Category Archives: Prayer

Letting Love In.

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First of all, I am so stinkin’ excited to marry the man of my dreams. He is undeniably the most amazing human to ever walk into my life. And to think that if one minor detail of the day we met had been changed, I may never have been given the opportunity to become the future Mrs. Cortez. It gives me the goosies just thinking about it. For those of you that don’t know how it all went down, let me give you the short version. My ag teacher from college called and asked me to do him a favor and work at a calf roping two nights before the event. I was kinda riding the fence on whether or not I wanted to do it until he said the words, “There WILL be cowboys, and not just cowboys, but the best of the best.” So I of course took him up on his offer. Unbeknownst to me, my future husband would also be there that beautiful June 1st day. Long story short, I saw him. He saw me. I thought he was married. He thought I had a boyfriend. I stalked him on facebook with my bff, Christin, and we found out he WASN’T married, so I sent him a private message and the rest is history. So, thank you Jorge Zapata, for asking me to work the calf roping. I really did meet the best of the best that day. And thank you, Christin, for your incredible FBI skills and for telling me, what the heck, just send him a message. I’m so glad I did.

So now that you’ve sat through a history lesson on my love life, let me dig a little deeper and give you the skinny on something that I really struggle with. Like, a lot. Before I say anything, let me first say that Chip (that’s my man for those of you that don’t know) is, by far, the most selfless person I know. Chip would give you the last dollar he had or the shirt off his own back just to help. He’s a giver of his time, his talents (which do include talking! – love you, honey!), and anything else that he is capable of giving. He’s just naturally a giver. We pulled into the parking lot of the grocery store about a month ago on one of the coldest days winter has given us and Chip noticed a lady trying to change her tire. He didn’t even hesitate, he just pulled in right next to her, hopped out, and went right to work. That’s just the kind of guy he is and that quality is one of the many reasons it was so easy to fall in love with him.

After all this being said, I still find myself struggling – almost on a daily basis – to let Chip help ME. You guys, he does so much for me. Seriously. He goes above and beyond. When he sees that I need something, he is Jonny on the spot, making sure that my needs are met. But it is really hard for me to vocalize to him when I am in need or for me to allow him to help me. I know that we are supposed to forgive and FORGET our past, but forgetting is the hardest part for me. I’ve forgiven, but forgetting the way I was treated before scares me to the point that a lot of times, it’s easier to try and do things on my own and not have to depend on anyone else. In the past, when I was in need of anything, sure those needs might be met, but not without a ton of verbal abuse to go along with it……words that made me feel like I’d never amount to anything on my own and that I was worthless without that help and that because I was in need, I was less of a human being. So now, when something does come up, instead of going to Chip – who is about to be my husband and life long PARTNER – I tend to clam up and try to figure out how to fix the problem on my own. The good thing is this: I know it’s a problem. I have to allow Chip to help me and I have to get out of the mindset that my problems or needs are a burden to him. He tells me over and over that he WANTS to help me and that he will do anything he is humanly possible to do to help me. And I know he means it. He is a man of his words. But the challenging part is letting him tear down that wall I’ve built. And I can promise you, it’s a tall one.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that I’m so thankful God gave me the most loving, giving, selfless human being ever created. Chip is the truest definition of a giver. I just have to let him help me because when I don’t, I’m telling him I don’t need him, that I don’t want a partnership, that I can do this on my own and the truth is, I can’t. I DO NEED HIM. I just have to remind myself that when I let him help me, I’m letting him show me that he loves me. It doesn’t mean that I’m less of a human or the weaker person in our partnership. We’re a team. Team members work together.

So that being said, Honey, I hope you’re reading this because I NEED a basset hound for Valentine’s Day. Babe, I’m just trying to let you help me. That’s all. 🙂

Love ya, Rach

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Beautiful Exchange

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I’ve posted a video to the song Beautiful Exchange by Hillsong. If you have a few minutes, before you continue reading, listen to this song or just listen as you read.

My middle brother and I don’t go hardly a day without sending each other funny pictures or jokes through text messaging. We are constantly trying to one up with each other. Sometimes, though, we’ll run across a YouTube video or picture that tugs on our heart strings and we pass those along, too. When it’s all said and done, my brother and I are softies!! Last week, my brother sent me the link to a video on YouTube called “There Is No Perfect Father.” I got to work about ten minutes early on that particular morning so I thought I’d watch it before my students started filing in. That was a mistake!! The video made me cry harder than I have in a while!

