yes when so many say no.

All who could not be there last night but responded with prayer and encouragment, thank you, it was felt. We have to continue to let those behind bars know that they are not left behind and that even though they may be locked up there is away to be free.

Please continue to pray for those sisters behind bars and their children left with out a mother at home. If you are interested in anyway shape or form in volunteering with the ministry, just send me a note, we have many opportunities for service.

I pray you all have an incredible day and I will keep you posted on the race...

My Mission Statement/Purpose

My life purpose is to intentionally bring God pleasure in all areas of my life, first through my thoughts and then my actions. Next, to use my life experiences to serve him through the body of believers. I will dedicate my life to embracing, spreading and teaching the word of God to others, while focusing on reaching out to my community and beyond being a character witness for Jesus Christ, reaching out to the hurt and lost of our world. While remembering to stay connected to other believers, just as iron sharpens iron my faith will grow as I am sharing it with other believer and allowing them to share their faith with me.

Secrets not sugar, that is what makes you sick!

Proverbs 22:6 - Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old, he will not turn from it.

Could it be possible, that after all these years, my 11-year-old son was finally interested in his own personal hygiene? I had been praying for this day to come, at last it was here, or so I thought.

Dinner had just ended and he asked if he could take another bath, a second one for him today, which would be a record. The only time my son ever asks to take a bath is when he is anxious about something, which brings on a headache and nausea.

My gratitude for his growth in the area of cleanliness quickly turned to a place of concern as I started to think about all the things that happened today and tried to recall if something happened that could have caused him to be anxious.

As I was walking through this mental process of recalling the day, my son came in my room and asked if we could talk. He proceeded to tell me that he thought he knew why he was getting headaches. I was right; it was not a matter of hygiene but rather anxiety. The bath has always had away of helping him to calm down.

I put on my best set of listening ears, looked him straight in the eyes and gave him my full attention. I could hear fear in his voice as he poured out his heart. He shared with me how he had tried to call me this morning to ask if he could put some sugar in his cereal. When I did not answer, he decided he would do it anyway, even though he knew that it was something I did not usually allow.

He looked down in shame as he finished confessing doing what he knew he should not have done and then looked back at me and asked if I would forgive him. Of course, I told him he was forgive before he even asked.

I quickly came to the realization that this was a great teaching moment and though the incident did not seem very important, the incident was extremely significant in the fact that I wanted him to know that he could always come to me. It was not about the sugar but rather the secret that was making him sick. I told him his conscience was working and that this was a good thing.

I was able to share with him that as he gets older he will find the temptations to be greater, the trials stronger and the falls even harder. We talked about the importance of confessing what we have done and how healing comes from that. A promise from our creator, “confess your sins to one another and you will be healed.”

In addition, I told him that from now on he could decide on sugar in his cereal. I want him to always remember that it was the secret not the sugar that had made him sick.

Sisters, Not!!!!!!!!!!

I keep telling my daughter that the older she gets the better I look. Is that bad or what? OK, the truth is this, she will be 23 in June, I did not birth her, she came with the I do I did in 1993 when she was just 7 years old. I say that the stretch marks from her are all on my heart. You could say we have kind of grown up together. She has been one of the biggest encourages in this journey of healing and recovery for me.

Leaving on Jet plane

Part 2

Daughters of Destiny is a full-circle ministry offering women inmates a new life fully transformed through Christ-centered relationships and Biblical truth.

"I will transform the battered into a company of the elite. I will make a strong nation out of the long lost, A showcase exhibit of GOD's rule in action, as I rule from Mount Zion, from here to eternity." Micah 4:7

“It's better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there's no one to help, tough! ... By yourself you're unprotected. With a friend you can face the worst. Can you round up a third? A three-stranded rope isn't easily snapped.” Ecc 4:9-10, 12

The Daughters Network acts as the community net of grace that unites three people groups to support and walk with Daughters Inside and upon their release so they sustain a life-long relationship in Christ. The net of grace consists of three cords: Ministry Partners in prison ministries who help connect Daughters with women of faith inside and outside of correctional facilities, Destiny Home which serves the immediate needs of women newly released, and Daughters Free who share their testimonies and experiences of their successful transition into life on the outside.

In this net of grace, those that come together to create the three cord bond, have an opportunity to stand together and be a model of Biblical-based relationships to the Daughters they support. “Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ's law.” Gal 6:2

Join us and be part of God’s plan to bring His daughters into their destiny. “God had a better plan for us: that their faith and our faith would come together to make one completed whole, their lives of faith not complete apart from ours.” Heb 11:40

I'm leaving on a jet plane!

Part 1
WOW!!!! It must be my lucky day! I do not think I have ever experienced such ease at the airport. I have always been one of those people who just barely make it to the airport, at least until I met my husband. I am also usually the one they decide to pat down just in case I might be thinking of causing some havoc among the other flight members or something.

Today is actually a significant anniversary for me and I find myself once again reflecting on where I have been and where I am headed. Sometimes my days feel like years and my years feel like moments. There are times where I embrace change and then there are those days where I just want to push it away. Today is one of those days where I choose to fully wrap my arms around my past, my present and my future so that I can fully be me and fully be present in this moment.

What is the anniversary that I have spoken of? What is this special day I am celebrating. Well, briefly it is the anniversary of the day I decided to surrender to my past, embrace my future and start living in the present. Five years ago today was the day I decided to stop running from myself and find out who I truly was.Five years ago today, I admitted to my family and friends that I had struggled with a ten year drug addiction that almost completely destroyed my life. However, it was also that very same addiction that saved my life as well.

Over the last five years, I have learned that it was never about the drugs or the addiction but the issues that led up to, the reasons I abused every substance that I could get my hands on.To some of you reading this for the very first time, you might be kind of surprised and others it might answer a lot of questions you have had in regards to why I do what I do today and why I did what I did yesterday.

Five years ago today, I was leaving on a jet plane and today, I did the same thing.

Therefore, as I sit here in CO. Springs, hours past my bedtime, amazed at the journey, I cannot help but think about what the rest of this trip will look like.

I will continue to write and post about this wonderful ministry called Daughters of Destiny that I am involved with. The mountains here are beautiful and I am across the street for Focus On the Family.....

The only thing missing is my husband, the love of my life and my rock.
I spent the evening visiting with dear friends from my past and am ready to hit the pillow. I will write more tomorrow.
I love the race I am running!!!!!

"I get it".

Dear Friend,
Did you ever think that you and I would ever share such a similar story? As I stood in the rain, outside the jail, waiting to see you, all I could do was think of the many lines I had stood in over the years. This by far was the most important line I had ever chosen to stand in. While waiting for access, I realized that all the pain, suffering and crap that I went through in my life were the very reason I was able to stand in that line. Access was granted and through the hard plexiglas window our eyes met, I could hear you loud and clearly without you even uttering a sound. Shame seemed to be the expression written on your face and as our eyes locked, the words “I get it” rolled off my lips.

My friend, though the world could not see my bars they were their. I understand the guilt, shame, denial and the chaos that comes like a freight train when we are forced to look at ourselves. As permanent as those bars may seem at this very moment you must believe that they are the very thing that is protecting you from yourself. In praying today, the Lord reminded me of what Jesus had once said. “You must loose your life in order to save it.” It does not say how you must loose it, just that it must be lost in order to save it. You my friend, have been given an opportunity to do just that.

