The Doughnuts

"There is nothing that can replace the absence of someone dear to us, and one should not even attempt to do so. One must simply hold out and endure it. At first that sounds very hard, but at the same time it is also a great comfort. For to the extent the emptiness truly remains unfilled one remains connected to the other person through it. It is wrong to say that God fills the emptiness. God in no way fills it but much more leaves it precisely unfilled and thus helps us preserve -- even in pain -- the authentic relationship. Further more, the more beautiful and full the remembrances, the more difficult the separation. But gratitude transforms the torment of memory into silent joy. One bears what was lovely in the past not as a thorn but as a precious gift deep within, a hidden treasure of which one can always be certain." - Dietrich Bonhoffer

My family descended the steep street and traced the footprints we left 2 years ago that led us to a familiar, antiquated tiny shop.

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A lady was already ahead of us, waiting to be served patiently to the lady who owned this shop who seemed to know her well.

"I'm sorry..." the lady's voice directed to us when our turn came.

"No!No!No!" "That was okay!" my husband, son and I replied in a harmonic unison.

"What do you like?" she asked the three of us.

"Please give us 3 chocolate-glazed, 3 of the plain ones...hmmm..."we paused, not confused with the variety of delicious, freshly-made doughnuts inside the glass case as there were only a few. Her son cut in and just put one freshly-made ring-shaped favorites.

"May I have coffee-crumbed ones?" my son uttered, as his index finger pointed at those.

"4 more and you will have them in the same price as 7 pieces," she said.

We looked at each other. We knew those choices were not healthy for us but we remembered this mother and son pair who made those delicious doughnuts when we came in this special place where we enjoyed taking a break from our busy schedules. And we wanted to bless them by going back and buying a dozen though we won't be able to eat all.

"I have to tell you something," I started confessing.

"We were here 2 years ago and we remembered how delicious these doughnuts were."

"Oh, thank you!" the old lady replied as a wide smile slowly appeared.

"We have been doing this for 43 years," she added with this secret that was supposed to be known.

"Here," I handed her some cash and was received by those wrinkled hands. She opened the cash register and started counting the amount that she was supposed to give me back.

"Please keep the change," we all said. "Thank you and we'll see you again."

Back at the place where we were staying, my son hurriedly removed the top lid covering the box and exposed the choices that we had made. The smell of freshly-brewed coffee filled the entire atmosphere surrounding us, as my son poured some cold milk in his glass.

Grabbing the doughnuts with our fingers through the holes, we savored the avoided treats for so long.


After downing 2 pieces each, we decided to stop there. I knew that despite the self-control we would always long for these. However, there seemed to be something always missing...Was it because there were holes in those little fried cakes?

And how true it is, too in our lives. How we often grab and take a hold of those things that truly do not matter. Things that never satisfy us. The truth is we should aim for those holes that we do not see.We should reflect on the void that God applies in each human life He creates. The gap that only He can fill...

"So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever." - 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NLT)

Trumpet Calls

I wiped the counter with an antibacterial cloth before starting to check the diabetic’s accuchecks. One of the people giving me a hard time before had come near me and whispered, “Rcubes, thank you for doing this and tonight, I don’t know, but they’re going to be short,” she uttered with a concerned look.

Not that it was something new. But I wondered why she was telling me when she was one of the reasons I was taken away from working nights for so many years and was transferred to PM shift because her and some other thought they could intimidate me by planning on doing that.

I kept quiet. I followed the flow. I kept working hard which I had done from day 1 since being hired at the Sheriff’s Department. Despite the ill intentions, I tried hard to remain respectful, though my heart was broken not once but many times. Deceived many times.

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She approached me again as I was eating my home-cooked meal I brought during my break. As she said “Good night” and turned away from where I was, I suddenly thought how I had been praying for the Lord to make these evil people value those who truly work hard at our workplace.

