How Long Oh Lord?

“ 1 How long, LORD? Will you forget me forever?
   How long will you hide your face from me?
2 How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
   and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
   How long will my enemy triumph over me?” – Psalm 13:1,2 (NIV)

“Stop talking! Just relax!”

Panting slightly, she pursed her lips and let out some rapid breaths. The nasal cannula in her nostrils delivering 2 liters of oxygen per minute aided a bit. I kept observing a foot away from where this middle-aged inmate was sitting. A nurse had previously seen and treated her already for her chest pain.

“How much longer Nurse? I’m feeling okay now.”

Dialing the nearby phone, I verified with the Charge Nurse and asked about the Estimate Time of Arrival of the ambulance.

“Soon….Just be patient.”

Excitingly, she started again telling me about her family history of how she, being the oldest among 5 sisters was the only one alive and her dad, being 82, was so youthful for his age.

“Wooo….I’m so excited that it’s getting hard to breathe…”

“Stop talking! I told you, just relax…”

Breathing in through her nose, I coaxed her to slow down and savor the oxygen going through her nostrils. She appeared calmer. Her white hair strewn in disarray and the lines on her made her look older for the stated age. She had been using heroin for 30 something years, she told me. The use of injected drugs made our IV starts difficult. She knew her working veins well, pointing to me where to land the needle. Without success. The veins and arteries felt hard, so hard that they were scarred because of the long drug use.

“I’m getting tired Nurse. I’m not having chest pain anymore. Oh….How much longer do I have to wait?”

“Just a few more minutes Ma’am. I heard it on the radio, the ambulance just arrived in the yard. You still need to go to the ER to be examined and make sure your heart is okay.”

I felt like that inmate, too, being impatient with the outcome of my battle that started in December 2010. While my enemies laughed at me and continue to harass me, I remained silent as this was not the proper time to speak up. I felt tired. I felt weak. I had been having pains from all the wounds those people had been inflicting me with. But I knew from the start, it would be Jesus Who would carry me through. I was never afraid of them because I knew I didn’t do anything wrong. They were just plain abusive of the power given to them that they thought they could do anything they wanted to do on a certain person. Like me. But victory was won! Long time ago! Victory that was given to me as He poured His love on my heart and brought me to a place of abundance. I needed to learn to relax. I needed to be patient. Everything happens for a purpose and I must trust on His timetable not mine. Forgive me Oh Lord.

“3 Look on me and answer, LORD my God.
   Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
4 and my enemy will say, “I have overcome him,”
   and my foes will rejoice when I fall.

 5 But I trust in your unfailing love;
   my heart rejoices in your salvation.
6 I will sing the LORD’s praise,
   for he has been good to me.” – Psalm 13:3-6 (NIV)

How Long Oh Lord (Psalm 13)
Robert Barham Music Psalms

Consider, and answer me my Lord.
Re-store my strength; don't leave me here to die.
I know that you've been good to me,
I know that you will rescue me,
So please, answer me my Lord.

I've trusted in your steadfast love,
My heart will rejoice in Thy salvation,
I find these times so hard to bear,
I need you Lord to hear my prayer,
So please, answer me my Lord.

How long Oh Lord? Will you hide your face from me forever?
How long must I bear this pain in my soul?
How long Oh Lord? Will my enemies prevail forever?
How long till I see the light of your love?

I've trusted in your steadfast love,
My heart will rejoice in Thy salvation.
I find these times so hard to bear,
I need you Lord to hear my prayer,
So please, answer me my Lord.

How long Oh Lord? Will you hide you face from me forever?
How long must I bear this pain in my soul?
How long Oh Lord? Will my enemies prevail forever?
How long till I see the light of your love?
How long till I see the light of your love?

