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, May 29, 2016

Angel Tears

At first the assignment offended him, if he were being honest. He knew his abilities and wanted an assignment that would reflect them…maybe a missionary in an Islamic nation, a Christian in the deep Amazon, or his dream job…protecting a high profile Christian Rock star. He graduated at the top of his class; he completed his training with honors, his spiritual strength uncomparable. He was obedient, relentless, powerful. And he was assigned to guard “yummy head.”  Give me a break. 

This kid, Markie, was the most cautious kid on the planet. He was a rule follower. Sweet, kind, never taking risks. He set bugs free and wore multiple flotation devices whenever near water. Why would the top of the line angel with the best skills of a warrior be assigned to this kid? And to add insult to injury, one time the kid caught a glimpse of him and called him “Cookie." It was humiliating. This was not an assignment worthy of this mighty warrior.

Quickly, the angel learned, the Enemy was constantly prowling around Mark. Go figure. The angel learned he had to be alert. This was not the marshmallow assignment he feared it would be.  As the boy grew in wisdom and stature, it only became worse. 

His parents were praying he would be brave, a mighty warrior and they trained him in that way.  The enemy hated him.  And then the boy began to grow. Mark remained obedient to God alone, so he rejected the normal ways of the world.  He loved people, he worshipped, he spoke against injustice and he had Joy. The enemy hated Joy. He took risks…not the risks of life and limb, but real risk, spiritual risks. He loved the people no one else did, he hated human trafficking, and he fought for the unborn. The enemy hated him even more. 

The angel could never let his guard down. There were so many close calls. Near drownings his mother didn’t even see, missteps he took running Cross-country that could have broken his neck, but the angel stood guard and protected his charge. The enemy got more creative. When Mark went to Nicaragua he sent despair, homesickness and tarantulas. Mark dug into God's Word, called his parents, and loved the Pasada Boys with all his heart. Mark dug into God’s word, called his parents, loved the Pasada Boys and came home a man. The enemy raged against him.

Shortly after he left Nicaragua, gunman came into the orphanage shooting asking for the "gringos." That was a close call.  The angel no longer had time to doubt the assignment, he embraced it. He camped around Mark, always alert, never slumbering. It didn’t help that the kid had no discernment, no common sense. Only love. The angel couldn’t count on him to see danger because he was always seeing beauty.  That is what he loved about him.   

When Mark witnessed a gruesome car accident near his home he never saw the angel between him and the spinning vehicle. He saw the hurt girl and went to help her and the Angel had to stop the cars from hitting him. All the times he turned down the wrong street. All the times he jumped a fence for the perfect photograph. All the times he went to the ATM or Tinee Giant late at night The Angel stood watch and battled. He would not let Satan have his charge.  He listened to the prayers of his young man every morning and felt like he had the most honorable assignment one could ever have. 

Then came graduation week. This was a challenge, because Mark was driving a lot. He tended to have a heavy foot and liked to sing loudly. The Angel was especially vigilant the night of graduation.  So much hope for the Kingdom in one room. He knew the Enemy would be circling, plotting, gnashing teeth. But the Angel was strong, alert, well armed. Mark’s parents and so many others were praying. Officer Jones was on earthly watch holding the blue line…always a good thing. 

As Mark dropped off his buddy after graduation, The Angel readied himself for the ride home. Mark was tired and happy, thinking of the music he would work on when he got home. The Angel knew Mark might be distracted. The Angel felt danger in the night and wanted to get his charge home quickly. Mark texted his Mom he was coming home. They made their way. 

The intensity in The Realm began to pick up. The energy in the heavens shifted. Other heavenly beings began to join him, and the Angel knew a mighty battle was about to take place. Like a bad storm coming he could feel the evil in the air. He was the first one to see the car. Wildly making its way towards Mark. Come at high speed and zooming up behind Mark's car. Mark, as usual, was clueless. The Angel called upon the others to form a wall between the gunman and Mark and they stood as an impenetrable barrier. Their Angelic weapons were drawn and nothing would be able to pass. 

