Never underestimate the places were God puts you. I’m not saying that it was God’s will for me to be sick for the last week, but he knew I needed to stop the train of life I was running and there was a lot that I had been praying to hear from him, but had not stopped to listen. Few days in bed shivering with fever, dragging to do every move and knocked out on medication will do wonders to your spiritual ears.
For the last few weeks I’ve been working on the anticipation of my yearly writing main event, Nanowrimo. This is the race to write a novel in a month of 50,000 words or more. Last year was the first time I ventured to do such thing and I was nervous due to the unknown. It’s worth mention that Nanowrimo was the precursor of The Rising Muse. I had so much writing energy after being in writing boot camp that I needed to channel it somewhere, that’s how The Rising Muse was born. It also gave me the opportunity to finally finish a novel, which in itself was a great accomplishment, winning the competition was not bad at all. The rest of the year has been dedicated to editing the fruits of my labor (hint, hint to my editor, get yourself in gear, we’re trying to publish a book here! LOL!)
Anyway, at 52 hours from facing the challenge one more time, I’ve taken the time to review my life within the last year and see how far God has brought me during this time. A lot of things have happened in the last 12 months. I don’t work in the same position, I don’t drive the same car, and I don’t live in the same place. My spirit and my love for God are not even at the same level. I do have more responsibilities, but I wouldn’t trade it for the past. I have new friends, 20 less pounds (that I hope not to gain in November, it tends to happen); a total new life.
In my writing career, what have been those accomplishments in the last 12 months?
- My first publication, the short story “The Janitor”
- Winning Nanowrimo, “ The Road Home”
- Starting my blog, “The Rising Muse”
- Starting a Spanish Version of the blog with a collaborator (yes, Yanira you deserve a lot of credit too) “TRM en Espanol”
- My second publication, the story “Obedience and Willingness”
I look at it and I can’t believe it myself. Someone asked me today which was the accomplishment I was most proud of in my life ; I responded allowing God to shine through the talents he gave me and letting him use my gifts and mistakes to touch other people’s lives. So to him the Glory of all he’s allowed me to do!
Now at 51 hours the clock continues to race for me to start writing, “Breaking Free”. I think we’re doing better this year. Last year my novel didn’t have a title until the very end. I think we have a good start. Last year the anxiety was because I didn’t know what I was facing. This year the anxiety is because I do know what’s coming.
I want to take the opportunity to thank God for his love, mercy and for giving me this gift. I thank all my readers, my friends and family for your support. Thanks to Yolanda and Jeff for inviting me for the second year to their house for Thanksgiving allowing me to write instead of cooking. I promised a pie and a cake, Publix may end up doing them for me…LOL! To Seth, my editor, for loving me and putting up with my Spanglish writing. Only he understands the things I write, especially when I write in a hurry.
To those around me, remember, as of Monday there’s no cooking. My dog will appreciate visitors to let her out and I will appreciate anyone bringing me a sandwich, a smoothie (Carrie hint, hint), a soy chai latte or (Noe hint, hint) just listen to me fuss about how this story is not coming along. Let the writing begin!!!! 50 hours to go!!!
Natalicio is another word for birthday in Spanish. I happen to be counting another one of those in my calendar. I woke up this morning thinking about my daily routine, even complaining about things here and there and then I stopped myself.
New Years Eve is not the only day to make inventory of your life, every time another year of life is added is good to see where you are, especially in comparison to where you’ve been. I started by thinking where was I for my last birthday. I remembered having a family dinner and a small gathering at home. I am grateful for the efforts but I was not in a good place.
This last year has been filled with hard lessons and great challenges, but has also been filled with the Mercy and Grace of Jesus Christ. I look at myself in the mirror and I’m definitely not the same person I was. I have grown a lot and thank God it has not been in my dress size. I have made new friends, have taken new risks and I can look at the future with purpose.
I also reviewed that God has allowed me to live this far, not saying that I’m old, but any enterprise more than 20 years is a long journey. I looked at my life with gratitude. I have a God that has provided for me every single day. I have never gone to bed without eating, unless I wanted to and I obviously don’t chose to. I’ve had a roof over my head all my life. I’ve always had clothes to wear, and all of you should be grateful for that too. My bills have always been paid, a delay here and there, but that’s my stewardship challenge, not lack of provision. I can’t even count the many times God has saved my life from trouble. I stopped my pity party and looked at life in a different light. I made a decision. Today was the day to move forward; to start looking at life for its blessings.
I felt filled with joy and left my house to live the first day of my life, it was truly my birthday; my day of birth. To complete my joy, friends and family overwhelmed me with demonstrations of love. I was already happy to be alive and have the Lord, everything else was icing in the cake, and I had tons of it, all fat free as it was all involved in love.
Even if it’s not your birthday today, take an opportunity to look at the blessings in your life. Be mindful, your job may not be perfect, but at least you have one. Your check may not be enough to allow you to travel, but your bills are paid. You may not have the latest fashion but you’re not naked. You may not be able to eat at a fancy restaurant, but you don’t go to bed hungry. Be grateful for all you have and all the blessings God has poured into your life and experience your own birthday.
