It’s so so so easy to get busy and caught up in this crazy life and completely lose focus. Even when your working for The Lord it’s easy to lose sight of the most important parts of your life.
We let work, hobbies, housework, our kids schedules, school, even ministry to take up all our brain power so that the few minutes we have left at the end if the day, we simply want to check out and do some brain numbing activity like social media scrolling, channel surfing, or netflix marathon-ing (yes, I made that word up).
We don’t have time, energy, or mental reserves left to have meaningful conversations with our loved ones, or time for the most important piece of our lives…. God.
We fall asleep before the first sentence of our prayer is breathed. We bibles are dusty. And our thoughts are consumed with things that the devil uses to distract us from the good, pure and lovely things God wants us to think on.
It’s time to refocus. To get our priorities straight. To restructure our brains and hearts so our calendars can be restructured as well.
We need to dedicate time to The Lord… In the morning, mid day, or evening… Whatever is your preference… But dedicate that time. Stick to it!
We need to dedicate time for our families too. Our homes are our first and most important ministry! They deserve our attention and dedication as well.
It’s ok to say no sometimes… Our calendars can’t be so full that there is no room for fun? Family time or God time.
It’s time to refocus. To figure out our priorities and stick to them.
It’s so so so easy to get busy and caught up in this crazy life and completely lose focus. Even when your working for The Lord it’s easy to lose sight of the most important parts of your life.
I will bless The Lord at all times, in all things, through all circumstances, and with all that I am.
God is deeply honored when we bless, praise , and give Him thanks during our hard times. And as an awesome by-product, we are lifted out if the muck and mirey clay and brought to a new level.
No matter what you are going through… Praise Him. Lift up His name. Give Him glory. Thank Him.
Today, I spent time in the home of a woman who is a long time friend of our pastors. As we were sitting in her kitchen, windows wide open to the jungle air high in the mountains, I looked at this woman, whom I didn’t know much about at all and wanted to capture that moment.
As a portrait photographer, I want to capture people at their best, when they feel beautiful, made up and ready to be immortalized. But, there is this intrinsic piece to my creativity that desires to see people as real, flawed, life-worn creations of the Great Creator. I want to see people in their environment, as they are, with those they love, feeling every part of their crazy life on this planet. Since I am not very aggressive with my photography, I often see these moments, but fail to capture them. Not today.
As I looked across the table at this mother, grandmother, friend, and child of the Living King, I saw peace. In her kitchen, with her dear, life long pastors, her grandson working on the computer near by, her daughter in the next house over, I saw a woman dearly loved by her family and the Lord, and a women who cherishes it all. I saw a woman who had been beaten down by life and the cruelty it can bring, but one who has risen (and is possibly still rising) from the ashes into a place of beauty. I saw in the laugh lines crinkling her sparkling eyes a woman who knows the value of joy and holds her joy close. I saw beautiful hands that have held life in them, and still have life left to give. Hands that have worked, and written, and prayed, and praised.
Whether these feelings where true to her life now, or a prophetic view from the Lord, I saw it.
I saw true beauty sitting across the table for me, and when I asked to take her photo, she kept laughing. So those hands maybe hiding the laughter, but the light and joy of the Lord is shining in those eyes.
Tonight, my prayer is that all those beautiful things I see in her, she can see in herself.
I pray that the joy and peace and value the Lord wants to give to her is given in greater measure than ever before.
I pray blessings over her and her family.
We watched the movie by Darron Wilson called Holy Ghost this weekend (twice actually) since it was streaming live on Bethel TV for 48 hours.
This documentary style movie showcasing and introducing the world to the person of the Holy Spirit was another life changing film in the series. If you haven’t seen Finger of God, Furious Love, or Father of Lights.., you need too. Especially Father of Lights. That movie changed our lives!!!
A word of caution.. If you are at all religious, you will have problems with these movies.., especially the scenes at the Korn concerts in Holy Ghost.
But if you love seeing peoples lives changed by the power of Gods love… Watch them.
