The Defining Moment

I thought we won't make it this past weekend. Lots of people had been calling in sick that made our staffing truly short. Last night was no exception. As the usual 3 nurses assigned in the Clinic alone were down to 2. It was difficult as it was only the other nurse and I to handle what would come our way if there was any emergencies from any of the 2,000 something inmates, on top of the full bins of doctor's orders from different disciplines: Dermatology, Medical, or Psychiatry.

One LVN didn't feel well and left early. That was tough to end up with only 2 LVN's by morning to do all the accuchecks of many diabetics. But deep inside, I knew we would make it. Not in our strength but with a supernatural strength. Who else to turn to but consult the Ultimate Power?

"I can do everything through Christ Who strengthens me." - Philippians 4:13

By 7 a.m., the bins had only 4-5 charts left. All the morning and noon medications had been prepared awaiting to be delivered by the morning medication nurses. All the diabetics' sugar levels were recorded. I volunteered to go to one of the female units with one having a low blood sugar and re-checked her to make sure she was okay. After being given her breakfast early, her sugar was at a normal level by the time I went back to her unit.

"Thank you," she whispered through the metal bars as she poked her finger and got a drop of blood for the monitor.

"I just want to make sure that you're feeling okay. Are you?"

"I'm fine, Ma'am. Thank you again," she repeated.

The 2 LVN's gathered their belongings as I got a hug and "thank you's" from them.

"We wouldn't make it if you didn't help us," they chorused.

"Oh...you're welcome guys...But you both help me, too when I am overwhelmed with tasks."

Their shadows had long been gone as the other nurse and I stared at each other and both breathed a sigh of relief. We knew we weathered that storm last night. And we did well. But I knew something far beyond that. That it would be our defining moment. And such was not marked by praises, nor by recognition, and applause. It would be remembered because it was the time we reached out with each other. It was the time we chose not to whine but instead, tried to accomplish things to the best we could. It was a moment we chose to see the positive instead of the negative. It was a time we chose to swim against the strong current instead of letting it drown us.

That is a defining moment. Not marked by life's achievements nor successes. Not proven by how big a house is nor how much assets one has in their savings. But it is something that reaches out to those who are in desperate need. To those who are hurting. To those who are in need of a Savior. A defining moment is bringing Christ's light to those areas of darkness to be His hands and feet. Of making that important decision first to surrender to Christ and to walk in His likeness. Resting on His promises and trusting in Him completely...

"Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked." ~ 1John 2:6

"For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain." ~ Philippians 1:21

"I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me." ~ Galatians 2:20

"And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God." ~ Ephesians 5:2


Today

Photo Credit
"This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us - whatever we ask - we know that we have what we have asked of Him." - 1 John 5:14-15

Help us Lord to begin this day anew. A new beginning to walk closer with You. Where we have fallen, help us get up again. Where we have wandered and got distracted with our focus on You, help us return to You and look straight on that road that leads to You.

Today, help us grow in Jesus' likeness. Instead of serving our needs, help us look after those who have needs bigger than ours. With unexpected, unpleasant things that come our way today, help us be slow to anger and give us the strength to respond in ways that are pleasing to no one but You. Help us be true in showing our sincere love not only among fellow believers, but mostly, with those who have not yet been found.

In this new day, Lord, forgive us for our weaknesses, for our low desire to crave for meat at times, for all of our sins. Help us decrease and You be the One to increase in all areas of our lives. Help us become a clear letter, with notes known and easily read by everyone so that they may be encouraged also in return, to know You more.

Today, Lord, I lift up the leaders serving in all areas of this government. May they all recognize Your unfailing love. May they serve in humility and be united, instead of being divided, to help this hurting nation and its people. Protect us Lord from the works of the enemy. Guide us with Your wisdom and discernment. Strengthen us and enable us Lord to do what You have started in each of us. Knowing You are faithful up to the very end, help us remain faithful and always willing to work together with You.

Today, give strength to those whose strength is waning. To those who are doubting, please send them faith and trust. Protection to all of Your children. and to those who are so close in opening their hearts and mind to You. Provision to all of the needs. Healing for the sick. But most of all, let our hearts' desires be upon You, not on temporal things.

And today, I praise You, honor You and lift up my hands to You. You alone are God. All the glory belongs to You Oh Lord. Thank You Lord for Your faithful and unconditional love that doesn't last for only a day but lasts forever. Thank You for saving us. Thank You for giving us that chance to be Your adoptive sons and daughters. Thank You for sending Jesus, the Love from up above Who descended to make Your love known. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

Praying God's blessings over you friends. We have a mandatory skills day at work so I'm busy this week. May you be strong in the Lord's mighty power! Not only TODAY but in all the days to come. To God be the glory forever...



Never Let Your Guard Down

His combative voice reverberated in all corners of Male Intake in the prison last night, as I relieved the Intake Nurse for her lunch break.

