The smell of smoke seemed to have been seeping through the vent up on the ceiling, as I entered the “sick call requests” from inmates in the computer for that morning.
“Code Red!,” blared over the radio. [It means any movement was not allowed anywhere in the facility except for the deputies if they were needed to go to a particular place].
“All available deputies! Please 87 [meet] B blocks! Riot in B blocks!”
B block’s tv was perched up high in one corner of the unit. The news was being shown and one inmate wanted the deputy to change the channel to something that he wanted to watch. The request was denied.
That inmate became belligerent and with a razor blade from his shaver, managed to pull it out in an instant. He unloosened one socket and exposed some wiring. Rubbing it with some pieces of paper, smoke billowed until a small fire became visible. As other inmates saw what he did, feeling the excitement of adrenaline, of power, of control, other inmates joined in.
Not long after, most of the housed inmates started yelling profanities, trashing whatever their hands could lay on, destroying any property that belonged to the county’s jail: beds were torn, styrofoam cups were strewn all over, papers were thrown into the air and some were fed into the small fire that made it grew a little bit more. More smoke filled the block, until it found its way through the vent which was also connected to the jail’s medical clinic. Others started throwing feces and urine outside the bars, thinking that doing so would prevent any deputies from approaching their unit.
The order was given for them to stay on their designated beds or they would face an even tougher punishment, as some other deputies started showing up within a matter of seconds, some donned with anti-riot gears. Pepper sprays were released into the atmosphere of that block, temporarily halting the dangerous revelry and stopping the rioters from doing any further damage. The painful mists caused a bad sting to their eyes and a burning sensation to their inner throats, that breathing made it harder for some.
Soon after, everyone was under control and was put on a “lockdown”. They were kept in their individual cells as some hidden bars came down and separated each man from each other. The bars prevented the on-going riot and served as a protection for the custody staff.
Every participants knew they were in deeper trouble this time. They were being filmed by one deputy so that there was a solid evidence of “who did what”. The once strong display of unity in causing troubles was now replaced with fear of the known consequences of what they just did. The loud, proud mouths were sealed, as beads of sweats started appearing on their brows and foreheads. Some attempted to utter their apologetic remarks. But too late! Most of them were in it! Those that didn’t participate would be spared. But the ones who rioted would be punished “big time”.
Like the inmates in trouble awaiting their punishment, Joel also described the same situation where there was a lot of people waiting in the “valley of decision” or “judgment”…
“Thousands upon thousands are waiting in the valley of decision. It is there that the day of the Lord will soon arrive.” - Joel 3:14
All of us will face judgment. The dead, the living and even those that are yet to be born. Has someone warned you about the consequences of your sins? Would you rather continue living in your own rioting with your wanton manners or would you rather stay put and listen to the One Who told you to stop living that wanton kind of life and surrender to Him?
Yes, you may continue the rioting but if I were you, I wouldn’t wait until I get to that “valley of decision.” For Someone is recording our rioting and it would be too late to say “I’m sorry” by then.
And the punishment will be “big”….
The inmate kept pouncing on his cellie’s [cell mate] head. The one being hit didn’t say anything. It was not that he was afraid of him, but he just wouldn’t speak up. Maybe he was trying to elude getting into more troubles if he told on his attacker. He sustained a few welts on his head. He didn’t lose consciousness but he tried to remain cool.
Stretching his achy body, the victim tried to go back to his bunk bed, only to be blocked by the other inmate again. For no apparent reason, his attacker bit him on the area where he wasn’t supposed to be bitten. This time, he suffered enough!
Curling his fists and making the knuckles tighter and harder, he hit the attacker back. One…Two…Three…Hard punches on the attacker’s face until he lost count.
The fight was noticed by the controller inside the bubble. He alerted the deputies, who immediately went into that cell and broke that fight.
The first inmate came to the Clinic. My co-worker volunteered to treat him.Few minutes after the first inmate left, the deputy wheeled an inmate with obvious injuries to his face. His right eyelids were shut close. Complaining of pain, he was attempting to open his eyelids to no avail. There was a superficial laceration on his mid-forehead and obvious, scattered contusions were visible on his upper mid-chest and bilateral sides of his forehead. His nasal area was blue but there was no deviation. Great air exchange could be heard through his nostrils. He was beaten up really bad!
His main complaint was him being unable to open his right eye. Making him helped me by holding a small basin against his right cheek, I patiently irrigated his right eye with a special wash. Few minutes later, he was able to open the right eye. The conjunctiva [white area of the eye] was mildly-red. He looked messed up and anyone’s initial reaction, perhaps, was to feel sorry for his visible injuries. They made him look like he was in pain. Unfortunately, he was the “aggressor“.
It was the wee hours of the morning. This inmate should have been sleeping. One was trying to scare the other for no reason. Maybe he was also trying to establish control and power in that particular tiny cell they both shared. The other inmate was provoked and he had no other choice but to save himself. So he did by fighting back!
That aggressor couldn’t open his eye. Like many people who are blind, they are not willing to believe in Jesus. They want to follow their own power. They think they have things under their own control.
Long ago, Jesus was also hated by this blind and aggressive world. The religious leaders accused him of blasphemy, tortured him by multiple whippings and sentenced him to die in the most embarrassing way - “crucifixion”. Where were Jesus’ friends/followers, you wonder?
They were afraid to speak up!!!
Jesus warned us, as we become His followers, we can expect that many people will hate us as well. But we must remain courageous and always ready to speak up for Christ! Speaking up doesn’t mean we will be involved in heated arguments. If our actions are above reproach, even hostile people will end up praising God.
