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Ser Una Columna

El pasado domingo nuestra iglesia tuvo una despedida para una de las más maravillosas mujeres que he conocido. Aunque ella insiste que solo tiene 35 años de edad, ella ha sido una gran bendición para muchos, por lo menos en nuestra iglesia, por 71 años. Ella se mudara cerca de su familia mas al norte. Fue un momento agridulce, como siempre. Yo la llamo “Una de las cuatro columnas originales” de nuestra iglesia. Ella es, en muchas formas, la fiel, justa y amorosa persona que Noé fue en el viejo testamento. Es difícil explicar cómo e Vicky sin reír. Digo, Vicky saluda a todos con una sonrisa, sonríe cuando ora, y aunque ella cante como “una rana con dolor de garganta”, (sus palabras, no las mías) ella alaba al Señor con una sonrisa. Si le preguntas, “Como estas hoy?” siempre dice, “Estoy bendecida!”, aunque no se sienta bien. Ahora que se va, nuestra columna nos faltara. Entonces, que haremos cuando sentimos que la iglesia va a empezar a inclinar sin ella? Así que le pregunte, “Vicky, Quien tomara tu lugar?” Ella me sonrió y dijo, “Todos.” Bueno, esos son unos zapatos grandes que llenar si se toma todos! Mejor dicho, esta es “Una columna fuerte que reemplazar!”

Vickie and us
Our Dear “Strong Column” along side us. (I’m the short one)

Llega el tiempo, en la vida de la iglesia, que perdimos una columna fuerte y bendita. No creo que la gente entienda el significado de esto. La congregación está hecha de muchas partes de un solo cuerpo. Algunas de las partes son absolutamente esenciales. Nos preocupamos mucho más perder un ojo que la uña. Es más difícil reemplazar grandes líderes. A menudo, nadie quiere tomar el sitio que deja atrás el líder. Algunas veces es porque no saben lo que cuesta ser un líder, o simplemente es difícil dejar a otro que tome su lugar. Algunos creen que no están bastante adecuados para dirigir. Algunos creen que no tienen los dones o habilidades correctos para tomar su lugar. Sin embargo, otros esperan que el pastor, en mi caso, los pastores, les pregunten. Algunos creen que pueden cubrir el espacio pero no tienen la perseverancia de hacerlo o posiblemente son mejores poniendo la piedra que aguantando la piedra. A pesar de todo, alguien tiene que moverse a tomar el lugar. Una cosa que yo creo, si Dios lo pone en el corazón de uno, si uno tiene la capacidad y humidad, entonces camina hacia adelante y aguante ese techo! Todo lo que necesita e entrenamiento de como aguantarlo bien… y posiblemente un poco de desodorante…

Gente como Vicky toman un paso adelante y se quedan persistentes en un lugar, porque como ella dijo, “Dios me llamo aquí para una razón y me quedo aquí por bien o por mal…” Ella era, y es, fiel a través de todo, sin importar la circunstancias. Ella nos recuerda que, como un esposo/a se compromete el uno con el otro, los individuos de cuerpo de Cristo hacen un compromiso con El cuándo El entra en nuestro corazón. Ah todos aquellos “Vicky”s en nuestras vidas, GRACIAS!!! Por ser una fuerte y única columna que nos recuerda que la gente de Cristo están aquí: “para vivir unidos desde este día en adelante, para bien o para mal, en riqueza y en pobreza, en enfermedad y en salud; para amarte y cuidarte…”


Uniquely Mi Vida

I Am Loud

{APRIL 2: So I went to see my doctor today… after weeks (literately weeks maybe even months) of allergies with congestion and loss of voice. While I’m there I figured, I might as well ask for a hearing test.
Me: Oh, can I have a hearing test? I mean,
I know Puerto Ricans are loud and all, and I’m Puerto Rican. Everyone keeps telling me I’m loud even when I don’t hear myself being loud… so I figured: Maybe I need my hearing test.😀
Doctor: {smiles, then laughs…and laughs}
Well, I guess that was that and I came out with a steroid shot and ant
ibiotics…for my sinus infection…. but what about the hearing test??? Not even an appointment…🤨 Well people, I tried… you are just going to have to deal with my Puerto Rican loudness….smiley laughing     …until the doctor stops laughing.} 

I am loud. It seems like everyone in the USA likes to tell me that… and for years, I didn’t realize it. After it was brought to my attention, I didn’t understand it. You see, it’s not just me. If I’m loud, so are over 3 million Puerto Ricans across the world.

I suppose that sometime in college, I realized what some students told me, but then they said the same about another friend of mine from Puerto Rico. I started to realize that this “loudness” was maybe a cultural thing.  It made me wonder: why are we loud? Well, we are emotional and excited, passionate and opinionated (very opinionated… or is that just me?).  It became clearer to me when my soon-to-be-husband came to Puerto Rico and brought his parents down for our wedding.

