Never Ending, Never Failing Love

Michael Martinez

Romans 8:37-39

We are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

It’s very easy to feel separated from God in our secular culture. It’s also very easy to feel separated from God’s love because of our mistakes. I often feel like my actions determine how close or far I am from God’s love. But this is not the case. Yes, my actions can make my heart calloused or apathetic towards God’s love, but His love is always there. It is my own misdirected thoughts, not the absence of His love, that keep me from Him. God’s love is eternally directed toward…

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In Every Season


The day is January 28th in Key West, Florida, and I have arrived at my beautiful hometown with a surprise for my mom.  I brought my camera with me with the intention of taking photos of her at her favorite pier to celebrate her 85th birthday.  But if you know my mom, you know how hard it is to surprise her.  When I told her my plan, she replied, “God already told me this morning we were going to do this.”  And that is how surprises always go with my mom.  God has always been ahead of any plans you can make for her, and for that I am grateful.

My mom was born 85 years ago today in Havana, Cuba.  As a small child, she quickly developed a passion for two things:  sports and singing.  She won numerous medals competing in volleyball, track and field, and in her favorite sport, swimming. She was so passionate about swimming that one day, as a young girl, she swam so far off the shore at her favorite beach in Mariano, Cuba that a rescue boat had to go find her.

She also had a passion for music and the arts.  At the age of 14, without her mom knowing, she snuck across town to a popular local singing competition.  Her Tia Gracelia secretly made her a “rumbera” costume and coached her to sing “Babaloo.”  She took first place in the competition that night and snuck back home, thinking her mom would never find out.  But the local radio station broadcasted her success, and when a neighbor heard the news and came over to congratulate her, things turned serious.

Why?  Because my Abuela Estela, who was a good woman and loved her only child, was gripped by fear.  In that day and age, she was afraid that my mom would succeed.  Succeed in sports or succeed in a singing career, which meant that my mom would be recruited, taken to the United States, and separated from her.  So in came the “chancleta,” as we Cubans call it.  My mom was very familiar with a “chancleta” beating as a child.  She got it when she competed and she got it when she sang.  Not because she wasn’t loved by her mom, but because her mom was afraid to lose her.

When my mom was in 3rd grade, a nun visited her public school in Havana and asked her if she would like to take her First Communion.  At that moment, my mom had never been to a church and didn’t even know what communion was. She went home and asked her mom if she could participate, and as God had planned it, her mom did not object.

The nun took my mom in, gave her Bible classes for two months, and even made her a white dress and veil for her special day. Her parents did not attend her First Communion, but that didn’t stop my mom from pursuing a relationship with God and the local church just blocks from her home. God had made plans for her, and she wasn’t afraid to follow them, even at a young age.

My mom got her teaching degree in Havana (the safe career her mom approved of), and at 19 she met my dad and they married.  Ironically, he quickly took her out of Cuba to live in New York.  Not being able to endure the cold weather, they moved to Miami (where she gave birth to her first of six children, Teresa), and a few months later they made their way down to Key West.  That was 62 years ago.

How did my mom follow God’s plans during those years?

The entire time her kids were in elementary school, she was a volunteer teacher’s aide with Mrs. Mosher at Truman School.

She was a choreographer for numerous “Quince” Birthday parties in Key West and one of the directors of the famous Key West Comparsa with Boza.  In fact, every one of her children danced in the comparsa at one time.

She was also the Music Director at the Catholic Church, and her kids were the lead organist, pianist, and guitar players for the Spanish masses there.

She encouraged all of her children to chase their dreams, whether it be in music or sports, and never once lifted a “chancleta” to stop them from pursuing their passion.

Today, my young mom continues to make an impact in her community.  Every weekday morning you will find her at the 7:30 am mass, followed by a prayer time at her favorite pier.  On Monday she visits 3 homes for a Bible study and time of communion. On Tuesdays you will find her doing hospital rounds, praying and giving communion to those who are sick and weary.  On Wednesdays she has a prayer group in her home, and on Fridays she is at the Monroe County Jail, where she has been ministering to inmates for the past 20 years.

