Thursday, January 30, 2014

SAVED IN THE DANCE!

As I share about my early teen years, I have used photos from middle school. If you see yourself in any of the photos and want it removed, please let me know and I will respect your wishes. I don't want anyone upset or offended because their photo is here. Perhaps many will say, "Angie, I would never have shared that." But, I'm older now and believe it's time to share. My desire, as I share my story, is to show something that is wrong, but how God can use something like dance to turn our darkest moments in life into joy! Love to you all.


By Angeline M Duran Santiago


Graduation, P.S.250, Grade 5
Growing up, I believed life was perfect although we lacked in material possessions. I didn't have much, but I learned to be confident and thankful I was loved. My days in PS250 were very happy. It had been a safe, nurturing environment that had not prepared me for what was to come. I truly believed life was great up until middle school.

The day I began middle school, my world was in for a big turn around. I never would have imagined what was coming. I continued in a gifted class in middle school, but barely new any of the kids. I was alone and hoped to make new friends.


It didn't take long for me to realize life had changed. I was in 6th grade and I remember 8th grade students, as a group, pushing their way towards me and letting me know they didn't like me. Soon afterwards, life became a nightmare and no one could stop it. I fought daily but in reality I think it was more like getting my butt kicked, daily. I hated school and wished night time would silently take me to heaven as I slept. 

Groups of girls and boys tormented me in the hallway, lunchroom and after school. Almost daily, they followed me home. They were friends of someone in my old school. She had told them she disliked me and this made them feel it was their duty to make my life miserable. No matter how well I thought I could defend myself, there was no way to defend yourself against large groups of teens punching and kicking at you, including guys.

The dean said he couldn't help, the police wouldn't get involved unless I was hospitalized or killed, and my family had run out of answers. I became sick, literally sick with the knowledge that I was hated for no reason. The threat came that I was going to have my face cut up and my parents got involved, showing up the school to do what the school would not. They protected me when the school failed. Yes, the school didn't help just looked the other way. Seeing my desperation and nose dive into depression, my mom began the fight with the school district to change me to a new school. Back then if you didn't live in the zone, the answer was no. After a long battle, she won and I was sent to start in a new school at JHS126 in Greenpoint. 

After what I had gone through, my smile was gone. My attitude was to be ready to fight or (as funny as this is) run if I had to. I wondered if the same things would happen here, but this is where I believe "divine intervention" took over. I was feeling depressed, hating school (which I had always loved), and still affected by the past year.

One day, a day that was a challenge, there was a special program in the school. Dance groups came out and performed. But the highlight were the cheerleaders. Loving dance and the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders, back then, my heart raced. Sure, I had been a cheerleader most of my life for my dad's baseball team, but this was different. It was magical. 

JHS 126 John Ericsson Cheerleaders
To be a part of the magic I would not only have to able to dance, but have great grades. Grades? Me, the once honor student now big deuce. Me, the once gifted student now a failure, messed up and always watching her back. Still, I had a decision to make. That day I went home and after sharing with my mom what I had seen, I went to my room and opened a bible I had started to like reading. I had started to read in Matthew. 

It said, that if we ask, we shall receive. I read a lot, didn't understand it much, but something inside me said, "Believe." I am sure that was the first time I ever prayed and believed it with all my heart. "Lord, I feel unworthy to ask You this, but I am tired of my life, I'm tired of feeling worthless. I feel so good when I dance, Lord. Grant me this one thing."



That year, my first year in John Ericsson, my grades went back to normal, making me part of Arista. This gave me the confidence to try out for the squad and I made it! I loved every moment of being a cheerleader at JHS126. Cheerleading and dancing saved my life! The sadness from the year before was soon replaced with songs and dance steps that freed me to be the teen I was supposed to be.
 My last year there, I was Co-Captain of the squad and when I graduated, I auditioned and made it to the final cut of a group of dancing cheerleaders with the same teachers. Many doors opened for me to dance in my youth and that confidence came from being part of an amazing team! 


You may say, Angie, ridiculous! Dance and being a cheerleader can't save your life! My reply is, "Yes it can and it did!" I know that if there had not been anything to pull me away from my sadness, the hurt,the fears and the darkness I had experienced that past year, I had quit school and continued quiet and sad. 


Being a cheerleader gave me a purpose to go to school and do my best. It was not an overnight miracle, but I believe my healing from sadness, feeling worthless, alone and fearful during my teen years, came through music, making friends that shared my same passion, and dancing with all my heart and all my strength. Being bullied is a horrible thing. It doesn't go away easily and it takes a lot of work to overcome the sadness that tries to stay. I am thankful for the people God put in my path to see something in me worth investing in. 


My Mom, Maria
I am thankful for a mom that didn't take NO for an answer but fought for me to start life over in a new school. She gave me the opportunity to do what she taught me to love, dance my heart away! My mom was a powerful tool in helping me dance during my teen years and I will always be grateful for her sacrifice and dedication.


