Thursday, December 31, 2009

last blog of 2009


( It looks like I have a pipe in my mouth! haha It's one of those party noise makers. lol )

Hi Friends!
It's the last day of 2009. Wow, this year flew by. I am glad to see this year be history. I am looking forward to 2010. I have found my new year verse: Matthew 16:26, "For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?" I am so happy with that verse. What an awesome challenge to live a selfless life. Read verses 24-27 to get the whole feel.

What's is up with me?
I know that I haven't really written much in the past few days. I promise tomorrow the first day of the year to blog what exciting things the Lord is doing in my life. He is definitely doing great and mighty things all around me. He is on the move and I desire nothing more than to be a part of that good work.

I wish you a very happy new year filled with increadible God moments.
God Bless You!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Psalm 45:1

Beautiful words stir my heart. 
I will recite a lovely poem about the king,
for my tongue is like the pen of a skillful poet.
Psalm 45:1
   
 
You are the river,
That purifies and cleanses me.
Your Spirit calms
The storm in me.
Your commands are
Melodies that provoke
My soul, my will, my all
To Surrender.
Like the wind,
You offer me breath.
You are a shattered rock,
Through the cracks
flow sacred blood
Giving me life.
Your shadow alone
Would be a save haven for me.




Friday, December 25, 2009

Merry Christmas & Lyrical Friday





It truly is the most wonderful time of the year. I have to confess that I haven't been jolly... more Scrooge-like. I didn't want to put up the Christmas tree, I wasn't able to collect my unemployement check (that meant no gifts) and to make matters worse, the "ancient of days" in the family didn't want to celebrate BIG like we usually do. But God- placed it in my brother's heart to set up the Christmas tree and all I had to do was decorate, God provided just enough money to get me through the basic gift giving (I love giving gifts) and He gathered a good chunk of my family tonight for our Christmas Eve dinner. Jesus came through for me and rescued Christmas! Ok, so yea, this is of no importance when compared to the magnitude of what happened in the town of Bethlehem. To me, it is inconceivable that God would become a baby, a human to rescue me. Happy Birthday Jesus! Thank you for being my wonderful Savior.



Today is Lyrical Friday and Oh come, oh come Emmanuel is the song I will share with you. This is probably the only Christmas song that I really enjoy. It is more than a song, it is a prayer. May the cry of your heart be "Come Emmanuel."

 (you may want to mute the music player on the side bar)
Lyrics below to follow the video




Oh come, Oh come Emmanuel
*This version is by Selah

Oh come, Oh come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Oh come, Thou Dayspring, come and cheer
Thy people with Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night
And death's dark shadows put to flight

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Oh come, Thou rod of Jesse, free
Thine own from Satan's tyranny
From depths of hell Thy people save
And give them victory o'ver the grave

Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!
Rejoice, Rejoice!
Emmanuel shall come to thee, Oh Israel!

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Intimately Acquainted

Hi Friends.
Have you ever felt alone in the world? As if you didn't matter? That feeling of solitude, that no one could possibly understand what you are going through? Or if you shared your thoughts and feelings, no one would care? To that lonely and dark feeling this is all I have to say:

O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
You understand my thought from afar.
You scrutinize my path and my lying down,
And are intimately acquainted with all my ways.
Psalm 139:1-3 NASB

Wow! Intimately... that is deep. I can't say that I am intimately acquainted with anyone on this level. I have read this Psalm many times, yet it wasn't till recently this year that someone shed light to this wondrous thought. How precious and comforting to know that God is intimately acquainted with you, with me. I don't feel so lonely anymore. And knowing that He is aware of my every need helps me to trust in Him all the more. Verse one reminds us that He has searched us and knows us. Dang, have I taken time out of my busy day to search the Lord and know Him? Reading these three verses has aroused within me a desire to search Him passionately and know ALL of Him. 

Challenge: To be intimately acquainted with Jesus like He is with me.



 

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

a bit of the Word

Hi All.
This morning as I spent time in the Word I came across Isaiah 7:9. The second part of the verse is what hit me like a cold shower:

If you will not believe, Surely you shall not be established. -NKJV
Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm. -NLT

It got me thinking... Am I truly believing all that He has promised me? Is my Faith firm? Am I standing firm? Could I be holding myself back, from living the abundant life that God has created for me to live?

My challenge: to stand firm in my faith.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Lyrical Friday- Albertine

Hi Friends.
Last night God gave me awesome insight on songs as our midweek service was not preached through a well written sermon but was delivered through song by our amazing worship team. And so the idea for Lyrical Fridays came to be. Every Friday I will post a song that is not only sweet to listen to but that will challenge us to be lilies among thorns. Be blessed with today's selection, Albertine by Brooke Fraser (you may be seeing a lot of Brooke :-] on Lyrics Fridays ).













ALBERTINE
Brooke Fraser

I am sitting still
I think of Angelique
Her mother’s voice over me
And the bullets in the wall where it fell silent

And on a thousandth hill
I think of Albertine
There in her eyes what I don’t see
With my own
Rwanda

CHORUS
Now that I have seen
I am responsible
Faith without deeds is dead
Now that I have held you
In my own arms
I cannot let go ‘til you are

I am on a plane
Across a distant sea
But I carry you in me
And in the dust on, the dust on my feet
Rwanda

CHORUS

Bridge
And I’ll tell the world
I will tell them where I’ve been
I will keep my word
I will tell them, Albertine

CHORUS

I am on a stage
A thousand eyes on me
I will tell them, Albertine
I will tell them, Albertine

To watch the music video click here...


If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world. James 1:26-27

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

As I wait...

Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. Matthew 6:34




Never under estimate the power of God, nor His methods. Yesterday someone who has no clue of my prayers, my struggles, my thoughts sent me this verse. What a timely word it was. Thank You Jesus.