So back to my photo shoot.  It was no surprise to my mom that I was going to document her love for God and prayer at her favorite pier that day.  Why?  Because she has pursued a life chasing God and has allowed Him to go before her in every season.  She couldn’t dance as a child but spent years teaching her children to dance.  She couldn’t sing as a child, yet she encouraged her children to master a musical instrument of their choosing.  She wasn’t introduced to a church by her parents, yet she introduced her God and a passion to serve others to each of her kids, including me.

I am grateful today for a God who goes before my mom.  I am grateful today for a mom who knows how to trust Him to give her the desires of her heart at the right time and in the right season.

When we were wrapping up the photo shoot she handed me a scribbled envelope with a prophetic word she received from God on the pier that very morning.  And these are the words I will leave with you today. I pray they encourage you and remind you to praise and trust Him in every season.

We need to praise God wherever we are.  Whether it be from your kitchen, your bedroom, or your dining room table.  Praise God when we you are sad, happy, at a party, even if you are sick (in fact that is the best medicine for your body)! 

Look at that great ocean He created…how can you not praise Him?

Wherever you are, praise Him. Praise Him because He will extend His hand toward you and respond.  He says to you, “Here I am my daughter; receive from me.  Don’t doubt because I will give you the desires of your heart in abundance.”


Get Messy

Gaby and Lilly

Recently, a chick from England kicked me in the butt. She was at my church for a Women’s Conference and stayed through the weekend to speak at our Sunday services. She spoke about the topic of “getting messy” – how we have become so consumed with our own issues that we’re oblivious to the people around us who need us to look up, see them, and get involved in the mess of their lives. As she was delivering her message, I saw myself the day before at the checkout line at Publix. I’m looking at my phone to see how many emails and texts I can return while the sweet cashier is processing my groceries. I don’t even look up to make eye contact with her until she hands me my receipt. I saw myself at Starbucks earlier that week ordering my favorite coffee, never making eye contact with the barista while the gentlemen that came after me ordered his coffee and took the time to find out how the barista’s day was going.

So that afternoon as I drove home, I asked God to help me do better. And then He reminded me of someone who had this concept of “getting messy” right.  Everywhere she goes, she makes a point to engage with people. And it doesn’t stop with a “Hello, how are you? Isn’t the weather beautiful today?”  Every time she meets someone new, she makes a point to engage in a deep, meaningful conversation with that person. And more often than not, the conversation ends with an exchange of phone numbers, an invitation to meet again at the park, or even an invitation to come over to her house for pizza. Who is this person? My sweet daughter-in-law Gaby.

Let me give you an example.  Last year, Gaby met a single mom with a young son who was going through a very difficult situation in her life. And instead of telling her, “nice to meet you, I will be praying for you,” she found this mom a place to live, connected her with the single moms in our church, and just recently, opened her home to host a birthday party for this mom’s son. This may not be normal for most of us, but it is normal for Gaby.

And just yesterday, I spent the day with Gaby and the grandkids at a museum and watched her as she connected with another mom (who didn’t even speak English) while they both nursed their babies. Not even a language barrier was going to stop her from finding out how this stranger was adjusting to motherhood and living in a new country.

I watched her and tried to convince myself that she is living out a calling on her life. It’s not my calling. I do other things well. Then God reminded me that I am His workmanship, created in Christ for good works. And the most important work I am called to do, after loving Him, is to share His love with others around me.

So Gaby, I honor you today. I thank you for being a role model to me and to so many others. Keep getting messy and I will try better to do the same.

Want to watch the British chick’s message on this topic?  Click here to be inspired to get messy.

Don’t Pass The Gravy!

Martinez Thanksgiving 2014

With Thanksgiving behind us and Christmas just around the corner, I got to thinking today about the role traditions play in our lives, especially during the holidays. You see our family is BIG on holiday traditions. At Easter, everyone in our family gets a new bathing suit in their baskets. Fourth of July would not be a holiday without my husband lighting up the sky with his very own fireworks display. On Christmas Eve, our children (although all adults now) still bake and decorate cookies and open one present with a new pajama to wear on Christmas morning.

