The Song



I pushed the “off button” with my right index finger from our t.v.'s remote control, as soon as my husband descended from the stairs. His sack lunch and a thermos filled with hot tea awaited on the kitchen’s counter top. I sipped the last drop of my first cup of coffee. Perhaps, the first among the three throughout the day.

“What’s new?” he asked. Assuming I was watching the early morning news.

“Nothin…” I softly answered, careful not to make any noises as it was still very early and I didn’t want to wake up our asleep son. Hoping he would enjoy his vacation by taking longer hours of sleep he was deprived of during his school year.

I was tired watching the news. Not merely of what was going on daily. But because “nothing” was being done it seemed to the country’s problems. Some, not even being reported by all of the media. I knew. Because my husband and I witnessed what was going on right from where we worked.

After hugging and kissing and saying our “goodbye’s and I love you’s”, I was determined to go back to bed and tried to catch a few more “zzz’s”. I decided to open some of the windows and the patio door. The usual routine to let some of the fresh, cooler air come into the house. To replenish the stale air that stayed from closed windows and doors to avoid the summer heat from creeping into the house.

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After pulling the light blanket over my feet, I heard the familiar sound. The melodious tweeting of birds that seemed to play on the same notes. Beautiful. Each morning. Before the sun peeked on the eastern skies.
I felt His love. I felt His peace. How much such notes that I wish could decipher brought me comfort. Before the day started and would get busy.

“Tweeeet….tweeet…..tweeet….”

Such notes interrupted my thoughts. As I closed my eyes and sleep eluding me, my thoughts began to race. That nature’s song from our backyard reminded me of His song. Indeed. That was His song. 

Zephaniah 3:17 The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

It sounded like the same song I heard when I was facing the dilemma of accepting the news that my mother was being pulled away from this place when she suffered a stroke.

Or that time when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer and my brothers and I had to go home and be with him during his last hours.

That time when my husband couldn’t find a job and I couldn’t work a lot after suffering a neck injury from the hospital where I worked.

How about that time when I had to face people in higher positions at work who gave me a hard time and did not want to accommodate me?

One thing was becoming clear by then as the span of my life’s journey flashed before my mind. I heard that song. Always. During those difficult times. Reminding me of God’s love. That He was with me. All the time. No matter what I was going through. No matter where I was. No matter when.

“Tweet….tweeett…tweeettt…” 

I heard those notes died down as the small birds flew away. The same time the sun’s rays appeared in front of the house. I wasn’t able to sleep but in my heart and mind, I couldn’t trade the song I heard with any amount of sleep. Because as I welcomed this new day, I would not be afraid of what would come my way. Knowing I was forgiven and loved first. It would remind me how His song stayed with me during the darkest night and subtly played when the sun arose.

Yes...I feel so much loved that I hear God’s song. God’s love…Being sung to me. For eternity…

What Smells



"I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve." – Jeremiah 17:10 (NIV)


The loud waves of laughter came flooding the entire room inside the Infirmary. As one quietly whispered and read what was written from a sick call request from one of what seemed like thousands of sick call requests put in by inmates. Each request always sounded with urgency though most of the time, each case had no life threatening issues. Their way of trying to be seen and be on top of the sick call list each morning. So that the day nurse going to their units would try to see them.

“Ewww…Gross…” one uttered as more laughter ensued.

A couple of custody staff hanging around with 2 younger nurses remained talking all night long as the night nurse supervisor had been away for her vacation. Paired with the rare quiet shift, each slow minute was being used as an advantage for that loud, fun tryst.

“When you have something that smells fishy, that is a problem…” quickly, one uttered to fuel the fires of laughter that never stopped.

I chose to close my ears. My eyes. My mind. My heart. Quietly working in a distant corner away from the throng, I chose to help the medical secretary as there was no one to be seen nor a doctor’s order to be carried out. I knew. They were all watching. They were all wondering. 

Why I never joined their conversation. Only speaking when asked.

Because…I chose to…

As my heart grew sadder. With what I had been smelling all night long. I didn’t want to laugh because there was something more sickening that all the gross sick call requests submitted.

How many times I had heard about the fishy relationships that abound? The back stabbing? The rumors being swirled and being fanned which might not be true? The lies put out to save someone’s wrong? To pretend that the whole group was walking in integrity and had been working hard when it was only a fa├žade for some?

I couldn’t laugh. Because what that inmate’s plea for treatment for something that smelled awful couldn’t be worse than what smelled in this department.

Adultery. Fornication. Thefts. False witness. Evil thoughts. Slanders.

