Uniquely Mi Vida

The problem with selfie’s

 “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.”

Proverbs 31:30

I have to be careful where I leave my phone. My daughters have taken up the habit to take silly selfies on my phone, at least two out of three. I keep some for laughs and once in a while I’ll post one on Facebook, but wind up deleting some. Younger kids just seem to love taking selfies, though my girls seem to be out of those norms; they only post them once in a while…and I’m okay with that, except for my oldest who seems to enjoy posting more than my other too. She does, however; share the limelight with her husband often. Oh to be young!

I’m not a “selfie” kinda gal. In fact, I am really not into them as much. I rarely post them actually. Maybe I’m just too old to really care about my own “selfie.” Maybe I’m just too self-conscious of how I look….nah… that’s not it. Maybe my problem is that they seem…rather “selfish?” Or more because it seems a little vain to me… I really don’t know. I figure that if anyone wants to see my face often they themselves can take my picture.

To break my “not a selfie kinda gal” image I decided to have fun as well… so here you are.

So why do we do take “selfies” in the first place? Why do selfies seem important? I can only think of 3 things (Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments below):

  1. We are happy with who we are and how we look. We just enjoy life. I suppose that a person that is happy and joyful, at least for that day, will want to take a picture and share it with others. This is my favorite type of selfie actually, and one I love to see. It reminds me they are enjoying life and happy with, not only with who they are, but happy with how God has created. They are satisfied with who God created them to be. We just love and enjoy life and can’t wait to share that with others. If only Todd would have taken a selfie when he saw Kevin Sobo at the airport last year. Now that is a super happy moment!
  2. We are a bit vain yet love how we look. Yes, we look in the mirror and say to ourselves “Dang, I look good!” and for some reason, just in case that moment may pass and we may not look good the next day, we take a selfie. We feel the need to take share it with the world, they may not see our gorgousness otherwise. After all, they may want to see it but can’t so we do them a favor… I tend to keep away from this type of selfie but even I have fallen prey of such thoughts, so I try to stop myself… I just store those pics and rarely post them. On the other extreme, those who feel like they look great but  think “let’s take a selfie and see if others agree.” So it becomes a self-esteem issue. This is where a balance is important. Maybe avoiding the selfie altogether is better.
  3. We are self-loving and others need to know. This is on the border of being narcissistic. People who just have to take a picture everywhere they go…of themselves. There are those who not only enjoy their moments in life but have to take a selfie of that moment, every instant. I say it borders on narcissistic because for many, it gets out of hand. It is like when they see a friend they haven’t seen in a long time, they must the a pic with them, more like several. In a new area of the city, a selfie. Trying new food, a selfie. A new hair style, clothes, with furniture, makeup… you name it… a “selfie”. I have even seen people take a picture of themselves with every animal at the zoo… you know what I mean…. (Like they just can’t take a picture of the surroundings and people without them being in every single picture.) Kind of takes away the joy of the scenery or others around you and makes you look insecure.

I suppose I frown on number three. I truly believe we need to stay away from the need to be the center of everything. Sometimes being in the background enjoying your long lost friends. family members or the new scenic views is so much more relaxing. Yet I understand the funny moments in life. Those unique times, opportunities and events that you don’t want to forget. The memories of your love ones… So when I pick up my phone and find those unique selfies of my girls, I have to smile. God knows how much I love them. I store them for those unique moments that I want to remember there silliness or just need a smile. Just so long they don’t fill my phone with them!

Girls, please don’t go crazy with my phone. (I still need to be careful where I leave my phone. Who knows who is taking a selfie with it).

Uniquely Mi Vida

The problem w/ Summer’s Trigger Happy Fingers

Self Control: Greek “EQKRATEIA”

  1. The virtue of one who masters his desires and passions.

  2. Restraint exercise over one’s impulses, emotions and desires.”

Summers make it really hard to keep track of a To-Do-List when you don’t have a normal routine. It seems impossible because I have to rely on myself to create one and then I have to follow it. Sometimes I do better than other times. I do better when I’m busy and I have other things on my calendar (Like the missions trip, camps, trainings, weddings and more), outside of myself… these past 2 weeks have been a “self-control” nightmare, and my “trigger happy fingers” have gotten the best of me half the time. Yet, I try to keep them in control, after all it does affect my finances…

