Friday, August 21, 2015

Spending Less to Spend More

Hey guys, so recently I've been doing pretty bad with spending money and being able to take control of my spending habits. It's been getting really bad to the point where I don't have any money left over at the end of the month. If you didn't know, I am a teacher and get paid once a month! Since I get paid once a month I really have to know how I handle my money, and I do a good job of paying my bills first and not spending that but it's what is left over that I get into trouble with.

So, what I have done is set myself a challenge to go into what's called a spending fast (  I was able to do this spending fast last year and paid off my credit card debt of around $4,000.00! Unfortunately my bad habits got the best of me and now I am back at around $1,500-$1,600 in debt. That'ts not my only debt, I also have a school loan and a new (used) truck payment.

I know I can do this again and I need to. I cannot be this way forever and If I want to live what I strive and desire for, La Vida Libre aka The Free Life, I need to be able to show that. There are so many things that I feel I am holding back from because of my debt and handling of my money. I don't want that for myself anymore. I want to have the feeling of being liberated and free to do and go wherever I want without restrictions!

So my plan:
1. Pay all bills first;
-credit card
-school loan
-Texas surcharge

2. Cash out $100 for the month. Yes, only $100 for the month, but I need to do this! This is also part of the spending Fast, or maybe the Spending Diet? I'll look it up to be sure.

3. DON'T spend money on food, snacks or unnecessary things.

What I’m NOT spending money on (My Wants):
Gifts (sorry friends and family… homemade crafts or re-gifting will be happening. Hopefully you all like macaroni magnets.)
Coffee at coffee shops (sad face)
Clothes (remember: “Make Do & Mend!” and in honor of that I need this. haha!)
Eating out
Coats (see Clothes above)
Bed linens
Decorative house stuff
Fancy haircuts at fancy hair shop
New music from iTunes

3. Save what I have left in my account and put it into my savings account or, just don't touch that money that is left over.

I will see how this goes for this first month. I know it'll be super tough but it'll be worth it. I'll keep you updated on how this is going! The reason I am putting this out here is mainly so I can keep myself accountable to this plan. Pray for me!

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Thinking on an Empty Stomach

I just want to put myself out there for a moment. It seems that some of us always want to make life seem more exciting than it really is when in reality it's not that extravagant as we might portray it to be. It doesn't even come close to something that we imagine it to be or would like it to be. Why is that? 
Well, personally I think it's because of the constant exposure to social media outlets that we see daily with no end. They are so constant and intimidating. It's not that social media has caused people like me to want to be like someone else exactly. I wouldn't say it's social media's fault, although it plays a huge role. The reasons we wish or long to have the life of someone else come from issues rooted deep inside of us that we cannot blame someone else for but ourselves. Everyday that I look at someone's Instagram page I sometimes wonder why my life isn't as exciting as said person's. I just look at them and think they must have the best life ever. I do the same thing when it comes to Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter. We get to see almost everything that goes on in someone's life through these outlets and they can sometimes make us feel left a bit disappointed at the "lack" of a thrilling lifestyle. 
I wonder, "Does wishing you had a similar lifestyle of another person fall into the category of 'do not covet thy neighbor'"?
Sometimes as I'm looking at someone's Instagram and I start feeling like my life sucks and it's super boring I am reminded that I shouldn't feel this way at all. My life has different aspects which will yield different results very opposite of someone else. We are all unique. God created us all unique and not to be the same. We are fearfully and wonderfully made by a God who knows our talents and interests. So to wish to be someone else is to steal an identity and to forfeit yours. Next time you are browsing, keep in mind that your life doesn't have to reflect through a social media account. That person's life might not either. Don't wish to be someone else. Be yourself. God has made us all to be very different and to rob yourself of that gift He gave you is foolish and selfish. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

When giving up and surrendering is the best thing you can do.

I've always been the type to believe that God helps those who help themselves. And up to today, I still believe it, but now I also believe that He wants us to also just 'give up' and surrender to him completely.

Lately, God has been hammering me and molding me into something completely different than what my sinful nature desires. Believe me that it is a constant fight going inside of me between my flesh and God's Spirit. Change does not happen overnight and I've accepted that fact. I've also accepted the fact that although my sinful desires and my flesh will always be on the prowl to watch me fall into sin or temptation, I want nothing more than to be able to live freely in Jesus Christ and his grace and mercy.

 My blog is titled 'La Vida Libre' or Live as Free, but the honest truth is that I have not been living as freely as I may seem to portray to others, or even on my posts. I've been held captive by sin, guilt and shame not realizing that Jesus paid it all for me and that his grace goes deeper than the deepest seas and higher than my eyes can ever see. I thank God that he sent his son Jesus Christ to redeem us all from the bondage of our sin and to live freely in his grace.

