Do you get that too?

Today we’re finally having our pajama day.
After being out and about, and running for the past two or three weeks, we’re staying at home literally in our pajamas. If it was for Evelyn, she’d stay in her pajamas every Saturday, but even our weekends have been super busy. It’s always a battle to get her dressed on Saturdays, because in her mind it’s the day to stay at home and rest. She’s taking the Sabbath seriously. Sometimes I wish I did too, after all the Bible commands us to rest.
But of course that for me, being on my pajamas doesn’t mean I’m going to rest. It means I swept the floor on my pjs, and served breakfast the same lunch the same, and I’m not watching a training webinar without changing my clothes, and all the tasks that I have to carry on will be done without putting proper clothes on.
Not much rest involved.
That made me reflect on a conversation that happened yesterday. Esdras was chatting with a friend at church:

“Oh so you went swimming in Norway.”
“Yes, man. And you know what, the water was warmer than here in Ireland.”
“Was it? Cool”
“It was really good.”
“So did ye go all of ye?” he said, turning to me too.
“No, it was a business trip. I was working.” Esdras replied.
“Working, I see” he laughed.
“I was! But, you know, at 5pm the office closes down, so I’m done with work and go enjoy some me time.”
“Oh, of course” turning to me again “Do you get that too?” he laughed. We all laughed. “Like, telling the kids: hey it’s 5pm now, so mommy’s gonna have some ‘me’ time.” We laughed again.

Did you laugh too? It’s probably because you know how impossible it is doing that with a nearly 6 year old, a 4 year old, and toddler. Or even with only one child.

Let me make some considerations before I start getting flooded with comments on how unfair it is, my husband SHOULD help because they’re his kids too etc. Even before having kids I have DECIDED to stay at home in the first years of their lives. And, honestly, it’s not even financially doable here in Ireland to “go back to work” until they are 3 because there’s no free childcare before that, and it’s kind of expensive (grandparents live an ocean away.) So if I was going to work as well, I’d be basically only covering childcare costs… Not forgetting that when Esdras is at home he helps me A LOT. He cooks when I tired (or just don’t want to), bathes the girls and does all bedtime routine. He is a VERY present dad and husband.
What we laughed about is that the reality of any mother of young children (especially without any relatives close by, regardless if she works outside the house or not) is that this “locking the work in the office” doesn’t happen.
In the olden times, God has commanded the people of Israel to have a day of rest. They were to work for six days and rest on the seventh. I mean, women couldn’t even cook on that day, they had to cook double the day before. And for a time I did that too. There was one or two days a week when I didn’t have to cook (just reheat the food from the day before.) But even then it was only one task that I cut off my list. There’s so much work involved in mothering that I don’t see how women could obey that. I does take some preparation ahead in the other days, and probably being more organized that I’ll ever be in my life…
So, you see, even for a mother to have a “day of rest” (no laundry, no cooking, no school run, no outings, no wiping snotty noses or any poo) she has to work beforehand, and plan, and prepare. And even then she can’t lock the office and leave because the “work” follows her even to the toilet!

I had a great time in a trip by myself in June, but that can’t happen every week. I’m still brainstorming a way to have a day of rest every week. I need that.
I think every human being needs that. God knew that we needed to rest, I’m sure He’ll show me a way to obey that too.

Impact Ireland 2016

For those of you who already know us, you  probably know that our life in Ireland started with this name: Impact Ireland.

For those who don’t I’ll explain. Impact Ireland is a short term mission trip organized by OM Ireland (Operation Mobilisation.) OM is a Christian Missionary Organization that sends and manages missionaries in over 111 countries all over the world. So every year OM Ireland receives a bunch of people from many different countries to help local churches reach out to their communities, serving them and preaching the gospel.

So those “temporary missionaries” get in touch with OM Ireland, sign up for this 3 week programme, book their flights and arrive to be greeted and welcomed by OM Staff at Dublin Airport. From there, they all go to OM Ireland’s headquarters, right in the center of Ireland, and take part in workshops about Irish culture and about evangelism (including creative arts stuff, like face painting, balloon modelling, story-telling and maybe basic puppeteer.)

That’s how Esdras and I met Ireland for the first time in 2008. First international trip ever was to serve God in Ireland.

We came with a team of 7 Brazilians, but we served with people from different nationalities once the OM teams were divided. It was a great experience and it was then that we had peace in our hearts that God wanted us in Ireland for long term.

