Esther Pavao
Woke up with this poem on my heart today. Not a whole lot to say about it, it really speaks for itself. It really left me feeling very peaceful.

“A Quiet Mind”
By Amy Carmichael

What room is there for troubled fear?
I know my Lord, and He is near;
And He will light my candle, so
That I may see the way to go.
O Love, O Light, I sing to Thee,
And in my heart make melody.

There need be no bewilderment
To one who goes where he is sent;
The trackless plain by night and day
Is set with signs lest he should stray
O Love, O Light, I sing to Thee,
And in my heart make melody.

My path may cross a waste of sea,
But that need never frighten me;
Or rivers full to very brim,
But they are open ways to Him.
O Love, O Light, I sing to Thee,
And in my heart make melody.

My path may lead through woods at night,
Where neither moon nor any light
Of guilding star or beacon shines;
He will not let me miss my signs.
O Love, O Light, I sing to Thee,
And in my heart make melody.

Lord, grant to me a quiet mind,
That trusting Thee—for Thou art kind—
I may go on without a fear,
For Thou, my Lord, art always near.
O Love, O Light, I sing to Thee,
And in my heart make melody
Esther Pavao
This isn't my usual subject matter, but I did a little research recently and if you're interested in why I believe it is ok for Christians to eat pork, then read on. If not, it's just a bunch of scripture references really, so that's ok.

I was asked recently that if I am a Christian, why do I think it is ok for me to eat 'swine'? I had never given it much thought, and my answer was a little vague, and my only scriptural reference, that it is what comes out of our hearts, not what goes into our mouths that makes us unclean, (Matt 15:11, my interpretation) was written off based on the context of the verse. I promised to have a scriptural reason why it is ok for me to eat pork the next time I saw that person and went to work finding out.

The first thing I looked for was the command not to eat it. In Leviticus 11, God lists to Moses and Aaron all the clean and unclean animals and swine (pigs) are listed Lev. 11:7 is listed as unclean and therefore unfit to be eaten by God's people. (It's also in Deuteronomy 14:8). It's pretty clear that they were not supposed to eat pork, so why would we eat it now?

Everything I've read has said that the original law was laid down for at least one reason, but I'm sure there are more, and that was to create a standard of righteousness for us to live by--to help us understand the difference between right and wrong. Obviously, left to ourselves, we don't do very well and end up being ruled by our passions and desires. I know that when Jesus came to earth, he fulfilled the laws and called us to live by the Spirit, not just the law. I found that pretty easily in Romans.

Rom. 10:4 states that Christ was the end of the law of righteousness. He fulfilled the law for us because we couldn't do it ourselves. Even with the law stated very clearly for us, we couldn't stick to it on our own. That is all in Romans 8. We as humans were not able to follow the law, so God didn't just get rid of it, He fulfilled it and ended it by sending His Son to do it for us.

I looked through the New Testament for anywhere it mentioned eating meat and this is what I found.
But food does not bring us near to God; we are no worse if we do not eat, and no better if we do.  ~ 1 Corinthians 8:8
In context, it was referring to eating food sacrificed to idols. Idols or other gods hold no power over the children of God, and so unless those idols mean something to you, eating the food sacrificed to them means nothing. However, if eating that food creates a problem with your brother or sister, then eating it would be a sin. The sin itself would be creating a stumbling block for your brother, not eating the food.

“Everything is permissible”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible”—but not everything is constructive. Nobody should seek his own good, but the good of others.
Eat anything sold in the meat market without raising questions of conscience, for, “The earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it.”
If some unbeliever invites you to a meal and you want to go, eat whatever is put before you without raising questions of conscience. But if anyone says to you, “This has been offered in sacrifice,” then do not eat it, both for the sake of the man who told you and for conscience’ sakethe other man’s conscience, I mean, not yours. For why should my freedom be judged by another’s conscience? If I take part in the meal with thankfulness, why am I denounced because of something I thank God for?
So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God. Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God— even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved. ~ 1 Corinthians 10:23-33, emphasis mine
 Any emphasis on not eating is simply for others' conscience sake.I don't think Paul is the only one that God is ok with eating pork or other foods previously considered "unclean". It is clear that some people will have a problem with it. I'm assuming, based on the context of the scripture I quote next that this is a Jews vs. Gentiles argument.