And then, came the command…"STAND DOWN"

At first he couldn’t believe it.  Surely he misunderstood.  Then loudly again “STAND DOWN and turn your head” The good soldier obeyed his Commander as his angel heart cried out “Why??” Then the Voice boomed “I WILL BE GLORIFIED”   

He heard the gunshots, and angel tears burned hot on his face.  Then a loud sound came down from heaven as the chariot of fire swooped blazing and beautiful through the night sky.  “May I?” The Angel asked the Sovereign One.  He carefully lifted Mark’s Spirit from his broken body and placed it in the chariot.  Immediately the Spirit broke forth in Song and the heavens began to rejoice.  One of their favorites was coming home.  The Sovereign One smiled at him and wiped the Angel tears away.  “Well done,” He said, “ You have completed your assignment.  GO NOW and WATCH what I am going to do through Mark’s family and friends. Even strangers will Glorify Me because of this boy.” 

Monday, February 29, 2016

Love to the Point of Death, by Mark Rodriguez

(re-post from 8/19/2014)

Psalm 29
The voice of the Lord...
Is over the Waters...
Is Powerful...
Is full of Majesty...
Flashes forth flames of fire...
Makes the deer give birth...
Strips the forests bare...
I love your Voice.
When you speak to me clearly, either through people or creation, my heart leaps.  There's something I sometimes forget, though.  You are always being presented to me.  All Creation shouts in praise of your glory.  When it does, if I'm paying attention, I won't be able to help but to join in the song.  And I should not forget that that Beauty I love, be it in creation or a friendship or a song, is a gift and an "I love you!" from you.  I may not always be running giddy all over the place, but I want to live my life through the perspective that someone so much more powerful than I loved me to the point of death.  That's worth more than I know.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Sin Sneaks Up, by Mark Rodriguez

courtesy pexels.com

(re-post from 8/18/2014)


Dear God, 

Today I heard that I must throw off any sin that hinders my walk with you.  However, I still gave in to temptations today.  I still sinned.

God, sin is a tricky thing.  It sneaks up on you, making you unsure of when to flee.  

Lord, I pray that when the very beginning of temptation enters my head, I would flee.  Give me strength to push the thought away, and if it pursues, give me the strength to flee.  When I am tempted, remind me why that sin is wrong.  Remind me why I don't want to do that sin.

Lord, I am not bound by sin.  I have been crucified with Christ; sin's chains have been cast off.  Help me, Father.  Please pull me away from returning to those chains.  

I will not, must not, put those chains back on.  Take control, Father.  Please stop the temptations that keep chasing me by screaming why they are bad.


Monday, February 15, 2016

I'm Going To Live Forever, by Mark Rodriguez

(re-post from 8/12/14)


Your Love never Fails
Never Gives Up
Never Gives up on Me

And on and on and on it goes...

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Jesus.  You are limitless, boundless, endless.  You paint the skies with love day and night.  I swear I deserve none of it.  But you surround me constantly with wonder, with newness, with sights and sounds that I've never known.  Smile after smile escapes from my lips at the blessings in front of me.  And Lord, these blessings are far from temporary.  I'm going to live forever.  With you.  No person, no thing, can take that from me.  To live is Christ and to die is gain.  I have learned how to be content in any and every situation.  You are with me in all I do, I need not be afraid.  Write that on my heart Lord, let me never forget it. 


Note: The song Mark quoted at the beginning is written by Chris Quilala of Jesus Culture, I think.  The verses he references are from Philippians 1:21, and Philippians 4:11

If you would like to read Mark's journal in its entirety please visit Amazon.com and purchase
 The Extraordinary Ordinary Life of Mark Rodriguez

Friday, February 12, 2016

Don't miss the Best Part (for you to play)

by Leigh Ellen Rodriguez
“You have a great voice for the chorus,” the director of my high school musical said.  I should have taken it a compliment, I guess. But I didn’t.  To me it meant my voice wasn’t good enough to stand alone.  My voice was a filler, not unique, and certainly not lead role worthy. 

One of my best friends had the soprano voice of an angel, and the looks to go with it.  She was petite and blond with sparkling blue eyes. I felt tall and gawky with my untamable frizzy brown hair and braces. And my nondescript chorus voice. An alto voice I desperately wanted to force to be a soprano.