When I was in your position, sitting in my stuff, hundreds of miles away from my home, family and friends, I did not see hope, I did not see a new life being restored. I felt defeated, rejected and downright broken. I had no hope for my future but I knew deep down I could not return to my past, not if I wanted to live. I had to make a decision to believe and hope in those who had gone before me, those who had recovered from life, as they knew it.

Allow me to represent that hope you can have. My friend, you are not alone and you will never be alone. It is your choice though, to reach out, reach in, and find the strength that comes from believing in the gift of the Cross. The Cross-destroys guilt and shame. The Cross-is where restoration and recovery happens. The Cross was meant for people like you and me, whom the world considers foolish will be the very ones the Lord uses. The battle is in the mind and works its way to the flesh. That is why I urge you to make sure you start bathing yourself in the truth. Without the cross, our mistakes are paid through punishment but through the Cross, our life is walked out in consequences.

It is your choice, punishment or consequence. A punishment is a penalty that is imposed on somebody for wrongdoing but a consequence is something that follows as a result. Can you believe it? You are not penalized for what you have done in the eyes of the Lord, and you are not guilty! Remember, you are not what you did. You are a child of the King of King and you my friend have an inheritance just waiting to be grabbed. When I looked at you, I did not see a criminal, I saw a child of God with value, a person who was made in the image of our Creator and that is who you are.

I am finding that the greatest men in His Kingdom are the ones who have fallen the farthest and hardest. I know that God has big plans for you because He does not have favorites, so what He has given me, He wants to give to you. Plans of a hope and a future, plans to prosper you and not to bring you harm. I want you to remember this, when you find yourself scared and wanting to go back to what you know. Every word of God proves true, every. He defends all who come to Him for protection. He will take care of you. He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make His Kingdom your primary concern. He hears His people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. He is close to the brokenhearted and He rescues those who are crushed in spirit. I will continue to pray for you and lift you up as God brings you through the fire and the ashes of your past so that you can dance with your future. I love you my friend to the sky and back.Praying for you daily


I want to be me!!!

Five years ago today, the cry of my heart was “I don’t want to be me!” Today, the cry of my heart is “all I want is to be me!” I would like to share with you my friends and those stopping by my blog of who I was and who I am today. As I celebrate this month, five years ago on Oct. 23, 2003 I surrendered to the process of recovering what was lost, stolen or given away, through my habits, hurts and hang-ups.

Who I was

My name was Cris and I was a believer in no one and nothing. Faith was for you and not for me. Recovery was impossible and loneliness was where I remained. Freedom was a myth and death was inevitable. My master was my drug of choice and the moment was all I could think about. I did not dream, wish or hope for tomorrow because that would have meant I would have had to face my future. Depression ruled my heart and lies ruled my mind.

I was rejected, illegitimate, unnoticeable, and down right mean. I was a prisoner of my past with bars that could not be seen. I would not let anyone in and I would not come out. Pain had been my pal and purpose had been my enemy. I could not fix the brokenness in my heart and I would let anyone try. No one could touch me because I would not let them. They could not love me because I was unlovable. I hurt therefore I wanted everyone else to hurt. Their touch, their voice their love had become my greatest opponent. I would do whatever it took to keep everyone out. I pushed, shoved, and knocked them down.

My tears were dry my heart was hard and my life was worthless. My walls were high the doors were locked and the windows were shut. I ran from all, I played a part, I lived a lie. Habits of addictions, hurts of abuse and hang ups in denial where my chains. No one knew me because I did not want them to. I waited for death to take me fast, the pain was deep and the days were long. I questioned my creator and cursed His creation. I longed for nothing and expected the same.
That was who I was. (All based on my perception of who I was filtered through my habits, hurts and hang ups.)

Who I am

My name is Cristina and I am a believer in Jesus Christ. He is my Lord and my savior, my rock and my salvation and Because Of Him; I will never be alone again. I have been forgiven, set free and spiritually raised from the dead all through Jesus Christ. I am who I am because of who He is.

I am the Who!

WOW!!!! I can't believe how long it has been since I actually blogged. Where does the time go? It is not that I haven't had anything to write about but rather I have been busy participating in life, which actually keeps me off the computer and on the front porch. I am really being challenged to make sure that the life I am living is not one of performance but rather participation. This is a challenge because I can easily step into a performance role and not even realize it until I step back or someone loves me enough to point it out. Praise God for true friends, those who love me enough to say the things that might offend me. I am just weeks away from the "You Can't Run Your Race In High Heels" retreat. What do you all think of that theme? My dear friend and book end came up with the title and I just love it. The scripture of the weekend comes from Gal. 5:7 where Paul asks the church "who has kept you from obeying the truth"? Who has kept you from running your race well? Paul did compliment them before hand, he said, "you were running well". I am learning that I have become the who that Paul is asking about. I find that I get caught up in performance which knocks me of my course. Though it feels much like the race I was running, it's a lot more work and a lot less fulfilling. So, I work my way back to my lane, tie my running shoes onto my feet and take off once again, running the race that has been set out before me.

Garments of Joy!

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy.
Psalm 30:11

I worship a God who digs the impossible instead of one who is guided by statistics. After 15 years of marriage, with a past of addiction, abuse, anger, depression, and loneliness I am happy to say that we as a married couple are in a season of joyful dancing. God has restored our brokenness as individuals as well as a couple.

What that looks like today is that we yearn to be in the presents of each other’s silence. We long for the time we spend together reading and praying before the day ever starts and for our time together as the day ends.

We are in a season of preparation; OK, we will not be empty nesters for at least possibly another decade. However, it is never too soon to practice what we want to perfect and that is enjoying being with one another without the children.

With one child grown and on her own and two left to raise, we are now living this motto. “Let them go so they can grow.” So, every Thursday evening between 5:30 and 8:30PM they are both involved in their youth group. Letting them go so they can grow and serve the Lord does have its blessings.

Here we were, left alone, a quiet house with no interruption. My husband just looked at me and said “I don’t care what we do, I am just happy to be with you” and the feeling was mutual. We spent time searching for a new laptop for me and dreaming about the ministry that we have been led to serve in together. We laughed, talked, and enjoyed one another as we practiced and prepared for the day when true empty nesting would be our theme.
We eventually ended up on the front porch with a cold drink, ready to greet those who walked by and dropped in. We have learned to be still together and our love for each other grows out of being OK in the silence.

With just an hour left to ourselves, we took advantage of the time and went inside to participate in a little glorifying of the Lord.

The first ten years of our marriage was about mourning, about loss and about growing up. I can truly say that as I woke up and greeted the day, there was a joyful dance deep in my soul from the realization that The God of this universe has clothed us with joy. He has turned our mourning into dancing…

The American Waiting Room!!!!

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint.
Isaiah 40:31

What comes to your mind when you hear those four words? Could it be the bus stop, the doctor’s office, a kid’s soccer game or maybe even your front porch? When you think of waiting, do you get anxious, excited or just downright frustrated?

We live in a fast food society with an immediate gratification generation; we as a society have lost the ability to patiently wait. However, as a follower of Jesus Christ, it is the very thing I know that I have been called to do. Wait on the Lord, be still, those are not “give it to me now,” kind of directions but rather instructions so that God can be God and I can be me.

