Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Not The Release We Wanted, But Release We Got

We waited, and Waited, and WAITED! There were times I would tell Lupe, "We're not waiting on Them anymore! How long are we suppose to wait? YOU need to call a meeting- I've HAD it!". Luckily, my husband is more patient and less emotional than I- and would wait it out. Looking back I'm so glad he did- in the moment I wanted him to wreak havoc!
It was hard, we were in limbo. I didn't know if I needed to stop packing, or to pack fast, we didn't have a start date to put on applications- so we couldn't really send out more resumes. We couldn't look for homes because we didn't know where we were going to find employment. Were we leaving within weeks?months?before Christmas?after Christmas?the end of the school year? I was thinking about Tenly starting school the following school year and really wanted to be established in the area she would be attending school. It was difficult to even get a meeting to discuss these issues/concerns and didn't know if our issues/concerns would even be considered in out exit date.
There was a wonderful gentleman who was hired to take over Lupe's department and Lupe had been training him for a couple months already. We were just waiting- and not so patiently on my end. The unknown scares me (as I've mentioned many times)- and there was WAY to much unknown going on! I didn't want to be bitter, but it was getting more and more difficult every day. In retrospect, I look back and see that the timing was right- just how it was suppose to be- it was all in God's plan. What proved to be difficult was when and how and the circumstances with which we were given our exit date.
We gave our notice the 1st of September, and waited, prepared at any moment to receive our exit date. The end of September came- Lupe had a meeting (that I spoke of earlier) with some discussions- but no date. October came and went with no meetings and no date. By the time November rolled around I was getting very anxious- Christmas was around the corner and I needed a PLAN!
A few days before Thanksgiving, a few little "situations" came up that were not so pretty- and in all honesty are a little comical. I don't want to drudge up old junk that I've really tried to let go- so I'm not going into any specifics. There was some miscommunication and confusion, that resulted in several meetings with my Husband. Through that whole situation, I don't know if I've ever been prouder of my husband. Lupe maintained his dignity, walked in integrity, took full responsibility where he did and where he did not need to. He was respectful, honest, and forthright- in other words he held himself true to being a very Godly and honorable man. Lupe called one morning and said he had been called into a meeting later that morning and he would call as soon as it was over. A little while later the phone rang, and I found myself totally not prepared...
"..2 weeks..", Lupe said. I laughed, I just knew he was joking (as prepared I thought I was). We had just been given our 2 weeks notice to move out of our house in Texas, move to Florida, find a job, find a home, and begin our new season. Not just Lupe and I, but our 2 little girls.
The girls helping us pack!
I wont lie- I was struck with fear- not just fear, I was terrified. What had we done? We had to little girls to think about. What were we thinking? I think I cried for hours. I was thrilled to have a date, but could not understand the logic and justification of giving us 2 weeks when they had known for 3 months- after Lupe serving for 15 years- he was given 2 weeks. I'm sure you can "hear" in my writing how angry I was.
I've gotten past it for the most part, in order to forgive I began to pray- I had to pray for them so I could love them again. I didn't want to love them because God said I "had" to- I wanted to love them out of the genuineness in my heart. I had my moment(s), that was a hard day, I was angry- and let myself be angry, I was hurt- and let myself hurt, I was sad- and let myself be sad. By the next day, I was relieved and ready- I was still feeling some of those other things, but let the anticipation of our bright future carry me past it.
I found and am finding a resilience in me....and I like it.........

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Tired of Dealing With Stupid Numbers!