My adorable friend got the lead of every musical (at least that is how I remember it) while I got to be girl #2 or part of the crowd.  I remember one time I got to sing a short one line solo and the director told me to watch out because I was a little “flat.”  I remember thinking “Flat as in the note? Or flat as in my enthusiasm while performing?”  I was too embarrassed to ask so I tried to fix both. 

It is hard playing a role we don’t want, isn’t it?  Don’t we all secretly long for the life of a main character? Many of us don't really want the spotlight on us, but we desire at least a defined place in the story. We want to know that we are special, unique and have a voice worth hearing.

For years I thought that meant there was always one best role, one special position.  Yet I was destined for the small part, the supporting role on stage and often in life. 

My claim to fame...in 9th grade I played a bit part in our community theater and got beaten up by actor, Nada Despotivich, who later was in Jerry Maguire and Moonstruck

If I wasn’t The One, I was no one.  You could say I was ambitious, but it was much uglier than that. I was prideful. Somewhere along the way I had come to believe that if I wasn’t what I defined to be the best, I wasn’t as valuable.  And the scary thing is that if you aren’t careful you start applying that to other people too. And you really miss out on the experiences along the way.

A turning point for me was at a women’s conference I attended many years ago. I remember the worship leader’s voice just amazed me. I actually prayed that God would give me a voice like hers when I got to heaven.  

A few years later I was asked to sing back up for this person at a worship service. I no longer had illusions of grandeur. I knew I didn’t have near the talent she had and was thrilled to be part of the small “crowd” backing her up. My role required that I be completely tuned in to her voice, her movements and the cues she gave. I had to compliment her voice. My job was to make her sound amazing while blending with her, not competing for her role. 

I was happy to be in the background.  In fact, if I stood out, something would be terribly wrong.  For the first time I experienced how important my role of back up singer could be.  My job was to set her up, fill in the gaps and get out of the way.  And if I did that, I got to be a part of something amazingly beautiful. 

I have realized this applies to many areas of my life.  Especially when I am trying to tune in to God’s voice. What is He saying and doing all around me?  How is He moving? How can I accompany Him and not compete for the attention, glory or the control? How can I get out of the way and set the atmosphere for Him to show Himself as Beautiful? How amazing that He wants me to participate in this Story with Him!  I no longer feel like "no one" when I am not "The One."  The One, the Only One, has bestowed favor on me and you, and has asked us to join Him in the song. 

What does that look like today?

Monday, February 8, 2016

The Cords of Death, by Mark Rodriguez

(re-post from 8/10/14)


I love you Lord; you heard my voice and my cry for mercy.  You turned your ear to me; I will call on you as long as I live.  When I was entangled in the cords of death, when I was overwhelmed by the anguish of the grave, You saved me.  Not because I was good enough, not because I went to church, not because I prayed before eating.  No, you rescued me because of your mercy, because of your compassion.  Because of your love that transcends all understanding.  I love you, Father.  


Friday, February 5, 2016

I don't want to and You can't make me

by Leigh Ellen Rodriguez 

courtesy of Pexels.com
“Gratitude is…” she pauses to find the right word, “a FORCE.” 

I have asked her how she handles the limbo of her serious and ongoing medical issues.  How does one do the day-to-day life when all the time in the back of their mind they are wondering if this might be their last winter?  I ask her questions like this because I want to know her and be with her in the experience as she has been with me in mine. That was several days ago but I haven't been able to get that simply sentence out of my mind.

I remember what she said this morning when I am in no mood to be grateful.  I promised myself when I began to share my experience with others that I would never fake it.  So I tell you today that I don’t feel like fighting for joy today.  

I want to be sad.  Do you have days like that? When it seems everywhere you look there is pain.  Even the overcast rainy day agrees with me.  Gloom abounds. 

If you are hoping I might have a secret way out of a dark mood, I don’t.  My usual tricks aren’t working today. I don’t feel like distracting myself, or writing a list of what I am thankful for, or helping someone else. I don’t even feel like being encouraged by my husband, in fact encouragement just makes me more grouchy. I want to watch the Gilmore Girls, and wander aimlessly around my kitchen, and be unproductive. I want to stay in my pajamas and hide from the world that seems to get more mean by the minute. Actually, I am getting more mean by the minute. 

