Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless HIS HOLY NAME.

Thursday, November 5, 2015


“And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of Jordan, and take you up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel:

And this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord: when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever.”   Joshua 4:5, 6, 7 
--You can read the context of this in Joshua 3. 

 A memorial is “something (as a monument) meant to keep remembrance alive.”

My family has several specific prayer requests for which we are praying.  Some of them are personal; some involve the whole family; others have to do with people outside our family.  But we are all praying fervently for these specific requests.

One request involves a very big desire that my 10-year-old daughter has.  She has been praying for this specific thing for about two years.  God has not yet seen fit to give her that desire of her heart.  But she continues to pray faithfully.

A few days ago, she called me into her room and began to cry.  She told me it seemed that God was not going to give to her that for which she is praying.  She told me she was very discouraged.

I sat down and told her, “Debbie, do you want me to tell you a secret?”  Her beautiful big brown eyes were filled with tears and she looked up at me.  “Your ‘thing’ for which you are praying is not going to make you happy.”  She looked at me in disbelief.  I said, “Things do not make you happy.  One of these days…and I do believe God is going to answer your prayer…you will have your ‘thing,’ and for a few days you will be so excited, and thrilled that you have received your ‘thing.’  But it will NOT make you happy.  The newness of your ‘thing’ will wear off, and you’ll eventually get back into the hum-drum of daily responsibilities.   But I’m going to tell you what WILL make you happy: the fact that God HEARD your prayer and ANSWERED your prayer.  You’re going to look at your ‘thing’ that God has been so gracious to give you, and your heart is going to just FILL up with joy because you’re going to remember how long you prayed for it; and you’ll just be in awe that GOD heard and answered your prayer!”

One request that we have as a family is for God to allow us to make a trip next year to the States for a Family Conference in a Hispanic church.  We have been praying and trying to save our money so we can make this trip.

That afternoon, I told Debbie, “You know, if God lets us make that trip to Chicago next year, we’re going to have a lot of fun, and we are going to get to meet new people and make a lot of memories.  But that trip will be over and we’ll come back home.  All we’ll have from that trip are pictures, a few souveniers, and some really great memories.  But the thing that will make us the HAPPIEST is the fact that we prayed together and saw God provide the money and the time for us to be able to make that trip.”

Her heart was encouraged, as was mine.

When you pray…and you pray…and you continue to pray for a need, or for a lost loved one, or for a specific desire…you expect God to answer.  And when He does, your faith grows; and your heart fills with joy over the fact that God in Heaven hears and answers prayer.

But that answered prayer becomes a memorial in your life and in your heart.  It becomes a monument for all to see…that our prayers are not in vain.  And when our children ask, “What does this mean?”  we can testify to the fact that, as Joshua said to the children of Israel, “Hereby ye shall know that the living God is among you…” (Joshua 3:10).

What a great testimony for our children to see us pray; and for the generations to come to know that we are trusting God to meet specific needs!  And when He answers our prayer, and we see Him meet our need, we may all say, “May God be glorified, great things HE hath done!”



Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Prayer for the Mayor and A Ministry

My Mom tells the story of the time when our house was the last house on the block, and there were no street lights on our street.  (Since then, more houses have been built on down the street, and our house is no longer the last one.)  The street was so dark, and at least twice, thieves broke into our house when we were not there.

My Mom says she began to pray for the mayor of our city, asking God to touch his heart to put a street light on our corner.  She said that not many months after she began to pray, the city came out and put up a street light on our corner.

She tells this story every year at her Annual Christmas Banquet…she tells the ladies:  “I did not set up a road block; I did not go picketing in front of the mayor's house; I did not gather people and make a manifestation in the streets.  I simply prayed for Mr. Mariano, and I asked God to touch his heart; and God answered my prayer!  That street light is a constant reminder for me to pray for what I need, and to pray for the leaders in our city and in our country.”

The ministry of the Annual Christmas Banquets began years ago, as a desire that God put in my Mom’s heart to reach the high-society ladies in our town.  Her first Banquet was in 1999, and there were 9 ladies present.  16 years later, it has grown to over 100 ladies in attendance, and many people being saved.  The guests of honor are the current Mayor’s wife, as well as the wives of former mayors. Every year, mayors’ wives attend from the surrounding towns and villages, and in recent years, congresswomen, senators, and other public service ladies have been present.  (Each guest of honor receives a Bible.)

