A Father’s Love

How deep?  How wide?  How great is a fathers love?

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As a society we always seem to refer to a mothers love when trying to describe the greatest love we know to exist.  Being a mother myself and having experienced my own mothers love, I can not only attest from a receivers standpoint, but from a givers as well, that a mothers love is certainly incomparable to any other.  However, a fathers love, which many times seems to go under the radar, is not only just as big but carries within its essence a certain factor that can never be duplicated and is the healing touch of humanity.    

Perhaps you’re familiar with what I speak of.  That certain word spoken through a father into the life of an individual capable of healing even the deepest wound, capable of freeing the most bound spirit,  capable of turning the worst situation around.  A word released with such authority and fueled with the very breath of G-d; this is the Love of which I speak channeled only through the love of a father.

I was reminded this week of this precise love as I sat and recalled possibly the scariest conversation I’ve had in my life.  I was 25, not married, lived at home, hadn’t finished school, and just found out I was pregnant.  As much as I wanted to hide this from everyone, the morning sickness was so bad that it was only a matter of time before everyone figured it out and so I was convinced by my sister, Barbie, and my cousin, Janet, that I had to tell my parents.  Talk about petrified!  How would they react?  What would they say?  What a disappointment I would be to everyone.  

Only G-d knew what I was feeling at the moment and only He knew what would be necessary in order for me to move forward bravely in what seemed to be the scariest moment of my life.

Filled with shame and embarrassment, I confronted my mother and father and told them my situation.  Though I thought my mother would scream and yell, she didn’t, instead she retrieved into her own space to try and deal with the news.  Though it was a relief in a way, the silence was louder than any words she could have ever spoken.  

My father on the other hand cried.  I can still close my eyes and see how he wiped his tears with his pudgy little hands.  I remember feeling his pain and then he did what I never imagined he would.  He placed his hands on my stomach and said “I hope they’re twins”.  And with those words I was suddenly accepted!

As many times as I think upon this moment in my life I always come to the same awakening; how great was the love of my father! To not only accept me with what was the result of my sin at the time but to express his love in such a way where if that result was doubled he would still stand by me and love me unconditionally!

The Healing Touch of Humanity.  – Capable of making all things new.  

This is the perfect picture of the love of our fatherAccepting of us with all of our issues, downfalls, and weaknesses and expressing His love in such a way where even while we fail Him on a daily basis, He stands by us and loves us unconditionally!   Matchless in every way I tell you…Matchless!

The Great I Am

Straight Outta Miami! That’s right. That’s where I come from. Now some may see this as a bad thing but truth be told, Miami has many great qualities that go unseen by those that have never experienced its uniqueness. It is only when you live in this city and encounter some of its cultural richness that you can understand of what I speak. Although seen as ahard, everyone’s looking out for their own” kind of place, there is something very special about how Miamians flock together when loss or tragedy comes upon one of its own. Perhaps it’s the fact that we are all familiar with “the struggle” and each of us, in our own individual way, have a story to tell about how mami and papi or abuelo and abuela got to Miami. I imagine this is the reason we are so empathetic towards each other.

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Though I live in Tampa now, most of my contacts are from back home and just today I was reminded of this empathy of which I speak. Jose Fernandez. Miami Marlins’, 24 year old pitcher and ambassador of the sport who was tragically killed this morning in a boating accident. His death has left the city in a saddened state. A Cuban defector who fled to America with a vision of something better as many of us have. We all mourn his loss today. Perhaps because he was what many define as the American dream, or perhaps it was his young age that touches us, or even maybe the fact that he just last week announced that he was going to be a father. I suppose it is a combination of all of these reasons that allows us to relate each in a different way to this story and causes us to join together in the pain his loved ones are experiencing.

As I read the story today I immediately remembered those words spoken by my father every time someone passed:

Para morirse lo unico que hace falta es estar vivo!

For my non-Spanish speaking friends this translates to:

The only requirement for one to die is to be alive!

The wisest words I have ever heard…and I don’t say that lightly. Though I have to admit I’d get a good chuckle every time I heard him say this, today I realize he was speaking truth. Death doesn’t discriminate. It doesn’t take into account your race, age, religion, sex, status, finances, or anything else. At the end of the day all that matters is our spiritual state and the condition of our hearts.

Will I stand in the presence of The Great I Am?

Just last week I was breaking bread with a friend and having one of those deep conversations about G-d, life etc. (my favorite type of dialogue). Though our faith isn’t exactly the same, he expressed an interest in knowing G-d on a deeper, more intimate level but also shared that he hadn’t reached the point where he had made a conscious effort to do that. I can’t help but wonder today how many of you reading this are in the same boat? Choosing to do tomorrow what you can do today. Waiting to develop that relationship tomorrow because we either don’t have the time, the desire, or simply the need to do so right now.

