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Archive for the ‘Celebrating Hispanic Culture’ Category

Just recently, I sat and talked with a woman of Mexican background who shared the struggles and failures that she overcame.   With tears in her eyes, she spoke about how her parents, who love her, gave her strong moral support and with very little education worked hard to raise the family.  They motivated her to do her best in school and encouraged her to go college and graduate.  However, what she lacked was a mentor; she had no one to teach her anything about college life or working in corporate America.  On her own, she learned how to dress appropriately, work professionally, eat the right things and keep up with the demanding competition in the work force.  The drive that is within her is God-given;  pursuing a high-powered career does not come easy for Hispanic woman in America, but today she is an executive working for an automotive company.  Against all odds, she continues to exceed all expectations and today she mentors many young minority women hoping to make a difference in their lives.

What can we learn about making a difference from the women who have shared their stories this week?

  1. Celebrate the different ethnic groups in your area and be willing to learn and share life with them.  As you gain knowledge about other cultures, you will learn to accept each other and appreciate how God created us unique, fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139.14).
  2.  Reach out to the younger women around you who may be in need of a mentor or encourager.  If you are a Christian women, wife, mother, or have a career outside of the home, you are experienced and have much to share and teach our younger women.  In doing so, you are planting seeds.  Titus 2:3 tells us that we are to be good examples and to teach the younger women to live life with Godly principles loving their husbands and children. 
  3. Share your story, Faith in God is something to share and not to keep to ourselves as there are many people waiting to hear the Good News.  1 Pet 3:15…always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.   However, do this with gentleness and respect. 
  4. Serve God, serve people and make an impact because your service to God will change an entire family for generations to come.  1 Peter 4:10 says, each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.

If you have any ideas or thoughts about reaching out and making a difference, please leave us a comment.  We hope that you have enjoyed celebrating the Hispanic culture with us this week at Given the Time.

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In honor of Cinco de Mayo today, we celebrate Americans with Mexican heritage.  Read this story and then decide to reach out and share what God is doing in your life to make a difference.

Jeremiah 29: 10 says , “For I know the Plan I have for you,” declares the Lord,” plans to prosper and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. 

Growing up in a small town of Michigan with very little Latino population, life certainly brought challenges to overcome.  Born of Mexican ancestry to American parents, we had no strong family ties to Mexico.  Sadly, I have visited the country only once at the age of five.  My parents, overcoming challenges of their own, worked hard to become part of the mainstream while holding on to their heritage.  They did their best to live their lives and give their children what life had to offer.  Part of that good life is their faith in God and their Hispanic Outreach for the sake of sharing Christ.

As a little girl at the age of three, my father became a minister of a small Spanish church.  With my mother working by his side, his Outreach was the Hispanic community, primarily Mexican families who moved into our community from Mexico or Southern Texas to pursue a better life.  The people that he reached were mostly catholic and knew very little or no English.  Ironically, I grew up knowing almost no Spanish, but learned to understand the language as we met people, brought them into our home and made them a part of our family.  Through the grace of Jesus, many came to know Him as their Savior.

I never really understood why my father was led to reach out to the Hispanic community.    It was not until a few years ago when my father shared his own father’s testimony, that I understood his passion.    My grandfather, living in southern Texas, had quite a complicated life with much hardship.  He had very little education and a need to support his family of 13, he resorted to earn money dishonestly, breaking the law and running from the authorities.  Finally, he tired of that lifestyle and deciding he needed a change, left everything behind and moved his family to Michigan to pursue a better life.  What he found was a Christian family who helped him find employment, a home for his family and who shared the gospel of Jesus with him.  By the grace of God, he and my grandmother became Christians.  Six years later when my father was only eight years old, my grandfather passed away went to be with the Lord.

God has a plan; outreach gave my grandparents hope and their descendants a future as it inspired a passion in my father to minister to Hispanic people, instilled within me with a strong desire to serve God through ministry, and my children have their hope in Christ as He guides their future.