Mr. K
I will always be thankful and grateful to Mr. Mel Kamenshine for giving me the opportunity to flourish and live out my dream. He gave me a purpose and reason to get up extra early to practice. He made sure the team worked hard to keep grades up. Mr. K encouraged, motivated and inspired us to leave it all on the dance floor and we did. He was an amazing Coach, Teacher and Friend. He found amazing places for us to perform, like performing during half time at a basketball game where the 76ers played, Madison Square Garden and so many other great places. Thank you, Mr. K. You will never know how my life was changed.

Years later, I would remember my prayer as a child. I'd make a decision to not only live my life for the God who guided my feet in the dance, but to one day dance to the music of heaven. When I talk about being healed, it's because I know what it's like to be broken. God took care of me and gave me a reason to be joyful.

 To all who gave me wings to dance, you really gave me a reason to hope and live again! Love you all!

CALM ALL YOUR FEARS


By Angeline M. Duran Santiago


I truly hope you are doing well today. I really do! There's no greater song to sing than the one we can sing in times when everything is going well and we feel victorious! But, what about when we're so beat up emotionally, stressed out and down that our song sounds more like a cry? Then, these words are for you.

This morning, taking my son to school, I was so excited. Suddenly, like a punch to my belly, a sense of insecurity and fear hit me. It was then I ran into the storage places in my mind, looking for a Word to change what was overwhelming me and Zephaniah 3 rang clearly out at me. He will calm all my fears with His love. What a promise in the midst of uncertainty. 



God is saying, "I got this! I got your back!"
God is saying to us, "Don't be afraid. Don't let it overtake you. Don't start to believe nonsense that you can't do the task before you. I am with you. As a matter of fact, the proof that I will walk beside is that I will surround you with my personal love song to encourage you. You will hear my song over you in the background. I will not leave you alone."

I pray that if you find yourself in the middle of a thousand decisions, worried about your finances, the sickness that keeps saying, "I'm here!" and the difficulties that attack the joy and peace in your home or job, that you will hear the Lord's promises today as He says, "I will calm all your fears. Relax, and hear me sing."

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

PARENTS AND BEDTIME STORIES

By Angeline M. Duran Santiago


There's something about a soft light on your night table, a cup of tea or coffee, a super sized, warm, fluffy blanket and a great book to accompany you before you turn in for the night. Just like many adults love to float away into an adventure through reading, there's something even greater than reading to yourself. Well, what about injecting a love for reading in your children?



Something magical happens when you open up a book, even the ones without pictures, and use your voice, expressions, and mannerism to bring the story to life. Reading to my kids when they were little was something I looked forward to. With Aaron, it was Amelia Bedelia, Junie B. Jones and anything from dinosaurs to animals. With Jeru, it was fairy tales, heroic adventures and poetry. Jacob has been a mix of genres, enjoying a little of everything, lots of Steven Kellogg, especially if it's recommended by one of his siblings.



When we as parents get excited about reading, our children will, too. The moment we make a big deal about characters and what they go through, having discussions about what happened and the big "What if this were you?" question, you show your children that they can jump out of bed and into a new world, with friends ready to bid them "Welcome!" immediately.





Being a teacher, I know some children hate reading and hate books. This was always a challenge. The minute I saw a child pretended to read or said it was boring, I went on a mission to show him or her that books are amazing treasures. I remember this one student who would sit with the book bin and waste time going through the same books and pretend to read. As an educator, your first reaction is, "Can this child read?" "Let me work with him or her to see if there are reading problems or any other problems."



What I notice is this. If the child struggles to read because they are still learning to read, then find the right book, preferably with pictures, and start slow. I would make a big deal when using books that were lower levels and try to make the moment fun. You see, many times students are embarrassed and they don't want anyone to know their struggles. As a parent, it's the same thing. If you're child hates reading, play with them and talk about it until you learn the reason for the dislike.



Another thing I found was that students would get bored with the books in the classroom. I can't begin to tell you the amount of money I spent buying books. I'd learn what the child was interested in and if I couldn't find a book in the school or in my home library, I'd buy it. I was desperate to help this child discover the world of stories waiting to be read.



If our children see that we love to read, maybe they will, too. But, we have to start and bedtime is a great time to begin placing that love for literature. Teachers want to help your child succeed. You can't wait for a teacher to be the only motivator and encourager in your child's life. Being able to read, comprehend, imagine, make connections, and compare characters or events in a story is crucial to your child's development as a learner and a test taker once they start third grade.


Why not make a big deal about your child's reading test scores by infusing a love for reading, having quiet reading time in your home, purchasing and giving books as gifts, and having a small area in your home as a library for your kids and family. It can all begin with one good bedtime story and your energy. For more fun, have your child read to you. Oh, there's nothing that compares to what happens when little children read to parents. Wow, the stories they make up just by looking at the illustrations. You will laugh!


