Tina Rivera of The Juniper Blog
1- Tell us about you! Your name, where you're from, about your family, etc.
Hi friends! My name is Tina Rivera and I am from Rancho Cucamonga in sunny, southern California. I am married to the funniest, most tender-hearted man I know, Gabriel, and we will celebrate 10 years this November. We have three daughters ages 7, 6, and 4 and we feel so lucky that God would choose us to raise up strong, brave, compassionate daughters of the King. What an honor! We enjoy pizza-family-movie-night every Friday, as well as riding our bikes, frozen yogurt and Clue Jr!
2 -How has God uniquely made you and gifted you?
Isn’t so funny how we pause when someone asks us something good about ourselves? How we shutter a bit, at the thought of speaking about ourselves or calling out our talents and giftedness!? And while I would normally want to pass on a question like this, I have been learning to count the fruit and to call out His goodness over my life. To declare that the boundary lines, the callings, the blessings and the gifts poured over and into me, have fallen into GOOD and pleasant places! (Psalms 16:5-6) And doing this has truly helped me to stay in my lane, knowing that my life and gifts and calling are wonderful and unique to just me. And no one can do, what only He has called me to do.
And so something I am really proud of is my love and encouragement for all people. I feel like God has taught me to have eyes that see hearts that are hurting, unseen and often overlooked and He has given me the gift of encouragement that helps to remind them that they are valuable and seen by a loving God. I am truly proud of this gift and feel grateful that I can pour love, joy and good news into the lives of others.
3 -Tell us about your ministry, page, business, etc.
It feels funny to call what I do “ministry” as The Juniper Blog Instagram page is truly just an outpouring of my heart and continues to exist as an ongoing documentation of all God is teaching me as a wife, mother, friend, and daughter of His. A place to remind others that they are not alone, a place to find joy and gratitude, a reminder that there is ALWAYS hope and a declaration that if He’ll do it for me, then He will surely do it for you, my friend!
4 -What inspired you to start? What keeps you going?
The Juniper Blog came from some very hard years of learning and growing - in ministry, in life as a mom, wife and ministry leader... and specifically out of some very painful, lonely years in dealing with the unknowns of my daughter health.
For about 2 years, my middle daughter Lily suffered from an itchy rash that kept attacking her body and one that we could never find the cause of. And it was in the heart of these years, and in the nights when I would cry out at 3 am over her bleeding itchy body, that God would comfort me with His words and give me His stories to share.
I must admit I was little annoyed at first. I couldn’t understand why He wouldn’t just heal her AND THEN give me these stories to share. It felt so backward and if I’m being honest, it felt unkind.
But so it became the pattern of when God would speak to me. In the lowest of valleys, in my weariest of moments and in the coldest of winters, God’s voice continued to pierce through the darkness.
And much like the Juniper tree that thrives in the winter, and not only thrives but produces good fruit, God had produced this gift in me. That even in a season that should be dead and filled with no life, He taught me how to speak LIFE and to share His words and stories. "Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow". Isaiah 55:13
Proof that these hard and wintery seasons of our life, are the seasons from which God can produce characteristics in us that could never be produced in the sunshine and in the spring.
Proof that strength and perseverance, deep-rooted faith and hope, can still be won even when everything around us tells us to give up.
It was the kindest thing He could have ever walked me through, and I would do it all again, knowing the beauty that awaits on the other side. Hang in there friend - He will do it for you too
5 -What are your greatest struggles in what you do?
I think being misunderstood is my greatest struggle right now, especially in this season of motherhood and ministry. To write and do what He has called me to do, and to love and disciple hurting hearts and in those around me and in the places He’s called me, ON TOP of trying to rock it out as being a present mother and wife in my home, it requires me to make decisions that are often unpopular or misunderstood. Guarding my time, leaving margin and room for Him to move and speak, turning down invitations and not being able to say yes to so many good things and people, it has all been really, really hard for me. But I believe like I said above, it is in these hard uncomfortable moments, that He is yet again teaching me another lesson... and that is forsaking a life understood by others, for living out a life that is pleasing to HIM.
6 -What is the one thing you have learned from what you do?
I believe that is the very thing He is teaching me through all of this - to keep my eyes on Him and to be obedient to what He is asking. I so often thought being misunderstood in ministry meant being thought of as “weird” or a “bible thumper” or some obvious Christian cliche that didn’t bother me. And yet I am learning that it is often in the very sensitive and tender spots that I work so hard to fight against, that I am most often misunderstood. And so it is this constant reminder of living out my life with my eyes only on Him. Asking him to help me with each hard step I must take, and never looking too far ahead but only to the heart and task at hand. Knowing that He will fight for me, He will be the one to defend my name and knowing that my job is obedience to Him and His is everything else.
7 - What is your greatest passion for the Kingdom of God?
My greatest passion for the Kingdom of God is making sure people know that they have PURPOSE! That each of us would know and believe that we have been given access to specific people and places and spaces that only can we reach! For people to own the very ground they have been given and to know that if they would just say yes, God would use them right.where. they. stand. Every one of us is needed!
8 -What could you talk about for hours?
I think I could talk about anything for hours! I so often meet with friends over coffee and by the time we leave, we already have a running list of things we have to talk about the NEXT time we meet. Ha! But besides loving to talk about purpose and calling, I could talk forever about home design, Chip and Joanna Gaines, my beautiful girls and... The Bachelor! Gah! I know, I know...guilty pleasure 100%
9 -What has God been teaching you lately?
God has been teaching me lately that not everything I can do, I should do. That just because I can do it, or because I would be good at it, means I should do it. Because a YES somewhere in my life means a NO somewhere else. And so He has been teaching me how to live with margin and space and room to grow and learn... and very often it is because I am saying no to things that I like, or want to do, or that seems good, so I can say yes to the RIGHT things and to the very things He’s calling me to.
Guard your time and your yeses dear friends. Give Him the space to move and work in your life and He will change it.
10 -What do you think is the greatest struggle facing Christian women today?
I think the greatest struggle facing Christian women today is talking about God and doing God things, more than we actually KNOW and abide in God Himself. And TRUST ME when I say I am preaching this to my heart first. I think it is so easy to talk about God with our friends, to talk about God online, to read about God online, and to attend and do all the things that make us feel immersed in God and yet miss Him altogether. I am finding for myself, that more than He wants me to walk in my gifts and use what He’s given me, He just wants ME and He wants time with ME. And in a world with so many things to do and ways to be pulled, that is something we must fight for and it is something that is not going to come easy or without a cost; our sleep, our time, our activities, our kid's activities... I think we are missing out on His presence and quietly abiding and finding TRUE rest in Him. Time to be reminded straight from HIS heart, just how valued and loved and important we are and just as we are.
And I truly think if we lived out of this abundant and rich space more often, we would find ourselves comparing and striving less and we would find our fulfillment in who we are, exactly how we are, and right where we stand. It is not easy sisters, this I know. But He is the best thing we can fight for and His personal presence is the very balm our parched and aching souls are longing for
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