Open Your Heart




May you open your heart to a Savior constantly knocking at its door. Merry Christmas!

The Season of Giving


                                                         


My son and I scoured the aisles at a local Walmart to find the shorter lines of customers about to pay. 

“Let’s count and make sure we only have 20 items so we can just go to the Express lanes,” I uttered.There were only three people ahead if we qualified.

“Yes!,” my son exclained. “20!”

The last one was a lady wearing a vest with the Walmart logo. She was probably getting something small and was taking her break. Turning around, she talked to me and requested, “Would you please save my spot? I just need to get a drink really quick!”

“Sure! No problem!,” I responded, as I stood still despite her leaving a big gap between me and the person ahead of her. Other people were already curiously looking. Perhaps, not hearing her request, wondering why I didn’t advance my cart.

Coming back, she proudly held a big can of a cold coffee with extra shots.

“Thank you so much! I just needed this!,” she said with a big smile on her weary face.

Anticipating a few more minutes waiting time, the line hardly moved despite it being the express lanes. 
 
“Busy!,” I told the lady.

She replied, “It’s hard to predict. Actually, this is nothing. Sometimes, it’s slower, then late at night, that’s when it hits us again.” Standing still while facing me, I was surprised when she kept talking and told me that her daughter had passed away and that she left a granddaughter that now she was taking care of.

“I love her to death! She looks exactly like my daughter…”

“I’m so sorry for your loss. But I’m glad you’re there to look after your granddaughter.”

“Well, the dad sometimes doesn’t take full responsibility. I’m not mean but I have to say something to him to take his part and not just let others take care of her daughter. Sometimes, I feel I’ve been taken advantage of…”

“I’m sure  it’s not easy for you to confront him. But you know what’s best for your granddaughter. I’m sure it makes a difference if her father gets involved.”

“Sometimes, it hurts that my own family seems like strangers to me than friends,” I continued. “So I have changed my point of view. Being blood-related sometimes doesn’t mean a thing if we belong to God’s family, doesn’t that count as families? That we can consider others our own families because that’s what God wants anyway.. is for us to help each other out if we are in His family…”  I saw her nodding her head a few times in agreement. In the corner of my eyes, I saw others’ reactions. Of wonderment why this stranger, a lady who worked at a local Walmart and this paying customer, a middle-aged woman with just 20 items in her cart could have possibly shared life’s stories in a little over 5 minutes in that line.

“Happy Holidays, you guys!” she said loudly after paying for her drink and other items.

“Merry Christmas!,” my son and I hollered as she continued to walk away and savor that short break to enjoy the energy boosting drink.

I told my son… I didn’t know the reason why we talked that way. Many people, I knew might be wearing big smiles on their faces. But deep inside, what was hidden was unbearable pain, unhealed wounds, hopelessness, faithlessness, and feeling of being rejected.

This is the Season of giving. Many around us are truly suffering. Shall we be limited only to helping out our families? Who around us are truly in need, if not of physical things but much more those who have deep voids in their hearts?” Sometimes, a simple acknowledgement of their existence by saying a sincere “Hello” or “Thank You” might mean the world to them. People worry about changing lifestyles to combat climate change when the real change needed is the condition of the hearts. Many people easily get offended by words and try to correct and mask them with words that might seem coated with peace, love and kindness. But the very same people who are offended are the ones who hurt others with actions and words. True peace, love and kindness can only be emitted from a heart changed by God’s grace. It is a gift from God.

Do Not Be Anxious


There was my loved one resting on an ER bed awaiting the final decision from the treating physician. With the partition curtain missing, it was hard to try to rest and relax as we heard commotions, moaning, beeping alarms and some voices asking for nurses’ help. I couldn’t help but wonder if there were many trauma cases that demanded immediate attention from the nursing staff as each came in and competed with what already was chaotic inside. 

How could my loved one relax? The hunger for privacy was impossible from any angle I looked, whether we were the ones on the hallway beds or inside that room. I tried to reassure. It was still better that we were inside the room.

A concerned nurse who took the blood work at the wee hours came in all of a sudden before going home as their change of shift occurred. She offered a warm blanket and to dim the bright light on the ceiling. We immediately thanked her for going out of her way to offer kindness and empathy. If it meant to have some peace and quiet just by closing eyes and dimming the lights, so be it. It was a simple offer but a much needed intervention that came from an overly-worked nurse who, we saw moments before going to assigned bed,  how she remained kind and compassionate when patients were transferred to her care.

