The Grudge

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Yeah, I hate Mondays.  But I don’t want to hold a grudge against the One who created Mondays.  That’s a battle that I will certainly lose.  So I just don’t focus myself on the fact that Sunday is ending.  I just try to enjoy Sundays as much as I can.

Somewhere I read that “having a grudge is like drinking poison and expecting the other person to die”.  I think a Hollywood celebrity said that but I can’t remember who.  You know what?  That’s a genius comparison.  I have dealt with grudges all my life.  I have met people who have held grudges for too long.  Something that I’ve learned is that a person who holds grudges is never happy and ends up being lonely even from the people he or she loves.

Other words for grudge are: spite, rancor, animosity, contempt, hard feelings, alienation….but the worst of them all is hatred.  None of these words are encouraging or nurturing.  Holding grudges is feeling hatred so there is no space for love.  Where do grudges start?  How can they destroy a life?  How can we know if we are susceptible to hold a grudge against anyone?

The Bible identifies in 1 Corinthians 13, four traits that can make us prone to holding grudges:

  • Selfishness – When we are first, second and third in every one of our priorities.  A selfish person doesn’t like to share; they don’t know the meaning of sacrifice… only for themselves.  Selfish people look for their own benefit in any situation.
  • Envy – This feeling goes hand in hand with selfishness.  If we envy, we want for ourselves what others have. We get frustrated with others if we don’t get the best for ourselves. And that feeling will increase the next trait on the list:
  • Pride – A proud person believes that they are above every other person.  They can never lose in any discussion or any situation.  They can never tolerate humiliation or degradation.  Nobody likes to be embarrassed and we should have a level of personal pride to earn respect.  But everything has a limit; and the line draws when we disgrace other people just to praise ourselves.
  • Irate –  If we are extremely irritable; we are very likely to get ourselves involved with grudges.  Irate people easily get mixed up in misunderstandings, discussions, insults and problems that will compromise relationships and feelings.

If we have any or all of these traits, we are in danger!  A person who holds a grudge is someone who doesn’t know the true meaning of LOVE!!!  There is no happiness in holding grudges, only loneliness, sadness and frustration. But there is a light at the end of the tunnel.  We don’t have to live with grudges.  We only need these two ingredients:

  • LOVE – Or should I say: GodGod is LOVE.  “Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.  It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13:4-7
  • Forgiveness – “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.  But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins”.  Matthew 6:14-15  This means that the forgiveness we receive from God is conditioned.  We have to forgive to be forgiven…it’s as simple as that.  Once we sincerely forgive, then the peace that passes understanding will come upon us.  We won’t be lonely anymore.

So what now?  Let’s start with filling our lives with love and forgiveness.  That way we will achieve our ultimate goal: true and fulfilling happiness.  Now let me continue enjoying my Sunday and enjoy yours.  God Bless You in many ways!

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The Ideal Guy

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I didn’t know what to write about for this week.  So, I took an idea from a friend of mine in Facebook.  She started describing her ideal man and she put a lot of things she wouldn’t like about him; then concluded that she would stay a “ham” for the rest of her future (the expression we use in Spanish to say that a person will stay single).

Well, at 46 years of age, I pretty well know what kind of man I would like.  My ideal guy would be absolutely all of the contrary of the guys I’ve ever met in my life.  That would make him: not puertorican, not a womanizer, not a “machista”,  extremely handsome, tall, with a great sense of humor,  a great friend, not selfish, very spiritual, decent, loving, considerate, romantic, really smart, oh and single like me.  Unfortunately the singles I’ve found are either mentally disturbed or gay.

OMG!!!  I can’t believe I’ve never met anyone with these qualities.  I really have to get out of this island.  Maybe I’ll find some crazy person who has a spaceship and I’ll end up finding my ideal guy in another galaxy.

Better luck next time; if it ever happens!  What would your ideal person be??

Five Points On Making It Through Financial Hardship

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Have you ever been so broke that you can only eat one menu for several days?  For example, you gotta eat pancakes for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Well, I’m almost in that situation. And the worst part is that…. my daughter doesn’t even like pancakes!!

These last years I have trained myself to be a good administrator of my only income: child support.  Living with less than $700 a month is a challenge.  People would consider my financial status as living in misery.  But let me tell you, even if the same menu has to be repeated in a single day; we’ve never gone to bed hungry.