I hope you have a bedtime story for tonight. My Jacob thinks he's too big for me to read to him. But, everyone here keeps a book by their pillow. The habit started when they were born. (I hope I made you smile there) If you've never done it before, I pray you start tonight. You won't regret it. You'll get closer to your child and might even discover ways to help them become a better reader. It all starts with you at home. You're the first teacher, the first model of enjoying a story, their first cheerleader! Go, Go parents!

REMEMBER TO SAY IT TODAY!

Show me one person that has it all together and is perfect. I'll say, "Lies." No one is infallible or error proof. In our imperfection, we can strive to make those around us feel amazing and loved. Here are some short sentences to keep in our pocket for a rainy day.



Say "I'm Sorry."
Maybe you just had a  misunderstanding and walked away, slamming the door behind you. A simple discussion escalated into a heated argument. Your kids disagree with you and you cut them up with your angry words. Your spouse forgets something important and your words turn him or her into an ant. You are going to need healing words to restore communication. Don't be so proud you can't admit your wrongs. Saying you're sorry, even when you think you're right breaks the presence of darkness and releases the power of love, God's love in you and through you, to heal every wounded spirit.

Say "You can do it!"
Those around you have been discouraged. They've lost a job they depended on. School has become hard. Your child's team keeps losing. Your husband doesn't get the promotion he was promised. Isn't it at these times that your words can get their discouragement to a place where they believe in themselves again. Our family, friends and people around us need a cheerleader on their side. Get your pom poms and stand beside your child and your brother. "You can do it!" Say it again. "You. I say, You. Y-O-U can do it!"

Say "I am here with you."
Many of us have been here. We get hired and then they change their mind the day before you were supposed to start. A relationship they saw as ready to go to the next level has suddenly gone sour and you part ways. Death shows up during the holidays, a birthday or a graduation. Death lingers and it feels they buried you too. The diagnosis from the doctor's office came back and there is more news, really negative news. 

Death is still close. What can you say or do? Many times, myself included, we tell people, "I'm here for you." I think what they need is someone to sit with them, quietly. They need someone to be there when no one asked them to be there, silently. We need to tell and show people they are not alone in their pain. Saying, "You'll get over this, too." Is a slap in the face for many people because they want normal back.
Remember to say, with your actions, "I am here with you."

Say "I believe in you."
The world is filled with voices that challenge every gift, every talent, and all the great things your child or loved ones around you. Your faith in someone's ability can bring to life their potential, creativity and boldness to share. Your words can inspire and help others rise up to the next level in their career, talents, and faith.

Say "Don't give up!"
You may see a smile but you don't really know what's in that person's mind. They need to be encouraged and reminded of their purpose. 

Say "You're amazing!"
We rarely hear words of beauty around us. We're reminded of our mistakes and what needs to get done. Speak to the people in your life and let them know how amazing they are to you and to those around them. Give examples of their greatness by pointing to all the ways the contribute positively everywhere they go. Motivate someone by letting them know they're awesome!

Say "I love you!"
Say it or show it, but let love be seen in you and through you for others. Love has become meaningless in today's world. It has become cold, conditional and temporary. People need to know you love them today and tomorrow it hasn't disappeared. Children need to know they're loved no matter the good, the bad or the ugly they do. Children need to be shown affection and reassurance. Everyone needs to know their love is received, welcomed and not rejected. The love of a friend is a great gift. Love as you wish to be loved, without hypocrisy, false motives or just your lips. Let our actions speak louder than words when we love.





Tuesday, January 28, 2014

STORM'S A RISING....


A short fictional story written by Angeline M. Duran Santiago


Salem embraced her friend, attempting every possible way to comfort and alleviate her pain with the sincerity of her friendship and prayers. Lexi had shared what seemed one difficulty after another, crashing down upon her once peaceful life. Bulldozer affect in less than one week, pushing and pulling at her from every direction, threatening her security, stability and yes, even her faith.

Knowing of Lexi's visit, Salem had spent time in prayer. "I don't know her needs, Lord, but you do." Over and over she reminded the Lord to give her words filled with wisdom, courage and love. 

"These storms that have taken you upward right now won't last forever. God has a purpose for allowing all this and you will see how many testimonies you will have when this all passes. God is with you and yes it feels like there's no way out of this deep darkness, but God will be your light. He is your strength and your hope. Don't let go. He has already given you the victory!"


What Salem didn't imagine was that those very words she had so carefully thought of and chosen for her dear friend, would become the healing balm she would need in the morning. After sharing coffee, Lexi's face was covered with serenity that had not been there when she first arrived. She smiled. The home that had just been filled with weeping, was now filled with laughter. 

Encouraged and renewed in her faith, Lexi said good bye and went back out to face the storms that raged against her. She was a little stronger and more confident as God's word had reassured her, "You are not alone. I will fight for you!" Salem thanked the Lord for being present and being faithful. Her heart ached for her friend. She reflected on her most recent battles, and still felt the hurt in her heart. Her mind wandered into a place of being wounded, denied love, rejected and betrayed. Her skin felt the punctures of disappointment and disillusion. 