Tomorrow may never come.

We all meet the requirement to die today, but the real question is do you meet the requirement to live an eternal life tomorrow? …that requirement can only be met through a relationship with Jesus Christ. I pray you do.  #RIP Jose Fernandez

Below is the best attempt to describe Jesus I have ever heard.  Pease take 3 minutes to listen to it.

 

 

 

 

 

Champions Fall Too

Getting the wind knocked out of you is a paralyzing feeling. One that empties your lungs of all air and leaves you struggling trying to catch just one breath to alleviate the pain from the blow. Professional boxers know this feeling all too well. Just one hit to the abdomen or one bad fall on their back could leave them gasping for air and sometimes even cause them to lose the fight.

A regular boxing ring surrounded by ropes spotlit in the missle on an isolated dark background

Of course all fighters are aware that this is a probability once they step into the ring. So for this reason they devise a strategy that if closely followed will keep them safe from this type of hit.

Though painful, getting the wind knocked out of them doesn’t always imply a loss. If a fighter is well prepared, he can recover and come back even stronger than before. But this is solely dependent upon technique.  

While strategy is the overall plan, technique is for the moment. It is applying the skills that have been learnt into the present situation.

As difficult as it may seem, if in the midst of the hurt, a fighter reverts to what was taught to him during his training camp, he will have a better chance of coming around and returning to the fight.

In case you didn’t know, I am a boxing fan. In fact, I am a fan of combat sports in general. There’s nothing more exciting to me than watching two fighters go at it in a ring or cage and give it all they’ve got. It’s not the blood and gore that I’m attracted to <although it doesn’t seem to bother me> but rather the spirit of the fighters that is so very unique to each and every fight.

This weekend I had the opportunity to watch a movie about a fighter they called Hands of Stone. Perhaps you’ve heard of him, as Roberto Duran was a champion in four weight divisions during his prime. Though known for being relentless throughout his boxing career, that label was questioned after his famous bout with Sugar Ray Leonard where Duran himself put a stop to the fight during the eighth round by uttering the words many say were “No Mas” or “No More”.

The story goes that feeling unprepared for the fight, Duran gave up and decided it was best to walk out and seek a rematch later. This of course earned him a not so desirable reputation even amongst his fans and would take him years to reverse.

As time has a way of teaching us lessons, the notorious fighter later learned that what mattered was not that he was champion but rather that he fight and so he returned to fighting.

His fierce spirit was undeniable and after redeeming himself through several matches later, it became clear that Duran stopped the fight that day not because of fear but because of pride. He preferred to walk out of the ring and put his reputation on the line rather than to take a blow that knocked the wind out of him.

Have you ever had the wind knocked out of you? I have. Many times. In fact on more occasions then I care to admit. I have also felt like Duran in many instances and have wanted to walk out because I have been unprepared to handle what lies ahead. Giving up has seemed like the better option and pride has convinced me that the only way to protect myself was to walk away. Yet again, like only time can do, it has shown me that what matters most is not that I’m the champion each and every single time but that I remain in the fight and build endurance so that one day I can be.

Believing that you will stay in the fight this week in spite of the hits that may come your way because real champions can recover from a fall!

 

Faith Like Baking Powder

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Sequential. That’s the way recipes work. Sometimes doing things in a particular order is crucial to a recipe coming out the way it looks in the picture. Specifically with baking. Now I’m not much of a cook,
but I do find myself heating up the kitchen now and then making cookies, brownies, cakes, and other
sweets to please my two ladybugs, Sky and Rain. Step by step and ingredient after ingredient, about 30 minutes later you have yourself a yummy treat…it’s that simple right? Well for the most part it is, assuming that you include every ingredient and that your measurements are correct.

To read the rest of my blog and find out how faith is like baking powder, please join me as I guest post on: http://www.sheisblankspace.com/blog/having-faith-like-baking-powder

Praying you have Faith Like Baking Powder this week…..

Hope and a Wire

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The man whose picture you see above is Philippe Petit.  Known all over the world as the one who conquered the 1,850 ft. high, tightrope walk across the World Trade Center’s Twin Towers in 1974.  Undoubtedly Petit’s most famous walk, yet definitely not his only one.   Crowds gathered at about 7 or so in the morning to witness the amazing feat being gracefully carried out by Petit as he walked back and forth between the two towers showcasing his skill and expertise on nothing but Hope and a Wire!