I have five pointers on how to survive with such a low income in a high cost of life island like Puerto Rico.  An example of what I mean is: a gallon of milk here costs $6.00 and if it’s lactose-free, the half-gallon will cost that same amount.  I don’t pay less than $40 a month for electricity and water is no less than $24 monthly.

My situation got really bad in 2010 when I lost my government job when the Governor and his supporters decided to lay off 20,000 employees.  I was one of them.  Since then, after losing my car, my credit, and my 3 room apartment…I had to make many decisions.  I will share a very small part of what I have learned during these years.  These are my five pointers:

1)  Trust God.  Psalm 23: “The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want”.

He still has everything under control.  He will supply for every single one of our needs.  He will never fail.  Men will lie, cheat, rob and pursue you; but God will fight for you…always!

2) Obey God and tithe.  The first money that we should separate is the money that belongs to God.  Numbers 18:21 “I give to the Levites all the tithes in Israel as their inheritance in their land, nor will you have any share among them…”

A lot of people discuss and disagree about this point.  But the truth is that when you give to God with a happy and thankful heart; He is Faithful and you will always have enough to live.  This has been my experience and it has NEVER failed.

3) Be a good administrator and pay your bills first.  You must have a budget.  Don’t live beyond it.  The first bills I always pay are rent, electricity, water, internet, cell phone.  After you’re done with those, then you can plan to have miscellaneous.  I also pay Netflix, Piano lessons for my daughter, gasoline and other stuff.

Sometimes, extraordinary expenses will come.  Like in this month, for example, I had to spend on some screens for the windows.  I’ve been living in this two room apartment for 3 years and the screens didn’t fit well and were all torn and broken.  I had an invasion of insects, including too many deadly mosquitoes like the Aedes Aegypti, the one that causes the mortal dengue illness.  I had to make a decision before the warmer weather comes.  So I made a budget and bought the screens, but I knew that this month was long and I would have to risk having less food at the end of it.

4)  Don’t be selfish and give.  It’s better to give than to receive.

Even though you may not have much; you have to be willing to share of what you have.  My car may not be the latest model; but if somebody needs a lift, I have to be willing to help in any way I can.  I am poor; but if I make a budget, I may be able to sponsor a child in a different country.  There are always people who are going through worst financial crisis than ourselves.

5)  Be thankful to God for everything!  In scarce or in abundance; always be thankful to God.

Don’t be pessimist; that is too contagious.  If you want to reflect the joy of God in your life; thank Him that you got to live through another day.  There are so many simple things in life that don’t involve money.  The treasures in life are: the time you spend with family and friends, a sunny day, music, the sound of thunder or rain when it falls, your pets….so many beautiful things.

Count your blessings; you will see there are so many of them, that you will find that they are all priceless!

Lack Of Romance In Life

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Are you single?  Have you ever fallen madly in love?  Did you ever find “the one” and lost him or haven’t you?  I bet lots of us have so many romantic stories to share.  But I also bet, that if you’re single right now; there were no happy endings in your life.  I’m one of those statistics of singles out there; but I’m not looking.

I’ve only fallen madly in love two times in my life.  Of course, there were no happy endings.  The first time, I was like 21 years old.  I was not interested in being with nobody.  At the time, I had recently finished my associate degree and was starting a new job.  I met him at a small seminary where I was studying the Bible.   When I suddenly couldn’t take the guy out of my mind; it took me by surprise.  Then, a sharp pain with sadness would stay in my chest every time we were apart.  Obviously, we are not together today because he didn’t feel the same way about me.   It was very hard to feel my heart broken for the first time in my life.  There was nothing nobody could ever do or say to make me feel better.

Five years after that experience, I thought that I would never feel the same way again.  But it happened again: but this time, it was worst.  The person I had fallen for was a mentally disturbed guy.  There is nothing worst in the world than falling in love with a guy who is bipolar and doesn’t get psychiatric treatment for his condition.  At the time I was totally unaware of it; I kept making excuses for his erratic behavior….always blaming myself.   I’ve never felt so helpless and unworthy towards someone.

Needless to say, that when the day of my epiphany came, I was thrilled.  I fell out of that miserable state when I realized that he was the problem, not me.  He was the one who was not worthy of me. There’s nothing more empowering than getting out of a destructive feeling.  It’s like being born again.  I knew that I had changed a lot but I used that knowledge to my advantage.

After that second time, I had a relationship with someone but the feelings were not the same.  I was conscience that if it wasn’t gonna work, I would just walk out without looking back.  Well, it happened.  The relationship didn’t work out and I’ve never looked back ever since.