The other day I went to do a little shopping (I ended up with nothing to do and had no children)at my favorite second hand store, Plato's Closet,which is right around the corner. I saw a pair of pants my "size"- whatever that is! (Now I'm struggling with saying what size I actually wear, but here goes nothing...) You see, I've been a size 7/8 or 9/10 for many years now. A 9/10 is often a bit loose, but it's better- no safer- to get that size than to get the 7/8 and have it not fit. When it doesn't fit- my brain goes into overload and I begin to obsess and get almost depressed- so I find myself often getting a 9/10 to be safe. You would think I'd just try it on, right? Well, I hate trying on stuff and I feel 'safer' trying on in my own home (crazy, I know). So, I found these cute jeans- they were a 9/10- so the mind game began- " I get it or look for a 7/8? No, if I get a 7/8 it will probably be to tight! But, what if these are to big? No, they wont be to big, I'm sure I've probably gained a few pounds and they'll fit perfectly...". I bought the jeans, I tried them on when I arrived home... and THEY'RE TO BIG! As long as I wear a belt they're okay- but a 7/8 would of been perfect! Here's my "big deal" with this:
Later that night I was so frustrated with myself! Why am I still battling this? I hate comparing myself to other women all the time, I see a woman and think to myself "Is that about the size I am?" or  "Is that what I look like to other people?" or "I wish I could look like that!". I saw myself in a picture recently, and was a bit shocked! I couldn't believe that I didn't look heavier- I actually looked pretty slender. It may be weird not to be able to truly see yourself in the mirror- but I really don't see "me"- my size- when I look in the mirror. The way I looked in the mirror when I was my most comfortable 3/4-5/6 really does not look any different than I do now at a 7/8-9/10.
Great strides have been made over the years: I do not have to weigh backwards anymore at the doctors office anymore, I even get onto the scale on occasion and don't really freak out, I do not obsess over food, I do not lay awake at night counting calories. As great as these things are- I don't want to compare myself to others and tumble inward when I see someone I am envious of. I want to look in the mirror and see ME and like what I see. Of course, these are all things that SO many women want also. I would also love for "my girls" to sit a little higher and perkier, my once flat/tight tummy to be flat/tight again, for my thighs and butt to stop jiggling once I've stopped moving- it's funny that I don't obsess over these (as much as I'd love to have them) but I continue to let those stupid numbers (size and weight) get to me!
Anyway, I have come a very long way with my battle with numbers and my weight. The weight I am now- I do not LOVE, but I am content with it. The fact that I'm a Diabetic on insulin makes it twice as hard to lose this last 10 pounds- so I'm okay with it. I'm struggling right now with whether I should say "the" number in this post. There was a time several friends and I were standing around all talking/complaining about our weight- 2 of my friends were much heavier than the rest of us- one of them finally spoke up and pointed out how much she would love to be the size of any of us and we should all consider ourselves blessed not to be fighting her battle. She was right! The fact that I struggle with these things in my head annoys me- because I am not fighting even a quarter of the battle of many others- I feel so selfish and guilty for fighting this battle in my mind.
Over the years, especially after having 2 girls, I have become very cautious of my words. I strive to never use the words "diet" or "fat and skinny"- I always want my family's goal to be on maintaining a healthy lifestyle. I am always keeping myself in check on this one- sometimes failing miserably!
After my little check at Plato's the other day, I realized I still having a battle going on in my mind. I am on a mission to rediscover ME and The ME God has created ME to be! So, according to Romans 12:2 I have to renew my mind and that happens through The Word. So, I am going to start being a little more aggressive in declaring "Who I Am In Christ"- because I know I was not created to be insecure, depressed, self centered, and selfish. In order to make a real difference, I have to become comfortable with me.
As I began typing this, I almost put "the number" in here about 6 times- and just couldn't do it. I was really hoping by the end I'd be able to do it, but I just can't YET! Hopefully, very soon I will be able to put that number on my blog and feel really good about it- not because it would be my "perfect" number, but because I'm okay with whatever that number may be- because that number does not define me.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

I Forgot Something.......

