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

Dead Man Walking

“We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin. For when we died with Christ we were set free from the power of sin.”Romans 6:6-7

As I entered the parking garage, keys in one hand, book in another, I found myself flirting with an old familiar friend called rejection. This long time friend of mine is from the past, someone I had never asked to enter into my life but rather had been there most of it. Rejection isn't a close friend of mine, more of an acquaintance who decides to pop it's head in once in a while to distort my truth so that he could feel needed and wanted.

Rejection showed up last night when I invited my husband to join me for a walk across the street and He said no. A sting from the past struck my heart like an arrow. The voice from Rejection echoed in my ear "see, he doesn't really want you!" Instead of sending Rejection home, I allowed him to enter through the back door of my heart. Thinking I had a right to feel such pain. Here I was with my husband on a weekend away, alone in a hotel room, no kids, no calls and no one to disturb us and he seemed to just want to be left alone. Letting Rejection in through the back door seemed harmless at the time. He felt like an old pair of shoes, I was able to slip right into with ease, not even having to untie the laces.

My heart was about to break as I invited Rejection to tag along with me as I decided to take myself on a pity party, starting at Star Bucks and ending up at the shopping center that I had eyed earlier from our hotel room. Caffeine and clothes what a way to numb the pain. As I said my goodbye to my husband I was hoping he would come chase after me and beg me not to go, plead with me not to runaway with this so called friend of mine.

The begging never happened, the pleading wasn't even in the cards because the truth was my husband had know idea what was going on in my heart, he really thought I was just stepping out for a walk, clueless to the fact that an enemy from my past came back disguised as a friend.

Just hours prior to allowing Rejection through the door, my husband and I had returned from an awesome day together. We drove by the beach house where we honeymooned as well as spent several family vacations with our children over the last 15 years. We ate at our favorite little restaurant in Aptos CA. and spent the rest of the day in Santa Cruz, walking on the wharf and a quick trip to the mall. On the ride back to the hotel he grabbed my hand and said "I just love being with you" and in agreement I said "me to." We had a wonderful day together, hanging out, laughing and listening to each other share about life.

So, how did I get from feeling loved and wanted to unloved and rejected? How did I go down hill so fast with my feelings and emotions? I had allowed something that felt and looked vaguely familiar to enter into my thoughts, this is where I believe Satan gets a foot hold into my life. I flirt with the familiar so that I can justify my feelings. The taste was fowl and dirty yet I didn't spit it out, I didn't choose to drink the truth but rather I swallowed up the lie and it landed in the pit of my stomach and started to eat away at my soul. That quickly, a matter of minutes, the truth had become distorted and I was ready to own the lie.

As I left the hotel room I used everything in me not to break down and cry. I felt sill, stupid and immature because of how rejected I was feeling in the moment. I could not believe I was reverting back to old behavior, unhealthy, non communicating, prideful self was getting in the way. I took the elevator to the lobby, entered the parking garage, headed towards my car and that is when it hit me. I needed to go back upstairs into my hotel room and be honest with my husband, share with him how I was feeling and trust him with my heart. This I knew how to do and I knew this was the only way to un invite rejection. As I entered back into the building, hoped onto the elevator and rode up to the seventh floor all I could think about was the trek to the door. We were the last room on the floor, the walk seemed like a mile long and the first thought that came to my mind as my foot hit the carpet was "Dead Man Walking."

That area of my life, my past was no longer alive in me as far as controling who I was, what I did and how I reacted. I was dead to that old sinnful nature even though at times it like to come back and try to take me out. As I embraced that truth I was able to see the truth in the whole situation and with everyone step that brought me closer to the hotel door I became more confident in what I knew in regards to how I felt. What I knew was that the only way for me to keep a dead man down is to speak the truth. I would have to allow my husband to enter into this pain with me so that I could walk through it instead of run from it.

As I entered the hotel room I heard him yell out to me and asking why I was back. I just plopped down on the bed and asked if we could talk. I shared with him how everything felt so familiar and how I was feeling completely and utterly rejected even though I knew that I wasn't. I shared with him how stupid I felt because of those feelings and because of the day we had just had. Instead of rejecting me he embraced me, thanked me for trusting him and for coming back.

For when I died with Christ I was set free from the power of sin. On this day I was able to walk out this very truth, the power that once took me down, kept me from living and caused me to die a slow death no longer has control over me. Dead man walking into a new life in Christ.

Running my race in a lane called "Grace".

Cristina Dolores

Take My Breath Away!!!!!!

I am so thankful for the way my husband gently pushes me towards the race I have been called to run. I am so thankful that he doesn't allow me to take the easy way out and that he sees in me what I don't and believes in me as if it has already happened.

Today has been a day of being pushed over the edge, dreaming out loud and sharing my heart. It has been a day where on my own I would have settled for less, striving for small and believing in little. I know on my own I will miss the mark, I will not reach my full potential unless I allow others to share in my journey, speak into my life and hold me to the highest of standards when it comes to the calling that the Lord has placed on my life.

I knew I was in trouble when I shared with a friend last week that the thought of serving in a certain area of ministry caused me to feel like I was suffocating, not that God wouldn't or hadn't called me in that area but just that it brought me to a place where my breath was taken away.

As the week past and seed started to grow, I realized that not only am I shaped for the ministry of reaching out and reaching into others lives, I am also equipped and prepared for this very moment in time. There is a fire in my belly, a drive in my soul and a determination in my mind to do whatever it takes to reach out to those around me who have not yet met the real Jesus.

So, as God continues to take my breath away, I continue to lean not on my own understanding but on His and His perfect plan for my life. I will take a deep breath, put one foot in front of the other and walk by faith until I reach the finish line.

Running my race in a lane called "Grace".
Cristina Dolores

Happy Girl!

Today I run the race set before me with a smile and a skip in my step. Knowing that the joy I feel in this race comes from knowing who I am in Christ and not in what I do. Today, I am OK with the stillness of the race and the quietness of the moment. Today I try my best to stay in my lane and to remember that others need to stay in theirs. I have learned that this doesn't mean we can't reach out and touch one another, cheer each other on, stretch together and even rest together but we each have our own race set before us and when we choose to stick to that race it does have away of making one very happy.

Running my race in a lane called "Grace".
Cristina Dolores

Front Porch Ministry

Who would have ever thought that running my race would mean sitting down. Yet, I am finding that the race I have been called to run, is all about being still, not just with God but also with others. Being fully present and fully aware of who I am with and what is going on. That is running the race set before me.

Yesterday I found myself sitting on my front porch from 11AM until 5PM, what a race I was running. People rotated in and out of chairs, back and forth up and down and in and out all through out the day. The race set before has been a race of reaching in and reaching out to those around me. Being still in the moment and in a spiritual race that is what it is all about.

Sitting on my front porch has become away of life for me. It represents my ability to allow myself to be fully exposed. I can sit and welcome others into my life as well as enter theirs as we sit and share what is going on in our everyday life.

It is on my front porch where I can connect with my family and friends, where I can listen and be heard. I can seek forgiveness as well as forgive just by being still.

So, if you ever find yourself driving down my street and in need of a front porch moment, don't hesitate to just stop and enjoy the stillness of the porch and enjoy the race.

Running my race
Cristina Dolores