withchangecomesgrowth

"Pleasant words are like a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones." -Proverbs 16:24

Safest Place

You don’t want a baby, but you refuse to abstain
Because you want a life free of pain
You would rob his freedom and bring pain
You see him as an inconvenience, He sees you as his safest place
He dreams of seeing your face
He loves your voice, and he smiles when you laugh
He can feel when you breathe
And if you would brave to look at the screen
If only for a moment
You might fall in love with his little hands and feet
and it’s so plain to see
Why abortionists hate sonography
There’s solid truths that the terminology can’t change
They use words like “fetus”and “terminate”
But it’s a baby and they’re taking his life away
And I can’t swallow the irony of the statements they make
About a woman’s right to choose
Selling convenience for the price of blood
I’m a feminist in the truest sense. I believe in the right to choose
Choose where you work, who you marry or if you marry at all
But somewhere along the line, a line must be drawn
Because your right to choose should never supersede his right to life
And abortionists are in the business of selling a lie
We might as well call it what it is – they make their living from human sacrifice
Think about it
When “fetus” is actually Latin for offspring or little one
They might as well admit to killing your dearly beloved
Your own flesh and blood
And as you walk into the slaughterhouse, the walls are littered with photos of babies sucking on plastic bottles, silicone tits
Cause our society discourages real milk, seeing breasts as nothing more than sex objects.
And as the moments blur past
A nurse assures you that the “burden” will be lifted at last
You wake up to hear, “the procedure was successful.”
And you let out a sigh of relief
Only to hear the woman down the hall begin to weep
because she lost her child
The one she so desperately fought to keep
But in the end, her body was just too weak
It’s amazing to me – the rhetoric behind the blatent theory that it’s only a baby if you want it to be
And how can they bring forth life into a building where they do such barbaric things?
Congratulations on your successful delivery, the woman in the room below you just paid to get her child ripped out piece by piece
I’m sorry, if that’s a little graphic for you
Well sometimes they use an injection or a vacuum tube
As if that’s somehow more humane
No matter how you spin it,
a baby is getting maimed
All in the name of healthcare
I call bullshit
This is warfare
And we are an army confused
Seeing the victim as the villain
Just for having a heartbeat
For costing us precious time and money
For having needs
And our society sees
the predator as a friend because he’s clothed as a sheep
But if we would just look underneath
His immaculate white coat we might see
The talons that are tucked up in his sleeves
Ready to rip away the next generation
Of geniuses, entrepreneurs,
Business men and world changers
but see, it’s not about the pregnancy or whether or not you’re ready
Because no good thing comes easily
Our nation has become so lazy
We don’t want to sew but we want to reap
The benefits of brilliant minds
That will never see
The light of day
Or marvel at the stars
Or feel breeze on their face
Because someone took their choice away
As another child is ripped from his safest place…

So This is Love

There’s a spectacular thing that occasionally happens in the hospital. It begins with a  smile…or a tear – a moment in which the world stops. It just takes a second for a connection to spark, then you’re under its spell. When a little angel grips your finger with his tiny hands, he silently grips your heart with his smile. Most of us have felt it. That throat thickening, heart pounding, breathles moment in which you fall completely and entirely in love.

 

That happened to me during my first week here. Crib #40 on the fourth floor held a small baby boy dressed in a blue sleeper. Like any other hospital baby, he had a number on his sleeper to signify that he was there without a mother. We were getting ready to move into the next room when this one caught my eye. I peeked through the crib bars and took in the sight of this little guy. He had a small face, delicate fingers, a tiny body, deep brown eyes, a miniature adult-shaped nose and cute little dimples. He turned his head and peered up at me – his toothless smile lit up his whole face. He cooed quietly as we stared into each other’s eyes. I slid my arm through the bars and tickled his little tummy. His eyes squinted until they almost disappeared and he let out a silent laugh. My breath caught and I stared at him in awe. Again, I tickled his tummy and he giggled with delight. The volunteer beside me smiled as we continued our little game. I remember thinking he was the most precious little guy I’d ever seen… I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

The next day I made a beeline for my little prince charming. I was so excited to hold him, because I was in the habit of picking up fussy babies and I couldn’t wait to hold this sweet boy. I scooped him up in my arms and held him close. Over the next few days I changed his diapers and fed him and held him  every chance I got. Then one day…his crib was empty. I struggled with a mixture of emotions. I wanted to be happy that he went home to his family, but I couldn’t shake the uneasy feeling that came. I had a lump in my throat all day and I went home after my shift and cried.