I suppose it all started after all my weeks of traveling were completed and I finally had time to rest. But that is one problem…. I can’t really rest fully. I have to be doing something else. So in between preparing to start teaching ministry students I needed another project… (Remember this ADD person needs to multitask). So I began to “redo” my kitchen…which eventually carried on to other areas of the house. (But with limits!) I remember that I had to take my non-stick cookware set back to the department store seeing as they had not lasted long and the lids no longer sat snug against the pots or pans. All went well, I got a new set. Of course I had researched for hours with no results since they only had one option for me to replace it with. Then I looked at my 27 year old stainless steel pots and “asked” my husband, (I have to ask and smile you know), “I think I should replace our original set. Is been 27 years and they are showing a lot of wear. Would that be alright?” And after a lot of research and showing him what I found he agreed. He then informed me that “Prime Day” is around the corner and maybe I can find what I like at a bargain. (Well, that may have been his mistake). That is the beginning of my tragic, timeless and battle with online stores. I was caught in their whirlpool of sales and was having fun. You see I remembered 3 things at this point:

  1. My birthday is coming up, and with that, dollars.
  2. My 3 daughters are out of school (and one married). I don’t have to spend anything for them to go “back to school” (except the one who is in college, but she already has 80% of her stuff).
  3. I always set aside a little money for summer projects. Well, that settles it. Time to get my kitchen updated and change out my bathroom… oh, and my 19 year old no longer wants her “middle school” look in her room…hum

As you know this means online shopping…

at least for me. I can gather more information and check all stores without leaving my house. So I get my coffee and sit by the computer in my jammies and voilà! I’m in shopping heaven, or close to it. So here are my pointers in controlling my Summer trigger happy fingers:

  1. I review what I had in my kitchen that is broken, OLD (like over 20 years), missing parts or non-functional. (or just plain ugly… I’m sure you have some too). Before taking it out I need to make sure it is worth replacing. I don’t bother boxing anything up until I have the replacement, or it is on its way. This keeps me in control and from going berserk with shopping.
  2. I spent more time on researching and watching for the lowest prices, reviews and options than actually purchasing. I know my price limits, and I know that if I can’t find something at a reasonable price, I don’t need it at all. Checking for reviews (and reading them), is important for me because I don’t want to waste money. I am limited on finances anyway, and I try to get at least 40% off although I shoot for 60% or higher.business-coffee-communication-433313.jpg
  3. Whatever I find, regardless of the discount, I place it in my “list” and leave it…. It might go down more, or I may not even get it. This again allows me to restrain myself, narrow it down and not go overboard…even when your family thinks you have. This may be time consuming but worth it.
  4. When I find the best deal, I mean the BEST deal, and I know it is worth it, I place it in the cart. I check out other places for price matching, and maybe coupons to see if I can get it even lower. This may mean checking out the local areas. For example, I finally found a stainless steel cookware set that has high reviews, originally $299 for only $84.99 with matching lower price plus a 20% off coupon. I wound up getting it at a department store. “Happy birthday Raqui.” “Why, thank you hubby!”
  5. I Do not buy anything I cannot pay for, even if it is on sale. I make sure that if I use my credit card, I have the WHOLE amount to pay for it when the bill comes. (Sometimes I send a portion of it ahead of time so it won’t be too overwhelming when the bill arrives.) This is where it gets tough… because I’m looking now at a set of dishes with my favorite colors.  Don’t really need them, but I would really, really like them. I think I will wait until next year. I will save up. Controlling my urges to buy is practicing self-control, even when I didn’t do too well when I bought the blue glasses. In my defense, they were ½ of Amazon’s price plus I had a $7 credit. And no one can come even close to it.
  6. Be crafty. I reuse things by redoing them even by painting them or using the parts to make something different. I also use old stuff or by things from the dollar store, thrift stores and garage sales for my little projects. Sometimes I just have things around that I can use. I redid my vase from the bathroom by taking things off and adding the new colors and ribbon. Used $2 only and my new bird in a cage décor cost me $5 to make with items I already had like the metal/glass lantern and mini lights.

So yes, I switched several things out of my kitchen. I ended up spray painting other items so I wouldn’t have to spend more money to replace them. I switched out my bathroom shower curtain and accessories (and painted it) for less than $70 and got my college daughter new bedding, rug and a few decor items, (getting rid of her preteen stuff), for way under $80. Replaced broken household items and old worn out things plus damaged utensils and more in my kitchen. I even added a conner shelf in my bedrrom to replace the musltiple shelves that seems too chaotic. I think I did pretty good considering I stayed under $400 total for all rooms….  (I hope my husband doesn’t read that part.) At least I hope I did… (I did purchase items for the church as well, but that is not included.) Yes, this is my confession, which is good for the soul.