At this very moment I find myself in search for an answer to a very deep prayer. I know that before God gives me a green light, He wants to prepare me for the road ahead. But in the searching and waiting I have often found myself in a traffic-jam-like anxiety... you know, the one where you feel you can't move. But then God reminds me that I should not worry about tomorrow. He will use my daily gleaning in His word, through a song or even a faithful messenger, like yesterday.

As I wait on the Lord, I rest in peace knowing that my life is in His hands... what have I to worry about? In our darkest moments let us hold fast to the promises He has given to us in His word. There is light at the end of the tunnel always- with Christ!




Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us,  to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21

Saturday, December 12, 2009

torn between two lovers

I will punish her for the days she burned incense to the Baals; she decked herself with rings and jewelry, and went after her lovers, but me she forgot," declares the LORD.
~ Hosea 2:13




Hi Friends!
I came across this post on my Myspace blog from 2007. This was a teaching that Pastor Scott taught. It has ministered to me so much today and I pray it does to you too. I don't remember writing it. I encourage you to take out your bible and follow along. The word of God is powerful and relevent. May it bless you as much as it did to me.


Torn between Two Lover, Pastor Scott Claunch

Last night God spoke through Pastor Scott in a message titled, "Torn between two Lovers" out of Numbers 22-24. You can't help but fall deeper in love with God. His unfailing and unchanging love is better than anything this world and other lovers have to offer. Just meditating on it can blow your mind away. To grasp the magnitude of his sacrifice for us in the midst of our failing love really breaks me.

We looked at the life of Balaam. He was a man whose love was divided between God and wickedness. As we studied this adultery Scott pointed out five lessons for us to apply:

1.(Numbers 22:1-20) Don't be for sale, or even for rent
-Satan will persist even if you resist
-God's preventive will: God lets go but He gives us warnings

2. (Numbers 22:21-34) Watch for God's warning. Don't take them lightly
-God will put people (donkeys) in your way to warn you, don't get upset or dismiss them, take heed!
-The Lord will use the foolish things of this world

3. (Numbers 22:34-24:19) No one can curse what God has blessed
- No weapon formed against you shall prosper

4. (Numbers 31:16/ Revelations 2:14 Be a walkie-talkie not a talkie-talkie
-You can talk all you want but character is what matters. There can be much talk coming from a person but look at their life are they walking a spiritual walk or a biblical walk

5. (Joshua 13:22) Sin carries a built-in curse
-God's blessed people cannot be cursed, but sin comes with its own curse; death. Like a shampoo bottle with built-in conditioner it can't be separated.

So we see that even though Balaam loved the Lord he was separated from God. And I quote Greg Laurie's teaching this past palm Sunday, on how to not lose the fire of our first love, "You have to love what God loves and hate what God hates." Balaam was unfaithful to the Lord for the love of…. Balaam and all that Balaam desired. I ask you today who or what is competing with God in your life. What is separating and tearing you apart from loving God. And I don't mean from loving God first, I'm talking about loving God exclusively, loving God only? The kind of love that is so strong and passionate that you can't even conceive the thought of sharing it. That is love in its purest form, unconditionally and without reserves.

"I, the LORD, search the heart, I test the mind…" (Jeremiah 17:10), I encourage you to ask Him to reveal those things that are dividing you. He will do it: Jeremiah 33:3, ''Call to Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know.''

Something said last night really stuck out to me, Balaam's donkey! Scott said to not beat the "donkey" because it's warning us. I love God and his sense of humor. He showed me then and there that there will be people who will be "donkeys" in their attitudes and their way of life that will get to me (and trust me I have a few in mind right now) but they/he/she are in my life because God purposefully placed them there to keep me in check… lol you are too funny Lord. I don't know if that made sense but it did to me! "As iron sharpens iron, so a man sharpens the countenance of his friend." Proverbs 27:17 is so true! God I'm trying to love them!

Also, if there are people who are getting "in the way" of things and are acting like Balaam's donkey stop and check yourself. God loves you too much to let you go. He knows what is best for you, so he sent that donkey friend of yours to stop you from committing yet another stupid mistake. Remember that you are worth too much, you are worth dying for- don't give in to the temptation/ to that person/ to that lie/ to that drug/ to that relationship/ don't give the devil a foothold- you were, you are and will always be worth dying for. And because you are God has sent people to warn you, guard you and protect you, listen to them and apply your ears to the word of God. Whatever has you torn today know that God is calling you back!


"Therefore, behold, I will allure YOU,
Will bring YOU into the wilderness,
And speak comfort to YOU.
I will give YOU her vineyards from there,
And the Valley of Achor as a door of hope;
YOU shall sing there,
As in the days of YOUR youth,
As in the day when YOU came up from the land of Egypt.
"And it shall be, in that day,"
Says the LORD,
"That YOU will call Me 'My Husband,'
And no longer call Me 'My Master,'
For I will take from YOU mouth the names of the Baals,
And they shall be remembered by their name no more.
In that day I will make a covenant for them
With the beasts of the field,
With the birds of the air,
And with the creeping things of the ground.
Bow and sword of battle I will shatter from the earth,
To make them lie down safely.
"I will betroth YOU to Me forever;
Yes, I will betroth YOU to Me
In righteousness and justice,
I will betroth YOU to Me in faithfulness,
And YOU shall know the LORD.
"It shall come to pass in that day
That I will answer," says the LORD;
" I will answer the heavens,
And they shall answer the earth.
The earth shall answer
With grain,
With new wine,
And with oil;
They shall answer Jezreel.
Then I will sow YOU for Myself in the earth,
And I will have mercy on YOU who had not obtained mercy;
Then I will say to those who were not My people,
'YOU are My people!'
And they shall say, 'You are my God!'"
~Hosea 2:14-22


(Now that is poetry, and straight from the heart of our Creator. He's calling you out to live a set apart life for him what are you waiting you.)