Was I “tooting my horn?” In a good way… As we took that important decision to stand on God’s side, the spiritual warfare had been turned on. This battle I was in was one of those. And I had been “tooting my horn”, not for me, but all of my accomplishments, strength, and all were being shown to boast about God’s mercy and goodness in my life. It would be impossible to accomplish things alone but with Him, it’s endless opportunities and possibilities.

“As for me, may I never boast about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Because of that cross, my interest in this world has been crucified, and the world’s interest in me has also died.”
- Galatians 6:14 (NLT)

We all face our own battles in different degrees. Take a deep breath no matter how big or small the trial is in front of us. Let us all let out a heavy blow and “blow our trumpets” by whispering those silent and sincere prayers. It helps us focus that we are not fighting alone but our dependence must be on God Who knows it all and Who equips us with the things we need to overcome these burdens.

"When you arrive in your own land and go to war against your enemies who attack you, sound the alarm with the trumpets. Then the LORD your God will remember you and rescue you from your enemies.
- Numbers 10:9 (NLT)

She had been long gone, my co-worker who was known for unfair treatments. She would never know that right behind her, my “trumpet calls” were following her, asking for God’s intervention to change her heart.. As I also whispered in prayers for God to help me continue to respond in loving ways, for His light to shine through me in this darkness that constantly surrounded me. The prison walls were thick. The air was stale. Thousands of spiritually oppressed bodies were confined. A legion of bad spirits roamed. But God had already declared victory over all these things.

His Light shines through thick or thin matter. His love overflows. His grace sustains. His Word lasts forever. He conquered death.

“But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory [making us conquerors] through our Lord Jesus Christ.”
- 1 Corinthians 15:57 (Amplified Bible)

Our Gift To God

“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord.”
- Romans 6:23 (NLT)

“Rcubes, you’re doing the inside diabetics,” warned the Charge Nurse as I walked into the Clinic to start my shift. (It meant doing the blood sugar levels of those who could come down to the Clinic while another nurse goes to those who were locked up and not allowed to go out of their cells). I would have more diabetics than that other nurse.

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“Wow!” I thought…”I haven’t done it in a long time…”

“Okay. Thank you for telling me. Are all the units aware of who to send?”

“Yup! They got the lists of the names and the insulin was already pulled.”

“Awesome! Whoever drew the insulin,’thank you.’”

My skills seemed rusty at first, monitoring, getting the blood sugar levels, recording, then administering the needed dosage, adding if more insulin was needed. It seemed easy but not when there were fifty-something bodies that kept flooding the Infirmary’s waiting area, the scent of sweat pooling in the already stagnant atmosphere. But I needed that. I learned prioritizing through that, watchful for those who tried to get my attention and distract me. They were frustrated that their attention-grabbing manners were not succeeding. I remained careful and making sure I was getting all the “needles” they used to prick their fingers.

As I survived the first wave of these diabetics, I had a 3 hour window to prepare for the bedtime doses and prepare the names of those needing to check their sugar levels again before bedtime. As one body showed up after another, I only heard the last word “suicide”, a distress call from our radio and calling for medical staff’s help. I dropped everything and still wearing my pair of gloves, I saw the Charge Nurse grabbed the heavy medical emergency bag and I ran right behind her, the Deputy left to watch the things I left without any warning.

Down the hallway that led to one of the two female housing units, a hoard of female deputies came out, pushing an orange-suit clad female inmate wailing in tears, her wrists cuffed up behind her. They stopped in the middle of the hallway as they saw our pairs of feet rushing to meet theirs.

She was asking the Deputy something at first after chow time (meal). When the Deputy had advised her to wait as she was doing her logs (checking on all inmates), her cellie (cell-mate) buzzed the bell and told the bubble (those controlling the doors and security of that unit) that this inmate had cut her throat with a razor.

“Thank God, the wounds are superficial,” I uttered to the Charge Nurse watching me clean her vertical wound on the right side of the neck. The gauze gathered the few drops of blood that covered the cut. On the left side of her neck were three cuts, one with a little deeper wound and had more blood than the rest. I poured more saline to a fresh wad of gauze and she grimaced in pain as I barely touched those areas.