This year was the 5th year that I am participating in Impact Ireland as a church member, hosting an OM team. Which means that OM Ireland sends a bunch of people from different countries and backgrounds to serve with our church in the very heart of Ireland. We usually do kids clubs in two or three housing estates and street evangelism. As I have years of experience in kids ministry I love to be involved in the kids club. Face painting is also my cup of tea, so I jump into every opportunity for that while other people chat with the parents that are queuing, telling them about the loving Savior that we have. It’s very tiring, but always SO worth it!

It is also the fifth year that I am participating in Impact Ireland as a mother, which is a completely different experience than before I had kids. I felt a bit useless this year, I have to confess. People who know me know that I’m not the type of person that will stop ministry because of my kids. I do Bible study with the teenagers twice a week during the day in my own house, in the midst of the CHAOS that my kids cause. They were never an obstacle (although they disturb and interrupt a lot!) But this time I felt like I didn’t help much practically:

  • I haven’t being to the planning meetings, since they were always in the evenings along with the church’s prayer meeting/Bible study and someone has to put the kids in bed (because they had school next day);
  • When on site, I was either trying to convince my older kids to stay in the club (not in the playground) to dance, play and listen to the story, or keeping the toddler from distracting the other kids and leaders (bringing her to the playground, of course);
  • Or I had to detach someone from their designated job to mind my kids at the playground while I did face painting (because I obviously can’t mind three little climbing monkeys while painting someone else’s child’s face.)

There’s nothing glorious about being a mother and trying to do ministry outside your own walls. I always felt like I (or one of my kids) was disturbing more than helping. Especially when your child, the “churched” kid, is the one who refuses to dance the songs… Especially when your child, the “Christian” kid, is the one who makes sure she says out loud that the games are BORING… Especially when you have to leave the kids club (that you’re supposed to help LEADING) early because your child has wet herself at the playground, after insisting many times that she didn’t need to go potty… Or when you see that your church has got the perfect spot in town to play music and engage in conversations but there are too many cars moving around for your children to be safe.

I forgot to mention that because we’ve been out so much, I’ve also been too tired to be a nice and patient mom. So my “mommy ministry” (you know, being loving and kind, so that your children can see Jesus in you?!) was also a bit of a failure this week.

It was frustrating in many ways. And I had a decision to make.

I could decide to think that I wasted four full days when I could be doing something else, like my house work that has been piling up once again, or my sewing/knitting projects, or even just letting the children chill at home. We’re on school holidays, why not being on our pjs the whole day?

Or I could decide to let God use my family and I for His glory, even in my frustration.

I decided to see the beauty of what God was doing. I couldn’t be there to help telling the story in the kids club, but I’ve seen people doing it AMAZINGLY well. I haven’t been there all afternoon doing face painting (because a mom has to understand when a battle is lost and simply retreat), but I’ve seen the works of art that others did on each other’s faces and how that developed in God conversations.

And more than just seeing the beauty, I’ve used my observations to encourage the ones who were doing the actual work. I took it as my role this week.

In between washing poopy accidents and juice spills, I’ve tried to encourage and strengthen those who did the work that I wish I could do. (Who wouldn’t take doing face painting over watching poopy knickers?)

And I’ve seen God move much more than if my own hands were doing it.

Praise be to the One who gives gifts to people. Praise be to our God who brought all this amazingly gifted team together. Praise be to our Lord who just reminded me that I’ve asked Him to send more workers. Another answer to prayer ;)

It’s His field. They’re His workers. Let the harvest begin!

‘He told them, “The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’ Luke 10:2

Sherlock, PJ Masks and the Gift of Being Ordinary

Two weeks ago, I went to visit the Doctor Who Experience, and that will be matter for another whole post. I’ve watched all the episodes til Series 9 and I am eagerly awaiting for Series 10.

As roupas do Doutor

Taking the advice of some friends, I decided to start watching Sherlock while I wait. I thought about starting before, but it was going to be too much for my brain to deal with all the Timey Whimey stuff plus all the mysteries. I watched one of the Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr, and I always loved detective stories but can’t remember how much I’ve read about Sherlock Holmes before. My friends advised me that this Sherlock was completely different from any Holmes’ stuff I’ve ever experienced.

And it is.

This new series brings about how much of a genius Sherlock Holmes is, and how much of a jerk he can be for not caring about people’s feelings.

