Uniquely Deep

Women in Ministry by: Debra White Smith

When asked why he encouraged women preachers, John Wesley responded, “Because God owns them in the conversion of sinners, and who am I that I should withstand God” (Zechariah Taft. Peterborough: Methodist Publishing House, 1992). The question of ordaining women as pastors, evangelists, and deacons is more a question of biblical scholarship methods than of whether women are ordained. Churches in the John Wesley tradition approach the Word of God with a balanced view that considers all scriptures on all topics. No matter the subject, we don’t isolate one or two key scriptures to prove a limited stance that is created by ignoring any verse(s) that refutes that stance. Scholars call this method of scholarship “proof texting,” and it is an erroneous method of biblical interpretation that creates unbalanced theology and concepts. (Slave owners used the same method of scholarship to prove owning and abusing slaves was God-approved and biblical since the New Testament tells slaves to submit to their masters.) Therefore, when the topic of the ordination of women is approached, we consult all verses that deal with women in ministry and then come to the most logical and balanced conclusions based upon the full body of information found in the Bible—not just one or two verses. Due to this balanced approach to scripture, many Wesleyan-tradition churches have ordained women since their inception. For instance, the Church of the Nazarene has been ordaining women for over 100 years. The first group of Nazarene pastors and evangelists who were ordained in 1908 was one-third women.

Paul made a few direct statements against women participating in church life, but he also affirmed women who prophesied and women in church leadership. “A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent” (1 Tim. 2:11-12). “As in all congregations of the saints, women should remain silent in churches. They are not allowed to speak, but must be in submission, as the Law says. When they want to inquire about something, they should ask their own husbands at home; for it is disgraceful for a woman to speak in church” (1 Cor. 14:33b-35). However, Paul also supported women who weren’t silent in the church and who were prophets (preachers) and teachers. In 1 Cor. 11:5, Paul references women praying and prophesying (preaching) in church. This scripture occurs three chapters before he tells women to be silent. Also, in Romans 16, Paul affirms many women in ministry, including Phoebe, a deacon (v. 1) and Junias (v. 7), a female apostle—the highest office of the First Century church. Given the wide body of biblical evidence in favor of women in ministry, the historic stance of Wesleyan-tradition churches is that either Paul contradicted himself and much of the Bible when he told women not to teach/preach and to be silent, or there was a specific problem in each of these cases that he was dealing with concerning women who were inappropriately out of hand. There are differing theories on the problems Paul was addressing. However, many Wesleyan-tradition scholars believe that Paul was dealing with women who were either disrupting the service in 1 Corinthians and/or being domineering in 1 Timothy and that he was not refuting his other statements or other Scriptures that support women in ministry. For a look at passages that do support women as preachers/prophetesses and/or spiritual leaders see: Exodus 15-20; Judges 4; 2 Kings 22:14; Micah 6:4; Joel 2:28-29; Luke 2:26-38; Acts 2:16-21; Acts 18; Acts 21:9.

No denomination that I am aware of fully applies a literal interpretation of what Paul said about women remaining fully silent in church. In denominations around the world, women are not silent. They may be teaching and/or preaching, singing in the choir, serving on boards,
playing instruments, testifying, laughing, talking, and participating in church life. By and large, denominations do not apply a strict, literal interpretation of Paul’s telling women to be silent because the church world would suffer greatly and perhaps fail if all women went silent. Likewise, the spreading of the Gospel is significantly hindered when women are told they are not to publicly proclaim the Good News. Furthermore, the most balanced biblical scholarship method on any subject is solidified when we start with the teachings of Jesus Christ and don’t interpret any scripture in a way that violates what Jesus said. Jesus Christ was the sinless son of God, and His words must be the underlying force and influencer in all biblical interpretation. Whatever Paul wrote must be interpreted in the context of his own teachings as well as in the context of Jesus Christ’s teachings. Any concept on any subject that is created by ignoring the teachings of Christ can be out of balance. Using scripture as a tool to subordinate or limit anyone due to age, race, economic status or whether they are male or female is a direct violation of what Jesus said and most of what Paul himself said. According to Paul, “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28). Jesus Christ stated, “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you” (Matthew 7:12). This Golden Rule applies to everything, including how we view and treat both men and women.
Furthermore, the Bible could also be used to limit men and prohibit them from ministry. Jesus Christ repeatedly told his male disciples to not even call themselves leaders and not to think of themselves in authority over others. “Also, a dispute arose among them as to which of them was considered the greatest. Jesus said to them, ‘The kings of the Gentiles lord it over them; and those who exercise authority over them call themselves Benefactors. But you are not to be like that. Instead, the greatest among you should be like the youngest, and the one who rules like the one who serves…But I am among you as the one who serves’” (Luke 2:24-27b, NIV). “But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers…And do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. But the greatest among you shall be your servant. And whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted (Matthew 23:8, 10-12, NASB). Note: The King James Version states, “Do not be called masters” (v.10); the New International Version states, “Do not be called teachers” (v.10). Using the proof texting method of biblical scholarship, these and numerous other sections of the Bible could easily be used to subordinate men and stop them from holding any ministry position as teachers or pastors or assuming any role as leaders. However, churches do not use scripture to limit men in the church or ministry, nor should they.