“I’m sorry, it’s gonna’ sting some,” I warned. As I got done cleaning her wounds and covering them with more fresh gauze, I could only put little pieces of tape to make the gauze stick to its place. She would be in constant monitoring after that because of her suicidal intention. She was placed in Suicide Watch and she had to wait until the Psychiatrist had to evaluate her and either keep her or release her from that cell.

As the female deputies continued to talk with her, with one yelling at her and asking her why she couldn’t wait, I could only pray for this precious life who was given a second chance by the One Who gave her life in the first place.

If people will only draw nearer to God, they will know that God’s plan is for life, not death…God is the Potter. We are the clay. In His hands we are constantly being spun, shaped, and reshaped. Those times when we are broken, it’s only His hands Who can fix those pieces. Only if we allow those Hands to change us and make us more like Jesus, that’s when we know our true life’s purpose. Through tears, we are being kept moist and through brokenness, that is when the power of the Cross works best. Only those willing broken vessels are used best by God. And that is our greatest gift to God.

“What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God.” – Eleanor Powell

Not The Same Without A Father

“There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself.” - John Gregory Brown, Decorations in a Ruined Cemetery

I had learned so much about the different continents of this world because of my father who worked as a Radio Operator when I was growing up. He traveled and had gone to many countries and as he did, he communicated with me by sending many beautiful postcards and had told me things about a particular culture. I was always so excited every time he would come home during his vacations, bringing me lots of markers with the colors of a rainbow and other things I could use to draw pictures and make my own stationeries. Those things I used when I would write him back.

Though he was away for more months than with us as a sacrifice to earn and provide for his family, leaving my mother to be both as our mother and father at times he was away, he made his presence known by nurturing his family with his love shown through actions.

As he was dying surrounded by us, his children, all he whispered with remaining strength were the words: “I love you all. Do not forget that…”

“I love you…” Those words still echo in my heart even in his absence. Despite the big hole he left (same with my mother) in our hearts, it truly never felt empty because they both made sure they filled our hearts with their love.

It doesn’t matter who he was. I would always remember my father how he was to us, his family and same with his friends. He was always a funny guy but he left many hearts crying on the day he went Home to our good Father Who is the true Source of love.

And now with my own family, I see the same loving acts from the one I married. He is a loving and supportive father to our son. Always sacrificing, always compromising, always understanding, always helping and most of all, always loving and making it known to his son and me.

As I write, I know others long for that kind of love. The love that comes from a father. But know this:
“The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him.”
- Psalm 103:13 (NLT)

Lord, thank You for You, for being our Father we call on from up above. Thank You for Your gift of love. Thank You for giving me a father who loved us unconditionally and had taught me to be grateful for the littlest things I have, especially that of love. Thank you for guiding my father to shape his children’s future and for sharing with us about Your goodness.

Thank You Lord for giving me a man who loves my son and I unconditionally. Continue to guide him with Your divine wisdom and empower him with Your Spirit to walk in fatherly ways the way You do.

I pray for those who are hurting Lord and who are growing up or had grown up without having earthly father’s sacrificial love. Please comfort them and make Your love known in their hearts. Thank You Lord for all of Your blessings. Thank You for loving us first. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Life is not the same without a father. Life is even more fulfilling if we know and acknowledge the love of a Father Who is in the heavens. He desires for us to draw nearer to Him. Happy Father's Day!!! May you be a father who loves those around you unconditionally. May you look up to our Father in heaven Who can empower you to follow His footsteps. Through children's eyes, life is not the same without a father.

The Nourishment

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I was dragging my feet as I neared the entry door of the prison. That was my first day to work PM shift after working many nights for many years. It wasn’t my choice. It was those people in power who wanted to see me crushed and were hoping for me to quit who wanted this to happen. In doing so, they thought that would have made me choose to leave my position. Except….”I’m not a quitter!”