So I start talking to God as I go through the motions. I imagine the dialogue, but is it imagining or is He speaking into my heart?

“I just can’t be thankful today,” I say.
“Okay? Aren’t I supposed to be thankful? I have all these things, and loved ones and blessings.  But I am not thankful today, and you can’t make me be.”
“OKAY,” God whispers.
“Seriously? How can you be okay with that? Aren’t I like disrespecting you? Isn’t that like throwing your gifts back in your face?” I am aware that I am provoking God, feeling a little irritable.  I think I hear him chuckle.
“Sad.” I say, and tears start to well up.
“I really tried to fight for joy today, God.  I just couldn’t get it.That’s a lie (I guess you know that already). I didn’t fight.  I didn’t even have the fight.”

Whew. What a relief.  I have learned this before.  Heck, I have taught this before.  I am reminded today that it is not my job to create the “AHA” moment.  If I fight for anything, it simply needs to be fighting the lie that I can supply what I need by myself. What a joke. 

Gratitude is a force.  And that FORCE comes from God’s Spirit in me as it stirs in my sadness.  When I stop fighting and just let the comfort of God envelope me, I find myself saying “Thank you for your presence, thank you for your comfort, thank you for your rest.” And the list begins.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Monday, February 1, 2016

I have Captured His Heart

courtesy of Pexels.com

(re-post from Mark's journal)


I need not stem the flow of rejoicing that springs from being God's beloved.  Yes, there is a war he wants me to fight, but first and foremost I am to bask in and enjoy his presence, love and blessings.  This is a love relationship, not a commander-soldier relationship. 

He has redeemed my soul from going
down into the pit, 
and my life shall look upon the 
Job 33:28

I love this image in Job 33 of the "light of life."  I think that that light's the joy and fire of living with God.  To be passionately in relationship with him is the greatest thing.  The one who causes the sun to rise beautifully and the moon to glow subtly; I have captured his heart with a glance. 

He is my love, my joy, my peace :) 


Friday, January 29, 2016

How to Really Live Like a Child of God

How does one really live like a child of God?  Great concept, but hard to live out in a fast paced world full of adult responsibilities, heartache, and to-do lists.  What would it look like to really go through the day in relationship with the God of the universe? 

My little Nica Chica, Maria, has taught me quite a lot about this.  When we met Maria, she was 4ish and had no memories of family life.  All she knew was life in the orphanage.  What this consisted of was 43 abandoned children coming from all sorts of backgrounds.  The best case scenario was a background in simple poverty.  The worst…unthinkable.  One of Maria’s sweet friends literally had a scar around her neck from the dog chain used to restrain her. 

All that to say, these kids weren’t the best at teaching each other what it meant to be in a healthy, happy family.  And the staff, God bless them, tried their hardest but there were too few of them and they worked in shifts.  It in no way resembled a family. 

When Maria entered our family, she had no idea what that meant and, I guess, assumed it would be like another orphanage, just smaller.  So imagine her delight (and sometimes dismay) when the caregiver (me) didn’t leave…ever.  Not really getting what a mother was, but somehow understanding that I was “hers” and she owned me. 

The power struggles that ensued are for another post, but one of the first beautiful things she began to do was assume I would give her my attention.  And she wanted it…ALL THE TIME.  Whether I was reading, sleeping, using the bathroom; it didn’t matter, I was hers. 

Our time at the pool was the best example of this phenomenon. It didn’t matter how many billion times I had watched her jump in the pool.  It didn’t matter that I clapped and cheered in the past.  She wanted it and expected it every last time and was incredibly hurt and offended if I didn’t want to watch.

Our first visit to Nicaragua to meet Maria

Mira! Mira!

The look of a child who knows she has been watched :)

She would shout “Mira! Mira!” (command form, not polite form!) “Look! Look!” And knowing this little person had missed years of having a mommy look at her, I did watch and cheer and clap.  Over, and over, and over again.  I had an empty heart tank to fill.  

