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.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Why Face the Pain?

I recently started to going to physical therapy to help recover from an injury of unknown origin to my hip. I ignored the pain and hoped it would go away, only to have it worsen.  I have tried everything…massage, chiropractic care, stretching and now, finally, physical therapy.  

I have avoided physical therapy, because….well, it’s hard.  I’ve done it before and it can be inconvenient and pretty uncomfortable.  And I have this thing about pain.  I avoid it.  Anybody with me?

When I arrived at the consultation, the new patient paperwork included a questionnaire.  Most of the questions were about pain.  For example:

Do you think pain
a)    should be avoided at all costs
b)   should mostly be avoided
c)    should be accepted but with with tears and tantruming
d)   should be embraced with a shout, “Bring it ON!”

Yeah, something like that.

After I completed all the questions, I was so curious.   Was it to prepare them for how difficult I would be? A measure of wimpiness? To determine whether to play good cop or bad cop to motivate me? 

I had to ask.  They told me the answers predicted likelihood of improvement. If I answered the questions in a way that indicated I feared and avoided pain I would be less likely to improve, but if I was open to the idea that sometimes recovery hurts, my chances of improvement skyrocketed.    

And the really interesting thing?  The results did not factor in my diagnosis at all, only my attitude. 

So I took my attitude into the therapy room, hoping that would be enough.  But after some twisting and measuring the Physical Therapist (a Bradley Cooper knock-off by the way) told me he thought the problem resided in some trigger points in my muscles. And then mentioned something about dry needles being stuck into those trigger points, but at this point I might have dissociated because I just started mentally naming every movie Bradley Cooper has starred in. 

As I came back to reality, I was signing a consent form to have said needles stuck into my hip and inner thigh muscles (yowza) and somehow this was supposed to make me feel better.  Let the torture begin. 

You know how you can be certain you have hit the trigger point? It HURTS.  Let me re-name that sensation…it is uncomfortable, you know, like labor or kidney stones are uncomfortable.  Layman’s definition, you take a tiny needle and poke it through the skin (that doesn’t hurt) into the trigger point (which does).  This creates a short burst of muscle spasm/release that somehow helps reset this muscle that has gotten all gacked up.  And you no longer like any movie with Bradley Cooper.  You actually wish you could punch him in the face. 

But a few hours later, I noticed something.  I could actually rotate my hip in ways I hadn’t in weeks.  I could climb in and out of my car without pain, and my hip felt looser. And I felt hopeful. The temporary pain (and it was seriously probably less than 3 minutes total) has gained me so much relief.  And because of that, I am a huge believer in trigger point therapy and will go back for more. 

I hear people say all the time in my counseling practice that something “triggers” them.  In other words, something brings them pain or discomfort.  And we are taught to avoid triggers at all costs.  Or if they are unavoidable we are taught to cope with them.  It becomes a bad thing to be “triggered.”  But what if facing down those triggers…those places and faces of pain and discomfort…is exactly the way we heal?  What if we need to change our perspective on suffering? 

The only way to do that is to walk right into the pain trusting the guy with the needle.  And for me, that is God, who has allowed certain things into my life that are painful, but ultimately I believe are for my good and His Glory.  I don’t get that in the moment.  I might not get that in this lifetime.  But I see enough of His hand and healing that I am willing to bet He knows what He is doing.  

And as I resolve to face down the pain, I will ask for all of Him.  Will you? 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Follow a 17 year old into the Heart of God...

Many of you have said you want what Mark had while he was here on earth.  You want an intimate relationship with God.  It is easy to think Mark was "special" or "different" but I am here to tell you that any of us can have the same intimacy with God that Mark had.    Mark was surrendered.  He worked hard to be near God, and God loved that!  Here are some of the patterns we saw in Mark's daily life: 

1.  Show up.  Every day, no matter what you have on your schedule, no matter how you feel.  Set aside time with God and bring His letter to you (the Bible) and your journal.  It doesn't have to be a super long time, but just some private time.  This isn't legalism, this is a discipline.  Mark had some private places he would always go to meet with God.  He used our treehouse or even his closet.   He asked God to give him that special relationship. 