“Rcubes! How are you?” yelled the Charge Nurse with a very excited tone of voice. I remained quiet for a few seconds and truly did not know how to respond to her seemingly nice welcome. How could I be enthused with such a warm greeting when she was the one among the many who wanted to end my career as a Correctional Nurse? How could I even acknowledge when she was among them who broke my trust?

“I guess I’m back to work,” I replied cautiously. I was not able to reply with the same excitement because to do that I knew would be a lie.

As I continue to wait for the outcome of my battle with them, one day at a time, I remain strong because of God. I often wonder, if these people who see themselves wise and are hungry for power go through a tough time like mine, where are they going to draw their needed nourishment if their faith is parched? Do they really think that they can get away with every evil plans they commit?

“The human heart is most deceitful and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is? But I know! I, the Lord, search all hearts and examine secret motives. I give all people their due rewards, according to what their actions deserve.” – Jeremiah 17:9-10 (NLT)

It’s very clear! God said that when we sin, it is a matter of the heart!

I don’t want to be like them. But God had placed me in this dark place to work here. Being a Correctional Nurse gives me fulfillment. But along with it came a lot of pressures, too. Through the many seasons I have worked here behind the prison walls, God made me learn that He is the Source of my strength, my Fortress, and He truly is the Place of Refuge.

I don’t have the same desire every time I’m scheduled to work because of this battle I’m in. But I won’t let the enemies steal my joy. If ever my career here ends, I know it’s not them who made it possible but Him. And if He does, I know it’s because He wants me somewhere else.

In any battle or trials of life we face, God is teaching us patience. It seems we always have to wait. But in this waiting period, it is also a great opportunity to know more about the things of God. We fold our hands more in prayers as we bend our knees even if we end up with calloused knee caps. I pray for my enemies. I pray for the situation. But in this waiting period, I pray for me the most. For God to continue to mold me and make me like Jesus. For Him to change me the most. I feel I don’t even care about this battle anymore not because their accusations had no basis anyway but because I don’t want this to affect my thoughts and attitudes. I know I’m being given a hard time because I won’t succumb to pleasing them. But with a renewed heart, I would rather seek for only One’s approval. That of God’s. My Source of imperishable nourishment.

“Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join with scoffers. But they delight in doing everything the Lord wants; day and night they think about his law. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season without fail. Their leaves never wither, and in all they do, they prosper.” – Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)

Letting Go

So…my husband and I had allowed our son to drive on his own since passing his driving test within short distances like visiting his friends and right now, as I’m typing this, he’s getting ready to play tennis at a nearby high school to play with his friends he had known since elementary days.

On my own longer trips, because he’s on a vacation, I asked him if he wanted to come with me and when he did, I often handed him the keys. Not only I was able to rest from driving and this time, was able to enjoy some scenic views but I was also able to observe his driving skills. I became comfortable the more I let him drive and make his own decisions knowing that I could trust him and him, knowing that his father and I trusted him.

“So, you’re gonna’ be visiting a lot down here when Kristian goes to college here?” my friend asked.

Adding with a laughter, she uttered, “She’d be spying on you, Kristian.”

I laughed. My son laughed. But as the laughter died down, I replied, “Spying? Hmmm…I know…That’s what moms would want to do.” Intentionally letting my son hear me and he knew this before anyway, I added, “But it’s not spying…It’s being a “mom”. It is a job that requires for us to be protective of our young. And in a very difficult moment, even if I don’t want to, I need to learn to “let go.”

This precious life that the Lord had given my husband and I is not only ours. This life was from Him. We were given the task to guide him. We were given the duty to tell him about his Father in heaven Who would guide him and direct his ways, not us. Letting go of our children’s independence is hard. But letting go is a must. If we truly understand that they need to have fear of the Lord, a good kind of fear, then we know deep in our hearts that “letting go” becomes easier. If their roots are also established in God’s ground of love, letting go allows us, as parents, to watch our children make either right or wrong choices, despite the pain wrong decisions bring. But in doing so, we have allowed them to feel our love and trust.

