Tribute to my First Youth Pastor and Letter to Hispanic/Latino Pastors

US citizen

 

I remember when I first met her. She SANG at a wedding and was wearing a dark red dress.

She was LOUD and had BIG dreams. She LOVED in a way which many of us were unfamiliar with. I remember when she “discovered” me and a few of my other tween friends and our “musical” ability. She took us in and boy did she fight for us. She made sure we learned and made sure we served. I know we are the cause of many of her gray hairs and any wrinkles which may be present this day.

I think at some point we all took her for granted but as I have gotten older I’ve been able to see the tremendous influence she has had on my life and countless others. She has stood by me in many of my victories and has embraced me when I have failed. When I gave my life to Jesus she took me under her wing and cried, laughed and taught me the Word of God. At one point her Bible study was filled to capacity where not even standing room was available. As she reads this I know she will cry and then call me to “matarme” over the phone.

But you see I left out the reason as to why I am writing this – She is an undocumented American and is not in the United States legally. As I read the headlines I have been very hesitant to post what I am posting today. I did not want to speak out of anger or frustration and I wanted to speak from a place of love, but then I remember the many who like my dear friend are a part of this country and feel voiceless.

On April 27, 2017, Senate Bill 4 (SB4) passed in Texas. SB4 is a bill that goes into effect on September 1, 2017, this bill allows police officials (including university campus police) to inquire about an individual’s immigration status [CSSB 4, Sec 752.052] as they pull them over for a broken head light or wrong turn. This week the news broke that Donald Trump pardoned former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio. Arpaio was a person who was convicted of racial profiling, abuse of power, disobeying federal orders and making inmates who were under his jurisdiction suffer inhumane conditions. Yesterday as a life threatening hurricane took place the U.S. Border Patrol remained open to “fulfill” their duties as people were fleeing for their lives. All of this saddens me and breaks my heart.

I agree we need to have comprehensive immigration reform. I agree there needs to be a system which makes it easier for the people who are already here to become legal citizens of the United States and I DO NOT have the answers for that, BUT we cannot deny the fact that many Latino/Hispanic churches are filled with people who are undocumented and that the Latino/Hispanic church is the fastest growing community within the evangelical church. Many of these people are followers of Jesus who love God and serve him wholeheartedly. Maybe it’s the hermanas that cook for Sundays food sale and VBS, or the hermanos that help build the very church which we worship in or even the families which help keep our places of worship clean. Many of these hermanas and hermanos sacrificially give to their churches and I am not just speaking financially but with their time, prayers and support. This is not a matter of who you voted for but more of a matter that OUR people are living in fear and while I know and have seen the power of prayer and I believe that “all things work for the good to those who love Him [God] our answer cannot be: continue to live in fear.

This is a call to action! As you read this you may have mixed feelings or you may even think “wow Abby has lost it” (it’s ok I’m used to this ask my parents and most of my friends). If you are interested in answering the call to action there are a variety of things which you can do to help members of your community who may be living in fear.

  1. EQUIP and EDUCATE!
    1. The ACLU has provided a very handy guide as to what rights undocumented immigrants have under SB4. Many times our people are hurt due to lack of knowledge. Follow the link share it with your church the resources are in Spanish and English.
  2. Call your Representatives and Senators!
    1. As a U.S. Citizen, we have the right and obligation to call our Representatives and Senators and to express our grievances. Many major cities (except for Fort Worth – looking at you Funky Town) have joined together to file a suit against SB4, our government needs to know that we are informed and that Hispanics and Latinos do not approve of SB4. Texas has one of the largest Hispanic/Latino populations in the US. I have a template of what you can call and say – I promise it’s not hard.
  3. Get together as a community!
    1. If there was ever a time for  Pastors to speak up it is NOW! As I stated before it is not a matter of who you voted for but more of a matter that OUR people are living in fear. We need to stand together and defend the marginalized and oppressed just as Jesus did. We preach that change begins within our communities yet fail to reach out and engage our communities with real world topics and issues. Get involved! Ask yourself if my church was to leave this area would my community even notice or miss us?

 

This is probably the longest I have ever written and the most I have ever debated posting anything but I felt compelled. Pastors, your voice or silence resounds and the world is watching to see how spiritual leaders respond. The very communities which you live in and hold your church services are counting on someone to fight for them. I urge you to please take a stand today and if you already have I applaud you and admire you, encourage other pastors around you to stand in the gap for undocumented immigrants. Let us join and fight for the youth pastors, the hermanas and hermanos who sacrificially give and love and call this land their own yet live knowing that any day could be their last here in America.  I leave you with this verse:  This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.”  – John 15:12-13

How is God prompting you to lay down your life for your friends who may be fearing for theirs?

 

Sincerely,

                                                                                            Abby Rea

 

 

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dreams of becoming a foot model

dreams of becoming a foot model

To begin with, this isn’t an insightful, inspirational, introspective post just a reminder and update. Last year I announced that I would be running a full marathon and keep everyone updated. I lied – kind of. Last year was an odd year; one of growth but also one of many failures.

So just to give you a few updates:

  1. I dyed my hair (shout out to Gabryelle Shultz from EU and Ray from Ba’Dazz Salon)!!!
  2. Around mid-November (Thanksgiving) my marathon training went down the drain and I decided to scale my run down to a half marathon.
  3. I will not be graduating in May but in December
  4. I have no idea what my next step is (but I’m ok with it)

As I have been training for this half marathon I have realized that if I ever had any desire to become a foot model (I don’t) I won’t be able to. I have had blisters and currently have calluses (I am in dire need of a pedicure) from running. Training has been tough, and there are days where the only time I have to train is 5 am – and I don’t think I will ever be one of those people who loves waking up super early to run romantically into the sunrise (if you are, good for you). I also enjoy eating good and yummy food and don’t know if I can ever be a runner who lives on eggs and protein bars. I have also realized that my body is stronger than I originally thought it was – if I can run literally anyone can run.