This is where we start with God.  Except he is a much better parent than me.  He doesn’t run out of patience.  He doesn’t need “alone time” to read, sleep or use the bathroom.  He delights in His children and loves to be “owned” by them.  He hears “Mira!” “Look!” and says “I see you."
Some things never change...Spring in Florida 2015
So today, I am challenged to live like a child of God.  Throughout this day, I will approach Him like a child learning to be in His family.  I will ask Him to watch me, protect me, comfort me, encourage me, guide me.  And I won’t just do that once in the morning devotional time.  I will talk to Him as if He is a real person, because, well, He is! What would my day, your day, be like if we really engaged with God and expected Him to engage back? If we expected to hear "Child, I SEE YOU."

"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; he will exult over you with LOUD SINGING." Zephaniah 3:17

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Amazing Communion

 (re-post from Mark's journals)


Lord, it's such a crazy thought that my prayers are "powerful and effective." That statement just blows my mind, even if I don't fully get it yet.  What I do get, however, is this: because of my prayers, something happens.  My prayers do something.  They have impact.   That's such a crazy concept, Father, and I pray that I would come to understand it more.  

It's also crazy just to think that I can pray.   That I can commune with you.  Before you took our sins upon you, communion with you was blocked by a veil.  When you died that veil literally tore apart.  A personal relationship with the God of the Universe became possible for even the lowliest person.  That's incredible, and like the other idea I mentioned, I don't completely get it.  I don't think I'll ever be able to grasp it while I'm on Earth.  What I do understand of it blows my mind; it seems impossible that I, a sinner, could have an intimate relationship with the Lord, with the Ruler, with the Master of the Universe.  And that you want that relationship with me, well...it's amazing.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Calling all Characters

I am a huge fan of the family getaway.  When I was a kid, we would cram into the back of the car (no seat belts), draw a line down the middle of the seat and fight our way to our destination.  My poor parents.  I quickly learned to sit behind my Dad’s seat so when reached around to get me he couldn’t reach.  Some might have called me incorrigible, but I prefer strategic.

Once we got some miles behind us and the “packing the car stress” had worn off, my sister and I were allowed to split a coke and we started to remember that we liked each other. We have great memories from those times. Once we pretended we were from England and talked in an English accent while visiting multiple shops. “But dahling, Mummy would not like that.  She prefers tea and crumpets.”  Then there was the time Dad lost his bathing suit in the ocean and Mom had to run down with a towel to help him while we all busted out laughing. 

Recently Carlos and I took the kids to a beautiful house in the Outer Banks that a friend kindly let us use.  Wanting to make memories we brought the games and fun food and set the atmosphere for family fun.  But the best memories can’t be designed, they just happen.  
January on Jockeys Ridge

While visiting Jockey’s Ridge, we came across the most bizarre scene.  “Um, Mom….is that a Tuscan Raider?” said Daniel, grabbing my arm and pointing.  Just as I went to answer him, a dark and menacing figure started walking in our direction.  Darth Vader himself was heading our way and I swear I was choking.  The force is dark in that one. Luckily he veered left and began chatting with an ewok.

We were captivated.  This assorted group of Star Wars characters began to act out scenes and professional photographers staged still shots.  A cluster of curious onlookers hung back too nervous to ask what the heck was going on.  
(check them out at www.carolinagarrison.net/)

Will and Daniel couldn’t stand it any longer so they got up the courage to ask another spectator, “What is going on? Are they filming a commercial? A scene for a movie?”  The guy immediately started laughing, “Are you kidding me? These guys are just a bunch of Star Wars Geeks in a club or something.” 

Hmmm. It had to be more than that. They were just…so serious.  So I googled the logo on the back of one of the roadies sweatshirts and discovered they were indeed Star Wars geeks but so much more.  They belong to a huge organization that suits up and contributes to their local community with volunteer and charity work. 

These “geeks” were part of a much greater story. 

In fact, we "geeks" are part of a greater story.  Isn’t that what we all secretly hope for?  To be an essential character in an epic story full of love, adventure and fighting for the things that matter?  Isn’t that why we are drawn to the great books and movies made about them? We want to see the protagonist overcome great odds to fight another day and kiss the person of their dreams.   

We want that story, but we want to kind of fast forward the “overcome great odds” part.  We (I) want the awesome costume, a little something to wake up and fight for, and we (I) certainly want to celebrate the victory.  But man, the overcoming part is really hard.  The victory seems very distant. 