Meanwhile, my girls discovered a series called PJ Masks. For those who don’t have children, it’s about three kids who become super heroes that work into the night to save your day. Because as they sing, “bedtime is the right time to fight crime.” I have the habit of watching what my children watch so I know what is getting into their heads, and one of the villains got my attention.

He uses his own name, he goes around trying to dominate the world with his inventions. He says can do it because he is a genius.

You don’t need to watch PJ Masks or Sherlock to know that being super clever can be used either for good or for evil. But I didn’t know how my children would react to that idea. The first thing that happened is that in their role play, one of my girls decided to be the villain (she was mad about being Owlette before, nobody else could be her!) and I could hear repeatedly “because I… am a genius!” followed by an evil laugh during their play time. So being genius is attractive, she not only ditched the hero role, but was enjoying the idea of being better than others. But she got the other side of the genius that I didn’t want to see in my house: she started to despise her sisters (not only in the role play)

I let them roll with it for a few days, encouraged them to watch other things, not only PJ Masks. They did. We talked about villains, how selfish they were, they wanted to ruin everyone else’s game, party, world, whatever, for fun, or because they couldn’t have it for themselves. Or they just want to have it all for themselves, all the power, control over everything, just to show how clever they were.

They kept watching it, and playing, and swooping around the house with their pretend Owlette wings, but the “I… am a genius”.

One night, as I was putting them in bed, reading them a bedtime story, one of them said:

“Mommy, you read so well! Mommy is a genius!” to which the other agreed, because none of them can read yet. But I disagreed.

“Mommy is no genius, darling.” I said looking her into the eyes.

“So, you’re like…”

“Ordinary” the other finished.

“Yes, mommy is just ordinary. And you know what, there’s nothing wrong with being ordinary.”

“Yeah! Being ordinary is good too!”

And they slept on it.

And they woke up super heroes again the next day. I don’t think I heard the genius talk again. Not that I don’t think they’re clever or smart, but I’m happy that they’re not gonna grow up thinking that only super clever people are special, or maybe thinking that genius is only a quality that villains have, even though the heroes always outwit and defeat the villains (so they’re even more clever, in their teamwork.)

There’s something really special about being ordinary. But we only realize how

Doctor Watson knows all about it.

Mariana meets The Doctor

— You saved my life, but I don’t even know who you are!

— I’m the Doctor—said he, with his dark, striped suit, leaning at the door of the strange blue box that I’ve never seen in my housing estate before.

— Doctor who?

— Just the Doctor.

— OK, Doctor, you came, saved me, saved the Earth from those horrible monsters. What’s the next step? Are you going home?

— Nope. Let’s say I can’t go home, because my planet is gone. My home is in here at the moment.

— My planet? You mean you’re not human?

— I’m a Time Lord, last of my kind.

— You look human to me, you act as a human too, mostly.— he raised one eyebrow, as I said that—What do you mean by your home is in there? How can you live in a police box? It wasn’t even here this morning!

— Come and see!—he put the key in the keyhole.

— You’re not expecting that I’ll go in, just you and me in that tiny…—he opened the door—thing… How?—I said poking my head in and out of the box.

There, inside what looked like an old police box, was something like a control room. With a huge tube in the middle, a panel with loads of buttons, levers, and one or two screens. It was HUGE!

— Say it. I love this part.

— It’s… it’s bigger inside!

— It’s called the TARDIS, Time And Relative Dimension In Space.

— You said you’re not human, so I suppose this is your space ship—I said, walking slowly towards the center, running my fingers slowly through the rails and looking around.

— Well, it’s not only a space ship, it’s a time machine.

— Flying through time and space! That must be awesome!

— Wanna try? Anywhere and any time you choose.—he pushed some buttons and drew a screen close to himself.

— I can’t—I said, looking at the door.

— Are you sure? What can be better than flying through time and space right now?

— Do you see that light over there?—pointing at the window of a house, right across from the TARDIS’s door.

— Is that your home?

— Not only that, that light means that my baby is still awake. Sorry, but I need to go.

He runs and stops at the door, kind of stopping me from leaving.

— Earth 2050? Mars? Oh Saturn, you mentioned you wanted to see the rings of Saturn.

— I guess you don’t hear a no very often, Doctor. Can you hear my baby cry?

— Yes, so what?

— Oh you probably don’t have kids…—I said trying to go past him.

— I’ve been a dad once… no, twice.

— You mean you have two kids?