“It is God’s will that your good lives should silence those who make foolish accusations against you.” - 1 Peter 2:15
“Don’t repay evil for evil. Don’t retaliate when people say unkind things about you. Instead, pay them back with a blessing. That is what God wants you to do, and he will bless you for it.” - 1 Peter 3:9
13 - Now, who will want to harm you if you are eager to do good?
14 - But even if you suffer for doing what is right, God will reward you for it. So don’t be afraid and don’t worry.
15 - Instead, you must worship Christ as Lord of your life. And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.
16 - But you must do this in a gentle and respectful way. Keep your conscience clear. Then if people speak evil against you, they will be ashamed when they see what a good life you live because you belong to Christ.
17 - Remember, it is better to suffer for doing good, if that is what God wants, than to suffer for doing wrong!” - [1 Peter 3:13-17]
My mother passed away on December 2000 from a sudden stroke. Going home was tough and for a while, after losing her, I thought I was entering through the portal of depression. I want to share a glimpse out of my journal I had written for her. Reading it just now, gave me the comfort of knowing how good our God truly is, for promising His gift of eternal life to those who believes in Him. This is the hope I cling to, knowing that someday, I will see my mother again. May you always treasure your mother and father and other loved ones and friends. We have a short life in this world…
Here, I was traveling to go home to see my father and be there for him to support and encourage him…After flying for 13 hours and riding in a car for 2 ½ something hours, my mind was just wandering….
“As the night slowly covered the tropical skies, I saw the silhouettes of the mountains, of swaying coconut trees, of carabaos in the rice fields, of people outside their homes mingling and chatting about how their day went, of kids playing outside, not minding the hardships in their lives. I thought it would have to always feel good to go back home. This time, it was the worst!
I was imagining my mother’s face, as I sat in the back of my cousin’s car and tried to recall more memories I spent with her. The tropical air brushing its warm breaths against my hair, I felt my mother’s warm kisses. I pictured her glowing smiles, the smiles that I knew I would eternally miss since the day she died. I just lost the maternal guidance I admired and which served as an inspiration in reaching my goals. I just lost a special person who was happy and grateful for even little things.
The illuminating and bright amber lights shone all over my mother’s casket, like a spotlight highlighting a statue. Eerily, despite the lights, I couldn’t see anything. I could cry a river as my legs started to ascend the stairs of my parents’ home. They felt heavy. I was like a prisoner dragging those metal balls, with chains wrapped around their feet. I didn’t commit a crime but I felt I just became a prisoner of the war that had beaten me and my mother - the war of life against death.
There were a lot of people sharing our grief: downstairs, in the terrace and inside the house. Their faces seemed blank to me as I could only see my mother’s face, through the glass that showed her beautiful face. The beauty like that of a princess from fairy tales that was just asleep. The picture of her smiles stuck in my mind while riding in the car was replaced with this real photo of my mother’s surrender to mortality. Beautiful flowers surrounded her and I knew she would have enjoyed them because she loved flowers.
This wasn’t the scene I wanted to see. I didn’t want those bright lights highlighting my mother’s death. I wanted my mother - the very own light in our home. I didn’t want those beautiful flowers, which smell lingered and seemed to announce my mother’s passing away. Instead, I wanted to smell the wondrous cooking, of foods specially prepared by her for many seasons. I longed for that big smile that would greet anyone, always painted on her face. Instead, I had this still pair of cold lips that made me cry. I was looking for those warm hugs and kisses that came from her. Instead, I got hugs and kisses from people, from all walks of life, sharing their grief with me.”
Before sulking into being depressed, it was the Lord Who comforted me. Even up to this time. I’m sharing this with you now, for you to remember that as you face any trial, no matter how impossible it seems, cling to His hand because He is the Greatest Comforter. We are all facing different degrees of trials. But God is always there for us. His hand is always reaching to us. All we need to do is give ours to Him so He can pull us out of what’s drowning us.
These were the words I spoke to the people who came with us when we buried our mother:
“I stand in front of you today to thank you all for sharing your love and respect for my mother. As I was sitting down and looking at my mother’s casket, I thought about a caterpillar that has to die in order for it to become a beautiful butterfly. We don’t really know much about death or the other side. But this world is like a big classroom where we all have to learn a lot of lessons. The greatest lesson we can learn is sharing what we have and giving our love to others, without asking for anything in return. We will all graduate someday, like how my mother just did.
I didn’t cry because my mother died. I cried now because my other brothers didn’t see all these wonderful people who shared their love and prayers for our mother and father and for us, her children. God bless all of you…”
I still have a big hole in my heart…that only my mother can fill….But God bandaged my broken heart with His love and sealed me with a promise that I would be going to His Home and see my mother again…for forever…Glory to God!
Hanging around by a corner of one of the many streets she frequented, the darkness of the night covered her as she stood there, waiting for someone to pick her up.
Her long, curly hair was neatly combed. Her beautiful face donned with a light make-up that made her look even more attractive. She had those beautiful pair of hazel-colored irises that attracted many which what she wanted. It was her hope every night as she tried to earn money by using the only career she had ever known: prostitution.
She was able to survive and make a living doing it this way. For many years, she had done it, yet, her age said she was only 19 years old.
Waddling as she made her way through the Female Intake yard of the prison, with her shoulders low, she appeared weary from being caught and arrested by the police officer patrolling that area where she was. This was not the only incarceration recorded for her. She was in and out of the jail many, many times for the same violations. Unfortunately, she was risking her health, too and that of the precious child she was carrying in her womb. Her first pregnancy and she was on her 8th month, ready anytime to deliver a precious baby.
Delivering a baby is a painful experience we, women, who had children, had to endure. Women have different views about it. Some loved it, some didn’t care. But we inherited the painful process of delivering from our ancestor “Eve” who disobeyed God, along with her husband “Adam”. Don’t get me wrong! Babies are blessings from the Lord. I’m only talking about the process of giving birth.