Ever have a night that you plan to go to bed early, yet you’re watching the clock creep through the early morning hours?
Ever wonder why you are watching that blessed clocked instead of the back of your eye lids?
It happens a LOT to me. In fact it’s 12:40 am right now and my family is asleep and I had planned on joining them about 2 hours ago after a very long and very hot day.
And yet… I’m still up. Blogging. And it’s almost 1am.
I used to curse the insomnia and pray (beg, plead, bargain with my first born’s life) for sleep. But I’ve learned that in those times I should be asleep (whether I was asleep and have been awoken, or just can’t fall asleep) it’s usually because there is something that needs attention.
Sometimes, it’s because I have unresolved issues from the day that I need to pray about or seek The Lord about and ask Him to help me deal with it. Other times God is asking me to pray and intercede for others. And there are even times when I just need to spend time with God. Not for a specific reason, just for the peace and rest that comes with soaking in His perfect presence. Just to get closer to Him.
Now that I’ve learned this… I don’t curse the sleeplessness… I’m thankful for the time I get to spend with my daddy God.
What about you? Why are you up? What keeps you up? How do you respond to insomnia?
Being a part of these 40 days of fasting and prayer in Mayaguez, has given me an even greater appreciation for a kingdom mindset.
Every morning at 6 am, pastors and leaders, and church members gather from all different congregations, denominations, and schools of thought to pray. No one is there to promote a church, a pastor, or a belief system. They are simply there to pray for unity among thew body of Christ.
Why doesn’t this happen more often?
Why don’t churches promote other churches events or outreach?
Why is there such competition among Christians?
Because we don’t understand Kingdom principles.
When we understand Kingdom principles… suddenly things like “our church”, “our outreach”, and “our new member” become God’s church, God’s outreach, and God’s new follower.
We need to understand that it is not about growing your church, but about winning souls to the Lord. That’s it. Forget who believes the right thing, or wears the right clothes to church, or sings the right way. As long as we believe that Jesus is the only way to Heaven and we are preaching the Bible…. honestly the rest is just stuff. (Important stuff, but stuff, nonetheless.)
Having a kingdom mindset means that if your church is having an outreach, you bet I will help you with it. I will pray, I will promote it, I will share it on Facebook, I will tell my friends. Why? Because if someone attends that event and comes to Jesus because I shared it on Facebook, that is a soul that is bound for heaven, redeemed from the clutches of hell, and that is why I am here!
Having a kingdom mindset means that if someone comes to my church and says, thanks, but your style or denomination isn’t really for me, I am not only ok with that, I am going to tell them about this other great biblically sound church up the road that has a different style from us, but maybe they would be a better fit for them.
Kinda crazy huh… it’s like having a pizza place and someone comes for pizza and you send them to the pizza shop down the road because the like more pepperoni. Makes no earthly sense.
That’s the best part of having a kingdom mindset. You understand that all Christians are working towards the same goal, working for the same king, and basically working the same business. And as long as people are coming to know the King, how they get there, which church they attend on the journey, and whose stuff they decide to embrace is really irrelevant.
Thank you LORD for open doors!!
After our Ignite event, the pastor of the church that hosted the event invited me to come to her women’s conference in October and LEAD THEIR WORSHIP!
After some praying and consideration, I have accepted. I know this is a bit out of my comfort zone, but I think that’s a big reason why God brought me to this. I won’t have my band or back up singers. I will be leading in Spanish, and my team may not speak much (or any) English, so I have 2 months to bulk up on my Spanish. (Lots of prayers please!)
But still…. what an awesome honor and privilege. I am floored by this invitation. Her last conference had about 300 women and they are expecting 500-700 this time.
God is awesome!
I am so excited to see what else is in store!
For the past two weeks, we have been walking around the communities in Aguadilla praying for people, visiting shut-ins, telling people about Jesus, and handing out flyers for this event.
We knew, that despite our efforts, there was a chance the event wouldn’t really draw many people, but our Pastor felt God was asking for our obedience in this, so we did it. She knew of a pastor of a Spanish church in Aguadilla who graciously lent us her building and some of her people for the event.