One of the things that I've always held on to is getting things done my way and on my terms, on my time. But God has different plans for me now. He allowed me to give in fully into this pleasure for some reason, maybe to come to this point in my life where I've finally had enough and wanted nothing but Jesus and for him to change my life completely. Ever since I can remember I thought that if I wanted something I had to go out and make it happen. This is true, still, and I'm not saying we don't need to go out and work for what we want, but what I'm trying to get at here is that I feel God is telling me that I don't need to do anything right now. It sounds so contrary to what I've always believed and for that reason it makes it so difficult for me to accept it fully. I am drawing nearer to this truth every day though, because lately I've realized that it's all I can do. If I worry about what's going on in my life right now with a certain issue that I have, nothing will change by worrying. I am doing my best to lean on God and his Word and in prayer to walk this life with him and to trust him in this process going on in my life right now.

I am learning to trust in Him because I'm tired of trying to always fix things in order for them to go my way. Everything that I do to "fix" my problems just makes everything worse. Instead of moving forward I take a step further back to where things started. It's a scary process in my life right now because of the unknown, but I shouldn't be worried, right? God's ways are better than mine and I need to trust in his truth, not my understanding or my attempts to fix my life.

I can truly say that God is breaking me down into pieces to build me back up but into someone new. I want this so badly because I'm tired of the way I've been for far too long. I want real change in my life. I want my walk with God to be joyous and happy. It sounds cheesy but it's true. I want to trust in Him that whatever happens with my situation He will give me what's best.

The girl I am in love with is the reason I write all of this. God has placed her in my life and has taught me a lot about myself through her in ways I never imagined. I've learned the ugly truth about myself and I'm so thankful that it has come to light in my life because now that needs to change. Only God knows if we are meant for each other, and although I love her with everything, I know that I must be obedient to God first.

So from now on, I will let go and let God do his work in my life. I will do my best to restrain myself from making decisions that only seem to hurt me or put me further back in life. Fully surrendering the fight is sometimes the best thing we can do so God can finally come and rescue us. He's just waiting patiently for us to stop trying to fight and do things on our own.

God bless,


Tuesday, March 24, 2015

How I learned to seek God more than a Girl.

Lately I've been really having to be strong in changing alot of things in my life. I know I won't ever reach perfection. I also won't ever be able to fully change all of my ways as much as I try.

I'm at a point in life where a lot of things are happening and a lot of things are changing for me. One of the main things that is really affecting me right now is the fact that I'm fighting to keep the girl I love in my life. To make a long story short, I had the pleasure to be a couple with her but I ruined it after two years and now I've come back to my senses and know for a fact that she is the 'one' for me. No doubt about it.

I know our relationship before was not the healthiest or the best in many ways. The most important thing we forgot to keep in our relationship was God. We forgot that we were not the center of attention, but God instead. It was rocky at times but also very smooth at the same time. We both knew we has put more focus on each other and not on God, and we tried to change that a few times but it just always cycled back to our previous point.

After our breakup I realized a lot of things about myself that I knew existed but never really desired to change until now. I soon figured out that she was the love of my life (other than God of course) and I did not want to lose her ever. I've made it clear to her that I love her and want to be with her for the rest of my life. She understands this completely, and she's made it very clear that she simply wants to be friends at this point and would like to take things slow this time and see where this goes. Taking things slow is probably the best thing that can happen for both of us, especially for me. I'm a very impatient person with things I feel should go my way. I want them now and not have to wait for them. We've made it clear that things have to change and we have to make an effort to keep God at the center of our relationship whether it be just as friends or even a couple later on. I love the fact that she wants to do things differently this time because it gives me hope that one day we will get back again. Which leads me to the things I realized about myself.