“You will bear children with intense pain and suffering.”- Genesis 3:16
Yes, we all inherited the sinful nature of Adam and Eve. Their disobedience and fall from God’s gracious presence affected all creation. Sins separate us from God because they lead to spiritual death. Sins and God don’t mix because God is holy, righteous, and pure! This is the “BAD NEWS”.
But there is a way to be declared “not guilty”. That way is to trust in Jesus Christ to take away our sins. No matter what background we have or past behaviors we did, God’s solution is available to all of us - putting our confidence in Christ to forgive our sins, make us right with God and to empower our lives the way Jesus taught us.
By virgin birth, Jesus was also born to this world. “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and he will be called Immanuel [meaning “God with us”].” - Matthew 1:23. Jesus’ conception and birth are supernatural events that are beyond human reasoning. Mary’s child [Jesus] was conceived by the Holy Spirit. So, Jesus did not inherit Adam and Eve’s sins.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God did not send his Son into the world to condemn it, but to save it.” - John 3:16,17
And this is the “GOOD NEWS”. When we put our trust and confidence in Jesus, He alone can save us. Save us from what? From “eternal condemnation”. Hell is the place where people who are spiritually dead go.
The pregnant, beautiful young woman changed to the prison-issued uniforms. Just like others, she is a sinner. Unfortunately, it’s you and me, too. It’s all of us…
We are all “prostitutes” when our backs are turned on One Holy God. We are “prostitutes” when we are worshiping idols, instead of Him. “Go and marry a prostitute, so some of her children will be born to you from other men. This will illustrate the way my people have been untrue to me, openly committing adultery against the Lord by worshiping other gods.” -Hosea 1:2
All I could do was to utter a prayer for her. And for me…
Romans 5:18,19 - "Yes, Adam's one sin brought condemnation upon everyone, but Christ's one act of righteousness makes all people right in God's sight and gives them life. Because one person disobeyed God, many people became sinners. But because one other person obeyed God, many people will be made right in God's sight."
“Ouch…My left shoulder hurts, too,” complained the middle-aged male inmate. Slumped on one of the chairs, with both wrists in a handcuff, on his back, he claimed that he felt dizzy earlier in his unit.
“My rib also hurt. Aren’t you going to call the Sergeant and take pictures of my injuries or something?”, he asked.
“Sir, let me examine your injuries well and let me decide on what I can do best to help you after doing so,” I firmly stated.
“Well, they haven’t even given me my evening meds yet,” as he kept grumbling.
From the look of it, he seemed to have been gotten hurt, though minor, but his injuries seemed they would make him feel sore. There was a minor reddish streak on the area below the rib cage. It was a minor abrasion but there was no ecchymosis [bruising or discoloration]. The area was not swollen nor tender to touch. He grimaced as I touched that area and screamed “Ouch!“
My stethoscope did not pick up any abnormal lung sounds. There was no signs of difficulty breathing. His left shoulder didn’t seem out of alignment. He could move all of his fingers and there was a good capillary refill on all of his fingers. That was great! He seemed to be answering appropriately, despite the claim that he was slammed against the wall.
The deputies were lined up and with protective coverings, started marching toward a particular unit. Armed with pepper sprays and anti-riot gears, they were not visible to the inmates or particular cells they wanted to inspect. It was an unannounced “shakedown” [like raids] in that unit.
Inmates were caught in a big surprise. They were asked to turn and face the walls. One particular inmate did not want to listen and started yelling profanities, so the deputies had no choice but put his body against the wall and kept him there by one or two deputies, as the other continue their search for contrabands [illegally-smuggled goods]. They used metal detectors and hovered them over the mattresses with the aim of finding any metal objects.
In this particular inmate’s cell and mattress, a little thing was forming looking like a “shank” [a makeshift knife]. He seemed to have hoarded tons of apples, too [remember my post about pruno?]. There was also some whitish, powdery material in a small plastic.
The “shakedown” was over in short minutes. The deputies were precise in targeting what they were looking for. The inmates were placed back in their particular cells. Whoever was caught hiding illegal things would have some charges added to their sentence for sure.
This man never stopped complaining after the “shakedown”. He started complaining of feeling dizziness and started blaming the deputies that he got slammed against the wall. That he needed to be treated for his injuries and he wanted a Sergeant to listen to his details in what harm the deputies had done to him. Yet, he never mentioned the illegal substances found in his cell.
He was that man I was seeing as I just started my shift and the whole time, he had thousands of words against one or two statements of mine. But I must not be involved. I told him I could only treat him with medical problems and the issues with the deputies, it was for custody staff to hear.
His argument would not win anything as his injuries resulted from him not listening to authorities. He was in a bigger mess because it was in his cell and in his mattress when the deputies obtained all of those illegal things he was hiding.
“I’ll have the doctor examined you further in the morning. I don’t see any obvious trauma except for one minor abrasion below your rib cage. If you’ll have increasing problems later, you can also put a sick call, “ I calmly instructed him.
He didn’t say a word when he got up. He didn’t know that I was aware of how he sustained those injuries he was claiming. He was focused on pursuing that if there was a possibility of the deputies being in trouble, he would.
How many of us are hiding things in our lives? And when the Deputy comes and does a shakedown in our hearts, we often become argumentative or we have too many excuses instead of accepting our own responsibilities.
We all need to bow down and confess our sins to God. He does an unannounced “shakedowns” in our hearts but that’s for our benefit. He wants us to rely on Him for apart from Him, we can’t do anything. Yes, we are injured... And only God can heal…
Despite being saved, I still need to welcome His shakedowns in my heart and I hope you do, too.