2.  Worship and Praise.  This may seem awkward at first, but do it anyway.  It doesn't have to be in song, but use the gifts God gave you.  Draw something, say something, write something, dance something, think something....Enjoy how Awesome God is to you.  Often Mark started with a Psalm and this prompted his own ideas of praise. 

3.  Acknowledge, in light of God's holiness (you have just praised Him, so this will be more obvious) how you fall short. This time can feel like a nice shower after a hot sweaty day.  What a relief to tell God you are messy, can't handle your life and need Him to clean you up and set you right. 

4.  Live Loved. Have fun with God!  Mark was a goofball and didn't take himself seriously.  Fully enjoy the fact that He loves you.  Receive His Grace.  You are forgiven, a child of His, His treasure.  Meditate on this.  Mark was ridiculously focused on the fact that God delighted in him, rejoiced over him and wanted an intimate relationship with him.  Mark felt special to God because he believed, despite his sin, God had invited him to be in a relationship with him. 

5.  Seek Beauty.  Expect God to love you through His Creation and His people.  Expect God to show you He loves you throughout the day.  Watch and see.  Pay attention.  You will be amazed at how He has been shouting out His love to you.

6.  Encourage Others.  Almost every day, Mark would ask God to help him love like Jesus.  He would often ask God to specifically place someone in his path for him to encourage.  I am quite certain often that blessed person was you and me.  I felt so loved by Mark.  He believed that the way to deepen his love for God, was to love others.  So ask.  Ask God who needs some encouragement today and see who He brings into your life.

(re-post from 7/10/14)
To learn more about Mark's amazing relationship with God and how you can have one too, please click here to buy The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Mark Rodriguez

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

How can I love God more?


God, I want to know you better!  I want to fall more and more in love with you.

So whether we are at
home or away (heaven, earth)
we make it our aim to 
please him
2 Cor 5:9

I love reading the last chapter of Revelation.  Jesus is coming in all his glory, and His Spirit within me cries out for that. 

God, let me know your glory and love more.  Amaze me, fill me with awe, so I may fall more in love with you.

I will know Him and love Him more, the more I love others.

(re-post from 7/8/14)

Friday, October 9, 2015

What will your Homecoming be Like?

Today is bittersweet. I am going the NCS Homecoming game and Mark won't be there. Many of his friends will be coming home for this, and I am so, so glad. I have missed them all.  Each of them has a little piece of him with them and when they come together it is so beautiful.

9th Grade Homecoming Court

Mark won't be at the homecoming game tonight.  My memories will be though. Beautiful ones that make me thankful and humble that I got 17 years to be with such an amazing human being.  Thankful that somehow our family and our community have survived  THRIVED through this as they have loved us and one another.

So I honor those memories of what I have had. What amazing times and such joy. My heart's treasure box is overflowing. 

I have been taught recently to "look for God's hand in everything." You would think when someone loses a child, this would be a difficult thing to see, but that hasn't been the case at all!  I have seen it proven over and over that the Lord is close to the brokenhearted.  His hand is always within reach. 

So guess what I get to do tonight? Guess what beauty the Lord has given me? Tonight, I get to watch my handsome, Will walk out onto the field as part of the homecoming court with one of his childhood friends.  I get to see him perform in the drumline led by one of Mark's best friends. I get to see how love has triumphed over the evil in our lives as we tailgate and celebrate coming together, and I can rest in a community that knows what I have lost and lets me still pursue joy.

What will your homecoming be like?  When I am especially down, I let my imagination wander to Mark's entrance into heaven. With his death being instant, he had no time to think about the imminence of the meeting, so I love to imagine him exclaiming "WOAH!"  and then the jumping and fist pumping that I am so familiar with. (If you have forgotten how silly he was and most assuredly still is, check out the elliptical video again) And then I imagine that after a wildly exhuberant entrance, the awe would overcome him and his knees would hit the ground. You know, when you suddenly realize you are in the presence of greatness?  Does he worship? Who does he see first? Does God let him stay on his knees or does He say "Get up, Son, we love that excitement and joy around here!"

I imagine my homecoming differently. I have a feeling I might crawl in...sort of like a marathoner that is determined to finish but just can't run anymore. The knee gave out and the muscles are torn, but darn it, I will cross that line. I don't think I will be jumping up in down but rather saying "Thank goodness.  Finally, I'm here. I'm so tired.  Please can I come in and rest?" I laugh at the contrast between myself and my young son.