Mom has also started having as guests of honor the wives of the military men and of the policemen in our area.  God has truly used this ministry to reach out to many ladies in our community.

I ask that you please pray for us as we work in the next few weeks to prepare everything for this Annual Christmas Banquet.  We love seeing how God provides each need for this amazing ministry. 

If you will be praying for us, would you please let me know?

Friday, August 28, 2015

It Is Well (A Home-Maker's Power Through Prayer)

"Are you weary?  Are you heavy-hearted?  Tell it to Jesus."

I'm meditating upon the passage in the Bible in II Kings 4 where the Shunammite lady's son had suddenly died.  I am amazed at her calmness as she quietly told one of the young servant men to saddle a donkey so she could go to the man of God.  Her words in verse 23 amaze me:  "It shall be well."  And when she met Gahazi, and he asked her, "Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child?"  She answered, "It is well."

I think that if Gahazi had asked me that question, I would have completely lost it.  I might have crumbled into an emotional outburst and dissolved in a puddle of tears. But this Shunammite woman was so full of faith and trust in her Lord.  She maintained a calm and peaceful spirit in the midst of her greatest heartache.

I am challenged and encouraged by this lady's show of faith.  I am only an imperfect home-maker.  I have so many faults and I fail to do things right.

But I have a great God.  Yes, I do.  I know that He hears me.  And at times when I don't have control over certain situations, I can cry out to God, and God alone, and I know He hears me, and He will give the answer.

Just this past weekend, my mother gave a lesson to some ladies on the life of Queen Esther.  Queen Esther faced a very dangerous situation, as her people were facing elimination.  She was told that she must act, or she could perish along with her people.  "What was Queen Esther's action?" my mother asked.  She didn't call an army together to defeat her enemy!  She called her maids to fast with her and to pray.  What a lady of great faith!  God gave her incredible wisdom to deal with the wicked, murderous man who was threatening her people and her own life.  God gave her the wisdom to know how to deal graciously with the heartless King who was her husband.

And dear Wives and Mamas reading this, we, too, have power with God.  We may "only" scrub toilets and mend clothes and prepare meals for our family today; perhaps the only thing we accomplish today is teaching the ABCs to our little Pre-K child; you may have struggled today just to get the clothes out on the line; you may feel like a failure because you had so many interruptions and didn't get it all done.  I know.  I'm there so many times! 

But God has confirmed in my heart that He is right there with me.  He sees my struggles, but He sees my motives and my intentions.  He sees all my imperfections, yet He sends me love-gestures throughout my day.

And when things seem to be spinning out of control, we can say with confidence, as that Shunammite Mama said, "It is well." And we can know that all is well.  All is well because we have direct access to the One Who conrols it all.  He set the moon and stars in their place; He keeps the earth rotating, and the seasons of the year do not cease because He controls them.

Take heart!  Pray when your child just doesn't get his Math concepts, and doesn't seem motivated enough to do school.  Pray when your grocery money just doesn't quite make it to the next pay day; pray when you have a "want," but it is an expensive "want;" and know that the Lord can fulfill that desire.  Pray when your toddler seems like he'll NEVER get potty-trained.  Pray, wife, pray when Hubby's decision leaves a feeling in your heart that "it" may not be right. God wants to hear from you...He sees your situation, but He wants you to ask, so He can give.

And He wants to develop in your heart an unwavering confidence that He is in control.  And that all is well.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

The Night Cometh

I took an invitation to my "chicken lady," (as I affectionately call the sweet lady who sells me chicken) for our Daily Vacation Bible School. She kindly took it and said she'd give it to her daughter, who has young children.

For many months I have been praying for her and inviting her to church events; and yet she has never come.

From the very first morning of our VBS, every day, a middle-aged lady brought a little 7-year-old girl, Keira, who was so enthusiastic about everything.  She learned the Bible verses and songs; sat and listened intently to the Bible stories that were told; and answered questions when called upon.  Who was this little girl, and to whom did she belong?