I’ve never felt madly in love again. But I still remember how it felt.  Being in love is a beautiful feeling…but it must be more thrilling if the object of your affections feels the same way about you.  I didn’t have that experience but I imagine that if things would’ve worked out differently;  I would’ve still be there.

Right now, I’m living a happy middle life level.  I’m not madly in love with any human guy; but I love romance.  I love God, He is my Perfect Love, “the One & Only”.  He never makes me cry, He never makes me feel unworthy, unhappy, jealous, defeated, disappointed, mad, frustrated, ugly or old.  He makes me feel loved, special, unique, beautiful, rare, worthy, young, willing to hold on, pleased and immensely happy.  His love has made me love better my family, my friends, myself and my life. It doesn’t matter all the times that suffering, failure or rejection come to my life; I always feel loved and supported.

So I guess that my love life does have a happy ending.  I have found a perfect love that keeps me really happy and in peace.  Isn’t that what life is all about?

When Somebody Doesn’t Like You Anymore

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Has it ever happened to you that when you try to talk to a friend, you have to be very careful choosing your words or else your gonna get it?  It has happened to me many times.  I won’t name any names but it’s always a very difficult experience.  Sometimes you are very good friends with that person but something that you will do or say will eventually turn that person against you.  Those people are like time bombs that are ticking.  You may be successful in avoiding the inevitable for a long time but in the end they will eventually blow sometime.  You’ll be lucky if the friendship continues after the blast, but if not, then you will at least live without regret that you did the best you could to make your friendship work.

Today a person stopped liking me because I dared to disagree with him.  I don’t hate that person even though he offended me many times.  I just tolerated his personality because I just accepted who he was.  I knew that this person had a difficult personality and I tried to retain his friendship as long as I could, but sometimes he would start to attack my FB posts or if I made a joke, he wouldn’t find it funny and belittle it. Sometimes he would even insinuate that I was ignorant, less spiritual, and he even questioned my integrity as a christian.  It’s funny because I have friends and relatives who are agnostic, gay, and with all kinds of backgrounds; but the person who made it really hard for me was the one who was supposedly to be more “spiritual”.

Now those are the times when life doesn’t make sense to me.  But people can be that way. We can’t change them.  I’m sorry to have lost an acquaintance, I pray that someday he will find the real light and I wish him well.  But the truth is that I feel more relaxed now.  I can post anything I want and know that he won’t be there to belittle me anymore.  So, I guess that all is well that it ends well.  Everything that happens has a purpose.  God is still good!

Living With Depression

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Psalm 102:5-7 “Because of my loud groaning, I am reduced to skin and bones.  I am like a desert owl, like an owl among the ruins.  I like awake; I have become like a bird alone on a roof.”

When I was still a teenager and assisted regularly to church;  I discovered Psalm 102.  I made that Psalm completely and totally mine.  It described what I had felt all my years while I was growing up.  Psalm 102 comforted me in some way but I still felt that I had no way out of that sunken feeling in my heart.

If you look for the definition of depression in any dictionary it will say that it is a condition of feeling sad or despondent.  Other definitions will say that it’s a condition marked by an inability to concentrate, insomnia, and feelings of dejection and hopelessness.

I remember that when I was a kid; I always felt frustrated about everything.  I wasn’t a happy child even if there were moments when I played with my siblings (mostly fighting, should I say).  I was raised in a time where there was no internet, no cable TV just a few local channels, no video games, no cell phones…those technological advances came much later on.  So interacting with others was the way I had to live and play.  Other people always frustrated me; now I know that I was the problem, not them.

My feelings were not normal.  I was a total drama queen.  Everything about my life was a tragedy.  I could never be with the people that I wanted to be.  I could never have the things that I wanted to have.  Everything was unreachable, sad, frustrating and hopeless.  I didn’t like my school, the other classmates, my curly hair, my family….there was nothing that I liked about my life at all.

The only things that I can remember liking about my life was candy, toys, books, cartoons and music.  But I had no idea that I was such a melancholic child.  Neither did my mom.  So, when I was growing up being a teenager, I developed lots of complexes.  My method of dealing with it was naming myself “Loca” (which means ‘crazy’) and staying inside my room listening to the radio and imagining that I was some bird that could fly away to different countries and have lots of adventures.  I let my imagination go and made up stories in my mind.  Unfortunately, I didn’t write them down.  If I would, maybe I could’ve been more famous than J.K. Rowling….(just kidding!).

