Anyway, any way

“When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.”” – Luke‬ ‭19:5‬ ‭NIV‬‬ –

As I walk into 2018, I’m reminded of the story of Zacchaeus. Nothing stands out to me more today than Jesus telling him that He MUST stay at his house. Let that sink in. . . Jesus was intentional about entering into his world, flaws and all. During Jesus’ Ministry, He never made it about Him. He always made it about the person(s) He was ministering to as He did with Zacchaeus.

As I enter 2018, I acknowledge I am broken. I am flawed. I am imperfect. Yet God still loves me anyway. He calls me to Him anyway. He wants to spend time with me anyway. He enters into my home anyway. In any way and every way, anyway, God always seeks to stay at our house; to lift heads, to mend brokenness, to heal wounds, to save by grace, to simply be close; closer than the skin on our bones and the breath in our lungs. . .

I want this to be the prayer of my heart for 2018 and forward: I pray I would put others first as God puts me first when I enter into His throne room. I hope I would be intentional about meeting people where they are and responding to their need in His way and not my own. I pray to love people with His heart & listen with His ears.

With 2018 in front of me and 364 days ahead, I surrender it all at the feet of Jesus. I praise God for the valleys and the mountain tops to come. I praise Him for the losses and the gains, the good and the bad, the victories and the failures; I praise Him in advance because God is always God and even in the struggle, He is there.

I pray this is the year of intentional grace. . .

2017, you were a year of many many lessons. God, thank you. Thank you for the wonderful experiences. Thank you for the blessings. Thank you for listening to my hearts cry every morning. Thank you for the closeness in the grief. Thank you for the growing pains. Thank you for showing me me through your eyes; even if it was difficult. Thank you for molding me and refining me. Thank you for the work in process. Thank you for the healing. Thank you for the stretching that made me feel wiggly. Thank you for it all. Thank you for who You are.

I’ve cried much. I’ve learned much. I’ve hurt much. I’ve loved much. I’ve laughed much. I’ve been blessed much. I’ve been loved much. In 2017, I lived much & learned I have so much to learn . . . With my heart full, I share some of my favorite moments with you beloved. . . . .

In 2017, my relationship with my mother has slowly been mended. There has been much healing, much growth, and much love. As much as I don’t want to admit it, I’ve learned I’m very much like her. Through accepting that, I’ve seen how beautiful and wise she really is. Thank you my sweet, kind, and patient mami. Eres mi paño de lágrimas y mi vaso de fuerza.

In 2017, I got even closer with my Sister Sister, if that’s even possible. You are Gods greatest gift to me. Simply, thank you.

In 2017, I learned the value of being present in the moment with those you love. Each time I wanted to hurry through a moment because of everything I had to do, I heard the Holy Spirit whisper to remain still & take it all in. I learned to be intentional with my family who teach me most how to love with the love of Christ.

In 2017, I learned the true meaning of presence. I understood how to love with a hug.

In 2017, I learned when God gives you a position of leadership, it exposes your faults, your weaknesses, your imperfections, and your shortcomings. But where I fell short, God made up the distance. I learned He exposes to heal.

I learned the beginning of what it means to be a leader: it means to call out purpose, influence greatness, kickstart the healing of others, and love unconditionally when its most difficult. Lord, thank you for these amazing children of Yours You have entrusted into my care. I do not take it lightly even when I doubt why.

In 2017, I learned how to truly value friendship & blessings. I was blessed beyond measure with an amazing roommate and beautiful sisters in Christ.

In 2017, I learned why my name means “shining light” because God intentionally created me to shine His light in the darkness but I have to be willing to walk into where it’s darkest. . .

In 2017, I learned to embrace a part of my story & began learning how to live loved. . . Thank you for penning this Lord.

Happy new year beloved💛

Advertisements

On your mark, Get set, Goal!

Processed with VSCO with f2 preset

Happy Friday ! 🙂

As I was waiting for the infamous G train this morning on my way to work, I started reading “IF” by Mark Batterson. Now Mark Batterson is one of my favorite authors and I’ve read about 5 books of his. You can see which ones here. He’s one of those humorous inspirational kinda writers that really cause you to reevaluate where you are in life. Not the “You gotta change your life or else” but more like he challenges you to focus on the things that matter spiritually and relation-ally. So as I’m reading, I stop myself, close the book, and grab my phone (Typical New Yorker thing to do). And I wrote out this question, “What would happen if I did everything I wanted to do for 31 days?”

To be honest, I always start bucket lists and goals but hardly follow through. Am I the only one who does this? But this time, I’ve vowed to pray through each thing and put it in Gods hands. Because the truth is, when you put something into God’s hands, he will oversupply and over-multiply. I mean, let’s face it, God is a multiplying God that gives abundantly. He takes the little we have and feeds the multitudes. So here I am, waiting for a train that’s half an hour late during rush hour, and I have an “AHA” moment. And because I live in New York City, the City of dreams come true where the buildings touch the sky and the lights never go out; I have decided to do 31 things for the entire month of May. Things I’ve always wanted to do but have never done that make me feel like a tourist in my own city.

Although my list of goals isn’t nearly halfway done, here it is:

  1. Visit the empire state building and take a selfie with my city
  2. Have a girls “life giving” picnic at Brooklyn bridge park
  3. Take a ballet class
  4. Find the coolest graffiti street and take a picture
  5. Visit the botanical gardens with my family
  6. Catch a show at BAM
  7. Catch a show at Carnegie Hall
  8. Visit the statue of liberty
  9. Visit the MOMA
  10. Visit the transit museum
  11. Paint a canvas with my nieces
  12. Write a chapter of my book in my favorite cafe
  13. Walk all of central park with a friend

I’ll be updating my list and posting my progress but I think it would be really awesome if you joined me too. Maybe you can make your own list and vow to stick to it regardless of how you feel.

