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Life changes…

It just does! One moment you are celebrating a new marriage with joy and happiness, the next, you are having a funeral, and in sadness and loss, you are remembering a life well lived. There are times when life is just smoothly moving along, and then there are times, we feel every ache and pain and sickness that comes our way. Life just changes, and even though we may get better at coping with those changes, changes come and life gets complicated and brings on emotional heaviness. The result may be loss of sleep and rest, and you begin to reflect on your humanness. Even in happiness and joy, when a baby arrives, or you have a new job, or starting something new in your life, these changes still weigh on us, we feel them and live them out.

With those changes comes growth, challenge, and struggle. It’s like a butterfly coming out of the cocoon, a metamorphosis of hope. Thinking and believing that in that process, change will bring good to us, and a new life. I believe that God uses all of it. Sometimes it is not what I want, but life changes, it just comes, and all of sudden we are in it. And I mean we are in it!

I have never been afraid of change. In fact I have embraced it at times and looked forward to it. I have learned, endured, and struggled through those changes, and yet survived and moved on. Scripture says, “all thing work together for the good for those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Why would God use change in our lives? Could those changes be for a purpose, and could he not use the sadness as well as the joy to bring change in my life? Could he not use the times of being in the dumps and loss to call to me, to redirect my steps, my thoughts, my heart?

Sometimes change is hard, but if the Lord can use it to bring me to him, Lord, I want it. Lord, I need it. No matter what, life changes. I just celebrated my grandson’s two-year old birthday, the same weekend of Mother’s Day, the first one without my mom being here. It was a lot of internal emotion going on, but I trust in God, he is my lead and my direction when life changes. I do know there are good and healthy ways to help you get through change, but God must be our first step in dealing with change.

I just have to keep on trusting him…life changes, but I know he is in it, I know he can use it, and I know he will be glorified through it.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on you down understanding; in all you ways, (all your changes) submit to him, and he will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6

Little singing boy…

Micah (with hat pulled to his eyes)

Come and see! My daughter and son-in-law told us to come and see him. Pa rum pum pum pum…

Joy, excitement, determined, my grandson, Micah, was so happy to be there. This was his first time to perform…it was a simple act. And we were there to see it all. He had come to give it his all and to be a part of something he had never done or seen before. Micah was turning 4 years-old and ready to celebrate the season, and his birth. He didn’t really understand it all but he came to sing and do his best.

Sometimes in our adult living we forget to bring our best or decide not to bring our finest gifts. I was taught to do my best to honor to my parents and most importantly to please God. In everything I do I should be lifting up God in my efforts, just like this little boy did. It wasn’t much, it was just his simple and obedient desire to please his parents and family. He simply gave out of what he had to offer. Pa rum pum pum pum…

So, as his family watched (and unashamedly waved and smiled at him), he sang, and he performed, and he gave himself to the moment. He sang his best, and it was good, and it brought smiles and joy to his family. Then I realized this was not for us this was a moment he was performing for Jesus, he was singing his best for Him. He was created to bring praise to God and he did, to the King of Kings, the one who was born for us. We should sing, and act, and live our best for him. Pa rum pum, pum, pum.

It was a simple act…just his voice and his smile.

Come they told me, pa rum pum pum pum. A new born king to see, pa rum pum, pum, pum. I played my best for him

My sister…the heroine!

A heroine is a woman who is admired for great strength, courage, achievements, and noble qualities.

How did she do it? It was a great effort and struggle, very demanding at times, frustrating, and sometimes very difficult. Yet, it was her love and devotion that she had learned in her family that carried her through all the years of caring for our mother. Annette is the heroine of our family!

Mom lived a long time, 98 years, and my sister, Annette, lived with her for many years. To add to it, mom lost her hearing many years before she passed away. Annette would do a lot of yelling and then do it again, and then maybe again. Mom not only lived a long time, but she was relatively healthy and on the go. This meant that Annette was also required to be on the go. She accompanied her to the store, to doctors’ appointments, to church, and maybe some occasional shopping. Mom was an incredible cook, so Annette also has become an amazing cook. Mom loved plants and gardening and would work in her gardens, so Annette also fell in love with plants and gardening. All along the way, my sister was caring for mom, mom was caring for Annette and instilling in her these noble and wonderful qualities of being a devoted and loving daughter and caretaker.

I know Annette would tell you that there were some difficult and stressful times. She may even admit there were a few days they both wished they were somewhere else. But, I also know Annette loved her dearly and cherished every moment God gave her with mom. She learned so much and has become like mom in so many ways. She is a heroine, and our family is so indebted to her for all the minutes, hours, days, months, and years that she cared for mom.

She was amazing…she is amazing. We will miss mom’s strength and will to live, but we still see it. She is with us, and she is my sister, a rock…the heroine of our family.


It just wasn’t the same, it didn’t feel right. The first night I slept in my moms house after she passed away was such a feeling of being lost, alone, without. My siblings and I had become ophans. It wasn’t like we knew the day would never come, her life was failing and ebbing out of her, yet we held on. She was our mom and our family and our home. She was a feeling of comfort and belonging that God had given us.