The video was about a deaf father and his teenage daughter. The father loved his daughter very much and always tried to show her in different ways just how much he loved her. She was a typical teenager and asked that her dad drop her off far from the door at school but she was even more embarrassed of her dad than most teenagers because he was deaf. He would buy flowers for her and she would throw them away. He had a cake made for her birthday but she never showed up at dinner to eat it. No matter how hard he tried to show her his love, she continued to deny him and push him away. She became depressed and more ashamed of her dad and one night, tried to take her own life. When her father found her, she scooped her up in his arms and ran to the street, trying to motion for help. When the ambulance got her to the hospital, the deaf father was desperate for the doctors to save his daughters life and in his desperation was trying his hardest to tell the doctors to do whatever it took to save her life. He was crying and signing for them to please save her. They could take his house and his money, whatever it took, he just wanted them to save her life. When the translators spoke to him, they let him know that the only way she would live was if she received blood and organs from a donor. In the next scene, you see a heart monitor go blank indicating that someone had died. I sat in my chair, crying, thinking for sure that the doctors had not been able to save the daughter’s life. But in the next scene, it showed the father lying in a hospital bed, lifeless, with the daughter lying in a bed next to him, alive and well. You see, the father knew there was only one way his daughter would be able to live and that was to give up his own life. Even though she had denied him so many times, he still chose to give up his life for her’s. Even though he had tried over and over to shower her with love and she had turned her back on him, embarrassed of him even, when the only thing that would save her life was for him to give up his own, he gave his life without question. What a beautiful exchange.

As I watched this video, all I could think of was how our Heavenly Father gave up his life so that we could live. I’ve been listening to the song Beautiful Exchange over and over the last week or so and I can’t listen to it without it totally shaking me up. I mean, just read the lyrics to this song and try to not be moved to tears:

You were near, Though I was distant
Disillusioned I was lost and insecure

Still mercy fought, For my attention
You were waiting at the door, Then I let You in

Trading Your life, For my offenses
For my redemption, You carried all the blame

Breaking the curse, Of our condition
Perfection took our place

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

My burdens erased, my life forgiven
There is nothing, that could take this love away

My only desire, and sole ambition
Is to love You just the same

When only love
Could make a way
You gave Your life
In a beautiful exchange

How many times have I denied The Father’s love and turned my back on Him? Yet He is always there waiting to love me just the same. He knew I would not be a perfect person but chose to die for me anyway. There is no greater love. There could never be a more beautiful exchange than the one where Jesus laid down his own life knowing that it was the only way we would live. And for that gift of life I will forever be grateful.

Dancing In The Rain

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Psalm 34: 1-3 “I will praise the Lord at all times.I will constantly speak his praises.I will boast only in the Lord;let all who are helpless take heart.Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;let us exalt his name together.”

If I could be like any person I’ve ever known, it would be my aunt Roxanne. Her love for life and people, her tenacity, and her ability to face life head on are all qualities that I admired about her. She rarely had a bad day and if she did, it didn’t take long for her to remember the many blessings surrounding her and that is what drove her to be one of the happiest people I ever knew. Even on a “bad day” she still flashed that beautiful smile and had contagious laughter. Gosh, I miss that lady!! As I read through Psalm 34 this morning, I was reminded of her tenacious outlook on life, even up until the last breath she took. She was a fighter because she was one of the rare people that always saw the good in people and life, no matter the circumstance or situation. Psalm 34:1-3 talks about praising the Lord at ALL times, not just on the good days or when life is going our way. “I will constantly speak his praises.” While my aunt was battling cancer, even on the really hard days where she could barely lift her head, her motto for life was this: Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass–it’s about learning to dance in the rain. And she did a lot of dancing in the rain.

My devotions this morning talked about how a lot of times we identify blessings with “getting the goods” in one way or another. We thank God for health, a comfortable lifestyle, a good reputation, a relatively trouble-free family life, and national security. And in doing so, we rightly acknowledge our dependence on Him–but this may lead us to associate God’s blessings exclusively with EXTERNAL evidence. When we do that, we miss the whole point: We suffer undeservedly BUT in our suffering we can glorify God and receive His blessing.