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

The Paint of Words, pg 22

Jesus wept.
But why?
Knowing what lay ahead
moments away...
Was it because
He had not come,
when He heard
Lazarus might die?
Lazarus was dead!
Was it in sympathy
with their raw grief,
faith's impotent lack?
Or could it be
because He
had to bring him
back?
-Ruth Bell Graham, Footprints of a Pilgrim

Man, talk about food for thought. I have often wondered why Jesus cried. It had never crossed my mind, that maybe, just maybe this is why He wept. I f I would have been Lazarus I would have been upset about two things:
1) smelling so yucky and
2) being removed from Heaven and the presence of the Father because of people's unbelief
But then I'm sure I would have gotten over it, all for Jesus!



Maydi, Linnette, Me and Ariane


Going down the stairs to the Tomb of Lazarus of Bethany, Israel

the bird sings...

Oh, remember that my life is a breath! My eye will never again see good. The eye of him who sees me will see me no more; while your eyes are upon me, I shall no longer be. As the cloud disappears and vanishes away, so he who goes down to the grave does not come up. He shall never return to his house, nor shall his place know him anymore. “ Therefore I will not restrain my mouth; I will speak in the anguish of my spirit; I will complain in the bitterness of my soul. Job 7:7-11
 
 
Hi my Friends.
As I shared with you on Day 4 of my Testimony, the death of my Grandfather left me feeling like a caged bird. Once I posted The Heartbroken Lily, and I read it, I couldn’t help but cry. Not just because of the painful memories, but also for the reason that I now stood on the outside looking in at the repulsiveness of my guilt. About two years ago I had shared with one of my Aunts about this guilt. And even though she did comfort me, I still felt like Job in chapter 7*. The Lord has begun to heal wounds that I myself wasn’t aware of.

Friday night, a faithful friend, led by God, approached me and confronted me. Proverbs 27:6 reminds us that faithful are the wounds of a friend. A few verses down we read that the sweetness of a man’s friend gives delight by hearty counsel (verse 9). She helped me realize that I was limiting God’s sovereign power. I chose to believe that Abuelito's death was my fault and never did I chose to belive that it was God's timing. She helped me see that freedom, complete freedom is only found trusting God's timing and guilt has no place in absolute freedom. She ever so caring and heroically tapped into an area of my life that I had restricted to everyone, including God.

I think, no, I know that God is bandaging my wounds and mending the shattered pieces of my heart. Through my faithful friend, fearless warrior and loving ally, God removed the scab and exposed my wound. He is now healing it with forgiveness, mercy, grace and freedom. At the present, I feel like a bird, no longer caged, that can sing, believing that I will be set free. It is a process, one where I am learning to surrender my guilt and accept the perfect will of God.

“Comfort, yes, comfort My people!”
Says your God.
“ Speak comfort to Jerusalem, and cry out to her,
That her warfare is ended,
That her iniquity is pardoned;
For she has received from the LORD’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
Isaiah 40:1-2
 
*Click here to read Job 7

Saturday, December 5, 2009

La Bella Vita

From my journal. November 3, 2006...

Oh give thanks to the Lord of lords! For his mercy endures forever: to Him who alone does great wonders, for His mercy endures forever! Psalm 136:3-4



During Lunch today I went to a nearby park, Peacock Park at the Grove and sat there watching the water. The weather has been amazing and today was just spectacular. Something about cloudy days just does it for me. The sun was nowhere to be seen! The wind so gently danced and wrapped me in its arms. For sure God was there!

Yesterday I went to Nana's job, UCP. Though I was there for just a short time I saw God's workmanship in those kids. Especially in Jerald. In his eyes and in his smile you sense the love of God. Some people look down on them for having special needs, some complain to God and others consider them to be "God's little mistakes" but I praise God for blessing this world with such angels. They are beauty and light, they are music, they are roses among thorns.

Lately God has been blessing me with moments like these. Those God moments that without a doubt you know He is mighty and real. Great in all His ways yet so intimate and personal to know the little things that you enjoy in life and bless you with them. You gotta love a God that would create such beauty with such perfection. Its in the geniune smile, in the hug of a friend, the warmth of the sun to stillness of rain... His signiture is found on everything around you. He is in the little things- like encouragement that someone throws your way without even knowing what you are going through or even a phone call from someone you weren't expecting, yep, thats God.

Stop!

Look around you and praise God for all he has done for you.

God bless you

Friday, December 4, 2009

A Lily Restored- part 5

Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:37-39


Hi my Friends. I am honored and humbled by your response to my God story. I thank God for you and your acceptance of me. I did not want to share with you or anyone the accounts that I have invited you to read, it really was God’s leading. I don’t like to share intimate details of my life, and I did with reservations. Although, I must say through this experience, God has bandaged some wounds. Last weekend when this crazy idea came about, I thought, “No Lord. No one would care and no one needs to know. This is between you and me, us four (Father, Son, Spirit and Me) and no more.” None the less, I knew that it was God calling me to be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that my labor is not in vain in the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).


I want to conclude this series with one of my favorite Bible stories found in John 9*. Jesus is walking with the disciples when He notices a man who had been blind from birth. The disciples asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him (verses 2-3). I can relate so much to that blind man, I know you can too. So many times I have questioned God as to why I had to go through certain situations or even questioned Him about a current one. Am I being punished for something that have done or not done? Why are you allowing me to go through this? God, have I sinned? And that answer may sometimes be a yes, for I am not exempt from the consequences to my dumb actions, but most of the time the Lord’s response is, “Raquel, its not that you have sinned, but that my works  may be revealed through you.” OHHH, I get it… I think!

We must continue with the story of the blind man in order to fully understand. The scripture tells us that Jesus spat on the ground and made clay with His saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay (verse6). I can’t help but feel at times, like the blind man, trials, guilt, shame, persecution feel like dirt and saliva. And I almost want to shout, “Really Lord? Is there any other way?” But we can’t question His methods when we know His track record, and it is always for our good.The Lord will use all kinds of methods in pursuing you. So, now that we are stained, tainted, filthy and beaten down, what’s next? Jesus gives the blind man a command, to go wash himself in the pool of Siloam (verse 7). I find his obedience both sweet and faith filled too. He went and came back seeing. What an awesome picture of the blessing that is produced, when in our own trials, as a lily among thorns, we wash oursleves with the Word of God and we step out in obedience. I love it!

