Be a Vessel

We are having a lovely spiritual retreat at IST school for teachers. Here is the first talk:

Be a Vessel by Reed Skinner.
What can we do to keep our children from the bondage of sin that is at the door for them? 
Oil. Every time oil is mentioned in the Bible it represents the Holy Spirit. He is the only thing that will keep the next generation from bondage. 

2 Kings 4
A widow came to the prophet Elisha to help her because her acreditors were coming home to take her children to bondage to pay her debts. The prophet asked: "What do you have home?"

The issue to separate life from death, bondage from freedom, and heaven from hell is "Is there a vessel?"
The oil never stopped flowing to the vessel in the story with the prophet Elisha.
Elisha told her to go and get all the vessels available to pour oil. 
Oil was not in shortage. The vessels that could hold oil were in shortage. 
These vessels needed to be empty. 

The prophet tells her to shut the door and stay inside alone with her children.
To be an empty vessel there are things in your life you are going to have to shut out, including people. To be a usable empty vessel we will have to separate from the world. 

2 Cor 6:17
".. be separate, do not touch what is unclean..."
Also found in Isaiah 52 and Ezequiel 20. 

Three times the Bible mentions to be separate.
When we do this it is so that God can pour to us so that we can pour into the world. The purpose is not to separate for the sake of being separated; the purpose is to be filled. 
The oil stopped when there were no vessels available. As long as there are vessels, the oil kept flowing. 
The vessel does not give value to the oil. The oil gives value to the vessel. It is needed, but it is not the value. The glory is always God's, and we are just grateful He uses us and He needs a vessel and choses to use us.
But we must be clean and empty for God to use us. 

The Devil hates the vessel. He knows its power, and he is trying to destroy it. 
1 Cor 10:19
"Our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit Who is in you Whom you have from God? You are not your owner; you were bought with a price."

Satan can't hurt the oil. His only tactic is to damage the vessel. 
This is why what we do matters. 
It matters what we are putting in our hearts and minds, the people we are sharing with, what our actions are doing.
You are either a vessel of treasure or a vessel of trash. 
You are a container, no matter what you do. 

Ezequiel 47: 9-11
The picture painted is an angel calling Ezequiel to a river. He is ankle deep in water, and the angel calls him into the river. And he is knee deep in the river, and the angel keeps calling him into the river. 
God is bringing us into the river of His Holy Spirit, and He wants us to go deeper in it. 
2 Cor 7:9
Paul is asking for perfection, but he finds that even after asking God three times to have that thorn removed God refuses to take the thorn. 

And the angel is telling Ezequiel that the river is going to clean and heal him, but he will have parts that remain with salty water.
Even Paul found that he couldn't clean completely from sin. 
Because it is for God's glory that we may know we need God's grace and we must remain in Him. 
But this doesn't mean we must not try to keep our vessel clean. 

1 Cor 3:4-5
"What is Paul? a servant...."

God can do miracles through you, show His power through you, and preach through you. You, a lowly creature, are chosen to be a vessel. 
Don't give your space away to things of no value limiting the place in your heart to have the oil poured.

You can think your role in the Kingdom is not important.
2 Timothy 2:20-21
In the house of God there are vessels of honor and vessels for more lowly things.

You might want to say what type of service or what things you want to do for God. 
You chose what you'll do and ask God to bless what you chose to do. 
And thank God He is merciful and forgives our stupidity. 
I can't chose what the Lord wants me to do. 
Rom 9:20-21
"Will the thing ask the Maker why have you made me this way?"

Your service to God is not about what you can or want to do.
God does not need superstars; He needs vessels. 
If you want a glamorous work, you are not fit for service. 
If you want to limit to do what you can do, God can't use you. 
The Lord chooses. 

Deut 1:15

If you can't clean a bathroom with the same love that you would preach in a big church, you are not fit for service.

The disciples are told by Mary on the Canaan wedding to go and do what He tells you.
Nonesensically bringing empty vessels and filling them with water was probably not what the disciples thought they were following Jesus for. And God showed His glory there, and they did what they were told. 
A missionary walks endless hours into a mountain to arrive to a tribe to reach a single man. But God cares about that single man being reached. 

