About this Blog

The purpose of this blog is to encourage your personal, daily walk with Jesus Christ, by seeing Him through the eyes of Mark Rodriguez. Updates will be made regularly so please subscribe. Most posts are taken from Mark's private journals or written by his mother unless otherwise noted.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How to Protect Your Children from Evil


Where were you on September 11, 2001?  I was standing with 3 year-old Markie in front of the TV, about to put in his Veggie Tales DVD and the news momentarily popped up and we stood transfixed as the second plane flew right into the tower.

"Mommy, why is the plane hitting the building?"

As parents, our instincts kicked in. We would not, could not, tell them the whole truth. We would not let our littles have our nightmares. So we said things like "Those were crazy men, honey, and they are dead now.  Everything is okay." And they believed us. And we whispered with other parents on the playground and wondered what the future would be like for our children. 

These sweet littles started to grow up and heard about the Virginia Tech shooting, and Sandy Hook and the Aurora Shooting and on and on. And we were able to still say  "That is far away from us.  That will never happen here." Didn't we all say things like that? And we cried and mourned for the grieving parents, families and friends who had their dreams shattered. And we stopped turning on the news when our kids were awake.

I remember when the schools honored the 10th anniversary of September 11th. My little Markie, was now a lanky 13 years old. Mark came home from the school's assembly a little perplexed that he hadn't ever gotten the whole story.  "What really happened, Mom?" And I had to tell him, and that day his world became less safe.

After the Aurora shooting, Mark started working out.  Obsessively building muscle, which, for those of you who knew him, had never been important to him.  When I asked him why, he said, "When I start dating it will be up to me to protect my date, Mom."  Gosh, I loved that kid. 

Here is the deal, sweet friends.  We CAN NOT protect our children from evil.  Trust me, I know.  I have sheltered and warned them. I have controlled which friends they could hang with and which activities they could attend. I have journals filled with prayers for my kids' safety. And still, evil has visited our family in a most horrible way.  So if we can not protect our children from evil, what do we do?

We teach them to fight. And we teach them to what to fight for.

My filter is off.  It came off the night my son died.  As an American we live a pretty safe lifestyle compared to the rest of the world.  We can pretend that suffering belongs to someone else across the ocean while we drink our Starbucks.  But that is changing.  If we think our kids and our grandchildren are not going to have to stand against something, or stand up FOR something in the future, we have our heads in the sand.  We have to prepare them for hardship and pain and perseverance.  This means letting them skin their knees, suffer consequences, work out conflicts with our guidance but without our rescue. Then, when life throws something at them that is difficult, they are equipped and ready and resilient. 

How do we face a future that is exceedingly dangerous and unpredictable?  Pray your kids will be BRAVE.  I prayed this for Mark when he was a cautious little guy, and he became a warrior at heart.  It is really hard watching your courageous child step into the real world.  They start to care about things like human trafficking, and befriend the homeless, and pick up a hitchhiker, and stand up to a bully.  They may do things that are RIGHT and incredibly UNSAFE.  And you will be so proud and so afraid. And you keep praying you will be brave enough to keep up with them.

And they will become this generation's heroes.

"The wicked man flees though no one pursues, but the righteous are as bold as a lion."
Proverbs 28:1

Friday, September 25, 2015

How to invite God into Your Day

(re-post of popular entry)



I thank you for this beautiful world you've created.  Today I wanna go out and take some pictures, explore, adventure.  I love that you've created such a world for that, with mysteries and surprises and wonders around every corner.

I pray that you would surprise me today.  Blow my mind, make me laugh.  I pray that it wouldn't just be an adventure on my own, but that you'd come with me.  Show me your world, your creation, your majesty.  Soften my heart to embrace every beautiful thing out there.

Thank you,

Psalm 27:4 "One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple."

Monday, September 21, 2015

Five Words That will Change Your Day

Photo by Mark Rodriguez

"My child, I have a message for you today; let me whisper it in your ear, that it may gild with glory any storm clouds which may arise, and smooth the rough places upon which you have to tread.  It is short, only five words, but let them sink into your inmost soul; use them as a pillow upon which to rest your weary head...