“The sacrifice you want is a broken spirit. A broken and repentant heart, O God, you will not despise.” -Psalm 51:17."
The truth is....you are never alone...There is Someone Who's always there for us. All He wants is for you to acknowledge His offer of love and friendship. The word "surrender" has an ugly meaning from this world's vocabulary. It feels like a total loss to surrender to someone or something.
But in God's vocabulary, "surrender" is victory in Christ Jesus. He already paid the price for your sins, for your pains, for your brokenness.
There is a door in your heart. And if you are willing to accept His visit, all you need to do is open that gate and let Him in. And as you start a life living anew, may you open your heart to let the good things grow and let go of the bad things that do not have room in your Spirit-filled heart.
Search our hearts Lord and help us have a swinging gate in them. So that we can let go of the bad things and only let the good things come into them. May we refrain from judging others, as we see them, but instead, may we remember that we are all Your creations and that You love us all, no matter what our physical appearances are.
1 Samuel 16:7 -”But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for God sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord look at the heart.”
For more Spiritual Sundays, visit here and be inspired by other awesome encouragers of the Lord. Be inspired by their stories, poems, songs or prayers. Spiritual Sundays is hosted by two encouragers themselves, sister Charlotte and sister Ginger. May you all have a wonderful rest as we reflect on the Lord's love, not only on this day but every day in our lives. Thank you for visiting me and God bless.
“Where’s everyone?” I asked that coworker.
“They had a Code Blue [a code meaning the nurses are trying to revive an unconscious person] few minutes earlier before you walked in,” he replied.
“Was it Mr. O?” I wondered.
“Who’s Mr. O?”
“Remember? He would always play around with staff, claiming that he swallowed razor blades? He was unpredictable. We would send him to the hospital and x-rays would show no razor. Other times, he did swallow one. He was in and out of the jail’s Suicide Watch.”
“Yeah, yeah! I remember him now.”
The sheepish smile was widely painted on this young man’s face. The look on his eyes always beamed with pride that he would always have things his way, no matter what. Nurses couldn’t do anything, he knew. That even if his claim that he swallowed razor blades were false, the nurses had no choice but to send him out to the hospital. He seemed to have enjoyed those frequent trips. But most of all, he enjoyed getting things done his way!
His psychiatric medications were constantly changed, adjusted to his level of moods and behaviors. But every time, Mr. O always claimed he did something to try to hurt himself. The medications seemed to not have reached its full potential to help his mental state.
That night was not a unique one. It was another typical night of him playing around with his own life. He reassured the deputy from that unit that he wouldn’t do such a foolish thing. But it was the duty of deputies to check often cell per cell, every hour.
The body was motionless. [Pardon me friends, I wouldn’t write the manner of how he did it]. The deputy frantically called over the radio for a “Code Blue”. The Clinic was only across from that unit’s hallway. But their effort that was going on for a few minutes, almost an hour before I entered my workplace, remained futile.
He finally had it his way. And it resulted to a devastating loss. He was a young man, whose life was ruined by the use of drugs. His mental capabilities deteriorated over time.
God only knew if he meant to just play around, like the usual. But this time, he couldn’t get out of his own scheme.
How many of us are the same? Wanting to do everything with our own strength and effort - having things done our way, not God’s way? Doing so, most of the time, leads to a DISASTER! Stop now while you can!
Proverbs 3:5,6 -"Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will direct your paths."
[picture of the finished wall in our living room]
My husband and I had been wanting to paint the walls of our house into a different color. It might seem like a "foolish plan" to paint the walls when it still looks good, but painting a new color over it would make it more beautiful. When my son heard it, he got excited and wanted to help us out. So, off we went to the nearby home improvement store and got all the materials we needed. Choosing the color became easier as my son, also had given his input.
The plastic was laid all over the tile floors as my husband brought out the cans of paint and the brushes of different sizes. He put a scoop or two of the paint into the container with the handle and with the brush. He gave it to our son, not knowing what to do at first. Patiently, my husband and I guided him. Awkward with his strokes of going up and down, sometimes, sideways, the wall started to emerge in a different light.
“I’m sorry, mom and dad,” he uttered.
“Why?” my husband and I wondered with his apology.
“’Coz….I’m too slow. I had only painted a small area and I’ve been here for a few hours now.”
“Son,” I said without hesitating, “This is your first time to paint, don’t forget. Dad and I think you’re doing a great job because look! There was no splatter on the floor or anywhere else and look at your area, it might be small but it looks great because the paint is even. I would rather have you be slow but you’re getting the things done in proper way than be fast but messy and the wall would look with uneven layers of paint. You’re doing a good job! I love you.”
“Thanks mom and dad. I love you, too,” he replied.
The following day, my son was so confident and was ready to paint an area all to himself. He knew what to do now. And this was the wall he painted by himself and my husband and I were so proud of what he did as he learned patiently the day before. He might be a "beginner" in this project but putting his heart into it, learning patience and endurance at the same time, made him ready for the work that needed to be accomplished.
Laying on the couch, resting with sore shoulders, God brought something into my mind as I started to talk privately with Him. He has a painting project, too that’s been going on and we, His children, are also a part of it. We tend to be slow and awkward but He is always there, our Dad, guiding us, cheering for us.
When we splatter and mess up, He lovingly roots for us, despite our weaknesses. But when we triumphantly are able to accomplish things well, He is the first One to cheer. He is always faithful and patient and His “I love you’s” endures forever.