Are you ready to reach out and share your story?

 

 

 

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“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders you have done.

The things you planned for us no one can recount to you;

were I to speak and tell of them,

they would be too many to declare.”

Psalm 40:5

Below is day three of our three part series telling the story of a woman’s Mexican heritage and how God used that culture to shape her life.  Enjoy!

I share my story with you to encourage you in your faith and to glorify God for what he has done in my life.    In 2005, very random at a MSU vs. UM game, I met a man, who was a big part in changing my life in so many ways.  At the first moment we met, before we said one word, I knew I was going to be with him.  Some of you may think I am crazy, but after talking for 2 minutes, I asked if we could take a picture together, and we did.  We began to date.

The problem came, when we had the “religion” talk, after going on a couple dates, and I said I was a strong Catholic, and he was a Christian. He told me he would never marry a non-Christian, and I said the same about Catholics. I will never forget the conversation I had with my mom over the phone, to get her point of view about the religion thing. I was very pleasantly surprised to hear her said that I should just give the relationship a trial, get to know him better, and then worry about the whole religion thing while accepting our differences. We lived an hour away from each other and continued to attend church alone.

As we continued to date, I started to attend church with my boyfriend.  After a while, I really began to enjoy it.  I enjoyed the music, the service, the message, fellowship; his church started to become my church.  As I continued to listen to the messages, something suddenly “clicked” within my heart and all became clear.   I realized that Christ alone saves, not my works.  God’s plan for my life began to make sense and I realized why He brought me to Michigan.   He knew that in Mexico, I would have been doing “good works” to earn my Salvation.  He carried me through the pain of a divorce and the hardship of my empty marriage.  God had a plan; he used people in my life to plant seeds such as my host Family in Pennsylvania, the track coach who shared the salvation message and my boyfriend who led me in the right direction. 

God gave me a second chance at marriage, as I believe that He placed a wonderful man right in front of me at that football game that was instrumental in leading me to know Christ as my savior and who is now my husband.  I am SO blessed! I can honestly say that I am not sure what my life would be like with different beliefs, or in a different church.  With gratitude, I am able to serve and give back by working with the youth group at my church and have a wonderful church family with whom I share life.

I am so thankful that I grew up in Mexico and that God gave me a mother and father who put Him first. My mother continues to be a positive influence in my spiritual growth as she taught me the importance of having a relationship with God. My culture and family were crucial in providing me the strong morals and values, needed to end up where I am right now.

 I am amazed of how great the Lord is, and how He continues to sharpen my life. Now, I am just actively waiting for the remaining chapters of my life.  I expect that God will shape me to become the Woman He wants me to be.  Now, this is what I call excitement, don’t you?

Note:  Tomorrow, another lady of Mexican heritage will share her story of how her culture was used by God to impact her life.  

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“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted

and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” 

Psalm 34:18

Below is day two out of a three part series telling the story of a woman’s Mexican heritage and how God used that culture to shape her life.  Enjoy!

The second chapter of my life was just about to begin. I went back to Mexico, and started attending a Catholic college that summer to pursue a Psychology degree. I lived a very busy lifestyle, living at home, as all girls do while in college, taught an aerobics class, tutored children and in addition to that, I was getting my certification to become an English tutor.  Looking back, I wonder WHY I did all that at the age of 19! I loved being busy and stayed out of trouble. However, something strange was happening to me, for some reason, I was not adapting very well to living in Mexico again, I was only gone for ONE year.  My classmates used to tease me that I was going to end up in America. Guess what, the next phase of my life led me back to the United States.

The following summer, I fell in love with an exchange student from MSU I met while I was out with my girlfriends. Like any 20 year old, l thought we had a “fairy tale” story, and a year later, we were married at the same Church where my parents married.   My husband, baptized Catholic, never practiced because the “God” thing was very uncomfortable to him. He knew my beliefs and went to church with me while in Mexico, and even was “confirmed”, since it was a prerequisite to get married.  My dad was his Godfather. Once we moved to Michigan, guess what happened? I went to church by myself most of the time. Sadly, God was always part of my life, but not of our marriage. To make a long story short, we were at marriage counseling after a year and a half, divorced right after our second anniversary, and I was left broken into a million pieces.  I decided to go back home to Mexico.