When Jesus was about to die in the Cross He said "It is finished." He did not say I am finished. He descended to hell to take the keys from Hell. All that time, the vessel was in the tomb. He, the oil, was not defeated ever.
And by doing this, He bought me, He bought you, and He bought our children and students. 
The oil is not the problem; the problem is finding the vessel that will step out of his comfort zone and will tell what Jesus did in his life. 
You are the hope of the world for the Lord to deliver His message. 
You don't have to be talented or be a star.
You just have to be clean and empty. 
People prays "Give me anointing, give me a purpose" and God answers "Give me your vessel. Be my vessel, and I will be your power, strength, and my purpose."

Act 9:15
"But the Lord said to Ananias, “Go! This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel."

God is never wrong in who He choses, but you must be intentional to be a clean vessel ready to be poured into by Him.
When you empty yourself to be the vessel, don't be surprised to fall into attack. It will happen! 

2 Kings 6:15-17
"Do not fear for those who are with us are more than those who are against us."

We are not trying to do this in our own strength. His strength and His forces for you are greater than those that are against us, including yourself. 
The God of angel armirs is for us. 
Revelations 17:14
".. the Lamb will overcome them for He is the King of Kings."

Isaiah 54:17
"No weapon forged against you will prevail, and you will refute every tongue that accuses you. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and this is their vindication from me," declares the LORD.

Bondage is coming for your children, your family, and your heart. "What is in your home?" the prophet asked. The oil is there. Be a vessel, clean and empty, so that it may flow. The oil is the only one that can save us and our children. Be an empty, clean vessel that the oil can be poured in. 


Peppa Pig Birthday for Emmalee's two years

Before I share to you Emmalee's birthday, let me open with a cinquain inspired by Kaylee's feet. 

baby feet
tiny and sweet
Feel like taking a

It is poetry week in my seventh grade English class, and we were writing cinquains yesterday. 

Boy! Did I enjoy this birhday! Usually, I am always running late putting up decorations when guest are already arriving, and the girls and I are not even dressed. Most of the time I end up without make up on. I think the practice  and skill I've acquired from having my own bakery business had a lot to do with the organization and order everything had this time. I even had time to get ready calmly and go out for lunch with my mother before the event. 

I was absolutely in love with this theme. It is just so gorgeous. Now, I did not choose it. That was the fun of it. My daughter just went Peppa crazy. Having her have likes and dislikes made this birthday a lot different. I loved making something for the birthday and watch her light up when she saw me finish something and yell "Peppa!!!"

I totally loved the way the dessert table looked. The reason I loved this theme is that it ended up not being monotonous and very colorful.

The cake turned out adorable. I took a whole day to make it. It turned out better than I expected. It was a total hit.

But it was a hit mainly with the birthday girl and isn't that what you want from the brithday cake?

I love the favors and goodie bags. I was sad I had finished all the crafts for the birthday so I decided to throw in that personalized Peppa can to hold the fans that are also a whistle.

This were hand made to make the bags pop.

The cake pops are yellow "Wellington boots" that Peppa uses to jump in muddy puddles. 

The cupcakes where planned to have the Peppa and George characters done in white chocolate, but the government decided to cut out the electricity all day and I had to improvise.

But I loved how they turned out made out of fondant. They look fun.

The muddy puddles were chocolate pudding. There were a bigger hit than I thought they would. I had some wiggly gummie worms there that complemented my muddy puddles. 

A plain strawberry jelly turned into a conversation piece. 

I always like to include some healthy choice, specially since I had many lactating moms that need dairy free foods. 

The thing I loved most of this handmade banner was watching Emmalee go near it and start naming the characters she recognized. 

I love the simple-to-make and great looking backdrop. Some cloud poms and drops brought it to another level.

I was not planning on this intricate centerpieces. I found the pattern for the Peppa and George on pinterest and I really wanted to make them. I was going to have them sit on the table with a balloon in hand. I had a lot of Huggies boxes lying around (with two babies), and I recycled them into those lovely looking trees and fence and apples. Only the leaves and the grass did not come from the box. I love repurposing!

This is the Peppa on its own. I love her Teddy and Mr. Dinosaur on George also. 

The pattern was the same, but for some reason the Georges ended up looking chubbier.

This photoshoot backdrop was initially planned to have the characters faces with wholes to put your face in; but when I made the characters, I couldn't cut their good looking faces. 
The best thing of this birthday was having my mom there. And look at that great looking grandmother of two. Isn't she gorgeous? She used that photoshoot well.