For one thing I've come to realize that I am the type of person that has always needed a partner to feel content or happy. I don't know what made me this way that I need to have affection from the other person in order to feel wanted? I know a lot of other people like this too. There is a very clear and dangerous problem with this though. If I, or anyone else, becomes dependent on someone else for happiness or joy in life then we've lost sight of God. We have completely forgotten that it is God who gives us a reason to live and look forward to our day. God tells us in his Word that we should not set our hopes and strength in man because man (also women) will always let us down and we cannot depend on them. God is the only one that can give us hope and strength in life. When we are at our lowest God is always there with us and inviting us to his arms to be consoled.
This is the problem that I want to address personally in my relationship and that maybe some of  you guys might also need work on. Just like I do, we all need to realize soon that we can't rely on someone else for our happiness. Of course we want to feel loved by someone and have that affection and close connection. There aren't many people who are happy being alone in this world, at least I'm not one of them. I like the idea of having someone there for me by my side on rough days or when I'm feeling down. But in my relationship, I made the other person the one who gave me strength and hope. That's where I messed up. That's what I want to restore. I'm praying and asking God to let me dwell in him and to set my hope and strength in him. It's so hard for me to imagine a life without that person, especially when you just know they are 'the one'. It almost feels as if this situation is hanging by a thread and any tug or wrong movement will tear it all apart. In reality, it is a sensitive situation because I feel as if God is giving me this new opportunity with her and I want to make the best of it.
After breaking up with her and now that I regret doing that, God has taught me many things. He's let me see the areas in my life that I need to change because if I don't then they will follow me through the rest of my life and even into my marriage and onto my children. Almost like a curse. And I don't want that for myself or my future marriage and family.
That's why I think this breakup and heartache has been a blessing to me more than a bad thing. Of course it hurts to know that the person you love doesn't feel the same for you because you hurt them enough to the point that they moved on from those feelings. It hurts. But I am also thankful for it, because of that happening she was able to get closer to God in her relationship and now I am also doing the same. We have both realized that we needed God more than we needed each other. As hard as it is for me to be okay with this situation, I can't forget that God is in control. He will ultimately decide what will happen between us two and I have to be ready for that. I have to be ready to live life with or without her. Life goes on and we learn valuable lessons- some of them come from learning the hard way.

I'm learning to live my life seeking God for approval and not someone else. I'm learning to change those ways that hinder me from fully seeking God because they will ultimately rot my life and marriage one day if I do not act on changing them. I have come to see the man that I am now in life and how I don't want to be this man, I want to be a different man for God, myself, my future wife, and for my family. Getting married will not change any of my ways or make everything miraculously different. Change starts now, not later. Some of us hold on to dark secrets that need to come out to light in order to begin change. I know how hard it is to change that which keeps us chained. God never intended you to be chained and feel like you have nowhere to go.

Look to God for assurance. If you're anything like me, you'll want to run to someone to make you feel wanted or secure, but honestly, nothing can beat having that feeling from God. I want to know that God is the one I am seeking for my happiness and not a girl. If she's the one for me God will allow me the blessing of uniting with her one day, I know it. But until then I need to also work on being patient and content where I am at now and to work towards my relationship with God more than anything else.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Thinking of Change.

Do you ever wish you could change your job/career? I know that I have thought that to myself plenty of times lately. But what makes us want to change from our current career?

For me it is the fact that maybe, just maybe, teaching is not for me. It's funny that I say this because I am only on my second year of teaching high school Spanish and it seems that I should be enjoying what I do, right? Well, if you know where I come from then you'll know that I didn't necessarily grow up dreaming of teaching/coaching. It sort of just happened under the circumstances I was in. To tell you the truth growing up I actually told myself I'd never be a teacher and here I am today doing exactly what I said I wouldn't do. But how did I get here? And why do I not enjoy it?

I went to college on a track/cross country scholarship and all I wanted to do was run and never did it really occur to me that one day I would have to actually get a job after graduation. All that I wanted to do was run. So when I was about in my second year in college I really had to think about what it was that I wanted to do for the rest of my life. One of the things that made most sense to me was to teach and coach in high school. I figured since I was fluent in spanish I could teach that and coach cross country and track. Unfortunately, I don't seem to enjoy much of what I do. My first job (my current job) is teaching Spanish and coaching two sports that I have almost no knowledge about but I have to do them anyway. Maybe part of my discontent is the fact that I don't get to teach the sports that I do enjoy. But I think the main reason I do not enjoy teaching is the students

Yes, students. Was I as bad as some of the kids these days? Did I have no respect for my teachers? I hope that I was a good kid because it seems lately that they don't want to do anything of what you ask them to do and they want to get away with doing the least possible. Not all kids are this way, of course, but the ones that do behave this way make teaching miserable. It gets so bad that I just wan to quit already and do something else. That's another problem. I don't even know if I can necessarily do anything else in which it doesn't require any more schooling or certifications. Financially I'm somewhat stable and I don't care too much for the money, although right now my job provides me with the resources to pay off some debts that I have. That's one reason why I feel I have to stay put right now is so I can pay off what I owe and become debt free. 

Sometimes I wish that I could approach my situation in a positive way to where I can enjoy my job. There are some small ways that could help me improve it and I want to work on that because I want to be content and enjoy it while I am here. In my mind I know that eventually I would like to do something else but in the meantime I'll have to stay here. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Finding the Right Influences for the Right Reasons.