 A month later, I decided that living in Mexico was actually harder, especially being “Divorced” and only 23! So I took advantage of my round trip ticket, decided to start the 3rd chapter of my life, and came back to Michigan. I had $200 on me, no family, no car, no job, no degree, nothing! But I had the most important thing, and that was God. He had a plan for me, even though I didn’t know what it was, I knew that He was never going to leave me. While I was married, I was a full time student, and tutored Spanish to two beautiful babies for two different families, who hosted me when I moved back to America. Can you believe it? They were young too! I look back, and think, that if I would have been on the other side of the fence, at 26, and this 23 year old Mexican girl, wanted to live with my family, I probably would have said no! However, those two families were so amazing to me, and agreed to host me, so I could come back, and finish my degree.

I am a firm believer of Hebrews 13:5:  “Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you.” I could probably write a book about everything I went through at that time, from dating my ex-husband on and off again, through graduating, getting my Citizenship, and the list goes on. 

Note:  Tomorrow the story continues…see you then.

 

 

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“Show me your ways, O Lord, teach me your paths;

guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior

and my hope is in you all day long.” 

Psalm 25:4,5

Below is day one in a three day series telling the story of a woman’s Mexican heritage and how God used that culture to shape her life.  Enjoy!

Welcome, May! One of my favorite months for so many reasons:  Cinco de Mayo, my wedding anniversary, Memorial Day (when we are “officially allowed” to wear our white clothes, right?) and summer being just around the corner…the list goes on.

If you were wondering why I mention Cinco de Mayo it is because I am proud to be Mexican. Now remember, that Cinco de Mayo is not our Independence Day but a celebration of the battle we won against the French. The funny part is that I never really celebrated it until I moved to America 10 years ago!

Growing up in Mexico my culture certainly affected my beliefs. I was born into a Catholic family that religiously practiced the traditions and rituals. My mother and I prayed in the car every morning while she took me to Catholic School, where I attended from the age of three until I graduated from High School at eighteen. Until this day, I remember the exact words we recited and the people we prayed about (including the ones who were dead, but we still prayed for their souls to be in Heaven). I was also involved in two youth groups, led 7th grade girls for a year, had a close relationship with Mary the mother of God, prayed rosaries, went to mass every Sunday, and lived my life trying to do all the things that a “good girl” would do. I thought without a doubt, that I was going to Heaven since I was a good person. 

After High School, I spent one year in Pennsylvania, as an exchange student, and lived with a Christian family, that had hosted my two brothers 6 and 8 years prior to me. I being catholic did not want to attend their church.  I arranged with the altar boy of the local Catholic Church, who also went to school with me, to pick me up every Sunday for Mass.  However, there were a few times when he was unable to pick me up.  Instead, I attended the Christian church with my host family. Honestly, now that I can admit it, I really liked going to a Christian church. I enjoyed the music, the way they worshiped, and I “got” the message. However, I was NEVER going to question my religion because it attached to my culture, was the way we grew up.

One day, while on the bus going to my track meet, the coach who was sitting behind me began to talk to me. I shared my story about Mexico, my traditions and culture, when suddenly he asked me a question that I will never forget.  He said, Do you know where you are going when you die? I looked at him with my eye brow raised, and said , “Heaven!.”  He asked me why and I said, “Because I am a very good person.”   At that point, he shared the gospel message and explained what the Bible says about salvation.  “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  Ephesians 2:9

I told him that I was Catholic and that I was never going to change my religion and I did not appreciate his opinion and that was that!  However, planted within my heart, is a seed of hope and the story continues.

Note:  Check back in tomorrow for part 2 of this story!

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