This Thing is From Me."

Laura Barker Snow (Streams in the Desert)

Friday, September 18, 2015

Where is your Secret Place?

 (re-post from most popular)

May 26, 2014 (4 days before Mark went to Heaven)

There are a couple of things I need to get straight if I'm gonna draw closer to God this Summer.  First off, it is worthless if my prayer times are when I come and talk about how I'm gonna seek Jesus, but then kinda forget about what I read as soon as it's done.  I'm going to stop during the day to pray and dwell in the Lord's smile...

...If I let myself fall into being selfish, I am defying God's beautiful love and pushing him away.  I pray that Jesus would cultivate such a heart for loving others in me that I wouldn't even start to take that step. 

The last thing has to do with love.  Love must be a priority; it is my weapon and my war.  I want to love and respect my parents, I want to love my siblings.  I want to show love to every single person I run into and I want to understand how much God loves them.

I want to fade away.  My selfish desires have to go.  My hunger for recognition, compliments and being the center of attention is meaningless.

Let this be the summer of the Secret Place, where I create things for you God, you and you alone.  Where I truly listen and you tell me beautiful things.  Where you become more and more my passion, and I become more and more your bride.  

I am excited for this.

Psalm 17:15 "And me? I plan on looking you full in the face.  When I get up, I'll see your full stature and live heaven on earth." (MSG)

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Are you mostly dead?

Broken Butterfly: Hope in Flight

We are all used to the idea of an MVP, right? Most Valuable Player.  The one we always want/wanted to be.  But recently I learned of a newer use of the abbreviation "MVP" and it stands for "Minimally Viable Product."  This is concept used when someone wants to launch a new product into the market with the lowest risk to the company and yet make a profit. The product succeeds, just enough, and the goal is that it "live" at least long enough to make a little money.

This new MVP concept stuck in my head.  And I thought, that is me.  I am a "minimally viable person", a "mvp"  most days. A barely living human being.   Just good enough to go out there and do the day, but not the MVP.   I don't have it in me anymore to even care about being the MVP.  Life has beaten me up a bit.  You? 

This "mvp" thought rolled around my mind and amused me.  I thought of the movie "The Princess Bride" (Mostly Dead Scene) and laughed to myself.  I have a dark sense of humor these days.  Yep, that is me, mostly dead, and yet mostly dead means I am still alive. 

And the beauty of the Gospel is that it brings the dead to life.  What happens when you bring your minimally viable self to the IVP (Infinitely Viable Person of Christ)?   That person that struggled to even get out of bed gets infused with the life breath of God and then the possibilities are endless.  

Whatever feels hopeless to you, well, you are right.  If left to you and I to fix these broken heart places I imagine things won't change a whole lot and despair will set in.  But we can walk that brokenness to the throne room where Life itself sits, and lay that impossible thing at the feet of God.  That relationship, that shattered dream, that health concern or heartache can be placed right there. 

And then mvp+IVP=Infinite Possibilities.

Do we dare hope? 

Ephesians 3:20 "Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine..."

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Live this Life Today

A "Most Popular" re-post from 7/2/14.  Your comments are welcome.

Chippokes Plantation, photography by Mark Rodriguez


Everyday that I wake up, there is a choice before me.  I can go through my day being tossed between sadness and happiness due to circumstances and events, OR I can except your invitation to live with uncircumstantial, undeserved Joy.  Everyday I wake up, there are THOUSANDS of blessings prepared for me.  I'm realizing that I accept very few of them.  I long for a life of joy that seems illogical to this circumstantial world.  To live and to laugh and to enjoy everyday to the fullest.  This is not something that requires a long process.  I can start living this life today.  Help me to remember I can be content in any and every situation.

I love you Lord

Philippians 4:11b, 13 (ESV)
"I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content...I can do all things through him who strengthens me" 

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Have you ever taken a Chair to the face?

"Grief is like taking a chair to the face." 
Daniel, age 11 after Mark died

Have you ever taken a chair to the face? I hope not! But all of us have caught a little toe on the chair leg, or smashed a finger in the door. The pain is quick and intense and causes us to see stars. I think the pain is intensified because it is unexpected. A betrayal of sorts. 