"You little boy! If only I can hold you and grab you, you'll see..." he threatened one of the deputies who was much taller than him and was just doing an appropriate job of dealing with his being uncooperative and lack of respect with the authority.

He sat down in front of me. He started talking mellow. I couldn't find any obvious injuries. The gash on his anterior right shin, looked like an old superficial abrasion. He knew I wouldn't let him disrespect me nor would allow his ranting that would not be appropriate answers to my health screening questionnaires.

"Only 'yes' or 'no', Sir. I can only deal with your medical or mental health issues and that's what I want to know," I commanded.

After 5 quick minutes of quick observation and questioning, I let him get up so he could be put in a cell. He became combative to the deputies so one of them ended up twisting his arms which were already in a handcuff. Down on the floor he went as he was paralyzed, unable to move any part of his body as deputies' knees and hands were all over him. His mouth never stopped yelling though. Accusing them of more abuses and injuries.

2 Sergeants walked in and started recording his complaints. As they tried to communicate with this disrespectful man, they allowed him to voice out his lies and be recorded. This would be the evidence they could hang on to if this man would sue us. He didn't know. His ranting wasn't making sense at all. It was all blaming and showed a lot of disrespect to authorities.

In a humble way, I noticed that when he was dealing with me, he was respectful and never yelled at me. But with the deputies, even the Sergeants, his behavior was the opposite. If I have to brag, I would only brag about the protection that comes from the Lord. After all, "He is our Shield!" [Psalm 3:3]

We are engaged in a spiritual battle right away as we accept the Lord into our hearts. Believers are subjected to the devil's attacks because we are no longer on his side. But God provided us the Armor to resist the enemy's attacks and for us, to be able to stand in the midst of all these. We don't depend on our own strength as we battle. We rely on God's. We don all of His Armor to withstand the devil's strategies and tricks. The Armor stays on at all times. It doesn't come off. We don't choose to only put it on as we want to. It must stay on at all times because the enemy's accusations and attacks never stops! We use every piece to resist the enemy.
Photo Credit

HELMET = Salvation...Who else wants us to doubt God but our spiritual enemy? Who is busy making us doubt our salvation and not trust in Jesus? The helmet protects our mind from doubting God's work for us. ["We use God's mighty weapons, not mere worldly weapons, to knock down the devil's strongholds. With these weapons, we break down every proud argument that keeps people from knowing God. With these weapons we conquer their rebellious ideas, and we teach them to obey Christ." - 2 Corinthians 10:4-5]

BELT = Truth...Believers know God's truth. And as Satan fights with lies and sometimes, the lies even sound like the truth, we can depend on God's truth and his lies will be exposed.

BODY ARMOR = Righteousness...The enemy often goes after our hearts. Why? Because the heart is the core of our emotions, trust and even self-worth. It is not our righteousness that saves us. It is of God's. His righteousness is the body armor that protects our hearts. He sent His Son to die for us and Jesus, our Lord and Savior, became the righteousness for us. "Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don't let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires." - Romans 13:14 [NLT]

SHIELD = Faith...You have temptations? Being insulted? Losing hope? Think you're incapable of things? These are some of the forms of the enemy's attacks. The Shield protects us from such fiery darts. Knowing God's outlook and plan for believers, we can see beyond circumstances and know that the ultimate victory is ours.

SWORD = Word of God...The sword is the only weapon of offense among all the pieces of the Armor. There are times when we need to take the offensive against the enemy. Jesus, Who is the Word [John 1:1]has given us His written word - the Bible. It was given to men by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, and for instruction in righteousness [2 Timothy 3:16-17] ["For the word of God is full of living power. It is sharper than the sharpest knife, cutting deep into our innermost thoughts and desires. It exposes us for what we really are." - Hebrews 4:12]..How tragic when believers fail to wield the sWORD and just put them on a display, beautiful to look at. Let us not wait until the battle gets intense in order for us to use the sWORD. Store up Scriptures in our mind and as we do so, we are able to wield it more than just store them for ourselves at times that we need to use the sWORD. We can gain confidence in speaking the Word, praying the Word and even to sing It. ["Then you will sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, making music to the Lord in your hearts." - Ephesians 5:19]

SANDALS = Readiness to spread the Good News...That's where our enemy comes in...making us think that telling others about the Good News is just worthless and no use. That we are not capable of doing so. That it will be hard to accept the negative responses by others...But God wants us to tell others about the Good News. The shoes proclaim the true peace that comes from Him. We are God's enemies until we get our relationship right with Him. In order for us to share the Good News with others, we must be at peace with God first. Then, we are called to go and share His peace with others. ["How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news of peace and salvation, the news that the God of Israel reigns!" -Isaiah 52:7]

We are always on alert in the jail. Newly arrived arrestees have very unpredictable behaviors, even worse when they are under the influence of illegal substances.

As we all belong to God's army, there is time for rest and refreshment but there must never be a time for complacency. We can't let our guard down! We can't be comfortable! Because when we do, that's when we give the enemy an advantage for the kill!

Remember what the Lord Jesus said:

"The thief's purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give life in all its fullness." - John 10:10

The Electronic Door

4 weeks ago, I noticed it right away. For almost 11 years I had been working in the prison, that door, the 3rd entry door that led to the units downstairs was always open. Not that night! I almost forgot, it worked by swiping the electronic key card I carried with me. I was just so comfortable just entering it that I almost forgot, it could be locked, too.

I wasn't sure if anything happened. If any outsider tried to get in as sometimes, being near to the Releases Area, some inmates mistakenly took the wrong path and were found walking across the Administration building, where we entered. They knew they were not allowed in those premises. It was only meant to be for staff and our parking lot was just across from this building. We had to still dash across and open the 1st door that was always locked, as it was the first entry to get to the jail.

I swiped my card to which I heard the immediate sound of the door being unlocked. With one hand remaining as I carried my stuff with the other, it was easy to open it and as it slammed right behind me, it automatically locked itself. But what a great comfort I had since seeing that change that night. I felt more security. I felt more confident that the entry to where we all worked would not be easily accessible by some unexpected intruders.

How true it is with us donning God's Armor. We can't let any part of the Armor open to any of the enemies' attacks. It is not the Armor that changes. It is us who are wearing it. If we start relying on our own strength and being confident with ourselves, that weakens all of these pieces. We must not forget that it is our dependence on God and His strength that makes every piece powerful. Yes, we are wearing the helmet of salvation but do we have a sturdy belt of truth around our waists? Yes, we are so knowledgeable with His truth but are we wearing the body armor of God's righteousness? And let's just say, we have the helmet of salvation, the sturdy belt of truth and the armor of God's righteousness, but are we forgetting to put on the shoes? How much faith do we truly have to stop the fiery arrows aimed at us? Are you armed with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God? [The Bible says, "...my people are destroyed from lack of knowledge - Hosea 4:6].

With any missing piece, just like that open electronic door in the prison, we are open to the enemies' attacks. The battle is real. And putting on God's Armor as a child of God is not an option. It is a must! The whole piece comes in one unit, not for us to choose a particular piece that we like. So, why don't we all assess any open door, any weak part of the Armor we are wearing and most important of all, rely on the One Who provides this Armor, not the Armor itself nor ourselves.

"A final word: Be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's Armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil." - Ephesians 6:10,11

Strayed Away Too Far

“Never cease loving a person, and never give up hope for him, for even the prodigal son who had fallen most low, could still be saved; the bitterest enemy and also he who was your friend could again be your friend; love that has grown cold can kindle.” ~ Soren Kierkegard


I opened the narcotic cabinet and took a pain pill and a small cup of water, as he sat there in the waiting area, crying, holding his left arm on a splint and sling with his right hand. He just returned from ER and was treated for his left wrist fracture he sustained when he fell as he was being chased by the arresting officers the day before.

I decided to add 3 tablets of Motrin with a higher dose and secured them in a tan envelope so he could have extra pain medications before seeing the jail doctor. He still needed to wait and the night was only young.

Calling him from a brief nap he was in as weariness set in, he started crying again as I talked to him and gave the medications.

"What hurts? Your arm or something else?" I queried.

"Yes, it does. But not as bad. I'm crying because I can't help but think about my wife who is in the hospital now...pause...more tears....She broke her back when she accidentally got run over by the cops. "F..." I told her not to run!..."S..." I told her to stay where she was!" he related as he continued to sob. [I let him continued to vent out despite the vulgar languages that came out of his mouth]...

I saw his arms covered with tattoos. Of images of dragons, and devils and women in provocative pictures. He was somewhat in his early 30's as I estimated. On and off, he was sobbing.

"Dude...You!....Been in and out here?" I asked as I tried to find commonality among the differences in our own jargons.

"Yes, Ma'am. Many times."

"Your wife?"

"No!"

"Picture yourself, who hasn't been in the jail yet...Here comes the cops after you. What will be your initial reaction?"

"Run away...'Coz I'd be scared..."F____!"

"Exactly what she did! So, don't be upset for the way she reacted... You use drugs or other substances?"

"Weed....Been on it for many, many years...pause...more sobs....My wife and I have been using it since we were younger...Like a joint or 2...I violated my parole...I got caught and I tried to take off..."F...!" I shouldn't have done that! Now, my wife is hurt. She might need surgery. I heard she broke her back in 2 places! Gosh!!!! I love her so much. Because no one else loves me but her!"

"Hearing voices?"

"No!"

"Feel like hurting yourself?"

"No...I just want to talk...Thank you for listening."

"No...Thank you for venting out. Because I want to help you with whatever way I can. I just hope doing so, you are feeling better."