My Sister-In-Christ In The Prison

16 Rejoice always, 17 pray continually, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. – 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (NIV)

She exclaimed a little “Ooohh…,” surprised with the landing of small dab of cold gel on her lower abdomen despite my warning prior to squeezing the little bottle. Laying on the exam table, I encouraged this young female inmate to take deep breaths and try to relax as I scanned the tiny Doppler being glided by my right hand, finding the right spot to make her baby in the womb’s heartbeat to be audible.

“There you go! Can you hear it?”

“Yes, Ma’am…”as I made her look at the number that registered in the Doppler.

“147-155 beats per minute…That’s good.”

This inmate was 4 months pregnant, complaining of right flank pain. She was just sent to the hospital for the same reason. They told her that her ligament was being stretched so it was hurting on that spot. She was trying to tough it out yesterday, not demanding despite the continuous pain that bothered her all day. Until she could not stand it anymore and worries overcame her than calm. Pressing the call button in her tiny cell, she requested to be seen by us, medical staff.

“Everything was good. You didn’t have any bleeding. Your vital signs are normal. And your urine was normal too except I noticed it was concentrated. Try to drink more water so you won’t have Urinary Tract Infection.”

“You’re right, I was not drinking as much. I’ll try…”she softly uttered as she got up from the table, with both of us separated from any one’s eyes with the drape I pulled all the way to cover the door.

I knew she was incarcerated for helping in a gang activity. But I wasn’t afraid of her. I knew I must not be talking with her in friendly manner because it was in the prison’s policy to not make the inmates feel that they were being befriended. Silence. Just her and I in that Exam room filled with all medical supplies. The thought of my Highest Supervisor witnessing both of us…as she started venting out.

“I read the Bible a lot so Ma’am, I’m not afraid. I know that God has a plan and that everything happens for a reason.” She tried to look me straight in the eye, trying to see my reaction.

Remaining calm and perhaps, spilling a little joy from my eyes, she sensed that upon her mention of the word Bible and God.

“That is true. Everything you said…God is good…You got any other kids? You don’t have to answer me if you don’t want to,” I reminded her.

“Oh, no. I feel comfortable with you Ma’am. Yes, I have 2 small kids still at home. My husband is also here (in the prison).”

“That must be very stressful…”I left my statement with a sort of fill-in-the blank at the end…

“Yes…I think of my children a lot…”

“You believe in God and you read the Bible. That is a great thing to have. He does have a great plan for all of us. But we must also do our part….(long pause as she bowed her head then looked up again and instead of standing up, remained eager to hear the rest of my statement sitting down on the edge of the table)…It starts with making the right choices. You’re still young and you have a baby to be brought out of this world and the other two back home needing their parents.”

“I’m sorry…I can’t let you stay here for a long time though I still want to talk to you…”

“I understand, Ma’am. I know the rules here…Thank you so much for your help…”

She took a sip of the small glass of water I offered when she first walked in…

“One more request, Ma’am…”


“Would you please pray for me, as a ‘sister-in-Christ?” she smiled shyly, as if making a big and impossible demand.

“I always do…”


“Even for those who don’t know Christ yet…”

I let her out of a metal door and her body mingled with those other who came down to have their blood sugar levels checked inside the Infirmary. I saw her leave the Clinic amid the big throng of orange-uniformed women, marching back to the corridors that led to their units.

“Oh, Lord…Please help her…and all these women know Your love and grace. Help them find their true freedom despite being locked up. The freedom that comes from You…Thank You Lord…”

“Are you okay, Rcubes?” asked one of the people who I discerned to be a part of those who had been giving me a hard time regarding my job.

“Yeah, I’m okay…”

“Are you sure?”

I was intimidated with her question. I sensed she wanted me to relate more regarding my battle at work and find out the difficulty or any hardship I was going through. But these things did not matter anymore to me at this point. After meeting that inmate and other past events, I knew God was always in control. For me to think of their senseless evil ploys would be just useless. It was that inmate and others like her that mattered to me more than my own battle at work against some people trying to imprison my spirit with invisible walls of hate, wanting me to be a part of their schemes…

“Yes, I’m sure…because God is good…” I spoke with certainty.