She accepted Christ as her Saviour that week.  She sat on the front row on Sunday, the day of the closing exercises.

As I was walking out of church on Sunday morning after the closing exercises, one of the men in our church stopped me and said, "I want you to meet my neighbor.  He came with his granddaughter."  As I talked to this kind gentleman, I realized he was my "chicken lady's" husband!  He is Keira's grandfather!

I was so excited and rejoiced in my heart for this blessing of knowing that Keira is my "chicken lady's" granddaughter.  What an open door!

So yesterday I went to visit my friend.  I told her how blessed we were to have had Keira in our Bible School this year, and how much fun she'd had.  My friend told me that every day, Keira came home from VBS just bubbling over with excitement and couldn't wait to go back the next day.  She told me, "Keira loves the Bible, and she loves when someone takes her to church.  We are Catholic, and my daughter does not like to take her to church."

I told my friend that while Keira is young and has a desire for the Word of God, she should be taken to church and instructed in the things of the Lord.  I told her, "There comes a time in the lives of young people when their hearts are turned toward other things, and while Keira is young, she should be brought to church."

As I have meditated upon our conversation, I realize how quickly the night is coming.  We have a small window of opportunity to witness to our friends and neighbors.  It is when God lays someone upon our hearts that we should be prompt in responding to the Lord's leading.

I ask you to pray for this family.  There are so many more just like Keira who came to VBS this year.  Our work has just begun as we, as a church, seek to reach out to these families and try to disciple them and get them grounded in the Word of God.

How about you, Dear Reader?  Has the Lord laid someone upon your heart to whom you should witness?  I urge you to be obedient to the Lord's leading.  Don't let another day go by.  The night cometh when no man can work.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Daddy's Hands

If you love your Daddy, you love his hands.  I was thinking today about my Daddy’s hands.

Daddy’s hands were long, very white, and very handsome. 

Daddy was a doctor, a pediatrician.  He had gentle hands.  I loved watching him when he checked a sick baby. He’d stroke the baby’s chin with his long pointer finger, clicking his tongue at the same time.  That helped to warm the baby up to my Daddy before he checked the sick little one.

When I was a little girl, I loved to stand next to him as he applied shaving cream to his face, ready to shave.  I thought he had such an interesting way of taking his razor and shaving under his chin.  I loved watching him stretch his neck to get the hard-to-shave places.

Being a doctor, he had a particular way of washing his hands.  He’d apply soap and pass them through the water.  Then he’d hold his hands up until he reached his towel, letting the water drip down to his elbows.  I loved watching him wash his hands.

I was only three or four years old when he became ill with Parkinson’s disease. At the beginning, his illness did not affect him very much; but as the years passed, the illness debilitated him to the point where he could no longer drive, ride his bicycle, or play basketball with us.  But even with Parkinson’s, his hands always looked so very handsome to me.  He’d rest his elbow on the arm rest of his rocking chair, put his pointer finger on his forehead and his thumb under his chin and read his Bible that way. I loved watching him sit that way, lost in thought, often planning and dreaming.

He disciplined me in love, and he wept the last time he had to spank me.  It broke my heart to hear him say through his tears, “It breaks my heart to have to spank my children.”

I sat next to him many times and took those hands in mine as I cut his fingernails for him.  Sometimes I had to hold his hand quite firmly because his shaking wouldn’t allow me to cut his fingernails properly.  He told me one time, “You’d make a good nurse.”  (I never had a desire to be a nurse; but his sweet words built up my self-esteem.)

I remember lying next to him the night he died.  He was lying on his bed, and I put my head on his chest.  It felt as if he were only sleeping.  I took his hand in mine one last time, wishing I could feel him shake, another part of me so glad his illness tormented him no more.  I cried because I missed him.

My sisters and I used to sing to him, “Daddy’s Hands…there was always love in Daddy’s hands.”  I remember on more than one occasion seeing tears in his eyes as we sang that, and knowing that he was thinking of his daddy’s hands.