So today, do a little dancing in the rain. Don’t wait for the storm to pass.

I love you, Aunt Rox, and I miss you so much!!!!!!

May I Please Have Your Undivided Attention

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A few days ago I was talking to a male friend of mine and we were laughing about the fact that most men have a one-track-mind while women can carry on multiple conversations, wipe snotty noses, tie shoes, and cook dinner all at the same time. Women are just wired that way. I’m an incredible multitasker. When I worked at the hospital, I could answer phones, fax face sheets, enter insurance numbers, and have a face-to-face conversation with other patients, all at the same time. I’m not one to brag, but that takes skill. In my devotions this morning, though, I read this: Your relationship with the Lord must always have top priority over everything else. God wants your undivided attention. When we don’t seek God first, our life gets out of control and as a result, our lives start ruling us instead of us being in charge of them. I often find myself planning out my day in the back of my mind when I’m reading my devotions in the morning. I’ll get half way through a page and realize that I have no idea what I just read. And I’m only cheating myself because I’m missing out on a valuable lesson that God is trying to teach me. He wants my undivided attention, so much so that when He speaks in a still, small voice, I hear Him. I get so busy at times that I tune Him out and that’s when I begin to think that I don’t need to pray, I don’t need to read my bible, or I’m too tired to do my devotions. In Isaiah 43, I read that a danger of maturation, or growth in our relationship with God, is that we become calcified. If we are not giving our undivided attention to walking in submission to God and seeking His will for our life, I think it’s really easy to get content or hardened where we’re at. As I was reading the commentary in Isaiah 43, it talked about when we do become calcified, or content in our walk with God, when we aren’t actively seeking His will for our life, the result can be that we think we don’t need faith anymore—or that we don’t need anymore faith. We know the questions and the answers, so God, who seems to enjoy disturbing the comfortable, should keep His distance. This becomes our mentality. I don’t like it when people try to rock my boat. If I’m comfortable, I don’t want to be disturbed. But God’s word teaches us that when we’re just comfortable, we’re in a dangerous spot. This is the point at which God comes to us and dares us to believe Him for a “new thing” in our lives, something that will force us to let go of the hard-won strings of control, daring us to let HIM stretch our vision. Isaiah 43:18-19 says this, “Forget the former things, don’t dwell on the past. See, I’m doing a new thing; now it springs up. Do you not understand it? I’m making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” I’ll be the first to admit that I have a hard time with reading my bible every single day. There are some mornings that the snooze button wins and my devotions consist of reciting John 3:16 because it’s the only verse that comes to my mind. Then I feel like I’ve almost failed God. But God doesn’t want us to just read his word and pray so He can feel good about it. His word was written as a map for our lives, a guidebook of sorts, for us to live and learn by. Isaiah 43:25 says, “I, even I, am he who blots out your transgressions and I remember them no more.” Is there a greater love? I don’t know of many people that can truly forgive my faults and then completely and totally just forget about them. I try to practice the “forgive and forget” policy but I know that there are things that will remind me of something someone did in the past or something that was said and for a moment, it still stings. I’m human. I’ll never completely forget. But Christ does. He forgives me and you and anyone who asks him to and then He totally forgets about it. He doesn’t throw it in your face at a later date when you screw up again and say, “Remember when you did this or that? I knew you’d do it again!!” Nope, he just forgives us again when we have a repentant heart. And I don’t know about you, but a love like that is one that causes me to want to give my undivided attention. Like I said, I’m not always great at stopping everything I’m doing, turning my mind off to everything but Him. I find myself, more often than not, at a place of contentment, or with the mindset that simply trusting Him with my life is not enough.

I love Isaiah 43:1. It simply says, “Don’t be afraid. I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called you by name; you are mine.” Why He would ever choose to be so merciful and gracious with me is something I will never understand. But my prayer today is that I would become better at giving Him my undivided attention so that when He calls me by name, I hear His voice. His patience is incapable of being matched. And I’m so thankful for that.

…..but I love you.

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I’ve never met you…..but I love you.

I’ve never seen your face anywhere except my mind…….but I love you.