I've had many influences in my life that all came from different directions. Some of these influences came from friends, family, coworkers, artists, and lately from online resources such as websites or blogs that I follow. I say this because in some way they have all formed part of who I am today. They have had an influence in how I think about certain things and how I approach certain topics. In other ways they have also been a heavy influence on how I feel about things and how I handle certain events in my life.
One of the healthiest times in my life- spiritually speaking- was when I was in college. I can remember how I plugged myself into the BSM (Baptist Student Ministry) and Chi Alpha (Christ Ambassadors) and how much they helped me stay rooted in Jesus throughout my years in college. If you know anything about these two college ministries you will know that they are both very unique to each other but both are rooted in Christ. The influences I had with these two ministries was just amazing because of the people I was able to become friends with during that time. I can't imagine how my life would have been if I had never gotten myself involved with these ministries. When I started college I immediately knew that I wanted to have nothing to do with the crazy "college life" I had always heard about so I was super thrilled and happy to find out that there were actual organizations on campus that held gatherings and bible studies.
The people I became friends with during my college years became my support and encouragement. I grew so much by being able to see other young people like me love God and serve him with love and yearning. I could see the humbleness in each and every one of them ( well at least most of them ) and that motivated me to keep seeking God in my life. I loved the fact that I had a band of brothers whom I could count on for support or when I was down they would pick me up. They would always encourage me in walk with God and were very loving about it. I thank God so much for those years because He allowed me to see that his love pours out to his children and his children pour it out to others around them. Most importantly, this love was poured out upon the brothers and sisters. I can remember the times when we would cry with each other because of the love we felt from God through the Holy Spirit. They were truly amazing moments that brought an unbreakable and soothing peace.
These were the influences that I had in college that made me grow in Christ like I had never had before in my life. A lot has changed since, though.

Right now I struggle with finding friends like this and maybe it's mainly because of my own stubbornness to humble myself or step down from pride that lurks secretly deep inside of me. I have since graduated from college and now have a job as a teacher in a town/city that is an hour and a half from all friends and family and it makes it difficult for me to feel that unity with believers/brothers in Christ that I once had. I long to have that relationship back in my life because I know I want to be influenced in a positive way that will encourage me to seek God and to get through life's struggles and hardships because I know that God did not intend for us to walk this life alone.

College seemed much more laid back and free of reality. It was a time where you knew was limited but yet you used it as if it would never end. The 'real life' has not been as depressing or uneventful as some might make it seem (even myself at times), and I know it's not what it should be either. God didn't make life to be some dreadful time for us but instead an opportunity to live this life in glorifying Him in everything that we do as freely as he has allowed us to do so.
Soon enough you realize that you need close friends who can be there to support you and encourage you in your faith with the Lord. I have friends that love God and support me in many ways but like I said, it just feels as if I am the one who suppresses the opportunity for growth in that area. I know that I need to allow myself to be humble and open to whatever God has willed for him to do and not to attempt to trump that with my own agenda.

Mainly the reason I have been so distanced from letting myself get close to a group of helpful brothers and sisters is because I know my heart is troubled at the moment. If I can be honest and totally open with you, I have to say that my heart is hurt and troubled. Hurt from what, you say? Well to be quick and to the point; girl problems.

And it's not even a problem really. This girl is just amazing. I don't want to go into detail about it all but I will tell you that I am in love with this girl and we have a history of about two years with each other. We aren't currently a couple, just friends (that was her wanting-not mine). I am so thankful for our friendship though because I know that God has his plans, even if it means being just friends now and forever might be the case. She is more than what I could ask for. She is the girl that you dream about and think about marrying one day because you just know in your gut she is the one God planned for you to be with. I still have that gut feeling right now even though things between us are not mutual. I love her.

The problem lately has been that my focus has been mainly on her. I have spent countless hours thinking and over thinking about her and I know this is not healthy nor good for me. I have come to slowly realize that I cannot allow myself to let her become the reason for my happiness, joy, self worth and identity. I know that I love her, that I can't deny because I know I would do anything for her in my power. I have prayed about this and talked to my closest friends about this and it seems that everything that I have received from prayer and advice is just to be patient, seek God and trust in Him.

Seems easy huh? That's where my stubbornness, impatience, and 'I want to do it my way' attitude comes in. It's wrong I know. But when I start to really think about it, I know that the advice I get and the thoughts that I feel God is instilling inside of me are all right and good. God has good and perfect gifts for me. The one I should be seeking more with my heart is God and not a girl. Although I may love this girl and I wish to be with her, I know that I must first seek God in my relationship with him and stand firm on him so I may not be moved.

The reason I began this post with influences is because I want to have positive influences in my life that will help me through this moment in my life. Everything inside of me wants to seek God even through this rough time where I feel like I need to hold on to her because I don't want her to leave me forever. I feel that if I let go I will never get her back and my life will be lost without her. But I also realize that God is and should be more important than a relationship with someone else.
I'm so thankful for the friends that I do have who help me in this time of loneliness and brokenness. I thank God even more for his love and grace towards me and because he gives me peace through this moment in life. I want to surround myself with people who can help me grow with them in our walk with God, that our faith may be strengthened. I'm even thankful for the girl I love because she also motivates me to seek God more than her. That's so attractive and makes me fall in love with her even more because I know she is selfless and wants the best for me.