So, next time I feel the need to create summer projects I will need to check my trigger happy fingers at the door and leave them behind. Projects that are uniquely me need to always be restrained by self-control and self-discipline. Otherwise my ventures into the summer would not be so unique, as I would join many in the world deep in debt. Well, I’m expecting a couple of boxes soon…. and thank you for shopping at…BN-UU819_KEYWOR_P_20170824114524

Share your summer self-controlled trigger happy fingers do’s and don’ts in your comments.

Uniquely Inspirational

Out of the Darkness

 “But God chose you to be his people. You are royal priests. You are a holy nation. You are God’s special treasure. You are all these things so that you can give him praise. God brought you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” – 1 Peter 2:9

I have worked with young people for over 25 years.

I have worked with young people in 3 different countries and they all have several things in common:

    1. They are struggling with their future
    2. They are struggling with relationships
    3. They are struggling within themselves
    4. They are struggling with sin and that leads to struggling with God

Sometimes they just ignore it, hoping that ignoring it will make it go away. Otherwise it leads to more pain. Sometimes they just accept it, as part of life and they give in to their emotions allowing the feelings to lead them, hence covering up the pain. Sometimes they face it, head on by fighting it. Often this leads to causing pain in others around them, whether voluntarily or not. A good example of these struggles can easily be seen in these lyrics Out of the Darkness By Little Steven, and in Matt Hegardy’s song as well.

However, the best solution, the one I constantly pray for and work for (as well as many pastors , family and friends), is that they surrender it to Christ. Hence, stepping into the Light of Christ and out of their darkness. Maybe Erin Willett is figering this out in her song Out of the Darkness.

It seems to me that this is the hardest thing for many young people to do, to surrender it, because they really cannot imagine the outcome. At times they feel that the outcome is so overwhelmingly good that they cannot believe it.  Often they just think that “no way that will never happen to me” and that they cannot overcome it….ever.  the dark shedThe worst yet, they are so comfortable in their own discomfort that often the pain and hardships become so entwined with their emotions and who they are that they in fact enjoy it. After all, they have been taught that there is nothing wrong and that their darkness is a good thing, it makes you “cool.” (Maybe not in those words, but you get my drift).

Such a simple solution, yet too hard for many to take.  As if they were stuck inside a dark cave.

This summer I watched how many young people saw the LIGHT, they finally understood not only the LOVE of GOD for them, but His purpose, His intentions and His PROMISES. They saw where humanity had gone wrong, they saw how the darkness came and had lied to them and swallowed them whole. They saw the lies and sin for what it is and saw JESUS for who HE IS and how HE gave his life for them so that He can pull them out of the darkness. As I watched the youth come to the altar, as I heard the prayers and heard their plea, I knelt by a young girl to pray. My question, “What do you want God to do for you today?” Her response was , “I don’t know. There is so much and I’m confused…”

20180620_194057

“What are you most confused about?” As she searched for answers I could not stop from feeling her pain. “My life, my relationship… is just…” and she burst into tears before she could finish. I asked again, “What do you want Jesus to do with it?” “To make it right…” She finally voiced. As we prayed she admitted her need to be forgiven and healed. The more we prayed, the more peaceful she became. At the end she looked at me and said, “I feel peaceful, I feel free and I know God loves me.”  Yes, this young lady, along with dozens had prayed out of their darkness that night. She now had left the darkness behind. The pain, she, along with many, had come to the realization that she could not hide it, ignore, live with it, live above it, but all she had to do was to surrender it. In that process Jesus took her hand and led her out…

I left that night with tears of joy.  Taking it all in. For that night many young people encountered the Savior, His forgiveness, His grace, His love, His light and His healing power. They found freedom for the first time. They lined up to share with others what God had done, sharing how they have been healed.

As I thought about it and dwelled on the service the day after. I had been seeing them around the campgrounds. I talked with a few, noticing their smiles and seeing the joy and peace in their eyes. Their words supported what I saw in their eyes and smiles. It showed the difference, no pain, no darkness. I walked into the sanctuary to find this projected on the wall:20180621_183542

As we left at the end of the week I was reminded how amazing is God’s grace that not only steps in to pull us out of the darkness, but was willing to go into it himself (when He died on the cross for us) just to get us out. Jesus himself suffered. Jesus himself was in pain. Jesus himself carried our sins, our darkness and left it behind. He understands us, He has lived it and if He can bring us out… into the light. Matthew West portrays it best in His song “Into the Light.” Jesus didn’t just pulled us out and into the His light… He continues to give us light and walk by our side. He took our hand and walks with us. Yes, Jesus walks with us no matter how uniquely weird and crazy our lives gets. All we have to do is take His hand, let Him lead, and hold on for our dear life. Because believe me, living with Christ is such a uniquely lit adventure!