We all gathered at my grandmother’s house (I mean, when I say “we” I’m talking about almost 2 dozen family members; my family and Todd’s parents, and his brother and his girlfriend.) We gathered to discuss the wedding. My family met Todd and his family. We talked about our daily life, and so on. There were conversations galore, coming from all different directions, and covering a variety of different subjects all at once.  I thought this was normal. It is the way my family always behaves when the get together. We shared laughter, excitement, opinions, and more, all in a small 11 by 15 ft. room. The volume ran high with the emotions. I saw my future in-laws had concerned facial expressions. Then I saw my mother-in-law lean towards Todd, who had come to sit by her. She asked him a question, I saw him smile and respond, and her face relaxed. Later, I asked Todd about it. He told me, “My parents were concerned because they thought there were a lot of arguments going on, and asked if they should step outside.” Todd laughed, “I told her that you all were just communicating. There were no arguments; you were all just happy, emotional, and loud. The more excited or passionate you get the higher your volume was. I explained to her that it was okay…you don’t hide anything from each other not even disagreements.” This is when I realized “is cultural!”

Yes, we Puerto Ricans are loud. We express emotions in our tone of voice. We can share funny stories and laugh, loudly. We can share opinions and debate, loudly, and it doesn’t bother us one bit. We can have multiple conversations around the table and follow other conversations, yes, loudly. We can be brutally honest with each other. We just agree or disagree and life goes on. I truly believe that Puerto Ricans were born debaters. Our weakness? Sometimes our emotions overrule the facts. Yet, we listen to each other. Whether we like what we hear or not, we listen. Many of us may disagree, but will come back with an agreement after thinking about it. In many ways we talk before we think. Some more than others, me being one of them.

Yes, I am loud… I have learned to moderate it after marrying Todd, but boy is it hard! Even after 25 plus years of marriage, it is hard. But I turned him to the “dark” side and he too joins in the conversations. (But he still has the habit of thinking before he talks.) It has opened up a new way of communicating, because now he is able to balance his culture with my culture. He has learned to carry multiple conversations too. My family said once that I have “puertoricanized” him! However, I’m still working on thinking before speak. Frankly, it is difficult because you have to stop and access, and re-word, your thoughts, and I’m thinking, “Who has time for that?” I blame my ADHD! It really doesn’t help. In my mind, sharing my thoughts is more important than thinking it through. It isn’t an issue of pride or rudeness, it is just being part of the conversation. However, I can understand where the problem is seen by others, especially in the culture I live in. I have learned to bite my tongue more often than not, outside my home. It is painful, but necessary. (I have found it is much harder to do at home or with family, after all, home is your safe place. My daughters can attest to it. They were raised by a Puerto Rican mother with ADHD J ).

How then have I learned to mellow down in this culture? Or in areas of my ministry where it is extremely important? Through prayer, discipline and accountability.

girl-praying-hands-eyelashes-41942.jpegPrayer: I have had to humble myself often to ask God to help me control my immediate responses. Sometimes I flat out fail, sometimes I struggle and pause, but sometimes I do well. In order to succeed I have to stop and pray. It is not about a matter of stopping and thinking, per se, but a matter of stopping and praying. I must admit, sometimes it is hard, especially when I feel tired or stressed. It has been amazing how God has taught me to “not respond” when the old me would have. My prayers have been mostly about  speaking the truth in love, at the right time, and that it encourages, or challenges people to seek God more (Ephesians 4:15,25, 29). I must admit that sometimes what I think is not what I’m saying. I think it has to with how my mind translates my thoughts. But, I always pray that God may help me speak properly from my heart when I share my thoughts, and that they are according to His will.

Discipline: This is probably the hardest thing to do: to catching myself. This started later in my life. I realized that prayer was not enough but that I had to purposefully work at it. After 20 years among white Americans and other mixed cultures, it is still difficult to do this. It is easier for me to do this when I’m wearing my Pastor/Leader hat, but it is difficult to do it when I am not in my pastoral role. It is even harder when I’m with Latinos and forget about it when I’m among Puerto Ricans!selfie-portrait-picture-photo.jpg Self discipline is one of those gifts of the Holy Spirit, the more I seek to be more Christlike, the more the Holy Spirit helps me. I know that it will not completely disappear from my character, after all, it is part of my upbeat personality, but it can be mellowed down when God needs to do His work. I have learned that God doesn’t change who we are, He tweaks who we are, making us better and using our uniqueness to do His will.

pexels-photo-567633.jpegAccountability: My husband, and I guess to some degree, my daughters, have been great at this. Frankly, sometimes I wish they wouldn’t, but hey, I need them to. Just don’t tell them that because they will hush me all the time! Every one of us need an accountability partner. This person needs to be a person who we can not only trust, but know that they are in our court. They are there to help us be better and to encourage us to do better. They sometimes remind us when we have failed ( I think my family likes this part way to much). Yes, they need to be able to let me know when I fall short because honestly, my heads is not going to admit to me that! In the same way, the Holy Spirit also helps me in this area. However, allowing God to use a human voice to hold us accountable makes the voice of the Holy Spirit more solid. This is important to me because it keeps me from “hushing” the Holy Spirit and pushing Him down. I think He really enjoys telling me “I told you so,” or is that the voice of my mother I hear in my subconscious?