But I did read lots of books, I really loved to read while I was growing up.  During my teen years, while going to church….I remember sharing a lot with my cousins from my father’s side.  My cousin Nitza and I made competitions of who would read the Bible first.  So, I can say that I read the Bible completely from Genesis to Apocalypses.  And as I said before, there was NO INTERNET, NO CELL PHONES, NO VIDEO GAMES!!!

In the 80’s, depression was not dealt with the seriousness that it should’ve been dealt with.  When I had those sadness episodes, people tended to be kind of cruel.  They were always scolding me that I had to “shake it off and move on”.  That attitude from other people towards me made me sunk even deeper in my despair.  I used to sing at church; but sometimes my depressions were so severe that I felt that I could hardly do anything.  I didn’t want to see people, I just wanted to stay inside my room looking at the walls and never go out again.

There were good and bad days.  In the good days, I would study, talk with people, go to church, sing, share with my family, watch TV, go out to the movies and be a normal teenager as I could be.  But when the bad days came, it was like a wave that hit me and my life would be crashing down.  The worst part was that all the people surrounding me didn’t know how to deal with it.  They accused me of being a trouble maker, a downer, of being frustrated, negative….I felt that I let a lot of people down and that I had no way to stop being a burden to others.  Sometimes I wished that I would’ve never been born at all.

I did notice that when I prayed something amazing happened.  It was like Psalm 30:11-12 “You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing to you and not be silent.  Oh Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”

But then, there were times when I didn’t want to pray or I was just too sad to do it.  Then the depression caught me again.  My chest would start to hurt and I couldn’t get out of my despair until I made a last effort and bend my knees again.

When I got older, my mom and my older sister gave me a book that talked about depression.  I can’t recall the title though. The book was good and I read it completely.  I learned a lot about myself, I learned about how to deal with it but I still didn’t know that I had a condition that required medication.

There was a chemical imbalance in my brain that needed to be dealt with.  But antidepressants were still not the “rage” in those years. There was just one pill that made me sleep and it was discontinued because I think people used it to kill themselves.  Depression was still just a psychological thing and I had to deal with it by being aware of it and changing my way of thinking.

When I was in my 30’s and I had a terrible job experience, then I finally visited a psychiatrist who diagnosed my depression and I started to use medication for it.  I used Paxil and other antidepressants.  But the main problem that I had in those very dark years was that I needed to work somewhere else.  But those bad experiences, even though they didn’t kill me; they made me very much stronger.

How do I deal with depression these days?  I’m in my late 40’s and I haven’t used antidepressants in more than 11 years.  I still get depressed before that “time in the month”.  I’m going through those hormonal phases where the hot flashes, the pelvic pain, and all those other symptoms try to destroy what’s left of me.

But now, depression is more tolerable to me than before.  I know why and when I’m getting depressed, I have learned a good lesson from every bad experience in my life.  I don’t try to hurry about anything. I establish goals and try to stick to them without hurrying. I go walking or do some exercise.  I lost some weight. I try to live day by day; and consider each one of those days a gift from God.  I have a very important reason to live: my daughter.  I use my experience to understand others who go through the same feelings.

We, the ones who have learned to live with depression and cope with it, need to help others to make peace with depression.  Yes, it is possible to not let it control our lives. We don’t need medication; we just need another attitude at life, spirituality, relatives and specially to ourselves.

Jesus promised that we would never be alone.  He said it in Matthew 28:20 “…And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.”

But we also have each other.  So if you get depressed, don’t lose heart, somebody will be there to help you all the way. Share your experience with me, if you like! God Bless You!

About being rich….

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Mark 10:23-24 “Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, ‘How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!’  The disciples were amazed at his words.  But Jesus said again, ‘Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

This was today’s Word of Life for my soul.  Place: the region of Judea, across the Jordan. Time: More than 2000 years ago.

Jesus commented these words after he had an encounter with a young rich man who asked him a simple question.  He wanted to know what could he do to inherit eternal life.  Jesus answered that he should know the commandments, that he should sell everything that he owned, give it to the poor and then that he had to follow Jesus.  The young man went away sad, because he had great wealth.

I’m still wondering what do all those TV evangelists, christian musicians, bishops, pastors, and priests who are super rich, do when they read these verses or if they actually read these verses.  Do they ever feel guilty?  I guess not; I think that their spiritual eyes must be totally covered so they can justify the way they live.  I would feel guilty; specially knowing that there are so many people in need.