As always, be encouraged. Be empowered. And be blessed. 🙂

 

Let Him be enough


As I was reading my word this morning: Matthew 19:29 jumped out at me.

It says, ““And everyone who has given up houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or property, for my sake, will receive a hundred times as much in return and will inherit eternal life.” ”

Jesus is speaking to his disciples about the dangers of hanging on to money, wealth, & possessions more than hanging on to God. It’s easy to say that we’ll give up everything for God but it’s so much harder to actually carry out. It’s hard to let go of every earthly thing to gain all that Christ has to offer. To put it simply, Christ has given us the greatest gift: life; but more importantly eternal life in greatness. But because we love what we can see and grasp, it’s hard to drop the very things that are holding us back from grabbing all of Jesus here on earth. So I started thinking & I asked God to show me that His son dying for me was more than enough. And I wrote out this prayer:

Father God, show me that your son Jesus Christ dying for me on the cross is more than enough; that even if you don’t bless me with another thing, that I would be overjoyed because I have you & because I have a relationship with you, Jesus. – In Jesus’ name, amen.

So my prayer is that we would all learn to ‘Let God be enough’ no matter the circumstance . . .

Protect your Heart

As I grow closer to Christ, one resounding lesson has been made apparent to me: guard your heart. To be honest, I thought I knew how to guard my heart but the more I prayed, I realized I didn’t. So I set out on an adventure with Jesus to find out how to guard my heart. But every timed I prayed, I never asked God. So one humbling moment in prayer, I gently felt God tell me, “just ask”. So I simply asked God, “how do I guard my heart?” At first I didn’t want to listen because I thought I had the answer (yes, I can be stubborn); but soon enough, I remembered the only way to know Gods heart is to dive into His promising word.

When you analyze the heart, it’s the most vital organ within the human body. It’s the organ that pumps and circulates blood to the rest of the organs. Essentially speaking, it’s the control center, the command room. If the heart is responsible for making sure the blood is flowing to and from, then it is crucial that it is guarded.

Proverbs 4:23 says, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

Just as the blood flows from within us so do our thoughts, actions, devotions, passions, and loves. So essentially what we devote our hearts to is what will flow from the inside out. In Ezekiel 20:16, it says, “. . . For their hearts were devoted to their idols.” The Israelites, Gods chosen people, had completely abandoned God & His love for them. They chose to set their sights on idols. They chose to devote their time to worshipping idols instead of setting their hearts on heavenly things. Sometimes we think that idols have to be elaborate statues made of gold but in this day and age, idols can be anything. They can be something as subtle as a T.V. show. It can even be a person, a hobby, gossip, or an addiction. Idols come in all shapes and forms and they certainly don’t discriminate. So if we allow our hearts to idolize and worship things that are not of God, then we aren’t guarding our hearts.

In Matthew 6:21, Jesus says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” If you treasure worthless things, things that do not have value; if you worship people or relationships, then you will bear no good fruit. As Gods chosen, he calls us to abandon all forms of idolizing because it stands in the way of your relationship with Jesus. And if something stands in the way of you and God then that “thing” or “person” isn’t allowing you to bear good fruit that glorifies God.

Our hearts thoughts are what lead to our actions. So if what we treasure isn’t leading to good action then we aren’t guarding our hearts. In Matthew 12: 34-35, Jesus says, “. . . For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of. A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in him, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in him.” If your heart is full of anger, jealousy, hatred, and pride then what you do will reflect that. Your actions will be drenched in the things that anger and pride produces. But if your heart is full of love, joy, and peace then your actions will be just that. You’ll give generously to those in need, you’ll abandon all pride and forgive freely. But this can only come through guarding your heart. If we don’t guard our hearts, then we aren’t allowing God to free us, teach us, mold us, and love on us, so that we may help and serve others. Because essentially guarding our hearts is crucial, so that we may better serve those that God places in our lives.

In Galatians 5: 13, it says, “You, my brothers and sisters, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the flesh; rather, serve one another humbly in love.” Love comes from God and it flows through the heart, so in order for that to happen, we need to filter what enters into our hearts by what we entertain and who we hang around with. I remember growing up my father used to tell me this: “tell me who you hang around with and I’ll tell you who you are.” What you surround yourself with, more often than not, is what influences you greatly. What is around you will eventually enter into your heart and mind and in turn, will be what you also put out.

In order to guard your heart, the most vital part within you that gives you all direction, it needs to be undivided. Psalm 86: 11 says, ” . . . Give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.” When the heart is divided, it cannot focus on heavenly things above. It cannot function well enough to circulate the things of God. The heart is where everything springs from so if it is contaminated by division, it is not guarded. Division is not of God. He unifies and in order to do that, we need to be willing to set our sights on one thing: God. Once we set our focus on God, positivity, freedom, love, peace, joy, light, and unity begin to flow from within us. Colossians 3:1 says, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” If Jesus is in heaven on His glorious throne, then that is where our hearts should be rooted. That is how we guard our hearts.

Philippians 4:7 says, “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.” The peace that Jesus gives is like a veil that covers our hearts. We need to allow God to place that veil over our hearts so that He may filter all that comes through it. He will instruct you in His ways on what to keep within your heart and what to throw away.

You guard your heart by:

1] Devoting your heart to God

2] Allowing Gods peace, through Jesus, to guard your heart.

3] Keeping an undivided heart

All of this comes from spending quality time with God. That quality time can only be centered through prayer which is simply talking to God, reading His word, and spending time with people that are also after Gods heart.

I pray that this would encourage you to guard your heart because it is where God does his best work within you. And when you allow God to work on you from the inside out, then what you do reflects Jesus’ love to the outside world.

With love & many blessings 🙂