So when we decided to celebrate Thanksgiving a little differently this year, I psyched myself into thinking that it wouldn’t be a big deal. Cristina was going to spend her first Thanksgiving away from home, and because she was in town the weekend prior to Thanksgiving, I decided that we would just celebrate the holiday 5 days early. After all the date didn’t really matter, what was important was that we were going to be together.

On the day of our celebration, my youngest Michael started a protest. He decided that what we were “doing” wasn’t Thanksgiving at all so he gave the occasion a new name, Thanks Day. I laughed it off and started to cook our holiday meal. We actually incorporated new dishes on our menu (which came out delicious), but many of our staples or traditional dishes were just not cutting it for the Thanksgiving table. The mashed potatoes turned into a thick paste, the turkey tasted like uncooked sour oranges, the gravy was lumpy, and the stuffing looked like play-doh. Surprisingly, I remained cool and kept reminding myself that there was no reason to get upset about a few dishes turning out badly because what really mattered was that everyone was together.

What I didn’t know was that while we were cooking, the men could not locate our box of decorations for our Thanksgiving table. We all soon joined the search and the box was nowhere to be found. No traditional harvest angel napkin rings (made for me 15 years ago by my friend Ana Gomez), no platter for the turkey, no gravy boat. “It will be okay,” I told myself, “we will just have a simple table without our Thanksgiving decor.” And suddenly I came to a realization…this meant that we weren’t even going to have the cute little Pilgrim salt and pepper shakers that we purchased many years ago at Publix. You know which ones I’m talking about right? I started to panic and began opening every cabinet in my kitchen, searching every closet and box in my house for Mr. and Mrs. Pilgrim. There was no way I was going to continue this holiday without them! Seriously, I almost had a complete melt down. Now I know that this may sound funny to you, but knowing there wasn’t going to be a single traditional thing about this holiday was now starting to rattle me. And right before I was about to lose it, one of my kids recognizing the stress on my face, grabbed me and gave me a hug. So I took a deep breath, served our dinner, and proceeded to celebrate “Thanks Day.”

And although the food itself was sub-par, the company was just perfect. We decided as a family that instead going around the table and sharing one thing we were grateful for, we would all share something we were grateful about for EACH and EVERY person sitting at the table. And I’m going to be honest here; moments like this don’t come often. With growing children, new in-laws, and now even grandchildren in the picture, we have to make it a priority to create these moments when we are all together. The conversation we had that day as a family is one of the things I am most grateful to God for allowing me to experience this year. Jokes were told—“Remember that time you made me cry when I asked you to help me with my math homework? I’m not grateful for that.” Heartfelt and teary-eyed sentiments were shared—“Thank you dad for continually showing us what it means to have unwavering faith and hope in God.”

So it got me thinking. Had we had all of the distractions during our celebration in the form of our traditions, would we have made such an effort to tell each other how much we appreciated one another? Had the turkey and mashed potatoes turned out perfect, would we have spent more time talking about how much we were enjoying the food instead of how much we enjoyed and loved each other?

This year I am grateful for a not so perfect Thanksgiving. Grateful that God removed everything that made me comfortable, including our traditions, so that as a family we could all focus on what really does matter.

Follow The Bird

Follow The Bird

I have a reputation of being bad luck with the men in my family, especially when it comes to sports. If the Dolphins or Hurricanes are losing, it’s always because I am sitting on the wrong couch, wearing the wrong clothing, or even talking on my phone.  And when it comes to the Miami Heat, I have been banned from ever stepping foot in the American Airlines Arena (who cares if they lost 8 out of the 10 games I have attended).  It’s okay, I’ve grown thick skin over the years and have accepted it for what it is.

Recently, our family spent a week in the keys and my husband David decided he was going to get in as much Dolphin fishing as possible.  He went out on the ocean everyday and would come back sharing tales of flat oceans, beautiful weather, and bountiful fish for the catching.  And with all of this happiness he was experiencing, somehow he decided along the way that on the last day of the trip he wanted me to join him.

So let’s get one thing clear. I may not be a big sports enthusiast, but I will sit and enjoy a game here and there, especially to spend time with my boys.  But everything about fish and fishing, I hate. I know I know, I was born and raised on an island and yet I can’t stand the smell or taste of fish.