I know everyone goes through these times, some earlier than others, in fact, God blessed us with mom for 98 years. How could we not be thankful for all of those years and memories of having mom. Yet, now we have lost her, and things will be different. We will feel her absence each time the family comes together. The kitchen where she cooked, the table where we sat and ate with her, the living room where we gathered as family to talk and laugh and watch her beloved Rangers baseball team, it will all be different without her.

But, she left something with us…alone but not without. We may be orphaned but her spirit, and her smile, and her wittiness, wisdom, love, and let’s not forget her cooking are still with us. These are all gifts of the legacy she lived in front of us. The greatest gift she left us was her love for God, her faithfulness even through her suffering is important for us to hold on to the rest of our lives. She has fought the good fight, (and it was a fight in those last days), she finished the race, the race and life that God had set out before her, she kept the faith.

She will be missed, she is already missed, but she left us so much. And God used all of her days to show us his great love and grace for us. We are orphaned, she is gone from this earth and we are alone… but not without.

I held her hand, brushed her face, kissed her cheek and told her I would see her again soon. Thank You Lord, for giving me such a beautiful mom as a gift to me and our family, just like you gave your Son…to show us your love.

Grace, grace…

I have seen God’s grace this past week! I know it is not always easy to see and experience it today, but his grace is real and recognizable. In fact, it is our responsibility as his followers to show his grace.

In these uncertain days, many people are in need of his unconditional love that can be shown in various ways. It doesn’t have to be a big thing because in the smallest of ways we can show God’s love so that others can also recognize it and experience his grace.

Maybe it is a school teacher starting back to school, or a neighbor struggling with family issues. Maybe it is a stranger looking for help and food. God’s grace may result from just a simple prayer, just a step out of our way, an extra contribution, volunteering to serve others, or maybe just a phone call. If not the church, which is the body of Christ, his followers, where else can the world go to find grace?

The world is looking for God’s grace, his unconditional love and forgiveness; but it seeks them in the wrong places. They can be found, not in our own ideas of religion or piety, but in the life of Jesus, a life that transforms our lives to a life of grace. When you know Jesus, you begin to understand His grace. When you are obedient to his Word and learn to follow him, you will find and experience his grace.

I have seen and experienced his grace.  It is real and it continues to change me and change others. One lady came to the food pantry to get groceries this past week, but she walked away with more than groceries. She experienced God’s love and forgiveness, God’s grace.

I rejoice and I am grateful for his grace, which I need daily.

Marvellous grace of our loving Lord,
Grace that exceeds our sin and our guilt!
Yonder on Calvary’s mount outpoured,
There where the blood of the Lamb was spilt.

Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace,
Grace that is greater than all our sin!

Eleazar-God is our help!

My dads name was Eleazar “Charles” Maciel, but he took on the name “Charles’’ as his familiar name somewhere along his life. I really only remember people calling him Charles but he would use Eleazar when he was introducing himself. I didn’t realize it until after he passed away that his name “Eleazar” meant, “God is our help.” I am not sure why his parents gave him this Hebrew name but I know his mom, and my grandmother was a devoted follower of Jesus. She was always in the Word and looking for God’s help despite being in a wheelchair much of her life.

It wasn’t until my dad turned 40 that he truly called on God to help him. He was lost and struggling with his purpose and his identity in life. Then one Sunday he was at home by himself and he got on down on his knees and called on God. He asked Jesus to come into his life and to help him. He was found, he began to understand his purpose, he had found his strength and the understand the true meaning of his given name, Eleazar.

I began to see and understand as I grew up around him that my earthly dad called on God to be his help with great devotion. He began to live and trust God in this life with all things, his family, his work, his sickness, and even his death. God was his help, and because I saw that in his life I began to understand that I must also call on God to be my help.

It is not my own strength or wisdom that gets me through each day. It is not my wife or family that helps me through the struggle. It is not even my church, it is God, God is my help. He is my strength through this time of uncertainty. He is my hope when so many people around me are living without hope. He is my peace when everything else around me seems chaotic. He is my help, he is the help. He is the help we all need in this time.

Psalm 91 says, “I will deliver; I will protect those who know my name.” My dad knew his name…the name of the Lord, and God gave him a name…Eleazar…to help him know that “God is our help.”

35 years…a promise

35 years! Wow, we both realized that we have been a couple for a long time. We are thankful for how God has used and taught us about marriage and each other in these 35 years. But I would have to say, that He has really used these years to teach us about His love and grace. Because we both understand that God lives in us through His Spirit we can both experience and possess love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, and self-control. Don’t get me wrong, we are human so we also fail and struggle to allow His Spirit to lead. Therefore, we take over and begin to make a mess of our lives and marriage.