But here is the beauty, no matter how we enter Heaven, we will instantly be rested.  Scripture says "Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest." Matthew 11:28  And this kind of rest doesn't mean, oh good, now I can sleep.  No, it means it is as if I have slept and I am renewed, restored, healed.  And I will instantly regain the energy and joy and all of the losses I have had in this life will be completely paid back and overflowing.

I can't wait for that Homecoming.  And one of the best parts?  Mark will assuredly be at that one.

As I hit publish today, I will head upstairs and put on my school colors and pack up for the tailgate.  I will carry my sadness but I will CHOOSE JOY. And I will be sure to post all the ways that God shows up for me tonight.  Let me know how He has shown up for you. I would love to know.  

Monday, October 5, 2015

Does God Flirt?

"The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one
who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; and he will exult over you with loud singing."
Zephaniah 3:17

While my family was visiting Acadia National Park this summer, we decided to visit Bar Harbor.  This quaint little town not only has amazing ice cream, but there is the coolest land bridge that goes from Bar Harbor to a little island that hosts a short hike up to a pretty view. 

The only catch is you have to make it back before high tide. You don't make it back and you are stuck until the next low tide because they have warned you, and they mean it. The next low tide is late at night, and that water is icy cold. Swimming back is NOT an option. 

So with the other families we were camping with, we lazily walked across this land bridge and enjoyed the shells and tiny sea creatures.

But as we got to the little island, the trail head sign for the hike made it very clear that we should have been making our way back to Bar Harbor a good 30 minutes prior. High tide was coming. 

Being the conflicted rule-following-adventurer that I am, I could not give up a chance to see the view. I have taken on Mark's quest for beauty, after all. I rationalized the land bridge was still very visible and the trail was only a quick mile up and back. But according to the warning, we were clearly supposed to go back to immediately.  

Many of our group decided to head back. It had been such a lovely day and why ruin it with getting stranded?  But my friend Aimee and I gave each other a "What is the worst thing that could happen?" look and someone grabbed the nearest park wranger. "Do we seriously need to head back now?...really?"  He leaned a little closer and whispered something like, "You have about 30 minutes...hustle and you can make it." 

A few of us took off, building up a sweat as we were determined to beat the tide. These would be the crazy few friends I might be spending the night with here on this little island if we didn't make it back in time. There was the perfect amount of exhilaration.  

And as we started up the trail, I said to Aimee, "The perfect end of this hike would be to come back down with the tide rising, but with the water only ankle deep." 

I said it as a wish.  I didn't need a dramatic stranding, but it delighted me to think we might get back just in time. Our plan was working until we made a bad turn and lost the trail, and this brought a sense of urgency.  We had lost critical time and the tide wouldn't wait for us.  After a quick picture of the view we ran down the trail only to see the land bridge almost completely covered with water.  And as we started the splashing back to safety, I couldn't help but notice the exact depth of the water was ankle deep.

And I knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the attention to detail was God telling me He loved me.  I believe He hears our wishes and like a love-struck boyfriend wants to make them come true.   He is a great flirt, this God I know. And when we delight in Him, He delights in us, and then everything around us, all throughout the day becomes a love song. Whisper your wishes to Him and then look around and see what happens.

"Suddenly, the world is a love song, and I realize that the Lord knows exactly how to blow my mind, what it takes. And when I look around and see that beauty, I realize just how close God is."
Mark Rodriguez

Thursday, October 1, 2015

The Cure to Overthinking Everything

(Popular re-post from 7/5/14)


Dear Lord,

Open my eyes.  Give me an understanding of your grace, your love, your sacrifice.  Remind me of the many blessings around me that I don't deserve.  

I long to be filled with such joy that I proclaim your glory from the rooftops.  To be so amazed by your glory and creation that I run from door to door, begging people to open their eyes so that they can too share in the joy that drives me crazy.  I want to go crazy for you, Lord.  I want to take risks and chances that others may see as wildly absurd.  I want to DO things, to stop planning and analyzing and worrying and start doing.  Too often I convince myself out of doing something because it might not work out.  It's time to start doing those things because even if they don't work out I'll fall back into your arms with no harm done. 

Drive me, control me, amaze me.


James 2:14a, 17 "What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?...So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead."