Uniquely Mi Vida

The effects of being uniquely ME

“In those days, I will pour out my Spirit on my servants. I will pour out my Spirit on both men and women. When I do, they will prophesy.” –Acts 2:8

Raqui Sharing

“Why do you want to be an co-pastor?” A church board member from Puerto Rico asked me during an interview with my husband, “Isn’t it enough to be the pastor’s wife and just “minister” as one?” (It was 1994 and I was expecting my first child). 

“Was it enough for the Apostle Paul to stay with the disciples and work within their shadows from Jerusalem? Where would the church be then?” That should have been my response, but I just said, “I am not called to be a pastor’s wife. I am called to be a minister and to do that I have to take responsibilities since I’m in the process of ordination…” (I was eventually ordained in 1995, a year later, being one of the few Puerto Rican women at the time, I think I was the second or third.) 

Ironically enough this church wound up selecting a female friend of mine to be their pastor about 12 years later.

About 4 years later, a denominational leader is Kansas City called us into his office to talk about our call to missions, (and still do). Referring to me he asked, “Have you considered stepping aside and letting your husband do his ministry?” 

From the corner of my eye I could see my husband, Todd, shifting to respond, but I beat him to it. “I have never kept my husband from ministering, nor interrupted his ministry. He has his calling and ministry and I have mine. Even though we have separate callings we know how to work well together.” (Maybe I should have mentioned that I had not seen any disciple leave ministry and let Peter do ministry on his own.) I responded without shame. My husband affirmed that neither of us keeps the other from ministry. Then he insisted that the question be addressed to him as well. I smiled.  

Houston Work and Witness
Raqui praying for a couple who lost everything to the hurricane in the Port Arthur, TX area.

These are just a few of the hurdles I have had to jump over in my life. Questions that Christians may find irresponsible and even absurd, others find necessary. It is not that they are opposed to me, it is that they doubt my calling, or that women may be called. I have never been able to understand fully why. Yet, I never allowed it to impede or keep me from God’s calling. All I know is that I had, and HAVE, a calling. When I was 14 years old i answered the calling much like Isaiah 6:8, “Then I heard the voice of the Lord. He said, “Who will I send? Who will go for us?” I said, “Here I am. Send me!””

This is not to say that it has all been easy…sometimes life has been super difficult, other times super easy… but for whom hasn’t it been? I have had, as everyone else called into ministry (men or women) to pass through storms in which I have been soaked by the rains. But I have also have had times in life that it has been, to say, rainbows. Either way, I have seen the hand of God working, at every turn, in the lives of those who I have shared Christ. This tells me that I am following His will.

Dr. Jerry Porter always told me that the calling is affirmed by people who have come to Christ through your ministry and the spiritual growth in their lives. He affirmed my calling many times. It is very important for women like me to have people like him in our lives.

So what then is needed to confirm a calling? First let me be clear, ALL Christians have been called (“mandated”, actually),  to share the message of Christ. ALL of us are called to work in the fields. (Matthew 28:16-20) We have ALL been called to love and be like Christ. Yet, there is a specific group that God calls to be Pastors, Missionaries, leaders, teachers and so on…

July 4 Baptisms
Estrella getting baptised by her Pastor Mom, with Pastor Dad assisting.
  1. This calling comes from the depths of your heart with a huge passion. This passion cannot be stopped. A person with the passion of Christ does not see the soul of human beings as everyone else.  We see lost souls and we constantly want to try to help them find their way. We want them to encounter Jesus Christ. We want to help them to maintain a relationship with Christ. We want them to find holiness and live by it.  That passion comes in everything we do, for it spills into our lives and our home. Sometimes it even makes us cry. The compassionate and empathetic heart is part of Christ’s. When you talk about Christ and teach the scriptures, the passion is heard.
  2. The calling is found in the scripture. No matter how often your read it or what verse you read, you feel the calling through it verses. When God calls you, He uses the scripture to lead you. God speaks to hearts though the scriptures. He also speaks during prayer times. Hearing the voice of God in our souls as we pray, a voice that cannot be shut off. As you read, as you pray, the voice of the Lord gets louder and the calling becomes just as loud. For me I heard it in the stories of the prophets in the Old Testament (as in Jeremiah 1:4-10) and the calling of the disciples, the great commandment and others like it. When I heard it as I read about the Samaritan woman by the well and in Ruth, I had to accept that it was from God, it was real. Even when I prayed today, I could and can hear His calling. (He can really be demanding when He wants to be and needs to be).
  3. Others around you and throughout your life see it too. During our lives others see your gifts of “pastor, missionary, teacher and leader. The people themselves, our families and friends, affirm our calling. They form part of our mentoring group, who we need, especially while our calling is developing.  It is important to talk to our pastors, leaders and those of strong faith who have known us and have watched us grow spiritually. My parents, as missionaries, and my pastors, were my best mentors. Besides them, I had other leaders that after finding out about my calling, they would hug me and support me. The most important thing is that they mentored me and taught me (and still do) how to be a minister. It was they who prepared me by giving me responsibilities, jobs and guiding me. This is how they, and many more, have affirmed me in my calling. {A great HUG of Gratitude to those special to me: My Parents, Bill Porter, Dr. Jerry Porter, Dr. Roger Hahn, Dr. Dennis Bratcher, Rev. Noemi Vasquez-Pla, Rev. Manuel y Norma Guzmán, Dr. Howard Culbertson, just to name a few}