“There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus”.

Galatians 3:28

When scholars proof text Paul’s statements about women as support for not ordaining women, but ignore Christ’s similar messages to men, such biblical interpretation lacks credence because it lacks consistent application. Churches in the Wesleyan tradition are committed to consistent application of balanced, biblical scholarship methods. Those methods include a thoughtful examination of everything the Bible says on a subject, including the ordination of women.


Below is a list of some of the denominations who ordain women as pastors and affirm women in ministry:
• Church of the Nazarene
• Mainstream Baptists
• Alliance of Baptists
• American Baptist Churches USA
Debra White Smith 3
• Church of God, Anderson
• Brethren in Christ
• The Wesleyan Church
• Presbyterian Church (USA)
• Mennonite Church USA
• Episcopal Church in the USA
• Vineyard Movement
• Evangelical Catholic Church
• Evangelical Lutheran Church in America
• Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ
• African Methodist Episcopal Church
• African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church
• Salvation Army
• The Free Methodist Church North America
• Evangelical Covenant Church of America
• International Church of the Foursquare Gospel
• International Pentecostal Holiness Church
• Christian Reformed Church in North America
• Religious Society of Friends (Quaker)
• United Church of Christ
• United Methodist Church
• Wesleyan Reform Union

Southern Baptist Church: Lottie Moon was an applauded, highly educated Southern Baptist missionary who spent her life preaching the Word of God in China during the 19th and early 20th Centuries. Even though the Southern Baptist church currently does not recognize women as pastors or missionaries, they still applaud Lottie Moon’s groundbreaking work as a missionary and take up an annual Christmas offering for missions in her memory. “In 1964 Addie Davis became the first Southern Baptist woman ordained to the ministry. By the 1970’s hundreds of women were enrolled in ministerial degree programs at Southern Baptist Church seminaries. By the early 1990’s more than 1,000 women had been ordained; more than 50 ordained SBC women served as pastors in Southern Baptist churches; and others served as professors at Southern Baptist universities and seminaries. In 2000 the Southern Baptist Church stopped recognizing the ordination of women.” However, all Southern Baptists do not agree with this decision (Prescott & McClatchy. Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists, 1999-2003.)

For more detailed information about balanced, biblical interpretation and women in ministry, please consult the following books, and websites:
• The Tie that Binds: A Marriage Revolution of Love by Debra White Smith, specifically the chapters, “Ruling and Drooling” and “Leading and Following.”
• Reclaiming Eve by Suzanne Burden, Carla Sunberg, and Jamie Wright.
• 25 Tough Questions about Women and the Church by J. Lee Grady.
• Christians for Biblical Equality: www.cbeinternational.org
• Wesleyan Holiness Women Clergy: www.whwomenclergy.org
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• Timeline of Women in Methodism: http://www.umc.org/who-we-are/timeline-of-women-in-methodism

–Debra White Smith c2008
http://www.debrawhitesmith.com
*This article is free for unlimited copying and distribution. Please do not make any changes in the article without first gaining permission from Debra White Smith.

Uniquely Deep

A Struggle in My Mind

When your thoughts keep you from sleeping..

I couldn’t sleep last night.

My mind kept repeating words, conversations…one sided conversations mostly. Hearing words told to me over and over again, or conversations of previous days. Conversations that make me question things. I wonder if things could have gone better. What could I say or do better? I review words and their meanings. Some conversations just repeat themselves. Then my mind goes through an unending song loop. Even worse, it is not even the whole song, just parts. Then in an attempt to change the song my mind goes back to areas of my past that create distrust, fear and regrets. I turn over, maybe my mind will find a more peaceful thought. It searches through and conversations start again. It seems like an endless loop. A loop that kept getting louder and louder. Somehow, the most painful ones creep up again as I try to shut it out so I can rest. Yet, when you are tired sometimes you find yourself second guessing decisions of the past, or at least hearing things again you thought were all settled. Then your mind relives those moments of your past that hurt the most. One pattern I’m familiar with is when concerns turns into worries, worries into stress, then into doubts and then sometimes depression takes hold. It is too familiar… a route I refuse take. A route I have fought against.

