Saturday, January 28, 2012

Letter To My Husband

Letter to My Husband
Elizabeth Espinoza
January 28, 2012

About a week ago I started doing something I thought was a little off, even for me. I started writing a letter to my husband. Now those readers that know me know that as of today Saturday, January 28, 2012, I am unmarried. No, I am not betrothed and I am not even dating at the moment.

So why the letter? I don’t know. I felt this strong sense of needing to do it. What it’s ending up sounding like (I’m not done yet) is almost a vow. And I even thought to myself, “how silly to be writing vows to someone I don’t know.” But do I not know him? Has he entered my life yet or is it someone that has been in it and I just haven’t figured it out?

A funny thing started happening while I was writing the first few paragraphs of the letter. I felt compelled to pray for him. Him. Who is “him?” Who is he? Who the heck am I praying for? Poor boy has no idea what he’s going to be dealing with that’s probably what you’re thinking, especially if you know me. “Lord, I’m surely losing it,” is what I was thinking to myself. But at the same time, I wondered, “What if this is what I am SUPPOSED to be doing?”

And just for clarification, this isn’t the “praying for my husband” prayer that many of us single women have done, “Lord send me a husband.” I got over that a long long loonnnnng time ago. And this also wasn’t the “Girl, I need to pray for MY husband because I’m just about done with him.” I figure, God knows what I want, and if I keep asking for the same thing then I’m no different than a child nagging their parent for a toy at the check-out line.

No, I started praying over this man. I prayed for his health, I prayed for his family, I prayed for favor with his employers, I prayed for wisdom and patience. I realized that I was praying for him the same way that I pray for myself, especially when it comes to wisdom and patience. It dawned on me that while I always thought that a good Christian man would probably bore me and I would probably not have much (other than our faith) in common with him, it seems like I really do want someone like-minded, who is doing everything in his power to walk the walk; the walk that if it was a piece of cake to do, more people would be living it.

This is probably where you think this little story ends. However, today, Saturday, January 28, 2012 I attended a Women’s Conference. I make it a point that when I visit Women’s events that I go with a purpose; whether it’s a weekend retreat or a simple breakfast, I go there expecting: I walk in with a purpose, I need something revealed, I need a word of encouragement, I need affirmation, confirmation, I need something. “Lord, just give me something.”

Well, “ask and ye shall receive,” correct? And boy did I. A gentleman that I had never heard of before, a comedian by the name of Michael Junior was the opening speaker. I thought, “Great, some comedy before a serious message. This is a first.” Well, the guest delivered alright. He was funny from the moment he stepped on the platform.

And while I figured he was just a “clean” comedian, I realized he was a believer as well. He threw a few little nuggets out there, one being “Abstinence makes the heart grow fonder.” I like that one.

After his bit was pretty much done he talked about his wife and a book she had written and he shared how she had been praying for him before they had even met. As you can imagine, my heart skipped a beat. He mentioned that she had been praying for “him”, again, not having met “him” yet. In essence, she was praying the same way that I started praying over my future husband. I had a “You’ve got to be kidding me Lord!” moment right then and there. I laughed apparently loud enough for my neighbor to hear me. The poor woman must have thought I had a delayed reaction to the presenter’s bit, but I just shook my head in amazement, because I knew God was speaking to me, He always has been, it’s just that now I’ve started to listen and receive what He has to say.

Now, I’m not going to share my letter with you because it is quite personal and reveals a lot of who I was and who I am now and how my past has shaped my life, but not defined my future; but I CAN tell you this. I look forward to the day when I can hand him this letter and instead of it beginning with, “My Dearest __________,” it will have a name, filling the blank.