We who are Jews by birth and not ‘Gentile sinners’ know that a man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ. So we, too, have put our faith in Christ Jesus that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by observing the law, because by observing the law no one will be justified. ~ Galatians 2:15-16
The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron. They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods, which God created to be received with thanksgiving by those who believe and who know the truth. For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer. ~ 1 Timothy 4:1-5, emphasis mine

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles of the earth and birds of the air. Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.”
“Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.”
The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.”
This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven. ~ Acts 10:9-16
Immediately following this vision, Paul was summoned by a Gentile and against Jewish law, he went.

So there it is, why I believe that I am permitted to eat pork. The scriptures have enough references to food that I believe what we eat is important to God, but I believe that is because He wants us to be healthy in order to serve Him to the best of our ability and to take care of ourselves and each other.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this.
Esther Pavao
This probably isn't as profound or whatever as my other posts, just a couple random thoughts I had and thought they were interesting.

You see it everywhere. "Live is if today was your last day." "What would you do if you knew you would die tomorrow?" "Live life to the fullest." Etc., etc. Rock bands, pastors, teenagers, artists, all of them have their own way of expressing it, but the sentiment is the same, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die." Isaiah 22:13

The truth is, no one really does. They get up, they go to work, they maybe spend time with their spouses or children or friends, but no one really acts like it will be their last day because deep down, they don't really believe their lives could end that quickly without them getting the chance to actually live. We all put off really living until a later date when we have enough time, money, or whatever.

I started thinking, "If I died tomorrow, what would people say about my last day? Laugh, if you will, but I started playing out conversations between people who are close to me. The great thing about being dead, is that unless you killed millions of people like Hitler did, people tend to forget all the bad stuff about you as soon as you are gone. They only want to remember the good stuff. They even praise Hitler for his leading skills as often as they censure him for his sick regime.

Let's see...if yesterday was my last day, it would go something like this: "She got up early, like most mornings, wishing for at least one more hour of sleep. She really liked those quiet moments before everyone else was up. She used to make fun of the fact that she prayed in the shower. "It's the only time I have peace and quiet!" She left for work a little bit late. She had a cup of coffee, ("of course,"they would say with a smile), she wouldn't consider her day started until she had coffee. Nothing she said counted until she had caffeine. During work, she wrote bible verses out that she'd post on the wall of the office, or sometimes she'd close them in the drawer so that when she opened it to give someone their change, she'd see it and it would remind her why she was doing what she was doing."

"What verses were those?" Someone would probably ask.
"You would have to ask her. All I know, is they made the difference between a good day and bad day for her."
"I guess we'll never know."
"Guess so. Well, after work, she went running. She loved doing it, even though she joked about how slow she was and she could never stick to it. She talked to her brother on the phone for a wile and then she hung out with a couple girls after she went running--some her age, some younger. She really had a heart to make them feel safe talking to her and make them laugh."
"She used to say that laughing is what helped get her through the day. 'You either have to laugh or cry,' she'd say, 'so I laugh!'"

"She was a little bit serious all that day though. She tried not to let it show, but something was on her mind."
"I know she was at odds with a few people, but she didn't want to talk to them because they were tired of her talking whenever something came up."
"She was stubborn about that." And they would laugh because you don't get irritated with dead people. "She didn't like staying mad at people or people staying mad at her."

You get the idea.

Perhaps they'd say, regretfully, that I was never great. So few of us ever really are, however many plan to be. They might be glad to have my writings so they could hang on to a small part of me.

