Our Mother Tongue

One of my dear daughters recommended that I should read “In Other Words”, a book by Jhumpa Lahiri. Kate knows me well, so of course I loved the book, and was inspired through its pages in many ways (for example, today I ordered some grammar books, and subscribed myself to a website with hundreds of exercises to perfect -hopefully- my English).

Speaking more than one language gives you more than the title of “bilingual,” it actually shapes you and changes you and the way you think in many unimaginable ways. As we add new words to our vocabulary, more adverbs and adjectives, grammar rules and their exceptions, we advance a bit further in the pool of that other language, we start feeling more comfortable; however, and I find it ironic, is that at the end of the day, we still catch ourselves not finding the “right” word at times. Not in English, not in Spanish, not in French.

I taught my children English (as their second language) since they were very little. My English was not perfect, my pronunciation, accent, and cadence have always been there, witnessing that English is not my mother tongue. But I wanted to give them this gift, and though it was so time consuming and much harder than just teaching them Spanish, my husband and I decided that we would do it anyhow. Now I can confidently say that all of them speak much better English than I do. All of them are my teachers and all of them (including my daughters-in-law) are patient with me when I ask them to help me understand a grammar concept, the usage of an specific word, and how to pronounce words like facade and entree.

All this helps me explain what I want it to be the heart of this post: there is one language that we, Christian mothers, need to teach diligently to our children from morning to evening, Sunday thru Saturday, and that is the Gospel language. We must do it intentionally, we must practice it ourselves, we must do all that it takes so that they may learn how to love it and make it their own.

No matter if we don’t -yet- understand all the ins and outs of it. No matter, if we don’t feel adequate or not. We must do it. We must open our Bibles daily and teach them from it, read from it, pray it with them until they know it by heart, until they can recognize it as their mother tongue. We can do this by faith, expecting that in God’s grace they will become better at speaking it, better at understanding it, better at remembering it, better at applying it, better at living it out than us.

And this is also where I come to realize that no matter how many languages a Christian person can speak, the language of the Kingdom of God, the language of the Gospel, of true love, of self-sacrifice, of compassion, is the language that we all need to be proficient in. The Gospel language is the one that we can never stop practicing. Because we all know that lack of practice is what makes one forget all the Spanish from highschool, ¿verdad?

May God grant us more love for His Word so that we may become more fluent in the language of the Kingdom as we speak to our children, our husband, our friends.

Grace upon grace,

Becky

Humility, Grace, and Peace of Mind

 

View of Arles with Irises by Vincent Van Gogh

 

“Clothe yourselves, all of you with humility toward one another, for ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’ Humble yourselves, therefore under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.” 1Peter 5:5b-7

One of the reasons we fail to fully trust God and completely leave all our anxieties before Him is our prideful and arrogant heart.

First of all in the passage above we see the connection that Peter makes. We must dress ourselves with humility not only before God, but before one another (it is easier to say that we are humble before God, but another different thing is to show that humility in action in the way we relate with another), and we need to do this because Grace is given to the humble not to the proud.

One area in which we certainly need Grace is when it comes to laying all our burdens and anxieties before God. But Grace, remember, is only given to the humble person.

Now let’s look closely at these two, Grace and humility,  put together.

Think of this, one of the reasons we battle with anxiety is because we are prideful. We say we believe in prayer and we like the verses that encourage us to come and leave all our burdens before God, but because of our prideful heart, we don’t really leave our burdens at the feet of Jesus. Instead, we try to hide them -hoping that God won’t notice-  in our heart and mind, and then we leave our prayer closet thinking that we need to keep pondering about it because, in our arrogance, we persuade ourselves that if we think hard enough about those worries, we will sure come up with a solution. And sure enough, Arrogance wins and we lose. Anxiety takes hold of us and it seems harder to cast our burdens before the Father.

Humbling ourselves before God in prayer, trusting that He cares for us is the only way for us to stop being anxious. Because, you see,  when we are in that humble state, He gives us grace to endure, to wait, to trust.

Peter continues,

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world. And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 5: 8-11

So, are you battling anxieties, are your burdens too heavy? Humble yourself under the mighty hand of God and He will give you Grace to walk through any dark valley -of death, of confusion, of fears. And be watchful, because after you cast your burdens at the feet of Jesus, the devil will be prowling around trying to convince you to take that burden and carry it yourself. But we can resist him because God gives Grace to the one who humbles himself under His mighty hand, and Christ himself restores, confirms, strengthens, and establishes us. He is sovereign over all. All the spheres of our life are under His dominion. We are even given the Grace to believe this and rest assured on His promises.