As a Christian I want to celebrate things that are related to Christ and I’ve been on the search for the truth regarding our most common holidays. Easter is around the corner and all I’ve seen is colored eggs and rabbits. I’m not the sharpest tool in the shed, but my sixth grade teacher taught me in biology that rabbits had bunnies and hens laid eggs, so that combination alone makes no sense to me.
On the other hand, from my years in church and annual “Good Friday” movies, I never saw rabbits, bunnies, hens or eggs related to the cross of Jesus Christ. Where did this come from? I’ve asked around and nobody seems to have an answer. After much searching, my good friend Google finally led me to my answer, several articles and web pages about the traditions of Easter.
In reality we are supposed to be celebrating the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the thing that distinguishes Christians from other religions and sects, it’s the fact that our Lord is alive, and not only alive, but conquered death on our behalf. Somehow in the early days of Christianity, the celebration of the Resurrection coincided with a Pagan holiday dedicated to the goddess of offspring and springtime named Eastre. The story says that earlier Christians wanted to celebrate their festivities, but it would have been dangerous and Christianity was sometimes seem as criminal, therefore they decided to modify their celebration for their own safety and to attract non believers.
Why eggs and bunnies?
Both have been perceived as symbols of new life and fertility. This is also associated with the blooming of flowers in the spring time. There was an abundance of eggs during this time as eggs were not part of their diets during the Lenten season. The eggs were boiled for preservation purposes.
This tradition was created as another way to celebrate. Early Christians would exchange colored eggs, kind of like Christmas and the gifts exchange. Eggs were boiled in flowers to obtain their color, that’s why when people paint eggs in modern society, they tend to use pastels.
Now, here’s the thing; at least in the United States of America it is no longer particularly dangerous to practice our Christian beliefs and to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord, so I’m thinking, ‘Let’s drop the bunnies and eggs.”. I know that all big business will take offense to this particular mindset because of what holidays mean to the economy, but it’s the truth. Some people may think, “But it’s for the children”. How about if we teach the children that we have a bigger gift than the chocolate eggs and the Eater baskets? We have eternal life!
We want the future generations to live in the truth and the light. I think its time to live in that truth by knowing what our traditions really mean. Now trust me, I’m not against chocolate. I give you permission to eat all the peeps and chocolate eggs you want, but let’s make sure we are clear in our hearts about what our true celebration is this coming Sunday; the resurrection of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Traditions are those beliefs and/or customs that have been passed down from generation to generation. One of the best examples is our celebration of Christmas. We celebrate Christmas on December 25th, as the day that Jesus was born, but historically it has been agreed that he was born closer to the month of April. You can hear people say that you can’t celebrate Christmas without a tree or decorations; the truth is those are merely distractions, there were no trees or decorations at the manger when Jesus was born.
Traditions have colored the way we do things and have distracted us from the real meaning. In terms of holidays, I boycotted traditional Christmas last year and don’t get me started on Easter. All my readers have five minutes to explain to me the relationship between eggs, bunnies and the resurrection… Go ahead, I can wait!
There are people who have chosen careers because it’s a tradition in their family for everyone to be a doctor, a teacher, a lawyer, or a policeman. Some people go to a certain college because that’s where their family members went, not because it has the best program for their interests.
God made us unique. He took his time to form each and every one of us, and every one of us has a different purpose in the body of Christ. Following traditions, in my humble opinion, are not either good or bad, unless of course the tradition harms the person or others; but it’s not necessary in the implementation of God’s plan for us. We need to ask ourselves what opportunities we have wasted because that’s not what we usually do, the way we usually do it, or the way the people around us did it?
How about when our blessing comes in a different package than what we are used to or expecting, and because we’re not familiar with it we pass it right by? Can you believe that the greatest lesson of marital love I learned from a homeless man? I was part of a ministry that was feeding the homeless. This man came to our line and grabbed his portion of food; something in him caught my attention. All the others sat in front of where we were and ate, he ran with his food to hide. Another person from the ministry and I followed him at a distance, his wife was under some boxes sleeping, probably after heavy drug use. She was very weak, he told her that he had brought her something and lifts her head up with his arms and started feeding her his food. We told them that we had enough for him to eat too. He thanked us but told us that he had come to the line just to make sure that she would get something to eat. When I think about how a husband should love his wife, I think of them. It was not wrapped up in the prettiest package, but it blessed me. How many lessons or blessings have we missed because of our pre-conceived notions and traditions?
Evidence of Real Love
I was able to witness and experience one of the most beautiful days in the life of my dear friends Richard and Carrie Rice. They have been married for three and half years and have a great testimony to share on how God has not only developed their relationship, but how they have grown in their faith and in their obedience to God.
When they originally got married they felt that it was God’s time to do it and without bells and whistles, they got united in the commitment of marriage. God has been growing and using them as they have been obedient to his will. Carrie, even though happy with her groom, felt that she had missed on having a celebration of that special day.