This weekend, a tropical wave (a storm that is stronger than a regular storm, but still doesn’t have the characteristics of a tropical depression or hurricane) has been moving at a snail’s pace across the island bringing bands of rain and thunderstorms, which means people like to stay home during those rainy evenings.
Saturday evening, our small church assembled together at the church building in Aguadilla and had our Ignite Service. It was really just us and the other churches people, plus one family that came.
But God said, Do NOT despise the small beginnings. If you are faithful in the little, I will give you the much.
So we had CHURCH. God’s presence was real and fresh and beautiful. Pastor Carmen’s short but powerful message was encouraging.
We asked ourselves, and were asked by others, why are you going all the way to Aguadilla? No one is going to drive from there to Mayaguez just to attend church. The answer is… we have NO idea. But God does. He truly does. He had a divine purpose for this whole outreach and event.
Maybe it was so Mike could have a trial run at planning an event like this (He was in charge and it was his first event).
Maybe it was so we could meet and minister to Pedro and Delia (Read about them here).
Maybe to teach our new people what outreach is and give them a chance to get their feet wet.
Maybe it was so we could get even more connected to the pastor of this church in Aguadilla.
Maybe the worship or word that was brought was for a member of the other church.
Maybe it was so God could bring liberty and draw the visiting family back to him.
Maybe it was so we could experience This.
Maybe it was for something even bigger than we can see.
Maybe we will never know this side of eternity.
Today I had the opportunity to visit with a sister from church. This beautiful woman of God shared this story of true love that sincerely touched my heart. She told us how her husband unabashedly pursued her heart. How he saw light and truth and love shining from her and knew he wanted that. He was catholic, had different political beliefs, was an orphan from the wrong side of the tracks with the most incredible blue eyes she had ever seen. She was an elegant mother of two who had been abandoned and left penniless by a wealthy husband from a very affluential Puerto Rican family, was a born again Christian and not looking for another husband.
He bought her flowers, shared sweet words and wooed his love until she married him, despite their differences. Then they fought and she left, filed and had a divorce within 3 ‘months.
But he kept pursuing her.
She ran from him and God and they both kept pursuing her.
She kept running, angry at them both, until one day they both showed up at church. He had found God and stood in front of the church, a broken vessel before the Lord and asked her forgiveness and declared his love for her.
He began to pursue her even more after that day, this time the love deepened and made fuller and richer because he loved her as Christ intended.
Soon after they married again.
She shared with us, a sparkle lighting her eyes and a knowing smile slightly curving her mouth, that those were the happiest years of her life. He was born on 3 Kings Day so they collected exquisite carvings and colorful paintings of the Wise Men. Her living room is a testament to the life they enjoyed together, displaying some beloved pieces, each holding sweet memories and invoking time worn stories.
He passed away about 10 years ago, but before he left this mortal life, he made sure she knew that he owed her everything. It was her light, truth, and love that brought him to his Heavenly Father. It was her eyes that made his heart sing and her beauty that made his heart race. She was the most beautiful woman on earth and the only thing he was sad about was leaving her side. But he was going home.
As 4am dawned, peace stole into his face. Having said his goodbyes, knowing where he was headed, he went from this earth to Eternal Glory meeting his Savior face to face.
As we listened, tears fell from her eyes, yet the slight knowing smile never left. I think she was enjoying the memory of the most beautiful blues she had ever seen, alight with laughter at some inside joke.
She looked at me and told us she didn’t know why she shared the story, but maybe I needed to hear it. That maybe I needed something from it. She told me to keep my eyes on Jesus, that the moment I look around at my stormy seas is the moment I begin to sink.
After I dried my eyes, I helped change the bedding, knowing that this simple act of service was not payment enough for the richest of the story she shared.
Like her husband, God pursued us with abandon. He adores us, thinking we are His most beautiful creation. His children wholly capture His heart. When we run from Him, He quietly, yet unashamedly chases us, giving us space while declaring His unending love for us. He calls us, woos us, draws us in until we see His love and become consumed by it.