As the days passed I found ways to distract myself. At times it was hard. Every day I saw babies that looked a bit like him…one had his cheeks, one had his eyes…another his smile. Whenever I remembered, I prayed. I prayed that he was safe and healthy. I had to accept the fact that I might never see him again.

The days grew warmer and new things charmed me and made me smile. I began working in the neurological ward each morning in addition to my baby shifts. I enjoyed playing with the kids and listening to music with them. I had finally come to peace with knowing I would probably never see #40 again.

One day, as I walked into a room after my shift in neuro, my two fellow volunteers were holding babies. It’s our smallest room and there were only two babies there. That’s when I saw him – in the arms of Mary Lynne. Could it be? I stepped closer and heard a gasp escape my lips. Mary Lynne graciously asked if I wanted to hold him. I don’t remember what I said, but I remember him being in my arms a moment later. This baby didn’t look anything like my little boy. His eyes and nose were red, his body felt hot, his right ear had dried blood in it, his skin was much darker and tight – like it had been sunburned. He was also very fussy –  which is unlike him. He coughed and sniffled between whimpers, occasionally switching into full-on wailing. I paced across the room and held him close to my chest. He pressed his sweaty head against my chin and I inhaled deeply. I closed my eyes and tried to remember his sweet baby scent. All too soon, it was time to leave him and go distribute diapers throughout the hospital. The whole time I passed out diapers I was thinking of him. I couldn’t wait to take him in my arms once more.

An hour later we had finished the diaper rotation and changed most of the babies on our floors. Finally I entered the last room. All the babies were asleep except for one. He sniffled and restlessly moved in his crib. Moments later he was in my arms as I perched myself on the edge of the crib. With his perfect little fingers gripping my hand, I sat there holding him close. Tears flooded my eyes and his beautiful face was blurred as I choked back a sob. This beautiful, perfect child was here in my arms again. The room was quiet as I sat alone with him. Stillness. We quietly stared into each other’s eyes for what felt like hours, but was probably only a few minutes. I’ve never known a baby who could hold such steady eye contact. Suddenly he coughed and wheezed. Poor baby was miserable. He clenched my scrub top and began to cry between gasps of breath. I grated my teeth and tried to ignore my irritated thoughts. It hadn’t even been two weeks…how was he so sick?

By then my other volunteers had joined me in the room. A nurse came in and gave my baby his medicine while he was still in my arms. I watched his face as she handled the port in his wrist and slowly pushed the medication into his vein. He whimpered a little, but didn’t scream. I proudly kissed his forehead as the nurse closed his port. Then I realized something…I finally had a chance to ask his name. The nurse held up one finger and ducked out the door. Moments later, she returned smiling and said, “Nicholas.”
I melted.

In this past week I have seen Nico every day. I won’t try to tell you how much I love him…I couldn’t put that into words. I’ll just say he’s my little buddy. Sometimes I’ll climb into his crib beside him and just lay there with my eyes closed as he coos softly. Other days are nothing but smiles and laughter.
No matter how I spend time with him, I cherish every moment I have with Nicholas. I know one day (very soon) he will be gone. I’ll walk in and find that he went home again, and I’m ok with that.

Blessed to Serve

Yesterday I had the opportunity to serve a young mother in the hospital. She has two children in neuro who seem to have the same disorder. The little girl is about five and the son is a toddler. They both seem to lack muscle coordination and their crazy little eyes go in all different directions. They are the sweetest children who smile at the simplest things. I’ve noticed the mother has to constantly hold the little boy because he needs comfort. Otherwise he aimlessly flails around on the bed. This poor mother is stretched thin between her two kids. I informed the nurse that I would be more than happy to help out and hold the little one so the mom could give her arms a break. As soon as the nurse translated my offer, the mother gratefully handed the toddler to me. Minutes later he was asleep on my chest and mom was able to spend some quality time with her daughter.