It's hard to keep moving because my heart is troubled. It's always easier said than done with many things. Right now I just want to be able to trust in God that He is in control of my life and who I'll end up with.

Stay influenced by the right people and seek God. Even though it might hurt that it won't end up the way we want.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

A night at the mall.

Okay, so what many things can happen at a mall? Usually people go there to shop and have a good time with friends. Some go to socialize and just window shop. I mean, that's about all I can do sometimes anyways.
So I'm at this mall in Frisco (Texas) with our school because we have a tournament this week and I'm the only guy in the group of coaches and students so of course I'm going to make my own way and go solo at the mall. I had gone to H&M to look at some clothes that I wanted to and so I go ahead and purchase a really cool and nice button up/dressy shirt and some cool shades that I liked. I wanted to buy more stuff but I didn't want to spend all of what I have left!
Okay, so I'm leaving H&M now to meet up with our team and everyone else and as I'm walking over to the meeting place I see two dudes sitting in an alleyway/corner of the mall outside. Now, if you know anything about me I love music, especially acoustic guitars ans some good singing. I'm not the best musician or singer by any means and I can prove it to you, believe me. So these two guys weren't singing yet they were just getting ready I believe and I asked them if they were about jam out and they said that they were. I figured I could listen to them while I waited for the team to get ready to go and so I stayed there longer than what I thought I would but I'm so glad it happened that way. They sang a few songs while I was there and all I can say is, wow. These two dudes are so talented it's not even funny.  I wish that I could be as good as they are but I know I have my limits and that's probably a very good thing. A random guy even came and listened to them while I was there and he even joined in with his amazing voice as well. He played the guitar with them too. And he was also talented. Really talented. Why can't I be that good?! Well, the third guy ended up having to leave and so I decided I needed to go too so I wouldn't be late or keep the team waiting on me.

This is where it gets really good.

As I was dismissing myself and getting their names one of them, Zach, asked me which church I went to, or where I went to church. It didn't occur to me that I never even mentioned or talked about where I went to church with him at all, not once. It dawned on me when I finally left them though. But the awesome part about all of this is that Zach asked me if there was anything that he could pray about for me. Are you kidding me?? He asked if there was anything that he could pray about for me.
If you must know, right now I'm struggling with some personal issues and relationship issues and it has really taken a toll on me and it's been rough for me. I won't go into detail but I'll tell you that it hasn't been easy for me but I know that my problems or situations can not keep me away from God. I guess I should say that I don't want them to keep me from seeking God because that would mean my focus and thoughts are not on God but instead on my relationship status and my personal problems.
Well, after he asked me if he could pray for him I told that I would be more than happy if he could do that. I needed it more than he might have known at the time. Or maybe he did know? When he started praying for me he said that he sensed that there was something I needed prayer for and I'm glad he did. He prayed for me and my relationship struggles and that I may realize that I am His son (God's son) and that will never be taken away from me.
I am so thankful for his prayer and comfort. I truly believe God sent those two guys that night not only to jam out and sing but also to minister to me in a powerful but simple way. God knows I need prayer, not only from me but also from others and He sent me right to them because He knows I needed it that night.

It's so awesome to think that God seeks after you even when you don't. He goes to great lengths to let you know that He loves you no matter what. He knows what we feel and what we are going through at every moment and he will do whatever He can to get to us and to restore us. I know for a fact that God had this night orchestrated perfectly as it happened. I'm so glad and thankful I was able to meet them. I didn't get their contact information though and I'm kind of bummed out about it but at least I know that there are two guys kind enough to love on me and pray for me. Their names are Zach and Sam. Zach is from Dallas and Sam is from Lewisville. I wish that I can meet them again sometime.

I thank God for these two dudes and their act of love and kindness.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Being Gay Today: Take 2