So I find myself praying and asking God for help. I let my prayers replace the loop of frustration within me. I try to find a way into a peaceful state of mind, to find the happy recollections of life. Remembering the good memories temporarily erases the bad. It is hard sometimes to get the mind to focus on the good and just stop the endless loop of thought and find rest. Rest is so necessary to put to sleep the negative thoughts and memories so they do not find their way into my heart.

In the middle of it all, I am reminded that life, much less my calling, is not easy. What I do is one of the hardest things to do in the world. Being a minister means having to always be willing to give, always willing to forgive, to love when there is no love in return, to extend grace when none is extended to you. It means always being willing to sacrifice yourself. What could be a huge blessing full of joy, love, hope and gratefulness to often becomes a painful, difficult task. The enemy knows this. He tries to force upon you doubts, fears, pain and self loathing. He forces memories to make you doubt your calling, to question whether you heard God correctly. He forces doubts, and “what if’s.” What if I was misunderstood? What if things do not get better? What if something goes wrong tomorrow? What if…? He forces it, because he knows their are lies or weaknesses in your past to exploit. And I know it well. So I find it hard to sleep peacefully. He is good at what he does, that Accuser. The question is, am I going to see the lies for what they are and be strong enough to dismiss them?

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight.

Proverbs 3:5-6
“..I need GOD..”

But I am not strong enough…

…not on my OWN…

…I need GOD!

I am reminded of Who God is and Who He has called me to be. I am reminded that He is MY GOD. This amazing God who created the world and me, only to keep transforming me even more to His liking. He is a God so powerful that He can bring the earth to a standstill, move mountains and stop the flow of water with a word. Yet, He is a God who cradles me, wipes my tears and holds me tight and whispers, “You are my child. Everything will be alright, TRUST ME.” He is the God who sent His son to die for me and make me whole again. Who saw the pain years, years ago and erased it. Who saw the brokenness and sins and made me whole and forgiven. Who lifted me up from the “shallow love” to an amazing overwhelming one. So amazing and so powerful that it consumes me. A God who comes in the form of the Holy Spirit to fully change me, transform me, guide me, and make me more like Him daily. Who teaches me to love like HE loves. To see the people the way He sees them, through His eyes and His heart. A God who never gives up on me. Who goes before me, beside me and carries me. This is the God I serve, the one I LOVE the one I said “Yes” to many, many years ago.

I am reminded that it is GOD who called me, for a reason that I still have yet to discover, but it doesn’t matter because He knows it. I am reminded that TRUSTING in HIM is my only power over the enemy and all his lies and accusations. God can reveal the TRUTH and all I have to do is listen to Him. I am in need to be reminded not to “lean on my own knowledge” but in God’s, reminded that the thoughts in my head are not truths just distractions. I need to be reminded that throughout my past GOD has sustained me and He has carried me through. I can find peace in HIM. So I pray, a long prayer, it gently rocks me and leads me to rest. I finally sleep.

In the morning I sit with my coffee. As I ascertain the thoughts of the night before, I realize that there is nothing there to bother with. For I have learned that God’s amazing grace shatters the barriers of distrust, worries and lies that the enemy has created. That His LOVE conquers any doubt. His TRUTH strengthens any weakened resolved. Knowing that if I Stand Firm, my GOD is FAITHFUL and He will do it. ” Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” – 1 Cor. 15:58. I will not be afraid, I will not fear for I will not only be steadfast but I will TRUST God. (Psalm 112:6-8a) I am grateful that I have such an AWESOME GOD who sees me. Who sees this unique person, that may be little and insignificant to many, but is so SIGNIFICANT to HIM.

In the meantime I will HOPE in God who will grant me peace. I will not give in to the “what if’s..” of life. I will find rest and peace in God and in GOD alone. And those nights that I find myself tossing and turning, reviewing events, conversations, decisions and all… I will not be weakened by them. I will pray and find rest in God. For my HOPE is in GOD and my PEACE is found in HIM. I will sleep knowing that HE is by my side and in my heart and that struggling uniquely MIND of mine.

And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7
Uniquely Deep

The Struggle with Crossing Cultural Boundaries

[ I wrote this article over 15 years ago. It is still as true today as it was then]

We all know the story of Jesus coming up to the Samaritan woman at the well in John chapter 4 (v. 1-26). I remember the first time I heard the story as a child, in Spanish, in Puerto Rico. I was about 6 years old. I have heard it many times since then and I’m still intrigued by the story.