Those things smell awful. They reek. Due to someone’s foolishness…

Sins…

My wounds fester and are loathsome because of my sinful folly. – Psalm 38:5 (NIV)

You, God, know my folly; my guilt is not hidden from you. – Psalm 69:5 (NIV)

God would surely have known it, for he knows the secrets of every heart. – Psalm 44:21 (NLT)

You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. – Psalm 139:2 (NIV)

The Unqualified, Young Applicant



“God did not call the qualified to serve Him: instead He qualified the called.” ~ Judy Baer


“Everything happens for a reason…In the past days as I prayed about work, the thought of God using the unqualified in the Bible came as an answer to my heart…”

I just texted those exact words to a puzzled co-worker. One of the many who was upset regarding the result of who was chosen for one of the supervisory positions recently opened for night shift. People knew…
The one picked was the “least qualified…”

This co-worker I texted had been encouraging the one who had the most seniority and the most experiences. This was including the years spent laboring to earn her Master’s and other certifications. But she wasn’t chosen…The one who was, everyone thought for sure…would be picked…

I was upset at the beginning of all of this, too. And as I knelt down and prayed about the old wounds being rubbed with salt in my heart, the answer above came to silence my growing protest of injustice or unfair treatments at work. That was a familiar battle ground I walked on from the past years. It hurt. 

Funny how God’s answers always come in a probing way. Silent. Short. But straight to the point. Most of the times, it isn’t even a statement. Rather, a question…

The chosen applicant just earned her RN. A per diem. Not even a regular employee. Seldom working in our facility. But…the interviewers who were the higher supervisors liked her… 

Many shook their heads in disbelief as the name of the new supervisor started spreading amongst us. Including me…I forgot…

God was known to use unqualified, young, and flawed people from different times. They succeeded…Not because they were great…But because God equipped them all. 

My heart is even sadder now. Not because the unqualified applicant was chosen to be our new supervisor. Though she is the youngest among the applicants…Though she is the least experienced among them…It's because I am not giving her a chance…To top it all, it grieves me that I am limiting God’s power. That I am underestimating His purposes…

I’m sorry Lord…



"Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, 21 equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." ~ Hebrews 13:20-21 (NIV)

This Thing Called Fear



Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates. ~ Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (NIV)

“Mom…Just wanna’ let you know…If my grade isn’t that great, I did try my best…” cautioned my son as he entered the house from the garage. Arriving from one of his early morning final exams from the nearby college where he went.

“Yes…I know…” I reassured. Reminding him he shouldn’t worry, no matter what outcome. He knew his father and I would always understand because we saw how hard he worked. Each day. Each night. Giving all his best.

I couldn’t believe how fast this school year had gone by. I could vividly remember the orientation he had and when we, as a family, had gone to school together to get more familiar with this college. A big step for our son who marveled at longer distances he had to walk. The bigger buildings grouped together by each similarity with a particular course a student would choose.

He sighed…One more final exam to go come Friday. But he said that would be easy. The hardest was yesterday’s.

I gave him a hug. Growing up and seeing him how good of a son he was, never giving my husband and I any troubles, we knew, he was a blessing. As a family, we had a joke. That he should be careful in not getting into troubles from me, knowing his father would also get in trouble. It was a joke because my son looked a lot like my husband in so many ways. Not only from the physical looks but in the ways he dealt with life’s matters. 

I remembered those early Saturday mornings when he was standing on a wooden, dining chair. Leaning over the cast iron skillet warming up on the stove top as my husband carefully taught him to drop those batter they made together to make their “special pancakes” as I just got home. Tired and wanted to go straight to bed from a night shift’s work.

Or those times when he seemed to be excited. Clapping his tiny hands as he solved each puzzle from an educational game he chose to play in his computer. Those “burning the midnight oil” as he labored with all of his subjects in elementary, middle and high school days. To which he passed with flying colors. A dedication to wherever he put his passion on. Very much like his father as I saw from my own eyes. The way they both searched for answers. Patiently. Methodically. Humbly.

The small cars he loved were somewhere collecting dust now. But not the memories of them playing together. Assembling some together. Choosing simple ones among the grander choices. 

And along with that journey came many hugs. Of wiping tears as he experienced broken hearts. From being viewed as “weird” from some peers when my son chose not to join things that he deemed would not be beneficial to him. A lesson his father often uttered during one of their private conversations.

As I’m writing now and enjoying my cup of coffee, I am remembering these 2 boys in my life who bless me so much in my own journey. They are my riches after the Lord. And I can’t help but notice as my son still sleeps in his room, he is now a man. And his father never taught him those “macho things”. His father never taught him to fill his heart with pride whenever he succeeds. Nor he ever told his son to please others just to be accepted. 

Alas! My husband never taught our son to be “courageous”. In fact, the first thing he taught him was to have FEAR.

And this fear is the greatest thing I believe. That molded my son’s heart to become where he is now. Dutiful. Responsible. Respectful. Humble. Careful. Accepting. Loving…And I could go on and on…

Yes, this thing… That even if he walks in these longer distances and unseen miles ahead, my husband and I will never ever worry knowing Who is leading the way.

