Re-tracing My Steps

As another year starts peeking through the windows of the changing seasons, my heart is settled with the thought of not looking forward and hoping for what is to come for another round of 365 days. My pen remained at rest in the drawer and perhaps, will stay that way and not write the goals I want to achieve that either are short-lived or forgotten by the middle part of the year.

As it has been almost a year now that I was being given a hard time at my workplace when it comes to my position as a Correctional Nurse, there is no new road except for me to learn more patience each day and remain focused on just One Road...Jesus'... I know that the process of defending myself is long. But I opted from day one to challenge the decisions made by those who held higher positions and expose the unfair treatments and practices that have been going on and unknown by oblivious eyes who don't work there.

As 2012 comes, I choose to instead look back and re-trace my steps I had taken in my life journey. Where wounds were given, I choose to forgive and heal. Where injustices seemed to have been done, I choose to remain patient and let God does His intervention. Where lies were hurled, I choose to bring them into His truth. Where I had fallen, I choose to see His never failing commitment to always stick by my side and His quick actions of always reaching out to help me get up again and again(I know already that I won’t be able to count those times).

The prison is a very dark place and so is this world. One thing that stands out as I start to re-discover and take some steps back, it is God’s love that has always been my place of refuge and safety with this darkness that surrounds me. I know it’s not only me who has gone through so many trials. I know some of you have gone through the most difficult treks that are hard to endure. But I invite you to re-trace your steps as 2012 comes and I pray that you will discover deep in your hearts that He is truly there for each of us, strengthening us, comforting us, healing us, and saving us. I pray that as we discover His goodness, then we will emerge even stronger, braver, and with renewed strength as we face whatever comes our way this 2012.

When the first day of 2012 comes, I don’t know what will happen but He does. So, Who better to trust but Jesus Who knows it all: past, present and future! Then, I know…in Him there is security…

21 Remember, God is the One who makes you and us strong in Christ. God made us his chosen people.22 He put his mark on us to show that we are his, and he put his Spirit in our hearts to be a guarantee for all he has promised.” – 2 Corinthians 1:21,22 (NCV)

May God’s richest blessings be upon you all and Happy New Year to all of you friends!!! Thank you for your love, prayers and friendship...

We Were Not Just Co-Workers

"Come with me Rcubes," invited the supervisor who had to leave early and upon my workmates and my insistence for her to leave after receiving a frightful phone call.She needed to go straight to the hospital where her father had been in for many months now and not doing well.

"Would you please give this to Nurse E. and Nurse H. and oh!" as she grabbed a small package filled with goodies I could tell she made, "This is for you..."

"Oh...Nurse C., you don't have to do that but thank you."

"Yes, I do...You always bring stuff."

"Drive safely C. and please, let us know if we can help you with anything. Be strong."

She took a few steps closer to me and with the freezing atmospheric breaths blowing upon us, she initiated a hug.

Careful not to be taken as a special favor when I first walked into the Clinic, I gave her the same chocolate candies I had ready for everyone working with me last night. As I had been going through a tough battle against many people in higher positions, I was careful not to treat her as if I wanted a favor from her, being one of our supervisors.

"Merry Christmas!" as she got up and gave me the first hug inside the Infirmary.

She had been calling in sick a lot. When I first heard about her father being very sick in the hospital, it brought many mem'ries of my own as my father was longing to go Home after being diagnosed with Colon Cancer. I could imagine the physical and mental toll this illness had not only on her father but on herself. She was one of our supervisors. Tired of those supervisors who backstabbed their own crew, she was careful not to do that. I remembered she would talk about her oldest son and how he would pray whenever something went wrong. There were nights when we were not too busy and she spoke about the Bible and God and spiritual enemies.

I let my cautious walls around me fell apart as she approached me with open arms after instructing me about her gifts.

"Merry Christmas again and I pray that you will remain strong," I uttered as I enveloped my arms around her.

And in that short flash of moment, I knew we both had let our differences disappear.

Yes, we differed in so many ways and sometimes even clashed with our attitudes. But one thing remained true, we were both in need of strength, hope, peace and joy in our hearts despite the many trials we encounter. The kind that only would come from God. The gifts from the Father we both knew and loved and Who found us both when we were walking astray at one point in our lives. She knew my battle. I knew hers.

There we were in the well-lit staff parking, as if time froze on us and I knew our hearts both felt the comfort and strength and sincere love that only would come from being a part of God's family. It might be just a "simple hug" but we knew that it became a source of strength and comfort knowing we were not alone in our battles.  Suddenly, I didn't see her as a supervisor anymore as she said "Bye." And with the tone of her voice, I knew she didn't treat me as just a "co-worker below her."

I just knew...our bond was more evident. The bond of unity that only would come from God's merciful hands. We were not just co-workers. We were sisters in Christ's family.

May You Be Distracted By A Child

My oven stayed cool, the door unopened and without any fallen flour dusts. I haven’t baked anything sweet this season. Some loved ones and friends already received the gifts we had given them. Gifts that were not rushed in forms of gift cards and good pastries bought from a nearby-bakery shop. Except for a few fishes my husband and I made with labor. I cleaned the fishes as he chopped the veggies and mix everything and cooked everything, only to be stuffed back into the fish. With the back side sewn, then pan fried with just a dab of oil. Some friends liked it that we opted to give them these as gifts from our kitchen.

As we remember the coming of our Lord Jesus, I pray that many who don’t know Him would be distracted by the “birth of the child”, instead of the distractions of this world. From our home to yours, Merry Christmas friends and may God bless you all richly!

"18 This was how the birth of Jesus Christ took place. His mother Mary was engaged to Joseph, but before they were married, she found out that she was going to have a baby by the Holy Spirit.19 Joseph was a man who always did what was right, but he did not want to disgrace Mary publicly; so he made plans to break the engagement privately.20 While he was thinking about this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary to be your wife. For it is by the Holy Spirit that she has conceived.21 She will have a son, and you will name him Jesus—because he will save his people from their sins.

22 Now all this happened in order to make come true what the Lord had said through the prophet,23
A virgin will become pregnant and have a son, and he will be called Immanuel (which means,
God is with us).

24 So when Joseph woke up, he married Mary, as the angel of the Lord had told him to.25 But he had no sexual relations with her before she gave birth to her son. And Joseph named him Jesus." - Matthew 1:18-25 (GNT)

What If God Wants Me There?

“So, I’m seeing you guys come Sunday, Christmas?” the pastor asked my family and I as we exited the Sanctuary after our first worship service. Hugging each of us and seeing his enthused-powered smiles every time, we couldn’t help but smile back.

“Of course,” I replied with a grin to match his and that was what the three of us discussed and agreed upon when we realized as he announced from the altar that Sunday would be Christmas Day.

“Let’s go,” I told my husband who already said “Yes” anyway even before I was done asking him and my son agreed, too.

My smile eventually vanished when I remembered that I was scheduled to work come Christmas Eve, meaning that I would miss our fellowship on Sunday, Christmas Day.

“That’s okay,” my husband tried to reassure me knowing how heavier my heart grew when I told him.

“Kristian and I would still go even if you would miss it,” he added.