So, my last day was spent doing what I loved: drinking coffee, serving people, investing in a ministry, and hanging out with friends. And what more can you ask out of life? Maybe I never "changed the world" as they say, but I certainly changed a few small worlds and I wouldn't have changed my last day even a little bit.
Esther Pavao
I was a little depressed today. A couple things happened, and before I knew what happened, I was taken out. It's that fast I guess. When I got home from work, I didn't want to see anyone, so I decided to go for a walk. I put my headphones in, turned my music up loud enough to not be able to hear anything outside of them and went to the first place I thought of--the pond.  It was quiet up there, no one was around, so I walked around it, ending up on the Holy Hill. I can't explain what it was, but something drew me to what I guessed would have been the point that was the center of our gathering up there during the Ingathering. I started praying about the situations that had gotten so out of control.

I read a book once that covered different things about prayer, and one thing that was stressed was that if God allows your mind to wander when you're trying to pray, allow it to do so and see where it leads instead of feeling guilty and trying to force yourself to focus. You'll lose every time anyway. So, when I got distracted, I just got lost in the silence up there, the beauty of the beginnings of fall and the wonderful breeze. I started to think of something that John Bob said to me: "When I get bogged down in my mind, I find that the best way to get out of it is to force myself to praise God."

I wasn't really in the mood for loud praise music, but I think the point of the exercise is to get out of the funk, not indulge it, so I selected the first Christian album on my iPod, selected a favorite song, and started to sing along. Are you surprised to discover that the exercise worked? (Thanks, John!) By the time I left, I had tears in my eyes, but good ones because I was so grateful that whenever I reach out to Him, God always meets me there. I still don't have incredible insight or wisdom, but I know that putting into bigger and better hands is the best thing I could have done with it.
Esther Pavao
Hey people,

Yes, it's true, I'm back! I know, it's been about 10 months since I've written anything, and I'm  very sorry about that, but I won't waste time with all my excuses, let's just settle with the fact that I'm going to try better to write more often. I feel like I process my thoughts better when I get them out in writing, and even though it makes me nervous to have them out in the open for all to see, maybe something I learn will help someone else someday. I'd like to believe that the struggles in life are for some purpose anyway.

So....I guess it would probably take way too long to catch everyone up on my crazy life over the past year, so I'll just jump right in!

Lately, I've seen a lot of places in my life that I hold back. Whether fear of judgment, or fear of hurting other people, or hurting myself, just downright fear. A sister recently asked me what I had been writing recently, and was completely shocked when I answered, "Nothing."

"God gave you a gift. You need to be writing. I don't care what it is, just do it!" She exhorted me thoroughly, and walked away leaving me standing there, ashamed and determined to get over my fear and write. Later that evening, God led me to read Matthew where I smacked into "The Parable of the Talents". I'll copy it below.

Matthew 25:14-30

American Standard Version (ASV)

 14 For it is as when a man, going into another country, called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods.
 15 And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, to another one; to each according to his several ability; and he went on his journey.
 16 Straightway he that received the five talents went and traded with them, and made other five talents.
 17 In like manner he also that received the two gained other two.
 18 But he that received the one went away and digged in the earth, and hid his lord's money.
 19 Now after a long time the lord of those servants cometh, and maketh a reckoning with them.
 20 And he that received the five talents came and brought other five talents, saying, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me five talents: lo, I have gained other five talents.
 21 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
 22 And he also that received the two talents came and said, Lord, thou deliveredst unto me two talents: lo, I have gained other two talents.
 23 His lord said unto him, Well done, good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
 24 And he also that had received the one talent came and said, Lord, I knew thee that thou art a hard man, reaping where thou didst not sow, and gathering where thou didst not scatter;
 25 and I was afraid, and went away and hid thy talent in the earth: lo, thou hast thine own.
 26 But his lord answered and said unto him, Thou wicked and slothful servant, thou knewest that I reap where I sowed not, and gather where I did not scatter;
 27 thou oughtest therefore to have put my money to the bankers, and at my coming I should have received back mine own with interest.
 28 Take ye away therefore the talent from him, and give it unto him that hath the ten talents.
 29 For unto every one that hath shall be given, and he shall have abundance: but from him that hath not, even that which he hath shall be taken away.
 30 And cast ye out the unprofitable servant into the outer darkness: there shall be the weeping and the gnashing of teeth.