"But, You have always been there for me, Lord. I know You will be there for Lexi and her family." Resting in the peace that her previous storm had passed and it was her turn to be there for her friend, she cleaned up a bit and was soon ready to sleep. She dreamed of running into the night, running into the wind and accepting the challenge to stand strong as the mighty winds blew all around her. Around and around, the whirlwind lifted her and threw her upon the rocks, cutting at her bare feet and knees. As she tried to get up, once more the hurricane pushed her against the mountain edges, hurting her and laughing at her attempts to stand.



Rising up, Salem, bruised and bleeding, commanded her pain stricken body to move against the winds and stand upon the one Rock that was in the middle of the storm. Voices around her cried into the wind and the rain that began to violently fall to walk, and stand upon the Rock.

As morning broke through the storms only vivid in Salem's dreams, she arose to the sound of the alarm clock telling her it was time to get up and get her son ready for school. As she went on with breakfast, one after the other, news began to come in waves, billowing waves rising and crashing upon her way before the aroma of morning coffee filled the kitchen. Messages, phone calls, alerts, and words bombarded her chest, grabbing at her chest and daring her to react.

It was then that scenes of every conversation, every word of encouragement, and every scripture she had shared with Lexi came back to her. Had all the preparation to help her friend through her storm have been to prepare her for this uprising against her mind?

Be still and know that I am God.

The battle is not yours. The battle is the Lord's.

Be strong and courageous for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go.

Fear Not. I will not forsake you.

God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, a sound mind.

Over and over Salem began to remind her heart to be at peace. She ordered her heart to remain still before the Lord and to trust in His provision and guidance. Repeatedly, she instructed everyone in her home that this was a time for prayer, for trusting the Lord and not for being afraid or worried. 

Images of a bruised and battered woman, pushing against the whirlwind, the hurricane, the storm, and the rain took over her vision in such a way that she realized she was truly there. Feeling the wetness of the rain, pelting harder and harder upon her face and neck. Then the Voice broke through as if from far away, yet so near...."Walk over there and stand upon the Rock."

Psalm 61: 1,2

Hear my cry, O God, Listen to my prayer;
From the end of the earth I call to you
When my heart is faint.
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I,
For You have been my refuge, 
A strong tower against the enemy.

With those images alive in her spirit, Salem decided to face the storm that had once more entered her life. Grabbing her bag for the day, she took prayer, God's word, faith, hope, and strength and placed them into her wallet. She grabbed victory and placed it like a brooch on her jacket. Salem bundled her son up and left the apartment, walking to her car, knees wanting to tremble and make her fall. She looked at her precious one ready for school, and spoke aloud, "If God is for us, who can stand against us? Come on, storm, hit me with your best shot! I'm in God's hands now!"

No matter what your storm is right now, decide how to confront it. I know it is not easy, but you will have a testimony after the test. You will have a victory dance after the running around. You will have the evidence of God's love and protection once more.


Written by Angeline M. Duran Santiago to encourage you today!














THROWN IN THE PIT

By Angeline M. Duran Santiago


You didn't see it coming. The shock of what has happened has left you speechless. Where did this all come from? How? Why? Lord, are you in all this? One after the other, news after news from bad to worse. You're pushed back, chased, and harassed until you're thrown into the pit, deep, dark, cold, wet with the smell of something old, rotten and forsaken. Left alone, hopeless, but why?

Perhaps you are in the pit of despair because you didn't choose to be here, but circumstances beyond your control have placed you in this prison like hole. Situations that you never imagined coming your way, appeared and before you could question their reason for showing up, down the hole of testing, trials, and suffering you went.

Sometimes we end up in the pit out of our own doing, mistakes, wrong choices, poor decisions and maybe just ignorance. But, today you know you're innocent. You know you've been praying, seeking the Lord, surrendering your heart to honor God, and yet it seems the very heaven created the hurricane that brought you here.


You are not alone and no, you are not being punished. If you know in your heart that you have been serving the Lord and you've been faithful, don't allow doubt, anger and confusion to pull you away from the Lord now. Joseph was thrown into the pit and then in jail. You know him, right, Joseph? The kid with the coat of many colors? Yeah, Jacob's son and the story with his brothers and well, you get it, right? Exactly. This poor kid full of dreams and visions got a big push into the pit and left there by his own blood.

What you're going through is not the end. God is going to be with you even in the silence as you wait. HE is all you need. He will defend you and provide for all your needs. He is your advocate and He goes before you. He ransoms you. (I love that one!) I'll say it again, He rescues (ransoms) me unharmed from the battle waged against me, even though many oppose me. Psalm 55:18. 