"I'll have someone from mental health services see you anyway because you are very anxious right now and so worried. [The mother side of me wanted to say a lot of things but something prevented me from doing so]. "You can't do anything at this time being locked up anyway. It's easy for me to say this...but let your own injury heal and take care of your own problems first because you need to overcome this before you can take care of your wife. Okay? Your wife is in the hospital. She's in the best place where she can be taken cared of and with good technology nowadays, try not to worry."

"Thank you for listening and giving me these pain meds," he uttered as he finally wiped the drops of tears that kept rolling down his haggard face.

The "mother side" of me that didn't unleash was a good thing to happen, a divine provision, His gift of discernment. If unleashed would have turned him away and would prevent him from venting out what was cutting deep into his heart.

"Pray...."

"What Lord?"

"Pray...now! For Him!"

"How? People are in here!"

"Pray, My child!"

"He's one of the prodigals that I'm still seeking...You know...You were a prodigal before, daughter...But I found you...And I want you to pray for him so he will turn to Me. You know it's not true that it was only his wife who loves him. He forgot! I love him very much. The way I love you all!"

"I saw it, Lord....I saw his red eyes welling with tears, wanting a way out but he was in such a deep mess. He wanted to get out. But he didn't think there was a way....But nothing is impossible with You...."

I closed his medical chart and put my pen down. And unsuspecting to the rest of my coworkers, I bowed my head down and uttered a prayer for this prodigal. I knew...He would return...to God...

Because in this life's journey, no matter how far we had strayed away from Him, no matter how many wrong roads we have taken, it's not our hold on Him that saves us....It's His!

"You will be accepted if you respond in the right way. But if you refuse to respond correctly, then watch out! Sin is waiting to attack and destroy you, and you must subdue it." - Genesis 4:7

Internal Bleeding

He came down, demanding to be seen in the middle of the night, interrupting me as I drowned in chaos of doctor’s orders, telephone calls, other unscheduled sick calls and other delegated tasks by the charge nurse. After all, who else would do the work but only me? We were very short of staff last night as there had been many co-workers calling in sick.

“It is bleeding inside! And look at this mark! I didn’t see that before,” he exclaimed as he raised his outer orange shirt and inner white shirt to show me 3 intact and healing stab wounds on his mid-abdomen. His appendix was just removed a week ago. Complaining of severe pain and internal bleeding, I knew he just wanted more pain medications.

“Sir, with all due respect…that is not a hematoma. You are not bleeding inside. Look closely! The area where they shaved you prior to surgery, those hairs are growing back. And that mark? That’s a dried up Betadine solution or whatever they used to clean your abdomen before they did the incision,” I explained.

He wasn’t saying much after. His vital signs returned normal. As 2 LVN’s approached us and got curious upon hearing his complaints. They both uttered, there was no bleeding!

“Okay, you may go back now to your unit. I just ask that you remain patient. I’m not allowed to disclose any information but you will have a follow up appointment at the hospital,” I added.

Raising his right arm quickly, he tried to cover his mouth and complained that he then felt like throwing up.

“You do?” I asked, this time, my patience wearing a little thin as I recognized how much time was being wasted by a need [drug-seeking] that couldn’t be met. Recalling how much work was waiting at my station, I was starting to grow tired of his complaints.

“Here’s a basin! Go back in the waiting area and you can try to relax there,” I ordered. He didn’t know that was a part of my observation if he would really throw up.

“Well, nurse, can you give me Zofran? [a potent anti-nausea or vomiting medication]” he tried.

“No! You know what? You may go back now to your unit. I can’t give you Zofran because the truth is I don’t even see you get nauseous or throw up even once!” I stated in a little louder tone.

He got up from the metal bench. His subjective excuses must have run out compared to my objective interpretations.

“Look at him!” yelled the Infirmary Deputy. “He was walking so fast going out! If he was having abdominal pain, he wouldn’t be walking like that!”

“I know…I know…”

Suffering?…Who wants it? Trials? Who wants to be in them? Mountains? Who wants to climb them when you have to go through the valleys first before reaching the top. We grow tired waiting for the best outcomes. We grow impatient. We whine. We complain. We want what we think is right for us. Not like me who had gotten impatient last night, I’m glad we can approach Someone Whose compassion, love, and understanding never diminish! God’s compassion never fails!  And that’s His promise….To go through those trials with us. Because Jesus already had overcome the world!!! But the best is yet to come. That’s what awaits…It’s hard to see this future glory when someone is going through a fiery trial. But may we remember that God’s love and compassion never fails!