 

Uniquely Mi Vida

The effects of being uniquely ME

“In those days, I will pour out my Spirit on my servants. I will pour out my Spirit on both men and women. When I do, they will prophesy.” –Acts 2:8

Raqui Sharing

“Why do you want to be an co-pastor?” A church board member from Puerto Rico asked me during an interview with my husband, “Isn’t it enough to be the pastor’s wife and just “minister” as one?” (It was 1994 and I was expecting my first child). 

“Was it enough for the Apostle Paul to stay with the disciples and work within their shadows from Jerusalem? Where would the church be then?” That should have been my response, but I just said, “I am not called to be a pastor’s wife. I am called to be a minister and to do that I have to take responsibilities since I’m in the process of ordination…” (I was eventually ordained in 1995, a year later, being one of the few Puerto Rican women at the time, I think I was the second or third.) 

Ironically enough this church wound up selecting a female friend of mine to be their pastor about 12 years later.

About 4 years later, a denominational leader is Kansas City called us into his office to talk about our call to missions, (and still do). Referring to me he asked, “Have you considered stepping aside and letting your husband do his ministry?” 

From the corner of my eye I could see my husband, Todd, shifting to respond, but I beat him to it. “I have never kept my husband from ministering, nor interrupted his ministry. He has his calling and ministry and I have mine. Even though we have separate callings we know how to work well together.” (Maybe I should have mentioned that I had not seen any disciple leave ministry and let Peter do ministry on his own.) I responded without shame. My husband affirmed that neither of us keeps the other from ministry. Then he insisted that the question be addressed to him as well. I smiled.  

Houston Work and Witness
Raqui praying for a couple who lost everything to the hurricane in the Port Arthur, TX area.

These are just a few of the hurdles I have had to jump over in my life. Questions that Christians may find irresponsible and even absurd, others find necessary. It is not that they are opposed to me, it is that they doubt my calling, or that women may be called. I have never been able to understand fully why. Yet, I never allowed it to impede or keep me from God’s calling. All I know is that I had, and HAVE, a calling. When I was 14 years old i answered the calling much like Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord. He said, “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me!””

This is not to say that it has all been easy…sometimes life has been super difficult, other times super easy… but for whom hasn’t it been? I have had, as everyone else called into ministry (men or women) to pass through storms in which I have been soaked by the rains. But I have also have had times in life that it has been, to say, rainbows. Either way, I have seen the hand of God working, at every turn, in the lives of those who I have shared Christ. This tells me that I am following His will.

Dr. Jerry Porter always told me that the calling is affirmed by people who have come to Christ through your ministry and the spiritual growth in their lives. He affirmed my calling many times. It is very important for women like me to have people like him in our lives.

So what then is needed to confirm a calling? First let me be clear, ALL Christians have been called (“mandated”, actually),  to share the message of Christ. ALL of us are called to work in the fields. (Matthew 28:16-20) We have ALL been called to love and be like Christ. Yet, there is a specific group that God calls to be Pastors, Missionaries, leaders, teachers and so on…

