Thursday, December 31, 2009

New Year's Eve Reflections

In my "old age" I have found New Year's Eve to be very sentimental. Especially in the last two years I find myself trying to mentally push back the tears into my eyeballs and not allowing a single tear to stream down my cheek. If I let that happen I would have to explain why I was crying and I don't think I could put words into it.

Growing up stateside, far from the island of Puerto Rico, we had many traditions that my parents valiantly tried to preserve. We would meet with other "refugees" and squeeze into one house. Food adorned every inch of table, counter or shelf available. Benille: seasoned, shredded, slow roasted pork. Arroz con gandules: rice with chick peas. Bacalitos: a fish dish. Guava paste and cream cheese, a variety of chips and dips, store bought desserts and if we were really lucky, there would be some pasteles; our version of tamales.

It was part of our tradition to wear a new out fit. Every piece of clothing or jewelry had to be new; right down to your skivvies. The new clothes represent a new beginning. It is believed that whatever the condition in which the New Year finds our property, that is how our property will stay for the rest of the year. Out with the old and in with the new. One of the more fun traditions was to grab a suitcase and run out the door at midnight. This action would symbolize traveling through the new year.

Instruments were always brought out around 10:00 and traditional songs were song in Spanish until 11:59 at which point everyone would gather around the TV. The host/hostess would be frantically trying to find the channel that shows the pictures from Times Square so that we could see the infamous ball drop.

The ball would drop, everyone would scream, drink a toast and you would grab your love for an extra long kiss. And then you would go around and kiss everyone in the house which could take as long as 15 minutes because the house was packed. The women would sing the traditional Puerto Rican song, El Brindis del Bohemio, and usually end up crying. I never understood why but as I get older, I am beginning to understand.

There is a deep resonance of days past and days yet to come, of dreams forgotten and dreams to achieve, of loved ones remembered and of loved ones yet come. It is a time to look back and a time to look forward. I think it was especially important for these families since they left their own families to pursue a dream, the American Dream. And each family in their own way was succeeding in that dream. There were teachers and engineers, law enforcement and realty professionals, small business owners and students. Each one grabbing hold of the ideals of a free nation and holding on with all their strength. So much to be thankful for and so much to anticipate.
Prospero Ano Nuevo!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Naomi's MRI went well. I think we are all emotionally spent. She was fine until she got into the pre-op room. She had streams of quiet tears rolling down her face as we waited. She just didn't know what was going to happen and so she was afraid. the anesthesiologist was a very nice young man. Sweet and yet steady with Naomi. Did you know that they flavor the mask now? There was bubble gum, cotton, candy, strawberry and other such flavors for the kids to enjoy. When it was time to go in, Dustin carried her into the room and laid her on the MRI table and he was able to give her the mask himself. Dustin said she had a firm grip on his hand and he had to hold the mask with the other one and count to 10. After she fell asleep, he released her hand to leave but she was still grasping tightly onto one of his fingers. He actually had to pry her hand open and leave the room. (I would have been a sobbing wreck)

Since only one parent can go with the child, I walked to the waiting room and it was the worse feeling I have ever had. To walk into that room without Naomi or Dustin and sit by myself was slightly excruciating. I didn't know what to do with myself. About the time I sat down and started to pray, Dustin walked in and sat beside me. He was visible "touched" by the scene that I had described earlier. We just sat there in quiet and let out a sigh of relief. That part was over, now it was time to wait.

One thing of note is that the waiting room had some really great music playing. It was all modern Christian music and I was shocked to hear it. When I walked into the room by myself, Indescribable was playing by Chris Tomlin. That is a special song for Naomi and I and I was so thankful to God to have ordained that to be playing in the background when I entered the room. The second cool thing was that when I listened to my iPod, another family favorite song was playing. It is a children's song to Psalm 86:17 " You, Oh Lord, have helped me and comforted me."