I’ve never felt your arms around me, I’ve only imagined how it must feel…..but I love you.

I’ve never caught you smiling at me across the room……but I love you.

I’ve never heard you laughing at my corny jokes that no one else finds funny….but I love you.

I’ve never watched you praying with our babies before they go to sleep at night….but I love you.

I’ve never felt you roll over at night and wake me up just to whisper that you’re glad God gave me to you…..but I love you.

I’ve never held your hand while driving aimlessly on back roads, sipping on sweet tea, windows down, breeze blowing my hair……but I love you.

I’ve never watched you teach our babies to saddle a horse or how to ride….but I love you.

I’ve never watched you as you rolled your sleeves up, bent down and took our little girl’s face in your hands and told her that she’s your princess……but I love you.

I’ve never heard you telling our son to watch the ball and let it connect with the bat……but I love you.

I’ve never felt your lips on mine…..but I love you.

I’ve never seen you broken and vulnerable at the news of heartbreak……but I love you.

I’ve never heard you tell me that my cookin’ is the best thing you’ve ever eaten in your whole life……but I love you.

I’ve never seen injustice move your heart to make a change….but I love you.

I’ve never even had a first date with you……but I love you.

I’ve never shared my dreams or secrets with you and I’ve never heard yours….but I love you.

Though I’ve never laid eyes on you, my sweet, tenderhearted, hard working, husband……I love you. I love that God made you just for me. I know when he was forming you in your mother’s womb, He knew you’d grow to be a dark headed man that loved cows as much as I do. As silly as that sounds to anyone else, I just know it’s true. I don’t always love the waiting part, but I know that when God brings you to me, I will finally be able to give you my love. It isn’t always easy loving you from a distance, but knowing that God is a God of perfect timing makes this wait worth it. There have been times when I could’ve settled for someone that wasn’t you but each time, your face flashed across my mind and though I’ve never met you, I know you are real and I will wait for you, my love.

I don’t know where you are tonight. I don’t know what you’re doing, but I imagine you’re sitting on a porch swing, a drink in one hand and your other around a dog. I don’t know even know what your name is…….but I know I love you and I can’t wait to tell you just how much.

Psalm 37:4 Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.

Change

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The world is so big it could break your heart, and you just wanna help but not sure where to start. So you close your eyes and send up a prayer into the dark.The smallest thing can make all the difference. Love is alive, don’t listen to them when they say you’re just a fool to believe you can change the world.”

I’ve started this post probably ten times and each time I get a few sentences typed out, I’ve erased it and started over. I don’t know how to start. I don’t know what words to say. I don’t know how to properly convey the way that I feel tonight. Each time I’ve started this, I’ve censured my words and filtered out the raw emotion and hurt that I feel and replaced it with what I feel like most of you would want to read instead. I’m sorry, though. I just can’t do that. I’ve got to be real with you guys tonight.

All day long, my heart has been heavy. My mind has been twisted all over the place. I haven’t been settled at all. If I’ve learned anything in life, it’s that in moments like this, it usually means one thing. It usually means that there is deep conviction within my soul and that I need to stop being so busy in my life and take time to listen to what God may be trying to say to me. I’m really good at filling my time up with things that aren’t important and subconsciously pushing God’s plan for my life to the furthest corner of my mind. I do this out of fear. A deep, dark fear of falling flat on my face if I choose to live with no inhibitions. I’m afraid to hand the reins over. But this unbridled way of living, this sense of being uncontrolled, plays a large role in why I struggle on days like I have today.

I’m a nurturing person. I have a “mother mentality.” I was born to take care of people and to love those that have been deemed unlovable. If you and I are meeting for the first time, don’t be alarmed when I hug your neck. I’m affectionate and empathetic. God gave me a heart that genuinely cares and one that breaks for those that are hurting. I know that it’s a calling that God has put on my life and I was given this heart for a very specific reason. I know that God gave me this personality of loving people so that He could love people through me.