Hania and Tenly
As I was laying in bed last night, I felt a little bit "heavy"- so I started to do that self-evaluation thing. I couldn't seem to turn my brain off even though I was exhausted. I found myself reflecting on my blog from last night- I kept replaying it in my head and something just wasn't feeling right about it. While breaking down different elements of it, I started to figure it out- I felt like I sounded bitter and was doing a lot of finger pointing. I pointed out a lot of the negative stuff- but failed to point out that it wasn't ALL bad. Therefore, an apology is due, and I need to take this opportunity to set the record straight and reflect on the positive things that my children and I took away from the ministry and camp.
Curtis & Tenly
First, we were very LOVED, especially my girls. The "staff kids" were all doted on at every opportunity by all of the 80+ staff and all of the 300+ students. My girls loved going down to the camp, of course what kid would not want to go down to a place where they were constantly the center of attention. My children were around God's Word constantly, I loved the fact that the staff and students (almost) always demonstrated God through their actions and words. They were able to see children, teens, young/old adults worshiping God in every way imaginable: dance, drama, prayer, music, fun, etc. Lupe's staff in the kitchen and dining hall were practically a part of our family, they were willing to jump in and help us with our girls or at home any time we asked- and even when we didn't ask. My girls would get so excited if Curtis, Jessica, Vanessa, or Tiffany were coming over or if they were going down to the camp to see them.
Elizabeth and My girls
Elizabeth was my first baby sitter for Tenly and Gianna- she was so wonderful and made my girls transition into the church nurseries effortless- she was a constant in our life for over 2 years. She and her husband (who just had 2 twin girls) also became dear friends.
Jessica & Gianna
My girls learned the joy of giving at the ministry. On any and every holiday, we use to make some kind of snack or treat for everyone. The girls would dress up in whatever holiday attire, and we would go to all of the staff offices and the girls would give one of the treats to all of the staff. Tenly and Gianna LOVED it- and it was through this that they learned the joy that giving brings to others. The staff were always so great, they would hug, take pictures, and make the biggest fuss over the girls bringing their treats. It was honestly some of my favorite moments.
Joe & Sandi
Tenly and Gianna couldn't wait for something to break at our house, because that meant that Papa Joe and Nana Sandi were coming over to fix it (Papa Joe did the fixing while Nana Sandi got to play and visit). Sandi was my companion to all of my Doctor appointments while pregnant with Tenly, and helped take care of Tenly during my rough pregnancy with Gianna. Joe and Sandi became a sense of consistency in our family. Sandi was my first friend out at the ministry and is still one of my few from the ministry who still remains.
Aunt Chris & The Girls
Christina, or Aunt Chris, very easily became a dear friend to my girls and I. Whenever anyone became pregnant at the camp, the big question was what would "the blanket" look like. I'll never forget when I opened that beautiful blanket at my shower for Tenly- it was this beautiful pink knitted blanket. Those are the most precious gifts, one that takes of someones time and love. Of course, Gianna was given one of the same and Aunt Chris made her the famous "stringy blanket" that we never leave home without! Christina on more than one occasion dropped everything to come to my house and watch my girls for any reason there was. She followed my tedious schedule for my girls to the "T". Christina always loved me for "me"- good, bad, and ugly!
Sarah & Tenly
Then there is Sarah!!!! Sarah took care of my girls as if they were her own, she did not pawn them off as a second thought or nuisance- but made them (and all the other staff children) important and relevant. I can honestly say, that Sarah Moilenan allowed my children to leave the ministry with wonderful memories of belonging and importance. I will be forever grateful for the hand print she left on Tenly and Gianna's (and my)life.
At the church, Tenly fell in love with "Faith Walkers"- the PreK children's church. Through Cierra and David (and Lydia), Tenly learned at the young age of 3 how real Jesus really was. In that class, Tenly invited Jesus into her heart with Lydia. She always said her favorite part was Praise and Worshiping Jesus.
Sarah will kill me for this one! lol!
Truthfully, everyone I have named in this blog- and many I haven't- left a positive impact on my girls lives-and mine. These are just a few of the precious things I am grateful my girls- and I- were able to experience at the ministry.
Today I learned a big lesson- I've got to let the positive outweigh the negative....I never want to be known as bitter and negative person..............................................