What takes place next is where I can fully understand why I endured hardship, heartache, blindness, hunger, tribulations of all sorts. The people in John 9 notice the difference, they see a man who was born blind now being able to see. They question Him and He shares what Jesus has done for Him. The people take the blind man to the Pharisees for investigation and even call in His parents. It’s so cool, this man who once was an outcast, limited by his disability, depressed I’m sure, feeling useless and without a purpose, confused and worn out, was now joy filled with joy, boldness, courageous and even preaching! This man, redeemed, set free and given a new opportunity declared before all that He was once blind and thanks to Jesus, now he can see. He made statements like, “If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing.” What this man may have seen as a God forsaken curse was really part of God’s divine plan and workmanship. Our lives should always reveal God's glory to a dying world. Ok God, I really get it. Let your will be done!

This wonderful story has helped me understand that the bitterness of my past happened so that God would be revealed. As insane as the following may sound to you, I prayed one year, “Lord teach me to suffer. Allow me to go through heartaches that I have not yet experienced so that others can see you in my life.” Let me tell you, that year was the last time I prayed that prayer. But I thank God for answering it. Not only did others see Jesus sustaining me and building me up but I learned how to depend on Him alone. He is all that I need.

On my trip to Italy, I learned a valuable lesson. To make a long story short, a native Italain asked me what I thought of Italy. I told him, “Italia is beautiful.” To which he responded, in the most respectful way, “No, you make Italia beautiful.” Those words impacted me in a tremendous way. Not in a fleshly, romantic way… I heard the voice of God speaking to me. I heard the Creator of Heaven and Earth say, that I, the woman who betrayed Him so many times, was still beautiful to Him. The lesson learned was that no matter what, I was, I am and will forever be worth dying for to Jesus. It reiterated to me, that no matter what I do, what I don’t do, what ever I say or don’t say God will love me always. It was a total Hosea 2* moment.

God has been so good to me. As a child I was born with a deep desire to help people but I went about it the wrong way. Jesus has given me purpose and a calling greater than anything I could have imagined: to go out and make disciples of all nations (that may be the supermarket at times, not just another country!).  He has restored broken relationships. Like my sister and I, we are best friends now, by choice. I love my sister more now, than ever before. My love for her is an overflowing fountain that I know will never stop flowing. She is an amazing woman who loves God more than life itself. She is a blessing. I couldn’t ask for a better sister than her. Papi and I are a work in progress and our love for each other is expressed in a very weird way but it’s growing. Anorexia is a sin, an addiction, it blinds, it binds and destroys. I have to constantly renew my mind with His Word. The thoughts are always there, even though it's been over 12 years. Once you've tasted how good the Lord is, I think you don't care for the pleasures of this world... but the Spirit is willing and the flesh is weak so I pray pray pray! And God promises a way of escape (1 Corinthians 10:13) always! I am His workmanship and He is not done with me yet. My aim is that when I get to Heaven, to hear my Prince, My Jesus, Redeemer and Lord say to me, “compared to other women, You Raquel, my beloved, was a like a lily among thorns. Come in.”

My prayer is that you would have heard from God through my story. No matter where you came from, no matter where you are today- God wants to be revealed through your life. I would like to encourage you to share your story. I challenge you also, to take inventory of your life through Song of Songs 1:7:

“Tell me, my love, where are you leading your flock today?
Where will you rest your sheep at noon?
For why should I wander like a prostitute
among your friends and their flocks?”

Are you being Spirit led or self led?
Are you surrounding yourself with the flock of God or with the wolves, even with wolves in sheep’s clothing?
Are you being fed by the Shepherd?
Are you resting in His presence? In His promises? In His hope?
Or are you like a prostitute who sells herself short of her worth in God?
Are you wandering aimlessly through this life?
Or are you living the life God created you to live?

I am excited for all that God is about to do in You, through You and around You as you live as a Lily among Thorns. May you be captivated each day more and more by Jesus as you seek to know Him and make Him known. May He be revealed through every area of your life now and forevermore.

Love- Raquel
PS- You, make Italia beautiful : )


*Click here to read John 9  and Hosea 2:14

Thursday, December 3, 2009

The Heartbroken Lily- part 4

Praise the LORD!
For it is good to sing praises to our God;
For it is pleasant, and praise is beautiful. 
The LORD builds up Jerusalem;
He gathers together the outcasts of Israel.
He heals the brokenhearted
And binds up their wounds.
Psalm 147:1-3


I can not thank you enough. I think today's post will be the hardest one yet. It will be like digging into a grave that I buried my heart breaking memories. None the less, it is through those heartaches that I have come to know God as my healer, comforter, and God of wonders. I have come to know God the Father in a very intimate way through these hard times. I would be limiting God's amazing glory by sharing only the great joys in my life. I have a need to expose my hurts and pain because it is in those dark moments that God’s amazing glory did shine the brightest. The stories I will share will not coincide necessarily with the time frame of parts one - three of my testimony but is more of a beautifully broken medley of God's redeeming love.



I shared with you that though I had claimed to be a Christian I had not been living the life of a Christ follower. Sure, I shared Christ with people, but my actions washed out my words. There is power in the Holy Spirit, and at times, I felt a tug at my heart and I knew that it was the Spirit of God telling to share Christ with someone. At times I would, but at other moments the fear or rejection, of being mocked and of appearing too religious held me back from speaking. Afterwards, I would go through the world's worst guilt trip for not doing so. One Friday, I felt a heavy burden to speak to a friend of mine about Jesus, and about the hope found in Him. God’s message was very clear. It was as if God wanted me to speak only about hope. But, I was uneasy with sharing God's hope to her. It turned out that we would spend the entire day together. For a second time, the Lord told me to talk to her. I neglected to do so one more time. Again and again, throughout the day the Lord kept prompting me to speak to her. I spent a good 6 hours with her engaged in conversation and what not but I did not speak to her. Afterwards, I felt horrible because I knew what I had to do and didn’t do it. “Next time Lord,” is what I said to Him. She committed suicide that night.