This occurred again today, only this time I moved to other rooms and engaged with the kids that were demanding my attention. The kids and teenagers smiled at him and made him laugh. It was neat how this little boy was so content to simply be held. I got to help out and give the mom a break. It’s really cool how the mothers are beginning to trust me more. They smile when they see me come in. They like to pitch in when they see me catering to older children with more severe problems. I’m seeing a chain reaction of people helping people. It’s like we’re growing into a big family. There are plenty of healthy kids who are just there with their siblings. Everyone is treated with the same respect. I love seeing them interact and share and help each other.

This is truly what it’s all about, yall…
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II

I consider myself a born-again Christian for two primary reasons.

I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to follow the Lord, but it strips down to only two. At the end of the day, when my resolve is weak, when the lusts are more appealing than the blessings, when the ugly bubbles to the surface of my soul, when my anger speaks, when my selfishness takes the spot light, when my slimy, perverse sinful nature writhes hungrily…there are only two things that keep me anchored – Only two truths keep me from fleeing into the darkness after lies that sparkle.

1. The one true God is supreme. YHWH is the ONE AND ONLY powerful, omnipotent, holy, SOVEREIGN, Lord of ALL. The earth trembles when He speaks. His glory shines in all the earth. He is good and perfect. There is none like Him. He is the inspiration of true creativity and beauty. He is protector. He is gentle. He is kind. He is faithful. He is magnificent.

2. I am filthy. He is the only one with enough power and authority to change my inner being. He could make me bearable. He could make “good enough” that I might tolerate myself. He could make me ok…but, no, He would never do that. He would never do less than extraordinary. He gives me strength, beauty, grace, talent, patience, love, tenderness, self worth, DESIRE, joy, passion, wonder, peace and an ache in my heart that can only be soothed by His presence – a craving for His company. He makes my wild heart gentle.

Two reasons – that’s all it takes to crazy flip someone’s entire world.

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Grace Above Shame

An abrupt writing on dealing with guilt.

Human nature tells us to hide from God when we sin – this is driven by shame. Do you know what though? There’s a better way to handle your shame. Lay it at His feet. Don’t wait a day, an hour, or even five minutes. The moment you get that twist in your stomach that says, “that was wrong” bring it to God. Even if it’s a repeated offense, don’t buy into the devil’s lie that God gets tired of forgiving you. That lie is created to drive wedge between you and God.
Yes, we are fallen creatures. Yes, we are unworthy to approach the throne with garments still dripping in sin…but we are also unworthy of unconditional love – yet it is given. We are unworthy of the death of an innocent man – yet it was given. God has never given up on you, not ONCE. Don’t give up on Him. Don’t turn your face away and pull out of His arms. In your times of deepest regret and guilt, draw near to Him. When you reach your most wretched point, cleave to your maker. He knows you inside and out, He knows your weaknesses, He knows your mistakes and He knows your fears…and He LOVES YOU. God knows that we are frail creatures. Remember, in our weakness, HE IS STRONG.
This is so simple, yet so easy to forget.
Much love, everybody!
-Faith Arellano

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The Grey Area

His voice strained as he struggled to keep his cool, “Faith, I could pull up in this neighborhood and get out of my car in a full suit, yet I’d still hear a white woman locking her doors!!! Do you know why? Because people are ignorant. I can put forward my best, but some people will always see me as just another ghetto nigga comin’ out the hood,” he spat in the dirt and shook his head.
We stood there in silence as his anger subsided, “Faith, give me your hand.”
I stretched my arm through the bars. He gingerly took my hand and turned my palm towards the sky. Then he extended his arm towards me so that his forearm lined up with mine. “…what do you see?” He asked. A smile played at my lips – I knew where he was going with this. I didn’t say a word, I just stared at our arms. His muscular arm was littered with tattoos and scars – each one told a story. His skin made mine look like a small cloud against a night sky. I didn’t see strength and weakness. I didn’t see good and bad. I didn’t see broken and whole, old and new, male and female or black and white. I just saw two people. It seemed altogether ordinary to me.
He answered his own question, “Nothing. To you and me this is nothing… But, Faith, not everyone sees the world the way you do. Some people still see things in black and white,” I nodded. He was right.
He hesitated.
“Faith, I know it isn’t the world’s fault. I’m not angry with anyone but myself. I know my situation is my own fault… It just feels like an uphill battle. I’m trying to better myself, you know that….but it’s HARD.” I bit my lip and refrained from commenting. I wanted to tell him that he wasn’t trying hard enough. If he was really serious about making a better life for himself, he wouldn’t be in my neighborhood collecting money from minors that he sold drugs to.

