He is Risen!

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade. This inheritance is kept in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power until the coming of the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.” ~ 1 Peter 1:1-5

“He promised there will be a new Heaven and Earth”

“Resurrection Life is permanent”

“Salvation is a gift. It is black and white…are you in or out?”

“Tend with your friendship in Christ”

~ Pastor Seth McCoy, Church of Emmanuel

As we forgive those who hurt us…

Abba Father, creator of heaven and earth, enrich our capacity to forgive others, and strengthen us to overcome life’s daily challenges. Help us Oh Lord, to extend our patience when we are surrounded with injustices and bitterness. May You be in the center of our lives to bring us peace and calm our spirits in times of adversities and turmoil.  In Jesus name, we pray. Amen.

Psalm 11

In the Lord I take refuge.
    How then can you say to me:
    “Flee like a bird to your mountain.
For look, the wicked bend their bows;
    they set their arrows against the strings
to shoot from the shadows
    at the upright in heart.
When the foundations are being destroyed,
    what can the righteous do?”

The Lord is in his holy temple;
    the Lord is on his heavenly throne.
He observes everyone on earth;
    his eyes examine them.
The Lord examines the righteous,
    but the wicked, those who love violence,
    he hates with a passion.
On the wicked he will rain
    fiery coals and burning sulfur;
    a scorching wind will be their lot.

For the Lord is righteous,
    he loves justice;
    the upright will see his face.

© fm 3.29.21

Palm Sunday

There is something about short films that catches your full attention. Aside from the fact that they are condensed and does not require a lot of your time compared to watching a full-length movie where there is a lot of twist and turns or highs and lows of the story. Despite this, I find that watching a short film brings more in-depth meaning because it touches all your sensitivity, and more often at the end of the story it leaves you with a provoking thought.  You start creating scenarios that could have happened.  It allows you to expand the story in your imagination and create your ending. It is like adding your twist of segments because it lingers in your thoughts.

What also strikes me is how they show these picturesque images. Like when they pan in and show someone sitting on the bench at the park, as if this person is waiting for something or someone, or perhaps just in deep thought.  In the next scene, they pan out reflecting the sunlight, the breeze on a wide-open space featuring tall green grasses.

With all of these, there is this background music that makes you reflect and wonder what the person is contemplating. You need to visualize the person’s thoughts through the non-verbal movement. Then, when they pan in on their face – you see the full expression of their emotions, then you can tell what is going through their minds.

In our lives, we go through this non-verbal whirlwind of emotions. People often see what we want them to see.  We act in a certain way and generate this persona and have this shield to avoid allowing others to see what is truly happening in our lives. Whether we are protecting ourselves or protecting others to see through us. 

The amazing thing about our Father in Heaven, we do not need to speak and yet He is aware of what we are going through. He fully understands our non-verbal emotions.  In our solitude, God speaks to us. He sees our pain, our joy, our fears, our accomplishments, what we need, and what we even think.  He even allows us to create our ending because of the free will He gave us as His gift.

God knows we are limited creatures. He does not expect too much – just our love and dedication. That is why He gave us His only beloved Son – Jesus Christ. Jesus helps us understand His Father’s will.  Jesus is the ultimate expression of God’s love for us.

In short films, it conveys a clear message of the story.  You see thru the reflection of each character what they are experiencing.  No matter how vague and limited the words spoken, you always understand what the writer wants to communicate.

When we read the Bible, where God is the main writer, His message is absolute and flawless. The Scripture is God’s Word.

All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.” 2 Timothy 3:16-18

God is the writer of everything, and He is consistent throughout from the beginning of creation.  Each character in the Bible from Genesis through Revelation conveyed His message with distinct clarity.

In the present, we may not hear His voice speaking but we hear His words in our hearts through the gift of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.  He surrounded us with the beauty of His creation that we may see every minute of His wonder and He has put people in our lives to recognize His existence – our family, our community, our friends, our church.  He knows exactly what we need for our daily survival.

“He even knows what tomorrow will be for us. Because God is the God of today and tomorrow as well as yesterday.” ~ A.W. Tozer

As the 30-minute short film reaches its ending, we are left with a provoking thought. And whether it has provided us a moral lesson or not.  The images remain in the recesses of our memory.