It was her turn to be silent…But in my heart I would always remember that she and the others, too, who were abusing their power at work were also in big need of prayers…

For they don't sister-in-Christ incarcerated was truly free...

“5 “When you pray, don’t be like the hypocrites who love to pray publicly on street corners and in the synagogues where everyone can see them. I tell you the truth, that is all the reward they will ever get. 6 But when you pray, go away by yourself, shut the door behind you, and pray to your Father in private. Then your Father, who sees everything, will reward you.
 7 “When you pray, don’t babble on and on as people of other religions do. They think their prayers are answered merely by repeating their words again and again. 8 Don’t be like them, for your Father knows exactly what you need even before you ask him! 9 Pray like this:
   Our Father in heaven,
      may your name be kept holy.
   10 May your Kingdom come soon.
   May your will be done on earth,
      as it is in heaven.
   11 Give us today the food we need
   12 and forgive us our sins,
      as we have forgiven those who sin against us.
   13 And don’t let us yield to temptation
      but rescue us from the evil one.” – Matthew 6:5-13 (NLT)

The Power from Words

"Handle them carefully, for words have more power than atom bombs." - Pearl Strachan

“Hello?.....”my friend wondered why I grew quiet on the other end of the line.

I was trying to tell her how there were many bees active during the day coming from one of the neighbor’s overgrown bushes. It made me wary on days that I tried to mow our front lawn, avoiding any unwanted sting from any direction.

Her analytical response made me seal my mouth. For some reason, her response stung my heart and it hurt more than a bee sting…

“Well, you don’t know…maybe they don’t have the money to pay for someone to trim those bushes. You just don’t know what goes on in someone’s life…”

Her response was only truthful and it was not the reason why those words pierced my heart. It was my own reflection of how I said my own words that hurt me. I surely did not want to sound like I was an insensitive neighbor who didn’t care for what could have been going on in someone’s life. I never saw the wife after I spoke with her during one of our early morning encounters. She was so excited about her retirement and few days later, I never saw her again. Until I was cleaning in the front yard, gathering some wind-blown dry leaves and her husband was walking their dog.

“How’s D? Please tell her I say ‘hello’.”

“She couldn’t go out as much anymore,” he responded with a slight sadness but with an acceptance kind of tone with what transpired.

“She was diagnosed with ‘Fatigue Syndrome’ and it just took a lot of her strength to do anything.”

“I’ll be praying for her and please, if you need help, do not hesitate to ask us,” I offered.

“Oh, we’re okay. Sometimes, life takes a turn…”he added, evading the offer.

And pray for her and him I did. Lifting them up to the One Who knew it all and Who could do impossible things.


“Well…have a good night. Please try to get some sleep. I love you…” I finally uttered to my friend.

“Okay…Thanks for calling. Have a good night!” My heart started to feel better at that point.

My mind never stopped reflecting about how careful I must be to only let good words come out but always speak of things that have values…Words do have power and can either heal or hurt. But the change must come first from its source…The “heart”…

“Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.” – Ephesians 4:29 (ESV)

One's Not Supposed To Be Comfortable

6We do use wisdom when speaking to people who are mature in their faith. But it isn't the wisdom of this world or of its rulers, who will soon disappear. 7We speak of God's hidden and mysterious wisdom that God decided to use for our glory long before the world began. 8The rulers of this world didn't know anything about this wisdom. If they had known about it, they would not have nailed the glorious Lord to a cross. 9But it is just as the Scriptures say,
"What God has planned
for people who love him
is more than eyes have seen
or ears have heard.
It has never even
entered our minds!"

10God's Spirit has shown you everything. His Spirit finds out everything, even what is deep in the mind of God. – 1 Corinthians 2:6-10 (CEV)

I was thinking to myself, “What makes this inmate and others like her, expect to have a comfortable stay in the prison?”

