Tuesday, August 23, 2011

What My 1st Earthquake Felt Like

Columbia Heights Shopping Center (DC USA)
Where the escalators are located (photos not taken by me + on another day)


Just like normal employees in this grand country of ours, each day I take an hour lunch break. It's my personal time to detox from my work environment and all the stress. Shopping is therapy for me and today I left work at 1:15 PM, and was perusing around the shopping complex (that you see above).  Around 1:53 PM, I was JUST exiting the Bed Bath + Beyond (to go back to work) when I heard super LOUD noises and screams. All I could think of was "Ummm, should I throw myself on the floor (since initially I thought it was a shooting)?" It's amazing that in a "split second," so many things run through your mind. Everyone froze for that split second, not knowing what was going on because during that split second, the noises were getting louder and louder (notice the bottom picture, the building is huge and has many windows). Then panic kicked into and it was pandemonium!! There is an escalator that leads to the main doors and everyone sprinted for it... All I could think of at this point was, "Lord, is this what a terrorism attack feels like?" DCUSA is the largest shopping complex in Washington, DC and the metro train runs right below it. So, mind you, everyone is going nuts and pushing and shoving and I'm thinking, "Lord, please help us not get stampeded!" We were all running down the escalator and then we couldn't run anymore because there was a young mother with a stroller and holding her toddler's hand. At this point, people are screaming, "RUN, RUN, MOVE, GET OUT THE WAY!" I was directly behind the toddler and God turned on my "fight or flight" mode and I picked up the little girl without asking the mother and literally ran down the moving escalators in a dress and slippery flats. Again, in that split second, I thought, "OMG, I wonder if this lady thinks I'm about to kidnap her child??!!" But didn't care. At this point, no one still doesn't what is going on. I let the little girl go once we were outside and thank God, meanwhile, an angel helped the mother with the stroller down the escalators.

Once we got outside, people were crying in hysterics and my beloved older Latinas were praying at noticeably audible levels. Everyone was trying to call someone they loved and no one was getting through. All we saw were ambulances, police cars, and unmarked black SUVs zooming by and it made everyone more nervous. At this point, I'm sure everyone was thinking "this is definitely terrorism." Some were saying, it was maybe an accident of the metro directly below us and others were saying maybe it was the Washington Sports Club's pool that had erupted (???). Then I think some people's phones started working and someone screamed, "It was an earthquake!!" It completely made sense of why everything shook so fiercely and why my legs were wobbly. Since we didn't have access to our phones, we couldn't read about possible damage or any other details. Sorry if you saw me frantically contact my husband on FB... I was praying hard and while I knew God was in control, I still wanted to hear from my love and other loved ones (nothing wrong with that). After many unsuccessful attempts to get through to my loved ones, I just continued to pray and facebook (lol). They did not allow us to go back inside to get our car (which was underground) for fear of aftershocks. After waiting for 2 hours, thank God they finally let us back in.

All in all, I was shaken up pretty bad because it was my first earthquake ever. I know to those from the West Coast or other earthquake prone places, this was literally nothing, but for us who have never even remotely felt anything like this, it was terrifying. I know God had a plethora of prayers to tend to during those moments. Had I been sitting at my desk during this event, I'm sure I wouldn't have been so shaken and I'm sure I wouldn't have blogged about it (or maybe)...But I was literally in the middle of chaos. Thank you precious Lord, that despite being in the middle of chaos + panic, you still protect + shield us...Please help us to be ready for YOUR soon return.  

What was your story? Please share!

To read more about the DC 2011 earthquake, click here.

God bless + be safe!



Saturday, August 13, 2011

Are We Only in (or Out of) Church Because of Friends? PART II.

About a month ago, I blogged about the correlation of friends and church and how they are linked. At the end of that post I said the following, "What I'm saying is friendships are an integral part of our worship experience and spiritual walk, but they should not be our main motive." The part that I will address in this second part is how friendships are an integral part of our worship experience.

As you probably know, for almost 2 years now, my husband and I switched from attending a Spanish speaking church to an American, English speaking church called Restoration Praise Center (which I highly recommend you visit one day). When we arrived, we were introduced to many new aspects of worship, the christian walk, spiritual growth, ministries, you name it. And one of those things was that I noticed many members had accountability partners. When I looked up the definition of an accountability partner it stated that it is a person who coaches another person in terms of helping the other person keep a commitment. The term is often used by Christians where the accountability partner helps a person adhere to a moral commitment. Interesting, eh? So, back to what I was saying, I noticed that many members in my church had an accountability partner (aside from their best friends, husbands, wives, and family). I personally do not have one, but I've heard that they pray with each other on the phone once a week (or more)...also, they check in to see how their partner is doing spiritually and to motivate each other in their walk with God. Doesn't that sound phenomenal?

I know a couple of you might be thinking, "Hmmm, isn't that what friends are for?" The answer is, YES, but the reality is it doesn't always happen so frequently within our friendships. I think the role of the accountability partner is more spiritually centered. That's not to say friendships aren't, but it's like that saying, there are friends for everything... There are those friends whom you run to when you need a shoulder to cry on, there is that friend you run to when you've found the most awesome sale on those pair of shoes, there is that friend you tell about your crisis at work, there is that friend you ask for advice, there is that friend you call just to get some serious laughs, I could go on for days... So, while we can talk about God to all those friends (including the one you run to when you've found a good deal on shoes), the truth of the matter is not everyone is interested in being "accountable" or being an accountability partner.