Look at Paul’s words from 1 Corinthians 1:25 -30:
25- “This “foolish” plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans and God’s weakness is far stronger than the greatest of human strength. 26- “Remember, dear brothers and sisters, that few of you were wise in the world’s eyes, or powerful, or wealthy when God called you. 27- “Instead, God deliberately chose things the world considers foolish in order to shame those who think they are wise. And he chose those who are powerless to shame those who are powerful. 28- “God chose things despised by the world, things counted as nothing at all, and used them to bring to nothing what the world considers important, 29- “so that no one can ever boast in the presence of God.” 30- “God alone made it possible for you to be in Christ Jesus. For our benefit God made Christ to be wisdom itself. He is the one who made us acceptable to God. He made us pure and holy, and he gave himself to purchase our freedom.”
Yes, God’s plan of salvation sounds “foolish” to those who don’t believe. But the “foolish” people who simply accept Christ’s offer are actually the wisest of all, because they will live eternally with God. God’s way of thinking is far above ours. We are not to value the “painters” more than what is “painted”. Christ’s painting project seems so “foolish” to you, who doesn’t believe. Our society worships power, influence and wealth. Jesus came as a humble, poor servant and he offers His Kingdom to those who have faith, not to those who do all kinds of good deeds to try to earn salvation. Christ is the mighty power of God and the only way we can be saved. Knowing Him personally is the greatest wisdom anyone of us, can ever have.
So, are you willing to join in and be a part of Jesus Christ’s painting project? Are you willing to trust in His plan and help out painting the walls of this earth?
This past weekend was calm at my workplace. The familiar unscheduled sick calls were nowhere to be seen. Even the phones were eerily silent!
I arrived at work with the bins empty. Usually, they would be full with the charts with doctor’s orders that needed to be carried out by nurses. The PM shift crew had just gotten done and I was grateful for the completed work.
It was seldom that we had these quiet moments and no! I wouldn’t feel guilty for sitting around. My co-workers and I knew that we needed this kind of solace in order for us to recuperate and regain our strength and energy.
We cleaned the place and I wiped the counters with anti-bacterial wipes from those huge plastic tubs. When morning came, I volunteered to help out the LVN’s do the morning accuchecks of those inmates who were diabetics. It went smoothly and before we knew it, everyone was done.
God, too wants us to enter His place of rest. Back then, in Moses’ time, this meant finding the Promised Land. But for us, Christians, it is peace with God now and eternal life on a new earth later.
We don’t need to wait for the next life to enjoy God’s rest and peace. We can have it daily now! Our every day rest in the Lord will not end with death but will become an eternal rest in the place that Christ is preparing for us. [Jesus said, “Don’t be troubled. You trust God, now trust in Me. There are many rooms in My Father’s home and I am going to prepare a place for you. If this were not so, I would tell you plainly. When everything is ready, I will come and get you so that you will always be with Me where I am. And you know where I am going and how to get there.” –John 14:1-4].
Let us stop struggling in doing good to enter that place of rest because Jesus had already provided that through FAITH.
“God’s promise of entering his place of rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to get there. For this Good News – that God has prepared a place of rest - has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t believe what God had told them. For only we who believe can enter his place of rest.
As for those who didn’t believe, God said,
“In my anger I made a vow: They will never enter my place of rest.” Even though his place of rest has been ready since he made the world.” – Hebrews 4:1-4
Lord, remind me daily to look up to You. I don’t want to forget to thank You for all of Your love and goodness. When I’m busy with earthly matters, help me to pursue and take the time to seek Your face and listen to Your voice. Then, I know that I’ll always find my strength to overcome any trials – having the strength that comes from You.
Thank You for Your understanding that encompasses any human standards. Thank You for never giving up on us even when we get lost in our way many times and still make wrong choices that hurt You. You have proven that Your love is faithful and enduring.
Yesterday, I have been feeling heavy for my hurting brothers and sisters who are going through tough times and trials. The mountains seem so steep for us O Lord. We can't see well, Father, slipping at times and losing strength to overcome these mountains. I ask that You cover us all with Your healing, Your mercy, Your forgiveness, Your grace, Your comfort, protection and love. Help us trust in You and You alone Oh Lord. In Jesus' Name, I pray. Amen.
After praying that yesterday, I asked the Lord if He could give me a song in my heart that I can share for all of you facing a mountain of trial. He is awesome and always ever faithful. And this is the song He composed in my heart:
Every minute that passes by, I see the tears in your eyes
The troubles seem overwhelming…I know
Let go of your doubts and fears, hold on to what you believe
Jesus goes with you no matter where you go
In Him, there is peace and love
In Him, there is joy and life
In Him, there is hope and tomorrow
In Him, yes in Jesus…we’ll be with Jesus forever
Every minute that passes by I see the tears of joys in your eyes
The burden is light now that I know
No matter what tomorrow brings, keep holding on to what you believe
You’re never alone, hold on to Jesus’ hands
In Him, only with Jesus….we’ll be with Him forever
Thank You Lord and I will forever praise You. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.
For more encouragements, please visit "Spiritual Sundays" hosted by sister Charlotte and sister Ginger... Glory to You Oh Lord!
I only got 10 minutes left to make it on time to the start of my shift.
9 minutes…I veered to the left carefully. At long last! I had made it to the alley-like road that led to the correctional facility I had been working in, for 9 years now. The outside yards were vast, barren and sometimes, little jack rabbits would dash in front of your car that would make you slam on your brakes as the darkness of the night covered the place. Trees were scattered on both sides of these front yards but there was a great clearance of space around the perimeter of the jail. Fortunately, the air was calm. Otherwise, a big hurl of dust and little stones could be hitting my windshield and the windows all around the car, obscuring my visibility sometimes.