We are taught about the grace of of Jesus towards the “sinner” and about His offer of living water for those who “thirst.” Yet, it seems to me that there is more to this story than that which we are so easily led to conclude. This story is not just about Jesus’s offer of eternal life as much as it is to whom he offers it and how. This story is about how Jesus reached out cross-culturally.

Jesus begins by talking to this woman. A basic “Howdy do?” He speaks to a Samaritan which was considered a “taboo.” It was the custom that neither culture related to each other, much less talked. Not only did the two people groups go their separate ways, they literally went hundreds of miles out of their way to avoid the land where they lived. AND A WOMAN? This is even worse. Not only did Jesus dare to go through their land (already breaking through boundaries), but he even DARES to TALK to a woman, and not just any Samaritan woman, but an adulteress. Three strikes!

Jesus opens His conversation with, “Will you help me please?” Jesus does not ask if he could help HER, but the other way around. By asking her if she could help Him, he shows true humility. To allow someone to HELP you is one of the most hardest things for some people to do. It is an act of Humbleness. To ask an outcast woman from and outcast people is an even bigger deal. After all, Jesus had much more to offer this woman, He had eternal water. This is the most important lesson that Jesus teaches us in cross-cultural ministry: To HUMBLE ourselves.

Jesus asked a simple question. He didn’t care what the answer would be. In fact, He knew what the answer was before he asked. Yet He asked anyway. He knew it would be the opportunity that He needed to open a conversation with her. He didn’t come to her saying, “I’m a Jew and I have a lot to offer to you. I want to help you by giving you eternal life.” Jesus went about it differently. He knew that He had a need and that this woman who struggled in life could still help him. She was a woman whose culture and life was different in all ways. This woman could still fill his need. He was thirsty and had nothing to draw water with. She did. In turn, Jesus saw her need, and in order to help her, he had to start a conversation. His goal was to come to her with humility. He didn’t want her to feel threatened or fearful. He wanted her to feel comfortable. After all, He was in HER territory. Therefore, this dialogue had to be within HER comfort zone. By this action Jesus showed her that he might be a Jew, but He was NOT above her, and was willing to ask for her HELP. We see a WILLINGNESS to consider others as equals, and to make others comfortable.

The first lesson in cross-cultural ministry, is to break down barriers by opening a dialogue allowing the other person whom you have come to help (serve) to first HELP (serve) YOU. By this I don’t mean to “demand,” but “ASK,” “Will you help me?” or “Could you help me?” In North American society I have learned that people don’t ask for help unless they have to. North American culture lives by the rule that says, “Everyone takes care of their own business.” To other societies this seems obnoxious and proud. As Christians, Jesus teaches us to put aside the wrong things we are sometimes taught. Let me say this from a Latina point of view: It is necessary for people to put aside their preconceived notions that they can not talk to us because “we” don’t understand them, and if we do, it is only to “teach” us. They make sure to make the latina knows it is her job to learn to speak English, and not the American’s job to learn Spanish. Many people come to me saying, “You are in America now, you need to speak English.” What people don’t realize is, it is not the language that makes me Latina, it is the whole culture that is different. I am different in the way I converse, think, do, eat, and so on. In the Latin culture (or Hispanic culture), for instance, to not ask others for help (even if they have little), is seen as arrogant and prideful. We also know that if you need help, it is our duty and desire to help you because we are all Familia. We then expect you to help us when we have a need. On the flip side, the Latino and other minority cultures, are also afraid to ask for help, but for other reasons: we believe that we will not be helped. Due to the experience that we have been told, “Help yourselves.” Or “if I help you, you wont learn.”

Jesus did not demand water from the woman at the well, and I’m so glad he didn’t. She would have felt offended and would have left right away only to come back with several Samaritan men to throw Jesus out. The story would have been different: “Jesus runs away from the angry Samaritan Mob.” Jesus didn’t do that. He sat at the well, the Samaritan’s well. When a woman approached the well he kindly asked, “Will you give me a drink?” Jesus in turn offered His help. He awaits for her response, within her cross-cultural context and on her grounds. He offered to fill her need. This is compassion, to offer help and fill the needs of others. Yet, permission needs to be there. American culture, just as much as other cultures, needs to learn to ASK.

Help is seldom asked for filling the need that we have. Maybe because we don’t think they can. Maybe because we think that they are too different and will not understand. Maybe we think we are here to help them, not the other way around… Today however, the Hispanic population and other minority groups are increasing in the USA rapidly. Sometimes Americans don’t realize that many Europeans are in “their territory” just as much as Hispanics are in “yours.” (Many minorities have been here for generations, and Everything from California to Texas was once Mexico.) Goodness, even I forget when I cross from the Anglo-white culture into the Latino and back. Let us then be humbled in our approach to cross-culturally ministry. Let us be compassionate and willing to reach out in their context with LOVE and humbleness. Let’s learn from Jesus and how he approached other cultures. Only then will you be given the opportunity to offer your help and service to other groups.

