God reveals only what you need.

(by: Jennifer Ortiz)

No one told me that within my first ten years of marriage I would endure four miscarriages, a daughter who had seizures and another who would go through an open heart surgery.

Thank God.

Because I would have said, “Ok then. I just wont have kids. Spare me that pain.” And I would have missed out on so much more.

God is so intentional in all that he does, that he only reveals to us what we need to know at that moment. Enough to keep us moving forward with our eyes fixed on him and his faithfulness. We know that our ending will be with him in eternity, should we choose to believe in and follow him. But sometimes we get so caught up in the “in between”. We want to know details, we want to know how particular seasons in our lives will turn out or claim that we will be “at peace” once we know more.

Would you really be at peace if you knew more? Would I have been at peace knowing all of these things were going to happen in my life? I think not.

But I thank God that he is so good in all he does. He KNOWS what he’s doing. I can trust what his Word says in Jeremiah 29:11, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Even in the midst of trials, his thoughts are ONLY good. Do you believe that?

Even when he doesn’t answer your questions, can you believe that his thoughts are only good?

Even when the situation brings pain beyond belief, can you believe that his thoughts are only good?

Even when your prayer is not being answered the way you want it to be, can you believe that his thoughts are still GOOD?

There was a verse that carried me through processing the difficult news of our daughter’s heart condition and necessary surgery. It’s in Romans 8:28 and reads, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

It says ALL things. Not some, not sometimes, not once in a while…..ALL things work for the good of those who love him. Those who seek him earnestly and surrender their lives in his hands.

So even in the midst of my tears, immense heartache, and battles with my fears I chose to cling with everything I had to those words and believe that his thoughts for us and our daughter were ONLY good. That there is incredible purpose behind this painful process we had to endure.

I know it’s scary not knowing what will happen. The fear is crippling. But know there is purpose behind it all and God has a plan. He will not reveal all of the details to you, only what you need to know to keep going. Enough to keep you focused on him and strengthen your trust in him.

This trust in God’s Word only comes from my relationship with him. I have seen him be faithful in more ways I can count. Even when I have asked him, “What are you doing? How is this good for me? What is the point behind this pain?”, he has been faithful. This is a relationship that he longs to have with all of his children. That every single one of us would trust him enough to keep going without demanding answers.

It is not easy getting there, and all of our processes will be different. But it is not impossible. God is there present, never changing, stable and constant. My prayer is that you who are reading this would take a chance and trust God. He will not fail you. Choose to believe in his Word, he is not a man to lie. He does not make mistakes, it is all a part of his plan. Speak to him and open up your heart, he will not abuse it.

Believe, trust and rest in his love. His love is always faithful.

 

 

Is prayer your first reaction, or your last resort?

Is prayer your first reaction or your last resort?

The day our daughter had her cardiac MRI I was sitting in the hospital lobby waiting, when halfway through the exam her doctor comes out with two nurses.

They took me to a small private room where the doctor began to explain what they had found and what needed to be done.

Her condition was not something that could be easily corrected, it needed surgery.

I sat there as he explained to me the anatomy, the risks, the procedure etc.

It was a LOT to process, and the only thing I could say to him was “I’m processing all of this that you are saying. We are people of faith, would you mind if I just took a moment right now to pray?”

They graciously agreed and I prayed at that moment. Right there in that small conference room with the doctor and the two nurses.

And I can say there was a supernatural peace that allowed me to hold it together.

And continues to do so to this day.

Prayer should be our FIRST response. Sincere, genuine prayer can do amazing things in our lives.

We have a very real and loving Heavenly Father and prayer is our daily connection to him.

It is as crucial to us as the food we eat to nourish our bodies.

Do not let anything keep you from your conversations with God. They can be open, and real. You can cry it out and tell him exactly how you are feeling.

Angry, scared, terrified, ashamed….whatever it is.

Do not believe the lie that you are unworthy of speaking to a most loving and forgiving Father.

He is there waiting, ready to listen to every word you say. He knows even words left unsaid.

How good is our God ❤️

-P. Jenn

#nationalprayerday #prayer #firstresponse #faith #believe #power #strength

Rest for your soul

img_0753As a mother of three I have learned the value of rest….and how difficult it can be at times to attain it. All day long little voices call my attention for assistance in every task imaginable. When one little one is rescued the other soon cries out for what in their mind is a grave emergency. Thankfully through time I am seeing my children grow and become more independent in certain tasks. Hallelujah! However there are other things that still demand my energy and attention; bills, groceries, appointments, laundry, cooking….plus all the responsibilities that come from living a pastoral life. It can become a lot if I don’t know where and when to find rest. Not just physical rest, but rest for my soul.