The unit deputy sent her for complaint of slight bleeding. She was 7 months pregnant. I turned the knob that opened the metal door to let her in from the Female side of the Infirmary. I motioned for her to go through another heavy door and as she sat on one of the blue chairs, I started my assessment.

“It’s just not comfortable in my cell, Ma’am…And the dinner was not even enough. It was only spaghetti.”

“My concern in seeing you was regarding your complaint about having bleeding,” my response trying to shorten the unnecessary whining.

“I just don’t understand…Why am I alone in my cell?”

I didn’t have a chance to check on her charge prior to seeing her which I usually did when I had to do sick calls. It helped me better understand their situations and surely were beneficial when it came to assessing their true needs, be it medical or mental problem issues.

I finished what I needed to do as she continued whining how food in the jail was disappointing  and that she was housed all alone in a tiny cell. Seeing that she didn’t require treatment for her initial complaint, I let her in back to the waiting room. As I gave her a cup of water to motivate her to increase her fluid intake, I took a quick peek in the monitor and found out that she was arrested for child endangerment/cruelty.

I went up to the thick, glass partition window while giving back her yellow pass to her hand so she could return to her unit. She gave me a look, a puzzled kind of stare why I was not sending her to the hospital.

“Ma’am, you’re not bleeding. And you denied that you were having any kinds of pains. It’s not comfortable here in the Infirmary either and I had no reason to keep you here.”

She was quiet, accepting the truth in everything I said. As she was getting ready to turn her back away from me, I whispered audibly enough for her to hear:

“By the way, it’s not supposed to be comfortable in the jail. But even then, we must be grateful that foods are being served here than nothing. Few minutes from now, you are about to get your evening snack because you’re pregnant. Also, you’re all alone in your cell because that’s for your own protection. You can be a potential target by others who might not like the reason why you’re here in the first place…”

“Please do put a sick call slip whenever you’re feeling that something is not right. Or you can just let your deputies know like what you did earlier. We are always here to see you if you have a true emergency or problems.”

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“Thank you, Ma’am,” she walked away, dragging her prison-issued rubber tan slippers as she re-traced her steps back to her small cell. A place of isolation but was also a temporary place of refuge from other predators.

Life in earth is temporary. We are not to be comfortable because this is not our true home. Our hearts will always be unsatisfied with the things of this world. We have that longing, a longing that helps us search for the true Home.

“Jesus answered, "My Kingdom is not an earthly kingdom. If it were, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish leaders. But my Kingdom is not of this world."
- John 18:36 (NLT)


“Glorify a lie, legalize a lie, arm and equip a lie, consecrate a lie with solemn forms and awful penalties, and after all it is nothing but a lie. It rots a land and corrupts a people like any other lie, and by and by the white light of God's truth shines clear through it, and shows it to be a lie.” – E. H. Chapin

The battle I’m dealing with at work has been going on for 9 months now. But on my part, my effort to fight back has not even started.

Those people holding a higher position make it seem that they are giving me options to help me keep my job. In reality, there is none. All of my previous benefits are stripped away. Not only they accused me with no basis but they keep playing their game.

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How do you catch liars but with inconsistencies with their answers or any statements? I think I’m seeing a lot of “Pinocchio’s”. I can’t imagine with the 11 years I have been working in the prison, if some of these people’s noses do grow, I often wonder what the length will be by now.

I asked a simple question.

“What is my job status now?”

The answers got me confused.

~ “You’re an extra help so you’re still part of the County…”
~ “You are not terminated. You just had a transition from one job classification to another…”
~ “You have limited benefits (when they took it away!)…”
~ “You are not a contract…(So…why do they want me to sign one?)…”

Again, I emailed to have this clarified. The promise was:

“I’ll look into this and will get back with you…” (Sounds like a lie or truth?)…

I will let you know if this simple question will get a straight answer, God-willing. In the meantime, I’m glad to be not working as much. I surely hate it to be bumping against “long noses”…

“Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who act faithfully are his delight.”
– Proverbs 12:22(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)

“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 15:18-22 (ESV)

I'm Still Suicidal

“So, you are playing games!” exclaimed the Charge Nurse as she heard me assessing the inmate who claimed that he wanted to hurt himself.