My bags were packed and my goodbyes had been said when the phone rang and I was informed that my paper work did not go through and that my access to the prison had been denied. I was just hours away from leaving to minister in one of the nation’s largest women’s facilities. I was prayed up and prepared to go. All of a sudden, I felt like a door had just been slammed shut.

That feeling lasted but just a second, when the spirit of God gently reminded me that He had called me to go. I assumed it was to minister on the inside but as the options played out; it was evident that He had another plan for my visit to this particular facility. I found myself excited and full of anticipation, expecting great things from the very God who created this universe.

My options came down to this. I could stay home and lift the team up in prayer from under my roof and feel sorry for myself. On the other hand, I could join the team for a road trip, relationship building and vision casting. Sounds like something Jesus would have done on the road with His disciples. When the time came for the team to go in, I could sit in the waiting room, I could wait outside the bars with others who were waiting to get in to see their loved ones. I could be actively praying for the team as they ran three services and I could sit and minister to those who were looking for hope and light in a dark and hopeless place.

These options took me straight back to my very first experience when God placed that call on my heart. To reach out to the lost, forgotten and left behind. I was called to wear Him well and to wait well and that is what I did. I found it an honor and a privilege to be able to sit and wait as the Lord moved in a mighty way. Therefore, the option of staying behind on this trip was never really an option but rather what I believe to have been a test; would I go to just wait?

What is a waiting room? It is a building or common part of a building or even a place where people sit or stand until the event they are waiting for occurs. Up until the time of stepping into this ministry, I never thought much about what the waiting room of our American Prisons must have looked like. When the thought of a waiting room came to my mind in the past, I generally thought of places like doctor offices, airports, or even sporting events. It never even crossed my mind until I actually got to experience first hand what this type of waiting room involves.

As the team entered the facility and prepared to go behind bars, I secretly hoped that some how my paper work had been processed and that I would be joining them to minister to the inmates, to the many women I had been praying for over the past several weeks. Though I knew better, the Lord had called me to be still and to wait and that is just what I did. I sat among the family members, as they prepared to go through the process of being allowed to go in and visit those inside.

I quickly moved from the front row of plastic chairs to the back row of plastic chairs, I wanted to be able to actually see those I had been called to pray for. The most unsettling observation I made was the children. Of course, there would be children; it just had not entered my mind. Out of the corner of my eye, I witnessed what appeared to be a grandmother yelling at her grandchildren, threatening to take them and leave them in the car while she proceeded on with her visit. I became very judgmental in what I had been witnessing when all of a sudden the Lord quickly and firmly grabbed my heart and reminded me that I did not know the whole situation. I changed my thoughts and quickly lifted up the three in prayer.

As I sat in the back praying for the lost, I also realized that those waiting to get in also lived behind bars that I could not see. Their prison came in the form of the unknown. They had to put their trust in a system and a set of rules that at times did not make sense or that could change at any moment. Just as I was done with that thought a woman, old enough to be my mother sat down next to me. I made eye contact with her and offered her a smile; she smiled back with a silent thank you and with that the door was opened and I asked her where she had traveled from and how long she had been waiting. She was actually from my hometown, about six hours away. She was there to see her daughter who had been behind bars now for a total of three years; she came every three months to visit her daughter. My heart broke at the thought of only being able to see my mom every three months but I was quickly reminded through my thoughts that I went years without really seeing her and only recently through the redeeming power of Jesus were my chains broken and the prison doors flung open. As I brought myself back to the moment, my new friend asked me about my visit and I was given the opportunity to explain to her my circumstances and how I chose to still come and sit in the waiting area to pray for those outside waiting to get in. Just as I finished explaining, her name was called, she jumped up turned to me with a smile and thanked me, I let her know I would be praying for her and then she was gone.

I sat for a few moments just watching and praying for those being searched before they entered the gates. Even the toddlers could not get in with out being investigated. Most of the children had a dazed look on their face and the ones with them confusion sprinkled in their eyes. Almost a look of “how did we get here?” This had never been what I envisioned as a waiting room until now. All across America, people waiting and wondering when they will be called next, longing for just a moment with the one they love and anticipating the next visit before the very one they were at was over.

I had not been sitting in this particular waiting room for more then maybe twenty minutes or so when an officer came to inform me that unless I was there to visit someone I had to leave. Another team member who was with me informed him of our circumstances. He then directed us to another “waiting room” a trailer outside the main facility called Friends on the Outside. This waiting room was run by mostly volunteers, where people could come and wait with their children, those who were denied access and those who needed to borrow clothes that were acceptable for visits behind bars. There was a tiny little kitchen area and a day care room as well. A game room with a T.V. and a small resource center. I felt like we hit the jackpot, now this is waiting! Not because of where we were at but rather who we were with. Those who had been denied, rejected and sent away were now coming through the doors of the place we were waiting.

My ministry partner and I sat at the kitchen table chatting with a young man whom she had met in the first waiting room. He had come along way to see his wife and he was denied access as well, so here he was waiting as his in-laws and son has to go in for a visit. We listened to his story, the how and why of his situation that brought him to this place for this person. He shared where he had come from and where he planned on going. There was pain weaved in and out of his gruffness and toughness, I could tell he was doing everything he could to not cry. He shared how he was raised in a certain denomination and then how he became a Christian through his aunt but walked away from the faith years ago. He asked us our story and we shared why we were here and some of our past as well.
Then I decided to see if anyone was up for a game of Uno. Here we were, out in the middle of nowhere, denied access to minister, waiting in a giant tin box, being the church. The game was on, the laughter felt like food to the soul and the walls came down. People were circulating in and out watching us play and talk and share. We were ministering without even trying; we were a light in a very dark place without even realizing it. We were able to give him information and resources for his wife and son through the ministry as well as a scripture to take with him as he continued on his journey. It was an amazing experience and to think, that I, for a brief moment thought that the door had been slammed shut when my access had been denied, or had it?

As I was sitting and waiting I learned so much about myself and how far God had brought me. There would have been a time not so long ago that I would have been angry and resentful for having to wait. I would have worried about what people thought and what I must have done to be turned away. Six hours of sitting and waiting, sharing and praying. I had the opportunity to visit and share with those running this waiting room as well as minister to other family members and children that came in and out through out the day.

There were moments of silence that I used to pray and blocks of time where I just sat and stared into the yard. The prisoners were so close yet so far away. With one hour left of the six hour waiting room experience, my eyes started getting very heavy. The thought of laying myself down for just a few minutes sounded so refreshing but I thought about how Jesus asked the disciples to stay and pray for Him and how He must have felt when He found them asleep. With the ministry team inside representing the body of Christ, I just knew I did not want to use that last hour sleeping.

I stepped outside to finish my wait well and as I looked around the grounds all I could see were rocks, rocks and more rocks. As my eyes grazed the grounds, I cried out to God “How can any of this be reconciled?” The spirit of God quickly brought this scripture to my mind.

Matthew 16:18
Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’) and upon this rock, I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it.

I could not reconcile what was going on in this American waiting room but He can and He does and His promise is that the powers of hell will not conquer it as well. I found a sudden burst of hope as the dirty dark rocks turned into a vision of what Christ called the church to be. I went from feeling hopeless to hopeful from feeling overwhelmed by the situation to feeling God’s power and authority to walk out this wait.

As the day ended and we walked out of the “waiting room”, I was overcome with gratitude, thanking God for calling me to be still and for calling me to wait on Him. I am learning daily that it is in those very moments of waiting that I have the greatest opportunity to wear Him well and to represent what God called the church to be.

