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Last year right about this time, we (My four boys and my husband), were driving from San Diego to Los Angeles along the beautiful Highway 1, a freeway that runs parallel to the California coastline. My husband and I were holding hands and getting in some heart to heart talking time.

This conversation was the catalyst to walking in greater freedom I could not have imagined capable a year ago.

I’m going to tell you upfront in my blog, I tend to be candid, honest and open in my freedom journeys (if just for the one who needs it or the one who’s heart says, “me too!”).

If talk of Doctor’s appointments that involve breast exams make you squeamish, you may want to stop right here. If not, I invite you to go on this journey with me and grab your greatest fears by one hand and tremendous HOPE for freedom by the other. I pray by the end of my words, you’re ready to confront your own fears and begin the journey to what your heart desires, yet doesn’t know.

We’ve heard the quotes that say,

“Embrace the process,”

“Enjoy the journey,” …

Just to feel they reinforce the ambiguous-ness that the words actually mean to the reality of our hearts.  I’ve prayed the dangerous prayers, “Take everything, heal everything, in every place, in every way, let your freedom bell ring in me unhindered. For your glory Lord, I’ll give it voice!”

Heck, I didn’t know what I was praying! But, I quickly found out. Here is my story … a year long answer to my prayers:

I’d been teaching at women’s life groups for a couple years at my church but at this time I had been asked to teach on a team that taught prayer at our church on Sunday mornings.  I LOVE prayer, the season was right, I was all in and excited.

But then something unexpected happened. I walked in my first time to teach and my eyes scanned the room … all I saw were the men that were there (I had previously only taught to groups of women). My palms got clammy, my heart raced a bit, I felt nervous and then … I felt a familiar anxiety that I couldn’t put into words. I closed my eyes, dug deep to connect with God and delivered what I felt like He had given me to share on humility in the place of prayer. God was faithful to hold my hand, I left confidant I had shared what He put on my heart.

As I walked away, I couldn’t shake that God was putting His finger on something that needed untangling, that needed to be … free.

Ever since I’ve been married, I’ve always said,

“I only like talking to men that are my husband,”

and laughed nervously, being totally content if he was the only man I ever talked too.

The truth was, if a man ever talked to me too long, I’d start to feel socially retarded and look for a quick exit to the conversation. I didn’t know anything different. I didn’t know what I didn’t know … about me.

As dawn was setting in on that beautiful coastal highway, where we were driving, I began to share my heart with my husband, that I was experiencing the fear of men … figuratively and literally! It wasn’t that I thought men would act inappropriately toward me, I just felt insecure and lacked confidence my voice held any weight which caused me to not know my place (there was a little girl in me that had felt that way for a really long time). He held my hand a little tighter and told me he thought I should meet with our friend that was counselor, pastor and ministered in freedom. Big fat alligator tears formed in my eyes and began to stream down my cheek without restraint. All I could say was … “I’m just so afraid.”

As the words came out my mouth and by judging the crazy anxiety I was experiencing just thinking about it made it obvious that “something” was out of alignment. I knew it had a grip on me and it was time to bottom out my fears and, “take them to the mattresses!” (quoted from the movie, The God Father, which means to face them and take them out!)

I totally dragged my feet a month or so. Sometimes taking on your ugly isn’t number one on your list of things to do if you know what I mean. But, eventually I did it. I was nervous. I wanted to throw up.  I was embarrassed to even say I had such a weird fear … I was kind of afraid of where it might have come from. I’ve been through a lot and seen some crazy things. I was standing on the truth that my God never exposes what He doesn’t want to heal. He is a good God.

I walked into a room to meet with someone thinking I was there to talk about this man fear but I walked out with God addressing the way I saw God as father because of my connection with my earthly father. What I thought was the main deal was just a symptom of a bigger deal. I didn’t know God as Daddy. I knew Jesus as deliver and husband. I knew the Holy Spirit as comforter and best friend. To be honest, I was totally content not knowing God as father, didn’t think I was missing out.

As I grieved this lack of fathering in my life, God made me some promises. He shared with me how He loves creating something from nothing. How He hovers, how He creates and how He rests in what He has created. He told me Day 1 of my healing would be separating light from darkness/ truth from lies. Each day (process) would build on the other until I could rest in my new found freedom.

It sounded great. Who wouldn’t say amen to that?! My heart anchored itself in this promise. I asked God for Holy Spirit homework, a way to come in agreement with the process He had started.

I picked some safe men that every time I saw them; I made eye contact, gave them a side hug and pressed in to have a conversation. Even had some friends that humored me and stood with me, every time I saw him and his wife and we greeted I would say, “Side hug! Staying free!” It started to get easier, but I still had to try. I had to work. I had to focus.