Let me then be the first one, “Will you give ME a drink.”

Uniquely Deep, Uniquely Inspirational

Consumed by Hate

quote by will smith on hate

On the flip side of my last blog, I have to bring to the forefront the one-sided ideology that has been bubbling up in today’s society. It makes me realize how often our actions come from our hearts (or lack thereof). The two extremes of love and hate are familiar to each and every one of us. Our humanity always leans toward one or the other, but usually our human nature leans into the side of hate. Why is this? It is because our first natural impulse is selfish, and selfishness eventually consumes us. The worst thing is this same selfishness refuses to admit fault,  and then blames others for our own anger and hate.

” They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips,  slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents;  they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.” –Romans 1:29-32 (NIV)

So what causes hate? Hate is a response to the anger that comes from fear and pain. This response is usually directed towards an unwanted action (Going all the way back to childhood it progresses just like this: he took my ball, I’m afraid he won’t give it back, I am so mad, I hate it when he does that, I hate him!) This action leads to unwanted results which causes pain and hurt. The fear of falling back into that result or revisiting it, causes anger, regrets and sometimes doubts.  For many, hating the action turns into the hate towards a person or persons. It can begin as something as acceptable as saying “I hate that you were raped.” but may lead to, “I hate who did this to you.” In a society where the anger and hate toward certain people is actually encouraged, it grows far too easily. It may jump even further to a hatred of a group of people, “I hate people that look like the rapist.” Sometimes our minds increase the targets of our anger, and hate grows: “I hate all men because they are all rapists,” Then we start a vendetta of hate towards others without reason or logic, all based on fears… We are then so CONSUMED by hate that there is no stopping it.

Yet, our society takes that “hate” even further, it begins to include  all those with which we disagree. From where I am, I see a lot of people who do not see everything the way I see it. And that is fine, because we all agreed about everything there would be no sense in communication, sharing beliefs, sharing experiences and more. I would allow my bad experiences to redefine who I was and allow the anger to expand. I would have been consumed by hate and therefore become…well, a “Grinch,” unhappy, miserable, lonely and even suicidal. Hate that consumes us does not allow us to see past ourselves and our selfishness.  We see everything through the lens of darkness. It takes us to a life of darkness full of hate and somewhere in the back of the mind, shame. Since it is the opposite of “love,” it is the opposite of “God” because God is LOVE. So if  we are consumed by hate, we do not have God.  (1 John 4:20)

“We love because he first loved us. Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. And he has given us this command: Anyone who loves God must also love their brother and sister.”  — 1 John 4:19-20

Now there is a fine line between actions based on “hate” and “caution.”

If we have been involved in a painful experience, our human response is to be “cautious” when encountering similar situations, places and people. It does not mean that we “hate,” but that we do not “trust” the situation, place or person. We are not responding out of anger, but out of learned experiences. This prevents us from putting ourselves back in danger.

So what do I do to keep anger, that may lead to hate, out of my mind and hence out of my heart? I PRAY… a lot. I am reminded of the scriptures that say, “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  that you may be children of your Father in heaven… (Matthew 5: 44b-45a). I pray for God’s guidance, strength and wisdom. I pray for Him to help me get through it. I pray that I may not hate but love. I pray to restrain my anger ( a lot) and keep my heart focused on Christ. I pray for forgiveness for my anger and ask God to help me forgive the one who has hurt me. Prayer leads us to humbleness…like Jesus was towards those who crucified him. So the next time someone cuts you off in traffic and fills you with the fear of death, before anger and hate can grow, pray for that other driver, then forgive them and finally pray for their salvation.couple-on-bench-upset-300x200

Second, take time to heal. Find people to help you heal. Read the scriptures. Listen to the Christian songs and their lyrics. Many of the writers have gone through similar situations. Find support with friends and family. Don’t try to heal alone, as it may lead to depression, loneliness, guilt and even suicidal thoughts. Instead, seek out others whom you feel safe to talk to. A counselor can be a great help here. Healing takes time, sometimes months and at times years. Remember that you are LOVED by God and you in turn need to learn to love yourself as well. However, true healing takes place through GOD. Allow Him to work in you daily. Even when all you want to do is cry. In this process there is a need to forgive yourself, not because you are to blame (because you are not) but because you need to move forward with a clean conscience.