We couldn't believe the music being played and I wondered if Dustin and I were the only ones who could hear it. It was such a comfort to us. Naomi came out the anesthesia really well and we have strict orders to relax, watch movies and vegg out till tomorrow. Hopefully we will get answers tonight.

Monday, December 28, 2009


Tomorrow morning Naomi goes in for her MRI. A friend of mine was asking what to pray for and I went through a verbal list. Pray for Naomi to handle the fasting okay, that she would be brave and courageous, and handle the anesthesia well. Those are the things that have preoccupied my mind today. My friend looked at me and then said, "And for good results too." I hadn't even thought about the results! I was just taking the next step in front of me and I figure we would worry about the results after we actually got the MRI done with.

Being born with a clef palette and having Multiple Sclerosis, I am no stranger to hospitals and medical procedures. Shoot, I have lost count of the amount of MRIs I have done, yet this one is a bit unnerving to me. Something about seeing my tiny daughter asleep in the MRI chamber stirs my heart uncomfortably. I would really like to skip the whole thing altogether. After all, we think we have solved the problems with visits to the chiropractor but just in case.... just incase there is something terribly wrong, we need to have a look. So no matter how much I try to weasel out of this, there is no way around it.

I was feeling confident about the whole thing and then Dustin started to get a stomach ache and is feeling miserable. Oh, geez. I really need him to be well so he can drive us to Santa Barbara. (My fatigue does not allow me to be able to drive there and back in one day.) And it dawned on me that I am relying so much on my husband when what I really need is to rely on the Lord. So on the eve of Naomi's MRI, I will sit quietly with my God and ask Him to work everything out according to His will and His glory.

Eavesdropping gone awry

Josiah: Daddy, why is Mommy going to make copies with Jessica?
Daddy: huh?
Naomi: (from the other room) COFFEE! Not copies! She is going to have COFFEE with Jessica!!
Mommy: You don't need to be listening to my phone conversations.
Josiah: Oh! Coffee. I just couldn't figure out why you wanted to make copies with her.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Currently off the shelf....

Excerpt taken from page 1:
" There has never been a generation whose general view of marriage is high enough. The chasm between the biblical vision of marriage and the human vision is now, and has always been, gargantuan. Some cultures in history respect the importance and the permanence of marriage more than others. Some, like our own, have such low, casual, take-it-or-leave-it attitudes toward marriage as to make the biblical vision seem ludicrous to most people."

This is just page 1 people! The first paragraph! I can already tell God is going to do some serious paradigm shifting in my brain.

Advent Fast Complete

Our fast for the Advent season this year has ended. Dustin gave up coffee and I gave up cheese and we both gave up our weekly date night. We thought that we would find relief from the restrictions of the fast and feel a sense of reprieve when it was over. The truth is that we do not have that sense of relief because nothing compares to Jesus. There is no greater indulgence than knowing our Savior; all else pales in comparison. So while we are able to "indulge," we have found that our true indulgence was time in the Word and in prayer. Coffee and cheese can wait, we have a God to get to know better.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Advent Day 24

On the eve of the end of our fast I have come to one conclusion. Fasting needs to be a regular part of my walk with Jesus. I hunger for the presence of my God and long to be intimate with Him. Why would I not be demonstrating that to Him by fasting?

I am reminded of the longing of the Jewish people who went without hearing from God for 400 years until that glorious night when the angels put on a magnificent show before lowly shepherds to announce the birth of the son of God. How the hearts of the shepherds must have soared! I am sure they ran, and I mean ran, back to Bethlehem. Their minds racing, trying to capture everything they saw, heard, smelled, felt..... and then to find a small baby wrapped in swaddling clothes just as the angels said. Confirmation. Did they feel pride that they were the first to know? Or did they want to bury their faces in the dirt and bow low before the King of Kings? I bet they stayed up all night discussing these events. One might have said to the other, "Did you see the look on Ham's face when the angels began to sing?" "Ham? I couldn't take my eyes off the angel before me with the trumpet! I have never heard such a sound before. "

That same excitement has permeated our house. Although we have not been visited by angels, we have been touched by the Spirit of God. And we are able to join with the angels in praising God. Not only has God showed Himself as Emmanuel (God With Us) 2000 years ago, God is today in us for those who believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Savior of the world, the Lamb who has taken away the sins of the world.

