Tough Questions

#SickOfMe, Chapter 1 Blog

5/30/19

Tough Questions by: Genesis Juarez

I gave my life to Jesus at 15 but it was not until I was 19 that I had any type of follow through. I committed to attending church and youth group, and began actually cultivating a relationship with Jesus. Now At 27, I think back at the past 8 years as a believer and think… THANK GOODNESS his Grace and Mercy abounds. If I had to sum up my testimony in one sentence it would be this: I am who I am today because of Christ and despite myself, it is not I but Christ’s relentless pursuit for me, unending love, and saving grace that has kept me from falling into eternal darkness.

My spiritual walk has been one of emotionally led spiritual highs, and ever wandering lows. I’ve had moments where I felt so close to God, and I have also avoided anything that reminded me of my profession of faith. I’ve continuously tried to escape conviction and owning up to my sin. There were seasons of faithful church attendance and thriving communion. I even did a brief stint in bible college followed by a complete overstay in the Chicago night scene. Did I mention God’s Grace is sooo real to me? One unplanned pregnancy, and an overwhelming God moment later, the kind where you know God is so not playing with you so you better get your act together, I find myself in the best place I’ve ever been. I am blessed to be part of a church that loves Jesus, the Word, and people. Toxic and unhealthy relationships are out and new God centered friendships are forming. My career is blossoming in ways I could have never expected and my son is amazing! Happy and healthy, what more could I ask for?

Fast forward to the past couple of months… God has been speaking to me in questions; tough, heart displaying questions. I’ve been scared for the longest time to answer. I know, that these questions will reveal to me my true heart condition. You know the saying, “When you know better you do better?” Well I’ve been avoiding knowing better; because if I allowed God to reveal these truths about myself then I will be held accountable for the aftermath and actually have to change. The thought of changing is truly overwhelming to me. I am too scared to even start; but I hear the ever so gentle whisper of God saying, “Not by your might or by your power, but by my Spirit.”

C’mon SOMEBODY!

I started reading Sick of Me by Whitney Capps, and guess what I was bombarded with in just the first chapter? QUESTIONS. So many soul searching questions. Capps writes,

        “Perhaps you’ve sensed, like me that despite all your spiritual striving, something feels off in a way you can’t quite describe….If I had to sum it up, I’d say this. For all our best efforts, we don’t look dramatically more like Jesus today than we did yesterday. We aren’t growing more spiritually mature. We may know a bit more, but our lives don’t bear the difference. I have countless list and tips for better marriages, friendhships, and finances. But do I really, truly look more like Jesus?” Pg. 2

There it is. My God moment. And while my self-preservation tries to kick and say, “Well compared to the rest of the world (non-believers) you do.” But let’s be real, the Bible doesn’t call me to compare myself with unbelievers, it doesn’t even say compare yourself to believers. We compare ourselves to Christ! Jesus is the standard, and although yes, while in our earthly bodies we will all always fall short, that doesn’t exempt us from striving for H O L I N E S S…

When I examine my life, my speech, and how I spend my time, and I evaluate if it reflects Christ to those around me, I’ll be honest, more often than not, no. Do you want to know why I think that is? I believe that there is a drastic difference between the “Believer of Jesus” and the “Disciple of Jesus”. To be be a believer requires profession of who Jesus Christ is, but to be a Disciple, one must become like Christ. True imitators of Him. And we can only travel from point A to point B by following the leadings and promptings of the Holy Spirit in the process of sanctification. Yes, we are all trying to be our best versions of ourselves, but here is another tough question, WHY? In today’s world the lines between Self-Help and Sanctification have been blurred so let me try and clear it up a little: Self-help is you trying to become better so you can be happier. Sanctification is you trying to become better so you can be holier, and only through the guidance of the Holy Spirit. It’s all in the Why. You’re “Why” is what keeps you going during the messy middles of your life. Remember your Why, and if you need help finding a valid reason, here is mine: Because HE is WO-RTHY.

The tag line to Sick of Me is “From Transparency to Transformation.” So while we’re getting raw and real about the mess in our lives, let’s also vow not to stay stuck there. I know I’ve lingered in transparency far too long. Can we boldly ask our GREAT God for BIG faith during this season? The kind that truly believes in the transforming power of Christ within us. HE has come to set the captives FREE y’all! Do you believe that for yourself? When I look at myself, I can’t say that I do, but when I look at JESUS, how could I ever doubt? Today, I choose to believe that true transformation is for me. Last question, will you join me?

Disappointment Sucks

By: Sofia Gonzalez @mrsg_p214

Re|Defined Women #BookClub, Love Life Again

I’ll never forget the day, and my long term memory isn’t as sharp as I’d like it to be. I was a freshman in high school: wild, young, and full of teenage angst and energy.


My dad was home earlier than expected. His face somber and pale. I threw my backpack on the floor and headed to the fridge for some afternoon rummaging. He cleared his throat by the counter.


“Hmmhmm, mija I think you need to go sit down with me. There’s something I have to tell you.”


“Ok, is mom cooking? I’m starving.”


He didn’t respond. I looked up from the fridge door, his eyes started to swell with tears. Dad doesn’t cry much. He had my attention.


He sat down first, and patted the couch for me to sit close to him. It immediately spilled out like a sudden knock of a glass of milk from your elbow, as you watch the glass and its liquid splatter everywhere.


“Your mother and I are getting a divorce.”
 I didn’t say anything, I felt the room closing in on me. My brain started to feel pressed, my heart beating quick beats, now poking at my skin.


“Why?”


“The love isn’t there mija, and I’m thinking of taking a job in Washington DC.”