— Not exactly, the second time was a bit… complicated. Anyway, don’t worry about your baby. She’s is saying she is not tired, and that she wants to see Peppa Pig. Who’s Peppa Pig?

— How can you know what she’s saying?

— Oh, I speak Baby.—he said with a cheeky smile—It’s a gift of the TARDIS, she translates almost any language.

— Would that work for me too? It would come in handy to be able to understand what my toddler says all the time.

— It won’t work if you leave. Look, you did so great today, I could use your hands on this deck more often—he said, pushing a few buttons and a lever.

— I have four pairs of hands counting that my own hands will be on my own deck tomorrow morning.

— You said tomorrow morning, so we can go now, for just one trip, you choose when and where, and I’ll bring you back to this very moment in today. Nobody is going to even notice that you left.

— But how on the universe will I be able to enjoy seeing planets and stars if I’m so tired, especially after this adventure of today. I haven’t slept well in months. Over a year maybe.

— If you spend a whole week in the TARDIS and come back to this very moment, you can come home rested to your multitude of little hands. Time is not a linear thing.

— Now we’re talking! Should I sleep first, then I decide where to go?

— Allons-y!—he said, closing the door of the TARDIS, and pointing to the console.

I still don’t understand how all that space fits into the blue box. But the Doctor gave me a room in there and I slept better than I had slept in the past few years. I did hear some noise, talking and, dare I say, some explosions?! I’m sure he got in trouble and didn’t want to wake me up. Then we went to see the rings of Saturn and even spotted one of NASA’s probes there. We watched a supernova, and had a chat with the Ood, very weird and sweet creatures. Then he dropped me home to that very moment when my baby was saying she wanted Peppa Pig at 10pm.


Writing about writing

I am considering starting to write a book. I just don’t know who’d be crazy to read it, but considering that some artists (and even scientists) weren’t recognized during their lifetime, I have some faint chance of succeed as a writer. Not that I aim for being famous, anyway, my idea of success is hearing God say “well done, good and faithful servant.” Oh, and I don’t mean to write theory books, theological books, I want to write stories that will stir people’s imagination. We’ll see how it goes.

Not that I have been reading a lot recently as well. I have many books lined up to read, and I end up starting two or three at the same time which is a bad mistake since my brain doesn’t soak up what they say individually, never mind all at once. So I end up giving up reading them because by the time I get to chapter four I forgot what chapter one had said. But I’m a fool and keep doing this, that’s why my Kindle account has many books for months or even years now.

What’s different now is that I am reading with different eyes. My mind is focused on the creative process. As I think about writing a book myself, or short stories, or whatever those ideas in my mind turn into in the end, I am reading thinking about how on earth did those writers get to those specific word choices, and characters, and lands, and plots. And I’m doing the same with the movies and TV shows that I watch (particularly with Doctor Who, which is my addiction for the moment.)

So, thinking about my own blog posts, that are not necessarily very creative, I can imagine how the books also work. The first book that is written is mostly a brainstorm, like words vomited on the page. A clean type of vomit, I’d say, not like what my daughter has been doing for the past couple of days. We write down the ideas all mixed up on the computer (or on a notepad, if you love handwriting like me), to get them out of your head and keep them from being forgotten. It sounds very romantic, but sometimes those good ideas come when you’re very tired, needing sleep, then you hit the pillow but can’t drift off because those nasty little buggers keep plaguing you. And if you think (like I did) “Oh, I can write them down in the morning when I’m rested” forget it! It never works. You’ll miss hours of sleep thinking about them then wake up with a blank mind. Write.them.down! And that’s exactly what I am doing now.

Then the second book is when you sit down with time, read again what you wrote and think “what did I have in mind?” Well those vomited words were exactly what I had in mind, duh! It might take more than one read through to actually get something satisfactory out of that puke. But that’s when I can organize them, swap paragraphs to clarify the idea, or give more suspense in the story, or even erase entire phrases that didn’t fit with the rest of the text. So it’s the gross clean up, but it’s not perfect yet.

The third book is the one I believe will be published. After that first decluttering, I do a little brushing up, check spelling again, and that’s when I’ll have to convince some editor to publish me. Don’t get me wrong, I know it’s much more complex than writing/rewriting/proofreading. I know that the book may go back and forth many times between writer and editor before this third book is actually published. But the idea is that first book that was dumped on the page is completely different now.