I've heard our Senior Pastor, Pr. Paul Graham, speak about his accountability partner and how blessed he is to have him. Another pastor, Pr. Joey Pollom, came to our church not too long ago and briefly spoke about the accountability partner he has had for over 10 years (!!) and how much of a blessing that has become in his life. (Btw, if you want to hear an amazing sermon right now by Pr. Joey Pollom, click here). This concept of accountability partner is so amazing to me and while I've had the blessing of having great family and friends who do care about my spiritual welfare (and likewise), I haven't had an accountability partner (outside of my marriage). It's something I am praying about because I believe when two or three come in Jesus' name, miraculous things occur. 

I was googling accountability partner to see what I could find and I came across this article written by Dr. Jon Alfredsson and while it's not based on the spiritual accountability partner, it definitely has lots of information that correlates beautifully to what spiritual partners can do for each other with God's help:::

Accountability Partner – 5 Reasons Why do you need one?

There are not many things that can increase productivity and motivate you in such a drastic way than having an accountability partner. It is probably one of the single most effective ways to become more productive. No matter what you do, get one!

Here I will give you five reasons why you want one:::
  • How Getting an Accountability Partner Increases Your Productivity …You cannot rationalize and make excuses if your accountability partner stands firm and won't let you get away with those weak excuses. And eventually, you WILL feel guilty if you're not doing what you're supposed to be doing. …
  • Your Best Business Asset: An Accountability PartnerAn accountability partner is someone who can help you stay on track toward reaching your goals and creating a life and business by design rather than default. January marks three years that my accountability partner and I have been …
  • Breaking Free » Choosing a Good Accountability PartnerAccountability partners are fellow strugglers, not moral giants. They need to be able to sympathize with the struggle, either because they have struggled through it themselves or because they have successfully counseled those who have. …
  • The Single Most Significant Element in MLM Success | Bicycle BikesAnd then there comes that encouraging hand, and we are back in the game. The Accountability Partner. Encouragement is great but there is something else that is often more important than that: accountability. This is where you agree to …
  • Who is your Accountability Partner?Define and implement some guidelines for what accountability looks like and have your partner check in with you on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Take these reasons to your heart and get an accountability partner NOW if you don’t have one! If you get one, you WILL be much more likely to succeed in whatever you are doing! To your Success, Dr. Jon
Great little piece by Dr. Alfredsson, right? Makes me think more about having a spiritual accountability partner. Again, friends shouldn't be the ONLY basis of why we are in church, but remember friends and fellow brother and sisters in Christ ARE an essential part of our walk with God.

I know some of you reading this have an accountability partner and perhaps you would like to share how it's impacted your life (please do share). Or maybe this is the first time you've heard of this concept, what are your views on this? Or maybe you are like me, you've heard of this amazing partnership and have been praying about choosing the correct accountability partner... Whatever your stance on it, please share, I'd love to hear!




P.S. I will continue to pray for my future accountability partner and will let you know how it has changed my life (because I know it will).

Friday, August 12, 2011

My Heart Says Yes-- Troy Sneed

I absolutely love this soft + harmonic song that talks about the Christian heart and welcoming God. Enjoy + be blessed!
My Heart Says Yes

Jesus I Love You
And you are welcome in, your welcome in this Place
I'm lost without you
Can't do nothing without you oh no
and you are welcome in,your welcome in this place
My heart says yes (to your will)
My heart says yes (to your ways)
and you are welcome in,your welcome in this place

My heart says yes(can't live without you)
My heart says yes(can't do nothing, can't do nothing without you
you are welcome in
your welcome in this place
My heart says yes (Lord, I'm yearning for you)
My heart says yes(Lord, I need you)
and you are welcome in, your welcome in this place

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

You're HOW Old??? Praise God!

There has been something on my heart for some time and while I've expressed it to some of my friends, I have never said anything in public about it. It's not a huge pet peeve or anything, but it kind of bothers me when people are completely ashamed to share their age or when people complain excessively about their age. Yes, I get it...it's not "mannerly" to ask for people's age, but come on, what's the big deal?! And what's with all the complaining about your age?! At least you are alive. Disclaimer:: In this blog I am NOT referring to good-natured age jokes. I like to joke around too, trust...but I'm talking about the serious (and sad)  complaints and silences about age.

The way I see it is that every year you turn another year, it is truly a blessing from God and it is a testimony in itself! Do you know how many people make plans for their next birthday bash and never make it? They probably had the guest list ready, the venue reserved, their outfit complete, and cake ordered, but they never got to enjoy it because of some circumstance (either accident, illness, a violent act, or just never woke up) cut their life off. Life is short (for some), lets enjoy it and embrace our age!

Not too long ago, someone was complaining about turning a certain age and I told them, "What?! You should be thanking God you have lived to be this age...There are some who don't even make it to their mid-twenties, let alone thirties and forties...!!" Which leads to share something about a good friend of mine from Takoma Academy whom before we all left to Winter Break (mid-December to early January), we gave each other a long hug and gave our "seasons greetings"...Little did I know that was the last time I would see or talk to her. She was playing her violin (which she totally rocked at) at home during break and kept complaining of a simple headache to her mother... The headache continued to get progressively worse and to make a long story short, she ended up having an cerebral aneurysm and passed away. Sorry for the morbid story, but I promise I'm going to make a good point...just keep reading. So, every time I hear complaints about age or people who are completely secretive about their age because they are ashamed (really, what else is it if it's not ashamed?), I think about my friends who never made it to even their mid-twenties. I'm sure you also have friends or family who left you too soon that you can relate to.

To be alive is a blessing, my friends, let's thank God for it... To live another day is a HUGE blessing, to live another ENTIRE year is even greater! God is good to have given us life...Have you thanked him for your 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, etc years of life lately? The next time age is brought up in your group of friends (or acquaintances), go ahead give it a try, tell them your real age and tell them about the many blessings God has done to bring you this far!



P.S. Just so you know I'm proud and thankful to God He has given me 28 years of life. Just amazing if you think about all the things that could have stopped me from reaching this age. Thank you Lord!