“Be still and know that I am God”.
Psalm 46:10

When they call to Him for help!

The Lord hears his people when they call to Him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues
Those who are crushed in spirit.
Psalm 35:17-18

I was going through one of the hardest trials in my life. I was stuck in my pain, denial and grief and I didn’t know if I could go on. My days were filled with tears and my nights were filled with fear. I trusted God but I didn’t trust myself. This one particular day I was standing at the top of my staircase getting ready to make a phone call when I just broke down and started crying out to the Lord. I was bent over the railing of the banister just sobbing; I cried out to the Lord and asked Him “do you really believe I can do this”?

At the exact moment my phone rang in my hands and it was a dear brother in the Lord who was calling to check up on me, he knew of the struggles my family had been going through and he just wanted to let me know he was praying for us. Through my tears I said, “I don’t think I can do this”. And with an unbelievable boldness my brother said “not only can you do this you, are expected to do this”! Did the Lord hear my cry or what? The Lord knew I needed that phone call at that exact moment. He knew that my broken and crushed spirit needed a voice.

At first I wanted to be angry at my brother, how dare he talk to me like that, but then it hit me. Yes, I am expected as a child of the one true King to walk through brokenness and heartache, it will come my way. What I can expect is for the Lord to rescue me from my troubles and that is exactly what He did that day when He sent His voice through my brother.

I was able to hang up stand firm and walk through a trial that eventually brought my family closer to the Lord and to each other. So friends if you are struggling with heartache, with a spirit that has been crushed please claim the truth, turn to the Lord and realize that you are not alone and that He has promised to rescue His children when they call to Him for help. Key words, when they call to Him for help.

“Be still and run your race”

The least of these!!!!!!!!!!!

Whatever you do for the least of these my brothers, you do it to me.

Matthew 25:40

The conflict in my heart today is this. How can I sit still and do nothing when I know just twenty min. or so away from the box I call home is a whole other community refereed to as the homeless. Here I sit with three bathrooms to choose from, a closet full of clothes and a frig flowing with food. I complain about the gas prices but the truth is I can still afford to pay for the fuel that keeps my tires turning. I have the options to bathe in cold or hot water, wear flip flops or running shoes and sit where I want, when I want, with out being asked to leave.

Wed. afternoon I decided to hop on the light rail system and head to our downtown district with my brother, his children and mine. We passed by the least of these, their homes, their vehicles, of course shopping cart to boot as well as their family pets and companions that keep them company on the lonely streets they are so often kicked off of, ignored from or forgotten about.We hadn't planned this trip to be one of reaching out but rather it had been a tug on my brother’s heart to experience something new. Most people who have the option to drive, do so around here because your typical light rail rider has been given a stereo type title before they even enter the tracks, whether they fit that type or not is another thing.

My brother, who is very much like me, loves to be around people. We love to meet and greet where ever we go. My saying for this particular day was "a stranger is just a friend I haven't met yet" well until my 5 year old niece piped in and replied with "unless they kill you", which she had a point. Don't talk to strangers is a big one when you are still counting your age on one hand. In this life lesson that was unfolding before us, we were also able to teach our children balance and safety as well.

Again, my brother is all about new experiences, he wasn't looking for anything in particular and he didn't even know until this trip that my hearts shape and passion has been heading in such a direction we were going towards. It was such a God appointment, one that was just dropped in my lap. I couldn't imagine sharing this day with anyone else. My heart for those behind bars was now colliding with my heart for those with out homes.

As we rested in our seats and watched others board we smiled and greeted everyone who looked our way. At one point two guys sat in front of us and my brother extended his hand out to introduce himself and I followed. It was obvious by their eyes and smell that they had been drinking and were under some kind of influence but that did not stop us from loving them right where they were at. They proceeded to inform us that they were what they liked to refer to as house less, they just returned from possibly a shower program and one extended his hands out proudly to show me how clean his nails were. I complimented him on the nice work he had done to clean himself up and the gift he gave me for that was a smile from ear to ear. We came to what appeared to be their stop and wished them a good day and proceeded on our journey. God's chosen, the least of these, is what we had just experienced and I once again found myself hungry for more, like a day not so long ago when I met my precious friend Becky who lives on the river.

As we arrived at our destination, first stop, downtown Cathedral. I found myself drawn to the fact that everyday of the week at 12PM they offer a mass, a service, a teaching to those in public office, street workers, and homeless as well as just passer buyers. The contradiction in the visible signs of the people in the pews were amazing. Suits and ties, dirt and grime all in one building for a period of time. Was it shelter for some, truth for others, loneliness, what drew so many different people to this one place? It was a building where the church could meet that seemed to have drawn what I saw so many come to. The church being the people not the place, the place was the avenue for the message to be spread. The message being you are valued and worth the doors being open for you to enter. Amazing to see this unfold right before my eyes as I have come to realize how much the meaning of church has become blurred in today's' society and even in my own heart. We as a people are the church and in that moment it was evident that I was among the church.

We then proceeded to the local library, which was incredible, floors and floors of books and resources for the mind to devour. Sitting right in the middle of downtown. Here we were, the Cathedral, the library the court house and the jail and smack dab in the middle of that was the city park. This particular day it just happened to be farmer’s market day as well. As we finished up at the library, passing by many sleeping outside the doors and on the streets, we decided to join others in the park that day for lunch. We saw pan handlers, stock brokers, the homeless, men, women and children, teachers and writers, lawyers and doctors at least that is what it appeared to be. Because of the local surroundings I am assuming that is the range of people who we ate with and among that day.

We helped those collecting cans, sang with the homeless and laughed with the businessmen, waved to the children and talked to other parents. We took notice, left an impression and loved those around us for no other reason then doing so.What I saw that day was something that stirred in my heart. People in all there differences coming together and living in the moment, however brief it might have been. How do we bridge that gap and bring it from one moment to the next to produce a future of hope for those lost, forgotten and left behind?

For me, it’s remembering that Jesus did just that for me, when I was lost, forgotten and left behind, broken, beat and ready to be swallowed up by death, He was there to pick me up.

What I am learning by reaching out to the least of these in my own community and beyond is this. That the greatest gift I can give anyone, regardless of how they look, where they have been or who they are is my time, an ear to hear and a gentle touch, sometimes in the form of words, others through my hands.

As I come to terms with the conflict in my heart, I am also learning to deal with the fact that I am not called to give up all I have been given but rather I am called to give my all to those who have nothing.

Happy Anniversary!!!!!!!!!!

Happy Anniversary to me!!!!!!!!!! OK, me and Tony. Today we celebrated our 15 year anniversary. WOW!!!! I just can't believe it. What a wonderful celebration, what a wonderful day of reflecting back on the past 15 years. I have to say my favorite part of being married for this long is the wonderful world of being OK with the silence that happens when we are together. The road we have traveled, the trials we have endured and the restoration that has happened through us and in us is a true miracle and just another reason for me to believe in a God who is all about restoration and redemption. Today I look into the eyes of the man I married 15 years ago and I see a love that came out of all the many trials that have occurred over the last decade and a half. The love I have for Tony today is a true love that was birthed out of brokenness, a love that is not just words but backed up by action. He is by far my favorite person to be with in this whole wide world. So with that said, I will write more tomorrow, I am now off to put my head down and fall asleep next to my best friend. Thank you God for my marriage........