An enduring love is what I want my son to learn. Having this, I want him to know that he can always come back to his father and mother any time he chooses to, knowing that “open arms” are ready to welcome him, after he begins his own life’s journey. We want him to be aware that his journey wouldn’t be easy. There are hard times. But he is not alone.  I know…because our Father in heaven  let me go many times despite the pain it caused Him with my wrong decisions and watched me headed for danger. Still…I didn’t listen. And when I finally reached a breaking point and turned back to Him,  I only heard Him say, “I love you…”

“Such love has no fear, because perfect love expels all fear. If we are afraid, it is for fear of punishment, and this shows that we have not fully experienced his perfect love.” – 1 John 4:18 (NLT)

Father, it is not easy to let go of my child to let him make his own decisions. But saying that is only to show fear. Forgive me Lord and continue to mold my heart. As a mother, help me show that by letting go of my child, I am completely trusting in You Oh Lord. From now on, I am "letting go" of my child to Your hands knowing that You are the One Who truly created him and will direct his footsteps as he begins his own life's journey. I pray that You will guide him with Your divine wisdom Lord and that You will always give him the gift of discernment. Lord, draw my son nearer to You. May he never forget to completely trust in You and in You alone. Thank You Lord for everything that You have done in our lives. Thank You for Who You are. Help our roots go down deeper into your soil of extravagant love. Thank You for Your love, mercy and grace. In Jesus' Name. Amen.

The Most Beautiful Word

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I’ve been sick, tired coughing from having this allergy symptoms this whole week. Despite the weariness from suffering from this seasonal illness, I went to see our child right after him and my husband left to go to the DMV to take his driving test last Friday.

I was barely fixing my car in the designated parking spot when I saw my son parking the car he took with him a couple of spaces from where I was. A lady dressed in a semi-formal suit came out and smiled when she saw my husband and I talking by my driver’s door and hollered, “What a good driver!”

We both thanked her as we waved at our son who had a wide grin and said, “0” to us.

“Huh?” my husband and I replied, dumbfounded.

“0 error, mom and dad,” he added after intentionally pausing for a few seconds.

"Good job!" we both signaled.

As my husband accompanied him inside to have our son’s picture taken, I sighed as I waited outside and stared at my son’s footsteps following his father’s.

I didn’t want to miss this new stage in his life even if I had been sick. My husband’s life I met with my own that merged to form another of our own and brought another life. Life we both treasure as it brought us immense joy. This is the life that made us more careful in our way of making decisions. Those wrong paths we took, we had told him to make his own footsteps to take another route.

Yes, I kept looking at my son’s footsteps. Footsteps that I always pray for, praying that his feet will follow no one else’s but that of his Father’s, because this life whether battered, beaten, crushed, or short-lived, will always be precious. What better way to live it than to know Who gave this precious gift in the first place.

The door was pushed by a pair of young hands as my husband followed this time as they both exited the building. I coughed a little bit. In between, we were all laughing. I was tired from both but it was all worth it as I heard this young man softly whispered, “Thank You Lord.”

He gave me a hug and his father and asked me, “By the way, mom, guess why I felt good from the moment that lady sat next to me in the car?”


“I said ‘good morning’ to her and she said 'hi' and told me, “My name is Grace…”

"Grace..." Yes..The most beautiful word I have ever known...

“But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ— by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” – Ephesians 2:4-10 (ESV) (emphasis was mine).

Disrespectful and Lying Tongue

“But what comes out of the mouth proceeds from the heart, and this defiles a person. For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slander. These are what defile a person. But to eat with unwashed hands does not defile anyone.”
 – Matthew 15:18-20 (ESV)

“What?” I asked the acting charge nurse. “He’s coming down now?”