All this to say I’m very nervous and excited for my race! And while I won’t ever be able to be a foot model – I’ll have killer legs.

P.S. My race is in St. Louis on April 9 (Palm Sunday), if you would like to join me at the Finish Line – I’d love to have you there.

I just felt like running – Forrest

I just felt like running – Forrest

I’m not the most active person, actually according to the activity monitor on my phone my lifestyle is pretty sedentary.

But a few days ago, I was “surfing” the internet late at night and I came across an article about marathon running. As the true researcher that I am, one article led to another and before I knew it I had paid and registered for the Go! St. Louis marathon on April 9.

I didn’t realize what I had done until after I did it, when I received the confirmation e-mail which stated that there would be NO REFUNDS. I then decided to share what I had done on Facebook. I received support from many people whom I love and then my dad and brother started commenting – which was a good thing. I started thinking afterwards, whoa I need to do this and I need to train. So this whole week I have been thinking how can I keep myself accountable – by sharing it with you guys! I decided to blog about my marathon training progress (on some days it might seem like regress). I didn’t want to I haven’t been truly active in about a decade and did I mention I am overweight. I am also not the best writer; I forget words in English and Spanish on most days. These are probably two of the most vulnerable areas in my life which I didn’t want anyone to probe into – my self image and my intelligence.

Regardless of how I see myself or feel I want to share this journey with everyone. I might blog 3 days in a row, once a week or once every two weeks but I will finish this 26 mile run (I cringe as I type).

See you April 9th,

Abby

P.S. If you want to join me in my running before the race, during the race or even just cheer at the finish line on April 9th – Come!

A Portrait of Grace

A Portrait of Grace

I was lucky enough to be born to a portrait of grace.

A portrait of love, which to me…

Often mirrored that of my Heavenly Father’s.

From a young age GRACE was a constant reminder in my life;

from the warm embrace after the rebuke or the spanking that was “forgotten”,

GRACE was present.

As I grew older I clearly remember the first time returning home…

and the second and the third.

Each time more broken than the last.

Yet I was always greeted at the door by a portrait of GRACE.

You see, I was the prodigal daughter, the one who left

and to my own demise ended up in a pig’s field.

Yet somehow I was always reminded of the portrait of GRACE.

I recall the last time I returned home,

knowing that as soon as I passed the doors threshold

I would be safe.

Now I look back on my life and know God’s grace was working,

through my parents and I am amazed.

Amazed that he would unconditionally love this screw up.

Amazed that HE would send HIS son to die for me.

Amazed that HE would willingly accept my brokenness.

Amazed that Jesus stood in my place.

Amazed at HIS GRACE.

wooden bkgrd

The Ugly Child

20140805-231837-83917662.jpg

I’ve never been the prettiest, smartest, fastest, definitely not thinnest, most popular, funniest or coolest… I am actually the total and complete opposite, Lol but you know what – it’s ok. I’ve learned through a few tear filled nights and frustrating days that (as cliche as it sounds) inside beauty is more important than outside beauty. You see when God formed us he didn’t mess up with that extra mole or accidentally choose your hair color he formed us as a work of art carefully creating us.
It amazes me that the creator of the universe would choose to call me His beloved, the apple of His eye! That he would worry so much as to know the number of hairs on my head!
Now I am not saying it’s easy being what society considers an “ugly” child lol but I am saying there is hope and someone who sees you in a completely different light. Someone who has called you His own and who gave His very life for you. This wasn’t really a planned out blog but just a reminder to you and a note to myself that I am loved – you are loved! You are beautiful even if you’re like me and usually only hear it from your dad (dad’s don’t lie) – it’s true! You are beautiful!

Origins

galaxy

They tell me it was all a BIG BANG!

A dense point in space.

An absent designer, a universe without a creative mind.

Your word says you called out the light and with your words formed what i call home.

The heavens your throne – the earth your footstool.

You set the boundaries of the sea and marked out the foundations of the Earth.

Now tell me Mr. Hawking were you there when the earth was laid or when the first black hole was arranged.

Degrasse does your understanding truly grasp the measurements of the Cosmos much less the planet on which you reside?

 Wegener have you entered into the springs of the sea or walked in the recesses of the deep to actually see continental drift?

You want me to agree with your theories, as sound as they may be – I cannot accept the fact that you discredit my God’s omnipotence.

These theories which you defend require much more faith than most can understand.

You see in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God…

and God saw that everything he had made and behold, it was very good – In the beginning.

*Bible passages used: Isaiah 66 – Proverbs 8 – Job 38 – John 1 – Genesis 1*

Ride o’ Die

For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die— but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:7, 8 ESV)

As I think of this verse it’s truth resounds in my head. Christ died for me even when no one would give two cents for me! He understood the concept of ride o’ die way before it was popular. Today is not a day of mourning but a day of rejoicing!
His death brought me freedom and hope.

If you’ve thought “I’m not good enough”, “I’ve messed up too much”, “my life is too full of sin”, the Bible says “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. (Romans 3:23, 24 NIV)”
That means YOU, you have been justified, you were died for, you were loved by the creator! Jesus took the payment that was meant for us and spared us from death. In other words we did the crime and he paid the time.

Today I invite you to meditate on these truths.
1. You were died for
2. You are loved
3. There is an invitation for relationship with Jesus

And if you need to hear it again from someone else watch this video: the Death of YOLO