Didn't I tell you He will fight for you? Deuteronomy 3:22 says, "You are not to fear them, because the LORD your God will fight for you." Wait! Dance break here. (dance, rejoice, dance)

What I'm trying to tell you is to trust the Lord in the midst of what you are facing. I'm not making your struggles, problems or situation small. No, If I shared mine with you, you'd be like, "Girl, you're crazy to be talking like that! I'd have given up a looooonnngg time ago!" But, here I am telling you to trust in God's promises. He will provide for all your needs, not just make sure there's milk, bread and eggs for the morning breakfast.

God will give you peace in the midst of affliction. 
God will strengthen you when you can't even pray.
God will turn the pit of your despair into your place of blessing.
Even in this hard time, He will give you words to encourage others. Even in your darkest moment, He will use you to do great things to leave you in more shock than what you just wen through.


Please don't give up. I know the pit is really deep down and you want out fast. I know you don't deserve to be there. None of us do. But, I know God will show up and do something amazing, soon. 

And, Joseph? Well, he became Pharoah's right hand guy. His story really has an amazing ending. He needed to be in the pit in order to get to a place where his dreams could be fulfilled, he'd be placed in a position of power, and save his family (yup, the very ones that put him in the pit). Amazing, right? Well, I'll be praying for you.
For you. I'll be praying all this madness turns around for you, soon. I love you and pray God's peace and provision for you.

Written by Angeline M. Duran Santiago to encourage you today!

Monday, January 27, 2014

A MESSAGE FOR CHRISTIANS IN MINISTRY

This blog is not an easy one. It has a strong feeling created out of a frustrated place in my heart after seeing the same things repeated regularly. I will not apologize for what I have written for I feel to apologize would be to deny what I believe is God's message for all of us today. I pray you have an open heart and mind to receive my challenge to be real or get it together. I do love you all very much and pray God to speak in some way.


Doth a fountain send forth at the same place sweet water and bitter?   James 3:11 KJV



I don't know when it became popular to mix the things of the Lord with the things of the world, but more and more, it seems the word comfortable describes church leaders and ministers. I thought we had to be separate and identified ourselves with a different standard. Oh, maybe you think I'm old school? No, I think I'm very open to using what is modern to further God's kingdom. I'm not against using advancement, technology or the Arts to promote the Good News of the Gospel. Maybe if I give you a few examples, I can clarify the point I want to make:


Out of the same fountain, let's say here, faucet, we will not get Pepsi and Lemonade. Right? So, why is it that we can go clubbing Saturday night and then on Sunday, get up on the altar and lead the congregation in worship, praise and songs of deliverance and closeness to God?

How easy it is, or how comfortable can you be, to be in a relationship where you're living in sin, but yet, get up to play the keyboard, the drums, or any instrument for a Holy God?

Why have you made yourself believe it's not a big deal to flirt with the ladies in church when you're married, begin emotional affairs and sometimes get to the third base, while being a man of God, who week after week, stands before a congregation and brings the Message of God that offers forgiveness and healing?

Out of the same mouth proceedeth blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not so to be.   James 3:10 KJV


When did it become acceptable to have women's ministries where the topic is prayer, but what you really do is be part of the Gossip Ministry, starting with the church leaders and first lady?

How can it be that the same deacons and ministers that speak to the congregation and serve as leaders, have a vulgar vocabulary, speak with hostility and hatred to their wives, mistreat their children and then on Sunday want to hug everyone and their mother. I'm tired of seeing this and staying quiet when I see the hurt this is doing to the people serving the Lord as well as how it keeps out those who should be coming in to experience God's love.

Oh, this is harsh and I'm being bold. But, enough is enough, don't you think? We are praying for revival. Or so I thought. We have been praying for the Lord to heal, restore and move in our midst. We are in the last days, living in prophetic times, and we are still living as if we've never accepted Jesus into our hearts. We are still living like people who have not entered into a Covenant with their God. We keep living like people who run after strange gods, imitating the world, and forget the God of our salvation.

We have to get it together. Too many people are being hurt, including you, when we live a double life. You are either in or out, genuine or fake, the real deal or an imitator. Today is a great day to make a decision. A kid's song says, "Whose side are you leaning on?" The second verse says, "I'm leaning on the Lord's side!" I ask you today, "Whose side are you leaning on?"

The response is one only you can honestly give and make. Today is a day for changing, making U turns and starting over. Serving God is big, and He wants to use vessels that are clean, surrendered to Him, and that He can use. 

6 WAYS TO HEAL A BROKEN RELATIONSHIP



Watching from afar, I see a couple, walking together, but their body language speaks sadness, defeat, an earlier disagreement, and hurt that been carried around like a backpack for years. Neither wants to be first to apologize. It seems the one who always says sorry first is tired of having to be the peacemaker, and the other one has become so emotionally detached, he doesn't even know what to do.