Papi Predicando y yo interpretando al ingles

Translating for my Father, Rev. Mario A. Cintron. We make an awesome team.

  1.  Your gifts and skills are given for the sake of that calling. Sometimes we may not understand why we have certain skills that wind up transforming or supporting our calling. Yet, all those gifts and skills are being used for our calling, if not now, they will. Here is where I saw my calling more clearly. The gift of teaching and preaching with passion affirmed my calling. The gift of translating, of helping, even finances and budgeting, and more have assisted me in sharing the gospel. If I ever had a doubt, all I had to do was look at my gifts and skills and see that God gave them to me for ministry. That is big.
  2. When God calls he gives a hunger for education in Theology, biblical studies and the Truth. You have a hunger to learn more that seems to increase as you see the need to equip yourself with the best tools to be your best. Some come to me telling me that they only need the Bible. If that was true, and that is all you need, Jesus wouldn’t have spent 3 years with his disciples (but would have just given them the Torah and walked away), and Paul would not have gone for 4 years to learn more after his transformation and calling. The Bible is the most important thing,  but not the ONLY thing we need for ministry. A true calling comes with an appetite, a hunger for learning more, wanting more knowledge and greater wisdom. Because a man cannot live on bread alone. We need to learn about the people, the cultures, the history, the ways people think, life itself and more. Education is important here, it fulfills those things that equip us to better minister. For we know that the calling is not just preaching… it is more than that, and the preaching needs to be solid.
  3. When God calls He provides. He is after all “Yahweh Yirah,” the Lord will provide. I have learned that will open the doors and will close the doors according to God’s will, always providing for my means. On my end, I have to make sure I don’t force the doors open just because a door seems more pleasing, fun, solid, shiny or whatever… I have to learn to TRUST fully on God, even when that “door” seems scary or delapidated. When I said to God “yes” and asked that He provide my education, He did. When I said “yes” and asked to show me the man that had said “yes” too and was a man of God, and with the heart of God, He did. When I said “yes” and asked that He supply my financial needs… He HAS. God provides as long as we are following HIS WILL and saying “yes.”

Then, what are the “effects” of all this in my life? Well, they have made me who I am today. As a Latin woman, more specifically, a Puerto Rican called into ministry, I have to continue to live a life according to my calling in ministry. Yes, I know eyes are on me a lot. No matter what happens. That means that I have to keep myself connected to God in all things as mentioned. It is difficult but not impossible. It is hard work, but never in vain. I have had more chapters in my life that have been more positive than negative. I have seen children, young people, and adults come to the feet of Jesus, sanctified, healed and called throughout my life. And all these make my life very, VERY, much worth living. Because this unique life that I am living, I am living for Christ, regardless of the “effects” that follow.

“We speak the truth. We serve in the power of God. We hold the weapons of godliness in the right hand and in the left. We serve God in times of glory and shame. We serve him whether the news about us is bad or good. We are true to our calling. But people treat us as if we were pretenders.” –2 Cor. 6:7-8

Therefore I keep heading forward…. with Christ by my side because “for me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” -Phil. 1:21 What else can I say? And this UNIQUE life that God has given me?… is… uniquely HIS.

“For the Sake of the Call”– Steven Curtis Chapman

Uniquely Inspirational

Being a Mom

“The deepest, heart felt joy of Motherhood is watching your kids discover who God is, as creator, father and savior for the first time.”  –Raqui

Today, as my youngest daughter turns 19 (and I’m not telling you my age), I find myself nostalgic for those days when all my girls were young. Of course I don’t miss the diaper changing, or the heartache when they would get lost at the mall, or say “mean things” to me. What I miss the most are those moment they would make a discovery: discovering for the first time the difference of cold and warm water, the colors of the flowers and how they grew from a seed, the beauty of the ocean, mountains and valleys, the textures of the rocks and their differences, and even the bugs that wound up in their pockets. I miss their laughter, the games they would play, and the books they would read to each other even before they knew how to read. I miss the songs they would sing, the learned ones and their made up ones, even if they would torture us daily for months with those Disney princess songs. I miss their creations, even the ones where we had to say, “that is so nice, could you tell me about it” so we could discover what it is. It was amazing to me to watch them discover God’s creation, in shapes in the clouds and in the rocks. I loved their own creations in the sand and with finger paint. Those are the amazing discoveries of a child. To be a Mother and see that is one of the greatest of gifts.