Okay, so if you don't know what I mean by 'Take 2', I had recently posted a blog post of a friend that I have whom I interviewed. What was the interview about? Well, he is a homosexual and I wanted to ask him a few questions about his sexuality- questions that I had and also that I thought the rest of the populations asks themselves sometimes. The interesting fact about this situation is that my friend and I both consider ourselves Christians, or followers of Jesus. This might come as a surprise to many people, that he is a Christian.
So that first piece, "Being Gay Today", was just simply an interview of questions that I had made concerning the way he viewed his sexuality and how that related to his relationship with Jesus. 
I want to first of all say that some people took the first post as a motivator for homosexuality or that I promoted it and saw it as okay or good. That was not my intention at all. My intention with this article was just to simply state that God/Jesus/Holy Spirit loves us as we are right now. My friend is someone who struggles with the sin of homosexuality just as many of us struggle with any sin- big or small as it may seem. 
I can't mention his name because he has entrusted me with confidence, but I will say that he does his best to control his desires of the flesh just as we all do with our struggles. I myself have sin in my life that I wish did not belong or that I didn't have to deal with. Maybe you also have something in your life that controls you and you can't seem to get rid of, as hard as you try. 
So it's the same way with my friend, he recognizes his sin and knows it's sin but what I look up to him the most is that he does not lavish himself in the desire of his sin. Did you get that? He knows his homosexuality is a sin and he has the desires just like any of us but he is able to control his fleshly desires from actually committing any action or sin. I don't know if you get what I'm trying to say here, but I know personally that I am weak and that I tend to give in to temptation very easily and without putting up a fight for the the most part. So in a way he does better than me at this whole dead-to-sin thing that all of us 'Christians' should be. If you don't know already, we should all be dead to sin thanks to Jesus Christ and his death and resurrection. His death brought us back to life and into a new life. He provides us with abounding grace; where there is sin, there is grace. 

What I'm trying to get at is that although my friend knows his homosexuality is a sin- just like any other sin- he doesn't act upon it. I think that's one thing I might not have mentioned more in detail in the last post and I want to clear up here. He does not practice his homosexuality. I'm sure the man has thoughts and desires just as any other human being struggling with any other sin. But the fact that he can hold himself from acting on it, that's true self-control. That's something that I lack. But thanks be to God and his undeserving grace and the fact that I finally see his grace as not a "get to sin for free" card but as a reason to love Him and be thankful for what He has done. Self-control is now something that I see as possible in my life with the things I struggle with the most. 

Listen guys, I am not promoting homosexuality because I know it is a sin. What I am promoting is love towards my friend because Jesus loves me even through the ugly and dark places in my life. God does not hold back on his love for any of his children and I'm not here to judge him or anyone else on their homosexuality. There's a difference between sinning purposely without remorse and sinning with repentance and a sincere heart for forgiveness. And I don't know my friend's life personally in detail but what I do know is that he recognizes his sinful nature and he is not letting it control him and that's something that we should all learn to do. Or ask God to let us see His unfailing love and grace for what it truly is and hopefully we will be able to 'sin no more' (we will always sin as long as we are on this Earth). Our desire will no longer be to fall into sin, but to yearn and desire a relationship with God, our Creator, and to find that joy and peace that only He can provide. 

We focus so much on the outside and physical appearance because that's what our eyes see. God sees the heart of man. He knows what we think and how we feel. He knows the desires of our hearts and the motives behind what we do. I know we aren't God but we are as Christians an example of what and how He is. Jesus was the greatest example of how we should be in this world and I know I'm not even as close as I'd like to be but my desire is to be more like Him. And that means loving others as Jesus loves us. 

Monday, February 16, 2015

Stepping out and Reaching out

This past Valentine's Day a couple of friends and I went to the city of Tyler, Tx to do some work that we had been wanting to do for quite some time already. The work I speak about is not necessarily manual labor but spiritual labor.

My friend Ruben and I had been talking about stepping out of our comfort zones and doing something not normal to us but that it should be. We had always wanted to grab our guitars and share some good music and the Gospel with random people somewhere. We chose Tyler just because it was close and well known to us and we had a location we thought would be perfect to interact and share our amateur guitar skills with. Just so you know we are not professional guitarists nor do we have the best singing voices but when God gives you even just one talent you better use it to the best of your ability. And so we did.

The location was at a local Mexican market; La Michoacana. If you know anything about this place it is located in a heavily Hispanic populated area and so typically there are many Hispanic people shopping, coming in and out and also standing in the corners looking and waiting for work. We ended up speding a good two hours with some men looking for work and we all shared a good time.

To be honest I did not want to tag along with my friend as much as I previously thought I did. I didn't know what to expect and what I was going to say or do once I got there. But that all changed when I stepped out of the car and all three of us walked up to what would be a blessed day for all of us.

I don't even know where to begin sharing this day actually. It wasn't some out-of-this-world experience but it certainly wasn't your typical day either. As soon as we pulled into the parking lot we could see about three different groups of men standing around and we went direclty to the ones closest to us. Like I said before, I didn't know what to expect and so I kind of took my time getting my guitar and the music sheets from the trunk. I guess you could say I was stalling because I was so unsure of how to begin a conversation or even approach them. That's where my friend Ruben comes in.

Ruben Mendoza has been my best friend since childhood and I can say that he has a heart that yearns for God even through hard times or when life knocks him down. He's not ashamed to tell you his struggles or weaknesses in his life. So he's the first one to approach the two men that were standing together. I could tell they were just a bit confused or maybe amused as to why we were there at all. The name of the two men we first approached were Francisco and Ernesto.