Then days and months went by and I actually thought … wow … I’m getting good at this! Well, until I went to get my eyebrows waxed, I walked into an empty nail salon and the four women not working stayed seated, the one Asian man got up to help me. I started to stress a little. Any man 2 inches away from your face, feeling their breath while they struggle to tweeze that one stubborn hair, I believe would test anyone’s freedom.  I quickly told the Lord, “if this is because I’ve been prideful saying how good I’ve been doing, I am so sorry!” Then the Lord and I laughed together. That may seem weird but I know He laughs with me.

Like I said earlier, this issue I was taking on was just a symptom, a greater thing was happening at the same time. I was changing the way I saw God. Because they way you see God will directly effect what you will receive from him.  You see, if you don’t see God as a good father who gives good gifts and is good to you, even when life is telling you different, then you won’t receive His love, His peace and His grace to be empowered to life-FULL living. God is not a God that is good to everyone else but you. He doesn’t want to heal and free everyone else and not you. He is good to you.

The scripture and truth my heart mediated on this year was Luke 15:20, from the story of the prodigal son. The father’s reaction in this story tells us so much about God’s heart to us as father that that He is longing to reveal.

So he got up and came to his [own] father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was moved with pity and tenderness [for him]; and he ran and embraced him and kissed him [fervently].” (AMP)

Sometimes our own shame, condemnation and fears keep us from wanting to come to our Father because we feel embarrassed. If we’ve been in leadership or Christians for a while we feel like we should have it more together by now. I think it’s important to note, who ran first in this story. The father. Your heavenly Father runs to you first too! He is moved in tenderness towards us when we turn to Him. He wants to embrace and kiss us fervently. You see, we have a Father in God who wants to hold us before He heals us. The way we think about God will determine what we receive from Him.

In my life I’ve have never identified with the statement, “Daddy’s girl,” but ending this year I’ve never felt anything else could be more true. I’ve never felt more confidence in prayer when opposition in life comes my way. I just tell the enemy, “you’re messing with the wrong girl! I know who my Daddy’s is!”

The more God rewrote what fathering is in my life … the more all the symptoms of not knowing fathering began to fade.

Just a couple weeks ago I had to go my OB/GYN who had delivered two of my babies, to check up on something. IN the past, these appointments provoked the anxiety I talked about earlier. Every time I had an appointment, it couldn’t go by fast enough. It was the one thing that got all up in my fears business and because of that, I tried to avoid it. I know, not good.


My doctor had to do a breast exam so the nurse came in with him. He has always talked through the whole thing, which I thought was just stupid, let me close my eyes and run away. But this time I didn’t even realize it, I chatted right back with him. I was even looking him straight in the eye and … I was asking questions.

“Who is this lady?!  When did she get here?!” I thought.

It was a new me! Zero anxiety. Zero trying. Zero work. Zero focus. I couldn’t have mustered up this kind of peace if I tried. The fear … It was gone. Totally gone. Gone!

When I got in my car I heard the Lord say, “It is finished. Rest in your freedom.”

I began to be overwhelmed by God’s goodness … I was seeing what change looked like on me … what freedom looked like on me! I was proud to be God’s daughter … I was proud of me, just like I knew He was of me for stepping up to the plate and tackling fears that wanted to keep me tangled and cause me shame.

I hope you’ve caught a glimpse of what process and journey can look like. There is freedom that is immediate and there is freedom you walk out. Never be settled with what you see in front of you … dare to look into freedom’s horizon. To hear God, receive His promises and embrace His ways.

We all have come face to face with fears in our lives. Some have greater grips than others. Those greater fears tend to torment and lie to us making us feel if anyone ever knew about them, they would think less of us. We continue to suppress them or we tell ourselves we aren’t prepared to face why we have them.

Freedom offers us so much hope and hope offers us so much freedom. Have hope as you look 2012 in the eyes. Ask God what new thing He wants to do in your life. Ask Him what ways you could be freer in 2012 then you were 2011. It starts with a promise and it will end with peace.

You only get one life to live, one story, own it, grow it, and share it!

Great Love to you in 2012 as you take on all the freedom that belongs to you!


~Ris: A Daddy’s girl!

“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Isaiah 42:9 (AMP)

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A Picture blog dedicated to 2012 and to being Brave, Bold and Beautiful!

Great Love your way for 2012! happy New Year! ~Ris

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This year’s Christmas letter may be right on time or a day late, but I was determined not to let the obstacles we’ve experienced the last few days keep us from reveling in the faithfulness of God this year.

We love our tradition of a Christmas letter to first thank the Lord for His tremendous love. We recognize without His intervention in our lives we would have very little to write, but instead He has written a grand story full of His miracles in our lives and we are grateful! Yuri and I often reflect on what our lives would look like with out our choice of Him (knowing He really choose us first). When we look at our boy’s faces, we are in awe of His goodness to us. Only we know who we truly were before we met Christ.

Second, we love connecting with the people in our lives! We value each one of you as a gift whether we see you daily or correspond yearly, we are grateful for our unique connection with you!