So fall on your knees today (literally!) and humble yourself under the mighty hand of God casting all your anxieties before Him knowing that He cares for you.

Under his sun and by His grace,

Becky

Words, Words, Words

Shiloh Photography©

Words, words, words. We either use them like healing drops or killing poison. We all try hard to say less words, to keep our mouths shut, to use our words wisely, but we need to realize that we won’t succeed unless we abide in the Word of God.

The prudent woman not only speaks fewer words than the fool, but she knows when to speak wise words that bring healing and joy (Prov.12:18; 15:23). This kind of words, words that edify, words that bring healing and joy, words that tell the truth, can only come out -naturally- from our heart through our mouths, when the Word of the Builder, the Word of the God who heals and brings life, the Word of the God of all joy and perfect peace, the God of all Truth is dwelling in us. Remember that Jesus said that out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45) and that His Word must abide in us (Jn.15:7), do you see the connection there?

Reading the Word, memorizing it, meditating on it, listening to it, is really the only way for us to fill our hearts and minds with the kind of words that will build up and encourage others. Only when we make it a habit to have the Word dwelling richly in us, is that we will start winning our fight against the problem of having a loose tongue and foolish talk.

The Word of God dwelling richly in us will sanctify us (Jn.17:17) -including the way we use our words! The Holy Spirit through the Word of God dwelling in us, will remind us when we should keep our mouths shut, when we ought to speak, and what words to say and not to say. The Lord alone can put a guard over our mouths (Ps.141:3), and it is through His Word and the work of the Holy Spirit that He does that.

“Let the Word of God dwell richly in you.” Col.3:16

Under His sun and by His grace,

Becky

How HONY Has Met Me in my Big Little World.

I am pretty sure you are familiar with HONY (Humans of New York). It is amazing that as for this day, the minute I am typing this, Brandon Stanton has 12, 245, 305 people who have liked his page on Facebook and 2.6m are following him on Instagram -and 246k on Twitter-. So, I am not going to explain you what exactly his project is about (if you have no idea what I am talking about, I invite you to go see it for yourself. Instead I want to share what has been going in my heart, what has been stirred up in me as I follow him through his telling of stories.

I read the comments and I see, for the most part, common grace overflowing. We all want to do something. People send hugs and encouragement through their comments.  People  feel like they want to send money (and they do it generously!) to those in need. We all read and wish we could help in a tangible way, so we say a prayer (maybe?). But then we click another key and move on to the next thing, until another of his pictures reminds us that there is a powerful story behind each face, a fight being fought (as the cliché says). And God is there.

One of the things that this guy, this Story Hunter, does, is that in a few minutes like a magician, he pulls from the stranger’s heart a story that probably no one has ever heard before. And we all hear, we all pay attention, because we love stories, because stories draw us together.

But maybe, while thinking that we’d love to do something for these people, we are just being infatuated by stories that are happening far from us. Stories that, as with any fiction book, end the moment we decide to close the book and move on.

One of the questions I have as I read these story-pictures is not necessarily how he approaches strangers and draws out those stories from them. My question always is, “What does he tell them afterwards?”What words come out of his mouth after they share their fears, their dreams for the future or the nightmares from the past with him? Just  “‘Thank you, may I share your deepest secret with millions of people?” I have no idea,  but sometimes I wish I could know.

So here is where HONY, meets me.

There are stories around me. Walking stories. Happy stories and dreadful stories. Dreams and nightmares.  Stories that have never been told, that have been hidden on purpose until he comes with his camera and unlocks the treasure chest. But you know what? I haven’t taken the time to draw near to them and ask the hard questions. It is easier to feel empathy, and a huge desire to help without even thinking, the woman Brandon Stanton introduced to us through one of his pictures, a woman who lives in The Democratic Republic of Congo, rather than to offer my help to my neighbor.   I have the Gospel, Friends. I have Jesus. I know the God who redeems lives, who turns darkness into light. The God who loves resurrection stories. If only I would start looking into the eyes of the lady who does my hair, the woman at the cashier, my next door neighbor, the person that I see at church every Sunday but I don’t even know her name.

I cannot help all these faces with dreams of their own, but I have other Dreamers, other Faces walking around me. What can I do to bless them? How have I reached out to them?

