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I don’t even know how to start this blog! It’s kinda been a crazy season of God calling me out of the comfort of my nest, a nest hidden away on a cliff (and in my heart I could fill the stirring that He was asking me take up things I had buried)…well…He initially was calling and then He eventually just pushed me out…out into the open air of uncertainty. I can almost imagine Him say to the Holy Spirit…let’s see if she’s gonna fly …what’s the worse thing that can happen…SPLAT!!!!

So…my cousin asked me to do “a something” for the upcoming Gateway women’s conference. “a something” meaning some kind of dramatic snack for the women coming to the conference…something that would help them laugh and take a deep breath in of full acceptance of themselves and open up their hearts to all that God wanted to do there. When she initially called…I was like okay God if you want me to do it I’ll do it…but, I’m totally freaked out…it’s been a LONG time…a long time since I’ve acted. For those that know me…know I ACT every day…but, this was the formal kind…like for an audience…AHHHHHHhhhh! It was like going back to an old childhood home and deciding to visit an old friend. You get to the door and as you approach closer..it feels familiar…but, different…at least for me. In the past this pathway was filled with confidence as I had honed in on my craft and felt capable…but, twelve years and four kids later…I was feeling insecure. The old friend was theater, drama, the arts whatever you want to call it. As I see the door in my mind…I remember this friendship it was full of passion…but, then I begin to see clearer…oh…I can remember the pain. I can see myself the first time I visited this house, walking in to find every kind of costume, hats, props, and the ohhh the make-up. At that time in my life I struggled to find my place in my family after my Mom remarried…I had looked to friends and boyfriends to create a kinda suedo family. Then I had even looked to drugs. I was intrigued, overwhelmed and in-love all wrapped up into one grand experience of emotion as I tried on all the elaborate costumes and lost myself in the make-up. Could I really dress up and read lines and in way live a pretend persons life? Wow…It didn’t take long for me to discover that I liked their lives better than mine. This hobby of acting and performance afforded me the opportunity to live someone else’s life… even if for a fleeting moment.

I want to say most people have “a place” they draw from when operating in the arts whether that is a happy healthy creative place or place of pain… which obviously depends on the life experience of the person. For me I was in eighth grade when I wrote my first poem…aka…a desperate plea for help. Well… there were tons to follow; needless to say my creativity was from a place of pain. So when Jesus apprehended my heart when I was eighteen….it was a journey, but He began healing my heart. I did some “say no to drugs” skits in several high schools while I was in Teen Challenge. We did secular campaigns against drugs in local schools. But it wasn’t until I went to Bible College when I would try my hand at spiritually meaningful drama for ministry. I joined a drama group at the college…we were each given material to learn. The leader had given me a monologue about a woman that struggled with her relationship with her heavenly father based on her relationship with her earthly father in which there was an emotional outburst followed by a breakthrough at the end. This type of drama for ministry was a whole new ball game for me….can we say insecure…can we say fear. Ya…the weight of this being a channel God would use…(through us)… to reach the hearts of men…it overwhelmed and confounded me! I tried to reach down into “the place” to get the emotion and inspiration that I had gathered there before and found nothing but mush. My heart was mush…it wasn’t the hard heart calloused by sin…it was a soft mushy heart transformed by God’s love. I was going to have to learn a new way of acting. In the beginning I felt naked and uncomfortable, but God met me. I traveled with the group for a year going to churches and events using drama to minister. Then I took a job on campus that didn’t afford me the electives I had been a part of the year before. During this time I also met Yuri.. now my husband. Life got busy…I graduated…I got married…and somewhere in all of that I laid the talent down…I venture to say I even buried it. Heck..I’ll say it…I live in “brutally honest land”… I may accessorize with frosting and sprinkles, but truly I still live in “brutally honest land”. To be completely honest (smiles)… it wasn’t that hard to bury. It was difficult to portray authenticity of heart and also be in character. Granted I am talking about drama…but, to me comedy was just as difficult.

Years went by and these experiences became foggy memories. When Yuri would brag on my accomplishments in the arts. I would in embarrassment look to the side and think…that was another time and another place. I didn’t remotely feel related to that person. So here we are…I’ve had four boys and ALL that entails. I haven’t memorized a line in eleven years and I get this call from my cousin about doing this little “something”. It’s funny how God works. In the last year I was sensing God’s destiny stirring on the inside of me. Destiny is a broad word…so I want to say it like this…every woman is called by her creator to greatness in Him…all our greatnesses vary as we are all gifted differently. Knowing Jesus like I do..He is probably putting His finger on your giftedness right now and as He begins to talk to you about your destiny…embrace it! For some of us…it’s so scary…I know it…but He equipped and gifted us in our mother’s womb…we were made for this moment… to fulfill our purpose in Him. My first dream when I got saved was to be married and be a Mom…I would think…man some people want to be astronauts…and I want to be a mom. Now I know that there is all kinds of greatness wrapped up in whatever it is He has called each one of us to be and do….we just need to do it! To not be a afraid of what others might think…God once told Yuri and me that our destiny was bigger than the opinions of those around us…it really set us free. It helped us get a God of the Universe perspective and not be paralyzed by the fear of man. I know I’m rambling…but if you get anything out of this I want you to get that your called to greatness, He has equipped you with the giftings to fulfill your call and destiny in him whatever that is. I am not saying that I am the next super drama star…not at all…I just overcame something huge and I know that we all can. I posted a video of my performance on youtube so you can see what I’m talking about. And again I am not trying to give myself props…just share the work that God did in my heart that got me to the place that I could even do it. I love you ALL!

With a GREAT kinda love,
RIS

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starchristmas07-234.jpgMy husband and I were talking in the bathroom getting ready for bed and I realized we were approaching a conversation we had never had before. I couldn’t believe it… after almost ten years of marriage we had never talked about this one memory probably because it was only mine since he wasn’t there (um..duh) …but this would be the first time I told him about it entirely. Just a little history…. Yuri and I met in Bible College. I sometimes feel like I barely got there…I was living on a missionary ship and they told me that I was already in the ministry; I didn’t need to go to bible college to be in the ministry. In my heart I knew I would never be a leader…I would always be a follower if I didn’t go…and I knew it… I had to go. So in August 1996 my Mom and Grandma flew me out to Dallas, Texas to go to Christ For The Nations Bible College. It was like record high hot outside…coming from San Diego California I was in for definite culture shock. I felt like the heat and humidity were attacking my face…why…why even wear make-up if it’s going to drip off my face as if I were a glamorous lady of wrestling. Well to say the least I invested in some pretty darn good deodorant with antiperspirant. Anyway, I get settled in my room and it’s still early Sunday morning and my Grandma is persistent that we need to find a church to go to. So we drive around the area and… um… this is south Dallas. AKA “the hood.” We find a small church named, “Word of Knowledge Pentecostal”, and lo’ and behold the service started in five minutes…so it’s the winner. It’s a small gospel church and the entire congregation gets up and greets us. There was a few amazing things that happened in this service that I might share in others stories but, for this one I must fast forward to the end of the service…they are singing and giving testimonies when the Pastor of the church calls me to the front to pray for me. He lays his hands on my head and says these things, “I brought you here to this spacious place to set you apart…the one you are with right now is not the one, but in a little while I will give you a husband, not a boyfriend… a husband.” Wowzers. So I left out the part that I still had a boyfriend on the ship, hmm…well I did and it wasn’t a brilliant relationship. So we get back to the hotel room where my Grandma and Mom were staying and I quietly lock myself in the bathroom with the telephone and a phone card. I called this guy and we broke up…nothing poetic…just goodbye, it was never meant to be…and, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of our lives in two different directions for forever. I remember just a couple of tears…no heavy crying…and a real sense of this is it…I’m never going back home…this is the beginning of a journey unknown…I’m nervous…but, I’m not scared…because GOD is in THIS! So, I meet my roommates…their amazing! They’re all from Texas and talk really slow and of course I’m from California and I talk really fast and they’re like slow down and I’m like speed up…and our combination made for some really amazing times! First day of College starts and I am gun ho…I’m like what ever you want me to do God…I WILL do it! I am here for Jesus camp not the dating game. I am here for you…I need to be changed…I want to be changed…don’t leave me to myself because I will surely parish if left to my own ways. I would go to the altar for prayer almost every time… just in case He wanted to do something and I didn’t know it yet. Those were some extraordinary days in my life…the opportunity to worship God every morning with incredible worship in chapel…every morning making the choice to either embrace His presence or stand a far off. And, well everyday this is our choice isn’t? …no matter where we are in life. Hmmm. We meet…. I’ll have to say…I wasn’t the first to notice him. One of my roommates thought the way he worshiped was really cool…he was a jumper…his jumping almost looked like a dolphin when it jumps out of the water and it’s body curves to the side. Well after chapel the same roommate talked to him and found out it was his birthday…got his number and said she and her roommates would call with a special birthday song. So… not the songwriter myself… but, I did live with some brilliant minds and they came up with a nice lounge song melody to leave on his answer machine celebrating his birthday. Something like…this song is for Yuri as in Erie Lake and Star as in Ringo Starr…we wrote you this little original ditty back in 76’…it goes a little something like this…. Of course I can’t remember the rest of it. Sorry. I thought nothing of this little happening, as I had not met this praise and worship jumper this Yuri Star. The day I actually met him and talked to him he was being fed dinner in front of another girls apartment, (that may seem funny, but we couldn’t let the boys come in…it was against the RULES!), and I had just gone walking around the track and had been praying…fully inspired…when we began to talk… it was all about God and what He was doing. We then talked about our classes, our roommates, and my fish Shubooboo….oh my goodness my fish…I had to show him my fish. The poor thing was having a panic attack or something…I’ve never seen gills open so wide. He ran to the guys dorm to get a clean glass tea container to transfer the fish to so we could add the chemicals to give the water the right ph balance. Charming…it was the first charming thing he did…he tried to save my fish. We began to sit next to each other in classes and we would talk on the phone a little. Then all of a sudden if his arm would get too close to mine, my arm it would feel all warm and tingly. If we stood too close to each other I would feel like the shocks you get from static cling. What was this? I started to get upset…I’m here for Jesus camp…not the dating game….remember! It was evident in my heart and mind I was starting to “like” him. So I came home from classes when no one was around and laid prostrate on the ground and began to talk to the Lord…,”Hello…Jesus….I like “like” this guy what is up with that…I need you to help me out because I don’t want another broken relationship in my life. I’m done! I just want who you want for me…so if he is not the one just tell me and I won’t talk to him again. I’m serious…I’m not flirting with the devil…I want your destiny for me…I will not be derailed! So….yes….or ummm…no. Okay, am I hearing a no?” I tried to listen as hard as I could…I would say “no” on purpose in my mind and somewhere in the background like a peaceful whisper I was hearing yes. In the past I could hear “no” really well…but, could I actually be hearing yes? What do I do now…these are not things you tell people unless you are just Christian crazy…you cherish them in your heart and you wait…so I waited. There are more stories of how it lead up to him saying…”You are the only one that holds that special place in my heart.” Interpretation…for lack of being forward…,”You are my girlfriend now.” But those stories are for another time and all these little stories are just a snack for the REAL story to come. Yes… there were fireworks. Yes…the room disappeared when we would look in each other eyes. Yes… everyone said they wanted to throw up in our presence. All which left me in amazement since I had given up on fireworks and the such by my junior year in high school. Surely this would wear off. …and with every new difficult situation we had to face as a couple we would see clearly a new fault we hadn’t seen before and we encountered disappointment as we began to see a clearer picture of two flawed people loving God…but, flawed none the less. We came from two difficult pasts and were still fighting for healing in every part of our person. Sometimes our hurts would fight and slowly God was slipping from his rightful place in our priorities as we tried to fix each other instead of letting God be the miracle man that He is. And after a year and a half… God separated us! Like two little children in need of love and some good ol’ discipline. I say yes to love and I say yes to discipline because it is love. I don’t say this flippantly…He separated us! I thought I was going to die as dramatic as it seems…I was broken hearted…my dreams (the dreams I had made up for us) were shattered. And what about what God had spoken to me. I began to question…is what I think is the voice of God really the voice of God? I spent many mornings laying prostrate on the floor in the middle of the living room crying mascara stains into the carpet as my roommates stepped over me on their way to classes. With all the strength I had I threw myself on God. He was the only one that saw my heart, could touch my pain and disappointment. He was my Daddy, He was my Savior, and with every moment in that day He was my next breath. The part we had never talked about! In those days when I was recovering from the loss of what I thought was my future love and destiny…I also struggled with all emotions common to humanity. When I thought of the last conversations we had…the hurtful words spoken, I would get angry…really…really…angry. Now, I know that anger is just hurt turned inward and unforgiving. I would read Matthew chapter 5 in the Bible in the beatitudes where it talks about blessing those who curse you. (In context it talks about for Jesus sake…but it is a universal principle nonetheless.) I would think….well, Lord he was a jerk and you really need to deal with him and show him just what a jerk he was to say those things to me. I really think you should give him an eye opener…just in case you wanted my advice…. I thought I’d give it. Ya …no…God said, “bless him! “Bless every thing his hand touches. I quickly retorted, “He already walks in crazy favor anyway…do you really need me to bless him?” “No…it’s more for you…you need to bless him…because it changes YOU!”, God responded. The first time was really difficult I could barely get the words out…I thought I was going to dry heave. Every time I thought about these things, anger was always there ready to have dominion…but, instead I blessed him and with each time it became easier until it was second nature. That was the first two months we were broken up. I eventually got up off the floor engaged with the Holy Spirit…it often takes the most difficult times in our lives to learn to dance again. I call moving with the spirit dancing because it’s all about staying in step…staying close…holding tight…and letting Him lead…the music is His and the lyrics are written in our lives…it’s the tale of our destiny. Embrace destiny…embrace the dance! In that day I did what I could I embraced purpose. I went to Argentina to minister at a youth conference. I went to India for three weeks on a mission’s trip. I went to witness at Mardi Gra in New Orleans. I just went for it…whatever God put on my heart I did it. Every once in awhile I would think of him. I would think and wonder what he was doing in life. The sting was gone and I hoped he would become all the man God wanted him to be and in kind hearted way I blessed him. All hope that the future held a “we” had died. Two seasons had pasted and when I saw him it was less awkward for others and myself, we had a lot of friends together. We saw each other every weekend at church… golly, he led the worship. There’s no escaping the person in front of you…leading you into the presence of God. Then the day came when there was a person in the church that had started talking to me….the I might like you kind of talking. So I decided to tell “him” before someone else did as not to add to the awkwardness. He asked if we could go for a ride and I said yes. It was quiet. I’m usually a nervous talker but this time I said nothing. Then all of a sudden we start to gain speed in the car and he takes the next off ramp and makes a U-turn and pulls over under an overpass. Kind of dramatic..I know. I look at him…like what is going to happen next and he begins to cry…um…like cry really hard. He says that God told him “it” (our relationship) had to die before it could live again and that he never stopped loving me. I leaned over and held him while he cried. You think I would have started crying…but, I had already cried for two straight weeks at the beginning. He had never cried….until now. He asked me back and we got married six months later. (lots of details omitted) I had never told him about how I had blessed him, almost everyday through the most difficult time of healing from the break up. I blessed his relationship with the Lord, his friendships, his money, his job, everything he touched…you name it if I could bless it…I did! The ironic and really cool God thing about this WHOLE long semi-drawn out story is…. I blessed my life everyday and I didn’t know it…I blessed the man that would become my husband…the father of my children…the man that holds my hands up to God when I am too weak with discouragement to see the horizon of His faithfulness. There is power in blessing! There is power in obedience to God even when it hurts….A LOT! I get in this mood to write…the house is quiet and still….everyone is asleep and it’s therapeutic. If you made it this far…well…wow! I love to tell stories…this one just happens to be one of my favorites. With the GREATEST kind of Love, RIS

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There are not words for how this song ministered to my heart tonight! His presence was like rain drops on my heart as I was moved by his love and how He helps us find just what we need right when we need it!!This is it…the passion of my heart…it’s Jesus alone…I get it…I would have nothing that I have without Christ’s intervention. I know who I was before His love and I was a dying little girl on drugs and in dark pain. One moment in His presence changed my history and created a lifetime. He was always loving me and then I loved Him back!

Please…I hope His love finds you and touches you as you watch this song.

I had to share….I love you!

Ris