I was not planning on making the piñata; but when I went to purchase the piñata, I didn't like the way the Peppas looked. They didn't look like Peppa, but they looked like any pig. The piñatas that did look like Peppa were way too pricey. I found a tutorial on pinterest to make the piñata and decided to go for it, three days before the birthday. I made it so fast that I was afraid I was going to hang it and the weight of the candies was going to rip the piñata apart. I could not be more mistaken. The piñata was so stutdy that grown ups had a hard time breaking it. 

It was all worth it to see that little one enjoy it so much. She even helped in making the piñata. It was messy so it was appealing to her. I was afraid she would feel bad beating Peppa with a stick. She had a problem initially and only hit Peppa three times. After she saw other kids beating her, she wanted another go. LOL.

We had a wonderful time. We love that girl like crazy.

We also loved having Aunt Lilly at the birthday. She and my mom live in Panama City. Aunt Lilly was a complete hit with my daughters. It was her first time meeting Kaylee. She was awesome and spent all the birthday with her. Emmalee kept asking for her Tia Lilly when she went back. She has a philosophy when taking pictures with babies. After trying to take a picture of Kaylee with her fingers out of her mouth, she decided that if you couldn't beat them, join them.

And the birthday was a great time to make friends. Here we see Kaylee and my highschool best friend's son Daniel. How wonderful to remain friends after so many years and have our children be friends.

The best friends life could give me!


I look into your eyes

I look into your eyes and lose myself in beauty,
and I marvel at how wonderfully you were made by our most loving God.
I marvel at every curve your face makes when you smile or
the serenity it portrays when you sleep. 

I look into your eyes and am filled with overwhelm
at the blessing that I was chosen to be your mother.
I am overwhelmed by the thought that you were once in me, 
growing with every prayer I made for you and every song I sang to you. 

I looked into your eyes for the first time and was shocked with love,
never knowing I could feel so much love, so instantly, so insanely.
Can this love compare to God's? A love without reserve, without conditions!
If it can't compare, it must be the closest one.

I look into your eyes looking back at me and I am humbled
that you are so small and barely know a thing 
and I need you more than you need me.
I learn from your inocence, your peace, your joy, and your faith in me. 

I look into your eyes and I wonder
Do you know how much you mean to me?
Will you remember that I once was your all?
Can you tell how happy I am with you?

I look into your eyes and I worry
that the evil in this world might touch that beauty.
Will this world reach that inocence?
Can my love shield you and always reach you?

I look into your eyes and I pray
that He may be your high refugee.
Love Him with all your heart, live to give him glory. 
Use me, Oh Lord, for this purpose and may my life show her how. 

I look into your eyes and I give thanks
that I am lucky enought to look into your eyes
and call you my daughter, my sweet baby girl.
That this undeserving human is called your mom.

I am not a poet, and I don't pretend to be one. This is not a poem. It is just my attempt at putting into words what it's like to look into your daughters eyes. I don't have a son, and I hope one day to write what looking into his eyes is like. For now, I revel on the joy of having girls that are soft, pink, beautiful, frail, lovely, and caring. 
Some days feel so hard to live. I want to go to bed without a late night waking or feeding. When we had our own house, Emmalee had a bedtime routine. I would bathe her and clothe her, give her her bottle, and send her to her room with the lights off and her turtle lamp shining an underwater ilusion light into the ceiling and play the sound of waves crushing. Now, with all of us sleeping in one tight room, she asks to be picked up and sleep in my bed. Sometimes we oblige and sometimes we send her to her bed; but since Kaylee is in the bed with us, we oblige more often. These past nights, however, she has been doing the darnest thing. She comes to my side of the bed and ask "sube, sube" (up, up). I pull her up on the bed and she wraps her arms around me, puts her head on my shoulder, and says "mami" (mommy). It's almost a sigh, like a relief or comfort that she is in her mommy's arms. I can't express what this does to my tired heart. It is filled beyond measure and it feels invincible. Kaylee does the darnest things too. She will fall profoundly asleep in my arms but will fully wake up the moment she touches the crib. This has resulted in sometimes constantly waking in the middle of the night and me finally surrendering and letting her sleep in my arms the rest of the night. But when morning comes and I wake up, I watch her sleeping so carelessly on my arms. And it is like she feels my eyes looking at her because I haven't moved or made a sound, and she opens her eyes to meet mine. She gives the softest, faintest, sweetest smile that makes my heart become a puddle of goo. 
And it might not be an ideal situation, but I won't have those moments with them forever. And for now, looking into their eyes is the best thing in the world!!!