If you are close enough to your daddy to hold his hands, stroke them lovingly.  Our daddies worked so hard to provide for us.  Their hands helped to provide our living, put food on the table, provided us with a warm bed on which to sleep.   We can thank him by taking his hands in ours, looking in to his eyes with love, and thanking him.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Bringing Up a Son-in-law

(Written on May 20, 2015, on my husband's 40th birthday.)

"He that delicately bringeth up his servant from a child shall have him become his son at length."
Proverbs 29:21

Today is my husband’s birthday.  He has hit the big 4-0.  Yep.  But he’s still just as young at heart, lively, and fun-loving as the day I married him.  He’s grown wiser and has learned a lot through experience. 

I’ve known him for 25 years.  That is a long time, you know?  We’ve been married for 13 years, but have loved each other for probably about 20 years.  (He’s loved me nearly half of his life!)

He was born in a small village, the 9th child (4th son) of the ten Lopez Children.  His parents were poor farmers (his mother learned to keep bees, and that added to the family income).  When he was not even two years old, he went into his daddy’s small store and, unknown to anyone around, ingested some of the petroleum oil that his daddy had in the store.  His esophagus was badly burned, and he could not eat or drink. He came very close to death.  God gave his Mamma wisdom, and she fed him drops of the pure honey she had. Drop after drop, his little throat was healed.  When I heard my mother-in-law tell that story, I knew God had kept him alive for a purpose.

At the tender age of 11, after finishing 6th grade, he said goodbye to his Daddy and Mamma to go to the city.  As was the custom, because there were no schools other than primary schools in the villages then, if a child wanted further education, he had to go to the city.  So, with tears in her eyes, Mamma Lopez said goodbye to her young child.  Because there was not enough money to travel frequently, my husband would not see his Mamma for months at a time, and at one time, three years passed before she saw him! He said that was such a hard time for him, being so far away from his parents!

It is a fact that God had his hand upon this young boy.  He boarded with a man who was a miserable drunk, and who took advantage of this boy’s hard-working skills.  He was given a “bed” under the chicken coop, and was made to rise at 4:00 A.M. to take corn to the market for selling.  Rushing home, he had to be ready for school at 8:00 A.M.

Although my husband was unsaved then, God had His eye upon him.  God protected him and kept him from the physical and emotional dangers that surrounded him.

God put a man named Paco in my husband’s path who took him from that awful situation in the old drunk’s home.  Paco watched over him and looked after him like an older brother.  He gave him 50 cents each day for his food.  There was a kind lady who sold sandwiches and snacks at the school where my husband attended.  My husband asked her if he could wash her dishes and sweep her floor every day for a sandwich at break time.  She generously agreed.  As this young man with a winning smile earned her confidence, she eventually allowed him to run the cash register and “upped” his salary.  And so it was that he earned his meal through nurse’s school.  He was only 14 years old when he entered nursing school.

But things were not well at Paco’s.  One of the sisters who lived there was jealous of the attention that my husband got from Paco, and she told my husband that he had to leave.  With tears in his eyes, Paco said, “Pal, you need to go.”

He had no where to go.  Ahh...but God's providence was at work. A young man who went to nurse’s school with my husband heard of the hardship that he had to endure.  So he told him, “I live at the home of a missionary.  He gives me lodging and food, and I’m sure he will take you in.”  At first, my husband was too shy to approach the missionary.  Yet, at his friend’s urging, he got courage and went to the missionary’s house.  The missionary’s son, Joel, was standing outside the gate eating an orange when my husband arrived.  Friendly Joel offered my husband an orange. My husband said he'll never forget thinking how kind and generous this young man was.  When hearing of my husband’s plight, Joel said, “I’ll speak to my father on your behalf.  I’m sure we can give you a place to stay.”

That missionary was my Dad.

It was in December when my husband arrived the first time.  My mother immediately noticed this boy’s smile.  There was just something different about him.
Only one week after arriving at the missionary’s home, this young man accepted Christ as his Saviour and began to grow.  Joel baptized him; and the missionary and his sons took part in helping to train this young man in the ministry.  He continued his nurse’s training, but became a big help in the ministry: preaching, going soul-winning, helping with bus routes, and participating in every church activity possible.