Last Christmas Eve and Christmas Day we spent at Disneyland, CA with my Mom (Nana), Grandpa Jose’, Great Nana (my Grandma), Joey, Bobby (my brothers), and Miss Jenny.  In planning, we choose to create memories instead of buying presents and that’s exactly what happened. We will never forget how Great Nana (82 years old) got all giddy meeting Woody from Toy Story, proving you are never to old to have some Disney fun! The older boys ran around with their Uncles feeling like big boys and getting their love buckets full. My brothers are great Uncles! Of course my Mom made us all wear Christmas hats keeping us festive, she is really good at that! We came together as a family on the 26th taking time to remember our Lord and spend precious family time together! Melchor family, thank you, and we love you all!

If you are a parent you know exactly how exciting this next statement is!!!!

This summer was our first family vacation WITHOUT a stroller!!!! Woot Woot! Happy dance! It was fabulous!

We headed back out to San Diego for the summer to do our annual Sea World trip and enjoy the beach. So blessed our friend Glory (who we are very thankful for, she is like family and a great blessing in our lives!) came out with us too, she helped me keep a hand on each boy, (as FOUR BOYS running around in the ocean still makes this Mama nervous). Yuri and I enjoyed a nice night away to celebrate our anniversary (which is Dec. 31st … I know, seemed romantic at the time).

In September Yuri and I had the opportunity to go back to Israel with a group from Gateway Church. We shared this time with great friends and made some new ones too! Last time we only visited Jerusalem, this time we toured the Sea of Galilee, Capernaum, Nazareth, Beersheba, the Dead Sea, and so much more! Being baptized in the Jordan for me was a very special memory. I had been baptized before, but hey, this was where Jesus was baptized! I asked the Lord to leave something new in the water, knowing we can always walk in more freedom and become more like Him. Amen. We both feel it was a life giving, refreshing time to focus on the Lord in the Holy Land and all He has done for us.

Our last trip of the year, Yuri and I went to San Francisco and enjoyed a tour of Napa Valley with friends. While in San Francisco we enjoyed an afternoon with Lowell, Yuri’s Dad. We always love getting time with him and hearing his history of the city. We feel blessed to have shared that time with him.

As for me, It’s been 2 and half years of working with an amazing team at , I love who I get to work with and what we get to partner with the Lord to do.  Please visit us at the site above if you haven’t before. I’ve continued to teach and lead within the Titus 2 ministry at our church. I’ve loved the testimonies and the women connecting to life-giving prayer in our small group. I value this time to grow in the Lord and prayer with these women.

Yuri continues to love his job at Church Media and has so much fresh vision for 2012. I love watching him do what he loves; helping ministries communicate their messages and ultimately change lives. He also took on a new hobby with all (yes, ALL) the boys that has changed the dynamic of our home … wait for it … Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (a form of wrestling).

If you would have told me in high school I’d have four boys and that they and my husband would be into wrestling, I would have told you … you were nuts! But living it out and seeing how much they love what they are doing, I have to say … I’d have it no other way! Last year I had begun to pray for my men to come together in something they could really connect in. Seeing us all come together in this … well, I see His hand!

Caleb is the BIG 10 years old this year. He loves fifth grade and being at the Middle School. He is super social and assertive. He brought home a silver metal at his first Jiu-Jitsu tournament. He loves biking and playing football with friends.

Colsen is 8 years old (2nd grade) and is our resident actor, dancer, singer you name it … entertainer! He started Christian Performing Arts Center in August (CPAC) and has just blossomed with confidence. He loves it and we love following him around to all his performances as he and his team minister the love of Jesus through the performance arts. He and Caleb also performed in a Christmas production this season, A Birthday of a King, we were so proud! He also received a silver metal in his first Jiu-Jitsu tournament.

Hudson is 6 years old (1st grade) and he is our comedian who doesn’t know a stranger! He has done two Jiu-Jitsu tournaments this year; he won a gold and a silver metal. He was the first to start training and he loves it and all the friends he has met there.

Davis is 5 years old. Can you believe it?! He is in pre-school. He can be shy but is such a sweet and compassionate little boy. He received a bronze in his first tournament. My favorite Davis quotes this Christmas are: “Mom, Look!!! God’s shining light!” to a blinking plane light in the sky.  While we were getting him ready for his Christmas special at pre-school, I told him he should wear a Christmas color shirt and he said, “No Mama! I need to wear a God colored shirt.”

We just left the hospital yesterday from a scary staph infection that got in Davis’ blood. God spoke to our hearts giving us tremendous peace that he would be fine although it was a dangerous situation. I posted on Facebook and many began to pray, he got to leave the hospital a half a day early. We were blessed by so many who rushed to our side with concern and prayers. I was moved by how beautiful the bride of Christ is and why Jesus is so passionate about His pursuit of her; the church … YOU! We experienced some Christmas in everyone’s love towards us this year! Davis is on the mend and our hearts are full of love for our Savior and all who we are called to do life with!

Great Love and Merry Christmas, The Stars –Yuri, Ris, Caleb, Colsen, Hudson and Davis