Maybe your schedule doesn’t look like mine. Maybe you have a 9-5 or you work retail and have ever changing hours. Maybe you work on the road or are on call for long periods of time. Or maybe you are on the other side of the world working on research that requires your thinking at all hours of the day. Whatever you are doing in life, whatever your profession, whatever your status, you are human. And you, me, and every other being on this earth needs rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus is calling out to you. All of you reading this that are feeling exhausted, drained and running on low. Tired of surviving the day by just barely meeting the demands of life around you. Yes you, this is not the life God has planned for you.

There is more to this life, there is a greater purpose that you were meant to be a part of. And the enemy knows, if he can get you tired and lose your peace of mind, if he can make you feel the weight vs the blessing you are more likely to walk away and give up. But the hope of God , the refreshing of our spirit that we can find in him, overcomes all of this. That is why Jesus makes it an emphasis to call out to those specifically feeling this way.

He then says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke is a wooden beam often used to connect large animals in agriculture when they need to work together. It allows them to go in the same direction and remain focused. Now Jesus is not calling you an animal, he is saying “come to me, connect yourself to me and I will teach you, I will guide you.” How refreshing it is when you are struggling and encounter someone who is experienced and knows just what to do.  God has given us a manual (his Word) and a counselor (the Holy Spirit) for this thing called life! We don’t have to figure it all out, all we need to do is answer to his invitation. He will reveal, teach and guide you to a refreshing river of life that will lift your soul. He promised! And what he promises WILL come to pass.

I encourage you, if you are reading this in desperate longing of rest for your soul, turn to Jesus. Everything you will ever need can be found in him. Peace, rest, love, joy, acceptance, strength, forgiveness, another chance….. the list goes on. He is everything you will ever need. Take a moment today and really connect with him. Tell him everything you are feeling and all that’s on your mind. Unload all of that heavy weight you have been carrying on your shoulders, it is not yours to carry any longer. Talk to him. He is listening with open arms, ready to refresh your soul.

He will not fail you.

To the grieving mom

National Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance Day was last month. But sometimes it’s the words of encouragement when you don’t expect it that leave the biggest imprint on your heart. Especially since this month we are focusing on being thankful, I’m going to take the time and boldly say that I am thankful. Thankful for the experiences that caused deep pain, because they brought me closer to my Savior. They allowed me to know him in a way I never had before.

Yes, I’m thankful for the pain, because it broke me down and tore my pride. It made me realize that my strength is not my own but His. And in His supernatural embrace I found peace, joy and rest.

So to the hurting mom who is still mourning her loss, I offer these words of comfort and pray they lift you up. You are not alone….

Though the empty feeling is one you are constantly fighting, there’s one that’s fighting for you. You are not alone.

He’s there to embrace you when the sadness comes. When thoughts of what could have been start to plague you, He reminds you the best is yet to come.

Don’t let the pain build a wall but rather let it break you down, so you can receive all He has to offer. He will not fail you.

This life is temporary. The pain is temporary. And one day there will be no more of that.

We will be in God’s presence, fully secure that nothing will keep us away. There will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more crying. No more aching heart. Only God in his infinite love.

But while we are all here on earth, He is with us. He promised not to leave us, and He always keeps his promises.

Let him fill your life in abundance with joy, laughter, and the desire to keep going.

Don’t give up, he’s there.

Don’t give up, you are not alone.

Though you may feel misunderstood, he’s seen every last detail and he understands.

You’re not crazy, there’s nothing wrong with you. You are just facing the process, and you will get through it.

You’re not alone, God is there. He is love and his love is enough.

It NEVER fails.

You can’t escape the process.

Our God is a god of time. He has been teaching me that things well done take time, therefore, if there is a process that he needs to take me through it’s not going to happen overnight. Being a naturally impatient person I’ve had to learn I can’t fast forward the  process…..and if he needs me to go through it, then I sure can’t skip it.