What a glorious Christmas season this is for our family.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


I am such a dork. Somehow I signed up to follow my on blog. ROTFLOL!!

Monday, December 21, 2009

2009 Rogers' Family Christmas Letter

One of the things I like most about the end of the year is looking back and reflecting on all the experiences we had as a family and as individuals. This year has been extremely fun to look back upon because we can see God's handiwork in so many areas of our lives. July 1 marked 4 years in California. This is the longest time in one place in our 10 years of marriage.

Dustin continues to work for BST (Behavioral Science Technologies). They are a great company and he loves his job. It doesn't hurt that he is 4 miles from home either. In obedience to God, Dustin led us to leave the church we had attended for 6+ years which was difficult for us but we have found a new church home and are beginning to seek where we can serve.

We finished our first year of homeschooling and thoroughly enjoyed it. It isn't the easiest lifestyle but it sure grows your character a lot! I am learning a lot. My health remains well although the beginning of the year was rough so I am glad to be ending the year better than I was at the beginning. This year God has been growing me specifically in the area of submission. Talk about stretching your faith! It has been quite the adventure. I have also become a very frugal woman and have been grinding my own wheat and baking my own bread. Just started making our own laundry soap and household cleaners too. I am not becoming Amish as some have suggested. (Although last week, I made the most wicked batch of apple butter you ever had. ) I have actually enjoyed the challenge of spending less and being creative with what we have. (I wish I could say the same for our government but we won't go there right now.)

Josiah turned 7 this year and has lost 6 teeth so far. He currently has no front teeth which is kinda fun for the Christmas season. He is obsessed with Star Wars even though we have only let him watch the original movie and parts of the Return of the Jedi. He also enjoys the Encyclopedia Brown books as well as the Magic Tree House series. He continues to be very imaginative and loves to write his own stories. So far he has declared that when he grows up he will be a detective, author, and a surfer. We shall see what tomorrow holds.

Naomi is the little mamma of the house. She is girlie and yet tom boyish too; all in the right balance. On any given day you can see her color princess coloring pages, play "Star Wars" with brother in the backyard, paint her nails, and help mommy cook dinner. She is extremely smart and very inquisitive. (I am sure all parents say that but in this case it is true. ;) LOL!) She is also the reason why Dustin is getting more and more gray hairs. Something about the green eyes, dark brown hair, tan skin and pink lips; picture a Puerto Rican version of Snow White. In any case, she was having some neck pains that will require an MRI in January just to make sure that nothing is wrong. Frequent visits to the chiropractor has done wonders for her discomfort. We would appreciate if you would remember to pray for her.

We welcomed a new addition to our family in October which was the culmination of Josiah praying for a cat. Dexter is a vivacious 4 month old cat that on some days I like to refer to as "El Diablo." He is a gray and black striped cat, feisty and pretty clever. It has just been so neat to watch Josiah pray for this cat for months and when we went to pick him up sight unseen, it was exactly the type of cat he had been praying for. Isn't that just like God to answer a sweet little boy's prayers?

Speaking of answered prayer, we have seen our share of answers this year. One of the best things that has happened for me personally is that I have a prayer partner. We meet every week and the children play while we pray. It has been so neat to keep track of the requests and the way God has answered. If I listed everything you would probably get a 3 page Christmas letter. It has been such an inspiration to seek God together and then watch God move and bring about His plan. This has also had a great impact on our kids as they see their mommies loving Jesus and talking to Him consistently.

We are still living in the house I grew up in which is very ironic. All those years I dreamt of getting out of this crazy small town and now I am back in the same place I was trying to leave but I wouldn't want to be anywhere else in the world. We hope you have a fantastic Christmas and New Year. God bless you.