July 4 Baptisms
Estrella getting baptised by her Pastor Mom, with Pastor Dad assisting.
  1. This calling comes from the depths of your heart with a huge passion. This passion cannot be stopped. A person with the passion of Christ does not see the soul of human beings as everyone else.  We see lost souls and we constantly want to try to help them find their way. We want them to encounter Jesus Christ. We want to help them to maintain a relationship with Christ. We want them to find holiness and live by it.  That passion comes in everything we do, for it spills into our lives and our home. Sometimes it even makes us cry. The compassionate and empathetic heart is part of Christ’s. When you talk about Christ and teach the scriptures, the passion is heard.
  2. The calling is found in the scripture. No matter how often your read it or what verse you read, you feel the calling through it verses. When God calls you, He uses the scripture to lead you. God speaks to hearts though the scriptures. He also speaks during prayer times. Hearing the voice of God in our souls as we pray, a voice that cannot be shut off. As you read, as you pray, the voice of the Lord gets louder and the calling becomes just as loud. For me I heard it in the stories of the prophets in the Old Testament (as in Jeremiah 1:4-10) and the calling of the disciples, the great commandment and others like it. When I heard it as I read about the Samaritan woman by the well and in Ruth, I had to accept that it was from God, it was real. Even when I prayed today, I could and can hear His calling. (He can really be demanding when He wants to be and needs to be).
  3. Others around you and throughout your life see it too. During our lives others see your gifts of “pastor, missionary, teacher and leader. The people themselves, our families and friends, affirm our calling. They form part of our mentoring group, who we need, especially while our calling is developing.  It is important to talk to our pastors, leaders and those of strong faith who have known us and have watched us grow spiritually. My parents, as missionaries, and my pastors, were my best mentors. Besides them, I had other leaders that after finding out about my calling, they would hug me and support me. The most important thing is that they mentored me and taught me (and still do) how to be a minister. It was they who prepared me by giving me responsibilities, jobs and guiding me. This is how they, and many more, have affirmed me in my calling. {A great HUG of Gratitude to those special to me: My Parents, Bill Porter, Dr. Jerry Porter, Dr. Roger Hahn, Dr. Dennis Bratcher, Rev. Noemi Vasquez-Pla, Rev. Manuel y Norma Guzmán, Dr. Howard Culbertson, just to name a few}

Papi Predicando y yo interpretando al ingles

Translating for my Father, Rev. Mario A. Cintron. We make an awesome team.

  1.  Your gifts and skills are given for the sake of that calling. Sometimes we may not understand why we have certain skills that wind up transforming or supporting our calling. Yet, all those gifts and skills are being used for our calling, if not now, they will. Here is where I saw my calling more clearly. The gift of teaching and preaching with passion affirmed my calling. The gift of translating, of helping, even finances and budgeting, and more have assisted me in sharing the gospel. If I ever had a doubt, all I had to do was look at my gifts and skills and see that God gave them to me for ministry. That is big.
  2. When God calls he gives a hunger for education in Theology, biblical studies and the Truth. You have a hunger to learn more that seems to increase as you see the need to equip yourself with the best tools to be your best. Some come to me telling me that they only need the Bible. If that was true, and that is all you need, Jesus wouldn’t have spent 3 years with his disciples (but would have just given them the Torah and walked away), and Paul would not have gone for 4 years to learn more after his transformation and calling. The Bible is the most important thing,  but not the ONLY thing we need for ministry. A true calling comes with an appetite, a hunger for learning more, wanting more knowledge and greater wisdom. Because a man cannot live on bread alone. We need to learn about the people, the cultures, the history, the ways people think, life itself and more. Education is important here, it fulfills those things that equip us to better minister. For we know that the calling is not just preaching… it is more than that, and the preaching needs to be solid.
  3. When God calls He provides. He is after all “Yahweh Yirah,” the Lord will provide. I have learned that will open the doors and will close the doors according to God’s will, always providing for my means. On my end, I have to make sure I don’t force the doors open just because a door seems more pleasing, fun, solid, shiny or whatever… I have to learn to TRUST fully on God, even when that “door” seems scary or delapidated. When I said to God “yes” and asked that He provide my education, He did. When I said “yes” and asked to show me the man that had said “yes” too and was a man of God, and with the heart of God, He did. When I said “yes” and asked that He supply my financial needs… He HAS. God provides as long as we are following HIS WILL and saying “yes.”

Then, what are the “effects” of all this in my life? Well, they have made me who I am today. As a Latin woman, more specifically, a Puerto Rican called into ministry, I have to continue to live a life according to my calling in ministry. Yes, I know eyes are on me a lot. No matter what happens. That means that I have to keep myself connected to God in all things as mentioned. It is difficult but not impossible. It is hard work, but never in vain. I have had more chapters in my life that have been more positive than negative. I have seen children, young people, and adults come to the feet of Jesus, sanctified, healed and called throughout my life. And all these make my life very, VERY, much worth living. Because this unique life that I am living, I am living for Christ, regardless of the “effects” that follow.

“We speak the truth. We serve in the power of God. We hold the weapons of godliness in the right hand and in the left. We serve God in times of glory and shame. We serve him whether the news about us is bad or good. We are true to our calling. But people treat us as if we were pretenders.” –2 Cor. 6:7-8

Therefore I keep heading forward…. with Christ by my side because “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” -Phil. 1:21 What else can I say? And this UNIQUE life that God has given me?… is… uniquely HIS.

“For the Sake of the Call”– Steven Curtis Chapman