I experienced this lesson heavily recently, as I walked the process of yet another miscarriage. This one far more painful and traumatic than ones in the past. As soon as we discovered that something was wrong I knew what path awaited. So in a defensive state I wanted to be done with the situation before it even really began, wanting it all to be behind me overnight. Through raw broken tears I quickly brushed it off and said “If I went through it once, I can do it again.” But this process was very different than the others.  The band-aid that I wanted to be quickly ripped off turned into weeks of testing, bloodwork, and more appointments. The pain that I so desperately wanted to be done with was being dragged out, and I had nowhere to run. I prayed, “Just let me move on, let’s just get this over with.”  In my spirit I knew there was purpose, but I battled my flesh aggressively each day that passed.

You see, there are no shortcuts to growth. God is a detailed maker and what he’s doing in you he’s going to do it well done. So it WILL take time. A process has steps and each is necessary to move on to the next. In life our growth is often messy. Perhaps the ugliest thing we’ll ever see, but the end result will be beautiful…if we are willing to go through it.

Grieving is such a process. No one wants to go through it, there’s nothing beautiful about it. You might try to push through emotions to continue moving on with your life and think that you are being “strong”. But you’re not, you’re avoiding the process. Being strong means enduring that process. Allowing yourself to feel, cry, yell, to bleed. And the strength surely doesn’t come from you, it comes from God through his grace. He’s not asking you to hold it together, he’s taking care of that for you.

God knows what you’re feeling, you’re not alone in this. Through the process he will show you things, reveal things that will change your life. He will share the depths of his Word and promises, and his love for you.

Through my pain I experienced God closer than ever before. Though there were days I felt him silent, I knew he was there. Though there were days I had no words to say and no tears left to cry, I knew not a moment escaped him. I learned when difficult moments come, to just brace myself and trust in him. Even when the wave hits he will not let you drown.

So take a deep breath and allow yourself to go through the process. It’s not meant to harm you, it’s meant for your good and the good of those around you. It will bring you closer to him and bring glory to his name.

A most beautiful promise in Romans 8:28 reads like this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Don’t try to escape the process, embrace it. He will not fail you.

Why are you so afraid?

Fear is a constant battle we fight. It begins with our thoughts. That first nagging, seemingly insignificant doubt that begins to grow roots and like a weed drains the nutrients from the rest of our mind and soul. It is something that can, in the beginning, seem so small yet cause immense damage.

Fear keeps us from moving forward, it’s instilled in our nature and self defense to take caution or avoid all together something that could cause us pain, whether physical or emotional. But thank God he does not operate within our human limitations. You see, our God is a supernatural one, so everything that he is and brings into our lives goes beyond our own capacity. That is why we can have faith! How else would we be able to believe in something we can not see in front of us? Our entire Christian walk revolves around this very truth.

Which is why God takes fear very seriously. He knows and understands how we react to fear. How we allow it to stop us from accomplishing things, from making decisions, from loving without limits. He is in our lives working non stop so that we could live a life free of fear and completely in His fullness. Yet we constantly doubt, we let that one thought get in the way.

I’m reminded of this in the book of Matthew when Jesus calms the storm. (Matt 8:23-27) It says that as they were crossing “a furious storm came”. So strong that it swept over the boat! So I think it’s safe to say the disciples had a legitimate reason for being afraid. What is astounding is that through all this Jesus was sleeping. I don’t know if any of you have ever tried to sleep while being worried or scared about something. It’s practically impossible, yet Jesus slept during a terrible storm. Knowing that Jesus was also man we can conclude that in order for him to have been sleeping he must have felt peace. He had peace in the storm… That explains why when he woke up he said to them “You of little faith, why are you so afraid?”.

Why are you so afraid? When there is clearly a storm around you, you can be at peace! You can sleep peacefully as Jesus did. The Word says Jesus “got up and rebuked the winds and the waves, and it was completely calm.” This all happened as they were crossing. Jesus in his complete authority over all commanded the wind and waves to calm. Did you know that he has given us in his name, that very same authority? John 14:12 says “whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things.” You may not be in a storm in the middle of a lake, but are you in a storm in your life? Are you crossing through a season of your life that causes you fear? Are you trying to reach a destination yet have been delayed by a storm? You have all authority as a child of God to command the wind and waves to calm. To rebuke that storm of thoughts that is causing you to have fear. The process God is taking you through may not be finished, but you can still be at peace, and continue forward as you cross to reach the other side.

I join you in prayer in this moment, that all negative, life draining and fearful thoughts be gone in Jesus’s name. I declare peace over your life, even as you cross through the furious storm, and that you would learn who you are in Christ and the authority he has given you in his name. In Jesus’s name, AMEN!