Dustin, Amanda, Josiah, and Naomi

Advent Fast Day 21

The fast is almost over and I am surprised to say that I will be sad to see it end. One thing for sure is that I need to incorporate the discipline of fasting into my life. Not just to fast corporately but to fast individually as well. I can't say that this fast has been a time when I heard God loud and clear. it has been a struggle. There has definitely been a battle of wills. Am i willing to give up things so that i can hunger for God more. Ashamedly I would have to say no. My actions say no even though my heart screams yes.

Remember those "trinkets" that I was bemoaning about? They no longer seem important. I can actually say that if I never eat it again it would be okay. I went into this thing thinking that I would have this mountain top experience and walk away with the Shekinah glory all about me but truth be told, I am just now beginning to figure out how to really fast. This has been a struggle as I have learned that it wasn't enough just to give something up. I needed to replace it with a hunger for God's Word and God's Presence.

In actuality it is God who has shown up mightily in this time as our Jehovah-Jireh. I have been humbled beyond belief at the good gifts God has showered down on us. I didn't do the fast to ask for anything for ourselves. I did it to pray for revival for our church. And then God poured out blessing upon blessing, measure upon measure in a way that no one could explain except to say that is was all God.

So for the next four days I will continue to forgo my "trinkets." I will continue to long for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and I will wait in expectancy to see the revival that He will bring about within our community.

BTW, the trinkets I gave up was cheese. That includes cream cheese, cheesecake, and a variety of other delectable that I hadn't thought of when I originally decided to fast from cheese.

Friday, December 18, 2009

My Little Evangelist

We have always joked that Josiah is our little evangelist. He often challenges us in our thinking about God as well as extended family members. From the time he was 18 months old he would talk to strangers about the things he understood about God and invite them to church.

Today I accepted help from the courtesy clerk to carry out our bags from the store because I was so tired. On our way, Josiah asks the young man if he knows about Bibleman and if he goes to church and if he knows God. The questions poured out faster than the young man could speak. Turns out that this young man is a Christian living in Oak View but going to church in Oxnard. He has been afraid to try any churches in the area because of all the mysticism within our small community. I suggested three churches to him that were biblically sound and he was exceedingly thankful. That was no mere coincidence.

When we got into the car, I turned around to Josiah and told him how I love how he tells everyone we meet about God. He smiled and responded, don't thank me, thank God!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Trying to Read.....

Beginner's Guide to Fasting. Our Pastor challenged the church to fast for the Advent season and pray for revival. "Awake, O sleeper,...." Our fast ends on Christmas Day so we only have 8 days of the 25 day fast left and I feel like I am just now learning what it means to fast. Fasting is not a discipline that many of us have grown up with. I searched the local library and found a book by Elmer Towns that is phenomenal. It is very basic but that is what I needed. It has forms to fill out and keep track of your fast, the Scripture that God puts on your heart and the things He impresses on you. Anyways, by the time this thing is over I will finally get it (hopefully) but I think the greatest point I am learning is that fasting is a discipline and should be a regular occurrence in my walk with Christ.

"I'm concerned that many are not willing to pay the price to experience the presence of God. We expect God to popup on the screen of our life, just because we are surfing the spiritual net. So, we check out the channels to see if God is there. Like most people surfing the television,we are looking for something to tickle our fancy. but that is not the way we find God. We must want it will all our life, so much so that we would go without food or sleep. We must be willing to sacrifice everything to experience God."
- Elmer Towns

Soap making

I found a neat craft idea for kids online and decided to try it. Sounded easy enough. Take one bar of soap and grate it, add 1/4 warm water and a couple drops of essential oil. Spread out, use cookie cutters to make shapes, dry, viola! Easy Christmas presents!

