2011, Let's Do This!

Happy New Year!

As much as I love beginning new things and coming into a new year, I am not a huge fan of New Years Eve. Shocker, I don't like something. I think its the pressure of doing something amazing to close out the year. Or the idea that however you end a year will determine how you go into the next one. I find myself over analyzing (again, shocker) what I should be doing for New Years Eve. Honestly, anything I do so long as its with the people I love and care about would be just fine.

With the new year comes the "New Years Resolutions" not a big fan of these either. I would prefer to call them "Goals for 2011". It feels like anytime you add the word "resolution" that it's doomed for failure. I don't want my goals for 2011 to crumble as soon as February rolls around. So taking a look at 2010 and figuring out what I want to be different about 2011, here is what I came up with, in no particular order;

Quality time with God
Read More
Relax More
Learn More
Become a licensed pastor (nbd)
Take a REAL vacation
Go on a missions trip
Quit my 9-5 job
Visit Chris and Es in Iowa
Spend more time with my family
Orange Conference

I'm not sure that I'll get to do all of these, but if I had it my way this would be done by December 2011. I'm hoping to do at least 7 out of 9. It's possible. I'm sure I'm missing some things, but these are the bigger goals.


Break The Cycle

This weekend Pastor Billy spoke about generations and how we have the ability to break the cycle and not end up like our past influences. It was funny to me because he mentioned how being with his family for Christmas he thought to himself "I am so different from them" but in reality, we are so much alike that we clash.

I realize more and more that I am my father. The good and the bad. Last night was another reminder that as much I have changed, and as much as I don't want to be like his bad qualities, they still fester in my blood. Hot blood to be exact. I have what some may call a short impatient fuse. Believe me when I say that this fuse has lengthened over the past years but it's still not where I want it. If I could have it my way I would have all the patience in the world and nothing would bother me.

Last night myself and a few friends had dinner at Miguels Jr. Already irritated with the long line I ordered my food and sat down. My number was called and to my surprise the order was incorrect. Not a huge deal really, I let the worker know that it was not what I had ordered. Here's how it went down:

B=Me W=Worker

B: I had ordered a bean rice and cheese with extra rice

W: This is a bean and cheese, what you ordered.

B: No, I ordered a bean rice and cheese extra rice.

He then gives the burrito back to the cook and says in Spanish "Hey, she wants a bean rice and cheese with extra cheese" To which I say "No, a bean rice and cheese with extra rice"

W: What you don't like cheese? (with attitude)

B: Just give me the burrito the way it is, it's fine. (said with attitude)

Honestly, reading this back I sound ridiculous. But sadly, this is my day to day. Crazy part is that I seem to let my emotion show more when I am around people that are closest to me. Maybe it's because I know they won't disappear when they witness the real me. Maybe it's because I trust they won't judge me for my imperfections. NEWSFLASH: Brenda Medina is human and not perfect. Maybe it was the fact that I was tired and it had been a long day. But regardless, I never want my excuse for my actions to be "I had a really long day". I've watched too many people treat others like junk because they had a bad day.

The thing about my fuse is that I HATE myself for letting small things like this rob me of my joy. The worst part about all of it is that it just reminds me of my dad and the countless emotional explosions I witnessed growing up. I am determined to break the cycle and CHOOSE my emotions rather then let my emotions dictate my reactions.


Merry Christmas!

Tonight marked the beginning of a new tradition in the Medina family. It all started with my mom coming to church with me for Christmas Eve service. My mom hasn't been to church in I'd say close to two years. As I sat next to her I could hear her singing along to the songs, watched her give during offering, and watched her pray. I was a wreck! I literally felt like an emotional fool who couldn't keep her tears in. I was incredibly thankful to God for letting me experience that moment with her.

There have been a lot of changes this year with family and how we spend our holidays. So this year I suggested dinner and movies at my apartment. It was nice to be able to cook for them and host in my own home. They both seemed to really enjoy just being able to relax and enjoy each others company. It was a nice change of pace.

On that note, don't forget the reason for the season, YOU. Jesus came for YOU. Merry Christmas!


Your Love Is Strong

Music, gets me. It's a huge part of who I am. I can listen to it all day everyday. I think it's one of the most beautiful things that God created. This song has been stuck with me the past few days. Almost every time I hear it I want to cry. A reminder that His love is strong, and that He knows what I NEED.

"Your Love Is Strong"-Jon Foreman

Heavenly Father
You always amaze me
Let Your kingdom come in my world
And in my life

Give me the food I need
To live through today
Forgive me as I forgive
The people that wrong me

Lead me far from temptation
Deliver me from the evil one

I look out the window
The birds are composing
Not a note is out of tune
Or out of place

I walk to the meadow
And stare at the flowers
Better dressed than any girl
On her wedding day

So why should I worry?
Why do I freak out?
God knows what I need
You know what I need!

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

The kingdom of the heavens
Is now advancing
Invade my heart
Invade this broken town

The kingdom of the heavens
Is buried treasure
Would you sell yourself
To buy the one you've found

Two things you told me
That you are strong
And you love me
Yes, you love me

Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong
Your love is
Your love is
Your love is strong

Our God in Heaven
Hallowed be Thy name
Above all names
Your kingdom come
Your will be done
On earth as it is in Heaven
Give us, today, our daily bread
Forgive us weary sinners
Keep us far from our vices
And deliver us from these prisons


Baby Steps

On Thursday I took a baby step towards one of my 2011 goals. I sent in my request to the Assemblies of God office with a $25 dollar check to receive my information packet and application for credentials. It's been a little over two years since I completed my time with Catalyst School Of Ministry. When I originally started Catalyst I had no idea that I would be where I am today, I didn't even have the thought in my mind. I literally used to say "I don't want to be the kind of pastor that preaches every week", ironic that now that's what I do, and I love it.