“‘Do not go about spreading slander among your people. “‘Do not do anything that endangers your neighbor’s life. I am the Lord.  “‘Do not hate a fellow Israelite in your heart. Rebuke your neighbor frankly so you will not share in their guilt.  “‘Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against anyone among your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the Lord. ”  Leviticus 19:16-18

Third, I believe it is hard to love, especially when you have been wronged. But I have learned that the best way to love is to forgive. This opens the door for love to come in and hate to go out. As mentioned above, we need to pray and ask God to help us. Forgiving the person that has wronged or hurt you is hard to do. I’m not saying that you have to go and hug them… Pain is still fresh, but do what God has asked you to do. I suppose it is complicated because if they have done something unlawful, turning them in to face justice may be necessary. This way they may not hurt others as they have hurt you. But this act alone should be out of love, with hopes for life change in them, not hate. You are giving them the opportunity to make things right. and you are saving and protecting others. A lot of self-examination needs to happen before you are ready to forgive. A lot of healing will need to happen before you are ready (or a lot of conviction by God). 

Last, reconcile what happened by sharing your experience with others. In other words, testify. Details are not important, do not romanticize the experience, but share the pain and the healing with others. Hopefully you will be able to share the forgiving of yourself and the person/persons involved. There are a lot of people who have similar experiences. They are full of pain, fear, anger and hate. Help them get rid of their hate and find peace in Christ. Help them heal, help them not to be consumed by hate.

I encourage you to see past the pain, the fear and anger that lead you to hate. Do not be consumed by it, but be realeased. Let the LOVE OF GOD fill your hearts with Love. For His unique LOVE will break the walls of hate and find peace. Live cautiously but without hate. Live peacefully without endangering yourself. Live joyfully healed and sharing what God did for you. Be unique in the your life of prayer, healing, forgiveness and love. Remember, God LOVES your uniquely you. 😉

 

 

Uniquely Deep, Uniquely Mi Vida

Captured by Joy

I smiled as the children sang in the cafeteria. A volunteer had come in to play the piano during the school’s lunch time. He wanted to bring a little Christmas joy to the kids. As I dropped off the children and helped them get their lunches, he started to play Frosty the Snowman, followed by We Wish You a Merry Christmas. The children started singing, and with every voice, others joined in. I smiled as I walked out… you could hear them all the way down the halls. What joy it is to hear the happy children! Those children had been captured by the joy of Christmas. I hope they didn’t forget to eat their lunches.

Photo by Murilo Folgosi on Pexels.com

If you find yourself singing along at the stores, or office, when the Christmas music is playing, you too have been captured by joy. If you find yourself singing or humming even without music, as you clean the house, drive, cook, shop or more, then you too have been captured by the joy of Christmas. It is hard not to be, unless you just can’t sing one note   😀

There is plenty around us to remind us what Christmas is about. We hear, see, and smell Christmas around us wherever we go. In Puerto Rico you even hear the joy of Christmas outside as you walk down the streets of the towns. Music is played loud and people just gather with their instruments and play their favorite songs. In the stores we are greeted with “Merry Christmas” not like in the USA where it has been mostly replaced with “Happy Holidays.” (Although, here in Texas people refuse to change it, and continue saying “Merry Christmas!” I’m sure there are others places like this too).

In the USA we still hear the songs of Christmas, different styles and different songs, but still it brings an atmosphere of joy and peace. A story in history tells us of the Christmas of 1914 during World War 1, when a truce occurred in the Western front. They too were captured by the Joy of Christmas and as the Christmas music played, soldiers celebrated and even spread joy with their enemies.

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That is what Christmas does; it brings joy all throughout the world. It captures the hearts of all men (that is an inclusive statement, and yes it includes women and children).  It brings JOY to all, regardless of where you are. It encompasses cultures, languages, and age, regardless of how it is celebrated. It brings joy across the “trenches,” brings down walls, and yes, makes us vulnerable, yet strong. It causes us to see others as Jesus sees them. We extend a hand of friendship and spread the joy to others even to the least of them. Our world becomes different; it opens up dialogues, rebuilds friendships and mends broken hearts. (At least it should if you are truly celebrating the true Christmas). The JOY of Christmas is this powerful because CHRIST is in it.

This is why the Angels sang, “JOY TO THE WORLD, the LORD has COME.” Let your heart be captured by the coming of the LORD. Let JOY ring! And as your heart is captured by that joy, whether it be through song, cooking, baking, giving, playing games or just smiling, let it be uniquely You. So be captured by the uniqueness of the true JOY of Christmas: “CHRIST” who has COME!

MERRY CHRISTMAS! ******FELIZ NAVIDAD!