So I am still trying to figure out what went wrong. The kids got bored, they hated the gooey messy mixture on their hands, my hands are now xmas red, and I am not sure I am going to give any of these odd shaped soaps away as gifts. They are suppose to be a star, Christmas tree and heart. I am letting them dry and we will see what happens. I think I will try to slice them in half so at least one side is smooth.

Worse comes to worse I am giving them to the grandparents and claiming the kids made them. That is my story and I am sticking to it. ;)

Thursday, December 10, 2009


Over the past month I have shared several praise reports. From my daughter's health to the provision of a new-to-us car, I have seen God answer our prayer requests in an abundant way. Last Friday, I simply asked for prayer for my husband to find favor with his boss. He works for a company that he loves and is very content in his position. The only dilemma has been that it is not a livable income. Not that we were dire (because somehow in God's goodness it was always just enough) but as a wife I desire for my husband to be compensated for his hard work. I am sure you can understand. So my prayer partner and I have been praying that God would provide what he is due according to his work. This morning my husband was called into the head honcho's office. He was scared to death! He walked in and there was his immediate supervisor and the CFO. He sat down with sweaty palms and a sick feeling in his stomach thinking the economy had finally hit them hard enough and he would need to be laid off. The boss than explained to him that he recognized that his job had evolved into much more than what he was hired to do. His supervisor had put together a full report detailing his duties and the many areas in which he has stepped up and taken the load off of other departments without complaining and then even going beyond that.

Although no cost of living raises will be given this year and no Christmas bonuses, my husband will be receiving a significant raise. Not only is he getting a raise but it will be proactive to December 1st on his next paycheck. Have you ever heard of such a thing? Oh, how our God provides! He is Jehovah-Jireh! Just when we were really feeling the pinch of this economy and wondering if we could wait it out any longer, God showed up big time. Rejoice with us!

Backseat Conversations

Naomi and Josiah were in the back seat of the car last night having an interesting discussion. Naomi asked why did Rameses become Pharaoh? I explained that royal lineages usually passed down to the first born son. She then asked what would have happened if Rameses had died? Would Moses have become Pharaoh? I responded perhaps.
Naomi: If I were Moses and Pharaoh, I would have made the Egyptians slaves.
Josiah: But we are suppose to be loving. Moses would have to show them love.
Naomi: (begrudgingly) I think it'd be better if they were slaves and had to work really hard.
Josiah: But we are to love our enemies. They can't be slaves.
Naomi; Then who is going to build all that stuff?
Josiah: (silence)

Monday, December 7, 2009

Advent Fast Day 8

Dustin and I were cleaning up the kitchen last night and talking about the fast and how the lack of our chosen "trinkets" continually reminds us of God each meal. We were joyfully bemoaning together; I know that is an oxymoron. In any case I made a remark that I will be glad when I am free of this restriction. And I was reminded that before this poor helpless babe was born, those who believed in the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were constantly trying to fulfill the requirements of God's Laws through offerings and commands. I have the anticipation and hope of an end. But the Israelites could not see the bigger picture and see the end. They had the hope of the Messiah but did not know the time in which He would come. I have the blessed assurance that Christmas morning, the things I have given up while be restored to me. They were slaves to the Law but I have been set free.

The writer of Galatians put it this way- "Why was the law given? It was given to show people how guilty they are. But this system of the law was to last only until the coming of the child to whom God's promise was made...... If the law could have given us new life, we could have been made right with God by obeying it. But the Scriptures have declared that we are all prisoners of sin, so the only way to receive God's promise is to believe in Jesus Christ. Until faith is Christ was shown to us as the way of becoming right with God, we were guarded by the law. We were kept in protective custody, so to speak, until we could put our faith in the coming Savior." (chapter 3, verses 19, 21-23)

Symbolically in this fast we are in the time of "protective custody" and there is a day coming when we will be set free just like the ancient believers. Glory! But for us it is the hope of His return that we long for. We no longer shout Noel in anticipation of His arrival. We now shout Thy kingdom come! in anticipation of His Reign.

Poor kitty

Naomi is to cats as Darla is to fish.
Enough said.