Silence. Raw Silence, and then the dam broke. My father broke down into bite size pieces in front of me. He wept in his hands, as I stood there in a paralyzing shock, as this was too much for my teenage world to absorb. I did what any 14 year old may have done. In a panic, I ran out of the house and ran and ran for blocks as I cried uncontrollably. Over 20 years of marriage shattered in an instant. I become part of the statistic of a Latina who will be raised by a single mother. The road ahead seemed grim. But. God.


In Love Life Again, by Tracy Miles, she had me at one of her opening lines to chapter one when she said, “There came a time I had to accept that my life had not turned out the way I thought it would and no amount of wishing it were different was going to change it.”


Her open door policy with chapter one initiated so much respect for her in my mind’s eye, as she unfolded the culprit of her demise: Adultery and divorce. Those two words are enough to level an open field like Hurricane Maria’s work in Puerto Rico’s terrains.


Dang. She confronts the reader at the onset. Happy, joy has to be a choice. As disappointment sucks…it will literally suck the joy, peace, and happiness from the byways of your soul like a sailing ship on an oceanfront, never to return.


Through the disdain and the classroom of experience, I have learned the same. Loving life again can’t be circumstantial, but a constant posture that we will have to aspire towards everyday. Do we honestly think that our days are limitless? All the more reason we need to reach, grab, and put on joy each and every sunrise.


Because you see, sadness is seductive, almost sexy. We drape it over us like a blanket in the dead of winter nights, pulling it under our chins, wrapping our feet from the bottom so a toe doesn’t wiggle out.
 But happy?
 But joy?


That’s like grasping for straws. Or wind. We try to grab it, and let it go at the reckoning of a snatcher, a circumstance that would care to rob us blind. How easily do we let it flee. We hardly fight for it. Like a lover about to leave the midnight train, and we have one chance to convince them to stay. We let them board. We listen to the whistle blow. Cement blocks stick our feet in. We standby on the platform of life, watching the train pass us by.


Nehemiah said, as they were rebuilding the Jerusalem ruins, “Do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength” (8:10).


Happy-joy? That’s a choice. It can exist even inside of grief’s quarters. Going deeper, it has to transform into a mindset, a psychological posture that one must embrace daily. Even if it be gradual, it must be progressive.

Do you know what else? It is proven that sadness, despondency, and depression lead to lethargy, a slowed heart rate, and even suicidal ideation. Yet, joy and happy actually fuse in us strength, clarity, energy, and an actual release of endorphins in our brains. Not unintentional by the Maker.

Choose joy, my dear heart. 
Choose happy today.


Your heart, your soul, your close knits, your Maker will be glad you did.


“For the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
 – Nehemiah 8:10


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Word Girl

By: Mónica R Rodriguez @daywithmonica

Re|Defined Women #BookClub, Love Life Again

“They may forget what you said- but they will never forget how you made them feel.” -Carl W. Buehner, Official in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter- Day Saints.

Would you believe me if I told you, I remember a dream I had when I was in kindergarten? I do!

Mrs. Ortiz’ class of 1987. Yes, ma’am, I remember! It was nap time, (seriously!) so when I say kindergarten, I mean literally. We didn’t have the fancy cots kids have now, what we had was a carpet. One big carpet that come to think of it, “how gross!”

ANYWAY…

Mrs. Ortiz had an interesting way of waking us up after nap time. She used her teacher ruler, the really long wooden one (are you familiar?) to poke us. I remember wondering as a child, “Why a ruler? Did she not want to touch us?” I know! Since, like, birth I’ve been in my feelings, it’s crazy. Now that I’m a grown adult, it’s probably because she just didn’t feel like bending down. Hello!

This particular day, when we gathered after nap time on the circular carpet this time, I happened to be sitting right next to Mrs. Ortiz. I can’t remember the context of our group time but I do remember sharing my dream with the class. “I was laying down and the bed was going around in circles. Over and over again, I was going in circles and wouldn’t stop.” That was it! That was the dream. Profound, huh?!

Although it was a simple dream and I was just five years old, Mrs. Ortiz stopped and listened. She asked me questions different from the questions she was asking the rest. To her the dream was interesting. For me, my teacher was ‘seeing’ me.

The reality is, it wasn’t the dream, it’s vastness and depth or lack thereof that I remember. It was how my teacher made me feel when I shared my dream that I remember. She not just heard me, she was listening.

I am a lover of words. It very well could be because I have traits of my Father and Creator. The One who spoke all of life and living into existence with His words. Or possibly because I am a ‘forever student’ captivated by the Word of God itself and hold true it’s every promise as solid gold!

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” – John 1:1

The Word WAS God! The Word IS God! This is gold!! Surely, my love for words stems from knowing the Power they carry!

Interestingly enough, my love for words also stems from the same place my emotions come from; my soul. And when I/we are guilty of speaking unchecked words that then lead to unchecked actions, we run the risk of leaving lifelong impressions on another human; another soul. Words turn into memories and in so many ways become what we believe of ourselves.

This does things to me!

On the journey to ‘loving life again,’ I am reminded by our author, Tracie Miles,”what we say matters,” she says. The words that we say to ourselves and each other, both bountifully good and carelessly reckless, mean something.

What words am I choosing? What words are you?

“Death and life are in the power of the tongue?…” – Proverbs 18:21

My #ConfessionSession is that my words haven’t always aligned with who I aspire to be. The good news is, like any growing mechanism we aren’t designed to stay the same. Whatever isn’t growing is dead. Dead, like that plant sitting in that pot just taking up space in the kitchen or porch. You know the one! Or maybe that’s just my house. Whatevs!

Let’s commit to learn from our mistakes and challenge ourselves to pay attention to our words, my loves.

Much like the joy we’re reading about in “Love Life Again,” the words we choose is exactly that; our choice. Let’s take back our ability to choose and choose well!

Love and light, beauties…

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