While in Prison

Behind barsSome of the masterpieces in the world of literature have had its origin while in prison.  Letters from Birmingham Jail by Marthin Luther King, Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes, Conversations with Myself by Nelson Mandela and The Pilgrim’s Progress by John Bunyan; to cite only a few.

The Apostle Paul also penned four encouraging letters while he was under house arrest in Rome; we call them “Prison Epistles”. Their message is important and invaluable to Christians today as it was then.

Some others prisoners have obtained college degrees, have learnt to skillfully played a sport, have acquired cooking expertise, have become successful singers, famous actors, etc.

My thoughts for today while most of the world is in quarantine because of COVID-19 is that isolation can be used for good depending on one sole thing: my decision.

Published in: on April 23, 2020 at 9:50 am  Leave a Comment  
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Changing World

playing

It took a virus to change people’s opinon about internet. We once thought that much use of the web was an terrible addiction, a habit that caused isolation and individualism, a way of life that would lead to a generation of zombies. Now we depend on it for work, school, church, entertaining ourselves and socializing with others.

“Go outside” shifted to “Stay home”.

I’m not saying that from time to time there is a good reason to do so, besides there are a wide range of beneficial activities to do indoor.  I’m just thinking how we, as society, reshape our views, adapt to change and modify our values. Sometimes it has taken “ages” to develop a new or different mind set. But not today; this year’s change was abrupt, quick and global.

So far, many of us think this is just a brief and prudence prodecedure; on the other hand, I also perceive that this practice fits like a glove to some people.

Our nature is to be unbalanced human beings; but once this epidemic is over; hopefully we will more appreciative of what it’s outside and grateful for what and who is inside our living space.

 

 

Published in: on April 16, 2020 at 10:45 am  Leave a Comment  
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Finding Beauty

DSC_0286 - copiaFrom time to time I take my camera and walk around trying to find something to snapshot; as a hobby. This rose is from my garden.  I must admit it is the first time an old whithered flower gets my attention. I actually saw beauty in it.  It is well known that “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” so I am not writing to convince anyone, but as I get older, I want to find beauty in aging and in fact, in everything everyhwhere.

This rose is beautiful because it did what it was intended to do, to be a rose. It gave beauty to my garden from bud to bloom, from a full grown rose to what are called hips where the seeds are that eventually become another rose.

Many new fresh roses are cut to give joy and happiness to someone somewhere outside the ground where they were planted. Some others are allowed to stay and finish their cycle.

In analogy, I assume most of us don’t want our lives to be cut too soon. If given the choice, I select and would prefer to go till the end, even if that means losing color, freshness, attraction, sturdiness and other characteristics the new and young enjoy.

I decide to take joy in roses in all their stages. I am going to savor each day of my fifth decade of life and going to appreciate more and more those who are completing and finishing the race of life.

A philosopher-type Bible writer once said: “Better is the end of a thing than its beginning…” It’s up to me to make it true each passing day.

Published in: on May 30, 2019 at 4:51 am  Comments (1)  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (5/5)

“Finishing is better than starting”

(Ecc.7:8 New Living Translation).

It is the end of the meal, the stomach is full and the heart is happy. If I have eaten the right amount of food, with nutritional value and excellent taste; there is a sense of SATISFACTION. It is a great feeling, it just that it doesn’t last too long; in a few hours, we will feel hungry again.

satisfaction-meter-different-emotionsEmotions also have a short lifespan. In life you and I get our portions of good and bad, happiness and sadness, joy and sorrow, celebration and grieving, achievements and failures, gaining and losing, etc. The menu is large. We avoid the negative ones as we abstain from certain foods not of our preference and try to get jumbo portions of the others. Once we experience some of the good stuff; we better enjoy it thoroughly while it last, for sooner rather than later, it will be gone and we will want more of it again.

Jesus declared in John 6:35 “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty” (emphasis mine). It is quite an offer for full satisfaction for one’s spirit and soul.
God’s invitation surpasses any expectations, outdo any other goods and arises above any delicacy this world can present.

“Come, all you who are thirsty,
    come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
    come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
    without money and without cost.
  Why spend money on what is not bread,
    and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
    and you will delight in the richest of fare.” (Is.55:1-2)

 

 

 

 

 

Published in: on July 5, 2018 at 5:41 am  Leave a Comment  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (4/5)

fat-vs-skinny

Not Eating is as damaging to self well-being as overeating. I used to hear my father say “All extremes are bad” Anorexia and bulimia as well as compulsive eating are sadly common disorders in people of all ages and both create health problems.

Emotionally speaking, eating too little or nothing is when I see myself as auto-sufficient for everything when in reality I must accept my need of others. Emotional anorexia is expressed by never getting too close to anyone, having a lack of forgiving spirit, accumulating bitterness and being detached of what it could be considered weak feelings such as crying, smiling, kindness and never asking for help or advice.

Emotionally overeating is the opposite. It’s when people become the center and the motivating force for living. I learn the art of manipulation so that people never leave me alone and are always there for me. I constanly seek their compliments, company and favors. Parents, spouces, children or friends are God’s given gift of support, but if their only role in my life is for my ego-fattening, then I have a problem.

Don’t you hate the secret to staying fit? There’s no secret. I know what to do, but we have the natural tendency to be unbalanced in our eating, in our emotions, in our relationships, etc.
The NIV Bible translates Ecclesiastes 7:18b this way: “Whoever fears God will avoid all extremes.”

I would like to repeat something I wrote some time ago as conclusion: Proverbs 25:16

Published in: on June 26, 2018 at 7:05 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (3/5)

being fedOur lives begin by being fed. We start being 100% takers and it is expected, within reasonable time, to become independent as well as providers. We cannot for all of our lives have an open mouth and/or an extended hand waiting to receive nourishment.