Uniquely Deep, Uniquely Mi Vida

Crippled by Pride

Just before I began let me just say, this story is fully my husband’s idea. So before it gets to his head, and he thinks he is “winning,” let it be on record that I’m willing to concede…half way, for a dinner at Red Lobster. (Editor’s Note: She would do about anything for a dinner at Red Lobster.)

It is impossible for humanity to stay away from pride, at least, for those who were raised being allowed to have “pride.” I am aware of the cultures where pride is a male dominated attribute, following honor and the like. Pride seems to be the thing that men boast of to their buddies during soccer games (in Latino countries), football (In the USA), sumo wrestling in Japan, Croquet in Europe and so on… Men take pride in their work, probably more so than women, they take pride in the ability to provide for the family or to have the newest, most powerful “set of wheels.” Some men take pride in how much material they have accumulated, or that their kid is the star of the high school team or their daughter is in the top five in her school. However, for most women, pride is something different. We take pride in our children and their accomplishments, especially when they are happy. We take pride in having a perfect house, the prettiest house on the block, or in accomplishing tasks. We take pride in sharing the knowledge and wisdom that we have (which is why we educate, and want to solve everyone’s problems). But I want to say, that the one thing we take pride in the most is: being right. There, I have said it.. (I truly hope I don’t regret this).

Why is that? Why do women feel the need to be right? So here is my analysis:

For hundreds and thousands of years women have been subjugated by males. They are the person used to unite families (through marriage), to provide a home, food and children. Women were told for years by others what they can or cannot do. They have been prostituted by men, used by many, and sold off as cattle. They spent years being told, “hush woman.”  Women are now wanting to be heard. That is right, we want to be heard! We want men to see that we are as smart as them (or smarter), as capable as them in the decision-making. That we can do more than just clean house, cook and take care of children. (Okay, so there are women out there that can’t do any of that…). We had been (and some still are) cooped up for so long, told they are ignorant, or that they are “females and don’t know anything.” With all of this for hundreds of years, we finally have had a say in the last 100 years of history, and now we have become “liberated.” We get to participate now, and share our thoughts and experiences. We get to make decisions for ourselves, our children and even for men. We get to speak up, be listened to, considered and , yeah, we can even disagree with men. And in the war for the acknowledgement that we are HERE and have the same BRAIN that men do (sometimes better), we have fallen into the same trap that for thousands of years was more exclusive to men: we have become prideful.

We have become prideful for fear that if we begin to lose the ground that has been gained, we will lose the respect and acknowledgement that took thousands of years to gain. I believe that we have become prideful, because without it, we feel, we lose the control and the upper hand that we finally have, after escaping what seemed, the enslavement of our mind, body and soul. And for some women, this freedom has just been recently gained. Thus the need to hold onto pride is stronger. We need to feel that we can make decisions on our own. We need to feel worth. We need to feel in control of who we are. If that is taken we lose who we are as women. Our pride keeps us from falling back into that cage.

When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”                                                                                                         –Proverbs 11:2    (NIV)

The problem is that as women, those that have found been permitted to be seen as equals, have become too prideful and have somehow felt the need to always show men how independent they are. This shows itself when we make stupid decisions, or say dumb things, or we are proven wrong or even when we realize “it is not the way I envisioned it.” We have a hard time admitting we are wrong. We don’t want to be seen as inferior again. What we don’t realize is that this extreme pride can cripple us.

It cripples us because when we fall, we have to get up and recapture the ground we’ve lost. And instead of holding ourselves up high and continuing, we either throw a fit or refuse to accept that we were hurt by the fall. And we continue to run while bleeding, hurting and losing more ground. (Or we just look like a fool because we want others to feel sorry…) The problem here is that the ground we lose it that of our relationships, integrity and eventually our own self-worth as liberated women.

For Christians it adds to the crippling effect, because it affects us spiritually. It begins to distance us from God and creates the doubts, holding us back from moving forward. It can begin to change us in ways that we may not realize, eventually hurting ourselves more and taking others around us down too.

So what are we to do? Humbling ourselves makes us stronger. It is something God asks of us, and is one of the most important things that can bring healing to broken relationships, and lost ground. Humility reminds us that we are but women with faults, and we too are learning and growing. There is nothing wrong with making mistakes. To say that you are “sorry” is not only saying you are wrong, it can say that “I can do (and should have done) better.” It says that you are aware that things didn’t quite go the way you expected.  It also says that you need help. Yes, your leg is twisted and it hurts, but you can get up a run, with the help of others. So, swallow your pride and keep going.