 

As they get older, those discoveries get a bit… complicated… well, sometimes too complicated. Yes, they discover “Relationships!” Not just between friends, and with each other as sisters, but with boys. BOYS! And then a mother’s nightmare begins! Boys just have to come into the picture, there is no avoiding it, try as you may. What can you do short of locking them up and homeschooling?  What is a mother to do!?

Well, I did a lot of PRAYING! PRAYING! PRAYING! (And still do). I know I have mentioned this before about prayer, but it is the number one “go to” solution. And with daughters, it just multiplies to the nth degree. It turns out that prayer is not just a learned behavior, but I think it is hereditary because when I asked my Dad, after he mentioned how I made my mother so anxious growing up, especially when boys were around, I asked “What did she do?” daddy responded with, “Well, she did a LOT of praying. Every morning, every night and every time.” It turned out, I did and even still do that as well. A mother is consistently in prayers for her children. I guess if I had boys I would be praying for them too (and the people that have to deal with them).  Regardless, those prayers help me find peace when I need it. It helps me seek God’s will in their lives as often as in mine as a mother. It gave me the strength when I had none and the comfort when I felt at a loss. Yes, prayer is one thing that keeps me intact as a Mother. It is not just praying for them, it is more about prayer for my sanity.

sisters

I learned to always have a huge line of communication open. From the time they could talk (even though half the time I didn’t understand them), I would ask, “How did it go today?” or “What did you do at________?”  Yes, since the age of 3 I would ask, ask and ask. They would tell me everything {almost}… from how they made a new friend to not liking the snack to getting in trouble and more. We talked in the car on short trips and long trips, around the dinner table and while coloring. As they got older they had gotten into the habit of sharing. And if they would respond with “nothing” (often when they hit the “teen stage”). The question would be “Anything funny, weird or sad happen today?” Though I must admit, one had a hard time, and started hiding her feelings, during her middle school years, mostly due to being bullied. And when she shut down I sent in daddy to talk to her. When they didn’t talk to Mom and Dad, they relied on each other. Often, those lines of communication would get muffled as they grew, but then somewhere in high school they just seemed to open up more again. So much more that their “school drama” would be the topic of conversation during dinner. These conversations, to me, are a window to the heart of my daughters. From relationships to painful events and broken hearts, to weird stories (that I might just want to forget) and to their belief {FAITH} and love for God. (Yes, we even had some deep theological discussions, the Puerto Rican way…) I’m not saying it is all hunky dory (is that even still an English saying?), they had their secrets… But a mother always knows and eventually they have to cough it up.

IMG_0303

Family events weekly, monthly and during the summers became extremely important. After all, that is when the discovery of art, history, nature and more happened. We always had, every Friday night (though in the last 5 years it had to be changed to Saturdays), movie & pizza night. Each of them took turns choosing the movie. On a monthly basis we would go out as a family to special place, even garage sale shopping (as they got older this became their favorite). And since I have girls, why not make a family trip to the mall? These trips were not just once a month, we took them as often as we could. Even grocery shopping at times became a family event. Leave it to Mom to make a trip to Walmart and make it a mother and daughter thing. We set aside 2 family vacations throughout the year for no less than 2 weeks in length. Going to places we had not gone before, that took us to museums, historical places and the wonders of nature. Spending time with other family members on the holidays was just as important. These trips gave me the opportunity to enjoy their growth, their quirk and their silliness. To their amazement, as they learned and experienced new things it was the greatest adventure I have ever encountered. As a mother, these were and are the memories that will never leave me. These are memories that I treasure including the ones that are outrageously funny…

Motherhood for me has been an amazing rollercoaster ride. From the difficulties, disappointments, sadness, pain and even anger to the joys, laughter, excitements, admirations, surprises, and a lot of love. They have forced me to grow, not in height (sadly), but in Christ (happily). I have learned more about the love of God and who He is through my children than from anyone else. From the time of their births throughout their growth, in many ways, my life has grown closer to my Christ, pushing me more towards holiness than I would have done without them. It is the love of a child that opens the windows of heaven. (Matthew 19:14).  I attribute my blessed and gifted title of Motherhood to my God who gave me the opportunity in the first place, and to my unique and amazing daughters who have made me so UNIQUELY Raqui!   …LAS AMO!!

Trust in the Lord and do good; dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture. Take delight in the Lordand he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the Lordtrust in him and he will do this: …” -Psalm 37:3-5

Girls & mom 2017 (2)Mommy and her “Unique”girls!