He had a good eye contact as I started questioning him when the unit deputy brought him in, his wrists handcuffed to his back. I motioned for him to sit on a chair and as I started taking his vital signs, I started probing on my own.

“How much bleach did you ingest?”

“Not a lot.”

“Just give me a minute…”

Turning away from him, I asked the deputy if they could have an access to any cleanser in their unit. He said it would be possible if they bought some from their “Commissary” but it wouldn’t be much.

I went back to asking the suicidal inmate while his blood pressure and pulse registered in the automatic machine. Both readings were normal.

“I’m not gonna’ send him out to the hospital. I don’t feel he ingested too much of that bleach he was claiming he did because the deputy told me that it wasn’t much from their Commissary. The vitals were all normal. I just wanted you to be aware,” I explained to the Charge Nurse who agreed with me.

“Do you have a problem in your unit?” I added before he was about to get up to be taken to a place where they house the suicidal inmates for closer observation.


“Oh, okay. You want to tell me or your deputy?” the deputy now with both ears open and was near both of us, awaited for his response.

“People there are all murderers! I’m not a murderer! I don’t belong in that unit!”

The Charge Nurse heard the answer and that was why she exclaimed that he was just playing games.

“I’m still suicidal!” he responded with an annoyed tone of voice.

I knew he was just playing games the moment I started asking him questions. His behavior had given me a lot of clues. Even more toward the end, he gave me the true intention of his heart. But whether he was playing a game or not, his belief that he shouldn’t belong with other inmates who he thought were murderers would still make him feel low which could later drive him to intentionally inflict injury to himself.

“You may take him to Suicide Watch,” I advised the deputy as he took his cuffed hands and led him away from us.

This reminded me of how often I was like him. Pursuing what I wanted to happen in prayers, instead of seeking God's will for me often end up hurting me rather than helping me.

"5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
   and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
   and he will make your paths straight." - Proverbs 3:5,6 (NIV)

Remembering The Wounds

“It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” – Galatians 5:1 (NIV)

I woke up few minutes ago, greeted by a welcoming relief: a drop in the temperature I had hoped for from the past days. I let out a long sigh as another day came, still feeling the wound in my heart. Pierced 8 months ago, my battle at work has not even begun. Yet, for 8 months I had remained strong, my heart’s course changed, filled with more hope and unwavering future.

Thousands of years ago, hands and feet were also scarred by those nails and His side pierced with a spear. They never vanished before He sat at the right hand of God. They were proofs to show that it was Him…Jesus. The scars that made a doubting Thomas exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!” Those scars were proofs of His love for humanity, His way of making us remember His sacrifice.

Ten years ago, America was wounded and forever changed. Many hearts lost their loved ones. The pain radiated not only from New York, but was also felt by all from every corner of this wonderful nation. It was one of those darkest times Americans had experienced. The acts of evil committed intended to cripple and to instill fear in everyone’s hearts. It wanted to steal this nation’s freedom.

I’m still fighting in this huge battle I’m in at work and one day, will make it known that those people in position who intended to hurt the ones below them never made me incapable.

Jesus’ death was never a defeat. He conquered death instead because He had life in Him. His wounds were the visible weapons of His love.

Today, we remember that wound that pierced America’s heart. It’s good to remember that during that darkest hour, Americans would never be paralyzed by fear. Let us remember the lives lost not in vain, but in victory. The enemies might seem to succeed in destroying two tall buildings but they are being replaced with an even more strong structure. They might have killed thousands of lives but they didn’t die in vain. They will be forever remembered not because of the kinds of jobs they did but because of the love they left with those they left behind. Through their acts, America learned that evil is real and that hate does not build up but destroys.