When Jesus suffered in the hands of His enemies and was sentenced to death, this image of the scourging at the pillar, carrying of the cross, and the crucifixion portrayed many times in films and even as you read it repeatedly in the Bible left thought-provoking images in the millions of minds and hearts of everyone, Christians, and non-Christians alike. That up to this day, we, who has never even witnessed the experience still feels the pain and the loving sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 “When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.” ~John 19:30

Today is Palm Sunday, the beginning of the Holy Week. It is the time we reflect on those images of Christ suffering and surrendering His life for our salvation. His death and resurrection opened the gateway for us and bridge the gap between us and with the Almighty Father.

What an ultimate reflection of God’s love for mankind.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” ~ John 3:16

original sketch by Eric W. Pracht

©fm 3.28.21

How God’s Works His Miracles…

Recently I wrote about When God’s Works His Miracles

As I was reading a Christian article today, I came across the subject “Stop Worrying that you’ll be wiped out financially.”

This brought me back to when I lost my job in September 2019.  I was fortunate that I have stacked up some savings.  Because little did I know, that losing my job was only the beginning of an eight-month journey of unexpected things to happen.  People say when life’s circumstances change, you never know what it brings.  Some life-changing events may mean good fortune. Like those who unexpectedly win the lottery, those who get a promotion at work through help from friends, life inheritance from long-lost families, or businesses that were passed down to generations.

However, not all life-changing events turn into a goldmine. Losing a job, the death of a loved one, or being diagnosed with cancer are simply not one of those.

When my mom passed away in October of 2019, I had to borrow money to send her casket back home so she can be buried next to my dad and my brother.  My family has decided not to cremate her but to send her whole casket so our other siblings back home may also view and pay their respect.

When I was diagnosed with Breast cancer, I started using my savings to pay my monthly medical insurance through a government program. I found out that they are not free, you pay a certain amount which is a discounted rate they have negotiated with private insurance companies. I must admit it did help me a lot.  I continued receiving bills from the hospitals each time they need to run any lab tests, or when they did my two surgeries and my radiation.  All of these I paid through the savings I have stashed over the past years.

One time while writing checks, I stopped for a moment and asked myself, what if I do not get a job immediately and these bills continue coming? Suddenly worries crept into my thoughts. As I look into my savings account each week and see my funds are dropping, thoughts of prayer came to me.

I continuously pray my morning devotionals and my evening prayers. In between doing a job search, I paused and prayed for encouragement.  Surprisingly, I did not panic, I just trusted the Lord. I know He is holding the reins of my life.

I remember praying before each job interview. I learned how to put up a brave face and spoke with a smile and confidence. That same evening, I would thank God for being with me and providing me the confidence and the wisdom that I needed.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart
    and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways submit to him,
    and he will make your paths straight. ~ Proverbs 3:5-6

Weeks have passed, as I was writing a check and noticed that I am now down to my last $350 and I know that there are still a few upcoming bills to pay. I said to myself, I am very close to getting hired. Yeah, it sounded crazy if you come to think of it.  If you heard my thoughts, you would probably ask me “how do you know that you will be hired?” The answer is – I didn’t. The strangest thing is – I just felt it.  As if God is saying, “your struggle will soon be over.”

Remember in my last article when I said that I started my job four days after my radiation? Well, I was offered the job two weeks after I saw my savings went down to $350.   

You see, I have always felt that God was guiding me throughout my life.  There are so much unexplained little miracles that I have experienced which is only now I am beginning to recognize that He has always been there and all I need to do is talk to Him, seek Him, and ask.

“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.  For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened ~ Matthew 7:7-8

I was raised as a Christian but being a Christian to me means that I must walk in Faith, and I need to talk to God each moment. It is the same as when you are building a relationship with someone – you discuss your joy and pain, you share each moment of events of your life, you give your respect, love, trust, and almost everything that you can imagine.  It is like getting excited that at the end of the day, you can’t wait to share your thoughts and your day with that someone. Prayer is exactly like that and so much more. Prayer builds that relationship with God. He responds to you in increments of miracles in your life.

© fm1 2.22.21

5 immune boosters to help keep you healthy amid COVID-19 outbreak

Now more than ever, it’s important for your immune system to stay in tip-top shape during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the best ways to stay healthy is by maintaining a nutritious diet. UC Davis Health registered dietitian Tiana Carey shares some foods that can help boost your immune system.

