Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Servant Leadership

"If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet.  For I have given you an example, that you should do as I have done to you.  Most assuredly, I say to you,  a servant is not greater than his master; nor is he who is sent greater than he who sent him.  If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them." John 13:14-17

This is the verse of day 5 of the new study I am doing.  I find it very encouraging and very startling.  Encouraging because I have had the honor of meeting and being a part of the lives of people I know who portray this very lifestyle, thinking only of others and how they can serve, help, encourage, give, love, support, teach and give glory to God for who they are and what they have.  They provide an example for me to follow, someone who is not so good at this selfless lifestyle.  Sadly, I can count those people on my two hands, maybe one. 

Startling because I cannot count on my two hands how many others I have crossed paths with that are on the opposite side of the spectrum and only do what will benefit them...what will get me more money, what will get me that raise, who do I need to step on, push over, beat up or even kill to get me my next level of "false happiness" or make me feel better about myself, to look good, feel good and let others know too?

I am at just as much fault as anyone on this point.  I too have felt like the "unfit" mother who loves their kids one moment and then in the same breath cannot wait to get away from them before I pull my hair out.  I too have not offered a helping hand to help clean up at a gathering because "I'm too tired" although the one who is left cleaning is the one who was up at the crack of dawn to make sure everything was right and ready and enjoyable for all others.  I too have allowed my desires to run rampant without regard or thought to how it would affect me or those who love me and how it would hurt them.  

These few instances and countless others are things that we have missed the mark on when I read about how Christ got up from his supper, removed his garments, wrapped a towel around Himself and bent down to wash his disciples feet.  Here he was, the God incarnate, God in flesh, the Holy One of Israel, being the first one to place Himself in one of the lowliest positions of serving so that he could teach His disciples what it meant to serve, what it meant to be happy, what it meant to love others more than yourself and what it meant to be pleasing in the sight of the Lord.

If you are wondering what you need to do to "be better", to "achieve more", to "have more" and to be accomplished, think about what you are doing to serve others and Him.  You might be surprised at how many "me, my and mine's" you could do away with and replace them with "you and your's".  Search even the smallest of actions, gestures or comments.  You'll be glad you did.  

Til next time, be blessed.

Met My Master
I had walked life's path with an easy tread,
Had followed where comfort and pleasure led;
And then by chance in a quiet place
I met my Master face to face.

With station and rank and wealth for goal,
Much thought for body but none for soul,
I had entered to win this life's mad race-
When I met my Master face to face.

I had built my castles, reared them high,
Till their towers had pierced the blue of the sky;
I had sworn to rule with an iron mace
When I met my Master face to face.

I met Him and knew Him, and blushed to see
That His eyes full of sorrow were fixed on me;
And I faltered, and fell at His feet that day
While my castles vanished and melted away.

Melted and vanished; and in their place
I saw naught else but my Master's face;
And I cried aloud: "Oh, make me meet
To follow the marks of Thy wounded feet."

My thought is now for the souls of men;
I have lost my life to find it again
Ever since alone in that holy place
My Master and I stood face to face.

Author Unknown

Thursday, January 14, 2010


Hello again friends!  I know the dust is still settling from my recent post just a couple days ago but I promise to keep this nice and sweet, seeing as I've got to get busy!

MOUSSAKA!  No, not Mufasa from the famed tragic yet inspiring Lion King where Simba is lead to believe he's to blame for his father's death then courageously overcomes every obstacle to take his rightful place as king!

No, my friends, Moussaka is one of Greece's most famous dishes that uses a delicious minced meat (preferably lamb) mixture layered over grilled or fried slices of eggplant, filled with a rich delectable sauce, topped with cheese and baked.  This is Heaven, dear ones, pure heaven!

But not only will I attempt this incredible dish for the first time, I will also try my hand at some fresh pita bread to dip in homemade hummous, a fresh Greek salad sans olives and round that out with a non-Greek dessert of cherry-cream cheese pie.  And when all of this is completed I must make sure the house is clean enough to meet with a potential customer for childcare tomorrow morning!

"Too much!", you say?  Probably, but I love it!  I love creating with my hands and seeing my family enjoy it!  It makes me feel like I have accomplished something great in my life!  Wish me luck and I'll try to post pics of the results when I can.

Kali oreksi! (Enjoy your meal!)

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Step of Faith

All my life I've heard everyone with some foundation of Christianity at some point in their life say something like, "you just gotta take a step of faith" or a "leap of faith" or have "blind faith".