I quite literally felt winded. Where have I been investing my talents? Perhaps it was false humility, perhaps it was fear, probably a good combination of both with a good sprinkling of stubbornness, but for whatever reason, I have been keeping my talents to myself and God is not pleased with me because of it, so this is me trying to change that.

Anyway, maybe that's too quick of an overview, but I actually really don't have time for more and I want to post this as soon as I can before I chicken out. Expect more soon!
Esther Pavao
Right now, I'm simply feeling grateful to my Father who loves me far more than I can even imagine, though I've done nothing to deserve it. He never leaves me, even when I leave Him. He pulls me back when I walk away, and He holds on when I fight Him. He listens when I cry, and He holds me when I'm weak. He smiles when I laugh, and He delights in my joys. He loves when I sing to Him, and He tells me I'm beautiful, even when I don't try. He gave me a clear sky full of stars that we enjoy together. He always has time for me. He makes sure all of my needs are met, even if I didn't know I needed anything at all. He tells me to dream big and then tells me I can follow them. He believes I can do anything and is proud of my accomplishments.

And when the world feels too big, I know I'll never be too old to crawl back into His lap and simply bask in His love.
Esther Pavao
I had never felt anything like this before. Heat unlike anything I'd ever felt was scorching my sensitive skin and I felt....dry. Grains of sand dug into my back, scratching like sandpaper and burrowing deep scores in my side. I could hear the ocean crashing into the sand, feel the spray as it smashed into the shore just inches away. My entire being longed to be back in its depths, but I couldn't move myself so much as an inch. 

I felt my life slowly ebbing away with each hour that passed, but I clung to it, desperately hoping by some small chance, I might be lifted by the incoming tide. A small child squatted next to me. I prayed by some kindness he would throw me in, but he only poked me once or twice and ran off again. Didn't he see that I needed the ocean? Couldn't the people around me see that I was dying? 

I felt it, death was coming. Everything in my cried out for something, anything to end this heat. A shadow crossed over me and I felt a gentle hand lift me from the sand. I was being carried and then I felt the glorious water! The coolness of the ocean washed over me and I was free! I felt my strength come flooding back and I just floated, soaking in the water, tentacles splayed out around me, feeling the power of the ocean, grateful to the hand whose kindness had returned me to where I was alive and free. 

I was trying to find something that described how I've felt lately and a beached jellyfish seemed pretty accurate. I have felt dried out and completely drained, but I don't have the power to save myself. But when I call out to Him, He picks me up and carries me in the palm of His hand.
Esther Pavao
There is a song that whenever I hear it, I am totally convicted and spend the next 30 minutes or so after hearing it wondering if I even know God at all. As sure as I am sometimes that I do, There are other times that I'm convinced I don't. Since I just listened to it, now is one of those times.

To Know You
by Casting Crowns

To know you is never worry for my life, and
To know you is to never to give in or compromise
To know you is to want to tell the world about you
Cause I can't live without you

To know you is to hear your voice when you are calling
To know you is to catch my brother when he is falling
To know you is to feel the pain of the broken hearted
Cause they can't live with out you.

More than my next breath
More than life or death
All reaching for, I live my life to know you more
I leave it all behind, you are all that satisfies
To know you is to want to know you more
To know you is to want to know you more

To know you is to ache for more than ordinary
To know you is to look beyond the temporary
To know you is believing that you will be enough
Cause there is no life without you

More than my next breath
More than life or death
All I'm reaching for, I live my life to know you more
I leave it all behind, you are all that satisfies
To know you is to want to know you more
To know you is to want to know you more

All this life could offer me, could not compare to you
Compare to you
And I count it all as lost, compared to knowing you
Knowing you

More than my next breath
More than life or death
All I'm reaching for, I live my life to know you more
I leave it all behind, you are all that satisfies
To know you is to want to know you more
To know you is to want to know you more

Compared to you
Compared to you
And I count it all as lost, compared to knowing you
Knowing you
And I count it all as lost, compared to knowing you
Knowing you