8 minutes…Still slowly making my way toward the facility, instead of the usual police cars, three shadows of young males emerged on the left side of this road, happily walking away from the facility. Walking with shoulders brushing against each other’s, their denim jackets put over their shoulders and one wrapped around his waist, I could see their wide grins as the soft light from a nearby lamp post shone on their faces. Some tattoos were visible on their arms and even faces. One was bald, by choice I assumed. They were just released from the facility. Their happiness seemed to linger all over their atmosphere.
7 minutes…This newly-found freedom by these three men seemed to be a looming cause of celebration as their excited steps kept walking toward the bus station at one end outside that road I was driving on. One looked one more time behind him, as if to say “goodbye” to three thousand something inmates still locked up.
6 minutes…The shorter man on the right side was trying to see and was checking out who I was but unable to succeed as my car was tinted really dark on all sides. I could see them well but they couldn’t see me. I felt like they wanted to scream, “We are free! You won’t see us anymore!” And I was only responding to them through prayers that I was hoping that they wouldn’t commit anymore crimes so that they won’t be arrested and be brought back to the facility but instead be useful kind of citizens and not take their “freedom” for granted.
5 minutes...Seven swaying, graceful, tall palm trees met my gaze. One more turn and I was close to our staff parking. The correctional facility was now in full view as the chain link fence surrounded the perimeter and cameras were put strategically on some spots to monitor the place 24/7. The tiny windows were visible and only those little windows were the source of light for the people still incarcerated. The lawns around were kept green despite the drought we had been experiencing. Sprinklers were slowly spraying water all over. These lawns were mowed by some inmate workers. The flowers they planted and maintained. It looked beautiful, contrary to what was behind these thick walls.
4 minutes…The electronic gate swung open as I swiped my entry card. I thanked God for always giving me a parking close to the little entry gates, where staff walked in and out. It felt as if a specific spot was always reserved for me as I arrived.
3 minutes…I hurried my steps after opening the main door. I still had to walk through three controlled gates and be let in by those who controlled the doors. The older lady greeted me from the “Main Control” as she recognized me, wearing my usual badge, with my hands clutching my clear purse.
2 minutes…I was still walking but in deep thoughts, I prayed: “Lord, those three men I saw were very happy to walk away with their newly-found freedom. But here inside, three thousand more are left behind. Lord, I thank You for the new freedom I found in You. Thank You for the freedom that You give to those who believes in You. Because You want us to be free, You opted to die on the cross, to save us. Thank You that when we believe in what You have done, You promised Your gift of eternal life. Lord, I know that it will be a celebration like we haven’t known before when we leave this world . But it’s hard to look back and know that there are thousands more who are going to be left behind. Lord, plant the “seeds of faith” in their hearts for You are the Author of faith. And by having that, I pray that they will end up choosing to place their trust in You.
Lord, and for those of us who are already “free”, may we be filled with Your Holy Spirit that we don’t go back to the slavery [sins] we were in before. May we not take our “freedom” for granted because the cost was priceless. And that cost was “up on that wooden cross”. Thank You Lord for Your love and mercy. I love You.”
1 minute…the Infirmary Deputy waved at me as his left hand turned the knob that opened the double door going to the Clinic.
0 minute…The charge nurse and the rest of the staff greeted me. The PM shift nurses breathed a sigh of relief as my arrival and the other night shift crew, was a sign for them that their work was done. I was ready to face whoever the Lord would put in my way…By His grace, I’d be okay.
Even when morning shift comes, I can’t breathe a sigh of relief. For I know my work doesn’t stop there. My work is already marked long ago and only by His grace, it will be completed. And the countdowns will keep going on, as long as there are still many who are alive but spiritually dead. I must share about this freedom that Jesus freely gives. For the countdown will end, either when He returns or physical death comes to someone. The question remains – “Are you ready to face an eternal punishment or be saved and live forever with One True God?”
60 minutes…59…58…"You choose"…57…56….55….
The other two LVN’s who rushed with me when they heard the distress call over the radio, started putting the IV bag together and the other supplies we needed to start a peripheral intravenous fluid. The inmates on their individual bunk beds were slowly awakening to the soft commotion going on.
The deputy noticed him there, motionless for just a very few minutes. He said that he was not able to go to the bathroom for a few days now. Typical of those who had paraplegia as their bowel or urinary functions were affected by damaged discs or nerves on their spine. If straining, it was possible that he had suffered from vasovagal episode.
“I can’t move. I’m so dizzy!” as he slightly moaned and both of his upper arms showing some spastic movements.
Prior to responding, I briefly read his chart and I had learned that he had been a paraplegic for 36 years after a terrible motor vehicle accident. His bilateral lower legs were completely useless. He moved around using the already well-inspected wheel chair, cleared by the medical staff for his way to ambulate.
His veins were hard to locate, if there was one, it was so thin I already knew that even if I attempted, it would just blow up. But since I had already asked for an ambulance, my concern was just to aid him with his breathing as his oxygen saturation [level in blood] was slightly low at 94%. I connected the nasal cannula tubing to the oxygen tank and to both of his nostrils. I turned the dial up until it registered to the number “2” - [2liters of oxygen per minute]. He liked it and uttered it was helping him to breathe better. He was severely overweight, approximately 300 or more pounds. I asked for a C-Spine board to make it easier for the paramedics to transfer him from the bathroom’s floor to their guerney and to the hospital.
It took 4-5 deputies plus 2 paramedics to transfer him from the floor to the guerney. I gave my report and off to the hospital he went for further evaluation from the Emergency Room physicians.
Coming back from the unit, the charge nurse told me that this same inmate was known for faking “mandowns”. He used to be housed in Unit 15 where medically-sick people are often housed. Not that the inmates there get nicer treatment but there were more privileges because of their physical and mental conditions. It was hard that some inmates try their best to fake their sicknesses so they can be housed in this unit. This inmate was always out to the hospital every week it seemed.