I slowly twisted my fingers into the gate bars and stared at him. He looked back at me with big empty eyes.
His skinny frame seemed to back up his story of living on very little. When I asked where he lived, he told me he’d been couch hopping. I wasn’t completely surprised – a handful of my friends have gone through a homeless phase. It isn’t unusual around here.

“Ya know…I just want to make a better life for myself. I hate wondering where my next meal is coming from, I hate not being able to see my own son cause his mom hates me so much…I loved that woman. I hate not knowing how I’m going to pay for my daughter’s diapers,” he jammed his hands into his pockets and squinted at the sun. I gazed over his shoulder in silence. Part of me wished I could help him, and part of me knew he got himself into this situation. A lanyard hung from his skinny neck, advertising some kind of clothing line – It had pornographic pictures of models on both sides. I felt my left eyebrow twitch. He’s so stupid. Nobody is going to take him seriously until he loses the thuglife attitude. I hate seeing these boys try and fall flat. It backfires when they actually do put forth effort to better themselves. I know he made his own decisions and got himself into this position, but he didn’t get to choose his family – he didn’t get to choose where he was born or how he was raised. For some, it truly is a hard knock life…

I stood there feeling a little regretful for all my many blessings. Sometimes I don’t know how to help these guys. I don’t know whether to brush them off or be the one person that listens – the one person that cares. We all reap what we sow. Hard work and willingness lead to growth and success. Conversely, bad attitudes and laziness bring poverty – it’s the cold hard truth.

Whenever I find myself thinking of these guys, I remember Isaiah 42:22. It says, “But this is a people plundered and looted, all of them trapped in pits or hidden away in prisons. They have become plunder, with no one to rescue them; they have been made loot, with no one to say, ‘Send them back.'”

This scripture resonates with me for very personal reason. You see, I was one of those people. I was once a captive myself – bound by chains of fear, bitterness, hatred and guilt. I know how it feels to live from one moment of false pleasure to the next – lingering on every temporary high. I know how it feels to get sucked downward into darkness, as if there is nothing left in life but the sound of your deepest regrets shrieking in your face. I know what it’s like to live for the distraction – anything that will pull you out of the pit…anything that will wake you from the nightmare of being tormented by your demons. I know what it is to live half a life – cloaked in fear and shame.

Let me tell you something, I believe in spiritual warfare. I believe in the Bible…every part. I believe that wars are at wage for our souls. Do you know that there really are prisoners of war? I know. I was one of them. Don’t believe me? Ask me what I’ve seen. Ask me what I’ve heard. I know this stuff is real. I’m only the woman I am, because some very brave people had the guts to save me from myself – to demolish the lies of the devil and replace them with biblical truths.