Certainly there were distractions; the murmuring of the cops telling him he was crazy and needed to get off the wire, the gusts of wind threatening to throw Petit into the bottomless abyss, and the roar of the turbo jet engines from the airplane that abruptly entered the scene.  All were valid threats but none were powerful enough to stand between a man and his dream!

Petit had been preparing for this walk for 6 years.  By the time he carried it out he was completely equipped to do so both physically and mentally.  He had everything he would need to be successful that morning; resolve, patience, passion, destination and his wire. The only thing that could hold Petit back at that point was himself.   

For 45 minutes he danced upon the wire, becoming one with it, using its tension to his advantage, and displaying his mastery over it in an ever so respectful way.  When he finally stepped off, he did so careful not get ahead of himself and with great reverence finished what he started!   

Oh, if only we would learn to walk our wire with the same esteem Petit had for his!  Not allowing the noise of our naysayers, the noise of this world, and the noise of interruptions to gain any advantage over our walk.  That our determination would be such, that the voice of the adversary would be forever silenced by the hope of a vivid dream.

Our reminder, a constant one of how a dream giving G-d has equipped us with resolve, patience, passion and destination to carry out every idea that takes up any place in our heart. That we would learn to use the strain and pressure of our situation as a refinement tool preparing us to more effectively reach our destination, all the while never losing respect for the process.  And most importantly, getting to know our wire.   …Most wire walkers die at the very end, just as they are about to arrive.  They think they have arrived but are still on the wire and step off prematurely. 

We’re not there till we’re there!    

 

Praying you’re carrying out your dreams today on Hope and a Wire!

The Uninvited Guest

Esther.  That would be the one.

If there is a character in the bible that I can most relate to, it would be her.  We all have one.  That one person we identify with above all the rest.  Of course we always think it is because of the strengths this person displayed when in reality it is all about the weaknesses they battled.

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…Yes, I meant to write that.

It is the flaw that causes us to make the connection with these characters and not so much the victory although that too is undoubtedly a part of the attraction.

Esther: an average girl turned royalty.

100% me…the average girl part that is.

Oils, spices, and ointments were all at Esther’s fingertips.  Kingdom affairs, riches, and power were all at her disposition, but her most valuable advantage was access to the king.

Yet this access was limited to when she was invited to appear before him.  Approaching the inner court without an invitation could cost Esther her life.  For this reason she had to remain in an acceptable form pleasing to the king at all times as he could summon her at a moment’s notice.

But as life can sometimes do, Esther was put in a desperate situation and she approached the king’s throne as an Uninvited Guest.  Though she wore her royal apparel, the burden of her situation weighed heavy on her person.

And to her surprise, the king extended his golden scepter to her so that she might live.

Like Esther, I have been the uninvited guest many a time.  Though I have been called to remain in an acceptable form pleasing to the king at all times, it is more the times that I haven’t been than the times I have.

I have approached His throne weighed down by a million and one things…regrets, confusion, doubts, disappointments, fears…all the things that have no place in front of a flawless king.  And just as I think He is going to reject me…He extends his golden scepter to me and welcomes me to the inner court.

Many things are offered by this world…riches, fame, power, but I have come to understand that my most valuable advantage is access to the king; even as an Uninvited Guest.

The Hard Thing

As many of you know I had the opportunity to speak to a Christian group in Pakistan via skype recently. When I first received the invitation, I can tell you I was both excited and hesitant at the same time. I mean it’s no secret that Christianity is not exactly accepted in Pakistan.

– Who exactly was this group?

– What were they teaching the people in the group?

– Were our beliefs the same?

-Would their views align with mine?

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These were just some of my concerns as I contemplated whether or not this was something I wanted to do. After kicking the idea around and after having a conversation with the voice of reason <my mom>, I realized I really didn’t have a choice in the matter. It was an assignment given to me by G-d and not only would I carry it out, but I would carry it out with a cheerful heart.

Blessed to be a blessing were her exact words!!

…And she knew exactly what she was talking about like all good momma’s do.

You see this group reminded me of how we ought to ask G-d for The Hard Thing.

About 20 of them gathered in what seemed to be an empty room with a banner displaying their name in the back. On their knees and sitting in rows on the floor they greeted me with the most genuine smiles showing both appreciation and reverence. I’m not sure if my favorite part was when they asked me to sing a worship song or when they waved hello at me through the camera. And for those of you who know me, you can breathe now…No, I did not sing! I’ll save that for the next time <wink, wink>

My message was about G-d’s faithfulness. Yet in spite of the fact that I was the one who brought the Word, I can tell you that they were the ones that brought the testimony!

There was no fancy sanctuary filled with comfortable chairs, nor were their flashy lights or top of the line instruments. All there was, was a people who had learned to ask and depend on G-d for The Hard Thing.