At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before. Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.”   —-Daniel 4:36-37 (NIV)

You see, we do not have to be prideful women to win the war of the sexes. We just need that unique person that will join us and help us run forward. We also need God with us to keep us in check and to remind us that He created us in the first place, to be the helper of the men. (They can’t do it without us.) We need others keeping us in check, to be our encouragers, and help us up when we need it. We then can become more wise in the process. (And wisdom makes us more “attractive.”) The wiser we are, the more we can help the men, because they are still working on their pride.  🙂

So to my brother-in-law, Jack. Read carefully, because I’m not going to ever say this out loud (I will deny it and delete this): Yes, you were right, that was a “Honda” not a “Hyundai.” But hey, I’m just a woman, I don’t know much about cars 🙂 I can only be right 99% of the time. (I know, it is a BIG burden)

Ladies: Be the unique women God wants you to be. Do not let pride get in the way of the amazing unique life that God has for you! Let wisdom remind you when to step back and recapture your ground so that you won’t fall. Don’t let your pride blind you so you wont fall in the first place. If you do, humbly pick yourself up again, or let someone else help you and finish the race. This is a unique time in the history of women, let’s make this race worth it. So RUN!

**I’m waiting on my Red Lobster dinner date**

Uniquely Deep, Uniquely Inspirational

The Problem w/ “MY” birthday

 

May birthdays
My family celebrates 5 birthdays (one not present) and one college graduation in May…so why can’t I?

God gave us the gift of life; it is up to us to give ourselves the gift of living well.” –unknown

“Did you you know that I just turned the age my mother was in her last year of life? And Erica is the age that I was when she passed away?” I asked my husband thoughtfully as we drove back to our Texan home on my birthday through the highways of Oklahoma.

“It just makes me think…” I half said and thought to myself.

What I didn’t tell him is that for the past 5 days I was living in a quiet fear of the “what if’s”: “Did she know it would be her last year?” “What if this is my last year?” “What if my daughters go through what I went through?”  “What if my mother woud have lived longer?”….and so it went. I had to tell myself over and over again, “I have to get through this year.” And when that wasn’t helping because the fear of death kept creeping in with it’s ugly head… I prayed… and prayed and begged… (To get rid off those negative thoughts)

It had been an emotional 5 days…  I kept avoiding thinking about these things, a birthday that I regret even having. Yes, fears got the best of me often, no matter how often I pushed back. Until I realized… I was going about it the wrong way. I was letting fears conquer me. I was letting the “what if’s” depress me. I was letting the event of losing my mother overwhelm my possible future.  And I was letting the lack of joyful celebration ruin my special day. I was not looking at it from God’s perspective nor through His loving purpose for me.

It is then that I realized the amazing Godly life of loving service my mother displayed and lived during her last year of life. It is then I was reminded of my favorite Bible verse that she lived out so well: “For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Phillipians 1:21

 

 

My Mother lived the life that the apostle Paul talked about in Phillipians chapter 1. More specificcally in verses 19-26: for I know that through your prayers and God’s provision of the Spirit of Jesus Christ what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance.  I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death.  For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know!  I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far;  but it is more necessary for you that I remain in the body.  Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith,  so that through my being with you again your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.” (NIV)

As I went through my memories I realized Mother was celebrating her life, even after knowing it wouldn’t be long. She spent her last 11 months sharing the love of God, challenging her lost friends and families to find peace, joy and true forgiveness (and love) in Chrsit Jesus. She spent her time singing, enjoying life, even a trip to Tikal with her family, (even though it was to be her last, but I think she knew it). She lived her life for Chirst and for the sake of others. She lived a life worthy of her call, to the fullest of God.

Raqui's 48th bday

I realized then, this is the life I want to continue to live and live it to the fullest, even if I too only had one year to live. Though I have a strong feeling God is granting me many more.

As we drove closer to home…it hit me. I shouldn’t be afraid. It was unfounded fears that kept me from trully enjoying this day. It is a gift from God. It is meant to be lived as He lived for me.

So, as I accept my birthday and my age, I decide to commit my life more deeply to living it for Christ. Sharing the Gospel. Loving others as God loves me. Helping those who need Christ find Him. Striving more and more to be Christlike and last but not least enjoying life, my family, friends and more. Because my life is a gift regardless for how long it has been gifted. This is the legacy I want to leave, as my mother did. I pray and hope that through my being on this earth, with my family, friends and church, I live a life of joy, faith and godly love, in all the while helping others do the same. For there is so much to do, to give, to share, to love in this world and until the time comes, I will remain here living for Christ.

Therefore, I thank God for another year of life. I thank him for creating me so unique. I thank Him for calling me to serve. cakeface“May my life, Lord,  be your reflection…may it be worthy of my call and the gift of life you have given me.” So I will celebrate! I will celebrate this unique life and I will live it uniquely for Christ.

 “So that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, ” – Colossians 1:10