Keys to a marriage that thrives

Today marks eight years we have been married. And our marriage has been a book of good and rough moments, sometimes scary or funny. Other times heartbreaking and hopeful. But through it all we have found one thing to be consistently true; that when you have God as number one in your life as an individual, your life together becomes an adventure.

We realize having a thriving marriage seems something foreign or far off for many couples. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants everyone to live a fulfilling and thriving marriage. Not one that gets by just “making it”.

We’ve taken time to discuss and share as a couple some key points that have proven to be crucial in the strengthening of our marriage. These are meant for reflection, and it doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. But we can honestly say that we walk each day feeling blessed. So here goes:

• Your individual relationship with God must be a priority in your life. He is the solid foundation your marriage will grow on.

• Turn to God about your frustrations. Not friends and family who can be biased and “feed” your negative feelings.

• Learn to love unconditionally. We are far from worthy of God’s love, yet he gives it to us. Don’t live with the mentality that your spouse needs to be “deserving” of your love.

• Seek to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in your life. Make a conscious decision to do so. The flesh wants what is easy, but a strong and thriving marriage is a result of intentional effort.

• Plan life together. You are no longer two but one. Meaning your goals and aspirations should always keep the well being of your spouse and marriage in mind.

• There’s no happily ever after without commitment.

• Never compare your marriage to another. Focus on reaching the best that you and your spouse can be, not who you can “be like”.

•You contribute to the state of your marriage. Meaning what you get out of it is determined by what you pour into it and your mentality about it.

We encourage you to take time in prayer and seek God in the areas your marriage needs improvement. Don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified individuals such as your pastors or counselors. They are in your life as a valuable resource from God to help guide, counsel, and teach. When your relationship with God is strengthened, so is your marriage, and as result so is your family.

A prayer for my children

Our oldest is starting kindergarten this year, and as we run around trying to get everything she needs to prepare for this new stage in her life I couldn't help but take a moment to sit back and reflect on what is the most important "preparing" we can do for her. That spiritual "prep". How can she be prepared to deal with what's ahead? Not just this year, but the rest of her life? I've come to realize there is no greater weapon against the currents of this world than prayer. The prayer of mother or father can move and shake mountains. Which is why I wanted to share this very personal prayer I wrote for all my children, and hopefully inspire you to pray daily for yours. Whether they are in diapers or graduating college, they will always need your covering in prayer.

A prayer for my children:

"God I pray that ALL my children will know you. That they not only encounter you but that their lives may be devoted to you. That your love may shine through them and minister to whoever comes their way. That they may spread your love and joy wherever they go.

That they dare to love deeply and unconditionally, just as you do. That when they speak they lift others and exalt your name. That their lives may reach the potential of what you have created them to be. That they may look to YOU to find themselves, their Creator.

That they not be deceived by the "glamour" in this world or what it claims to offer. But that they walk in wisdom guided by your hand. That they may never change or alter who they are in you because of a lie. But that they stand strong in the face of opposition and be victorious.

God I pray you make me the mother they need to care for them and send them the right direction. Let my guidance always be love filled with a word of life inspired by you. That my words build them up, not tear them down.

That my daughters may be God filled powerful women, devoted to you, their husbands, and their families. That my sons will be courageous men filled with your power and anointing, fighting for souls and for their families. That they care for their wives and children as you care for us.

Teach us how to be the parents they need. Inspiring and comforting, not judgmental or harsh, leading them to you in all we say and do.

Teach us Lord, we are imperfect but willing. We look to you for guidance and strength against all troubles we may face. We trust in you, you are our rock. Our solid foundation, never changing. God almighty forever and ever Amen."

Worth it all

wpid-wp-1432669494681.jpegPressure on your chest, headaches, feeling like you can’t breathe…. Signs of stress that take over and you just can’t shake it off. Stress is a part of life, it gets us moving or pushes us to complete tasks, sometimes even sharpens our senses. But the stress that comes from our lack of trust in the Holy One…that takes you to the danger zone. We all at one point have felt it, and in our human nature it will always strive to creep it’s way into our thoughts (many times successfully), but that doesn’t give it the right to stay there. We have been given a powerful tool, one that the world does not have, and that is our faith. From our faith we receive the strength to keep going, to keep believing, to keep fighting.”Faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see….” Faith brings peace and security beyond what this world can offer and in the darkest of times. When it all goes wrong, when we lose it all, when it seems like the end…faith remains. God remains. Jesus remains. If we lose it all, He still remains…. His love is perfect and He is worth it ALL.