My friend Ruben started off with introducing himself and then myself and our third man- Gersa. We introduced ourselves to them and my friend Ruben is just so good with words sometimes that I'm glad I have him as a friend when it comes to situations like these. He went directly to the point as to why we were there: we wanted to share the love of Christ with them and anyone else who wanted to hear and to also play a bit of some music for them.

Francisco and Ernesto were two humble men who were probably around the 40's and they were so open to us and allowed us to sing some songs for them. As you know, we aren't the best of musicians or have the best singing voices but we were willing to do it, as scared or nervous as we were at the moment. We started off with our first song and afterwards we shared with them what the song meant to us. That was the first song. We then sang our second and third and also shared with them what each song meant to us and we shared a short part of our testimony and what God has been doing in our lives. There was one moment in which my friend Ruben was sharing his testimony and he got very emotional, which I don't blame him for. God has done some amazing things in his life and he knows he doesn't deserve any of it, just like anyone of us doesn't deserve the love of God and the infinite grace He gives us. I was amazed and touched by the sympathetic words of Francisco towards my friend Ruben. Francisco shared with Ruben that he was doing good in doing what he was at the moment which was sharing his testimony and sharing the Gospel and stepping out to do something like what we were doing. It was a blessing for us to hear him say that because we were being blessed by him with his words and encouragement.

After we sang a few songs I wanted to really get to know Francisco and Ernesto so I asked them where they were from originally. Francisco was from Mexico, I don't remember the state he was born in but he said he grew up in Juarez, Chihuaha. This city is bordered by El Paso, Tx. He migrated to California at the age of 18 back in 1988 and he lived there for about 23 or so years just working around the Southern part of Cali. He didn't explain very much about his time there just that he worked most of the time while he was there. He moved to Texas about three years ago and has been here since. He says he likes the tranquility of being in a smaller city and the opportunity to raise a family here. He has two children that are grown- one of 19 and the other 21. I'm not too sure where they are or what they do but he said they're doing good right now. He never got married though.
Francisco had nothing but positive and encouraging words to say to us. I couldn't help but think that he was doing more of an impact on my life than we were on his. He kept encouraging us and just thanking us for coming out.
Ernesto was the quiet one. He didn't say much even when we asked him where he was from which was Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico. I thought that was cool because I was also born in Tamaulipas in the city of Reynosa. There isn't anything good left in those cities as drug cartels and their wars are ongoing there from what I hear and they aren't safe at all. Ernesto didn't say much after that but the whole time we were there he was listening intently to everything that was being said and to the songs we brought that day.

The whole time we were there these men were standing out there because they were there to look for work. If you already know there are places where men like Francisco and Ernesto wait outside a know designated area and wait for someone to pull up and 'hire' a worker or workers to labor. I had always seen things like that in movies and also seen men standing out on the corners looking for work but I had never experienced the process or situation. While we were there we had only about a couple vehicles come up asking for one or two workers but what I thought was really cool and eye opening was the fact that while we were there Ernesto and Francisco never left us to go work. They had the opportunity to do so but they never did. I'm not sure why they never left, maybe it was because they were genuinely interested in what we had to say or maybe they were just enjoying a change in the day or week. Either way I was thankful that they stayed with us the whole time.

At one point we had a random vehicle, a Tahoe, pull up next to us. I thought at first that it was someone looking for some workers but the man inside asked us if we were hungry! I told the men with us that the man inside was asking if they were hungry and they seemed shy at first but when I told them that the guy in the Tahoe had brought some lunch bags with food and snacks inside them they were on it very quickly. I was just super thankful that this man would do something so kind and generous and it made me realize that not everyone is out seeking for blood. There are still folks who have love and kindness in their hearts like the man that rolled up. It turns out it was provided by a 'Noonday Methodist Church' in Tyler. So a big thank you to this church and may God continue to bless them by blessing others in the way they did that day.

When the lunch bags came in so did other men who were looking for work. They rallied around us and the lunch bags and they didn't come barging in just grabbing bags, they were kind and respectable and asked first if they were allowed to eat!! " Of course!", I told them. This wasn't my food and I didn't provide it so it seemed odd that they asked us if they could eat. This is where Sergio and Antonio come into the picture.