I have made many terrible decisions, but to me, none can be worse than this one. Through many words of comfort, I was reminded that she made this decision on her own to take her life. But the doubt that if I had said something to her she could have possibly still be alive today. I have never been able to surrender this guilt fully. A part of me finds comfort in holding myself accountable for her death. I still drive by where she committed suicide and just cry till I can’t cry anymore. After her death, life for me changed forever. I promised the Lord to be obedient to His prompting and to speak boldly. However, this was not going to change the fact that she wasn’t here. I couldn’t sleep for a very long time. I would have dreams of her asking me why I never shared Jesus with her. What helped was God’s divine grace. He bandaged my wound with the help of my family and friends. A friend from church bought me a pillow to cry on, a journal to vent and a book* that helped me get back on track and be a courageous witness to the lost. The day of her funeral I had written a poem dedicated to her. I gave it to her grieving parents.

There is one more death that I have bottled up inside and probably the most difficult one to talk about. And if you are somewhat close to me, you know that if it wasn’t for God I wouldn’t be writing about this. This Sunday, December the 6th will be five years since my Grandfather went to be with the Lord. As if I didn’t cry enough about Susie’s suicide, writing about Abuelito is shredding me to pieces. His death is the deepest wound I have. Far deeper than the suicide, far deeper than walking away from my first love, far deeper than the most horrific experiences I had. Death is so final.

Abuelito to me was my earthly Prince. He would always remind me of how I was his favorite grandchild. He always commended me on being strong willed, and of a rough character. He would always smile at me when I would stand up for myself. He spoiled me with love. He let me get away with anything. He would let me light up his cigarettes as a child. And often times he would leave me a beer under the dinning table, knowing full well that Mami would get upset at Him. I loved rubbing his bald head and his belly. I loved his hands and his feet. He was the funniest man I knew and will ever know. But he was also, one of the godliest too. He knew the Bible, every story, every word. He taught me to love cheese, Häagen-Dazs ice cream and the New York Yankees. He was a hard working man. His death was very sudden. And even though I have all these wonferful memories to keep his memory alive in me, I still am mourning his death, I think I always will.

The night before He went to be with the Lord, my Grandmother had called me to ask if I could take Abuelito to his doctor’s appointment the next morning. She told me the time and I agreed to pick Him up since it was going to be my day off. The morning came and I was running late to go pick him up. That’s when I got the phone call from my Grandmother. She was panicking and I couldn’t understand what she was saying. All I could make out was, “Pedrito! Ay Pedrito! Corre!” in English it would be, “Pedrito! Oh my goodness, Pedrito! Hurry!” I ran to my Mother’s room, she was getting dressed. I yelled that something was wrong with Abuelito and we rushed over to their house. On the way we called an Ambulance to meet us there. When we arrived we found that a neighbor had already called 911. I watched the limb body of my Grandfather as He lay on the floor. The Paramedics were resuscitating him. My Grandmother was freaking out, Mami was hysterical and my baby cousin could not stop crying. I was motionless. I felt as if my life was being taken from me. All I could think was, “Raquel, why didn’t you pick Him up on time??? You could have had him at the clinic the time the heart attack happened.” Within minutes he released all his body fluids and I knew very well what that meant. But I wasn’t going to lose hope; the paramedics rushed Him to the Hospital.

At 11 am, that Monday morning they doctors signed him off as dead. At the least I know he didn’t suffer. I have never been able to forgive myself for this. Nor have been able to forgive myself for the pain I have caused my entire family with this great loss. I could have been there earlier, with time to spare but I wasn’t. It took me a very long time to return to my Grandmother’s house. Still today I go back there and I remember vividly Abuelito on the floor, lifeless. I am so overcome with guilt that I can’t even stand being around my own Grandmother, because I feel that I have failed her and caused her so much grief. Maybe I sink into guilt because it will offer me a temporary explanation for Abuelito’s death, when I can’t understand why He had to die. And even though, I may never be able to overcome Abuelito’s death, knowing that He is in Heaven enjoying the presence of the Lord gives me great joy. Without a doubt, I know He is with the Lord. And yes, this year he had God help the New York Yankees win the World Series, lol.

God has sustained me through both of these terrible experiences, along with other heartaches that maybe someday I will share with you. Though I have had a hard time forgiving myself, I bask in the forgiveness of God and find peace and security there. The Lord gave me two great verses that constantly console me, when guilt seems to creep in:
“Come now, and let us reason together,” Says the LORD, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, and they shall be as wool. Isaiah 1:18
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 2 Corinthians 5:17
December the 10th 2004, I have recorded in my journal verses that the Lord gave me to comfort me through the book of Isaiah** after Abuelito's death.

These heart aches, scars and memories that I have endured are what unite me to everyone else. We all hurt, we all cried and we all lose something or someone we love at one point or another. But we have a great God that can work out everything for our good. In the words of Ken Graves, “pain is our teacher.” I have known the pain of losing someone to eternal damnation, a pain that our Father must suffer too often. I have known the pain of momentary loss, like God submitted himself to when Jesus paid our debt in the pits of Hell. I have known rejection, humiliation, mockery like my Jesus has known when I share Christ and He is rejected. But I have also known the joy of seeing a friend come to Christ. I have known the joy of knowing that I will see Abuelito face to face. I have known the joy of walking with the Lord and I am not letting go.

I invite you to return to my blog tomorrow Friday, for the conclusion of this Lily story.





Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Set Apart Lily- part three

But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Acts 20:24


Welcome Back! Thank You ALL for your comments, your emails and words of encouragement. I continue to pray that through my story you would find strength to trust in the God of second chances and also, that you would share your story to another generation. Praises be to God, who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.


Picking up where we left off. Beyond doubt, letting go of my friends was one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make. My prayer soon went from being “Jesus, I give you my friends,” to “Jesus, please send me a friend.” As I told you yesterday, I cried for a whole week lamenting and mourning my great loss. Every day during lunch I would literally lock myself in the bathroom and cry. I was going down with a fight. Because I knew that my selection of friends would probably not be any better than my last, I did not set out to look for a friend. I felt God slap some sense into me when He spoke to my heart to wait on Him. I waited on the Lord and it was a very lonely time, but it helped me to see that all I will ever need in this life is found in God.

Come Monday, I saw from a distance a group of people from another local church. I used to attend a small Bible study with my sister that they hosted for the students of that school. I figured, hey they are Christians, let me approach them. So I did, and for a week they were my new hang out buddies. By that Friday, I wanted to pluck my eyes out and I asked the only person I actually got along with, if she wanted to go somewhere else for lunch. To my surprise she was quick to say yes. I remember exactly where we had lunch that day and before I knew it we were sharing with each other where God had brought us out from and where He had us then. Could this be? Had God come through for me and given me that one friend I asked for? He did!!! God had orchestrated a beautiful friendship. I call her my answered prayer. I love you Nana, you were and still are my best friend. This year we celebrated 11 years of a Godsent friendship and sisterhood, with no traveling pants!!

All the areas I was weak in, she was strong, and the same for her. We were both equally yoked in our own way, both alone in a sense yet yearning passionately for God. For a long time she was my only friend. Through her God taught me many lessons, for example, to be a gentle and quiet spirit (something I still haven’t quite mastered). In her friendship, I found the strength needed to overcome many obstacles. She is the cheese to my macaroni and the wind beneath my wings. Sounds corny, I know. But having a Godly accountability partner made a huge difference, where areas if she had not been there who knows how I would have backslid into my old ways. Three verses I need to share right now:
Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:6, 17.

Having someone pushing me, motivating, encouraging, supporting me and reiterating the scriptures set me on solid ground. We all need friends like that, even if it is only one. I could finally see growth in my life. Things began to fall into place. I felt like I was back, that girl that surrendered all to Jesus at her deathbed was back. God had blessed me to overflow even though I had grieved Him and brought a lot of shame to His name, when I had claimed to be a Christian yet behaved in right out disobedience. The odd thing about it all was that I served in the children’s ministry at my church before I actually gave my life to the Lord. I followed the lesson plans and taught them Bible stories and even then I still didn’t believe. But at this point, I was desperately in love with God, still am today. This time I taught the kids from heart filled with joy, from what God was teaching me. I wanted more though. I knew that God had promised me bigger plans. And then something happened.

The Youth Pastor and His wife approached me at church after church service. They told me that they had seen the spiritual growth in my life and leadership qualities. They had prayed and been in the Lord’s presence. Now they wanted me to pray about serving as a youth leader. Who? Me? Wow, really, me God! I wasn’t about to take this lightly. I prayed and prayed. I fasted to hear from God but there wasn’t a clear answer. I was so honored that God still wanted to use me for greater things. Years later I heard a great sermon, “The Recall of Peter” (if anyone is interested email me and I will get a copy to you). It is found in John 21*, where Peter, after his failure is called by Jesus to feed His sheep. I felt like that. What great joy! But even more so, I had to make sure that this was really God calling me to a full time ministry.

September 11, 2002, I attended a women’s conference at a local church. The Verse for the conference was Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I sat by myself in the back of the sanctuary. I listened as each Pastor’s Wife shared on a subject that I had lived and with the help of Jesus had overcome. Something though, was different. I sat there more as a spectator. It was as If God had placed those women in a police investigation room and I was on the other side of the mirror. I could see them but they couldn’t see me. I observed each woman, ages ranging from 12 years of age to senior citizens. All broken and being restored to lily white. God allowed me to see passed the smiling faces and find women in need of discipleship. I found myself burdened and heavy laden for each one. The final session was a surprise topic, taught by a mystery guest. To my surprise it was one of my favorite Christian singers at the time. And guess what she taught through… the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth is my ultimate favorite. Not because of the love story between Boaz and Ruth (thought that is a plus) but because of Ruth’s character. Ingrid exhorted us to be women of character who glean in the Word of God and share what we gleaned with others. She prayed over me and told me great things that God was going to do through my life, the same message that the lady at the concert has spoken to me.

That day, as I left the conference I prayed, “Lord, if what you said to me through Ingrid is true I need you to confirm it through your word.” I was driving to work, when I felt the Lord speak to me, “Read Isaiah 61*.” I rushed into the office and opened by Bible. There it was, the confirmation I asked for. The Recall of Raquel was spoken. I was overjoyed. I called Marcus and Janet (Youth Pastors) and share with them all that God had spoken to me. And so, my ministry days had come to be. The call was greater than I could have ever imagined. This set apart Lily was being called to be set apart and preach good tidings to the poor women; to heal the brokenhearted women, to proclaim liberty to the women held captives, and the opening of the prison to those women who are bound, to comfort all women who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” How was I going to do this? Not by might not by power but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).

I was resting in green pastures but I would soon find out that not everything was going to turn out as peachy as it looked. This set apart Lily had some unplanned heartaches to overcome…



*Click here to read John 21 & Isaiah 61

A Lily torn by thorns- part two


Being confident of this very thing,
that He who has begun a good work in you
will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.
Philippians 1:6

My dearest and beloved Readers, thank you for allowing my story to enter your hearts. He is mighty to save and as you will read today, mighty to heal. Picking it up where we left off...