So I woke up on the last day of our trip, looked out the window, and sweetly approached David in an attempt to get out of the boat trip. For some odd reason, the beautiful weather we were experiencing all week long had now turned ugly. The ocean was churning and so was my stomach at the thought of having to fight sea sickness and smell fish all day long. But David refused to let me back out. Don’t get me wrong, he was so sweet about it.  In his mind, I was going to share in something he loved and was going to have a good time…no matter what.  So I took a deep breath, decided to trust him, and agreed to go.

So this is how it all went down.  Apparently, in order to find Dolphin you must come across two things in the ocean: seaweed and birds.  If you find them both you are almost guaranteed to find the fish.  David was on the top level of the boat with binoculars, Michael drove, and Nick stood at the bow of the boat pointing in the direction of the “birds.”  This went on for hours on a rough ocean.  And according to the Martinez guidelines of fishing, there is no turning back no matter how seasick you are or how bad you have to go to the potty.

So I buckled down and took in the experience. We followed one lonely bird for an hour before the boys decided that it wasn’t good to follow one bird flying by itself. Okay, whatever. We followed a flock of about 50 birds in two opposite directions for another hour before the boys decided it wasn’t good to follow that many birds because 4-6 birds were optimal. Okay, does anyone else think this process is idiotic?  Six hours later, my boys were also losing faith in the possibility of catching fish, David, on the other hand, was relentless. As time passed, they became more and more vocal that the day was a bust and we needed to go back, to which David responded, “we are not going back because I am going to prove to you that your mom is indeed good luck.” Well there it was. My husband was doing everything in his power to turn my reputation around. And suddenly, I was all in to this fishing thing.

I wish I could tell you that we came back 8 hours later with a boat full of fish. Didn’t happen. We came back with just one little guy that barely made the legal size requirement for the keeping. But that’s okay. I hesitantly but obediently stepped on a boat early that morning to be part of my husband’s world. In return, I watched him go to the depths of the ocean to defend my reputation to my sons. Worth every minute.

Couldn’t stop thinking about how this was a beautiful picture of my relationship with Jesus. When I trust him to walk through something difficult, He always goes to the depths to protect and defend me. And when I’m obedient to follow His leading, He always makes the unpleasant moments (yes even those that smell fishy) all the worthwhile.

My Inspiration


Thirty days ago, I felt a nudge in my heart to take a break and give up something that I really loved and was important to me.  Nope it wasn’t chocolate or coffee, it was the time I was spending on social media.  I was on a family vacation in the keys over July 4th and caught myself over and over again looking on Instagram and Facebook at what others were doing, while my beautiful family, including my most adorable and energetic 21 month old grandchild, was making memories around me.

My first instinct…ignore the nudge.

A few days passed, I continued to snap adorable pictures of our vacation, posted them, and continued to get caught up in what others were doing.

The nudge became stronger. So strong it was becoming impossible to ignore.

So I started asking myself the obvious. Why did I absolutely have to share what I was doing with my social media friends and family? Why did I always obsess over getting the perfect picture to post? Why was watching what others were doing and more importantly, watching what others were saying about me, so much more intriguing than the life happening right in front of me?

I prayed and asked God to show me why obeying His prompting was so important. (So stupid of me to even ask God that, obedience is always better than sacrifice.)  It took a few days and I finally decided to obey and remove all social media apps from my mobile devices. I made a vow to give my family my undivided attention for 30 days in honor of my husband and our upcoming 30th wedding anniversary.

Wasn’t easy. Gonna be honest, I even cheated a few times. Got on my computer to post a couple things for church and scrolled here and there to peak in on your lives.  What can I say, I really missed you!

But for the most part I spent 30 days watching this wonderful thing called life.  Not through a small screen, but up close and personal, and it was amazing. God and my family had my full attention.  So what did I learn?  So much!  But I’m gonna have to leave that for future posts…hope you tune in!

So what distraction is God asking you to remove from your life?  I encourage you today to be obedient, put that thing aside, and watch Him show you what really does matter.