What discernment to a body who bared all to needle sticks, vital signs and other probing instruments! A body who I could tell was ready to surrender to sleep but was never able to because of the storm he was in. Yet, through all that, remained calm, patient, never complaining but instead, tried to ask questions to know more about what was going on.

A lot of “Why’s”. Doubts. Fears. 

Don’t we all go through that whether the circumstances happen all of a sudden or not?

During the xray and blood draws, I was told to go outside to the lobby and wait to be called. As I sat with perhaps, three more patients seeking treatments, I saw their worried look on their faces. I wanted to worry myself, too, as I sat on the cold chair and stared on the tv mounted on the wall, without understanding what was being shown. Fear was knocking on my heart’s door but something was stopping it. Each time.

Then… alive Words started flashing in front of me that was hard not to be heard than that tv on the wall:


Don't worry about anything, but in all your prayers ask God for what you need, always asking him with a thankful heart. And God's peace, which is far beyond human understanding, will keep your hearts and minds safe in union with Christ Jesus.” – Philippians 4:6-7 (GNT)



I heard my name being called by an apologetic nurse who thanked me for being patient and understanding. I thanked her instead. I understood the busyness because I was a nurse and was there before. I was in that world where a nurse had a million things to do for several patients at one given time.

“We’re waiting for a bed so your loved one could still be monitored.”

My heart didn’t leap for worries nor fears anymore. I knew that in an hour I waited alone in the lobby in one corner, there was my Refuge Who met me while facing that storm. He surely didn’t stop the storm. But through the heavy downpours and gusty winds, He did calm my heart and that of my loved one’s. All the tests came back normal and that alone was enough for us to rejoice despite that ordeal. The storm didn’t damage us. We came out stronger and went home armed with more knowledge. Thanks be to God, our only Savior.


Worry does not empty tomorrow of its sorrow, it empties today of its strength. - Corrie ten Boom
 Worry often gives a small thing a big shadow. - Swedish Proverb

Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. - Matthew 6:34





Judge!!!

Do you know how to judge?

"Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” - John 7:24 (ESV)



Not all things told are "truths". I always try to remember that there are two sides in a story. But the bottom line is... "Which one is the truth?" As mere captives of sins from the beginning, a heart has a hard time to see the light if its eyes are covered and the hearts are calloused with sins.Bring these sins to the Cross and repent.That's the only way to see the truth that comes from God.  There is no moment in each day that the roaring lion doesn't take advantage of, to devour, destroy, and kill someone. Jesus said, "Know the truth.It will set you free..." (John 8:32)

Knowing the truths from God isn't enough.He desires obedience."Be holy! Because He is holy!" (1Peter 1:16)

We need to learn to judge correctly. We need to know what the true spiritual dangers are, lurking to destroy us as followers of Christ.  We need God's guidance. His Wisdom. His discernment.



1 Thessalonians 5 




Father's Day


While some families are busy planning for a summer getaway, my family and I are happy with short trips we make to our favorite places to eat. 

Like today, we went to Vietnam (at least that’s how it feels each time we go to this favorite restaurant). Learning to wrap a piece of steaming hot eggroll on a piece of freshly-washed Romaine lettuce and dipping it on the savory Nouc cham sauce, we all smiled (as the same appetizer never disappoint). As each of our orders was being brought to our cozy spot by the window, I was slowly biting the eggroll, careful not to burn my tongue with the hot veggies inside the crispy wrapper.

Source: pomaitest.wordpress.com
I had a plate of grilled barbeque chicken that came with a piece of lettuce, tomato, cucumber and shredded carrots on one side and a mound of white rice. It came with a small bowl of aromatic broth and another small container that housed the Nouc cham sauce. My son changed his strategy by not ordering his favorite bowl of Pho and instead opted for a stir-fry beef with snow peas, a little bit of mushroom and baby corn. My husband, who remained loyal to the Pho, ordered the usual mixture of a well done flank steak with tendons. He would usually adorn the top with the provided mung bean sprouts, a squeeze from a wedge of lime, and end the concoction with a drop of garlic chili paste, few turns of Sriracha and some hoisin sauce. As the doors closed in behind us when we were done, back to America, into the car and then decided, we would pass by our favorite bakery nearby where once again, we could be transported to Switzerland in no time. 