Honestly, that happens in any writing process. It was true for my college essays, and it is the same for my blog posts, with the difference that for these I am both writer and editor, so I only have to convince myself that my text was good enough to hand in to the teacher (and sometimes they weren’t really) or to press the “Publish” button here.

Any writers out there wanting to share their creative process experiences?

We Are Not Giving Up

Two weeks have passed by with the same verse on our board:

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” Ecclesiastes 3:1

We’ve been through some hard time since the last post. Two of the kids had a fever, needed antibiotics and all, while Esdras was travelling. I’ll let him tell you where he’s been and how it went when he’s ready. :)

And that’s what real life is. Our life was never a fairy tale. Kids get sick, house work gets delayed, laundry piling up, dishes to wash, not even mention the sitting room that hasn’t been tidies in (what it feel like) ages. Life gets tough, but we’re never alone. God promised that he would never leave us or forsake us.

It seems like we won’t be memorizing 52 Bible verses in the end, maybe 51, or 50. But it’s fine, the number is not the main goal. The mais goal is like it says in Psalm 119:11: hiding the word in our hearts. So we are not giving up our goals just yet!

Happy birthday to me

Hi there! For those who are following our memorization process, here’s this week’s Bible verse:

Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen.
1 Timothy 1:17

Yesterday was my birthday!

It’s not like birthday is the perfect day anymore. Nowadays if one or two things work well, I’m ok, even if the rest of the day goes out of tune. Yesterday, my husband and my daughters brought me breakfast in bed, but the car didn’t work for me to drive the kids to school. One of our neighbors kindly offered to drive the oldest to school, while I carried the other on my back half-way to preschool, and hurt my back because of that… But I’m happy! I’ve completed 31 years of life, praise God. A lot of people don’t like to tell their age, but I don’t mind. In fact, for what I want to say today it’s actually better if I “reveal” this information, because I’ve got a present that wanted for many years.

Since I was a child I loved to watch people play violin. I always thought that the sound of the violin was the most beautiful of all instruments. And when I told my mom that I loved it, she said we wouldn’t have money neither to buy the instrument, nor to pay for classes. We had a piano at home, but I never even got interested in learning. If I was to learn anything it HAD to be the violin (childish, I know!) So I ended up not learning either piano or violin.

My 5 year old daughter, Evelyn, also has this passion for violin. We were once in Galway, walking on Shops Street where there are many people playing instruments or doing other performances, and she stopped hypnotized by 4 girls. One of the was playing the celo and the other 3 playing violins. They could barely hear each other because of the noise of the street, and played more than one tune our of sync, but Evelyn didn’t blink while the songs were playing.

In sum, we ended up looking for classes for her. The music school that teaches the Suzuki method was fully booked, and they had no teachers in our town. But there’s this group called Comhaltas that works on promoting Irish culture. They have groups for literature, to speak Irish language and other stuff to pass on Irish culture. Music included! And guess what? Violin is included used in Irish traditional music. Even better, they have a teacher in a village 5 min away from our town. Just perfect!

She was excited, then she changed her mind and didn’t want it anymore after the first class, because there was no violin for her (it’s a group lesson). On the second class, the teacher managed to relocate her violins and Evelyn borrowed one. “Mommy! I’m gonna take the violin home!” she screamed when I came to collect her. And she reminded me to take the violin out to play every day, as it should be.

Even if she was making screechy sounds (as any beginner will do) and struggling to hold the bow the right way, seeing my daughter holding a violin lit up my old dream. I tried to drop the hint to get one for Christmas and it didn’t work, so I asked for one as a birthday present! God is GOOD!

Twenty something years dreaming about playing a violin, and now I’m learning together with my princess. Another prayer answered. Don’t rush, keep praying, God is listening and He will answer at the right time.

Grace and peace to you. Have a blessed weekend!

10 years ago…

For those who are following my Resolutions, the verse to memorize this week is:

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”
John 3:16

If you see me online (or in person), feel free to ask me how the process of memorizing one Bible verse per week os is going. So far we did Psalms 119:11 and Luke 10:27. Accountability helps us grow, so don’t be afraid to ask.

But this week I’m writing for a very special reason. Exactly 10 years and one week ago, I, who was not an Alves Passos, became an Alves Passos.