This year, she submitted a letter to the local Christian radio station “The Fish”. They were running a Valentine’s contest where they would choose 50 couples and do a wedding for them to renew their vows. This radio station does this contest every year and Carrie had submitted a letter of participation each time. This year she won. She was very excited. God had provided the wedding of her dreams. This wedding was not only going to provide her with a ceremony, but a wedding cake, flowers, catered lunch, pictures, video and gifts. This time more than the commitment to each other, they were celebrating their covenant with God and with each other.
The event was cancelled in February due to inclement weather and the activity was performed today. Carrie and Richard had thought of the traditional wedding attires when they originally won, but then they realized that it’s not a white ball wedding dress and a tuxedo that makes them tick. It’s not a tiara, a veil and a tie that made them fall in love. So they decided that they wanted to get married in their tennis shoes and “skinny jeans” like Richard said.
They were the only couple in jeans, so they did get various looks from the other participants. Even there were comments in the bathroom about how “diverse” the chosen attires had been, not knowing that Carrie was in the stall. She came out and laughed about it and said, “Yes that would be me!” Beyond their looks they were very well noticed amongst the crowd. They received compliments for showing passion in the way they kissed and looked at each other during the ceremony. To them it was not about looking pretty, it was about their true love for each other.
During the ceremony, Carrie surprised Richard with his wedding ring. His ring had broken some time ago. She had it fixed to give it to him today. He was blown out of the water, but was also a little disappointed that he didn’t have a gift for her. Brandon Heath was singing and Richard felt in his heart a prayer. He prayed that God would bless his wife with the grand prize, so that this day would be even more special than it already had been for her. At the end of the event, the hostess presented the grand prize, a $2,000 diamond necklace. “And the winner of our grand prize is” as the hostess and Richard said at the same time “Carrie Rice”. At the table there was confusion for a second, none of us could believe that Carrie had been the winner. There were screams and praises from Richard’s mouth. Hours after the event had ended we were all still in awe on how God had answer his prayer, blessed his wife and made this day perfect. They were able to share their story with some of the people present, including Brandon Heath, who was very impressed.
Of course winning the prize it’s awesome, and the answered prayer it’s a testimony of God’s love, but what is greater for me is the evidence of true love without the masks of society and how he wants us to be real. He wants us to be us, and as we obey and become real with ourselves, our connection with our Creator will definitely be closer.
I had a dream last night that I’m trying to decipher. I know some dreams are just that; dreams. But I really think this one was trying to speak to my heart.
Before I moved to this state, I had built my house “from scratch” (bear with the baking reference, I don’t know the first thing about construction, but talk to me about cakes and we are in business) I had the property, in a way, and I sat with the contractor and designed what was my dream house within my budget and space. Within a few months that house was built. I was able to choose every window, every tile, every appliance, and every color.
In my dream I was back at that house, but it looked very different from the real house that I lived in. It looked like I had just moved in, had a lot of boxes spreaded out and a few pieces of furniture. I was happy in there because it was a canvas of many things I could do with the house. Looking out the window, I saw a neighbor, who is actually someone who was my neighbor at the real house, who told me she wanted to buy the house. I told her that I needed to consult with my mother ( just like in the real house, my house was built inside her property, so even though the house was mine, the land wasn’t ) My mother was hesitant to the idea, but we agreed to at least let her see the inside of the house.
As we walked through the house with her, I found perks that I had not seen before. I saw an old piano that just needed some painting, a collection of very cute elephants in gold, the house that in the real life had only two bedrooms keep growing on the inside, and all the sudden had four bedrooms and five bathrooms. The real house had only one. It had this huge kitchen. As I kept walking through the house showing my neighbor the selling points, I started discovering that I may not want to get rid of this house, that there was a lot in it that I had not seen that was of value in there and that I could do so much in that house; yes, with some money, patience and tender loving care.
In these last few days I had toyed with the idea of selling my current house, but I don’t think that this is what this dream was about at all. I think this dream is speaking to me and the things that are going in my life at this moment. God is showing me how he’s cleaning my house, my spiritual house, and how many hidden gifts are there that I have not seen, not because their hidden, but because I have not taken the opportunity to look. That I should tour my house and see how many valuable things are there. That I’m in the right spot of being a brand new canvas, where HE can build a new life for me, a beautiful one. I thought I only had two rooms, he showed me all the other ones. To me that spoke about how much more love he can accommodate in me if I allow him. It speaks to how many more people can be accommodated in my heart to shelter. Just like in the dream, to get that house in shape is going to take money, patience and tender loving care; who better than God to provide it all if I just let him do his job and allow myself to shut up.
At the end of the dream I had a little boy filled with dirt. I grabbed him by the hand and entered him into the shower to be cleansed. To me that’s a promise, that I will be holding in my heart.
God keeps reminding me to be still and know that he is God. I think at this point I know that he has a lot of things that he’s going to do with me, in this new canvas of my life. He has cleared my past and made me new. I need to learn how to crawl before I start running and I tend to forget that even when every time I run I end up hitting my head against the wall. Yes, I can be slow.
So I guess my thought about that dream is that I need to sit down, shut up and enjoy the journey of where God is trying to take me. He has promised to have a great future for me and I trust that, therefore no matter how hard things can look now, there’s nowhere to go from here but up.