We feel like we cannot possibly trespass some privacy boundaries, and yet this great photographer has done it over and over, and over again, and people respond to him, they are willingly sharing their stories with millions of strangers. They want to be heard. They need to be heard. Maybe we, the people of God, should dare to be more bold, to reach out, to ask. At the end of the day we know what the answer always is: The gospel of Jesus Christ.

Under His sun and by His Grace,

Becky

2015: Live Looking Up!

©Blue by Annie Pliego

2015 is here and I am ready to live fully under God’s sun and by His grace.

This year is, for me, a year to focus in living with my eyes fixed on Jesus. This meditation by J.R. Miller sums my sentiments perfectly well:

Look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near!” Luke 21:28

We are entering upon a new year, we shall have . . .
new toils,
new trials,
new temptations,
new troubles.

 

 

In whatever state, in whatever place, into whatever condition we may be brought this year — let us seek grace to follow our Lord’s loving advice, and “look up!
Do not look back — as Lot’s wife did.
Do not look within — as too many do.
Do not look around — as David did.
But “look up!” Look up to God — He is your Father, your Friend, your Savior. He can help you. He will help you. He says, “Look unto Me, and be delivered — for I am God!”
Look up for light to guide you — and He will direct your path.
Look up for grace to sanctify you — and the grace of Jesus will be found sufficient for you.
Look up for strength to enable you to do and suffer God’s will — and His strength will be made perfect in your weakness.
Look up for comfort to cheer you — and as one whom his mother comforts, so will the Lord comfort you.
Look up for courage to embolden you — and the Lord will give courage to the faint; and to those who have no might — He will increase strength.
Look up for endurance to keep you — and the God who preserves you will enable you quietly to bear the heaviest burden, and silently to endure the most painful affliction.
Look up for providence to supply you — and the jar of flour will not be used up, and the jug of oil will not run dry; but God shall supply all your needs, according to His glorious riches in Christ Jesus.
Look up in faith — exercising confidence in the Word of a faithful God.
Look up in prayer — asking for what God has graciously promised.
Look up in hope — expecting what you ask in the name of Jesus.
Look up with adoration — and adore the sovereignty, righteousness, and wisdom of God.
Look up constantly — let nothing daunt or discourage you! Rather say, “Our eyes are on the Lord our God — until He shows us mercy.”
Look up — for this will keep . . .
the head from swimming,
the heart from sinking,
the knees from trembling,
the feet from slipping, and
the hands from hanging down!

It is impossible to say what will happen to us, or what will be required of us this year — but “Look up!” This direction, if properly attended to, will . . .
procure for us all that we need,
secure us against all that we dread, and
make us more than a match for all our foes and fears!

Fellow-Christian, are you fearful? “Look up” and hear Jesus saying to you, “Do not be afraid — I Myself will help you!”

Are you discouraged? “Look up” — and your youth shall be renewed like the eagle’s, and fresh light, comfort, and courage shall be given to you!

Are you desponding? “Look up” for Jesus never breaks the bruised reed, nor quenches the smoking flax.

Do not look too much at your sin — but look at the infinitely meritorious blood of God’s dear Son!Do not look too much at self — but look at Jesus, who ever lives to make intercession for you in Heaven.

Are you stripped of your comforts, your props, and your goods? Then look up! He who stripped you — loves you! He will be more than all these to you! He will . . .
  bind up your broken heart,
  calm your perturbed spirit,
  cheer your drooping mind, and
  fill you with His own peace and happiness.

Look up . . .
  for all that you need;
  from all that you fear;
  through all that would obstruct your way.

Look up every day, saying with David, “In the morning, O Lord, You hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before You — and will look up!” Psalm 5:3

Look up in every trial, saying “I will lift up my eyes unto the hills, from whence comes my help: my help comes from the Lord, who made Heaven and earth!”

Do not look at your sin — it will discourage you!

Do not look at your self — it will distress you!

Do not look at Satan — he will bewilder you!

Do not look to men — they will deceive, or disappoint you!

Do not look at your trials — they will deject you!

“Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us — looking unto Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith!” Hebrews 12:1-2

Look only, look always, look intently — to Jesus!

Run looking, work looking, fight looking, suffer looking, live looking, and die looking — to Jesus, who is at God’s right hand in glory.

Oh, look, look, look to Jesus!



Becky

Be Hospitable, Love the Body of Christ, Look Up -Pursuing the Intentional Life-

I am enjoying this series of letters on pursuing the intentional life so much. I pray you will be encouraged to make a commitment to live an intentional life, to start counting your days, to live fully in Him and for Him.

You can now read Melissa’s response here…

 

Have a blessed day,

Becky