Dead Sea 1I had the wonderful and fun experience “to swim” in the Dead Sea which because of its high concentration of mineral salts causes the water to be denser making it easy for our lighter bodies to float. Its source is the Jordan River; water flows into it, but it doesn’t flow out. This body of water has so much salt that is devoid of all forms of life thus receiving the name “Dead Sea”. The lesson is plain and simple, The Dead Sea is a taker not a giver.

We might live with the delusion that to be emotionally healthy we need the perfect balance of receiving and giving, of being fed and feeding others, of feeling appreciated and appreciating others, of being loved and loving others; yet the words of Jesus Christ were “It is more blessed to give than to receive“.  It is fantastic when people around give to me, feed me, appreciate me and love me, but people don’t have endless reservoirs; their emotional tanks also need filling and re-filling. Ultimately, only God can have in store abundant love for my spiritual need and emotional hunger. As a good Shepherd he leads to green pastures and “I shall not want”; in other words, all our wants and needs will be satisfied without us even asking Him. In His care, we shall want nothing, we shall lack nothing: materially, physically, spiritually and emotionally.

Filled by Him to be emptied to others for Him.

“The nourishment of the body is food,

while the nourishment of the soul is feeding others”

 

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 5:29 am  Leave a Comment  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (2/5)

Eating healthy is a chosen habit. It shouldn’t be a short-term diet, but a long-term lifestyle. Sometimes we eat what we like; Carbohydrates and fats are not essentially bad, but the unbalanced amount of them is what it is damaging and  then, most of the time we eat what we have to eat, not necessarily because of its good taste, but because of its nutritional value.

versus food

I have noticed that there is a strong emphasis nowadays, particularly in youth, to do what “I feel doing”. New generations are evaluating almost everything, including church, by the level of emotion it generates and we, teachers, youth/camp leaders, pastors, etc. worry over it and end up with soggy, greasy, fast-food type of activities.

I always have craving for cheese burgers, chocolate cake and vanilla ice cream, but as I grow older and mature, I also eat salads, juices and meats. I am not against making the veggies more appealing as well as being more creative to make the learning process exciting, attractive and fun.

The problem is, if the stomach is in control, we will have an eating-disorder and if the heart is in control, we will have confusion and a chaos in our emotions. We need to invite our minds into the decision-making and discipline ourselves to do what we know we ought to do.

 “My Father, if it’s possible, take this cup of suffering away from me. However—not what I want but what you want.” Matthew 26:39 (CEB Bible)

 

Published in: on June 14, 2018 at 5:35 am  Comments (1)  
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Full Belly, Happy Heart (1/5)

heart and gutsThe heart and the stomach are very much connected, for example, our brain can mix up pain signals from both organs confusing a heart attack with heartburn (a form of indigestion). In fact, mistakes in nutrition could lead to heart disease. I won’t get into the science of body organs interaction.

Here, I refer to the heart as the center of emotions and I will compare it to the digestive organ that allows our body to draw nutritional value of foods.

Just like in eating we need a diet and limits combined with exercise, we need guidelines, restrictions and control in our emotions combined with actions that develop a well-trained character.

I just started thinking about how the heart and the stomach are very similar in needing constant refilling, but it is a great thing when they are full!

“Seize Life! Eat bread with gusto, Drink wine with a robust heart. Oh Yes – God takes pleasure in your pleasure!”                                   Ecclesiastes 9:7 (MSG Bible)

 

 

Published in: on June 7, 2018 at 5:14 am  Leave a Comment  
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Only One

matches-last-chance-7403129Without exception, we all live one day at a time. We can’t use nothing but one hour…one minute…one second before it’s gone for ever. Putting it all together it’s what we call “life”.

Since I am traveling tomorrow and it will be almost a year before I get to see family and friends here in Mexico; I have that “last-day-feeling”. It makes a difference in my actions, my speech, my thoughts, reactions, decisions, etc. All of me has this intense concern on what I do today.

The fact of the matter is that today is no different from any other day. Today is today. It is not yesterday and it cannot be tomorrow. For me and everyone is the same; Today is our only one day to live.

The challenge for me is to live every day, every hour, every minute and second of time to the fullest and with passion. I only have one.

Published in: on February 1, 2018 at 6:24 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Smile

There are many studies about “smile facts” and the number of benefits it brings to physical, mental and emotional health.  A smile is more than just a flexion of muscles; it is an expression from within the deepest part of our being denoting pleasure, happiness, delight, enjoyment, gratification or sociability. A smile is sadly almost a lost gesture in big cities since it is the body language of welcoming people into our space and our lives. We live in times of mistrust of strangers.

I recently experience pain due to dental work. I don’t remember ever being in such torment before.  For some reason analgesic had almost none effect or so I felt. When I left the dentist’s office I had to make a phone call and meet with some people.  All I wish was to be in a dark room, in bed and alone, but I couldn’t. I am sure the people around would be understanding of my bad mood and put up with my miserable attitude, but as in many cases, they are not to blame for my pain.

I chose to continue life ignoring my discomfort and even watched a movie with my hosts. I am in a liquid diet. Things didn’t turn out as I was expecting and the episode of the dental work hasn’t finished. I fear going back to the dentist’s. Such is life, but those circumstances have no control over what I choose and how I decide to act. For this time I have decided that my pain is small compare to what others are suffering. I want my smile to be a reflection of my soul not of my body. I choose to smile not because my smile is perfect, but because it is powerful.

smileIt is well with my soul

Published in: on June 16, 2016 at 5:35 pm  Comments (2)  
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