There have been difficult times, struggling, hurting, and painful times. Times we fought and ignored and weren’t considerate of each other. Times we were selfish and rude and not putting each other first. Marriage is a marathon…you run with endurance, it is a long haul. And in that marathon, there will be highs and lows, but our goal is to finish, to complete the task of the holy union we pledged to each other and to God.

We know there will be tough days ahead of us, but we also know that God is our lead. He is really our true goal and we want to honor Him in this marriage. We want to live and love in such a way as to lead others to Him and not just a good marriage. We are blessed to have a good marriage, a marriage of 35 years, but even more blessed that God is using us in the lives of our children and friends, and maybe others.

Think about it…marriage is a commitment to love and be devoted. God is using my marriage to teach me about being devoted to Him. To give myself, to share in the joy of being united, to know His love for me goes on and is eternal. 35 years is nothing but practice for eternity. Thank you, Lord, for Sabrina and for using our marriage to draw us near to you. I promise to be faithful to You.

band blur close up engagement

Photo by Pixabay on


She showed me…

This time of the year brings so many memories and thoughts of my family. In the 60’s and 70’s when I was a boy I lived in a small town where everybody knew you and you knew everybody. Families were close and sat at a table together regularly. Your thoughts and actions in many ways mimicked or represented your family. I tried hard to please my parents and wanted them to be proud of me. I wanted to be like them, I wanted to follow in their footsteps. By the way…I was so proud of them and who they were then. They weren’t perfect but God used them to mold me and shape me.

I loved my dad dearly and still miss him every day but my mom was really a constant image in all of our lives. Not because she was an incredible cook and loved us without reservation, it was because of the way she served and cared for us. She taught all of us how to serve others. She taught me how to give of myself tirelessly. She was that constant in our home, loving, caring, cleaning, cooking, and serving in many ways. Not just her family but others as well. I didn’t realize until recently that she has been an image of Christ, who “did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His live as a ransom for many.”

My mom has showed me…she has showed me how to serve my family, friends, others, and especially Christ. Her life has been an example to me in many ways. Even as a 60 year old man I am still learning from her. Even now, she is showing me how to live in His grace.

She showed me what it means to follow Christ. This Thanksgiving like so many before, I am so thankful for my mom, Elva. The joy-filled, gracious, godly mother who has showed me how to serve.

I love you mom…

I am reminded…

This past Wednesday was National Bologna Day! I know my wife doesn’t like it and I know a lot of people don’t care for it but what’s wrong with bologna, I am celebrating!

My dad was a high school teacher and coach and I actually had one class with him through high school and he was my golf coach. I also had the opportunity to eat lunch with my dad almost on a daily basis. I know that sounds weird… but I was a weird kid. My dad would pack us a lunch most days and I would come to his classroom and eat lunch with him. I remember a lot of those lunches being a bologna sandwich… maybe it was his favorite, maybe a reminder to him of a special meal growing up poor in Mexico City. All I know is that we shared lunch together and had bologna sandwiches. It was also when my dad would tell me about how Christ was using him to witness to others, how God was growing His faith, and how I had a chance to see and hear my dads passion for Christ. I didn’t know it at the time but those meals were a gift, special, not just another bologna sandwich.

I am reminded… of those memorable lunch times with my dad. I am reminded…of his love for God which has also challenged me to follow Christ with passion. I am also reminded that I really like bologna sandwiches, maybe it’s the taste, maybe it’s the memory, maybe both, I just know that those gourmet lunches with my dad help me to “taste and see that the Lord is good.”

I am reminded… I think I will have a bologna sandwich today.

Every family has a superhero…

Every family has a superhero…this includes my family.  I have seen it, I’ve witnessed a superhuman effort and courage for some time now.  It has been amazing to see the endurance and perseverance, but also the patience that you normally don’t see in people especially today.

This superhero has gone through two knee replacements and one hip surgery and cares for an aging mother who has a struggle hearing but still has a lot of fight in her.  What incredible spirit it has taken for her to carry on and work, cook, clean, and care for children, family, and also finish her undergraduate degree 30 years later.  On top of all of that she has been losing weight and dealing with the stigma society places on people who are overweight, by the way she has lost 125 pounds.  She has to be superhuman…how could she have done all those things and still press on.  She is a strong lady and a picture of extraordinary strength and will power.  I would say the strength came from her father, but I also see in her the strength of her mother.

I am convinced that this is not on her own, she had an earthly father who closed his bedroom door and spoke to his heavenly Father about her daily.  I am sure he wept and agonized over his baby girl, hoping for health and happiness for her.  His prayer has been answered for years as she continues to be a strength to her family, to me and my family, and to her mother.

I am so grateful for my sister Annette…by the way she is an amazing cook and just about cooked the whole Thanksgiving meal for us this year with energy to spare.  She is amazing…and I know her strength comes from the Lord.

Definition: superhero-a very heroic person, a successful person.  I would say she is successful in all that she has done.  Not successful according to this world, successful according to God, “honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.” Proverbs 31:31.

I love you Annette, Happy Birthday!

(photo left to right, Annette, René, and Toni)