Last week, Esdras and I celebrated our 10th wedding anniversary! Who would have thought? Add some extra kilos, subtract some hair on the head, but here we are, ready for another 10. Many things happened, many people have been in our life, but some things never change. Our house is still always full of people. Some come only to eat, some only to chat, yet others to study the Bible, but everyone has loads of fun with the guitar and singing around the table, and nobody turns down a good Brazilian barbecue.

In those 10 years, we traveled a lot; visited amazing places in several countries; met many people from different cultures; ha 3 daughters; planned a lot; worked a lot; planted many seeds for the Kingdom; watered many seeds planted by others; prayed and cried a lot.

I couldn’t let this date go unnoticed (even a week late), after all this blog is about our family, our life, our errands and adventures (even though sometimes they’re only interesting to ourselves.)

January 14th, 2006 was the day in which this branch of the Alves Passos was born, and we keep walking together, Esdras, Jesus, and I.

New Year Resolutions for 2016

Happy New Year!

Today is Wednesday, my girls are back to school. Some may think “Already?” Yes, it’s not Summer holidays here, as it is in the South Hemisphere (like in Brazil, where we come from.) The cold is coming, temperatures are dropping fast after the several tropical storms that we had in December. Most of the North hemisphere has only 2 weeks of holidays in the end of the year, so do we here in Ireland.

When I was in Brazil I used to write my goals for the next year in December (I later discovered that in English it’s called New Year Resolutions) I used to pray and think about what I wanted to achieve in each specific area of my life: personal, professional and ministry. Last time I did that was in 2010 I think, then my only goal was to survive through the early years of my kids (I was either pregnant or with a small baby). This year I decided to write again, and I want to share them here to have people holding me accountable of my “progress” :)

I have been reading loads of articles, both Christian and not, about defining goals and working hard towards them. But most of those encourage people to think big. I have a big difficulty in following my own plans, so I kept my Resolutions kind of low key :) Oh, and this list might grow during the month of January. December was a very busy month for us, the girls and I almost didn’t stay at home, so I had very little time to think and process what was going on. Now that we’re going back to “normal life” (if that even exists) I might be able to put myself together and plan some more stuff.

So, here they are.

  • Start the process for my Irish citizenship;
  • Translate the blog posts I promised in 2015;
  • Declutter my house (I couldn’t find a work in Portuguese for declutter!);
  • “be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.”James 1:19,20;
  • Memorize 52 Bible verses with the kids (1 each week).

So, those are enough to keep me busy for the year, right? :) Bible verse for the week is:

“I have hidden your word in my heart that I might not sin against you.”

Salmos 119:11

We’re memorizing the verses in English, because that’s the language in which the girls use with their friends, it’s what we use in church and everywhere outside our house. And it’s surprising to see how fast they learn. We say it together when we wake up, having lunch and before bed, I read and they say it with me. We started Monday, it’s Wednesday and Evelyn already knows it by heart! She mixes up the numbers to say 119!

What about you? Do you have goals for 2016? Did you write them down? Do you need someone to hold you accountable? I was reading a research that says that we can read through the whole Bible in one year if we read as little as 10 minutes a day! Will you take the challenge?

Next week I’ll post the next Bible verse and maybe a picture of something that I’ve decluttered in the house.

May God give you wisdom and understanding to live another week for His honor and glory!

Mariana and The Force Awakens

If you’ve been following this blog, you know I’m no writer, and no critic. And also that I believe that the Bible is the primary source of teaching about God and everything He created. But as Jesus used to teach his disciples using things that were right there before their eyes, I believe that He still does it. After all, the Jesus that walked on this earth, teaching Peter, James, John, and the others, is the same who still lives and reigns, and teaches us through the Holy Spirit.

Last Thursday, Esdras and I watched StarWars – The Force Awakens. (NO spoilers here! Go ahead!)

Before I start, I want to leave my disclaimer: I’m not fanatic about Star Wars; I didn’t read or watch everything about George Lucas or the saga itself (and probably never will); what I write here is not the “absolute truth”,  it’s my impressions and what I feel I’ve been learning after watching The Force Awakens (and the older movies too), and you might disagree with me, which is OK.

For those who like action, adventure and special effects, Star Wars - The Force Awakens is great! Even if you didn’t watch the previous movies, this one is REALLY GOOD! But because of all the reference to the past relations between Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia and Hans Solo you might fall into the temptation (like me) of wanting to know more about them. Nothing wrong with this. I know lots of fans of this (and other) series, or fans of a specific director or actor, who know everything about them without losing the focus in life.