Thursday, January 12, 2012

Breaking The Cycle

January 12, 2012
Elizabeth Espinoza

Ever get frustrated when you can’t get grandma’s recipe right? You’ve followed all the “guidelines” required because quite honestly, does grandma really use recipes? A dash of this, a sprinkle of that, “un tantito” (a little bit) of yet another ingredient but no matter how many times you try it, you just can’t get it right.
Then, you have the wonderfully gifted people who can take grandma’s recipe and do something to it amazing…make it even better! “Shut your mouth girl” is probably what your grandma would say at that last statement. And when they make it and share it with friends at a gathering or potluck what do you thing they hear? “Great recipe, where did you find it?” Or maybe they’d hear “Can you send me this recipe?” Regardless, that lucky person would have the honor of saying “My grandmother passed it down to me.”
That of course is a positive thing to share with family and loved ones. But what about the other stuff? You know what I mean. It could be something as minute as a trait(such as vanity) to some big hitters such as alcoholism, domestic violence. Not a pretty picture right?
As believers, we hear that once we accept our Lord and Savior we are a new creation, all things are passed away, (2 Corinthians 5:17 “Now we look inside, and what we see is that anyone united with the Messiah gets a fresh start, is created new. The old life is gone; a new life burgeons! Look at it!” as is eloquently put by The Message bible). And we stand firm on that belief because why would we want to continue in our old ways right?
Well, while we may have the best intentions in a moment of emotional awareness to God’s presence in our lives, let’s be honest; it may not be that easy for some of us. Some new believers are able to stop smoking, drug use, drinking, swearing, and taking out their aggressions, physical or emotional, on their spouse and/or children. And for that we say “Thank YOU Lord!” for that truly is a miracle of God. And it’s not that a switch has been turned on in our brain that now tells us “wait, that is wrong behavior.” We KNOW for a fact the difference between right and wrong. We know, even in our faulty human nature when we are doing something that is going to cause sometimes irreparable damage to our bodies and/or relationships.
The issue is that some of us don’t change that easily. Some of us can’t. Some of us have chains of bondage that are way too strong for us to believe a very simple and open hearted prayer can break. It takes work! But here’s the great part of that work. We don’t have to do it!!! In Matthew 11:28-30 we read “’Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.’” The key word there is UNFORCED. He is not going to bring you to shame about not breaking the cycle, He is not going to twist your arm and cause you to regret “accepting.” A few other key phrases are “Come to me,” “Get away with me,” “Walk with me and work with me,” “learn.” Learn is my favorite. And then there is the ultimate promise, “I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.” He is ASKING us to join Him, to walk with Him, to learn from Him!
Like a funny movie once said in a scene mocking the Bible, “aww this doesn’t have all the answers!” we may sometimes feel that’s true, BUT there is inspiration, encouragement and PROMISES in the written word. We have to be open to learning new things, we need to renew our minds, we need to be willing to make changes in our lifestyle that can be quite painful (such as releasing certain acquaintances or putting distance between you and the people that feed in to your weakness) but as He stated, “you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”
I decided to be the one in my family. The one who broke the cycle of disbelief. The one who would do anything in their power to ensure her kids received the proper spiritual education (not from me but from people that God put in our lives such as teachers and leaders). I decided that I was going to start new traditions, I decided to join a ministry because I knew my gifts would be used in a positive way. Seeing my teenage boys join their Youth ministry band and now having joined the adult team, I believe my decision to be that person and walk in God’s will for our lives was something that I had to do, not just for us but for those that follow; my nephews, my niece, my future grandchildren (did I say that?!). It hasn’t been a walk in the park, I’ll be the first one to admit there were times that I wanted to quit and a few times that I “stepped down” because I just needed a break. But just as the sun rises in the morning, I knew where I was needed. I knew where a position had been created for me to fill.
With that being said, let’s break those cycles. Let’s seek each other out and lean on each other when times get tough, praying for each other that God would come and lift our burdens. Let’s be history makers in our families so that when someone asks your future grandchildren, nieces or nephews how they were introduced to their Lord, Father of their faith, they can proudly say someone decided to break the cycle.
Rock on!