Have you ever watched a movie where the good guys get captured by the bad guys, but you know it’ll be ok because you know the good guys get free in the end and show the bad guys who’s boss? You’re not worried about the good guys because you know their buddies are about to show up and break the chains and save the day. That’s how I like to see the world. See, we don’t win on our own. We have to work together. “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1cor 12:27) Something remarkable to note about a lot of movies is that the hero or heroine is usually the one locked up (or even a handful of the main characters) and some seemingly insignificant character shows up just in the nick of time. I want you to think about that for a moment. Why is this so important to remember? Because sometimes we refrain from intervening into someone’s life because we feel like it isn’t our job – like we aren’t a close friend or relative, therefore it isn’t our place to intercede. Why do we do this? I guess there’s a variety of reasons starting with cultural and social norms. We’ve been taught to stay firmly out of people’s inner courts unless we’ve been invited. Do you know what though? I’ve never seen movie where the captives write a pretty letter to their distant friends saying, “I’m trapped and I would very much appreciate it if you would come save me. I promise a big party with cookies and board games to thank you after it’s all over.” Why? Because it doesn’t work that way. It isn’t that easy. Often times, the captives don’t request a rescue party because they simply CAN’T. So what’s a concerned bystander to do? Sometimes you simply have to storm the gates and set your buddies free. That looks different depending on the situation. Some instances call for confrontation and tough love, while others require a more delicate approach. Sometimes it’s behind the scenes work – like locking yourself in the closet and praying hard until your palms sweat and your breath comes short. Sometimes it looks like a tight hug in the middle of a crowded restaurant and a promise that everything will be okay. Sometimes it’s a deep face-to-face talk separating truth from lies. Ultimately, it comes down to you saying, “Satan, this person isn’t yours. You have no right to be here and I command you to leave in the name of Jesus. You and your demons, go back to the pits of hell where you came from.”
Guys, this is probably the easiest way you will ever win a fight in your life. Take advantage of it. God has given YOU authority over the devil. Use it. Don’t let yourself be silenced by timidness. The book of Ephesians says, “Pray also for me, that whenever I speak, words may be given to me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” (eph 6:19-20)

This is so easy, yall. It’s time to step up and starting setting the captives free.

Someone is Watching You

My heels clicked softly against the linoleum floor of the grocery store. As I breezed around the corner of an aisle, a middle aged man let out a low whistle. I grated my teeth and kept walking. Geez dude, at least wait until I’m out of earshot… I spotted a woman in a red associates shirt and asked her where I could find the lint rollers. She directed me across the store and assured I could find them by the cleaning supplies. Well, the lint rollers weren’t easy to find, so I asked an elderly associate in the cleaning aisle. Imagine my surprise when a voice came from behind me,

“Oh, they’re in the next aisle. Here look…”

I turned to see the man who had whistled at me minutes before. He was wearing a green jacket and a brown cap. I really didn’t want to accept his help, but the associate didn’t seem to know where the lint rollers were, and I was in a hurry to get home after a long day. I hesitantly followed him around the corner. I thanked him with very little politeness and made a beeline for the lint rollers. He puffed out his chest,

“No problem, beautiful….you know, I like your style.”

“Thanks,” I muttered. I clenched my jaw and continued to compare prices. As he wheeled his cart down the aisle I could feel the threads inside my shoulders loosen – I hadn’t realized how tense I’d been. Then his voice cut the air again – my shoulders tightened like rubber bands.

“Ya got a name, gorgeous?” Really?!? Are you freaking kidding me? GO AWAY!

“Faith,” I said curtly, not looking away from the shelf.

“…Ya got a number???”

I straightened up and turned to face him. “Yes, but I don’t give it out,” I stated matter-of-factly.

“Oh, I see…well, if I left mine with you is there any way you might…”

I cut him off, “Look, man, you’d be best off talking to my Daddy. Yes, I’m still that young. Ok? Like, I’m definitely below your age range.” I scrunched my brows trying to soften the blow.

He backed off, “Oh, alright. I understand.”

We both nodded and went about our business. I waited an extra minute to make sure he was gone. Then I peeked around the corner. Dang it he was standing in the freezer area with his back to me. I slipped by and headed towards the candy aisle where my buddy was working. I walked up and poked him,

“Dude, the weirdest thing just happened.” I told him what had just occurred and he laughed at me. I explained that I was stalling because I didn’t want to risk walking by the man and giving him another opportunity to talk to me. After a few minutes (when I was sure it was safe), I headed to my usual check out line. When the registers came into view, I froze dead in my tracks. There he was…in the fast check out – exactly where I was headed. I slowly back tracked and ducked behind a family that was selecting ice cream. I stood there in the freezer aisle trying to figure out what to do. I think the family gave me a funny look, but that part is blurry. Just go check out, and stop being so silly. It’s just a random man. What’s the big deal? I couldn’t figure out why this was such a big deal to me. It’s not like I hadn’t been followed through that store before; in fact, it wasn’t even the first time a guy had been obnoxiously persistent. There was something different about this one – the normal age is early to mid 20s, with an occasional late 20s or early 30s. This man was well over 35. It wasn’t just his age though – there was something unsettling about that him that I couldn’t put my finger on. My eyes followed the man as he made his way towards the exit. I took a deep breath and hurried to the closest register. I quickly unloaded my arms onto the conveyor belt and eyed the doors. My breath caught – there he was…standing a few inches outside the automatic doors. He had his back to me again as he stood there looking at his phone. chill out, he’s probably just responding to a text or something.  I fidgeted and turned my body away…trying pathetically to hide my face. I had forgotten to place a separator between my groceries and the man in front of me. The cashier accidentally scanned one of my items before we stopped him. I stared at doors. As people passed through them, the man just stood there…motionless. The back of my neck prickled. The man in front of me paid and left. I shuffled impatiently as my items were scanned. The seconds seemed to pass in slow motion. My eyes stayed glued to the man in the green jacket.