Of all places to be on such an important day of remembering Jesus, I would spend it on this place I had been dreading the most. I didn’t want to be there. I lost my enthusiasm ever since I was given a hard time by those people having higher positions. All because of their ill intentions to do what they want to do, showing how powerful they could become that they could do what they decided to do. It didn’t matter if people under them were not happy. It didn’t matter even if they didn’t want to announce and always surprised the staff with many changes that most of them were driven to more stressful situations on their part.

“Bummer,” I whispered to my husband and son.

At the back of the car, as my son drove to go to our favorite breakfast place, I had been contemplating about missing the fellowship. As I tried to say “I’m sorry” in my silent prayer only God could hear, I felt some comfort in my heart at the same time. The type that strengthened me and reassured me that it was okay for me to miss the service.

“What if He wanted me to be there?” I suddenly thought to myself.

“Who am I to refuse with what He wanted me to do?”

I didn’t know the reason why I felt comfortable after that thought but there was one thing sure in my heart and mind these past few days, even months and years….

“That there are lots of people suffering, both physically and much more spiritually.”

“How can I serve You God?” I sometimes asked Him, sometimes afraid I even asked Him knowing it could be uncomfortable many times.

But with His grace, I know I can… Only by God’s grace…

3We have everything we need to live a life that pleases God. It was all given to us by God's own power, when we learned that he had invited us to share in his wonderful goodness. 4God made great and marvelous promises, so that his nature would become part of us. Then we could escape our evil desires and the corrupt influences of this world.
    5Do your best to improve your faith. You can do this by adding goodness, understanding, 6self-control, patience, devotion to God, 7concern for others, and love. 8If you keep growing in this way, it will show that what you know about our Lord Jesus Christ has made your lives useful and meaningful. 9But if you don't grow, you are like someone who is nearsighted or blind, and you have forgotten that your past sins are forgiven.” – 2 Peter 1:3-9 (CEV)

Father, please forgive me for all my short-sighted visions. Give me a pair of eyes like Yours that see the needs of others around me. Give me ears that hear other's afflictions and give me hands that love to help out and reach out to others with the best I can. Give me a compassionate heart like Jesus', able to love unconditionally, even my enemies. Thank You God for loving us unconditionally and sending Jesus, Your only Son, to save humanity. This Christmas, help me remember the precious gift You had given me was not for me to keep, but also to be shared among others. Thank You Lord for Your love and mercy and grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

The Wounds In The Heart

There he was sitting on the cold floor, in a very long hallway in one of the prison’s units. In what appeared to be a weak state, he seemed not able to get up, close to a huge metal door, some deputies from both units where he sat were surrounding and watching him until we, the medical staff, came and responded to their radio call.

He claimed that he fell earlier in the day from his bunk and his unit sent him to the Infirmary to be examined. Halfway the distance, that was when he sat down and complained of being “dizzy.”

Borrowing a guerney from the nearest unit, the other nurse wheeled him down to the Clinic, as I struggled to carry the slight heavy red emergency bag, strapped to my right shoulder, my footsteps, following them.

“Do you mind taking over?” the nurse asked me if I could take care of this inmate who fell.

“Not at all,” I replied as I gathered the vital signs machine and other things I needed to evaluate and probe more.

He seemed very anxious. With his eyes going in every direction, only maintaining a short amount of time with eye contact, he kept complaining he didn’t feel good. I saw the beads of tears formed in those slightly almond shaped eyes, surrounded with a darkness that marked a lot of shallow sleeps and perhaps, nights that he didn’t sleep at all. He was honest about his history of being “bipolar.”

“Sir, there’s more to this…”

“What do you mean? I don’t feel good.”

“I know you don’t feel good that’s why we brought you here to the Clinic to try and help you out. Do you feel like hurting yourself?”

He stopped in his marathon talks of complaints. He looked down and couldn’t maintain an eye contact with me even more. With a soft whisper, he let out an audible “Yes.”

As soon as he said that, he cried. He said that he had been constantly hearing his mother crying that it was driving him “nuts” that he felt hurting himself would end it all.

I wished we had more time so I could find out where the hurt was coming from. I knew he wasn’t dizzy physically. He was dizzy because of the confusion that was clouding his mind. He wanted to be surrounded with peace. But he was surrounded with darkness and noises only himself could hear that roused more anxiety deep within his heart. It was even worse that he was surrounded by the prison walls and the darkness that was present day and night as they only had tiny windows in each cells.

I wasn’t able to find out the true relationship that he had with his mother whether it was disruptive or a caring nature. But the bottom line was….this man was hurting deep inside. I could see the veil of anxiety covering him and despite being on some medications to help him, the symptoms were not being relieved at all. I could sense the scab of painful memories layered over the years in his heart.

I handed a piece of paper to the Deputy who would take him to our Suicide Watch. I knew he would have another long night without any possible sleep. But placing him to be monitored would guarantee his safety until he could be seen by the Mental Health doctor in the morning. It was sad that he needed to be protected. Not from others…But from himself.

A lot of times in my life’s journey, I stored what hurt me the most in my heart, especially if they were caused by others. And what a big heart I have that is capable of storing countless wounds! But in doing so, I learned to build walls to protect me and alienate me from those I suspected who would hurt me again. Sometimes, I tried to bury the painful memories to make me forget but every time I saw that place where I buried them, the pain started again. In reality, I was the only one who suffered the most, not those people who hurt me. The truth was I was hurting no one but myself.

There is no wound that God’s love cannot heal. But with the veil of darkness and pain that covered me, I had learned that I must be open to have these wounds be exposed to His light and healing. This was not a fun process but once I received His offer of love, His love replaced what was in my heart and with His help, I had put down those walls I created and let His bridge be built instead… Yes, those walls needed to come down first, in order for me to allow His grace and mercy to penetrate deep within and His Spirit to aerate the dead cells in my heart.

Because God loves to comfort…God loves us first… God wants us to be healed.

Are you willing to let those walls in your heart crumble and be open to His light and healing?

“For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” – Isaiah 43:3 (NIV)

The Bell Ringer

"Before we can pray "Lord, Thy Kingdom come!", we must be willing to pray, "My Kingdom, go!" ~ Alan Redpath

I needed some radish and some peppers my husband liked with anything I cooked with broth. If not for these needed ingredients, I didn’t feel like dashing to the nearby grocery store as I would rather be cooped up inside our home, in my PJ, and just planned to stay that way all day. I knew the sunlight was deceiving as it shone brightly but the beautiful rays were not yet enough to warm up the blistering cold of the winter mornings.

Photo Credit
There he was, an old man just garbed in a typical polo shirt and denim pants, ringing the bell he held tightly with his right hand. He was one of the familiar sights of volunteers for the Salvation Army around this time of the year.

“Merry Christmas!” I heard him yelled out to every person who walked into the grocery store. People either seemed to be in a hurry or were trying to avoid his way as many were hurting at this economic times, no one greeted him back. But he kept greeting everyone whether he got a response, even a smile or not. Tirelessly swinging the bells in his right hand, he kept a big smile painted on his face despite the numbing cold of air that brushed against his already red face.

Then, it was my turn to meet him on my path…

“Merry Christmas!” he smiled at me.

Unbeknownst to him, I had been contemplating on my response. Few steps before meeting him, I had already seen and heard many others who had ignored him. I always thought that even if I didn’t want to greet him, there was Someone Who could see my actions. Then again, He also could see even with what was on my mind before I acted on them.