Vitamin A (Beta Carotene)

This vitamin assists with the health of your intestines and respiratory system. Vitamin A-rich foods include carrots, sweet potato, spinach, broccoli and red bell peppers.

Vitamin C

Vitamin C helps stimulate the formation of antibodies. Citrus fruits, strawberries, red bell pepper and kiwi are all rich in vitamin C.

Vitamin E

This nutrient promotes the neutralization of free radicals by working as an antioxidant. Foods full of vitamin E include vegetable oils, nuts, seeds and avocado.

Zinc

There are many zinc-dependent enzymes in our body and deficiency has been linked with immune dysfunction. Zinc-rich foods include beans, seeds, nuts, meat, poultry and seafood.

Protein

Specific amino acids found in protein are essential for T-cell function, which are cells that protect the body against pathogens. Meats, poultry, seafood, eggs, beans, nuts and seeds all have lots of protein.

These nutrients have been shown to help your immune system work most efficiently and effectively, but too much of a good thing can be harmful. Eat these nutrients in moderation and don’t go overboard. If you eat too many carrots, you may just turn orange! As always with preventing the spread of illness, wash your hands frequently.

When God works His Miracles….

Today I finally received the news …. I am one-year cancer-free!

It has been a year when I was diagnosed with DCIS Breast cancer. No one ever forgets the initial shock when they are asked to come back for another test. For the past 16 years that I have been going for my mammogram, I usually leave the place feeling sore and life goes on. I get the results in the mail after five days and I am cleared from anything. But not last year. I did not get anything in the mail. Instead, I got a call to come back for another exam.

Ironically, the day after they did my biopsy was my last day at work. The new job that I took in January 2020 did not work well for me. It was not the right fit for me. When you cry in a job, you know it is not the right place for you.  The year before that, September of 2019, I lost my job of seventeen years because of a new administration that walked in and took over our agency. Then, my mother passed away in October of the same year in 2019.  

My entire life fell apart in those eight months. The stability and the routine of my life disappeared in an instant.

In March of 2020, I had a double lumpectomy surgery two weeks apart. My second surgery is the during first week that it was declared a complete shutdown and only essential surgeries are allowed.  I was extremely fortunate and blessed that I have a wonderful compassionate surgeon who quickly decided to book me for surgery before anyone else signed up for surgery that day. I remember that there were only seven patients scheduled for that morning in the entire hospital. I was scheduled as the second patient on March 20, 2020.

In between my diagnosis and surgeries, I was applying for a job continuously. I went in for a personal interview on March 10, Tuesday morning four days right after my first surgery. I could not postpone my job interview. I walked into the interview room with a smile and there was a panel of five people who interviewed me for an hour. I courageously responded to questions with tact and poise. Focusing on the questions. Another half-hour for a written test. My mind is a blur but trying to answer the best that I can.

The same week, I had two more video interviews with two different organizations. At the same time, my surgeon asked me to come back to her office to tell me that I needed another surgery because the first one they did not get the entire cancer out. A tiny portion was hidden underneath the cup though luckily, she noticed it through an MRI. The following week, March 20th I went for my second lumpectomy. I remember being dark outside while my partner drove me to the hospital at 6:30 in the morning.  I recall the hospital was quiet and the protocol of the locked-down is pretty much obvious from the outside, where securities and medical staff taking your temperature and asking Covid-19 questions, the hand sanitizer, and all.

As I was being prepped for surgery, I kept a silent prayer to myself and asking God to stay with me while I am under anesthesia. The feeling of just being by yourself in the hospital and none of your family or friends were allowed to come in with you- was overwhelming. After a few hours of waking up – I felt so overjoyed to see the sky and the sun from the window where my bed was sitting right next to. I knew right there I was given another life to live. An opportunity to see life from a different perspective. I was given more time to honor and praise the Almighty God.

For the next six weeks, I went through radiation. Each morning, while waiting for my turn in the small cubicle in the waiting room, I pray….

Psalm 16:1-11

Keep me safe, my God,
    for in you I take refuge.

I say to the Lord, “You are my Lord;
    apart from you, I have no good thing.”
I say of the holy people who are in the land,
    “They are the noble ones in whom is all my delight.”
Those who run after other gods will suffer more and more.
    I will not pour out libations of blood to such gods
    or take up their names on my lips.