For the disciples, Jesus’ reaction was a surprise.  And it was all because the Jews at that time believed (and they still do) that prosperity is the meaning of God’s blessings upon that person.  The old patriarchs like Abraham, Job, Isaac, Jacob were all rich; God promised in the Law of Moses that He would prosper his people if they obeyed his Word.  So it’s understandable why the disciples would react that way.

You see, a poor person has to constantly seek God to acquire the things he or she needs.  Which are those riches of Heaven that Jesus mentioned in verse 21 of Mark Chapter 10?  In this earth those could be love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  These spiritual riches are called fruits of the spirit and they are mentioned in Galatians 5:22-23. You might say that maybe a rich person could gain some of those spiritual riches too….but let’s analyze this for a moment.

A person who is rich could find love in his family and friends until the riches are lost.  Or what happens when they fight for inheritances?  Where is the love when there is treason between one relative and another just to have a ‘position’ in society or in the family’s corporation? Is there real love when a rich man has a lover on the side?  They can surely afford it and they might enjoy those extra meals.  But that love comes hand in hand with interest and selfishness.  So that love is not deep enough and doesn’t include sacrifice.

What about peace?  There may be peace until the relatives fight for their inheritances again, the corporation has crooks laundering money,  the IRS is after you, taxes, politics, your friends are not really your friends all they want is to gain something from you, until your debts and bills have to be paid, or until the interests of your credit cards keep going up.  The truth is that, the more you gain, the more you spend and you will have more rivals, more envious people who will seek for the least opportunity to stab your back and steal what you have.  So,  I don’t think a rich person has too much peace…

A rich person can definitely be kind and give to the poor, not everything, but something.  Will a rich person be kind to the thugs that are stealing money from them?  Will they be kind to the IRS employees that are auditing them?  Will they be kind to the teenagers that vandalized with graffiti the walls of their expensive mansion?  Will they be kind to the reporters who are just asking them why do they have private planes or multimillion mansions when all they do is just preach on TV and depend from the live savings of the parishioners?  No, they can’t be kind all the time…

Can a rich person have patience?  Not when they have to continually travel to work and they have tight schedules just to keep their riches.  Rich people have a lot of responsibilities and that means that they have to work fast and efficient to keep the revenue coming.  Patience is lost when a client is late for an appointment, when flights are delayed, when somebody stole your wallet or your baggage, when your expensive car was vandalized…patience can be lost so easily when you’re rich.

A rich person can definitely have faithfulness….in their riches of course.  Why would they need to have faith in God if their riches give them everything they need?  You need faith to believe that your prayers will be heard.  Maybe riches can’t buy health but the rich person will use his money to pay the best doctor money can buy to treat him or her of their illnesses.  Even if they eventually die from sickness, they would’ve assured to have had the best treatment medicine can give because they can afford it.  A poor person can’t do that; the poor definitely has to pray first.

A rich person can be gentle unless they have to kill nature to use it’s natural resources.  You know, their riches have to keep increasing so those trees they need for paper and houses….they just have to go.  You see, nobody cares about the ecosystem, flora, fauna, or global warming….only those poor people who have to live in those cheap houses that get flooded every year.  Gentleness is overrated anyway…

Can a rich person have self-control?  Somehow I keep picturing in my mind, politicians fighting whenever they have their late night sessions and they need to pass laws for consideration…they start cursing and insulting each other.  By the way….I think they started poor at the beginning of their careers in politics but they sure end up being filthy rich when they get out of office.  I just hate it when they say that they are Christians….they make us look so bad.  I actually lose my self-control and get frustrated.

So those are the riches of heaven that the rich have to have so they can enter the gates of Heaven.

Wow!  And I’m still trying to picture a camel entering through the eye of a needle.  Jesus definitely had a sense of humor… I so love him!

Poor rich people,  poor TV evangelists with their multimillion mansions, private jets, gigantic indoor pools, expensive cars, multimillion temples, revenues from books, CD’s, TV stations, theme parks…none of those material things will save them.

Poor rich people….they’ve been all compared to stinking camels trying to enter the eye of a needle… by none other than Jesus himself!!

Sell everything you own, give to the poor and follow Jesus.  Start to depend on God, start making riches in Heaven and then it will be easier to have eternal life.

Transform your life from a dirty camel to a real disciple of Christ!