Who Are You?

For all of you who know who you are, thank you for being a real friend to me.

Simple v Real Friendships

A simple friend identifies himself when he calls.
A real friend doesn't have to.
A simple friend opens a conversation with a full news bulletin on his life.
A real friend says, "What's new with you?"
A simple friend thinks the problems you whine about are recent.
A real friend says, "You've been whining about the same thing for 14 years. Get off your duff and do something about it."
A simple friend has never seen you cry.
A real friend has shoulders soggy from your tears.
A simple friend doesn't know your parents' first names.
A real friend has their phone numbers in his address book.
A simple friend brings a bottle of wine to your party.
A real friend comes early to help you cook and stays late to help you clean.
A simple friend hates it when you call after he has gone to bed.
A real friend asks you why you took so long to call.
A simple friend seeks to talk with you about your problems.
A real friend seeks to help you with your problems.
A simple friend wonders about your romantic history.
A real friend could blackmail you with it.
A simple friend, when visiting, acts like a guest.
A real friend opens your refrigerator and helps himself.
A simple friend thinks the friendship is over when you have an argument.
A real friend knows that it's not a friendship until after you've had a fight.
A simple friend expects you to always be there for them.
A real friend expects to always be there for you!

Some Where Over The Rainbow!!

Who would have thought that on the other side of the rainbow I would find fellow journey women who were seeking the very same thing? A push in the right direction, someone to catch them as they jumped into the unknown. P31 became the physical hands of Christ as women leaped in complete fear, doubt and trembling towards their calling.

I have just returned from the Proverbs 31 She Speaks Conference held in North Carolina and it was truly an amazing experience. I went with my ministers eyes rather then my speakers, writers or leaders eyes. I prayed that the Lord would allow me to reach out to others and to wear him well as woman from all over the country and beyond came to a place where relationships shined first and ministry followed second.

I also prayed that I could give back to a ministry that has given me so much. A voice, direction and a love for my Christian Sisters that had been lacking for most of my early years in ministry.

Somewhere over the rainbow disguised as a pot of gold where the hands of Jesus formed by many women who have a passion to lead others in there calling. She Speaks allowed women to jump bolding into their calling, to face their fears and do it anyway. It wasn't and isn't a conference about woman learning to speak or write or lead but rather a conference about the three flowing from a relationship with their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

I have watched the women in this ministry grow up in a mighty way over the last four years and it has been an incredible journey to stand back and watch my sisters break out of their cocoons and spread their wings and fly.

They each wear Jesus well as they focus on His face while looking at the face of others. The messages were rich, the time well spent and the relationships were formed through faith and obedience of these women who have walked out in their calling, willing to share with others who have been called to do the same.

The Truth About Pain!!!!

Kyle Anthony Vito Perez-Nole
June 10, 1997

As I reflect back on the day my son was born, 11 years ago yesterday, I can't help but thank God for the life lesson that I received out of it today. Isn't God good? Lessons that come to us years after the teaching. Vito, my son, came into this world two months early and had to have a chest tube because of a collapsed lung , as well as a ventilator to help him breath. Anytime they had to change it I would have to leave the room, the pain was so great on his little body that he would scream so loud that it would break my heart. Everything in me yelled "take him away"!

How could I explain to him at that time that the very thing that was causing him so much pain was also the very thing that was keeping him alive?

Then I thought about the body of Christ and remembered what it was like as a new believer. Many times I wanted to run from the very people God had called me to walk through life with. When I was young in the faith I did not understand the need for relationships, and functioned in them out of duty rather then devotion. The truth was, those relationships, how ever difficult and painful they were and are, are still the very breath I need to keep me alive. Relationships to the Christian is not optional, just like the breathing tube wasn't for my son. If I would have grabbed him and ran, he would have died.

Many times I have wanted to run hard and fast because of the pain the comes from living life together, instead of confronting and communicating. I wanted to hide and deny the hardness of relationships, I wanted the pain to be gone at whatever cost but for that to happen my breath of life would have been taken away. The reality is this, Satan does not want me to be in relationships because it is there where I can best glorify my creator, especially during the hard times.

Today my prayer is not for God to remove the pain but rather for guidance and direction to deal with it instead. I will not always know if the pain I am enduring in the moment is the very pain that is keeping me alive, so I am not going to take a chance and try to remove it myself but rather trust my God and His promises so that one day when I get to look back on these moments I will be able to say.

"The very thing that was causing me so much pain was also the very thing that was keeping me a live!"

Kyle Anthony Vito Perez- Nole


11 Years Old


My Legacy
(Something handed down.)

( An assignment my dear friend Rene gave during a retreat and this is what I came up with, thank you friend for the push.)

What I would like to leave behind in the moment and in the future and what I want people to think about when then think of me.

Living in the moment, loving deeply, forgiving quickly and laughing often. Wearing Jesus well, acting out of faith and loving people out loud. Being a friend, finding a friend. Sharing what I see and seeing what I share. Never giving up or giving in. Entering into others pain as well as sharing mine. Loving the unlovable, reaching out to the forgotten and finding the suffering. Being available, being intestinal and making myself present for the people around me. Praying more, listening often, speaking less. Being a director and not a fixer. Accepting, encouraging an including others. Running my race and cheering others on in theirs. Taking a breath, pausing for a moment, slowing down, reflecting on His love. Being about His business, minding my own. Being accountable, being authentic, and being me. Celebrating out loud, crying, singing and dancing everyday. Holding, hugging and kissing those I love. Saying I love you often, finding the good in everyone. Never being to busy to give an ear a shoulder or a hand. Living from thanksgiving and walking by faith.

Running my race allows me to leave a legacy……

A new set of eyes!!!!!

I am completely ruined and forever changed. As I was sitting here today writing about my whole experience behind the bars, I found myself needing a break, this is too much to fast and all consuming. This new set of eyes to see the things I hadn't seen before has really shaken my comfortable existence.

I decided to take a walk and as I came to the corner I usually come to I saw a woman holding a sign that said "homeless, God Bless, hungry", I felt the Lord tug on my heart to go pray with her but with an attitude of being bothered I responded in my heart with "Lord this is why I got up to take a walk, to get away from this".

But I followed the tug and walked up to her and asked if I could pray for her, she said no she needed to work so she could get food to eat and that she had just gotten out of prison a couple months ago (of course) and I proceeded to share with her how I just came back from prison myself. This opened up for a great conversation where she shared for twenty min. I just listened. I told her that I walked this way daily and that maybe the next time I was out I could take her to lunch. She looked me in the eyes and called me beautiful!!! Can you believe it…..? She called me beautiful, it was like the Lord speaking straight through this strangers mouth.

All of a sudden I felt like not only was I hearing the voice of God but I was also in the very presence of my Lord and savior. This woman had know idea the significance of her words and how much it meant to me that she would share her pain and hurt so quickly. As she poured out of her brokenness I realized how much I needed her more then she needed me. I fell in love with her like I did the women I had just met days before, the beautiful woman behind bars. I stood there with her for sometime watching people just drive by, no eye contact, no acknowledgment of her presence. I found myself feeling guilty for the many times I had done the same thing.

As I was getting ready to leave a man walked up to us who happened to be her fiancee of 17 years. She introduced me to him as her new friend and as I walked away from Buddy and Becky all I could do was think great “now I don’t see prisoners or homeless people". I also thought who is sicker, those holding the signs who know they are down and out or those passing by ignoring those who are out there?