Sergio had this rebel/punk-rock/ druggie/skateboarder look to him. And he proudly stated that he was a druggie and like to smoke pot and he loved rock-n-roll music. He was a very opinionated person and told us what he thought of religion, church, his spiritual life and what he thought about God. He had a good point of view of God but he didn't think much of church or organized religion. We didn't get to talk to him much at all because as soon as we began to know each other a lady in a pick-up came looking for two workers and he ran off quickly and hopped into the back of the truck to go work. That was the last time we saw him.
Antonio was an older man who seemed to have a strong personality and a rough edge to him. He showed us his finger in which he had torn off part of his middle finger after moving furniture for one of the jobs he was hired for. They did take him to the hospital but he has no Social or insurance to his name so there was nothing they could do for him. He was provided with the basic medical care and was cleaned up and bandaged up but that was it. He probably needs stitches but he couldn't get that from the hospital. When we sang a few other songs he also had kind words to say to us and also encouraged us just like Francisco did. Before we had to leave I told him I would pray for him and his finger and that hopefully he could get it treated.

As we were nearing the end of our day there with them I still couldn't get the thought off my mind that they were blessing us more than we thought we would be blessing them. It was just a really cool experience to see that these men who might seem like they have nothing have so much to offer. More than I could ever have imagined upon arriving.

As we were leaving we said our goodbyes and we thanked them for listening to us and for being kind to us in allowing us to speak to them and hear us sing some songs of praise to them. Likewise they thanked us for coming to them. As I was loading up in the trunk and taking the leftover lunch bags to one of the other groups of men I was just thinking to myself how thankful this day was to me. I wanted to say one last goodbye to Francisco and Ernesto but as I turned around to waive they were gone. I looked left and right but I couldn't find them. My friends later told me that as soon as we were leaving (when I was loading up the trunk) a vehicle drove up looking for two workers. Francisco and Ernesto climbed inside and left.

To me it was like God had sent both of them to us, not us to them. God knows how much we each needed each other that day and He did his work timely and perfectly. They were like angels to me and I still think of them that way. We hope to see them again as we want to continue to do this and reach out to the men that seek work on the streets. God knows we need to do this and we want to do this as well.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

A Valentine's Love.

So here's a thought on what not to do with certain events in your life; don't do them if they don't help you in any way. I know this sounds so simple and obvious but it's the plain truth. Recently, I had a girl that I dated for almost two years but I decided that I was okay without her in my life. But man, was I wrong. I was so wrong.
I truly believe that God put her in my life for more than just a friendly relationship- because that's what it is now thanks to my foolishness. She is the type of girl that is selfless and thought only about the best in me. All the bad things in me and all the flaws that I saw in myself she gladly looked right past them. Never did she bash me or insult me, never did she put herself before me and she always wanted the best for me. To put it simply, she was everything that I could ever want or need and I threw it all away for a tasteless pleasure in life and thinking I could do without her.

For any of you that might read this (which I'm not exactly sure who really does lol) I hope that you will take care of that person that God has placed in your life right now wether it be a girl/boy, husband/wife or even just a friendship. Please take care of them with all that you have and never take them for granted. Our hearts are deceitful and our minds wander off into a distant fantasy land thinking we can do better or we can do without that person.
Please do not let a day go by without thanking them for being in your life. Show them how much you care for them and how much they mean to you. Never think that they aren't worth it anymore because if you ever do, you will realize a day too late that they meant more than you ever thought of.

If you messed up like I did, do your best to make things work out with that special someone. Pray, pray and pray to God for that person if they really mean that much to you and you would do whatever in your power to get them back. But please realize that God will do what He chooses and that might even mean that he will not grant you that person. It's a scary and painful thought but it is an option. In my case, I am doing my best to become close to God and renew my relationship with Christ because I realize now that being with him is much more important than being with her.

For those of us that are Christian,  we must understand that if God is not the center of the relationship, that relationship will not last and will not produce a healthy and godly relationship. They might work out in the end but it will not have the lasting effect of having the joy that only God provides. So please ask God to help you and your loved one to make Him the top priority and not each other or else all will fall apart because you have set your hopes and strength in a person and not on God.

I desire with all of my heart to have her by my side as mine one more time. I wait for that day now and until I realize this is a lost hope. But my hope is at full throttle and I'm not giving up. I'm not giving up on this life God has given me either and I want to provide the best that God has given me to that special girl in my life. I love her and everything about her.

So for this Valentines day allow yourself to think about why you love that person so much and how you can show them, not just today, but everyday, how much they mean to you. Eveyday is a perfect day to thank them and show them you love them for who they are and for why you fell in love with them.
Cherish the moments and the memories and never take them for granted!

Peace, love and blessings!


Random thoughts.

I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. I guess we all do a lot of thinking once the new year kicks around right? If you're like most of us you'll probably find yourself looking back at the past year and review all of the things you did. There are things that we may have done and we're very proud of them and hope to better them in the new year. And then, of course, we have the things that we wish we could've done differently. Those are usually the things we focus on more I think. Why do we focus on them more than the things we did good? Well, I believe it's because they affect us that much in our lives. The good things do affect us but the negative ones make much more of an impact because we know that's not how we want to live our life. We want to always be improving and move up in our current situations.