I could easily tell you that from that day on I became the godliest woman alive, who saturated her life day and night with the Word of God and that I had been cured for good, but that would be a lie. As for the Anorexia, I hid that ugly truth for anyone and everyone. I began to eat slowly with small portions and eventually was eating full meals again. I soon began to notice the sudden weight gain due to the lack of food in my body but I was going to be ruthless with this sin and not go back to that horrible lifestyle.

There was a sudden joy in my eyes that others began to notice and draw near to. For the first time in my whole life I worshipped God in song. I discovered the freedom found in worship. During church I couldn't wait to lift my hands up and adore the One who gave me life abundantly. For the slower songs, the worship leader would ask people to be seated but I couldn't, so to my knees I would fall in surrender. I quickly made myself a cd of worship music and everyday for an hour I would lock myself in my room and have a date with God. I would read everyday consistently. In one night, right after my surrender I read the book of Ruth four times, Esther once and Song of Songs one time (that's when I called it a night, lol). I was in love. All I wanted was to spend each and every moment with Jesus.

With time though, the honeymoon was over... more like I drifted away. In the time span of almost three years I allowed myself to leave my first love. I had planned many nights to run away from home. I felt like a prisoner because of my Parent’s strict rules and so I sought refuge in my old ways, rebellion, and bad company. I was apathetic and not reading my Bible as much. I was cursing again and found myself surrounded with a different crowd. Though I wasn’t dealing drugs anymore, my friends were now the ones consuming. I didn’t abandon God entirely, how could I after all, He had come through for me as a knight in shinning armor? So, I did the Christian thing and shared with my friends the good message of Jesus Christ. Upon their rejection of the Gospel I was so upset, looking back though I realize that I would have never “won” them over when I was acting just like them, nothing about me appeared to be different from them. Instead of being the good influence, I had been the one influenced by my friends, and not for the good. But since I had no relationship with my Parents, barely an existing one with my siblings, my friends was all I had. They had become my new obsession.

During this time, God continued to pursue me. He not once gave up on me. His pursuit was subtle. He was a perfect gentleman. He knew me so well that He sent Margaret my way, knowing that I would listen to someone who had trotted a similar road to mine. With her great motherly instincts, Margaret was able to read right through me. And for once, I came across someone whom I couldn’t lie to. Without her knowing, the Lord used her to spark one of the greatest arguments between God and I. Yes, you read right. I still argue with God… though I go into the fight knowing that I am not going to win. Margaret was leading a group I was in and that night we studied John 15:1-8*. At the end of the study, she gave us a challenge based on John 15:2. We were asked us to pray and seek of the Lord the branch or branches in our lives that were not bearing fruit, and the challenge was cut it off with God’s help.

All puffed up with pride I prayed in this manner, “Lord, I recently asked Papi to forgive me for my bad attitude, my rebelliousness and for all the pain I have caused him. That was my only bad branch. Seriously God, I have no branch that needs to be pruned or cut.” HA! I can only laugh at my foolishness. I don’t think a minute had gone by when I felt the prompting of the Lord, “Give me your friends.” My first thought, “You’re crazy.” I was serious, and war had just broken out. I pretty much told God that night that I didn’t want to hear it. He had given me those friends and there was no way that I was about to give up the only people that were there for me. The audacity I had is ridiculous. Later that night I put an offer on the table for God, “Well, I guess I’m not such a saint. What else besides my friends would you like from me?” But God wasn’t about to compromise his will to please me. I needed to please Him without compromise. And that’s when I told him that even though I appreciated all that He had done for me I could not continue with Him if what He required of me was my friends.

My struggle to please God and please myself was terribly unsuccessful. I was miserable fighting with God. I acknowledged how wrong I was but my pride would not give in to God. Not only that but I also feared life without my friends, I would once again be left alone, unnoticed and without accountability. I feared that without my friends, I would return to a life of Anorexia. The cost of giving up my friends was too high and I could not afford it. But God- I love those God moments- even in my battle against His will and desire, He continued to allure me.

There was a Christian concert that my family was attending. We had some pretty nice seats and excited we were. That was until we realized that they had sold us more seats than were in the row. Two of us would have to sit elsewhere. My sister and I got the boot and we had to sit pretty far up. God was on the move and I didn’t even know it. During one of the songs the lady next to me turned to me and said that God has a message for me. She said, “God wants to use you but you first have to give to Him what He is asking of you.” She helped unveil my eyes as God spoke through her. I knew then that it was the true living God calling out to me. She prayed with me. That night I surrendered my friendships to God.

I didn’t want to break up with my friends in a way that would spoil a future relationship between them and God, so I prayed that He would be the one to dissolve the relationships. And He faithfully did. One by one, everyone went on their merry way. I did have to put a stop to one destructive friendship once and for all. Was it hard? I was torn but it wasn’t as painful as I thought. The once so popular Raquel was found alone again. And though I did have peace about my decision I still cried for a week I cried, desperate for God to fill this gap. God bandaged my wounds, but I’ll tell you more about that tomorrow.

This was one of the many branches that God either pruned or cut off. But this specific branch was the engine starter for the ultimate ride with my Jesus.
























Tuesday, December 1, 2009

The Beginning of the Lily Life - part 1

One generation shall praise Your works to another,
And shall declare Your mighty acts.
Psalm 145:4

Hi readers.

I wanted to share my story with you. Today I will share up to the day that I came to truly know God as my Savior. It's not something I share often, but earlier this year, through this verse in Psalm 145 God prompted my heart to share. There are many things that the Lord permitted in my life that I find no profit in sharing or the need to give in depth details of, however, some things I will be transparent with. Sharing my story is not going to be easy, I am holding unto His strength as I obey His command to declare His mighty acts in my life. Because I tend to write as much as I talk, I won't promise to keep it short and sweet, just sweet : )



In the beginning...