So, the charge nurse made an arrangement with the Unit 15 Nurse to admit this inmate when he returned from the hospital. Though it was not needed for his case, it seemed to be the better choice to prevent him from faking his illnesses and causing a lot of financial cost that would just add to the already strained budget in our county’s system.
Yes, the inmates can try many ways to get what they want it seems. They manipulate the system and how they try so hard to do their best!
But that’s not how it works with our relationship with the Lord. How often do we go in our own ways and plan our own, excluding Him when things do not go the way we want them to go? How often do we insist on having our prayers answered “now” when God knows the perfect timing for everything?
God has given each of us a purpose for living and we need to trust Him to guide us. We can discover the truths He wants us to know from His Word. And as these truths work in us, God can use us in a way He can use no one else. But the question is , are you willing to follow Him? Remember, living for God is all “about Him”, not about us.
“He made everything beautiful in His time” – “Ecclesiastes 3:11
“So make every effort to apply the benefits of these promises to your life. Then your faith will produce a life of moral excellence. A life of moral excellence leads to knowing God better. Knowing God leads to self-control. Self-control leads to patient endurance, and patient endurance leads to godliness. Godliness leads to love for other Christians, and finally, you will grow to have genuine love for everyone.” – 2 Peter 1:5-7
“But you are not controlled by your sinful nature. You are controlled by the Spirit if you have the Spirit of God living in you. And remember that those who do not have the Spirit of Christ living in them are not Christians at all. – Romans 8:9
Those of us who consider ourselves the Lord’s servants have a hard time receiving from others. Although Jesus said, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive” these few words I want to share with you also says, “it is blessed to receive” - [from “Treasury of God’s Virtues”]
“Didn’t Jesus have the apostles wash one another’s feet and even His feet? I only want to wash other people’s feet. Lord, please humble me enough to let them wash mine.”
With that, I want to let the “taggers” and those of you who had shared their blog blessings with me know that it’s not about being tagged or be given blog awards, but it is your friendships that I treasure and I’m grateful for. I want you to know how much your friendship and your love mean to me. Because I know it all originates from our awesome Lord.
Sister Christy and Sister Andrea, two wonderful friends/sisters, tagged me and here you go:
"8" Things I Look Forward To:
>1. To "retire" in the Kingdom where my citizenship belongs
>2. To have a "godly" leader in all branches of government and other institutions
>3. For more people to know about Christ and His gift of salvation
>4. For the Lord to lead me where He really wants me so I can serve Him
>5. For my neck pain [I had a neck injury from work in 1997] to vanish
>6. To grow old with my dear husband gracefully as we watch our son grow up and mature
>7. To enjoy each day knowing God is always there no matter what trials
>8. To be able to keep writing for the Lord and composing songs for His glory
>“8” Things I did yesterday:
>1. Was at work and wow! It was a quiet weekend so it was a nice break. [Thank You Lord!]
>2. Headed to Starbucks off a freeway ramp and got a “venti” mocha to keep me up
>3. Tired when I got home but did my devotion before getting some “zzz’
>4. I was like a zombie so I just slept and ate in-between. Been a night owl for 19 years now.
>5. Watched an old movie “Ice Age” on tv with my hubby and son
>6. Got on line and read some uplifting posts from fellow bloggers
>7. Ate a small piece of “power bar” and some water
>8.Said good night and I love You to the Lord, my hubby and my son and passed out on the couch
“8” Things I Wish I Can Do:
>1. Sing well with my guitar [It’s okay. God said, “love your voice anyway”]
>2. Wanted to be a Forensic Nurse [It’s okay. God said “no” You’re where I want you to be.]
>3. Wish my mom had taught me her cooking secrets because she was an awesome cook [It’s okay. My hubby and son remember to always have only “good things” come out of their mouths…so, they seem to love whatever I put on the table]
>4. Serve older people [someday…God willing]
>5. Travel all over USA [God willing]
>6. Encourage a lot of people and be able to lead them to the Lord [so “help me God!”]
>7. Play tennis [because my son loves it]
>8. Play the piano [because I love this instrument, too]
“8” Shows I enjoy:
>Nothing really in particular. I’d rather read or surf the net.
1st folder/10th pic:
6th folder/6th pic:
One of the pics my son took when we enjoyed the cloud formations one day and that was the roof of our house.
In another note, I’m so honored when Silver had shared with me her blog award. Here’s what this award is all about:
Ces designed this award to celebrate art in the blogs and to honor the value of friendship, sisterhood, sharing and caring. It is to be awarded to the gifted, accomplished, eloquent and talented blogger whose friendship and influence inspire us to do our best. That I named it after Bella Sinclair is because she epitomizes all of these things. She is an inspiration to many of us”.
“I hope that when Bella returns, this award would have already circulated in the blogs. It is my honor to give this award to the first recipients who I hope will find the same pleasure as I have in spreading its crown, giving shade and the comfort of friendship and caring and of sisterhood by sharing this award with their blog-friends and sisters!”
And that’s what I’m all for, too. Now that I had received all these blessings from these wonderful sisters, the best part is to be able to give them out to all of you, wonderful friends.
I want to share these to all of you who come here and continue to inspire and encourage me in so many ways. Please don’t let it end here. So, let “your feet” be washed by me and accept these tags and blog award. God bless you all. Thank you for always visiting me.
My inspiration in composing this song came from Micah 7:18:
“Where is another God like You, Who pardons sins of the survivors among His people? You cannot stay angry with Your people forever, because You delight in showing mercy!” – Life Application Bible.
“Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance? You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy.” – New International Version.