Treasure, Treasure, - Everywhere!!!

My eyes began to flood with tears as I stepped onto the prison grounds. I’ve heard of standing on Holy Ground before, but this was the first time that I literally felt it press against the souls of my feet. I could feel the very power and presence of the Spirit of the Living God behind these walls. It seems strange to find Him in the last place where most people would choose to go. But it’s not strange at all.

As I entered the camp, signs of imprisonment were everywhere – the bars on windows, the chained fences, and guards. These were sure signs that I had entered the other side of the prison system. For three days I walked throughout this facility. I met many inmates while I was there, but I did not see a single prisoner.

I saw beautiful women. Precious sisters. Fellow travelers. Broken people. Victorious saints. Hurting children of God. Best friends. I saw people who are the same as you and me. But I saw no prisoners. With the eyes of Jesus I saw only these precious treasures of God. Beautiful, beautiful treasures.

We were greeted with cheers, tears, and hugs as we entered the faith-based dorm. These women are part of a program based on the Bible. Our meeting with them felt like a family reunion. I recognized the resemblance in our brokenness and I knew that we shared the same blood line. We even looked alike in many ways. The overwhelming presence of God allowed the tears to flow as holy women praised God in their weakness. Their dancing and singing for the Lord proved that no chains on earth were holding these women back. I immediately fell in love with them and we became like best friends during our visit.

It became clear to me how forgotten these treasures are. They hunger for outside contact. Just our presence told them that they were valued. At one point the staff gave our team these tall chairs to sit on – I called them Pope Chairs because they really stood above the common people. It wasn’t long before we abandoned those high and mighty thrones so we could sit among our sisters. It is here in this church-behind-walls where the dividing line between “us and them” is erased. I experienced a simple honesty and brokenness and oneness like I have often yearned for in many churches I’ve attended. We had no pretenses to hold up – no masks to wear. We came together as lost and blind children who had been gloriously rescued by our Heavenly Father, and nothing binds hearts together stronger than that. My prayer is that more “free” Christians who are imprisoned by Satan’s deception will experience this kind of a tremendously liberating experience – perhaps even by going to prison!

Our yard experience was breathtaking. Many precious women were blessed. Some women feared getting out of prison, but no wonder. I remember how I wanted to stay in treatment. The fear of going back to my self-defeating life felt like a prison sentence in itself. The fear of rejection from a world requiring perfection was enormous. The fear of failing and falling short of society’s standards was overwhelming. So my heart broke for these precious women, because I vividly remember being taken from my home because of my actions. I recognized their pain because it had been my own pain. I heard those same hellish lies that screamed, “You are worthless. You are what you did! You are forever condemned.” It was such a joy to see many women set free. Many women came to realize that the very bars they once cursed were actually protecting them and drawing them nearer to their Maker. We saw women receiving a spiritual pardon from Jesus, which is much better than a pardon from the state.

The Word says, “You must lose your life to gain it.” So many of the daughters we visited in prison had gained abundant life by losing their lives in brokenness and humility. This is also my prayer for “free” Christians on the outside – for believers who are going through the religious motions of church, while not experiencing the exhilarating freedom of losing their lives sacrificially for Jesus. I know what that’s like because I wore those hypocritical religious chains for too long. I know of no better way to gain freedom than to lose your life by serving “the least of these” priceless treasures. I am forever changed and beautifully ruined by my visit to Vandalia.

Hemorrhoidectomy ( I think it's a word)

I asked my dear friend, the owner of the brush, to write from her perspective of the whole toilet, paint brush incident. Of course, I wanted you all who were reading to capture the moment, so I decided to recreate the day. So, even though this isn't the original picture, it is very close to what my dear friend saw when she entered my rest room to relieve herself of her coffee habit....... Friends from P31, notice the beautiful pink book. So, enjoy part two of lesson of the day.

Part 2 Lesson of the day!!!

I always enjoy sitting with my friend on her front porch. This particular morning I had one too many cups of coffee and needed to use her bathroom. Rushing in so I could get back to our in-depth conversation on the pro's and con's of owning an ice cream truck, I was immediately grateful that I looked before I sat because there, in the toilet, was my paint brush, extra long handle, sticking straight up from the toilet. My mind went where is shouldn't but I quickly composed myself and pulled the brush from the bowl, placing it ever so cautiously into the sink. Knowing my friend I just sat on the pot and did my duty, not bothering to flush the discolored paint filled water because, quite honestly, the designer in me was curiously what color it would make when I was done. As I sat there contemplating life, my mind, once again wandered where is shouldn't and I began to come up with all kinds of reasons why she put MY favorite paint brush in her toilet. Was she getting back at me for all the innocent sarcasm that had gone between us for the last year? Surely our friendship was stronger than that. I knew she would begin to wonder why I was taking so long so I finished, flushed, and washed, knowing I would never be able to look at that paint brush the same way again, or even my friend for that matter. My hysterical laughter broke into her deep meditation as I opened the door. I told her what I had found and the look on her face was worth the humiliation of almost receiving a hemorrhoidectomy. She gave me some lame excuse about how I had taught her to soak her paint brushes and the beauty of the toilet was that all she had to do was soak and flush. Easy cleanup. I KNOW I NEVER taught her that. Anyway, I was glad to hear that she wasn't mad at me for any reason and our friendship is still solid as a porcelain toilet bowel.

Written by: Christine Joy

Monday, May 12, 2008 (Part 1 for those of you who missed this blog)

Lesson of the day!!!!!

Note to self, don't leave paint brush in toilet when company is coming over. Especially if the company is also the owner of the paint brush. No joke, I did just that and I got totally busted, caught red handed. My good friend, running buddy and fellow book end came by today to join me on the front porch but before she sat down she asked if she could use my bathroom, of course she could, why would there be a reason not to let her?
Reason, I had been painting earlier that day and had everything cleaned up and put away except for one little item, the brush, not just any brush but my friend who was now getting ready to sit on the pot's brush. I could blame her for this, she is the one who taught me to just leave the brush in water until I had time to rinse it out. OK, she used a bucket, I chose the toilet, it was flushed, clean water and it wasn't like anyone was going to eat off the thing.
Needless to say, when she came back out side to join me on my front porch, I was just a tad embarrassed by her question. She wanted to know why there was a paint brush in the toilet, I proceeded to remind her of the lesson she had taught me last summer while painting my daughters room and then informed her that it was her paint brush I was giving a little bath to.
Now, this friend of mine has truly been given the gift of laughter and humor, which made the situation even better. I can't even imagine if someone I hadn't known stopped by and they do and tried to use my john, what would they have thought? I actually thought it was a pretty sticking bright idea if I do say so myself. Though, I think I will buy my friend a new paint brush instead of returning the old one. What can I say, thank God for good friends......

My BFF, a little TLC with a little OMG!!!!!

Today my BFF came over to give me a little TLC and I was so OMG when I realized how much she really loves me. She understands the ministry of the suddenly and when I needed her most, she was there. Today is the day I rejoice in a friendship that has been in the making for years. A friendship that has been tested by fire, almost taken out by pride and restored by the Spirit. I have to say, I feel like my BFF has been given the raw end of the friendship when it comes to the two of us. She is everything I dream I could be, a lady from the inside out and someone I want to be when I one day grow up. She is quiet, I am loud. She is gentle and I am hard. She is soft where I am rough, can any two people be so different? Yet, I have to say we do have away of complimenting one another and I believe that our friendship is a testimony in itself to what God can do with two broken people tired of fixing each other and ready to follow in His footsteps and not the others.... My BFF is always there for me and when she isn't I am proud of her, because I know how hard it is for her not to. Thank you my best friend once removed you Rock!!!!!!!