I went on a short break and the Charge Nurse had advised me and the other nurse that there were two inmates requesting to be seen. As soon as I heard the last name, it sounded so familiar. No wonder, it was the same name that the unit had called about the precious day. He committed drug abuse until it happened. He was arrested for possession of illegal substances. Maybe he got addicted to them because of his complaints of chronic pain. But when the medication nurses had caught him hiding the pills or the prescribed narcotics by our jail doctor to help him with his pain, maybe he wasn’t having true pain after all.

He had to pay for that action. The jail doctor discontinued his narcotics and was given a lesser strength medications that would still help him with pain control. He had been angry ever since and had complained of his symptoms becoming severe. One thing he didn’t know, the medical staff would at least observe something obvious if there was really something wrong with him.

“Oh man,” I sighed. “I wished I was here when the unit called because I wouldn’t let him come down here,” I told the Charge Nurse.

Limping and his mobility aided with a jail-issued wooden cane, he complained of his pain and dizziness being ignored. I would have listened to him but he added, “Aren’t they going to give me my “(name of narcotics)”?

I barely was trying to explain without putting him to shame, he kept cutting me off.

“Mr. E!” I yelled. “Let me speak! How can we understand each other when you are talking at the same time as I am?” The Infirmary Deputy was next to me, standing on guard if he would attempt any disrespectful words or actions. He kept yelling in angry tone but stayed careful, swaying his ID card with previous medications sticker taped on it and kept yelling, demanding for them.

Until he caught glimpses of our 2 medication nurses who both had caught him hiding the pills every time back then and who knew that he lied to exacerbate his symptoms in order to gain those narcotics back.

“Not until you see the doctor again, which is in the morning, no one can give you the medications you are requesting!” I ended the conversation and motioned for him to go back to his unit.

He was very upset but all he did was traced back his footsteps back to his cell.

I made sure his shadow had long disappeared before I spoke to my co-workers, “His unit was way far from our Clinic. If he was having trouble walking, he wouldn’t make it this far.” He got in trouble from their unit deputy for his argumentative behavior so he was written up for disrespecting staff.

Every one knew, it was always those simple things to look out for, and to listen to their complaints. How else can you catch a “lying tongue” but from the words they say? How else can you determine their true intentions but to observe their actions for actions speak louder than words, too.

“A false witness will not go unpunished, and he who breathes out lies will perish.” – Proverbs 19:9 (ESV)

“There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers.” – Proverbs 6:16-19 (ESV)

“Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him”
- 1 John 2:4 (ESV)

“You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies.” –John 8:44 (ESV)

Watch how disrespectful this inmate was to a judge....I often wonder, how am I acting and speaking in front of the "Judge"?

The Only Treasure

I used to enjoy going to work in the prison. After my battle with some people in higher positions started, I dreaded the atmosphere, but not the work. I knew from the beginning that the Lord wanted me to learn so much by bringing me into this dark place after I injured my neck in 1997. The moment He found me, I knew that He started working in my heart. Despite being surrounded with evilness and darkness, He blessed me tremendously as soon as I started working here and got out of my comfort zone from the hospital.

And He continues to bless me by faithfully being there at this troubling time.

I looked around and observed the people I worked with.

Those who loved money had been killing themselves working extra, longer hours to earn more.

Those who were conscious with the way they looked, often, talked about undergoing cosmetic procedures to maintain their physical beauty.

Those who were seeking pleasures for themselves were seeking in wrong places to satisfy whatever hunger their bodies had.

Those who wanted power only acted to feed their interests and they often spoke only about their accomplishments.

My self-fulfillment and satisfaction only occurred when Christ found me. What this world programmed in my heart was being replaced with His work in me. The process was painful. And it is still on-going…But nothing in this world would ever equal the joy and peace that Christ gives to a surrendered heart.

Christ indeed is the only treasure that fulfills everything.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” – Matthew 6:21 (NIV)

"For everything comes from him and exists by his power and is intended for his glory. All glory to him forever! Amen." - Romans 11:36 (NLT)

All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.