Maybe this relationship or this marriage is over, maybe it is not. I don't know. Only God knows their tomorrows, yours, and mine. This one thing I believe, God restores and He heals but He won't magically show up to change things. It takes two surrendered hearts and egos, completely surrendered to the Lord, who will humble themselves and accept God's guidance. Don't wait until it's so hopeless, you can't even talk to one another. Here are some ways to heal a broken relationship, personally tested and approved.



1~Listen
One of the hardest things to do when you're hurt and feel betrayed is to listen. Being able to hear what your mate is sharing, really listening, let's you understand why they're ignoring you, don't want to be with you, and why they feel abandoned. Listening shows you care. Maybe you thought you knew it all and as you listen, your world will be so changed as you realize that perhaps you stopped hearing your mate a long time ago.



2~Share
Be honest and courageous enough to say what's on your mind and in your heart. If you've been bold and clever enough to do the wrong this in this marriage, then you need to have the courage to speak up. Don't just say, "Sorry." Many times it is not enough. Your mate has heard it a billion times before. Be truly repentant with your words and actions. Explain what has happened. The Bible says to confess your sins one to another, (James 5:16). I believe this verse is about restoring relationships. If you messed up, fess up. If you're hurt, feel angry and discouraged, speak up also. You have to let things go. Pray that the Lord will help you keep your peace and calm as you share.


3~Forgive
If we're not willing to ask God to help us forgive, there's no reason to ever listening to what the other person has to say. We may need to be forgiven one day and have to be able to let go of our remorse and baggage. It's not easy. Again, I repeat, I know it is not easy! Forgiving is perhaps one of the hardest things for many people in a relationship because you feel betrayed, abandoned, used and unloved. But, hasn't God forgiven us of so much? The price, His Son Jesus Christ, paid for our sins. Who among us has had to hang on a cross? I'm not asking you to do the impossible. If you ask God to help you, He will. You will be able to forgive. 



4~Choose to Love
When we are hurt, it is so much easier to hate. Bitterness takes over and we want the person that let us down to feel twice what we are carrying. In forgiving the person who has hurt us, we also have to choose to let them go. God knows that can't do it alone. We don't want to be fake but we can't hide the fact that we can't forget. Memories have a way of showing up as we cook, read a book, ride on the train or pray. Pray and ask the Lord to heal your heart in such a way that you can love this person. Pray for the person who has hurt you and as you pray for them, you will see that God will give you a heart to love them, again.



5~Pray Together
One of the greatest things to do in a relationship is to pray for one another. But, in my opinion, praying together is the true power to keep you united. When two people come together, they share their needs and concerns together before the Lord. There is no fear and no shame. When you can honestly lay aside your personal feelings and surrender to the Lord your friendships and your marriage, heaven will move on your behalf. You encourage one another, strengthen and build each other up. Your guards are let down as you lose the fear to be yourself before God and your mate. Praying together means you will seek God's favor and grace together, forgive and be forgiven, believe for His blessings in all you do. Pray together. It really changes everything.



6~Healing Hugs
My mom is always talking about healing hugs. We all need that physical affirmation of love in our lives. As children, we look forward to that hug when it's our birthday or when we've done something great and our parents hug us to pieces. As adults, we have not lost that need to be held, to be hugged to pieces, and to be loved. There is power in the touch, (not a malicious, dirty or sinful one) but the genuine hug of a friend or the heartfelt embrace of your husband or wife. Healing comes in may ways. I believe sitting with someone and talking and then just allowing yourself to either hug or be held, and cry if you need to cry, is important. We are still flesh. Embrace your mate and love them, forgive them, and be healed as well.

#restore #marriage #heal #relationships #forgive #renew

Sunday, January 26, 2014

THE ARTIST'S STUDIO



I walked past the stairway and entered the Artist's studio.

The Artist was sleeping, again. Ink, pens, paintbrushes, paint and paper scattered throughout the floor along side the Artist showed any work being done on these premises had taken place, perhaps, on the floor. I looked around and saw sketches, paintings, and drawings, some completed but most half drawn or half colored in. 

Bending down toward the Artist on the floor, I tugged at him and asked him if he was alright. He opened his eyes to reveal a sadness, a life overcome by frustration and disappointment. "They don't see and they don't understand what I am creating." He passionately shared how he desired t tell a story through each piece, yet all who came, saw greatness but never saw the story, his story.

The Artist walked away to sit on a stool. Somewhere nearby music began to play. Sounds like those in the battle scene of an epic movie filled the room and the Artist began to move his hand, black ink filling up a white canvas, with his story. 


A whoosh near me, startled me and I moved back to make room for the Dancer. The dancer that had been sitting lifelessly on the sofa had been summoned by the sounds of life to move, to create, to motivate and surround the Artist with life. She moved as one who was dying and had suddenly regained the ability to breathe and the purpose to live. 