“Merry Christmas to you, too! Thank you!” I replied as I paid back the smile he had been wearing endlessly, my steps continuing toward the entrance of the store to get the things I needed.

It only took me less than five minutes to gather everything I needed for the planned dinner as the lady from the cash register handed me  back my change. I got some loose change and some dollar bills. I put them all back in my purse except for a dollar bill I wasn’t planning on depositing into that red bucket outside at first, was now intended to be given for whatever purpose it might serve, pooled with the other people’s donations. I knew I didn’t have to, but at that moment and in the verge of crossing path again with the pleasant volunteer, I was sure that I wanted to…

“I hope you get more!” I stated as I slid the bill into the bucket. His smile grew bigger and with twinkling in his eyes, he thanked me.

"No...Thank you!"

I knew it wasn’t about the dollar being donated to help others that prompted me to do that. It was about acknowledging the man’s presence, his volunteering, his smiles, his greetings to everyone who walked into his place. He didn’t have to do that but he wanted to, knowing that many were in need. He was giving a part of his heart that chose to labor for advancing the work of God.

Anyone born of the Spirit is indeed a part of the Salvation Army, that of Christ’s! Like that man, may we never tire in doing our work because for those who are willing to serve, God always has a place for them. In God's economy, nothing runs out because it is His love that is being circulated among us. Like that volunteer, what a beautiful day it will be for anyone if we all learn to acknowledge a person, greeting them from our hearts, showing them warm smiles even if they are not responding back, ringing the bells of freedom and making others who don't know Christ about the freedom He gives, tirelessly. Because no one knows what a rough time one could be going through and just that act of kindness, a simple act of kindness, coated with Christ's love sometimes, is what it takes to make someone see the love of God.

"For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them." - Ephesians 2:10 (ESV)

His Light

It was so cold when I went to work last Saturday afternoon, coupled with the gusty winds that threatened to make a mess of anyone’s hair-do.

My spirit had been restrained and not as excited to anticipate what the day’s work would bring ever since I was given a hard time at work regarding my work hour issues. Lots of changes had been made by the one-year old Nurse Manager. There surely was nothing wrong with that. But with the abrupt changes with everyone’s assignment and work hours without consulting and warning anyone brought displeasure to a person’s heart. If anyone attempted to surely have their gripes be heard, they would not be heard until somehow, their complaints got lost into oblivion.

“Here, Rcubes,” greeted the supervisor as she placed a red raffle ticket on my empty left palm.

“What’s this?” I asked.

“For coming to work on time. We’re gonna’ have a raffle some time and this is your ticket so I hope you win,” she replied.

Without any malicious intent, and my spirit just feeling odd with the response, I asked, “Can I give this to someone else?” (My spirit perhaps was in a little wonderment as to why they started that. When was coming to work like a promo that a person needed to be given an incentive just so one could be at work on time? Wasn’t being “on time” a must for employees who took their oaths when they got hired?).

The supervisor didn’t expect my response, looking like I was not being real. But I was. I didn’t want anything from them, supervisors and those other sitting on higher positions as she was one who intimidated me, too and got involved when she shouldn’t have been. She knew that. Except, in her own wisdom, she thought she was doing the right thing that it was time for me to stop working the hours I had been doing for so many years.

One LVN came and whispered to me, “Come, follow me, Rcubes. Gotta’ show you somethin’.”

As we both opened the door that used to house the shelves of different medications for the inmates, I was shocked to see the small room was empty and the computer monitors and the black wirings with them were down on the floor.

“Woo…What’s up with this?” I surprisingly asked.

“I only found out myself, too, just a few minutes ago when I came here to work. So, I thought I’d show you. You just discover everything on your own, I guess. No one told me,” she replied with a frustrating tone.

“Well, thanks for showing me because if I needed to give some medications during sick call, at least I know where the meds were transferred.”

As I went back to where I was sitting, the more my spirit felt low. Everything saddened me to see how things were going worse. Morale was low. The place seemed to be chaotic and dirty. More complaints could be heard with unsatisfied situations they were in. People became more lazy with their work habits. I saw masks donned on faces and even saw some with mask on front of their face and on the back of their heads. As I left that night, exhausted but grateful for God’s provision of His wisdom and protection, I knew my fire was being quenched deep inside by the forceful winds of change. I could sense the evilness. The more I felt sad about people. And I know, in order for me to strive, I needed to stoke the fire in me.

The bone-chilling air was harsher when I went out the door by midnight. As I started my car and left the staff’s parking lot, I glanced once more at the beautiful landscapes surrounding the prison with its manicured lawn, lush gardens, and tall fences. “How sad!” I thought that just because it was beautiful outside didn’t mean it also was deep inside. And what a vast darkness it was in there. As I pressed more on my gas pedal and wanted to be out of that place in a hurry, one thing was always sure that cheered my spirit: “Despite all these changes, the God I trust will never change. And He is not a God of confusion.”

Yes, I needed to stoke my spirit with His Word so that He can use me to bring even a little light in that dark place. I wouldn’t quit in this battle I had been in because if my career as a Correctional Nurse had to end, the reason was it was not because those people in positions made that possible. It would be because either God would bring me somewhere the way He placed me there after working for 10 years in Orthopedics or He was teaching me to grow more in character that His light would shine brighter in me.

I Was That Leaf

leaves all over our front yard
My son stood for a few minutes, with mouth agape upon the sight of wind-strewn leaves all over our front yard. The forceful gusts of wind kept coming in increments it seemed.

“Drive safely,” I cautioned as he prepared to go to his school.

I walked back into the house and heard the phone ringing. I didn’t pick up the call and let the caller leave a message on purpose. I wasn’t ready to give any answer, careful not to rush with any decision.

The winds outside blew harder. I saw the palm trees bending more and more as more leaves were scattered down the street and into people’s yards. The howling seemed threatening. Yet, I was grateful for the warmth and silence inside our house.

The red light kept blinking, catching my attention every time I passed by the answering machine, begging to be heard and be replied to. I did listen to the message. Then, decided not to reply. At least, for a while…

The powerful winds were created by people sitting in higher positions at my workplace almost a year ago. Fueled by their ill intentions to end my career, they tried to show their force. Their roaring accusations were all baseless. They were just loud. That was it…Loud and with empty promises. I wanted to quit at one point. But when I took refuge in His shelter, it became a different story. The strength, courage, peace and joy immediately surrounded me and sheltered me from these people.

“Just wondering if you’re able to come and help us out. Please give me a call back…” I played it over and over. Their intimidation to make me feel that I was useless because I couldn’t work longer hours was their main reason to not allow me to work the usual hours I worked for 11 years. It didn’t make sense. Now, they kept calling me many times just to request and sometimes beg me if I could go and help out a certain shift. It felt as if they were the ones caught in these powerful winds they created themselves.

this leaf caught my attention
I heard the flapping of the white tarp on our side yard as the wind blew again. I looked out and saw more yellow leaves fell from the tree across the street and down they went with a rustling sound as if they were marching down the street. I went out to take a few pictures and found one particular leaf right next to our palm tree in the front yard. Nestled on the frozen ground. Unmoved by the forceful winds. Displaying its own splendor crafted by the Hands above.