“Tired?” I jumped a little and glanced up to see the clerk smiling warmly at me. I’d seen him a couple of times before – he was young and very polite.

“No. Well, yes. Sorry, I’m in my own little world.”

“You ok?” he prompted.

“Uh-huh. There was just this guy following me and I was just hoping he wouldn’t see me. He’s been standing by the door there…” I nodded towards the doors – I felt the blood drain from my face…the man was gone. “At least, he was…He’s gone now. I mean, he seems to be.” I swallowed hard. “I’m not entirely sure he’s really gone though…”

He leaned forward, “Do you want to have someone walk you out?”

“Yeah, I was just about to ask that…I’ll have my buddy, Jay, do it.” He nodded and went on to assure me that they have cameras everywhere and the store is under surveillance at all times. He informed me that if I ever felt unsafe, I could just tell an associate and they would walk me out. I thanked him sincerely and walked to another register where my friend was standing. I slipped my hand into the crease of his forearm and pulled slightly. He spun around.

“Hey girl! What’s up???” A smile plastered his face.

“Hey man, you’re walking me out.”

“I am?”

“Yes.” I tugged lightly on his arm and turned towards the exit. Once he fell into step with me, I let my arm drop.

“What’s going on?” he looked into my eyes with concern.

“Nothing I hope. There was just this man following me and I got the feeling he might be waiting outside. It’s probably nothing though. I just wanted to play it safe,” I lied. I knew the man would be waiting for me. Every alarm in my body was going off.

“Oh gotcha. Yeah, I know what you’re sayin. I’ve actually been in a similar situation before…” As we neared the exit, I felt myself leaning closer to Jay. I don’t normally walk so close to guys – the situation had me acting like a little girl. I tensed as we stepped through the doors. Here was the moment of truth – time to see if my instincts were right or if I was paranoid. I kept my head straight and peeked out of the corner of my eye – there he was. The man in the green jacket stood in the shadows. He opened his mouth and stepped forward. I felt my skin go cold. He stopped when he saw Jay. I felt like a frightened rabbit. This was the act of a lifetime. Ignore him, Faith. C’mon girl. Don’t let him know you’ve seen him. Just keep moving. Don’t freeze up. Just do something! Adrenaline pulsed through my veins. I knew my face was about to be a dead giveaway, so I channeled my energy and thought quick. I felt my eyes tightening and forced a smile. I turned my body towards Jay and exclaimed,

“A GIRL?!? No way! Tell me more!” I gestured elaborately prompting him to continue.

He smiled, “Yeah, a girl.”

I giggled and leaned in to whisper playfully, “Bro, you been stalked by a lady?”

“Yeah,” he chuckled. He lowered his voice? “Is he there?” I nodded. “Is he watching us?”

I waved my arms in excitement and exclaimed, “Yes. of course, silly!” I pretended to be entirely absorbed in this engaging conversation.

When I was sure we were out of earshot, I skipped ahead of Jay and spun around. I spoke quickly and quietly through a huge fake smile, “Ok as soon as we get to my car, I’m going to hug you. Make a show of it, because he’s still watching. Sound good?” Jay nodded. We hugged, and I thanked him.

“No problem. That’s creepy. Is he still there?”

“Yes.”

We said goodnight and Jay headed back towards the store. I started my car with shaking hands and drove home.

Just another tale of a modern woman…

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