Lord Teach Me To Pray Study

I usually post my reading list on Facebook but it doesn't allow me to explore thoughts that hit me hard so I best write this one down here. Our women's group are currently reading Lord, Teach Me To Pray by Kay Arthur. Basically she takes the Lord's prayer and devotes about 5 days to each line of the prayer. This week we have been studying the line- "Your Kingdom come,"
Kay contends that praying for God's kingdom to come is to declare your allegiance to God. When we do so, we are showing our eagerness for His arrival, aiding in kingdom work and taking our rightful place as debtors to the gospel. I have to admit that I never really thought about what those words meant before. There are two quotes that have really pierced my heart.
The first is A.B.Simpson: "There is no ministry that will bring more power and blessing than the habit of believing, definite, and persistent prayer for the progress of Christ's kingdom, for the needs and work of His church, for His ministers and servants, and especially for the evangelization of the world and the vast neglected myriads who know not how to pray for themselves."
The second is by Adrian Rogers: "No matter how faithfully you attend church, how generously you gie, how circumspectly you walk, how eloquently you teach, or how beautifully you sing, if you are not endeavoring to bring people to Jesus Christ, you are not right with God."
I will be chewing on these for quite a while.

Sunday, December 6, 2009


Our homeschool co-op has a free table when we meet for class and I am always so blessed by the items people leave. This week I scored a book on sign language, a book on whales, a cozy men's sweater that my husband will probably not wear but I will gladly done it on instead and a John Piper book. I was especially excited about the John Piper book because I was looking at it on eBay and ALMOST bid on it. The book is The Supremacy of Jesus Christ and the Postmodern World. I was practically jumping up and down. I am ever so blessed by these wonderful families.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advent Fast

Several weeks ago our pastor asked us to being praying about fasting during Advent. My first reaction was fear because I was afraid of what God might ask me to give up. My next reaction was, What is Advent? Advent is the time after Thanksgiving up to Christmas Eve. It is a Latin word meaning "to come." Ann Dixon wrote:

Although Advent traditions vary, the reason for observing Advent remains the same: to prepare our hearts for welcoming God's gift of light and love, His son Jesus.

I have never fasted for a season. I have done the 30 hour famine as a youth, albeit I wasn't aware of the way in which to fast or the truth of it. In any case this is new territory for me. I was so thankful that we received a FAQ regarding fasting so I could go into this time with the right attitude. After praying about it I felt led to give up my date night activities which was to watch our favorite TV shows on or That is the part of my week that I look forward to the most. So I talked with Dustin about it and he understood. I felt God asking me to want to be in His presence as much as I long for my earthly husband's presence. So it was settled.

And then the day before the fast began, I started to have an aching in my heart. Giving up two nights was nothing in comparison to the heavenly realm that Jesus gave up to become a babe in a manger. I desired to forgo something that would be a constant reminder to me of the sacrifice Jesus gave for me. I wanted to hunger for something . If fasting is truly about giving up a lesser thing to gain something greater. And if it is letting go of something temporal to lay hold of the eternal, than I needed to find something else to give up. Instantly I knew my answer. I have given up something that has proven to be more challenging than I even realized when I choose to forgo it.

I will not reveal my choice until after the fast is over so let us call it trinkets. But let me say this: The very first day it hit me like a ton of bricks. I could not have trinkets. But I LOVE trinkets! I did not realize trinkets were in that. I can't have it. Really? God gently reminded me of Hebrews 12:2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

For the joy set before me I will joyfully forgo my enjoyment of trinkets knowing that as I do I am reminded of the beautiful gift God gave us in His Son. There is much anticipation of Christmas Day when I will be able to enjoy trinkets again. Just like there is much anticipation in the return of our king , Jesus Christ. Every day as I forgo my trinkets, God is teaching me something new. There are times when it isn't easy but then I remind myself, "... for the joy set before Him..." Should be an interesting 21 more days.