Yes, it is good to remember that day because Americans have learned that heroes do exist and courage won’t be contained. That darkest time helped Americans realize how fragile life is and united, we are ever stronger. Stronger to fight for the freedom we enjoy. After all, America is a nation under one God!

“Three things will last forever--faith, hope, and love--and the greatest of these is love.”
- 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NLT)

Being The Same

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“When we get together, I want to encourage you in your faith, but I also want to be encouraged by yours.” – Romans 1:12 (NLT)    

It felt like I was dragging bags of cement as I took a step, one at a time from the moment I arrived in the Prison Staff’s parking lot. The graceful swaying of palm trees greeted me, the usual way it welcomed me when I got hired 11 years ago. The lawns were lush and green despite the almost triple digit heat and the humid air swirling around. I was taking my time. I did not want to rush. How deceiving this place was, I thought to myself. So beautiful outside. But full of suffering inside.

Everybody was surprised to see me and most were thrilled to see me back. I was cautious yet responded to their “hello’s” with eagerness. I might not like some of them who I felt were not sincere, but that was just the right thing to do: “To respond in loving ways, whether I liked them or not.” That was being etched in my heart from these past days where I was on a leave and was not able to go to work because of some people’s decisions.

There were only 2 of us scheduled for the evening shift. I had met him before and though I knew he was a new grad, I knew he was a great nurse and had adapted quickly to this setting.  The quiet night I was praying for turned out to be a very chaotic one and a very challenging shift for him and I. We were running the whole time, for the first 5 or 6 hours, only taking sips of water in-between and couldn’t even take a break. I managed to gobble a banana the fastest way I had eaten it and I saw him took a few, quick bites of Graham crackers and then, we both heard another “mandown” over the radio where the deputy advised that the inmate was unconscious, or so it seemed. I was in the middle of sending one female, pregnant inmate who was having a vaginal bleed to the hospital and dropped everything and offered my help to him. Off, we both ran the fastest pace we ever knew down the long, far hallways. Our sweats dripping from our brows but we both never complained. We just did what we needed to do.

“Octopus!” I yelled out to one of the medical secretaries talking on the phone, getting the inmate’s booking number requesting to be seen, as she was trying to grab the other phone behind her in the middle of that conversation.

She gave me a puzzled look why I called her that, only to laugh when she got done on the phone, realizing why I did. She knew I called her that because all of her arms were trying to reach all the in-coming what felt like thousands of phone calls, to help us out. She knew we were both tired and still were not done.

“Thank you,” I whispered to her.

“I’m so glad you came in early to help us out. I don’t know what we would have done without you.”

“Rcubes, I feel bad for you and Z. You guys are non-stop! What a bad night!”

“No! It’s okay…”

Again, her brows met with a confused look.

“Because I can have a busy night and have 3 or 4 nurses but if they are lazy, it’s no use. I know I’m working with a great nurse even though he’s new. We’ll manage.”

“That’s true,” she finally agreed.

And indeed, as I savored my dinner I brought from home, slumped on a wheeled, soft chair in the break room, I tried to gather my remaining strength just to finish that dinner. At that time, it had grown much calmer and that nurse and I finished dealing with all the emergencies and other problems.

“Put your feet up on the other chair!” yelled that medical secretary when she passed by to grab a cup of coffee.

“I’m fine now,” I replied smiling and feeling much relieved to weather that storm.

We’re all in this!!! How true it is with us, as believers, serving the One and only True God, weathering the storms of life as we share the same faith, sharing same suffering and comforts because of Christ. As we all go through different kinds of trials, I’m thinking of you through prayers but I also want to thank you for encouraging me and continuing to lift me up also in your petitions. Because of our Lord Jesus, our faith blesses us all, finding joy and having gratitude instead, as we all wait for what is to come: “eternal life with God” where there is true REST.

“Then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.” – Philippians 2:2 (NIV)
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.