Woo me Father.
Help me return to my first love.
I don’t want to run from you, but to your mercy seat where grace is my covering.
I want to keep my eyes fixed on Jesus and be His hands, His feet, and shine His light, truth and love to all I meet.
I wrote this on Saturday afternoon right after this event occurred. I didn’t intend to post this at all, but after a lot of thinking and praying… I believe this experience needs shared. Before you read this… Please know after we initially assessed the situation to see if we could help (I.e. First aid), we moved a safe distance away to pray and then left. The children were a very safe distance away for the entire event and saw nothing. We were covered and protected by God and His anointing. I’m not sharing this story for sympathy or to incite fear or anything for us. This could have happened in York PA. I’m sharing this because it is part of our story here. Part of our journey. Part of why we need your prayers and support.
Also, the story is slightly graphic in nature, so proceed with some caution.
There are moments in life that you feel like you can’t ever forget. Moments forever etched in your minds eye.
Today had one of those moments… It was unexpected and intensely surreal.
As we were leaving Aguadilla after our outreach we drove up to a car with a woman hysterically crying … These were gut wrenching cries that made your hair stand on end. We stopped and our friend and mike got out. I wasn’t going to get out because we had madi and our friend’s 5 year old daughter in the car and I sensed something was very wrong. When mike came back to the van he quietly told me that a man had thrown up blood or something in the passenger seat. I got out to see of I could help… No one was administering first aid… Just weeping and wailing and gawking. Blood was everywhere, but not from his mouth. From a gaping wound in his neck.
He was dead.
Our friend, hector began to try to help with crowd control and he discovered that the young man had been in a deadly fight and received a knife wound to the neck. As the woman raced him towards help in her beat up Honda, he bled out beside her.
It seemed like there had been nothing but his bare hands to staunch the bleeding.
By the side of the road no one ventured to help. Not even the paramedics who arrived. No urgency, just apathy.
Another young man from the projects dead by the hands of his own.
Tonight, I wish I could say I helped save that young man. I wish I could say someone led him to Christ before he breathed his last strangled breath. I wish I could have reached him before he let anger win in a fight… Or even before he began to make choices that led to his demise.
But that’s not how it happened. I was 5 mins to late to lead his soul to salvation. 8 mins too late to fix his wounds. A few hours too late stop the fight and maybe a decade or so to late to save him the pain of living with your fists and anger as your ruler.
As I stood there, tears in my eyes watching the family members arrive on the bloody scene, witnessing the pure agony of death, knowing I could do nothing but pray, I asked, God… Why are we here? Why did you have us arrive just too late? What is there here for us? I didn’t have answers, so I prayed. For peace, for righteous justice, for calm hearts and minds, for the need for vengeance among his family and friends to leave. I prayed that God would cause His peace and mercy to rule and reign over the city of Aguadilla tonight. I prayed in the spirit and I cried. For his mother, his loved ones and for any children he may have left behind.
And I prayed for the young men just like him all over Puerto Rico. Young men who let their anger and feelings rule their lives and think their fists, knifes, or guns are a way to live by and settle disputes with.
And that is why we were there.
Because this scene will play in our hearts whenever we met a young guy trying to become a man by joining a gang. We have a real story of how these choices can ruin and take your life. Maybe this man’s story will save another’s life.
Today we saw the ugly, real, and deadly side to the projects of Puerto Rico. We met the harsh reality of a country in an economic downfall where young men turn to selling drugs to make money more often than they go to college. Today we saw the spirit of death hover over a beat up car along the side of a hot highway. Today we saw the apathy and uncaring the officials have towards men like him.
I don’t know this mans name. I do not know his life or his story, but I know that I will do all I can to make this experience count. I will share this moment with anyone who will listen and hopefully I can arrive in time for
someone else to be saved next time.
I hope next time I will arrive a decade before the fight and make it so the fight never happens.