For a long time I struggled with whether or not I even wanted to be a licensed pastor. Doesn't make sense right? Go to ministry school for two years and not want to do anything with it? It's been a long road, a lot of self discovery, a lot of focusing on what God wants for me, a lot of pruning, and a lot of obstacles. Thankfully that long road led me to where I am right now. It feels good to feel confident in what God wants me to do. The road doesn't end here, if anything it feels like I just turned on a different street, I'll be on it until God tells me otherwise.

The process to apply seems to be one of many hoops to jump through. It starts with submitting for an application packet, filling out application along with the long list of requirements, new credentials orientation, exam, interview, and I'm sure there's more. They hold two orientations a year, the first is March 24th, 2011 and the other is September 22nd 2011. I am hoping that I'll be able to finish with my paperwork so I can attend the March orientation.

I know that a lot of people will say that you don't need a certificate to say you're a pastor, but for me this is more than that. It's like going to college for 4 years and not wanting to finish your final exam to graduate. When I get called "Pastor Brenda" I want to know that I earned the right to be called that, even though I know I don't need a piece of paper to prove it.


Dinner With The People

Every Monday night after J. High myself, and some of my amazing leaders go out for what we like to call "Dinner With The People". It has literally become the night that I look forward to the most out of the week. Monday nights are already a night I love because I get to spend time with our J. High students by mentoring and loving on them. Dinner with the people has turned into this family that gets to be in community with each other while sitting around a table eating.

Last night I told them that it's the night I look forward to the most because I love that I get to do life with them. It may just seem like sitting around a table eating, but to me it's spending quality time with people that I love. It's important to me that my leaders understand that they are important to me as leaders, but first as people. It's not all about what they're doing for the ministry, but it really is about what I can do for them. Being able to set aside a couple hours a week to spend quality time with them is a blessing.

Spencer had made a comment to me about how his group of friends are changing and things aren't the same as they used to be. It really brought me back to, if things aren't changing and groups aren't evolving then you're doing something wrong. If things aren't changing then that means that you're staying the same. No one is meeting new people, no one is venturing out doing new things, no one is moving on up in life. Realize that change isn't always a bad thing, sometimes it's just change. Which brought me back to dinner with the people, I know that Monday nights won't be the same forever, so I'm enjoying it while I have it.


Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree...

Well, here she is in all her glory. This is the first ever Christmas tree that I ever purchased, and also decorated on my own. May not seem like a huge deal to you, but to me it was the beginning of a new tradition. Another sign that I really am somewhat of a grown up. Last year while I was visiting Chris and Es in Iowa I had the pleasure of going to a real tree farm where you pick your tree and cut it down yourself! Such a fun and crazy experience. Here in sunny Corona, CA. the experience wasn't as great. The trees here aren't as pretty and they are really expensive.

To save myself some money (or so I thought) I decided to string popcorn and cranberries on fishing wire. I learned it from the Kretzu's. I must say that this task is quite time consuming, and not as much fun when you don't have people to help you do it. I'm not sure how many times I pricked my finger, yelled a bit, and downright gave up. BUT I pushed through, and here she is. Also, a tip for those watching their pennies, I got all of my ornaments at the 99cent store. They have some really great buys! Don't mock it till you try it.


Emotional Rollercoasters

I'm going to India! No wait, no I'm not. I'm going to Haiti! No wait, not going there either. Just a tiny glimpse from my past few weeks, the makings of my emotional rollercoaster. As of Monday morning the trip to Haiti has been postponed due to the rioting going on because of the elections. It was decided that it was not safe for us to be out there at this time. To date, this is the third trip that I was completely set to go on, money paid, flight booked, time off work etc. and was postponed just weeks if not days before departure. I don't know why they all fell through, but I do know that I can't frustrate myself trying to figure it out.

The past couple weeks have been me trying to make sense of all of it. Its been "i KNOW God wants me to do this..." or "it's working out so perfectly it MUST be God's hand on it" to "I don't know what the heck is going on". I think the common thing I've come to is that it's not my job to understand, it's my job to obey. There's a chance that all of this was just a test, maybe God wanted to see how faithful and obedient I would be. Maybe it has nothing to do with any of that and maybe it's just a bad time right now.

What really keeps hitting me is that regardless of the ups and downs of my emotions through all of this is, its that the people that we were set out to help are still suffering. My emotional meltdown doesn't help the fact that people still need homes, still need someone to reach out to them, still need to know God loves them. I know that I have a God that I find my identity in, I know that when I feel the way I do right now, that He'll give me continuous joy. Not just happiness, but joy, happiness comes and goes, joy is a choice. I wish I could say that for everyone.

The enemy knows how to work anything and everything against me. Because immediately I started blaming myself for all of this, and making it all about me. To be completely honest, I wanted to leave the country and get away from the everyday routine of my life so that I could have God rock me so hard that I wouldn't be the same. Reality is, God can do that from anywhere that I am. I pray that He still does.

To add to the emotional madness, I gave up Fargo last night to a wonderful family who I know is going to love him unconditionally. The car ride there felt like an eternity. I felt like the entire time he knew exactly what was happening. All throughout the day I had been telling myself that I would be fine, that it's not a big deal, that I wouldn't get upset. Well, insert emotional breakdown #2 for this week. I'll admit it, I cried, and even now just thinking about it I get teary eyed. The family loved him, and I'm sure he will be more than fine with them.

I guess I just wasn't expecting to get worked up about it. The dog has been with me for 13 years, maybe it was the fact that my dad got him for me, or that he was his favorite. I'm really not sure. But I am so thankful that God was able to find him a home with great people who want to love him all day long.

It's only Wednesday, what else could this week bring? Hopefully not meltdown #3.