Like that leaf, I knew I found the truth that no matter how forceful the winds of evil men planned for me, I would be unmoved and would forever feel secure because the God of impossible was and would always be with me. The God we serve can turn around even these powerful winds into our advantage. I still was not sure where this battle would lead me but one thing was true from the start: wherever the winds had taken me and would take me, God had a purpose already planned from the start. I was that leaf, blown by the winds all over the place and down the street. Yet, I remained intact because of His grace…

And my tears flowed…feeling His love was always more powerful than any forceful winds here in this world. I was swept away. Landing on His merciful hands. Nestled on His loving arms. Unmoved because I knew Jesus’ hold never lets go.

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal, but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of me." - Philippians 3:12 (NIV)

The Heart Bypass Surgery

“When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.” – Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)

I recognized her face right away as I peeked through the glass partition window. Sitting comfortably but seemed bored upon the wait, she was being monitored for her morning sugar level was low. The LVN who checked her blood sugar needed to leave as her shift was done. Worried that she might have forgotten something, she asked me to do a favor to take over the care of this particular female inmate.

“I already gave her a tube of that glucose, Rcubes,” she advised.

“Don’t worry. I’ll take care of her. Just go and have a great day.”

“Ms. W.!” I summoned her after a few minutes had passed to re-check her blood sugar. She was slow in getting up but that didn’t bother me. I remembered what she had gone through the last time I had to deal with her. To think that she was begging me not to send her to the hospital at that time as her chest pain was going away and all because of the reason that she was getting impatient waiting for the arrival of the ambulance in the prison, I was glad I didn’t let her refuse the treatment we initiated.

“How’s your leg?” I asked.

With a puzzled look, she didn’t know how to answer, confused that I might have mistaken her for someone else.

“Ma’am…”she shyly replied, “I didn’t have anything done in my leg. I had a problem with my heart,” her tone of voice was firm and sure.

“Yes, you did!” my long-term memory in the works uttered.

Feeling embarrassed when I brought up that point, she admitted her mistake.

“You’re right, Ma’am…”

“I’m sorry. I forgot about my leg. I’m doing okay. It healed well (incision),” she smiled big, as a much-better appreciation for an extension of her life glowed on those haggard face.

“No one even bothers to ask me about my leg or my heart. Only you,” she added.

“Well, it was because we spent a whole good amount of time, waiting for the ambulance that day and I’m glad I didn’t listen to your request to cancel it.”

“Thank you. I remember that.”

“Oh, wow!” I interrupted our conversation about her coronary bypass surgery. “Your sugar even went lower.”

“Ma’am, my breakfast in my unit is probably cold now. Can you just send me back and I’ll just eat there?”she requested, the boredom manifested on the brows when they got lifted.

“No, Ms. W. Remember what we just talked about? I won’t send you back not until your blood sugar is more stable. I’ll get some breakfast for you now and re-check your blood sugar again.”

“Okay…You know what you’re doing. Thank you,” she replied as she went back to sit again on one of the plastic chairs in the small waiting area. Propping her head up, she glanced at the TV monitor hoisted up in one corner of the room and tried to amuse herself with what was showing.
No one recognized her but me. But it wasn’t me who cared. I was in her shoes before. Impatient with what was going on in my life’s journey, wanting to bypass the valleys so I could be on top of the mountain always. But that was not possible. Driving from a local store back to our home yesterday, I saw the different mountains in front of my windshield. Down below were numerous valleys that had a darker shadow as they were lower and light was hitting fully just on the top of the mountains.I thought..."What if...God is using us to shine our little light  in the darkness that covers the valleys?" Walking through any valley is painful, scary, and an exhausting process at times. But God knows that. He never leaves us alone as we walk during the lowest times in our lives. ("You have made known to me the paths of life; you will fill me with joy in your presence." - Acts 2:28 (NIV)

“How beautiful!” I exclaimed to myself, only to quickly realize and ponder how incomplete that magnificent view was if it was just only the mountains or only the valleys. They were arranged in a row, like in waves. First came the valley, then a mountain and so forth.  A reminder of the Hands that created them and other great things, yet, He always cared for even the littlest detail.

We grow impatient. Sometimes, we don’t see the disastrous outcome in the long run whatever road we’re walking on. But one thing never changes…Jesus is always there Who sees our life’s struggles and victories. He is concerned. He truly cares. The question is… “Are we able to recognize and remember His love and all of the good things He blesses us with?” Just like that bypass surgery that inmate had to aid her heart, Jesus provides a way out when the roads we’re walking on seem clogged up. Then, we are able to move on again and live life again except with a better appreciation after letting Him do that much-needed surgery in our sinful hearts.

“21Then I remember something that fills me with hope.  22The LORD's kindness never fails! If he had not been merciful, we would have been destroyed.  23The LORD can always be trusted to show mercy each morning.” – Lamentations 3:21-23 (CEV)

Something Beautiful

“Nobody trips over mountains. It is the small pebble that causes you to stumble. Pass all the pebbles in your path and you will find you have crossed the mountain.” ~Author Unknown

“That’s the only thing,” I vented to one of my co-workers I used to work with when I used to work nights before my superiors had transferred me to a Per Diem position, “My process would take a very long time. Only God knows when it even starts…But I’m not going to quit!” I whispered.

She was one of our medical secretaries who saw my struggles when my battle began. Despite the grapevine, she knew the truth of what was going on with my situation. She knew because she cared and encouraged me the moment she found out.

“Just keep fighting,” she would always tell me. I felt her encouragement arose from our brief moments of “coffee breaks” after a hard night’s work. We would both pass by the nearest Starbucks and would each grab a favorite blended caffeinated drink because we both would drive a long distance from work. I started admiring her when I found out she was trying to help out her parents with their financial needs that she put aside her own dreams of marrying her long-time beau.

Smelling the aroma from the cups we were holding during one of those breaks, she uttered, “Don’t quit Rcubes. Your situation is like my dad’s. They (supervisors) did that to him too when he got hurt at work and wanted him to resign. Except my dad didn’t want the hassle and did not fight back.”

“Where is he now, if you don’t mind me asking?”

“Oh, he’s working some place else. But it’s too far from us. It’s in another state. But at least he’s happier.”

“Oh…You must miss him a lot!”

“Yes, we do,” she replied with a bead of tear formed in one corner of her eyes.

When I saw her again on Thanksgiving, night shift when I went to work, she approached me right away upon seeing my shadow. Her eyes gleaming with happiness.

“How are you, Rcubes?”

“Hi, N…So good to see you. I’m doing well,” to her delight upon hearing my answer despite the what seemed to be a bleak situation I had been going through. Other ears, to our awareness, were listening. But we had the slightest care. It was good to look back and remember the heartfelt conversations we had about families and about our own struggles.

We parted that cold morning as we separated to go to our parked cars. There was no intention to get our favorite coffee but our hearts remained full of encouragement for each other’s struggles. They had never stopped caring for each other though I worked lesser hours now, knowing that we both needed to persevere in our life’s struggles. Hers. And mine.

I saw her back turned away from me as she opened her driver’s door in her car. And I thought to myself, I was looking at one of the greatest persons here on earth who knew how to persevere as she cared for her family and not even think about her own needs. She used to thank me for a cup of coffee I insisted on buying for her and that how much I encouraged her to be strong. Little did she know, she was the one who also inspired me as I looked at the accomplishments she was achieving, one by one, despite what was going on in her life.