Just recently Dr. Pepper graduated from Puppy school. Pepper entered our life 7 weeks after Mark's death...a therapy dog disguised as the Tasmanian Devil. 
 #whatwerewethinking #trustmeimadoctor #chairdestroyed

He is now allowed to come into the living room, because he no longer eats socks (which later were barfed up), or unstuffs pillows or chews the edge of the rug. The momentous occasion was celebrated by moving the puppy gate so he can participate more in family life.  

 #onlytook4miles #dontbefooled

I moved the gate. I chose the placement. And then promptly forgot I had moved it. Twice.  

The first time, I had already turned out the lights and was so familiar with my surroundings I didn't bother. I had walked this hallway many times in the dark. I just caught myself before I hit the ground and merely got all tangled up as my impact knocked the gate from its post. A couple of bruises and lesson learned. Right? 

The second time, it was morning and I was hustling quickly down the hallway because we had overslept our alarm for school. I may or may not have been looking at my phone, when I went full speed through the gate. Full Speed. The entire gate went down with me on top of it. My head narrowly missed the sofa table and I suddenly found myself splayed across the floor.  

"Mom???? Did you fall through the gate again???"

Dang it hurt. I was sore for days. I was so mad at myself. And so mad at the gate. How dare it move and not announce itself!

Grief is like that. It comes fast and violently and painfully.   In the last two months, I have heard of three people who have lost adult children.  One dear friend lost his mom.  Death is around us, friends.  All the time.  

And then there are lost marriages, friendships, jobs, hopes and dreams.  Yes, even those losses can feel like a chair to the face.  The newly divorced person who shows up at an event with mostly couples.  The high school graduate who says goodbye to his college bound friends while he stays home.

I think of someone I admire who deals with chronic pain and illness. So much grief.

"I walk a crappy path alone," she texted me recently.
"You do walk alone," I said, "And you are right.  No one can walk it with you.  I get that."  

That might not sound comforting, but what I hope I communicated was “I honor your pain, and I am not going to pretend I can fix it. But I am also not going to leave you.” She knows I also walk a painful path alone.

And then it happened. Suddenly, miraculously, we no longer felt alone. When someone takes a chair to the face, we can't take it for them. But we can at least acknowledge that the chair hurts, it is unfair, and the healing is lonely. And we can carry some of their burden as they journey. We might not have been able to stop the impact of the situation, but we can certainly impact their circumstances in the now. 

Alone, but together. Simply put, don’t leave. We can’t always stop the fall, but we can help each other up.Who needs a lift?
Ecclesiastes 4:10 “If one falls down, his friend can help him up.  But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” (NIV)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Free Book Giveaway in Celebration of Pastor Appreciation Month

Is your pastor the greatest?  Mine is :)

Well, I am married to mine so I am a little biased.

Next month, October 12th is Pastor appreciation day.  We are going to stretch the definition a little bit as we celebrate those who have brought us closer to Christ.  Is there a pastor or youth pastor (even a parachurch youth leader or worship leader, Christian teacher) that you want to encourage? 

In honor of Mark, we are looking for people who have lived out one of his favorite prayers 
"Teach me how to love." 
We are giving away books to the first 25 people you nominate.  Just send in all of the following:

1.  The name of your favorite Christian leader who you actually know because they have poured into your life
2.  What their role is at your church or parachurch ministry or school
3.  How does this person directly influence your walk with Christ...how do you see Christ in them? How do they inspire you to love God and others better?  Tell us!
4.  Their picture! (with you is even better!)
5.  Their address so we can send them a book.

Your name would be great as well so we can tell them who appreciated them, but if you want it to be anonymous, that's okay.  If for some reason someone is so great that they are nominated more than once, they will receive one book but we will let them know that multiple people appreciate them. 

Be aware we may post your comments and the pictures you send in, so just a heads up on that.  Books will go out the first week of October in time for Appreciation day.

All entries should be sent to support@godissupergood.com

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