The scent of butter greeted us as we walked toward the door of the bakery. A long array of different pastries, cakes, and other sweet creations met our eyes. My son ordered the favorite Bear claws, a bag of Kaiser rolls, slices of peanut butter mousse cakes and when he was about done ordering, of course, I had to add apple strudels to his order. I always hoped that I wouldn't confuse the lady taking the order because I knew, I wanted to keep adding this and that to my son's order. I'm so glad that my son was always patient to wait for this mother who would rather stay in the car than go with him and his dad and who might end up buying everything inside the glass cases!!! Nothing like European pastries summoning a customer to try! We have been fanatics! 
Photo Source: Gourmandise bakery (Utah)

That trip was our early Father’s Day celebration to beat the crowd and still enjoy the places we patronized. 

Simple trips that we love to take because we, as a family, enjoy simple things in life and are always grateful to such blessings. My son and I are grateful to have a loving father and husband. One who is a hard worker and who always chooses to do the right thing for whatever is right in the eyes of our good, heavenly Father.

Happy Father’s Day to you, daddy and thank you for all of your love and support!!! Happy Father’s day to all of you dads who are capable of unconditionally loving those around you. 

“Which of you, if your son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a snake? If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" - Matthew 7:9-11 (NIV)


But most of all, thank You dear Father in heaven for everything You have done for us and given us. Thank you for Your love, Your grace, Your mercy, not only on Father’s Day but in each day of our lives. You deserve our thanks above all else!
All posts/composed songs copyright by RCUBEs.



Encouragers

The Attacker (5/15/09)

The sun was just peeking from the Eastern skies. Ephesians 6:12 [37 kb]


Out in the prison’s yard, some huge Sheriff’s buses were illuminated by the soft glow coming from the lights all over from the tall lamp posts. Their engines were turned on, warming up, before the buses would take the inmates to the different courts where they would have their trials.


Orange-uniformed men were lined up in pairs, joined together with handcuffs and chained, forming a long line. They already had their breakfast and had their morning medications prior to going to courts. Some were fidgeting, as they waited to board those buses.


All of a sudden, all hell broke loose! Two men were engaged in a fight, using weapons they made secretly for a while. Deputies called for help on the radio, both for custody back-up and medical staff, as well.


When the air was cleared and the other inmates were secured, one man was down on the floor. He sustained multiple gashes but two of them were deep. One cut was vertically etched from his left ear going down to the jaw line. The other dangerous cut was horizontal on his left neck, close to the jugular vein. Pool of blood dripped all over the floor. Holding his bleeding neck, he was pointing at the other inmate few feet away, being guarded by the other deputies.


The other man being accused was not hurt. There were no lacerations nor any other signs of trauma. He was obviously very agitated as he was being questioned by those deputies, while the medical staff started treating the other man on the floor. They cleaned the wounds and controlled the bleeding. That man was sent to the nearby hospital.


When the investigation was finalized, it turned out to be that the “downed man who was accusing the other inmate” was the attacker and the other one who didn’t have injury was the one attacked. The deputies found out that it was the second attempt to attack the unhurt man. Both attacks on him failed. He was well-prepared after the first attempt on him, that when the second attempt was done, he was able to defend himseld and ended up injuring his attacker severely.


[Source: Life Application Bible]:


We also have an “accuser of the brethren.” Satan and his army of demons are the enemies of God and of everything good.


“Because God’s children are human beings – made of flesh and blood – Jesus also became flesh and blood by being born in human form. For only as a human being could he die, and only by dying could he break the power of the Devil, who had the power of death.” –Hebrews 2:14


Because of what Jesus had done [dying on the cross], we, who live in constant fear of death shouldn’t be afraid anymore. Jesus had freed us from that fear so we can live for Him. When we belong to God, we know that death is only the portal that leads into “eternal life”. [“Thank You Lord!].


Paul warned us, too that we also battle against the evil forces of Satan, who is a vicious fighter. But to be able to withstand their attacks, we must depend on God’s strength and use every piece of His armor. We face an army whose goal is to defeat Christ’s church. When we believe in Christ, they become our enemies. They will try any device to turn us away from the Lord.


Fear not! For God has provided His supernatural power to defeat Satan and his army, through His Holy Spirit within us. So, arm yourselves with God’s armor.


Let us be strong in the Lord's mighty power. Let's put on His whole armor to resist the enemy's attacks: put on the sturdy belt of truth and the body armor of God's righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News, so that we are well-prepared. We will need faith in every battle as our shield to stop the fiery arrows aimed by Satan and his army. Let us put on salvation as our helmet, not forgetting the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Let's pray at all times, on every occasion in the power of the Holy Spirit. We must stay alert and be persistent in our prayers for all Christians everywhere. [Ephesians 6:10-18].

Friends