The Dancer moved like the wind, releasing a Spirit of Life into the Artist's studio. The music calmed and the strumming of an acoustic guitar captured my attention. I turned to see the Musician, back against the wall, strumming away and commanding the dancer to change her dance. Each string, each sound, instructing her to dance a declaration of new life for those in the room. New life for the Artist, the Dancer, the Musician and the one most silent of all. 

Silently, she looked out the window as if all the movement and passion in the room was invisible to her. I walked closer to her, wanting to speak to her, to encourage her and remind her to hope again. She closed her eyes, and allowing her Spirit to flood with the sounds around her, she opened her mouth and began to sing. Her voice echoed powerfully like a waterfall, removing the drought, erasing the signs of dehydration in the heart, the soul and the spirit. The Singer was releasing the sounds of heaven into the atmosphere.


My own heart began to beat rapidly as I was taken back by the sights I saw and then I understood. I had walked into this room to pray for the Artist, whose hands had stopped creating and lost the vision to see his creation with purpose. I had walked into this room to remind the Dancer that her war dance would liberate her to move and bring a breakthrough to those around her. I had entered here to awaken the Musician to use his hands for battle and create an atmosphere for praise. And I knew I was here to pray for the Singer who sang for an audience of One but her voice reached a multitude that needed to join in worship and praise through song.

So, I speak to you, Artist, Dancer, Musician and Singer who sleeps away while the world awaits your performance. Arise from the doubts and fears. Display your creativity and know that the God that placed these talents in your life will use you and back you up when you use your gift to give Him Glory!

~Written by Angeline M. Duran Santiago for the Artist in you





GREY HAIR WARRIORS



Yellow, red, orange and indigo blurs of light seep through the curved window blinds, splashing on the walls the news of a new morning beginning. Heat has barely begun to push through the sixty year heating system in the old house. The clackety clack of pipes being warmed echoes throughout the apartment building, adding to the sound of boots walking in a hurry back and forth from the apartment below. The sounds of life seem to be the alarm clock alerting sleepy ones the hours is quickly passing and if we don't arise from the warmth of winter quilts on our bodies, we will miss out on what waits for us, outside the doors of this building, life.

Bearing with the hustle of daily beginnings, she uncurls herself to sit up on her bed, pushing cold feet through her black, fuzzy slippers and encouraging her fingers to reach out for her red, fluffy robe at the foot of the bed. Morning routines and the taste of freshly brewed coffee entice her to walk through the rooms that lead her to the kitchen, and she sets the pot to sing away, dripping black liquid into the coffee pot, soon to be savored.

Coffee in hand, her walk more in soft steps, she makes it to the table and sits by the window. For a few moments she admires the children, bundled up like snowmen, walking to school. She sees families rushing to the car, or to the train just ahead a few blocks. Life is happening and she is sitting.

Before her she opens her old, tattered, marked and favored old friend. Morning has placed in her heart praise, a thankful heart, and the book of Psalms. Fingers that once played forcefully and vibrantly upon the guitar, now tremble to move the pages, but she touches them, ever faithful words, dear to her heart.

Reading through the Psalms, a woman seen as ancient and past her days of having much worth, a warmth unable to be generated by the radiators in the apartment fills her entire body. She is flooded by love like rain, falling indoors, upon her head and filling her with strength, hope, and faith. 

Placing the porcelain coffee cup to the side, feet now feeling restored with newness of life, she keeps her heart focused on thanksgiving, faith, and what someone like her can do. Yes, the wrinkles on her skin carry years of stories waiting to be told. Yes, she is unable to do much any more. There is one thing she knows she can do where she is powerful, productive and full of strength.

Walking back to her bedroom, she finds her favorite orange throw blanket on her rocking chair. Today, she will kneel on the soft rug by her bed. She holds herself carefully as she kneels, folds her hands in prayer upon her forehead and begins her song of thanksgiving. From family to friends, she gives the God of her heart every need, every reason to be thankful, and every concern. 


Her heart, filled with love and gratitude, rejoices and sings to the Lord. Moments of seeking God's presence for those that need healing fill her with compassion and she is overwhelmed with tears. The ache in her spirit bring her to a place of deep weeping and at times she just prays as if led by the Lord to pray over neighbors, and people she doesn't know.

The warrior rises from the floor, takes off her red morning robe, and looks for a change of clothes, just in case company shows up, best to be dressed and out of her nightgown. Her heart is still worshiping, still praising, still saying, "Thank you, Lord." 

She is the warrior unseen. She is the power behind ministries, deliverance, healing and people coming to know God's love. Her prayers travel to the heaven's and demons tremble when she sing. She is fearless. In her shell of human weakness, she has never known to allow age or sickness to stop her from pursuing the presence of God. She is a woman of God, of prayer and purpose. She is the mother with counsel on her lips, power in her embrace and love for her grandchildren. She is unconquered, invincible, and loved by God. If our eyes were opened, I bet we'd see, thousands of grey haired warriors, interceding for you and me.

Dedicated to my mom, the first example of what a woman of prayer, a prayer warrior looks like. Thank You, Mom.

SUNDAY THOUGHTS



Pushing through the arctic winds, carefully placing feet on snow turned into ice, he walks up the salt covered steps and holds out a mitten covered hand to push the door. The old wooden door is heavy, but he pushes through.

Walking into the old building, a sense of anticipation fills his heart as he begins to remove mittens, hat and scarf. Soft music playing from an unseen place welcomes his old, shivering bones. A few heads turn to acknowledge him. A few smile and two actually say, "Hello."

He is not affected by the lack of greetings or by the reaction to his presence. Although his heart is warmed and receptive to the few gestures of cordiality, he is not here for any of them. He is here because his heart could not contain itself any longer and He had to be in His Presence.

 He rejoices. He is home.  He whispers, "I am here, Lord."



The Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak. Matthew 26:41

Do not forsake getting together with your brothers and sisters for the day of the Lord is near. Hebrews 10:24

Better is one day in your courts, than a thousand elsewhere. Psalms 84:10

Will you lead your feet to follow after your heart today? What excuse do you have for not finding a house of worship to visit today?

  • The people are hypocrites!
  • No one says, "Hello."
  • It's boring. Do I belong there?
  • They just want my money.
  • Not one person sees me or talks to me.
  • They're all fake.
  • You don't know how they've hurt me and my family before.

You're so right! If you take the time to analyze the hearts in the pews or chairs, you will find thousands of faults and reasons to have your heart become wary, discouraged and angered. If you place your eyes on the attitudes of many, you may want to run out and never return.



The heart is in need of God's presence. Your spirit longs for moments in His presence. Nothing compares to the joy of being in a house of prayer and praise!

Place your eyes on the Lord this morning. Focus your attention on what God has for you on this day and how you will enter His house with thanksgiving and through those gates with praise. Meditate on His promises and the fact that you shall be renewed and strengthened through the words spoken. 

Please don't stay home nursing your disappointments. People will fail you because they're not perfect. But, you can forgive and keep going. Don't allow the past to dictate your steps this morning.

There's a seat waiting for you. There's a seat waiting for your family to arrive. Even if no one sees you enter and celebrates your arrival, heaven rejoices to see your effort and desire to seek the Lord's presence this morning. 

Come on! Get up! Get ready! Even if you have to wear jeans and sneakers, go, go, go! Prepare your heart. God has something beautiful waiting for you today. It's Sunday. It's a beautiful day for blessings to rain from heaven. Leave your umbrella at home.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

PANDORA'S BOX





Ever opened Pandora's Box

In the story of Pandora's box, we see her curiosity, after specifically being ordered not to open a box, unable to control her curiosity and opening the box to unleash great darkness. Inside the box were all kinds of horrible things like disease, hatred and darkness. 

Is there any area of your life that seems like you opened Pandora's box, let's call it an open door, and you don't know how to close it? Pandora's story is a myth but what happens can be related to us.


Pandora opened the box. We open the door to destruction. The same results take place. Death. Death in different forms come to steal our joy, health, and relationships. Death comes to destroy our security, our hope and future. 


Excuse me. Someone is knocking on your door. Do you hear it? Sometimes it's loud and clear, other times it's subtle, soft and faint. Are you going to go and check who is at the door "you closed" or will you remember that "it is closed for a reason"?

Unfortunately, at the sound of knocking at the door of our hearts, we turn for a second to see who is there and what will you find? Standing there waiting for you to open the door is your past, your past with all the stumbling blocks, failures, temptations and old friends who encouraged a lifestyle of temporary pleasures that pulled you down into the darkness. 

Standing at the door are your memories of abuse, rejection, sadness and people who led you quietly to be condemned, accused and made to carry the burden of sin. Standing impatiently at the door is the prince of darkness himself, offering you a peek into what could have been if you had made a different choice in life with your future.

In Exodus 12, we see God directing Moses to tell His people to stay inside, with the door sealed. He instructed His people to place Lamb's blood on the doorposts to show they belonged to the Lord. Death would pass by and everyone inside the home was safe. Are we safe inside God's covering or have we foolishly opened the door to those things that will bring death into our homes and family?


If you, like Pandora, have opened the door to the enemy of your soul, today you have to make a decision to either walk into it and remain in the darkness, or close it and begin to walk towards God's love and mercy.



At the end of Pandora's story, in her regret and sorrow, she discovers there is still something in the box. A small bug flies out by the name of Hope. 

With great joy, Hope is released into the same world where sickness, envy and all works of darkness had been released. Yes, in the midst of the doors we open to the enemy, Hope lives. God offers us hope to turn back to Him, close the door to our past, to death, to wrong relationships and to sin. 



Hope lives because God sent Hope to make a way for you to succeed and live blessed. Close the doors that need to be closed and open your heart to the Lord who will bless you greatly!
Don't lose hope. God has great things for your life if you close the door that lead to death.  Today is a great day to hope again and for a new start.