I’ll bet Joseph felt that way when his brothers threw him into the pit (Genesis 37).  I imagine Esther wasn’t able to really enjoy the castle life while trying to stop the plot to kill her people (Book of Esther).  I’m guessing Jesus’ mother, Mary, had moments where she went from hearing her awesome part in the Story, to wondering how it was going to ever work out for the good (Luke).

When you are in the overcoming it is hard to keep your eyes on the end. 

Our example is Jesus…”who for the JOY that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2

Our Joy?  It’s found in the daily gifts of love God sends us in the beauty around us in Creation and in other people.  But really, it is in the promise of Heaven that our joy is found.  And the One that ensures the victory is seated there, strengthening us as we endure to live out our part in the greatest Story.  

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Where is God?

 (re-post from Mark's journals)

Where is God in the wind?
Where is God in the earthquake?
Where is God in the fire?

These are not questions of doubt, but questions of faith.  I must have faith that he is always there, in every situation I go through.  In all the metaphorical winds, earthquakes, and fires.  All I have to do is search, and he will reveal himself to me.  

Friday, January 15, 2016

Nutella Pancakes and a side of Sadness...

You would think I would know how to do “this” since I have been the subject of terribly bad news before. But I don’t. I’m winging it just like all of you. The “this” I am talking about is how to handle someone else’s very, very bad news while living my fairly normal day.

When you have experienced something horrible happening (spouse leaving, bad diagnosis, or death of a child) you wonder how life can go on for other people. How can the sun even rise and set? The shock you have experienced on an individual level certainly can be felt around the world, right?  You can feel the world tilting and you know it will never be the same. 

I remember when my Great-Aunt Dorothy called.  She had never called before so I knew the minute I heard her voice something had happened to my grandfather.  Instinctively I walked to the large window that overlooked a beautiful blooming dogwood tree.  I knew that when I heard the news that he had died, I needed to attach the memory to something beautiful. 

The sun does dare to rise and set, and the holidays refuse to get cancelled and the pantry does get empty and life invites you to engage.  And what choice is there, really?  My favorite alternative is to curl up in bed, which is why I got a puppy so that I can’t. 

So I was having a morning recently where I did engage with my life. Joy was present this particular Saturday morning. I had promised the kids we would experiment with nutella pancakes so I was pulling up my facebook to see the “how-to” post.

Then I saw the news. A far away friend had lost her daughter the night before. It was sudden and with no warning. I thought it was a mistake. But multiple posts from reliable people verified the awful truth. 

I had this surreal moment, that on a similar Saturday months before, someone else had been looking up a recipe and instead ended up reading about our loss. Someone had found out about Mark’s death the way I was finding out about this sweet girl’s passing. I was reading about it, not living it.

Being the receiver of the information rather than the subject made me think, “What do I do now? How can I possibly make these nutella pancakes? How can I enjoy my kids eating them? How can we ever even consider eating nutella again in light of this horrible news?”  Nothing felt right and I stood frozen in front of the computer and the hot griddle, listening to the tears sizzle. 

I don’t know if there is a right thing to do, but I made the decision that morning to make, savor and delight in the eating of the nutella pancakes. I made that decision because for that moment I had three sleepy headed children waiting expectantly and I don’t know how long I will have them.  I don’t say that in a fearful way, it is just the truth. 

I felt extreme sadness on behalf of my friend and what I knew she would be facing, but in a weird way, because of her loss, I felt even more fully the beauty of the chocolate all over my children’s faces. It isn’t fair how that happens, but I do think it brings meaning to something so incredibly sad. It honors the beauty of the life that has been lost because we live that moment “extra.” Fully experienced and appreciated.  Not in a thoughtless, insensitive way, but with the greatest care. 

When the inevitable pain in life comes, we can’t help but long for heaven.  But until the day of our own last breath we can seek beauty in the sadness, even it is means there are tears in the pancakes.  

Psalm 27:13 "I remain confident of this; I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living."

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Break Me



There are things I really want to understand better.  One of those is your love for me.  Tied to that is how badly I've committed adultery against you.  I need to understand your sacrifice as well.

God, my greatest desire is to be close to you.  But Father, I can't come close if I'm selfish.  What am I still holding on to?  What haven't I fully surrendered to you?