And how true it is….that God is making something beautiful in a person’s life through one’s own struggles as one learns how to persevere. It is those who suffered the most that seem to be the greatest.

“Each time he said, "My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness." So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” – 2 Corinthians 12:9 (NLT)

"Look At Me"

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good;
   his love endures forever.” – Psalm 107:1 (NIV)

My husband and I joined our hands in prayer before him leaving for work. As we started our whispers of petitions, his one-liner praise drowned my own as I started lifting up our needs:

“Thank You, Lord for Your grace, love and mercy…” was what I heard as my heart was asking Him to heal my son’s lingering coughs since he got sick, about my work that had been discriminating me, my achy neck and other physical symptoms and the uncertain future of my career once my charge against those people in higher positions would start.

My prayers became silent feeling a little embarrassed with everything that I was asking for. Instead, I found myself asking God in which He alone would hear, “How can I thank You despite what’s going on in our lives?”

“How can I thank You if physical healing seems to be not happening?”

“How can I thank You knowing I didn’t deserve the unfair treatment at work?”

“How can I thank You knowing how those people abusing their power seem to be getting away with everything they do that makes everyone at work not happy and treat us without any regard to our needs and capabilities?”

“How can I thank You knowing a lot of family and friends are going through tough times?”

I slightly peeked at my husband who was nearing to end his prayers of thanks, thinking that he said something else to me.

“Look at Me…”was what I heard audibly, except it didn’t come from my husband’s lips. It was whispered into my heart.

And in that split second, I was taken back to that time when the Egyptians were pursuing the Israelites after leaving Egypt with Moses. Moses’ faith-filled reassurance to people about God’s help prevailed more than the fearful cries of pleas from the Israelites. With God’s help, the people were able to cross the parted Red Sea while the Pharaoh’s entire army was swept away when the waters returned. God’s providence did have a bright and pleasant side toward His people.

My neck pain? How would it compare to Jesus’ wounds and what He had to endure on the cross?

My son’s lingering coughs? They were not bad after all. The doctor must know he would need his inhalers temporarily and God had been awesomely providing for our needs. Despite my work limiting my hours and giving me a hard time, God had provided us enough to pay for our bills, food, and other things.

The unfair treatment at work? Nothing any one of us does would ever slip His justice because in the end of our journeys, we would all face God.

The suffering loved ones and friends? Relationships are His gift in the first place. Through sharing grief and other pain, the burden becomes lighter for one carrying that heavy load.

How can I give thanks when facing all these storms of life? I can…Knowing that behind those dark clouds, the Son is always shining. God’s love is never far from us. It’s always close, waiting to be accepted in a person’s heart…For what God had done to show how much He loves us, that alone is suffice to always be “thankful”…

How can I be thankful? I should be…because of Jesus…Like those Israelites saved by God out of slavery (Egypt), Jesus truly sets us free!

Let us look only to Jesus, the One who began our faith and who makes it perfect. He suffered death on the cross. But he accepted the shame as if it were nothing because of the joy that God put before him. And now he is sitting at the right side of God's throne.” – Hebrews 12:2 (NCV) - (emphasis is mine)

I'm Thankful Knowing I Will Survive

As I battled since December 2010 against some people in higher positions at my workplace, God had been faithful with me as He promised that He would never leave me nor forsake me. From having a regular position, they had taken that away and made me become a “Per Diem Nurse” which meant I was only an “Extra Help” if there was a need or shortage with our staffing. I wanted to be angry. But He constantly reminded me not to. He wanted me to learn patience and just continue trusting on His plans. Working much lesser hours, this had turned out to be a blessing as I looked back now. My husband had been busier in his work, requiring for them to leave at the very wee hours of the morning. With me being home, I was able to help out in preparing his breakfast and lunches as he got up and made “green tea” to warm him up on cold mornings. Lacking sleep, I remained okay as I didn’t have to worry about working that day. Same thing with my son. I loved that I was able to help him out in some ways during times that he was so busy and had little time because of too much homework. I had all these time to care for him when he got sick and my husband did not need to take some time off from work when someone needed to bring our child to his doctor. I was also able to plan for a healthier meals, week after week. Earning less helped us as a family to even be more contented with what we have and don't have. One thing we never doubted at this crucial test: "God does provide!!!"

I know that a lot of people are suffering whether it concerns their health, financial status and other things. Some are just hanging on the very end of that rope called “faith”. It’s never easy when you want to believe and it feels like God is not hearing our pleas. It’s easier to doubt.

If we realize that it is not our hold on that rope that saves us but His, hope remains alive.Even if He feels so far away, He never lets go...

"Don't be afraid. I am with you.
   Don't tremble with fear.
   I am your God.
   I will make you strong,
   as I protect you with my arm
   and give you victories." - Isaiah 41:10 (CEV)

Not only on this coming Thanksgiving but in each day that comes in my life, God reminds me that there are other things in my life that have far more worth than worrying about trials I’m facing. Even in those unwanted trials, He makes it known that He surely turns them around for our advantage. That is…If we believe in what He can do.

We can look at our trials not to weigh us down but instead, as a test of our obedience to God. They help our true, inner feelings surface from the deepest crevices in our hearts: our worthiness, obedience, and faith in Christ. When we truly understand God’s ways, we can be sure that our hearts will always be thankful no matter what circumstances we are in.

“Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.” – James 1:12 (ESV)

It’s almost a year now and I still can’t speak up as it’s not the perfect time. I started the initial action of bringing this matter into His light. But despite their continued intimidation and discrimination, I know I can survive…Not because of my own strength. Because of His.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6,7 (ESV)

Just a little fun to wish you all friends a “Happy Thanksgiving!” May God bless you all and I pray that He will increase our faith more and help us all see things through His eyes, in order for us to know more things about Him. He deserves our praises and thanks. Thank You Lord!

(Please silence my playlist):

The Dash

"A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." - Charles Spurgeon

We visit to remember not what we lost but what remains...(And now these three remain:faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love...-1 Corinthians 13:13)

“Hey! You wanna’ come?” asked my friend on the other line. She knew I worked the night before but I had told her in advance that if they would go to the cemetery to pay a visit, if I felt okay, I would rather go with her and her mother if that was okay with them.

“Of course…If you don’t mind…I respect your privacy, too.”

“C’mon. Get ready and come down and go with us,” she replied.

The familiar graveyard site they both visited since losing her sister came to view. The brief laughter we shared in the car was replaced with silence as I veered my car to the left and entered the huge, white metal gates that welcomed those who mourned daily for their loved ones that they lost.

We washed and wiped the marker, as her mother placed some roses in the vase secured on the ground. I saw her grief but the eyes seemed to have run out of tears. But I knew deep inside, her heart was forever marred with a hole. The size of the daughter she lost 13 years ago.

“Must I forget remembering the day she died?” my friend vented out.

I didn’t know what to say as if she had caught me off-guard. I remembered looking at those dates on her sister’s marker.

1960 - 1998

Careful not to break her already scarred heart, I replied, “Yes.”

“But don’t forget the memories she had spent with you. I know those loving mem’ries were your connection to her love that remains…”

As I was saying those words, what stood out in my mind was that “tiny dash” from those dates. I never met her. But I knew so much about her life. I knew she was a great teacher who passionately taught her students with the best she could, always encouraging them to reach their full potential. I knew she was a loving wife and mother to her two young kids at that time, not minding all the tasks on her hand daily even if it meant little relaxation. I knew she was a loving daughter to her mother who always coaxed her to enjoy her retirement life by encouraging her to go on trips with her family. I knew she was a loving sister to my friend because she served both as a sister and a father figure on those times that they had to fend for themselves without a father. She was that strength that held her family amidst life’s trials, shown through her faith in God and love that was poured into her heart, which in return, she readily applied in everything she did. People who knew her would understand what I just wrote though I didn’t know her. People who had grown to love everything about her because she loved genuinely.

Yes, I never met her in person but it felt like I had known so much about her because of the way she lived her life. That dash…That mattered. She had left so much loving, warm mem’ries to all the people she came across with. It was because she always put her heart in everything she did. Her passion to help others…The way she looked after her loved ones… She truly left a never-ending impression because her deeds were always done with love.

If only I could see these people's hearts who knew her...I know it would be easy to spot her place in those hearts. She must have left fine prints that were etched and would not be forgotten. Only some would do that. Like her.

Dash...A short symbol…A reminder how short life is. But this is the one that would stand out because what we do here matters. It may not mean anything to some. But to God, He is recording that dash…

 "And I heard a voice from heaven saying, “Write this: Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Blessed indeed,” says the Spirit, “that they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them!”- Revelation 14:13 (ESV)

"Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless" - James 2:20 (ESV)

My Name Is...

“That nurse over there should have sent me to the hospital! I need a second opinion. I’m still short of breath!” complained a young female, rapidly whining and demanded for her unit to immediately send her back to the Clinic because she should be sent to the hospital.

I was in the middle of another “sick call” with a male inmate and the other two nurses working with me last night were also seeing some other inmates. I quickly observed her breathing and with the way she rapidly was complaining without pausing already gave me a cue that she was not in a respiratory distress. Her trip from the unit where she was housed was far from the Clinic and if she made it without difficulty to whine at the Infirmary, I knew she could wait. I motioned for the other nurse seeing another inmate about her complaint as she was the other nurse this female inmate was complaining about.

As soon as I got done taking care of the male inmate, I motioned for her to go in on the Female side. As she was taking a seat, I briefly approached the on-coming deputy as they were having change of shift. I requested for his presence because I already knew that this inmate had a volatile behavior. It would be a risk for me to see her without the deputy knowing how her behavior could change into violence without moment’s notice. I wasn’t planning on being hit by an unpredictable closed fist.

“I’m not gonna’ hurt you,” she stated as soon as she saw the shadow of the deputy approaching from where we were.

“I never said anything,” I replied.

“You’re the one who said that. Anyway, it’s not only you, but it is our policy here to see and treat inmates with the presence of the deputy.” I explained.

Her high volume softened a little but the whining and the demands continued even as the deputy was nearby.

“Please give me the phone! I need to call 9-1-1!!!” she uttered in a higher volume again.

“We are the 9-1-1 here!” I replied.

“You need to send me to the hospital! The other nurse didn’t do anything!” she said in a much louder tone, I believed she intentionally did to make the other nurse who previously treated her hear her complaint.

I felt my energy waning at that moment as we had been busy seeing many unscheduled sick calls. Gathering the remaining strength I had, I caught her glance with my own and stayed that way. Eye to eye, her stare was piercing mine. But I didn’t want to look down. I stared at her without giving her the opportunity to wander and look away.

“Listen! From the moment you got here, you had been non-stop with your complaints! You don’t need to request to be sent to the hospital because nurses could see any obvious symptoms that would make us decide whether we need to do that or not! I would not tell you the symptoms…but, you don’t have them at this moment!”

Her boiling anger appeared it was about to burst, only to let the steam out as she saw the deputy took few steps forward and nearer to both of us.

I continued…

“We are not refusing to see you. Any time you don’t feel good, you can request for us to evaluate you. But you have to allow us to make the decisions, not you making the decision for us! Go ahead, you can go back to your unit now!” I commanded.

“What’s your name?” she demanded. (Usually, I would tell the inmates my last name. But this time, I knew it was senseless to give in to this request knowing she was unstable).

“I’m the nurse!” I replied.

“I’m gonna’ find out about your name,” she threatened. “I’m going to report you.”

“Go ahead!” I yelled back.

“So, they would know the things I told you! You can’t lie! The deputy was here the whole time,” I warned back.

Protection…I’m so grateful for God’s protection in my life. I knew I wasn’t battling with her. I was battling against unseen enemies. But they would never scare me knowing the Highest Power surrounds me.

“Though a mighty army surrounds me, my heart will not be afraid. Even if I am attacked, I will remain confident.” – Psalm 27:3 (NLT)

My name?

“But by the grace of God, I am what I am…” (1 Corinthians 15:10; NIV) (emphasis is mine...)

Freedom Isn't Free

This nation will remain the land of the free only so long as it is the home of the brave.  ~Elmer Davis

I checked on those hands trying to level the family pictures he decided to put up along the wall by our stairs. My husband was off on a cold day today, Thursday and this was his way of not wasting time. My attention was briefly interrupted by occasional dances of the palm trees in our front yard, as gusty, chilly November winds swirled by.

I looked again at those hands adeptly arranging the pictures. Those hands that used to hold a binocular as he and two other comrades kept a watch during “Operation Desert Shield”. We never really talked about their struggles as years went by. I just found out a few minutes ago about some things as I started asking him.

“So, what did you do then? What kind of weapons were you guys holding?”

“There were three of us looking out for mines in the middle of the night. It was so cold and we were on the Missouri’s forecastle.”  

“You have no shelter as you hunt for those mines?” I clarified.

“No! We were just surrounded by sand bags. Sometimes, we just had water and candy bars.”

“Did you guys find some mines?”

USS Missouri
“We probably discovered around 15…”

Those were the days when binoculars with night vision were not in use yet. These soldiers relied on their own vision, strength, perseverance and stamina as they took turns watching for those mines to keep their carrier and other naval ships out of harm’s way. Not minding the cold blast of the wind in the Persian Gulf area, they were dancing between life and death.

“Thank God!” I softly whispered as I felt both relief and sadness as my husband continued his task by the stairs, seeing about 5 pictures already up.

Relieved that I was actually seeing those pair of hands, enjoying time as he had been home with my child and I. But at the same time, my heart was becoming heavy for those who did not have a chance to see the hands of their loved ones and for those who were actively serving still.

Freedom…. It isn’t free…Lives who choose to selflessly give their all, leaving their families behind, their dreams, and willing to die to fight for what they believe in. Freedom…Like what Jesus chose to do. He gave His all so we can be set free…

Thank you dear husband of mine! Thank you veterans! Thank you soldiers!

Thank You Jesus!

"So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed." - John 8:36 (NIV)

"Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." - John 8:32 (NIV)

"For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
- 2 Corinthians 3:17 (NLT)


"But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day." - 2 Peter 3:8 (NIV)

the mountainous retreat

We reversed time only a couple of hours ago. The extra hour I should have been taking advantage of was in vain. I was up few minutes ago and couldn’t make my lids shut closed.

Today is special. It is my birthday. I celebrate it with my friend who was born on the same day like mine. We went to a place famous for apples and anything with apples once that it became sort of a tradition for both of us. On Friday, it rained a lot. And the forecast was that the showers would come down again today, possibly with snow. Yesterday was a beautiful day God had granted us. My husband told me to go just to enjoy a day ahead.

So, last minute, my friend wanted to go also as that mountain retreat always gave us some fun we both enjoyed. We arrived in no time as it was closer from their location. Being on a weekend, there was a big crowd and parking was a challenge right away. That was….if I could move my car amidst the throng of people crossing the street corners.

“Wow! Another year for us,” she said.

I wasn’t sure if I would be excited with the topic of aging. But the gnawing pang of hunger as I skipped my usual lunch hour was bothering me more. But some signs of aging would be unavoidable as they surfaced yesterday.

“What do you feel like eating?” my friend asked.

“I don’t know…I can’t think…”

“What do you mean? Do you think your sugar is running low ‘coz you haven’t eaten?”

“No! I just want to eat anything right now and I can’t think maybe because I’m another year older.”

So, we fell in a line in a nearby deli shop. I had a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with a mountain of fries along with it. I felt better after devouring half (I used to eat the whole thing) and got a small box to take home the rest.

the ever growing line of apple pie fanatics
We looked at the bakery across from the deli shop famous for its pies. A very long line of people was already waiting to get their favorite pies.

“Are you sure you wanna’ wait that long?” my turn to ask.

“Yeah! That’s why we came here. And your boys I know would love some apple pie!”

“Yeah…I wanna’ get them some for sure…But the line?” I replied confused.

So, being perhaps the hundredth something in line, we decided to persevere and tough out the cold winds produced by the dropping temperatures as we both saw the hovering clouds heavy with some rain reserved on its bellies.

My friend looked at me and was concerned, “Are you cold? How come you didn’t bring your thicker jacket?”

“I’m not cold! I’m fine!” (Either I was in denial or I was already becoming numb from hypothermia).

rain clouds
“Why do you keep asking?” I politely asked.

“Well…” she hesitated… “Your lips look blue!”

Or listen to this….How people walking by were all wondering if the line was for the pies. When someone answered them “Yes”, they couldn’t believe it that people would really wait that long just to be able to get some of those pies.

“I know,” I whispered to my friend.

they know how to make you suffer as you stand in line
“I couldn’t believe I would be another year older and I’m still waiting in line here to get my pie.”

And during that time as we slowly advanced toward the counter, I suddenly pondered and consulted my friend, “Did I lock my car?”

Aahhhh….The aging process. The truth is we can never move the time forward nor make it reverse. This lifetime is truly short. As far as for birthdays, that, too is fleeting. We are all going to grow old whether we like it or not as each day passes by. We may never be able to control time but we always have that ability to do two things:

       (A) We have that choice to do the right thing no matter what season it is in our lifetime
       (B)  That if we don’t like the way we were born, we can choose to be “born again”

"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." - Romans 10:9 (NLT)

"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 10:10 (NLT)

"You want me to take a picture of those beautiful hills?" my friend asked as I held the steering wheel tighter to follow the few curves going down from the slope.


"Some things you can't capture with a camera..."

"You just store them in your hearts..."

 "18 You have not come to a mountain that can be touched and that is burning with fire; to darkness, gloom and storm; 19 to a trumpet blast or to such a voice speaking words that those who heard it begged that no further word be spoken to them, 20 because they could not bear what was commanded: “If even an animal touches the mountain, it must be stoned to death.” 21 The sight was so terrifying that Moses said, “I am trembling with fear.”  22 But you have come to Mount Zion, to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem. You have come to thousands upon thousands of angels in joyful assembly, 23 to the church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven. You have come to God, the Judge of all, to the spirits of the righteous made perfect, 24 to Jesus the mediator of a new covenant, and to the sprinkled blood that speaks a better word than the blood of Abel.
 25 See to it that you do not refuse him who speaks. If they did not escape when they refused him who warned them on earth, how much less will we, if we turn away from him who warns us from heaven? 26 At that time his voice shook the earth, but now he has promised, “Once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heavens.” 27 The words “once more” indicate the removing of what can be shaken—that is, created things—so that what cannot be shaken may remain.
 28 Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, 29 for our “God is a consuming fire.
- Hebrews 12:18-29 (NIV)


“It is no hard matter to adhere to God while you are in the enjoyment of His comforts and consolations; but if you would prove your fidelity to Him, you must be willing to follow Him through the paths of dryness and desertion. The truth of a friend is not known while he is receiving favours and benefits from us; but if he remains faithful to us when we treat him with coldness and neglect, it will be a proof of the sincerity of his attachment.” 

... Backhouse and Janson, A Guide to True Peace

It was chilly this morning as I tiptoed in the lurking darkness of the impending dawn that was still soaked with yesterday’s much needed rain showers. My husband was still asleep and same thing with my son when I peeked in his room. Quietly, I prepared myself to take advantage to have my private conversation in His presence. Like the severe drought, my spirit was always thirsty, satisfied by nothing but the Living Water.

It had been two weeks again that I was not able to work as our prison was well staffed when the Nurse Manager decided to pull some of the nurses from the other facilities. I discerned he did it to make some nurses suffered. Those were the nurses who went against him confirming to have his own spouse to take the position right below his.

Some people or maybe just one nurse went to our Ethics Committee and reported it. The memo that he posted where everyone could see it was taken down few days later.

The wife was not placed in the position right under his.

I never desired for anything bad to happen to them despite what these couple had done with my position also. Terminating my regular position and ignoring my valid request about specific working conditions, they thought it was easier to have Human Resources dealt with my case. They intimidated me and put me on a forced leave until they resorted to demoting my position to becoming a Per Diem Nurse. Meaning....”only as needed…” The plans they kept coming with never caused me to fear if that was what they hoped for. They never knew, in my weakness, that was when I would become stronger. Not by my own strength but because of God’s provision.

I heard my husband woke up a bit and asked me if I was okay. He wrapped his warm arms around me and it felt good to ward off the chilly air enveloped around me. We laughed so hard. Then, we both realized, if not for God, we wouldn’t have moments like these. Peaceful amidst life’s tribulations. Quiet spirits merged despite the chaos and life’s unexpected changes. Contented despite not knowing what life has in store for us because we both knew Who held the future for us. We were once drought-stricken spirits satisfied with His healing rain.

“May he be like rain that falls on the mown grass, like showers that water the earth!” – Psalm 72:6 (ESV)

everything looks so fresh a day after some rain as i woke up this morning...

I love the rain. It washes away the dirt, lowers the pollen count and the air just smells so fresh! Thank You Lord for the rain. But most of all, thank You for the Healing Rain!

Step Forward

“For I know the plans I have for you," says the LORD. "They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11 (NLT)

These people in higher positions I had been battling with had some plans in progress again. Though I had discerned long time ago what they truly wanted for me which was to quit or resign my position ever since I had requested to remain working part-time, they never seemed to stop trying to intimidate me.

I visited the county Human Resources webpage and there it was again. They had opened another position for a Per Diem Nurse, when the other Per Diems and myself were not able to work lately because of the Nursing Manager’s action of pooling the other nurses back into our main prison that made it adequately staffed.

I could feel “anger” starting to surface in my heart. It was that kind that always sought for justice and for these evil plans to cease. It was that type that wanted a fair treatment and wanting an honest response from them. I never got those. But no matter how they tried to deceive me, the Lord had already shown into my heart that it would be okay, no matter how much these people would plan, He got it covered! Except….I needed to be patient and I needed to remain trusting on His plans instead!

The poisonous “anger” that made my heart in racing pulses began to slow down as I glanced at the unopened mail that came yesterday.

I saw this white envelope that came from a Christ-centered university offering some degree programs for nurses and other Sciences. What was printed on the back of top flap caught my eyes:

“To the angel of the church in Philadelphia write: These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Revelation 3:7) ~ (emphasis was mine)

His truth immediately coated and overwhelmed the ugly kind of anger stirring up in my heart. This growing anger could have become selfish on my part and seemed to distort His goal in my life. It would have boiled over if not for His restraint. He did tell me that I would not be able to avoid being angry sometimes, except I must learn to deal with it properly.

I love being a Nurse. A Correctional Nurse where He placed me 11 years ago. Because of God’s continued reassurance through His faithful promises, I know that there is nothing that happens in my life that He has no control of. Those people might think they have been harming me to force me to quit. They will never know (maybe they will God-willing) that God always directs someone’s steps (Proverbs 16:9).

It is not them. It is all up to me to choose what God’s call is in my life. If He put me in Correctional before after getting hurt at the hospital I worked for 10 years as an Orthopedic Nurse, I know that He can bring me somewhere else if I choose to follow His leading. If He wants me to stay working in the prison, so be it. Their plans might make me step back three times but God always appear and makes me be able to step forward miles and miles farther ahead. For when we are weak, because of God, we truly are strong!

No matter how hard my enemies try to pursue and scare me, their tactics will not work because of God's faithful promise as I continue to take a step toward the other end of this "Red Sea" I'm walking on.

“Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the LORD will bring you today. The Egyptians you see today you will never see again. The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” - Exodus 14:13,14 (NIV)

I choose to take that step forward Lord, no matter how hard it takes...because of You!

Trick and Threat!

I visited my friend yesterday. Two of her next-door neighbors were busy up on the roof putting up some spotlight to highlight what they had displayed in front of their gravel lawn. Some figures mimicking ghosts and other scary things. I looked around and saw others with spider webs dangling from the front arches of their entry yards. One black figure stood out among the front yards with glowing eyes which got even more creepy as the sun went down. A real black cat gazed from a distance as it kept staring at the glowing eyes but immovable figure. Candies were out as we decided to go to a nearby Target store.

“Wow!” my friend exclaimed… “The candy aisles were emptied out!”

People get busy when Halloween comes. They love to follow this old tradition. Just because… Even if many of them do not understand the origin.

“Trick or treat!” is what comes out from the mouths who love to go door to door and expect candies to be handed over to their bags, as they wear different costumes. Parents watching from a distance to keep an eye on their little ones hungry to get more candies or treats and hoping for their bags to be filled with goodies.

As my family and I accepted the Lord Jesus, this tradition was one among the things He wanted us to purge as we prayed for Him to show us things in our lives that would never please Him. I don’t remember how long now but we never turn on the front light to give a cue that we are not interested to participate in this tradition. It’s not these people’s fault. It is their lack of knowledge.

“My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge.” – Hosea 4:6 (NIV)

As believers we are not to compromise with what we believe in. We are to please God not men.  Jesus said that no one can serve two masters. Either he will hate the one and love the other or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other (Matthew 6:24).

Some things we allow in our lives that may seem harmless or insignificant may not be necessary true in our spiritual lives. In its truest sense, it could be disastrous!

“Trick or treat?”

No…thank you… It is “trick and threat!” A real threat to one’s soul…

“Don't be afraid of those who want to kill your body; they cannot touch your soul. Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell.” – Matthew 10:28 (NLT)

Lord, empower us with your Spirit and give us Your gift of discernment. Help us see things through Your eyes. Help us remove things that hinder our walk with You. Help us get rid of things that do not please You. Please open people's hearts and minds for them to know the truth that comes from You. As for us who have already been found by You, may we draw nearer to You and know more things about You. Thank You Lord for Your love, mercy and grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

The New Bed

 13 All these great people died in faith. They did not get the things that God promised his people, but they saw them coming far in the future and were glad. They said they were like visitors and strangers on earth.14 When people say such things, they show they are looking for a country that will be their own.15 If they had been thinking about the country they had left, they could have gone back.16 But they were waiting for a better country—a heavenly country. So God is not ashamed to be called their God, because he has prepared a city for them.” – Hebrews 11:13-16 (NCV)

My son got sick since Tuesday. Typical. Seasonal allergy that bogged him down when the Santa Ana winds visited the canyon passes and the valleys, accompanied with the dropping humidity. From what we learned from his past seasonal attacks, he learned well to prepare well-ahead by trying to increase his fluid intake as he could tolerate and by taking his organic allergy pills.

“Rest! As soon as you get done studying,” I cautioned as the clock almost hit 10:30 p.m.. It was not his fault. He had been taking advanced classes that required a lot of studying and perseverance on his part. He always tried his best to finish everything on time, sometimes, ahead of time.

I slowly pushed the door to his bedroom quietly when I heard him coughed a little bit in the middle of the night.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, Mom. I’m fine,” he sleepily replied.

As a watchful mother, you could not help but notice everything even in the dark slightly illuminated by the nightlight in one corner of his room.

“Oh my!” I exclaimed in my mind. As my son went back to sleep, I noticed how much he had grown and did not really fit right on the length of his bed anymore. Either he bent his knees to be accommodated by the warmth of his bed or he must had learned to lie down on a slanting position on his back so his legs could fit and not hit the bars at both ends of his day bed. Yes…unconsciously. But…He never complained to me or my husband nor had asked if he could get another bed.

“Please get the bed today!” I requested my husband and thanks be to God that it happened to be yesterday, Saturday, when he was off from work and could make that run.

My patient and always supportive husband took his time to go to a far store to get the bed for our son and when he got home, patiently assembled the parts.

“Why are you smiling?” I asked my son as I covered him with a lighter blanket last night.

“Thanks, Mom and Dad…Ahhh…It feels so good,” he replied. “I could stretch my legs now.”

my son's new bed
In the middle of the night, as I checked upon him with now lessening coughs, I saw how comfortable he was, hugging his pillow, his new bed even had given him a wider space to make his turns side to side and was longer than his height. Height that kept growing seasons upon seasons. No matter how short or tall he might be, he was after all my child that I love so much...

I kissed his head and softly caressed his hair. I always learned something from my son. From his discomfort, he taught me how it should be in this life’s journey: to never complain and just keep pressing on because we all long for that rest. Eternal rest that the Lord provides to those who truly love and obey Him. He is our watchful Father Who always wants the best for us. Eternal Father Who loves us all first.

“Thank You Lord for everything…” I whispered as I made my way back to my bed carefully, finding my old steps aided with scattered night lights. I glanced at the stars through the windows, visible and so beautiful up on the dark skies as if Abba Father had left those night lights for me to give me reassurance of following His steps despite the darkness surrounding me in this life’s journey. Until I return and find that eternal comfort I always longed for.

"6 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. 7 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 4:6-7 (NLT)
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