  • For peace amongst the turmoil

  • For water in the dry place

  • For protection in the middle of the chaos and violence

For all the things that you and I take for granted every day because they come with our territory.

You see for them, this is The Hard Thing. What can only happen on a daily basis with the intervention of a faithful G-d.

Like always, my mother was right…the blessing was for me. I will not settle for the little things but will confide in an all-powerful G-d to perform The Hard Thing(s) in my life.

Praying you do the same….

I’m Getting My Groove Back

40…yeah that was the magic number!  I certainly wasn’t going to be one of those women.  Long beautiful flowing hair from the back that leads you to think she’s 16, but one glance at her from the front and you realize she’s actually 60.

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Just as my birthday approached is when I made up my mind…long hair after 40 was a Don’t for me… and so I chopped it all off!

It was basically an overnight decision.  I made the appointment at the salon, went in and without remorse watched as they swept away my mane which was enough to make a wig or two out of.

I left feeling light and refreshed and as if 20 years had been taken off me…ok, maybe not 20 but at least 10.

I’m not sure what it is about milestones in our lives.  But they cause us to do some of the craziest things.  Things that we would normally not do.

That was October of last year and today as only time can do, it has revealed certain truths that 9 months ago I wouldn’t have understood.

You see my whole life I never had the courage to cut my hair past my bra strap.  It was as if though my identity was found in my hair.  Without it, I just knew I wouldn’t feel like myself and all my strength and everything pretty about me would be gone.  But turning 40 and believing that crazy story about long hair at 40, pushed me to finally take the step I had been scared to take my whole life.

Although it seemed to be about the hair, it really wasn’t.

It was about a mindset!  

…A mindset that was comfortable with the familiar and didn’t want to let go of what it had always known. A misplaced identity that didn’t know how to separate physical beauty from internal value and worth.  Both of which kept me

growing something for so long for the wrong reasons.

None of the things I thought would happen when I cut my hair happened.

-The sky didn’t fall

-Elephants didn’t fly

-I didn’t lose my strength

-….and the Jensing still thinks I’m cute

The only thing that changed was my mindset.  Because sometimes we have to cut things off in order that they may grow back at a different time and for the right reasons.

Whether short or long, my hair isn’t the sum of me but just an expression!  Short was fun while it lasted but now it’s growing and I’m getting my groove back!

The Invisible Man

The Invisible Man huh?  Sounds a little cartoony or maybe straight out of a superhero movie?  Well that’s not exactly the invisible man I’m referring to.  The invisible man I speak of can be our next door neighbor, our co-worker, the person sitting next to us at church, or even the one we work out with at the gym.

invisible-drowningThe invisible man can be anyone.

About two weeks ago we were in Orlando on a short weekend vacation.  As we were hunting down a place to go for breakfast, we exited the highway and came to a stop light right at the bottom.  Now this was no ordinary light.  In fact, to call it long is an understatement.  We sat at the light and it wasn’t until several minutes later, just as the light was about to turn green, that I noticed someone who had been standing there the whole time.  He tiredly held up his cup and just as I took notice of him, Rain asked from the back seat if we could give him some change.

How could I have possibly not noticed him?  He was in my face the whole time and I would hardly say he was easy to miss.

But just as Rain filled his cup and he stood at our car window, I caught sight of something even harder to miss than his physical self; the pain in his eyes.

Now, G-d truly has a sense of humor!  It seemed that for the rest of the week following that incident, I continued to run into invisible men and women everywhere.

About 2 days later as I scrolled down my FB news feed, I came across a picture of someone I hadn’t seen in a long time.  In fact, it had been so long that I had forgotten we were friends on FB.  But when I read the post more carefully I realized it was a memorial.  How could it be?  We taught the same grade level, were classroom neighbors, laughed and had lunch together.  What did I miss?  Had she always suffered from this depression…the one that would lead her to take her own life?

There are invisible men and women everywhere.  Some blend in with our city streets such as this homeless man and yet others blend in with the crowd.  Some function in society and others don’t.  But the pain is just as real for both.   It’s a pain that masquerades itself with smiles and normality, and fears being discovered because of what “they” might think.   

It’s a deep rooted, raw pain.  One that if left undisturbed will grow and grow and choke the life out of its host.

Its antidote is a well-adjusted mind.  The kind that comes only from guarding ours because everything we do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23). 

If you are living with this kind of pain today, know it is not G-d’s fullest plan for you.  Reach out to those around you and come out of the shadows.

 

– No matter who they are or where they come from, every person on earth has two identities.  The way they see themselves and the way the world sees them.  I pray your eyes would be open to the invisible people around you and that you would offer a hand of hope.