I’m easily sidetracked, and I tend to fall into idolatry. That’s me. And in the last few days I’ve been spending hours watching the older Star Wars trilogies, other videos related (interviews, biographies etc). I didn’t remember the story in the first three movies (I was born after 1977, much after the first movie was released), so I watched them to catch up on Luke Starwalker’s story. And as I type this English version of the post I have also watched Episodes I and II as well (because I’ve watched them before but my memory is not the same after having kids).

But before I lost my focus, and started to “search my feelings”, I prayed and asked God to teach me something with all this Star Wars fever. As he used fish, nets, and seeds to teach his disciples and the multitudes, I asked him to use the Empire, the Jedi, the First Order and even the Force to teach me about God’s Kingdom and my life as a disciple.

Look, you’ll probably not going to read or hear me say “God said this”, because I take His name seriously, and it’s a big responsibility to say he spoke something. But I’ve been learning. Like Luke and Anakin (in the old movies), Rey, Finn (?), and Kylo Ren learn about the Force and how to use it, I learn about my role in the Kingdom and about staying in tune with the Holy Spirit. If you’re not a Christian, this will probably not make any difference in your life, but if you are, I hope my experience helps you too. If you’re grounded in the Truth of God’s Word you don’t need to be afraid of the Force :)

Everyone has a very strong sense of purpose in this saga (even the droids!) and I think that it is one of the things that hooked me the most (and the family relations too.) Even some characters that, for a moment, seem to have lost their goal in life find their place again. I had a time when I lost my purpose. Coming from such a disciple-making-oriented background, it was very difficult to attribute importance to my role as a mother (I was stuck in the house with small kids.) Skywalker and crew traveled solar systems saving the universe, and I was here folding my kids laundry and saving dinner. But the time I spent with my children has more eternal value than destroying the Death Star.

Luke Skywalker didn’t have a lot of patience when he went to meet Master Yoda and receive his Jedi training. And he used to put his own decisions and feelings over important decisions. I don’t know if he has acquired more patience in this new trilogy, but I keep repeating the same lesson every single day…

Obi Wan Kenobi felt like a failure for not being able to train Anakin to control his feelings. But he played a key role in awakening the Force in Luke and in his training. I have to keep this in my heart too, in case my kids decide not to follow God…

There’s a huge difference in self-control between Darth Vader and Kylo Ren. Vader simply turns back and retreats into his quarters when his plans fail. I react more like Kylo Ren… (you’ll have to watch The Force Awakens to know.)

It’s interesting how the Jedi close their eyes and focus on the Force, even in the middle of the most chaotic situations! That reminded me of Nehemiah, praying as he was going to meet with the King of Persia. I need to use this resource more often, to concentrate in God and make the right decision, or say the right thing (at the right tone).

God is not the Force. God doesn’t have a a Dark side. God is LIGHT! The Bible says that Jesus is the light of the world, and that He is the only way to God. The dark path is a path WITHOUT God. The things He created are never more powerful than the Creator!

Power corrupts. That’s no news. Anakin Skywalker had all the potential to be the best Jedi and was corrupted by the dark side, the promise of being more powerful. In Christian churches today, many people come thinking about following Jesus, but are corrupted by the power of influence they gain, or the position they’re given, or even by money. That’s why we need to keep the Word of God as our mirror. Are we really living (or trying to live) what’s written, or are we seeking power to put our plans into practice like Anakin?

And there’s a sentence that doesn’t leave my mind, spoken by Luke about Vader, and by Leia in the new movie: “There’s still good in him, I feel it!” Darth Vader thought it was too late to leave the dark side, but Luke believed (and insisted) until the end, proving that it was possible even for Vader to come back to the light. I know so many people who think it’s too late to come to God, or that what they’ve done is unforgivable. But it’s NEVER too late to come back to God. He’s always forgiving because Jesus paid the price for ALL sins, and God ALWAYS gives us opportunities to repent.

Luke insiste para Vader resistir à vontade do Imperador

There’s a lot much more going on in my mind now, but I don’t want to spoil the movie for those who didn’t watch it yet. Maybe I’ll talk about that again when more people have watched #TheForceAwakens :)

Happy Christmas! The reason we Alves Passos celebrate it is that our God, the God of the Bible, loved us all (the whole world) so much that He sent His only Son to be born as a man, live without sin, and pay for our sins on the cross. Salvation is the best present that we can ever receive, because it’s the only one that lasts forever!