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup;
    you make my lot secure.
The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
    surely I have a delightful inheritance.
I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;
    even at night, my heart instructs me.
I keep my eyes always on the Lord.
    With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad and my tongue rejoices;
    my body also will rest secure,
10 because you will not abandon me to the realm of the dead,
    nor will you let your faithful[b] one see decay.
11 You make known to me the path of life;
    you will fill me with joy in your presence,
    with eternal pleasures at your right hand.

During the weeks ahead of my daily radiation, I continued to do job interviews. Remember the job interview that I went to after my first surgery? I did not get that job after the grueling interviews and written tests. But I did not get discouraged, I persevered. I know that God got my back on this. I figured, he allowed me to survive this far, there must be something else designed for me.

Towards my last week of radiation, I got a job offer!  A job that I felt was right for me. A job in a health care system that cares for the elderly in the community. The last hurdle was to get a TB test. But it was scheduled in the morning right after my radiation. You see I did not tell any employer while applying for the job that I have cancer nor told them about my surgeries or radiation. I just know that I need a job and that God will lead me to the job that He knows is right for me.

When I went in for my TB test, I had to tell the nurse in private about my situation and that I am undergoing radiation.  I was afraid that it will affect the result of my TB test. So, she went inside to speak to the doctor to get approval. Lo and behold! The doctor rearranged my TB test and went for a different route. Instead of the skin test, he just requested the Lab to do a blood draw. I don’t know the difference, but it worked! The results were forwarded to my prospective employer the following week. 

My last day of radiation was May 21, 2020. I started in my new job on May 26, 2020 – four days after my last radiation. The best part of my current job is that I am surrounded by good and compassionate people who share my passion providing care for the community.  Do you know how amazing that day for me? I have not told a lot of people of this testimony and to those, I have mentioned this, I am not quite sure if they truly understand how I felt that day and how I still feel at this moment. It is the day that God lifted my life!

I had a successful stable job for seventeen years before the enemy struck my life. When my life started falling apart, it reminds me of the story and life of Job in the Bible.

Job 1:20-22

20 At this, Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head. Then he fell to the ground in worship 21 and said:

“Naked I came from my mother’s womb,
    and naked I will depart.[c]
The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away;
    may the name of the Lord be praised.”

22 In all this, Job did not sin by charging God with wrongdoing.

God taught me to persevere. To find humility and patience in my darkest hours. Although the enemy could inflict me with misery, pain and stripped me from everything good in my life, God consistently reminded me that I was never alone. He surrounded me the blessings of family, church friends, and a new fulfilling job with the right people. He brought back goodness into my life.

And just as it is written in the Book of Job 42:10-14, He restored my life, healed my soul, and continues to heal my body.

Job 42:10-14

10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the Lord restored his fortunes and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the Lord had brought on him, and each one gave him a piece of silver[a] and a gold ring.

12 The Lord blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen, and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah, and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

©fm1.2.9.21

Footprints of God..

We do not need to look farther where God is in our lives.

Walking is my favorite past time. It gives me time to renew my spirit and energized my mental and physical being. It allows me to empty myself to God and welcome His love in my inner soul. It also reminds me that there is good in His creation. That His agape love supersedes all mistakes and bitterness of the world around me.

The beauty of His creation brings us closer to His love and allow us to open ourselves to the opportunity to live His Word in us.

©fm1-1.20.21

Psalm 104:24-35

How many are your works, Lord!
    In wisdom you made them all;
    the earth is full of your creatures.
25 There is the sea, vast and spacious,
    teeming with creatures beyond number—
    living things both large and small.
26 There the ships go to and fro,
    and Leviathan, which you formed to frolic there.

27 All creatures look to you
    to give them their food at the proper time.
28 When you give it to them,
    they gather it up;
when you open your hand,
    they are satisfied with good things.
29 When you hide your face,
    they are terrified;
when you take away their breath,
    they die and return to the dust.
30 When you send your Spirit,
    they are created,
    and you renew the face of the ground.

31 May the glory of the Lord endure forever;
    may the Lord rejoice in his works—
32 he who looks at the earth, and it trembles,
    who touches the mountains, and they smoke.

33 I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    I will sing praise to my God as long as I live.
34 May my meditation be pleasing to him,
    as I rejoice in the Lord.
35 But may sinners vanish from the earth
    and the wicked be no more.

Praise the Lord, my soul.

Praise the Lord.