Well, most of my life I've thought it means that even though I can't see what's ahead of me, know what's coming or maybe I'm not happy where I'm at but something needs to change or I have a job I can't stand and need a new one I just take a..."step of faith" and make that change happen.  Of course this is something I've prayed and angst and cried over time and time again.  Yet I've yet to receive my answer so I take a..."step of faith"  and trust that God will lead because "He can't guide you if you're not moving", right?  Wrong.

If I had just gone straight to His word for these answers this is what I would've found.

Romans 8:26-28 (The Message)  26-28"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good."

Matthew 6:32-34 (The Message) 30-33"If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don't you think he'll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I'm trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with gettingso you can respond to God'sgiving. People who don't know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don't worry about missing out. You'll find all your everyday human concerns will be met. 34"Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don't get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.

Matthew 7:7-11 (The Message)"Don't bargain with God. Be direct. Ask for what you need. This isn't a cat-and-mouse, hide-and-seek game we're in. If your child asks for bread, do you trick him with sawdust? If he asks for fish, do you scare him with a live snake on his plate? As bad as you are, you wouldn't think of such a thing. You're at least decent to your own children. So don't you think the God who conceived you in love will be even better?

Isaiah 58:7 (The Message)

 6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
   to break the chains of injustice,
   get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
   free the oppressed,
   cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
   sharing your food with the hungry,
   inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
   putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
   being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
   and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
   The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
   You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

The list goes on...Ps 37:1-9, Lam. 3:25-27, 1 Cor. 1:7-9

The other night Rick and I had an aha moment.  We were facing another "crisis".  It was an honest mistake but a mistake none the less that just about ruined our evening.

Throughout the 11+ yrs of our marriage we've faced our ups and downs, had our share of the good and the bad and the "this has got to be worst thing that has ever happened...ever" moments.  This past year has been particularly challenging (does that sound familiar?) but we've made it, just like we've made it in the past.

One similarity that we were able to put a finger on were our "steps of faith".  We hadn't gotten it quite right.  We thought we were supposed to pray about it, give it to God, assess our options and then take that step.  We could've saved ourselves a lot of doubt, confusion, hurt and anger if we'd have gotten it right in the beginning and gone straight to the Bible.  But then maybe we wouldn't have learned all that we did along the way and I wouldn't be here telling of our aha moment.  Rom 8:28 "All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose," right?  Is that why we keep getting out these messes we put ourselves in, slowly but surely?  I hope so.  Actually, I know so.

Well, our aha moment led us to realize that if we would've prayed, given it God and then waited for Him then most of our wrong choices could've been avoided.  Ok, so what now?  The past can't be changed but we sure as heck can change the future!  Or at least how we handle it.

You see, our "step of faith" is not, in my small understanding, stepping out and hoping that God will make all work together for good.  Each and every step of faith is having faith in knowing that when we make our requests known to God (pray), He will then take it and orchestrate something so far beyond our comprehension of time and degrees and cause and effect that when the end result comes back around to our prayer being answered it is unequivocally more perfect than anything we could've accomplished on our own, even if we thought we were making the right choice.  Pretty cool, huh?

Now, why then do we try to make things move on our own so sure that we are hearing from God?  Because our earthly minds cannot take into account the other person that God was going to give that position to or the medical emergency that we never knew was coming so we buy a new vehicle instead or how the paths of others we've never met and probably will never meet need to cross so they too can partake in the "grand scheme of things" or whatever other millions of possibilities there are.  Our earthly minds and bodies are wired to "survive" so when there is something we feel is within our own power to accomplish by gollie you can bet your bottom dollar we are gonna pursue that with all we got because that's all we can do at that very moment of desperate need!  That'st not a bad thing...that is until you continue to do on things on your own and feel like it's all up to you, all the time, for everything you need to accomplish in life.  That's when it will backfire... but that's another post so let's move on.

So there we were, sitting on the bed after this mistake reared it's ugly head, leaving in it's wake some, shall we say, "decorative wall insets", when we began to talk about our faith...again...and deciding to enact our faith as best we can and wait on God to help us get out of this situation.  We've gone through too much to not believe  and have seen enough prayers answered to know that it works.  We've had victories and we've seen miracles so why not continue on this crazy journey to see what other incredible things our Father God has in store for us?  But we will not continue relying on our own efforts and feeble attempts, no.  We will continue with praying and fasting, waiting and listening, watching and worshiping and giving our all in everything God calls us to do!  I want to be found pleasing to God and for Him to be proud of me and what I've allowed by Him to do with the talents, gifts and love He has so graciously blessed me with!