I want you to break me. However messy it needs to be, please, just take away my selfishness.  You bring joy.  You bring peace.  I want to be close to you Father; I want my day to be filled with powerful communion with you.

You've done so much for me, and I take so much of it for granted.  But I don't want to anymore. 


Monday, January 4, 2016

When People aren't Who they seem to be...Bill Cosby, my ex-pastor, and me

Do you remember “The Cosby Show?” Our entire family could watch because it was clean, hilarious and modeled great family values. The Cosby Show made you want to be a better person, kid, parent, and family. 

How the mighty have fallen. Bill Cosby, the creator and star of “The Cosby Show” is in a world of trouble. A few days ago, Cosby was charged “with sexually assaulting a woman in 2004 after plying her with drugs and alcohol, marking the first criminal case against a once-beloved performer whose father-figure persona was already left tattered by dozens of misconduct allegations.” Reuters/Mark Makela. This charge is likely the first of many as more than 50 women have gone public in their accusations against Cosby. How brave these women are to put themselves out there like that.  And in a crazy way they have actually given Cosby a gift.  A gift of exposure and light so that he has to face the truth about himself. 

We all have these experiences when the person we have placed on the pedestal tumbles off. It is painful and foundation shaking. It is especially devastating when it is someone we know.  We want so badly for people to be who they seem to be. What do we do when they aren’t?

The Pastor that baptized me, comforted my family when my uncle died, married Carlos and me, also fell off the pedestal. After many years of leading a very large church, he admitted to a having a lengthy affair. His career was over and many were left struggling with reconciling their view of God in light of the betrayal of this man. There are still damaging ripple effects in the community from this situation and it happened many years ago.  

I had long since moved away when I heard my pastor had fallen from grace.  The news was shocking to be sure, but my first thought wasn't of surprise, but rather relief on his behalf.  How hard it must have been to live that lie, and to pretend for all those years. 

It is difficult to have someone you admire fall from grace, but it is also hard to be that person who takes the fall. Have you ever let someone down? Fallen off the pedestal? It is a long way down and the ground is hard. And yet it can also be such a relief. 

Not nearly as dramatic as the situations with Bill Cosby or my ex-pastor, I do remember what it feels like to be found out. My first year in college, I lived the double life…partying hard by night and attending Bible Study by day. I had to hide the one life from the other and it was exhausting, distressing and ultimately embarrassing. 

I could feel the “Hound of Heaven” running me down and I kept telling God “Not now, I’m having fun.  I’ll be back later.” Which, by the way, doesn’t work. He is a fast pursuer of His children. Like a mother pulling her toddler back from the busy street.

Then I got knocked off the throne of my own life. I got a horrible case of mono (hospitalized for a week…no more drinking for me), a friend asked the hard question “Which person are you going to be?” and my parents found out. Wham. All confrontational, all painful, all filled with grace.  

“For you have delivered my soul from death, yes, my feet from falling, that I may walk before God in the light of life.” Psalm 56:13

The people who loved me stepped in and called me to be my best self. They didn’t settle for me walking the fence. They asked for the whole truth and didn’t let up until I gave it. They didn’t need me to be on a pedestal because the throne in their lives was already occupied by God. This allowed them to see me in my mess and not be afraid of it. They helped me become the person I really wanted to be…not some shadow version of myself. We can face our deepest depravity when faced with the irresistible, infinite grace of God.

We aren’t made to be on the pedestal. There is a peace in knowing that. There is relief in not having to hide. There is freedom in knowing that anyone could open any drawer, read anything I wrote, walk in to any environment I was in and they would recognize me.

In all my imperfection, when I walk in the light and truth I can become who God has created me to be and I can be fully known because I am not hiding or changing like a chameleon depending on the environment. Way more messed up than I ever imagined, but also far more loved. 

As we enter this new year, do we dare ask God to uncover the things we need to air out? Am I willing to expose my dark places to the sun and allow healing to occur? Am I courageous enough to ask my trusted friends to come into my messy places and am I willing to go into theirs? Can I invite a friend to share their truth with me and not put them on a pedestal they are only destined to fall off of?  Let this be a year of walking in the Light where we can experience the fullness of God’s love and grace. No more hiding.

“…for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Ephesians 5:8