Lord, we are tired. We feel lost. Sometimes, we doubt. Sometimes, we still stray away from You. Forgive us Lord. Help us see things through Your eyes. Help us focus intently on just looking straight on this narrow path. Help us Lord not stumble. Help us remember that Your plan is for hope and a future. Just like the way that woman with internal bleeding was healed, help our faith to increase. Help us to always trust on no one but You. I lift up all of Your children who need to know You are there beside them. At this very hour, may they all feel Your presence Oh Lord. I humbly ask for you to bless them with Your richest blessings. Healing to those who are sick. Salvation to those who are still lost. Provisions for those who are in financial pain. Comfort for the deep wounds. Strength for the weakening will. Oh Lord, the needs are too many but there is no need that is bigger than You, the mighty God we serve.


In this road, lead us Lord....Lead us Lord...Give us Your discernment and wisdom, guidance to continue to follow. To continue to recognize that Voice. Thank You Lord for Your faithful love, grace, mercy, and compassion...I love You Lord. In Jesus' Name. Amen...

Voices

I  dealt with them, time to time…In front of me, each affected inmate would accept that he has been hearing voices telling him to hurt himself. To kill himself. With their eyes surrounded by darkness and had grown puffy, I could just tell, that inmate was not able to sleep. That deep inside him, something was eating his heart.

I had seen those who tried to follow what the voices were telling them. Whether the voices were soft as a whisper or bombarding their minds vigorously, they tried to put an end to that by actually harming themselves. Battling depression or other mental illnesses, their addiction to illegal substances that could also bring psychosis, there seemed to be no escape.

Photo Credit
And there were a few. The ones who wanted to overcome. No matter what the voices were dictating, they knew something was not right. And they were brave enough to take the first step. That was to seek help. From the nursing or custody staff. Until we could determine the need to place them in Suicide Watch for their own safety. To house them there temporarily until the Psych Doctor would come and assess each of them and an appropriate therapy started to help them win and preserve their precious lives.

Voices…We are bombarded by 2. This world’s and that of the Lord’s…Which voice would you likely seem to follow?

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.” ~ John 10:27

The Trapped Miners and The Forgotten Ones

Photo Credit


"One thing that comes out in myths is that at the bottom of the abyss comes the voice of salvation. The black moment is the moment when the real message of transformation is going to come. At the darkest moment comes the light.

~Joseph Campbell


I don't cry easily...But warm tears trickled down from my eyes as I watched the Chilean miners being hoisted up in a capsule, one by one...It's still going on, as the 15th miner is due to be pulled up as I type...

I found myself praying for all of them. I couldn't imagine what they had to endure while enveloped in a great depth of nothing but hard earth and darkness. Trapped and uncertain of their safety. Longing for their loved ones, not knowing if they would ever see each other again.

One 19 year old miner, by the name of Jimmy Sanchez, found his hope and comfort from God as he wrote his message to his family:

"Hi Roxana, I'm very good. I'm not nervous yet. I believe that when my turn comes [to get up on the capsule] nerves will attack me badly. But now I'm happy and calm. I have been always this way. And yes, it's been since August 4th that I have not seen you. That was 2 months and some days ago. But for me, it's like it was yesterday that we got caught here. God wanted me to stay here, I don't know, maybe so I change from now on. I have thought and I have changed a lot. I have suffered too much and don't want to suffer anymore. In the hard moments I was thankful of God because I got a daughter. I expect that when my turn arrives, everything will be ok. Hugs for everyone."

The world cries for these trapped miners. Even more sympathy pours out for the families who are anxiously waiting, day by day, regarding the conditions of their loved ones deep down below. But to hear the crying turned into cheering, rescuers triumphant, and miners emerging from darkness into the light they had not seen in so long, was just too extraordinary to be described. It is "reality tv" at its best. Not edited. Live.

The memory of the crying child waiting for his father who was the 1st miner to come up was etched in my mind. As he broke into tears, of mixed emotions that no one would know what they were about. Of his own fears he had to face as his father did, too. Of the fear of permanent separation that haunted him night after night, as his father must have thought, too. But last night, I knew his sighing and tears were celebration of a new life. Of rebirth. Of the best joy in his life to see his father emerged from the capsule. The way his father must have felt, too.

We forget all of us are trapped, too. In a vast area of darkness for so long. This is reality, too. We are without hope. Without a chance for life. This world is a big prison we are all in together. We have nurtured the seeds of envy, bitterness, lust, lying, greed and other sins that have a good grip on our souls and spirits. Our children did the same, when our sins' consequences, also have an effect on them. But like those trapped miners, some of us discovered that living hope. That joy and a chance for eternal life. Through Jesus. He is the only One Who can pull any trapped sinner from the pit of darkness into light. Into His Light.

May you be found by our Savior Who longs to have a personal relationship with all of us...Because when you make this crucial decision of accepting Him into your heart, remember that your children get affected, too with all the decision you make.



"Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble,
and he saved them from their distress. He sent forth his word and healed them;
he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing loveand his wonderful deeds for men." - Psalm 107:19-21

Birth Pangs

2 weeks from now, we are having the mandatory annual Skills Fair again. I'm glad we have this training yearly as many sicker inmates keep coming in.

There is something new added to the variety of stations we have to visit. As more and more mentally ill inmates are being incarcerated, one unit that housed those with special needs, has made the decision to put those pregnant women back into the general population or those units that house the women. So, in order to hone our knowledge regarding pregnancy, we have to learn many life-threatening symptoms that specifically concern them.

I've seen the anxiety on those women's faces. Their fears. The uncertainties because of the wrong decisions they have made. Their selfish acts resulted not to their own suffering but to the baby they end up carrying. But I respect those. The ones, who in spite of the difficult path they are walking on as pregnant, incarcerated women, chose to carry their baby into full term. I admire those who did not think about quitting by going through abortions. I feel their pain. Of trying to at least make a change by giving their babies a chance to life, despite them being locked up. It's not easy to be separated from their babies after giving birth. But at least, they must have felt something deep inside to know that babies are special gifts. Hand made by a loving Creator. They smile, despite the pain of separation, to know that their babies are being born. They endure all the physical pain that comes with pregnancy, knowing that it will give them a far more "joy" in the end. Knowing that despite the consequence of committing a crime, they have something good to look forward to.

We go through birth pains, too, as we await for Jesus' second coming. Like a pregnant woman's pains getting intense as the delivery of the baby nears, so it must be with the signs that Jesus had mentioned:

- anti-Christs ["Don't let anyone mislead you. For many will come in my name, saying 'I am the Messiah'. They will lead many astray." - Matthew 24:4-5]

- wars, famines, pestilence and earthquakes ["And wars will break out near and far, but don't panic. Yes, these things must come, but the end won't follow immediately. The nations and kingdoms will proclaim war against each other, and there will be famines and earthquakes in many parts of the world." - Matthew 24:6-7]

All these pains will happen but Jesus' second coming will bring a far more joy to those who love Him. And despite all these trials and sufferings, it is worth the wait.

Are you ready when Jesus comes? Have you been saved?

"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

This is a long video I found but is this one of the birth pangs that is already happening?




"For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast." - Ephesians 2:8-9 [emphasis mine]


"The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?" - Jeremiah 17:9

"But the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and you have no need that anyone should teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about everything, and is true, and is no lie—just as it has taught you, abide in him." - 1John 2:27

"Now, brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3While people are saying, "Peace and safety," destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape. 4But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief." - 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4

Wrong Desires

"But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you look for him with all your heart and with all your soul." - Deuteronomy 4:29
Photo Credit

Night after night, this is the scenario at the prison's yard. When arresting officers' squad cars come in, one by one and bring in their suspects. Either they have committed serious crimes or some, driving under the influence of illegal substances.

They are all lined up in rows, awaiting for the Intake Nurse to ask them about their claims of medical or mental problems. The problem is....their mental capacity are not working properly at times. They have been drinking too much. Some of them, in euphoria because of street drugs that they used. Some even seemed so happy because they were smoking marijuana.

Their eyes are blood shot red. Hair disheveled. Stance not straight. Gait not steady. Speech, not clear. Breaths reeking of alcohol. Jerking. Twisting. Shaking. Yelling. Combative.

They are living their lives, day after day, pursuing those things that only temporarily satisfy their needs. And the sad part is that these illegal substances and other things end up harming them, mind and body.

We are designed to seek God. He is the only One Who can satisfy anyone's needs. Unfortunately, we desire to seek after those things that do not satisfy our needs. Maybe some of us are having a good life. Rich with money and other possessions. Not necessarily using those illegal substances. Maybe some of us are going through the toughest times. But the bottom line is...of all these things going on, "where is God in our lives?"

God, Who from the very start had designed a plan for people, the kind of plan that gives hope and a future. He promised to be found. But the question is, are we willing to seek Him? Do we desire for Him? Not only in one day but in each day that passes by.

I have those days myself. Where I don't feel like seeking Him. Where I don't feel like listening to Him. Where the things of this world take my attention and heart away from Him. Then, the truth of His Word comes always like a "stabbing sword"...That neither sorrow, nor illnesses, nor other mountains of trials, even death, can separate us away from the love of God! He is always waiting for those who are willing to call upon Him, for those who will desire and seek Him with all of their hearts, all of their souls, and all of their minds.

Thank You Lord for Your patience and for always being faithful. Thank You for giving our lives true purpose. Thank You for making it possible because of Jesus, for us to become new creations. Thank You for satisfying all of our needs. Praise Your Holy Name! In Jesus' Name. Amen.

The River

"That's it? Nothing wrong with me even if I'm having this chest pain?" queried the middle-aged male inmate in front of me, as he started taking off the EKG leads glued to his arms and hairy chest.

"Everything was normal with your blood pressure and pulse and the doctor had read your EKG. She couldn't find anything that is alarming. However, she wanted me to give you some pain medications to make you more comfortable," I replied as I motioned for him to get out of the exam room.

"You claimed you were coughing for the last 3 days though and though you don't have sore throat or congested sinus, drink a lot of water anyway," I advised.

He denied injury nor any problem with his heart and overall health. New to the prison environment, anxiety usually sets in with these housed inmates. Worried about the outcome of their crimes when they go to court, the chest gets tight and breathing air in and out seems to be hard.

"Thank you anyway, Ma'am," he stated softly, as I handed him a pack of white pills to help his pain subside or be gone.

"Sir, I want you to know, you can come back here anytime by putting a request or letting your deputy know, if anything gets worse, okay?" I explained.

"Thank you..."he uttered again as he got up and exited from the Clinic, out into the long hallways that would take him back to his tiny cell.

I could have told him straight to his face that he was just wasting my time, after everything turned out to be normal. After all, I glanced at my watch and it was the end of my shift. I couldn't stay any longer to do overtime. I was tired. I wanted to go home.
Photo Credit

But there are so many around us who needs compassion. The kind that Jesus had shown. I am not compassionate. But I was changed by His love that I learned how to be compassionate. I bathed in His river of mercy and grace once. And I have been carrying that river in me. You, too, if you have accepted His forgiveness. But just like how a river must be flowing, we can't contain that and not share it with others. We hold the gates in our hearts to let the river either flow or be contained. To let the river flow fast or slow. To let the river touch another person or not.

I am not compassionate. But I am choosing to be compassionate because of what He did to me. The mighty River had cleansed me. The mighty River quenched those parched areas of my life and continues to satiate my thirsts. The mighty River poured His love unto my heart. The mighty River is behind me.



"Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, streams of living water will flow from within him."
-John 7:38

"You must be compassionate, just as your Father is compassionate." - Luke 6:36 [NLT]

"Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love." - 1 John 4:7,8

It's Not Our Strength

"God, Who foresaw your tribulation, has specially armed you to go through it, not without pain but without stain." ~ C.S Lewis

He kept blaming himself for the injury he sustained.

"I'm suicidal! I did this to myself!" he constantly yelled, as 2 deputies were right beside me as I assessed his wounds.

There was an abrasion with redness on top of his head. But I didn't see any active bleeding. I got concerned when I saw the swelling on his right cheek bone. It was huge. And his right eye was darkened from the trauma it absorbed.

He was out in the rec [recreational] yard. According to the deputy, they didn't see him bang his head but that was what he was claiming when they took him out of the yard.

"Yes, I am hearing voices," he added.

He denied having a history of mental illness. But he used heroin from the past.  He kept talking, claiming he did want to hurt himself.

Deep inside, I just knew. That someone else could have done these injuries to him. But even if he did do it on his own, that was understandable, too. For there was no way out in the prison. He could be exercising temporarily in that tiny space of the yard. The fact was he was still locked up. Being confined to a tiny space can make someone go crazy, having limited activities, having little contact with others.



Life in the prison is hard. Even a temporary time out of the tiny cell where they stay, is not freedom at all. Even harder is the fact that other inmates use power to step on the toes of the weak ones. They seek who they want to prey on. If they belong to a particular gang outside and if they figure out that a specific inmate is a part of the rival gang, they will plan to hurt and kill that inmate. Locked up and nowhere to go, the preys will not talk and end up creating injuries to themselves, so that they can be moved into another cell, away from their predators. To have a temporary lease on their lives.

We, too can't run away from our spiritual enemies. They prowl like roaring lions. They are always looking for a Christian believer to be devoured. But the truth is that if someone is a true believer in Christ, that person is not weak! Maybe he is just alone or weak in faith. Or one feels helpless because he is going through a tough trial, that he forgets to focus on Christ which in turn makes him forget to look out for danger and the enemy's tactics and attacks.

Even the strongest amongst us get tired. But God's power never diminishes! Believers must fight back not with their own strength but by the strength that comes from God. Relying on God is the only way to fight against the devil. The believer must have lockdowns, too, a special time with the Lord daily by reading His Word. It is vital to don the Armor of God, remaining strong with trust and faith on Him. Same with prayers, praying at all times and on every occasions. Staying alert and being persistent with prayers for all believers.

"Have you never heard or understood? Don't you know that the Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of all the earth? He never grows faint or weary. No one can measure the depths of his understanding. He gives power to the those who are tired and worn out; he offers strength to the weak. Even youths will become exhausted, and young men will give up. But those who wait on the Lord will find new strength. They will fly high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint." - Isaiah 40:28-31

One's Negligence Became Everyone's Fault



The charge nurse used to have the major key that opens a cabinet housing different sets of keys for the medical or mental health staff to sign out. One medical secretary was scheduled to check the sets of keys to make sure they were all accounted for during change of shift. It would mean major trouble if even one key would be missing...That meant the whole prison would be on a lock down and inmates would be searched to make sure they didn't get hold of any keys if there was one missing. That would be a challenging task because our prison housed 3,000 something inmates alone.

For many years that I had been working there, it was going smoothly. Until...One night, a set of keys went missing at the nurse's clinic at Intake. 2 nurses scheduled that night both denied accidentally bringing that particular set of keys to their houses nor lost them. The units were not put on a lock down as everyone feared it might happen. The higher ranking official did find out about it but because there were no inmates involved in that particular room, they did not search any inmate.

Whoever did not want to admit to losing this key resulted into a major consequence for the whole nursing and mental health staff. Because of that person's negligence, everyone lost their privileges to get the major key from the charge nurse and from then on, the custody staff or the deputy ended up counting the keys and ended up controlling who signed out whatever set of key in every shift or if it was returned. One's fault became everyone's fault. One's negligence caused the whole nursing staff, including the innocent ones to be blamed.

People's sins were laid on the innocent Sacrifice. Everyone's dirty works were transferred on God's Son, Who in turn gave His righteousness to those who believes in His death and resurrection. But what God traded for humanity's worthless sins was replaced with something of immeasurable worth. When we trust in Christ, we make that deal! We make that exchange!

Jesus, the sinless became sin. Jesus, who was never found guilty was only accused of that crime: "being King of the Jews." His accusers did not put him on that wooden cross. It was his love for humanity which made Jesus endured His suffering. He loved even his enemies. He endured the most horrible way of dying and physical agony, because He knew that the spiritual separation of humanity from God was a torture.

Feet

Lord, I pray for Your protection for this blog and my family and friends. I pray and ask You for protection for those who will come here and read this post. I pray that Your Word will minister to our hearts. For Your truth to penetrate our minds and hearts. Give us discernment Oh Lord not to misinterpret Your Word and only Your truth prevails. Lord, I pray for You to open the minds and hearts of those who don't know You. Thank You Lord for Your power and might that You give us. Thank You Lord for what You have done to save us. Thank You Lord for Your protection. Please surround us with Your mighty angels. In Jesus' Name. Amen.



I was almost about to wake up in the wee hours of this morning, just an hour ago. My body got used to waking up early so I could prepare something for my husband's breakfast and lunch as he goes to work early. But I had a little bit of dream that I vividly remembered as I was being greeted by the dawn.

We have a fig tree in the backyard. I dreamed that I saw a huge rattle snake and started calling my husband at the top of my lungs. I saw him put his left foot and crushed the big head with his foot. His right foot he used to stump the wagging tail and severed it with a stick or something like that.

I am the type not to interpret dreams. And I don't want to be misled nor any of you by posting this. But lately, my husband and I have been talking about how evil some of the people now are. It's getting worse day by day. As believers, we are aware of the spiritual battle we're in. We must understand that some people are blinded by the enemy. But some of them also choose to be bad. They also choose to commit evil things as if there is no God and as if they are not mortals.

As I was dreaming about that snake, I started praying and at that time, I was about fully conscious. I brought this into my prayer. And the following verses/thoughts came to me:

"From now on, you and the woman will be enemies, and your offspring and her offspring will be enemies. He will crush your head, and you will strike your heel." - Genesis 3:15

Satan and his army of angels are our spiritual enemies. He may have so many attempts to defeat Christ while he was here but Christ's resurrection has a bigger blow to his head. A strike on the heel is not as lethal versus someone striking the head with a crushing blow.

And we defeat the enemy because God made it possible for us to be saved by offering His gift of salvation only through the Lord Jesus Christ. [Glory be to God!]. And as we received that gift, we then, can use God's mighty power, God's Armor, God's strength to fend off the enemy's tactics to make us ineffective for God's work,

We are commanded by the Lord to share His gift:

"And how will anyone go and tell them without being sent? That is what the Scriptures mean when they say, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news." - Romans 10:15

Yes, evil might seem to be rampant all around us. There might seem to be no justice when it needs it. How can we be strong but fight back using God's weapons? But first, we should never remove God's armor. Making sure that we are not letting our guards down one piece. Yes, we know that we have the helmet, but if we are not having complete trust and faith, how can we have a strong shield?

"A final word: Be strong with the Lord's mighty power. Put on all of God's armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies and tricks of the devil." - Ephesians 6:10,11

As I was sharing this dream with my husband, I asked, "Has it occurred to you that the snake does not have feet?"

"So the Lord God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, you will be punished. You are singled out from all the domestic and wild animals of the whole earth to be cursed. You will grovel in the dust as long as you live, crawling along on your belly." - Genesis 3:14

Disobedience is sin. Sins separate us from God. Let us turn away from sins and turn back to God. Use your feet to make that U-turn to God. God is willing to forgive us and restore our relationship. Through Jesus.


"Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path." - Psalm 119:105

 
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.



Encouragers

The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]


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].

Friends