Thank you Father for this day, I love you and I praise your name.  I thank you for presence, for your protection and your direction.  I thank you for peace in my mind, rest in my body and courage in my heart that I may hear, see and do all that you ask of me.  Thank you for blessing me, my family and friends.  Keep us and prosper us according to your word.  In the mighty, living, loving name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010 you didn't know...

I sit to take a break before cooking dinner...there's bread rising in the kitchen, my little one is transfixed on "The Iron Giant", my older one is playing down the street with his friends, I have just brewed a fresh pot of, "oh, so good", Dunkin' Donuts Hazelnut coffee, my hubby is probably on his way home and I start to wonder what in the world can I write about for my next blog post.

Well, let me tell you.  A couple of days ago I began to think about where my family has come from, our "origins" and where we are going.  So, here's a little bit about me that I bet you didn't know.  I consider myself to be Hispanic, as much as I can be, considering what has made me Hispanic.  I was born and raised in Texas...let me explain.  I was born in El Campo, Texas, a small town about 2 hrs southwest of Houston with a population of 1208 when I was born.  I lived there only for the first few days of my infant life before I moved to northwest Houston for the next 7 yrs.  I remember being in 2nd grade at the time when my parents told us we'd be moving to Spring, just north of Houston.  Well, being 7 I didn't take it very well and I cried for 2 days straight and 2 weeks off and on after that.  As far as I knew my world was crashing down on me.  From there I finished school through 12th grade, got married, had 2 boys and have been in this area ever since.  So at this point all you know is...I'm Texan. 

After grilling my parents about my grandparents, great grandparents and great, great grandparents I've gained little information but enough know that I'm not really Hispanic in the more proper sense of the word or as Wikipedia puts it, " the term has...been used to describe the culture and people of countries formerly ruled by Spain, usually with a majority of the population speaking the Spanish language. These include Mexico, the majority of the Central and South American countries, and most of the Greater Antilles." but I am "enough" Hispanic to claim that I am.  Does that make sense?  Didn't think so.  sigh  Let me explain...

One of my dad's grandmothers was German and American Indian, her husband was German and Spanish.  My dad's other grandmother was American Indian and Mexican and Grandfather was Mexican.  So that would make my father, more or less a German Hispanic (what!?!?).  I know...I know.  

Now on to my mom.  Her side is more straight forward.  Her parents and grandparents, for the most part are Mexican (Hispanic), from Mexico, but when you get down to her great grandparents there is more American Indian mixed in so it's hard to say just how "Hispanic" she is but for explanation's sake let's put her in the  Mexican (Hispanic) Indian category.  

So, from what I can deduce from all of this is that I am a German Indian Hispanic!  Whew, that's a mouthful!  Now, I'm not saying that's a bad thing because it's not, especially when I consider the pros of thick black hair, olive skin and freckles.  All I'm saying is that I'm probably gonna need some serious counseling after this due to identity crisis.  Just kidding.  That's my lame attempt at being witty.  

To top it all off, my name is, Natalia, which happens to be Russian but most "first-timers" usually ask me if I'm from Italy!  Not only that but I get more Middle Easterners asking me if I'm Middle Eastern than I've ever had Mexicans asking me if I'm Mexican! can stop laughing now.  (lame attempt #2)   Believe me, I'm just as confused as you are.

Let's jump to the present now.  Here I am, this "German Indian Hispanic" and I marry a man who is Caucasian.  But he's not just Caucasian...oh no, I'm way too complex for that.  I realize I've hitched myself up with a man whose got Cajun, Irish, French and German all mixed in at one point or another!  I know what you're probably thinking, "I have all of that too!  So what's the big deal!"  I realize that and that's the beauty of it all!  The "amount", if you will, at which we are all made up of all of these is so diverse and so unique that we've yet to meld into one, big, mushy mess of looking like we are all related!  Isn't it amazing!   I think so.

The product of what God has created through the joining of my husband and I is something even more truly amazing to me!  Our 2 boys!  Casey and Corban are two of the most handsome boys I have ever laid eyes on!  Of course I'm partial, they're my boys.  

So there you have it.  Something I bet you didn't know about me.  Hope you enjoyed my ramblings!  Before I go I'll leave you with a little bit of Heaven to look at. :-) Enjoy.  Until next time, God bless.

Our "everything but the kitchen sink" family

Casey, 7

Corban, 3

Casey, 5

Corban, almost 2

Casey, 3

Corban, 1

Casey, 2

Sorry I can't find Corban's baby pics.  Maybe next time.