God said, "Let there be beauty" and I was born! Ok, maybe that wasn't the way it all began. I am the second of three children born in New York to a very hardworking married couple. I grew up in a Catholic home with a fear of grieving the Virgin Mary, but even that didn't stop me from being the mischievous and rebellious child that I was. I have always been strong-willed and like the Spanish saying goes, "no tenia pelo en la lengua" in other words, I freely spoke my mind. I was often referred to as "El Terremoto" or "The Earthquake." Needless to say, I was the middle child, the black sheep, the strong yet forgotten child.

In School, my report cards would read like this, "She is very disruptive in class." Teachers either disliked me or loved me. They learned early on that if they gave me tasks to do I would behave better. I bullied the bullies. Yes, as you read it. I didn't like anyone getting mocked, picked on or harassed and I felt called to defend those who were in need. While in Kindergarten, I went to my sister's second grade class and while Mami spoke with Anelle's Teacher I took the liberty of giving the class bully a beat down and left him with some bruises to remind him that being a bully was out of the question while I was at PS 132 Juan Pablo Duarte Elementary. With that said, I was popular. The bullies wanted to keep me on their good side and the weaklings wanted me for protection. I was the friendly bully, people liked me and I liked that.

But at home things were different. I was the middle child, often neglected by my older sister and younger brother who were always playing together. They formed an alliance with all the teddy bears and I wasn't allowed to be a part of that clique. They called me "La Pea" and so I was left alone. The only time I had Ernie as a brother and friend were times that he and Anelle would fight. I would enjoy those moments, because I was his place of comfort. I was Raquel, no longer to be called La Pea. But as surely as the coming of the sun, they would get over their disagreement and I was shunned, till the next argument. My playtime consisted of playing Barbie by myself or helping Mami clean. I always knew that she wouldn't reject my presence. Papi was also a good outlet. He is the fashion industry and he passed on to me his creativity. As a child, I was Daddy's little girl, helping him out with all the fashion "homework" he'd do at home.

This pattern continued as I grew up, insecure and with the attitude of raging beast. I don't remember when or how it came to be but anger and bitterness grew to be a big part of who I was. Looking back I hid it very well, I always did. I became the leading actress in my life and I vowed to never let anyone in. I was changing and not for the better. I surrounded my self with the wrong crowd. I was involved in very illegal business, never consumed (get the point). I was failing my classes, as usual. I disrespected teachers. I shoplifted. I would dress differently behind my parents back. I wore make up that Mami forbid me to wear. I cursed like crazy, as if those words were the extended American alphabet. I was a mess. My rebellion though at the time was about to take a turn for the worse.

My Grandmother and some Aunts had surrendered their lives to Jesus a few years prior. Their prayers were answered when my Parents joined the wagon and accepted Jesus into their life in 1994. I did not like this conversion. And I certainly did not like God for taking my parents away. As a family we began to church hop. My parents were then on a search for a church where the Holy Spirit would ground them in sound doctrine. Mean while, slowly I was being forgotten more and more.

My Parents did find a church, a great one too. Because it was so great and Jesus was being preached I repelled it. Even though I wasn’t a Christian I would tell people that I was because my Parents now were. I would hear God being preached and instead of joy an uncontrollable anger would take over me. I was angry at God for the past. I was angry at God for things I could not understand. I was angry at God for "making" me stupid. I was angry at God for allowing me to get involved in horrible things. I was angry at God for not being wanted and for not being loved. I was angry at God for making me who He had created me to be. It was in that anger that I turned to what would be the last of me.

And here goes the hard part, the part of my past I rather not share. Between being insecure and feeling out of control I researched and concluded that the solution to my problem was to stop eating and be Anorexic. I planned it all out and figured that I could start by skipping one meal a day. Gradually I dropped one meal after another. My plan was successful and I had completely stopped consuming food. I was on a liquid diet for some time, until that was too much for me and so water it was. One day turned into a week that turned into a month and another and so on. The tables turned as I was the one rejecting people in order to not give an account for my sudden loss of weight. My parents were working and attending night school so it was easy to hide from them. Every one was busy with their agenda while I disappeared.

I remember weighing myself at the beginning and end of a certain week and having loss ten pounds in 5 days. That was the ultimate high. Finally I was in control of my life. I had a few complications, like dizziness, hard time breathing, weakness in my bones, sleepless nights, being parched, delusional at times, not focused, discoloration of pigment in my skin color and bad breathe. That was the price I was willing to pay to be in control but even that wasn’t enough. I was empty and wasn’t alive. I was more like a dead woman walking, barely even walking at that. My schedule consisted of school, sleeping during classes, then home, shower, nap, watch TV, go to sleep. One day though, I was interrupted.

That day, I came home from school. Was alone for some odd reason and went to take a shower. As I came out I felt weaker than I ever had. I couldn’t walk straight, my legs were giving out and so I held on to the wall and tried to make it to my room. As I reached the hallway everything around me began to spin, faster each time. The lights became brighter, to the point where there was no distinction between objects. I tried to yell for help but I had no strength to yell. I turned into my room where I fell on my knees. I was gasping for air and with every second my life slipped from my grip. With the little that was left of me I cried out to God, “Take control of my life. I can’t do this on my own.” Immediately, it was as if something breathed consciousness into me. The only way that I know to explain it, is in Genesis when God breathed life into Adam. I could not stop crying, on my knees. I couldn’t stop asking God for forgiveness and thanking Him all at once. He gave me life, literally.

I dressed myself and ran to my dresser where I had shoved the Bible that my parents had bought me earlier that year. The book that I once threw back at them became the bread of life to me. I opened it and began to read, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made…” Psalm 139* was my first read. I closed it and thanked God some more. I opened it again, this time it was Ezekiel 36:16-30*, “I have saved you, not for your sake, but for my holy name’s sake…I have cleansed you… I will give you a heart of flesh for your heart of stone…” After much crying, much repenting and forgiven much by my Lord, I went to the kitchen, made myself a peanut butter sandwich and served myself a cup of milk. The journey of being a Lily among thorns had begun.

Tune in tomorrow for the rest of my story…




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