He eventually became as one of the family.  The little room provided for the boys (there were others besides my husband) was in a corner of the property, and their meals were served in the church building; so he did not live in the family home. But he participated in family games, church activities, and even had Christmas dinner with us one year.
He was trained by my dad.  That is such a blessing to me.  My husband likes to tell of the days when he and my brothers played basketball together.  After school, they’d ask Dad if they could go to a nearby ball court and play ball.  My Dad would say, “You can go for thirty minutes.  If you’re not back in thirty minutes, you can’t go for one week.”  They’d run out the gate…for their thirty minutes began counting when my Dad gave them permission to go.  Three minutes before their thirty minutes were up, they’d bid their friends “goodbye,” and they’d take off for home.

He was taught accountability, responsibility, obedience, and honesty by his godly father, but those qualities were further instilled in him by my own father.  My husband loves my Dad as he loves his own father. My mother cooked his meals, prepared his school lunches for him, and cared for him as if he were her own son.  Eventually, the affection for him in my parents’ hearts were as the affection toward one of their own children.

In 1994, when I left for Bible College, I missed him dearly.  He had been like a brother to me for several years.  I’m not sure when it happened, but I began to have feelings for him.  I tried to dismiss them, and thought that my time away at college would take away this “crush” I had on him.
But when I graduated in 1998, it was evident to me that I indeed loved him.  And he loved me.  Many times, my husband spoke to my dad about courting me, but my dad was not in agreement.  Eventually, my husband moved away.  By then, he had started practicing his nursing skills in the villages, and was only in our city on the weekends.
In 2001, (after much persuasion and prayer on our part) my Daddy agreed to allow my husband to court me.  It was a precious time for us.  Seven months later, with our parents’ blessings, we were united in holy matrimony.  I must say how much I admire this man for his persistence. Although he “waited” for me for over 5 years, he proved to all that his love was pure and sincere. 

What a great gift my husband is to me!  God has given me wonderful in-laws.  My father-in-law, who is now in Heaven, loved the Lord and was a great influence upon my children.  I have a sweet, godly mother-in-law, and my husband’s brothers and sisters love and accept me, and we enjoy one another’s company.

One thing that is so special about having “grown up” with my husband is that he knows many of the people that I know; he understands me because he experienced many of my childhood experiences with me.  He loves my brothers and sisters as his own.  My brother, David, became one of his best friends, and was his best man at our wedding.  It is just a special relationship that we share from so many years together.

The last few years of my dad’s life were hard ones for him because of his battle with Parkinson’s disease.  I remember on so many occasions, my husband would go see how Dad was doing.  He’d go back to his room.  So often he got muscle cramps, and my husband would gently rub his arms and legs.  Oh, how endearing that image of them together is to me today!

I remember  the day that my Dad passed away.  My mother called my husband immediately when she knew something was wrong.  When he arrived, my husband instructed my brothers to place my Dad on the floor so he could work on him.  My husband gave my Dad mouth-to-mouth resuscitation as tears streamed down his own face.  He worked furiously to revive him.  But God was calling him home, and there was nothing anyone could do.  When I arrived at my mother’s house, my husband met me outside. He had a stethoscope around his neck, and when he saw me, he shook his head and said, “He’s gone.” We wept together as he held me close.

When we entered the room where my dad was lying on the bed, my husband gently stroked my father’s head.  “He just looks like he’s sleeping.  I feel like any minute he could wake up.”

It was a Sunday afternoon, and it was decided that the evening church service be held as usual.  My husband was the music director for our church, but he said, “I just don’t think that I can lead today.”  He wept during the whole service.  What love he showed toward my dad that day!

I believe one reason I love my husband so dearly today is because he loves my family as do I.  God designed the formation of this man just for me.  He knew exactly who I needed to guide me in my adulthood, and I must say that my husband has fulfilled that role quite well.  He is not perfect, but he is the perfect man for me.

My husband works hard to provide for us, in the medical field; but his faith and dependence upon God sustains us.  He leads with humility; he guides by example; he loves fiercely and is loyal.

So you can see why I love this man.  It is my honor to be his wife.  I cannot say how grateful I am to be his helper in this life.

So HAPPY BIRTHDAY, my Sweetheart!  I hope we live many more birthdays together.