Yes, I am Loud! When I am happy, I am loud! When I’m excited, I am loud! When I’m sharing the word of God, you bet I am loud! But I am also quiet… when I need to be… and I’m sure my family enjoys that part of me most.

Doesn’t wisdom call out? Doesn’t understanding raise her voice?
At the highest point along the way, she takes her place where the paths meet.
Beside the gate leading into the city, she cries out at the entrance. She says,
“People, I call out to you. I raise my voice to all human beings.  You who are childish, get some good sense. You who are foolish, set your hearts on getting it. Listen! I have things to say that you can depend on. I open my lips to speak what is right.”

Proverbs 8:1-6 (NIRV)

Uniquely Inspirational

Be a Column

Genesis 6:9 “This is the account of Noah and his family. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.”

columns in old church

This past Sunday our church had a sendoff for one of the most amazing ladies that I have ever met. And though she insists she is only 35 years old, she has been blessing many, at least at our church, for 71 years. She is now moving on be nearer her family, further north. It was, as always, a bittersweet moment. I call her “One of the original 4 columns” of the church. She is, in all ways, the faithful, righteous loving person that Noah was in the Old Testament. It is hard to really explain Vicky without laughing. I mean, Vicky greets everyone with a smile, prays with a smile, and even though she sings “like a frog with a sore throat,” (her words, not mine) she worshiped with a smile. If you ask her “how are you?” she will always respond,  “I’m a blessed!” even if she is sick. Now that she is leaving, a column is missing. What do you do when you feel the church will tilt without her? So, I asked her, “Who will take your place Vicky?” Her smiling response, “Everyone.” Well, those must be some big shoes to fill if it takes everyone! Or should I say, this is “One strong column to replace!”

Vickie and us
Our Dear “Strong Column” along side us. (I’m the short one 🙂 )

There comes a time, in the life of the church, that we lose a strong blessed column. I don’t think people quite understand the meaning of this. The congregation is made up of parts of one body. Some body parts are absolutely essential. We worry far more about losing an eye than we do a hangnail. It is harder to replace great leaders. Often no one wants to take the previous leaders’ place. Sometimes it is because they do not know what it takes to be a leader, or simply because it is hard to allow someone to take their place. Some people feel that they are not adequate enough to lead. Some feel that they may not have the right gifts or skills to take their place. Yet, others wait for the pastor, or in my case, the pastors, to ask them. Some may think they can fill in the gap but lack the perseverance to do so or maybe they are better at laying the stones than holding up a stone. Regardless, someone needs to move forward. One thing that I believe, if God places it in your heart, you have the capacity and the humility, then step on in and hold that roof! All you need is a little training on how to hold it right… and maybe some deodorant…

The ability to hold up the church is not an easy task. One needs the affirmation and support of others, prayers and accountability. Not all columns are the same either, some are short and stout (I’m not describing myself, just so you know), others tall and lean. Others have ripples, some are smooth some elegant, some are green, some show the wear of time and so on. Regardless every one of them is unique. Every one of them have one very important job: Holding up the church.

People like Vicky stepped forward and stayed persistent in one place, because as she said, “God called me here for a reason and I stayed here through good and bad…” She was, and is, faithful throughout, regardless of the circumstances. She reminds us all that just as one spouse commits to another, individuals in the body of Christ make commitments to Him when He comes into our hearts. For all those “Vicky”s around, THANK YOU!!! For being a strong and unique column that reminds us that we as Christ’s people are here: “To have to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish…”

Uniquely Inspirational

The Journey Begins

Take a Walk with Me

 “Always remember, it’s simply not an adventure worth telling if there aren’t any dragons.” Sarah Ban Breathnach


My life has not been all that simple, full of adventures? Sure! Full of excitement? Of course! Full of inspirational and joyous moments? You bet! Full of laughter? Better believe it! But it has also come with it’s own difficulties, pain, disappointments, heart aches and “dragons.”

Take a walk with me through the turbulent pathways of my life. It is filled with rainbows and sunshine and storms. As Charles Dickens put it in Tale of Two Cities “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” I don’t think there is any area of my life where I can look back and give it one emotion, for all had several at once. There is one thing that I am certain: I never walked it alone.


There has not been one moment when I was alone. There has always been a presence that surrounded me at every turn. One that laughed when I laughed. One that smiled when I smiled. One that shared both my joy and sorrow. One that pushed me towards life when I needed it. One that encouraged me to step out of my comfort zone. One that face palmed when I did stupid things, sometimes head shaking with disbelief. One who would remind me that “I told you not to” and still continued to walk with me, regardless of my stubbornness. One that picked me up when I would fall. The One that held me when I hurt and reminded me I was okay. The One that held my hand in the darkest times and brought me back to the Light, and sometimes to reality. No, I never walked alone.

So take a walk with me… let me share with you my stepping stones and golden trails that make me Uniquely Raqui. At the end, I pray, you too can see that you have not walked alone in your unique life.