This thing called fear of God…
 Happy Father's Day to you my dear husband and to all of you great dads out there! God bless and protect you all and continue to guide you all with His divine wisdom. Thank You Lord for Your love and mercy. For Your sacrifice so that we may be adopted and call God our "Abba Father!"

Just Because



For the word of God is alive and powerful. It is sharper than the sharpest two-edged sword, cutting between soul and spirit, between joint and marrow. It exposes our innermost thoughts and desires. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God. Everything is naked and exposed before his eyes, and he is the one to whom we are accountable. – Hebrews 4:12-13 (NLT)


I woke up from a short nap as the late afternoon’s sun was still baking the back of our house. My mind wandered right away to what had transpired at work the last two nights. As the supervisor was away and on a vacation, her seat being taken over by two, newer nurses. One with correctional nursing background, the latter a new grad who was assigned that Saturday night as the other one called off. Sadness and the feeling of being fed up with purposeless conversations or actions among the staff cut deep into my heart on those past, two nights.

Pressing the power button to warm up a bowl of what my husband made for lunch for my late meal, I told him about the heavy feeling I had. I knew he sympathized with me all the time. As it was the same for his work. We knew the toughness that came in working for these kinds of careers. We knew the dangers. But we also both loved it and felt the calling in our hearts during those times of our transitions from our old jobs. Him from the military to a federal agency. Mine from orthopedic floor in a big hospital to correctional setting.
Many years passed as we both learned and discovered the ills. Not only with the criminals we dealt with. But sadly, inside our own work environment. Our department. The polished image outside didn’t necessarily matched what was going on inside. 

I chose not to be intimidated by that kind of power when I had to go against some powerful people myself. It might have seemed I was defeated. But in my spiritual state, I won. God always gave me ways to save me. He rescued me every time. Working less hours as their punishment to demote me to a per diem position became a winning advantage on my part. Their own penalty went against them when they couldn’t force me anymore to work in whatever shifts they wanted me to. Whatever hours they wanted me to. Because as a per diem, I had the choice to put in my availability. On my own terms. Well…God-given terms.

Friday night was very busy. But the three of us made it through that storm. On Saturday night, the Charge Nurse on Friday night called in sick. I sensed he might. He looked so weary that morning we all parted. Saturday night was a different story. Lots of mingling and conversations about “clubs”, about relationships and other vain things. As I watched the hands of the clock moved so slowly. And tried spending my time helping the medical secretary prepared the charts for the sick calls for Sunday morning. I could sense the abrupt “shush” when I would go back to my seat where they were gathered, talking all night long. Laughing all night long. But working in this environment for 14 years, I already developed a thick skin and deaf ears and blind eyes. 

Some of their topics were uncomfortable to my operated heart. I chose not to join. It wasn’t easy. I felt like a surfer going with those other ones toward the waves. Against the flow. Then, only a handful made it, catching the big wave that brought glory back to shore. I wanted to always be a part of that “few handful”. 

The supervisor was away and people under her wanted to do what they wanted to do. Jesus was away and people wanted to do what they wanted to do. A lot never believed in Him and what He had done on the cross. But I chose to trust in Him. Just because…
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God’s promise of entering his rest still stands, so we ought to tremble with fear that some of you might fail to experience it. For this good news—that God has prepared this rest—has been announced to us just as it was to them. But it did them no good because they didn’t share the faith of those who listened to God. For only we who believe can enter his rest. As for the others, God said,
“In my anger I took an oath:
    ‘They will never enter my place of rest,’”
Even though this rest has been ready since he made the world. We know it is ready because of the place in the Scriptures where it mentions the seventh day: “On the seventh day God rested from all his work.”But in the other passage God said, “They will never enter my place of rest.”
So God’s rest is there for people to enter, but those who first heard this good news failed to enter because they disobeyed God. So God set another time for entering his rest, and that time is today. God announced this through David much later in the words already quoted:
“Today when you hear his voice,
    don’t harden your hearts.” – Hebrews 4:1-7 (NLT)



I took my first bite and realized something… The heaviness wasn’t coming anymore from what was going on at work. The pain came from knowing how hard it was and would be. To make that decision to follow Christ. To choose to do the right thing no matter what. 

That is the true battle I face. Each day. No matter where I am. The worldly things against that of God’s. One thing is for sure…

No matter how badly wounded I get, God is always there to welcome me. Reassure me. Strengthen me. Increase my wisdom with His knowledge and grace. He continues to transform and operates on my heart which will hurt more. Because He is setting me apart. Away from sins that imprisoned me before. He called me to His freedom. His Word truly cuts deeper than what a man can do to me. To make a new me. Who will hunger for Him and His place. The place where rest is eternal.


Lord, please help me...To always go against the flow...And to bring YOUR glory back Home...Thank You Lord.
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].

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