Lesson of the day!!!!!

Note to self, don't leave paint brush in toilet when company is coming over. Especially if the company is also the owner of the paint brush. No joke, I did just that and I got totally busted, caught red handed. My good friend, running buddy and fellow book end came by today to join me on the front porch but before she sat down she asked if she could use my bathroom, of course she could, why would there be a reason not to let her?

Reason, I had been painting earlier that day and had everything cleaned up and put away except for one little item, the brush, not just any brush but my friend who was now getting ready to sit on the pot's brush. I could blame her for this, she is the one who taught me to just leave the brush in water until I had time to rinse it out. OK, she used a bucket, I chose the toilet, it was flushed, clean water and it wasn't like anyone was going to eat off the thing.

Needless to say, when she came back out side to join me on my front porch, I was just a tad embarrassed by her question. She wanted to know why there was a paint brush in the toilet, I proceeded to remind her of the lesson she had taught me last summer while painting my daughters room and then informed her that it was her paint brush I was giving a little bath to.

Now, this friend of mine has truly been given the gift of laughter and humor, which made the situation even better. I can't even imagine if someone I hadn't known stopped by and they do and tried to use my john, what would they have thought? I actually thought it was a pretty sticking bright idea if I do say so myself. Though, I think I will buy my friend a new paint brush instead of returning the old one. What can I say, thank God for good friends......

Returning back to my roots!!!!!

Returning back to my roots!!!!!!

Friday I returned back to the roots of my recovery, went back to where I started, a place where I had not visited in a very long time. I was asked to be the guest speaker at a recovery meeting through our local hospital. I had not stepped through the doors of a secular meeting in years, the area of my pride is something I had to truly get under control before I placed myself back into the shoes of those I use to wear.

Early on in my recovery I become arrogant and prideful and that had to be broken. So, here I was sitting in a room with woman all around me who had hours, days and months, celebrating there clean date. I remember being in those shoes of early recovery and seeing someone like me today and thinking “they have no idea what it is like, how can they relate to my brokenness?” I had been praying for them and the meeting for sometime and felt like the Lord said go with only me in your heart and the message on your lips.

This was a big request because my training wheels for sometime have been my notes and preparation. I am learning now that the last four years have been preparation so that I do not have to prepare when it comes to sharing the hope I have in Jesus Christ. The immediate connection I made with these woman was that every single one of them in the room had children and were fighting to either keep them or get them back. And my testimony began on Mothers day 2003 when my children almost lost me.

As I sat there listening to the check in going on, each lady going around sharing her drug of choice, clean date and a word feeling for the day I quickly remembered how ugly early recovery actually was. The brokenness is so beautiful and it gives the word ugly a whole new meaning. Ugly in the sense of how the women see themselves and feel about who they are. The ugliness of where we have come from and what we have done is so loud in those early days.
I fell in love with these ladies immediately as I remembered how I felt the very first time I introduced myself as a drug addict with just days clean. Ashamed, guilty and convicted is how I felt and ugly was all I knew…. Early recovery is about learning that we are not what we do, or what had been done to us but rather who we are in the Lord. Praise God for Roots that keep us grounded so that we can give back to others what was given to us.

Perfectly Forgiven

Perfectly Forgiven

My words were harsh and guilt was my weapon. Stuck between wanting to let go and holding so tight that growth would be impossible. It was a typical Monday morning when my twelve year old daughter came into my room to inform me that she did not feel well. Instead of reaching out with a heart of compassion, I flung accusations and criticism into the air in hopes that she would catch them and feel bad enough, guilty enough to try to go to school for the day. I was frustrated once again, not wanting to deal with that phone call. “What must they think of me”? Those calls had become regular over the last couple weeks due to the fact that she had caught a horrible cold over Thanksgiving break. Here is the catch when it comes to school. We are scolded for sending our children there sick and scolded when we keep them home, where is the balance? Where is the grace?

This particular day both balance and grace where definitely lacking in my spirit. Fear of what the school would think, fear of her being home and taking up my time, fear of not getting what I needed done all came disguised as discipline. I looked her in the eyes and yelled what do you want from me? I pushed her hard verbally, I wanted her to make the decision about going to school or not on her own, and I didn’t want to have to carry that weight. I sent her to her room and as she walked away I knew right then and there that she could not make that kind of decision, she was to sick and I was to stubborn.

My pride had gotten the best of me. I was angry, frustrated and discouraged. I gave myself a time out and started to pray. As I was able to stand back and look at my behavior, my reaction and my harshness of the whole situation my spirit became broken. My heart ached for how I had treated my daughter and I found myself once again crying out to the Lord for forgiveness and guidance. Two hearts had been broken, mine and my daughters because of my own selfish pride. I knew right then and there what I needed to do. I stood up, wiped my tears and marched myself straight to her room.

I sat next to her bed and started rubbing her head, crying and asking her to forgive me for the way I had treated her. I told her that all she probably needed from me was a hug and a bit of understanding and with a look of sadness in her eyes, she agreed. I kissed her on the forehead and left her to sleep, as I walked out of her bedroom she called out to me and said, “mommy, you are perfect”. All I could think was “perfectly forgiven”.

I left her to rest and went to make the phone call. My son had come in from the garage playing and said he wanted me to open up one of my Christmas presents. Now if any of you know me, you would know how against this I am. I am all about opening them on the day. But my son was adamant about me opening his gift. I was still broken and raw about what had just happened with my daughter and I didn’t have it in me to try to win this one. I just asked him “why now?” “Why do you want me to open this gift so early”? He looked me in the eyes, straight faced and serious and said, “because you are the best mommy in the whole world.”

He had no idea what had just gone on between my daughter and me, he had no idea how emotional I was to start with. All I could do was sit there with the gift in my hand and cry and cry and cry. I thought to myself and prayed in silence, “I am not worthy of this gift, look at how I have just behaved.” And in my prayer I was quickly reminded about the free gift of salvation. How many times I had I said no to the things that God had wanted to give me because I thought I wasn’t worthy? A light bulb went on, tears continued to flow and I started to unwrap the gift. It wasn’t what came inside that package that day but rather what it represented.

I was qualified for that gift my son had given me because I was his mommy. Plain and simple. I excepted that gift from my son and realized that I am a perfect mommy and the best in the whole world not because of who I am or what I do but rather because of who I know. I was able to except his gift because I had already excepted HIS gift.

I am not or never will be worthy enough to except the free gift of salvation that comes through Jesus Christ. But because I am a daughter of the King of Kings I am qualified. I was reminded by that day about how God deals with His children. He is gentle and kind but quick to discipline. I believe God knew that I would have spent the whole day beating myself up because of my behavior. Even though I had been forgiven. I believe He sent my little boy to me at the perfect time to remind me of the gift that is so freely offered to each and everyone of us not based on my goodness but on His.

