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)

All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.