“Where is the god who can compare with you – wiping the slate clean of guilt, Turning a blind eye, a deaf ear, to the past sins of your purged and precious people? You don’t nurse your anger and don’t stay angry long, for mercy is your specialty. That’s what you love most.” – The Message.
“Who is a God like unto thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by the transgression of the remnant of his heritage? He retaineth not his anger for ever, because he delighteth in mercy.” –King James Version.
“Our God, no one is like you. We are all that is left of your chosen people, and you freely forgive our sin and guilt. You don’t stay angry forever; you’re glad to have pity.” –Contemporary English Version
[Photos: Heartlight and Stockxchange]
On this spiritual Sunday, please reflect on how God delights to show mercy! He is glad when we repent. He offers forgiveness to all who come back to Him.
Today, if you haven’t confessed your sins to Him, please consider in doing so. You will receive His loving forgiveness. Don’t be too proud to accept His free offer.
For more encouragement and uplifting posts, please hop over to Spiritual Sundays, hosted by two loving sisters in Christ – Sister Charlotte and Sister Ginger. God bless you all.
Author's Note: I know I'm posting this way early for July 4th Independence Day celebration, but I want us to reflect and in our prayers, please include our soldiers who sacrifice their own lives to protect us and our "freedom". Also, pray for our Christian brothers and sisters who are also sacrificing their lives as they share the "Good News" to different places of this world, to share the "freedom" that comes from Christ....
Two deputies were slightly dragging a male inmate towards the Clinic, with the man’s bilateral hands soaked with dried blood and a few drops still visible as they fell on the floor. He was bleeding somewhere from his hands. He wasn’t attempting to help out in any way with his legs letting them literally slide on the cold floor.
This man tried to jump over a broken window as the cops tried to arrest him during a burglary. In the process, he ended up getting pierced somewhere in his finger with that broken glass.
It’s pathetic when we see from the media when the cops are portrayed as the abusers. What the rest of the people don’t know, it’s not the whole story. What the video will show is only the part when cops are using their batons, or kicking the arrestees or using their taser guns to subdue them. Working in a correctional facility, I have seen all the lies, all the manipulations, the unpredictable behaviors of inmates who have the history of using drugs and/or alcohol, by which any minute, can be very combative to anyone: deputies and even medical staff.
Prior to this man being booked, he was already treated in a nearby county hospital. What happened next, no one knew as he claimed that he was still bleeding.
He obviously did not want to help with his mobility, the deputies had to slightly drag him, the handcuffs securely fastened both of his wrists.
As he neared the Clinic, he started yelling, “The cops did this! I feel that something is broken in my chest and I’m still bleeding!” When the deputies asked him to sit on the chair, he wouldn’t obey. Anything they said to him, he just wouldn’t do anything.
“Sir! If you want me to treat you and be able to clean your wound well, I need you to just stand still with your back on me so I can clean your bloody hands!” I uttered in a firm voice. He did stand still and I put the big trash bin behind him as I readied my supplies to clean his wound.
I couldn’t tell where the bleeding was coming from. So I patiently washed every digit of his both hands with normal saline, until I was able to inspect them, one by one. I saw some kind of pierced wound on the 3rd digit of his right hand. It was a clean wound but if he picked it, it would still bleed.
“Aww!,” he screamed, as I tried to cleanse it with normal saline.
“The broken glass pierced through my finger! Thanks to these cops! I shouldn’t be here!” he continued to blame the authorities.”
“Awww”, as he yelled one more time.
“Sir, why are you yelling still?” I asked. “Your wound is not bleeding anymore and it’s already wrapped with gauze and a pressure dressing to prevent it from bleeding.”
“It’s only a minor wound and it will heal in no time,” I said.
He didn’t know what to say. This time, he started walking away without the deputies needing to drag him back to his unit. He stopped giving them a hard time.
This inmate exaggerated his injuries and his pain obviously. He pretended to be innocent but he was caught robbing a place and that was how he sustained his injury when the police officers started pursuing him. He was claiming his right to be “free” but he committed a crime. Despite his ill behavior against authorities, he was treated decently by everyone but he wouldn’t say anything, not even one “thank you” except to make it appear that he was being treated unfairly.
The whole time I was treating his wound as I was hearing his lies, I was thinking of the One and only innocent Man who was arrested, prosecuted, pierced, stabbed, spat on, and was pierced with big nails, not only on his two hands but also of His feet.
The only One Who claimed “He is the Son of God” but no one believed. And it is for the cause of “freedom” that made Him give His own life on the cross. Christ came to set us “free” – not free to do whatever we want because that would lead us back into slavery to our own selfish desires. But because of Jesus, we are free and able to do what was impossible before – to live unselfishly. Being saved by grace is totally different from trying to be saved by keeping the laws. All we do is accept His gracious gift through faith.
If you don’t know Jesus and you are here today reading this, would you place your trust and faith on Him? We are saved by faith and not by deeds.
Like that inmate, would you keep on professing your innocence? That you are not a sinner? Blaming others instead of taking responsibility for your own wrong deeds.
The Bible says, “For all have sinned; all fall short of God’s glorious standards. Yet, now God in His gracious kindness declares us not guilty” –Romans 3:23,24.
“Salvation that comes from trusting Christ is already within easy reach. The message is close at hand; it is on your lips and in your heart.” –Romans 10:8
“For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God and it is by confessing with your mouth that you are saved.” – Romans 10:9,10
[Click on the “Roman Road to Salvation” on my right side bar if you are ready to commit a life with Jesus]. “If not now, when?”
BTW, I am proud to be an American! And I am “humbled by the Lord” to be a Christian!!!
The Attacker (5/15/09)
The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies.
Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.
Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.
All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.
When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.
The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.
When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.
[Source: Life Application Bible]:
We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.
“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14
Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].
Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.
Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.
Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].