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a GIFT from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.
Ephesians 2:8-9


God made me to be uncomplicated in my faith, to watch children, kites, sunsets, rainbows and enjoy them. To take your hand regardless of who you are or how you look, to listen to you, to accept you right where you are, to love you unconditionally. God made me to be real, to be honest, to be open, to never compare myself to you but to strive to become my own best person.

Choose your words wisely!!!

I can't tell you how many times I have asked someone a question and been replied to in a way that made me or the other person feel or look foolish, as if the answer were considered obvious or understood.

Sometimes I find myself verbally responding to the actions of others in a way that reflects the exact opposite of what I was actually thinking or feeling. Today I have really been challenged to consider the impact that my words might have on others. Not necessarily the ones I am speaking to but the ones who are in ear shot, the ones who don't know me yet but can hear the words coming from my mouth. Sarcasm is defined as “a sharp and often satirical or ironic utterance designed to cut or give pain.” Though I don't intend for that to happen, the truth is it can and does. The truth is, if I am going to play with a knife someone is bound to get hurt and with this realization I must put the knife down.

As a wife, mother, friend a person in relationships, I find that I often use sarcastic tones and remarks to “get my point across.” In turn, my children spout sarcasm back at me and each other as well as my spouse and others around me. It has become something we have all just become accustom to.

“Let nothing be done through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than themselves” (Phil. 2:3).

I must always ask myself, “Do my words and actions help and encourage others? Do they build others up or do they tear them down?” Of course, I will occasionally make comments in a mildly sarcastic or teasing manner, without intending to demean others. Sometimes, such statements can lighten a tense moment or bring a smile to another person’s face, when he or she realizes the true intent behind it. The problem with this is if the person doesn't know me well I could actually be causing them pain. Pain that might not even show up until I have left the room. People are all around me with unseen open wounds and I must be aware and sensitive to those at the cost of even a one liner making me look quick on my feet. I ask myself, can I forfeit this part of my personality, not deny it but rather give up my right to use it so that others might feel safe around me. I realized that sarcasm builds walls and prevents them from coming down. How can I reach people if they don't trust me?

Now, don't get me wrong. I believe that God definitely has a sense of humor, all I have to do is look at His creation. So, it is not wrong for me to sometimes look at things from a lighter side. But tact and discretion must be exercised. Even when a particular comment could potentially lighten a serious moment, I must put yourself “in the other person’s shoes,” and imagine how such a statement may be received. Although my intentions could be very innocent, and even good, “a wise man’s heart discerns both time and judgment” (Ecc. 8:5), and knows when to say (or not to say) what.

Proverbs 17:28: “Even a fool, when he holds his peace [does not speak], is counted wise: and he that shuts his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” It is sometimes better to say nothing at all.
Again, I find that I must examine my motive. Sometimes, I may be tempted to make a particular remark simply to show others how “clever” I am , without even considering how it will make the other person feel or those around me feel.

Ultimately, I must follow Christ’s admonition in Luke 6:31: “And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them likewise.” In other words, I must always be considerate of others, treating them the way I would want to be treated. This includes the way I speak to them. I will be known as much by my words as by my actions, so I will learn to choose my words wisely.

Check mate!!!!

Unchecked anger can lead to sin which leads to death. Today I had to deal with just that and I didn't want to put it in to check because I knew that I would be prayed over and something in my flesh just wanted to feel the pain and lash out. Thank God for the power of the Holy Spirit who doesn't allow us to stay there to long and has given us the choice to say no to the things we once said yes to. So I picked up the phone, called a very good friend of mine who I knew would not let me marinate in my own pain but rather remind me of the peace that is promised to all His children.

The question I must remember is not why Lord do I have to go through this but rather how Lord do you want me to go through this? Sometimes I can slip back into worldly thinking and truly believe that something like health issues should not be a problem for me. I almost ran with pride and tried to walk alone. The prayer and encouragement today allowed me to step past my fear and be bold in an area where I typically would shrink back.

Today represents another move for me in the right direction. Stepping out of fear and into freedom. I know longer have to shrink back, shut up or back down. I can ask questions, seek answers and expect results.

Running my race in a lane called "Grace".

Cristina Dolores

It's not a love letter but it is.

Sami, my 12 year old daughter and I have a journal that we write in daily to each other back and forth. Yesterday the writing she left me just broke my heart. As I read her entry she proceeded to tell me how much she dislikes school, begging me to pull her out and home school her. She is tired of the picking on and the bulling that happens day in and day out. Why? Because she will not conform to the others who think they know what is best, in and cool. WOW!!!!! If only I was able to stand strong on my convictions at that age, actually I don't even think I had convictions at that age.

We actually talked about her journal entry, prayed together and I let her know I would set up a meeting with the teacher and the two of us. Apparently there is a group of kids that seem to pick on the others and it has been going on for sometime. Sami is the first one to step up and actually say something and this has stirred the group into getting very angry. On the other hand the teachers are proud of her and so am I. She is a fighter and knows what is right and wrong and is tired of this behavior. It is foolishness and needs to be stopped.

If there is one thing I have learned is that I just need to listen and through that she does find the answers with in herself. There is wisdom in allowing someone to speak the truth and that is all she needed to do. Her dad also sat her down and asked her to share the positive that had gone on at school as well and she was able to do just that. We have also learned that in a 12 year olds world when one thing goes wrong it means everything is wrong and running away seems like the only solution until they are allowed to talk it out.

Which brings us to this morning. She came to me as I was getting dressed and asked if she could read me this letter that she wrote to a friend of hers who just happens to be a boy. Now, yesterday afternoon this young man had come to my mind and I spent time just praying and thanking God for him in our lives. He is one of those kids who has a strong personality, he says what he means and means what he says, there is no hidden agenda with what he does and he wears his heart on his sleeve, he is an awesome young man. He is strong in his faith and isn't' afraid to stand for what he believes in, he too fights for what is right and I love him like he was my own. Anyway, my daughter came to me and read a letter that she had wrote to him which brought tears to my eyes. It wasn't a love letter but it was, a letter from my heart of a friend to another. She was writing him to thank him for always listening to her, understanding her and being there for her. She poured her heart out on this paper and what I heard over and over was hope, she found hope this morning where yesterday she was hopeless. This young man is Jesus with skin on for my daughter who is struggling to hold tight to what she believes in even when the odds are against her. He is Jesus with skin on when those around her our shouting change, change, change, he is telling her she is beautiful just the way she is.

Proverbs 12:26 (NLT)
The godly give good advice to their friends; the wicked lead them astray.

Thank you David and Chris for teaching this boy to be a man!!!!!

We love you guys so very much.
"Running my race in a lane called "Grace".
Cris Nole

Two are Better Than One

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 (NLT)
Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed. If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.

Can you think of a friend in your life right now who has carried you? Can you think of a friend in your life who has helped you succeed in your calling, pushing and cheering you on towards the dream that has been placed in your heart?

I love this picture of the turtles. I believe the little one has hope and the big one has purpose and together they represent what can happen when we truly rely on one another. Purpose gives us a reason to dream and hope a reason to go on.

This turtle is saying "I've Got Your Back". Do you know who has yours? Today celebrate the gift of friendship by reaching out and thanking those who God has placed in your life. A call, a card a little visit just to say hello.

Just like the turtle, we will have to stick our neck out at times to reach out to those who have fallen and it's there where our muscles our stretched and our faith will grow because we have made a choice not to do it on our own.

Be blessed my friends.

Running my race in a lane called "Grace".

Cristina Dolores