I was talking to a couple this evening that is so dear to my heart. Heath and Kensey Mooneyham (http://www.ignitechurch.tv/) are pastors at Ignite in Joplin, MO, and I have to say that I’ve never really seen two people that love their community as much as they do. I’ve known Heath and Kensey for ten or eleven years. We’ve been through so much together. Through ups and downs, one thing has remained, their love is unwavering. They have one goal and that is to change the world. In a world that is full of hurt and destruction, these two have put their head to the ground and they fun full force into the battlefield. When Joplin was hit with a tornado two years ago, they worked together with their church and for weeks, months even, they were devoted to helping rebuild our community. They went nonstop and their efforts played a huge role in watching this community come back even stronger. As most of you know, Moore, OK was hit with a tornado one week ago. Within hours, Heath and his staff were on the ground in Moore helping them devise a plan of action and letting them know that they would be there as long as they needed. The rest of the church has been working all hours of the day and night getting supplies together and volunteer teams to send to Moore. Like I said before, Heath and Kensey are die hards when it comes to helping others. Isn’t that what it’s all about anyway? Isn’t that what we are called to do? To love others? Tonight as I sat in their garage talking to them, we talked about how incredible it is that God would choose to use people like us. Heath, Kensey, and I all have a past that would make any person scratch their head and ask how on earth God would choose us. But He did. He chose Rahab, a prostitute for crying out loud, to help in the taking down of Jericho in the book of Joshua. If He can use a prostitute, he can use me. He looks past all the terrible mistakes that I’ve made in my life and the ones that I continue to make on a daily basis, and He says that He wants to use me. Me.

I want to help change this world. I want to be the hands and feet of Jesus. I don’t want to be known for the mistakes I’ve made but for the example of God’s gracious love that He shows to me every single day. There are so many people that would argue that I’m just a fool to think that I could change the world. The smallest thing can all the difference. If my smile can brighten someone’s day, if a hug around the neck of one of my students shows them that I love them, I pray that I am reminded of that daily. I pray that when I think of the grace that has been given to me, I choose to be gracious with others and to love them with the passion of Christ.

I’m thankful for people like Heath and Kensey who remind me of my dreams. My heart was so heavy today and as we sat in their garage tonight, these two reminded me of the dreams that I shared with them when I was just a 16 year old teenager who crashed on their couch every night. When Heath decided to take the plunge and start Ignite Church in Joplin, MO, he had no idea what he was getting himself into. I don’t have a clue what or where God is leading me into, but I know it’s something beyond what my finite mind can even begin to dream up. And I’m thankful for friends like Heath and Kensey who I know will hold my hand and partner up and walk this entire road with me. Together we can change the world.

Just A Day Dreamin’

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The only thing this disgusting weather has done for me is fuel the fire of a southern desire inside my heart. For two days now, I’ve been holed up in my house, refusing to wear anything except sweat pants and an over sized sweatshirt with fluffy socks. I hate the snow but mostly, I hate the ice that lies underneath. I suppose if I lived in a part of the US that got more than two inches of ice covered with half an inch of snow, I might be able to tolerate the cold. Wait. That’s a lie. I despise the cold. I hate walking outside and being so cold that my bones literally ache. I long for the days of summer when I step outside and instantly start sweating. I dream of summer evenings on the front porch, iced tea with lemon slices in one hand and the other holding a good book that has nothing to do with work or school. Sigh.

Sometimes when I close my eyes, my mind begins to paint a picture of what I wish my life was like……a nice sized front yard with a weeping willow tree and a cute little flower garden that wraps all the way around my house into the back yard leading to my garden full of fresh veggies. I’d have some sort of goody baking away in the kitchen, the windows in my house would be open and the curtains would be blowing in the summer breeze as I sat curled up on my porch, waiting for my babies to wake from their nap. I’d probably be dreaming up what to make for supper, taking in to consideration that my TALL, DARK HEADED, ROUGH HANDED, cowboy had just mentioned he was craving my homemade lasagna. I’d be able to look to my left and to my right and see pasture that spread for acres and acres and my nostrils would be happy and full of my favorite smell…..cows. Is this really too much to ask for? Because I really want it to be more than a day dream. I don’t want to live in town. I want to hear my husband’s truck coming down the gravel drive instead of thousands of cars rolling down a highway that stretches for miles. I want to hear my babies laughing as they roll around in the yard with our dogs. I want a red front door and a porch with hanging ferns and wicker chairs. And I would not be opposed to this dream coming true in the south. Sigh.