Friday, June 24, 2011

My Biggest and Proudest Fight

MOM! I love that title! I remember after I delivered Tenly, they showed her to me and had to whisk her away pretty quickly- but I remember looking at Lupe and saying, "I'm a Mommy!". It's so amazing that instantaneous feeling of unconditional love for a little person you just met. A little person who can barely see you and is usually screaming their little heads off- and all you can feel is overwhelming unquestionable love. (It honestly is a perfect reflection of God's love for us!)
Tenly 1st time on the stage\
In our premarital counseling Lupe and I both unanimously agreed that ministry would never come before our marriage, children, or family. Our priorities would always be God, Our Family, Ministry- we both wholeheartedly agreed to this. I was adamant that we would always keep this in focus, most of my determination came from growing up as a PK (preachers kid)myself. There were times that I felt "punished" or "sacrificed" for the ministry. I'm sure some of that came from the selfishness that comes with the age of children/preteen/teens- but some was justified. It's a hard balance to be a parent and minister- the attempt in and of itself is to be admired.
1st steps with 'Aunt' Chris at camp
After becoming a Mom who was also in the ministry, I knew I was going to have to stand strong about some things- but really had no idea what I was truly about to go up against. I was picky (as most Moms naturally are) about with whom, where, when, and how long I would leave my children. We had over 300 Bible School Students- and much of the attitude was to pick one of them that was available upon the need and let them watch the kids. I think we all know that, just because they're a Bible School student doesn't mean a thing- and for that very reason I took my time and was extremely thorough upon picking the 2 people who would be my babysitter for that 1-2 years (then would have to go through the process again once they graduated) (A couple years into this, God sent me Sarah Mo- she managed to make these decisions much easier, even to her own expense at times.) If my child was sick, I would be with them and not be at church or a ministry function. If I had made plans with my children/husband/family, I would not cancel them for a last minute ministry "need"- this brings me to my favorite quote: "Your lack of planning/organization does not constitute an emergency on my (or my families) part!". If an event conflicted with my children's schedule (bedtime is at 8 and event isn't over until 11) and I do not have adequate childcare- I will not be there. I did not want my kids to have to go to the camp to be able to see their Daddy. I did not want the camp to be 'their home'. I did not want staff and students to parent my children.
Gia at work with Dad
I recall a decision I made once that I regret making. The young lady that was over our nursery was going to be out for a couple of weeks to get married, and I would be covering the department. Well, Tenly woke up Wednesday morning running a fever that continued to climb throughout the day, she also had a runny nose, cough, and goopey eyes to match. Around 4:00, I made the phone call to inform "the powers that be" that I would not be able to make it and explained the reasons why. Mind you, I already had a reputation for being a "difficult mom" because I wouldn't push my kids aside. Well, the guilt was laid on and 3 phone calls later I threw Tenly in the car, jumped in and put my makeup on on the way to church. When our Pastors wife saw me there, she got the biggest smile and said how proud she was of me and how God honored me for putting the church children and families first. I know that statement was made to make me beam and cause my heart to swell. Instead, I walked away with tears in my eyes and a heavy heart, because although I put the church children and families first- I put my own suffering child last. That was not alright with me, I was so upset with myself for compromising my main priority and most precious gift.
Tenly dancing at the camp
At the camp in Uniforms.
Then we hit the Birthday Party JUNK! It was proposed that we needed to have all Birthday Parties regulated out at the ministry. Either all or none of the staff and children could be invited, either all parties would be on or off the grounds, our date and guest list would have to be approved, no invitations would be allowed to be passed out, etc. There were reasons behind these regulations, and there were some validity to some of them. When asked my opinion, I candidly said it was crazy and ridiculous (and believe me, I was holding WAY back). I respectfully said I did not agree and refused to allow my children to be punished for being in the ministry. Of course, they said that wasn't what was happening to which I responded- the only reason the kids were having to have regulated parties was because their parents were in the ministry. That point could not be argued. It really bothered me- and I did not agree to follow the regulations- of course I did respectfully have the parties put on the calender- I had no issue with that. It did not help that all of this was happening while I was planning Tenly's 3rd Birthday party, lol- which went as exactly planned!
Summer Work with Dad, in Uniform
I fought, and I fought hard. I cried, and I cried hard. I went against the flow, I stood out from amongst the rest, I felt alienated on many occasions. It didn't change me, I wanted to be a good Mom more than I wanted to teach a class, be on a stage, be recognized, be 'honored (rolling my eyes)', have a title. Not that there weren't a few times when we were out late, off schedule, rearrange plans- and that's okay some times- but not every week/day. I'm not perfect and I have and will let my kids down, but I always want them to know I fought and will fight for them and our family.
Best Job EVER!
I look back, and I am proud of myself- and very proud of Lupe for fighting the Battle of Our Family regardless of how difficult it was. It was sometimes harder for him than me, we would make a decision and I might get a couple of phone calls or occasional meeting. But Lupe had to go to work and face the music all day, all week- and believe me- that wasn't easy. Lupe never once 'threw me under the bus'- even if he questioned the decision he stood behind me/us! The Biggest and Proudest Fight I will continue to fight is for my girls and my family. While at the ministry I was given the gift of being a mom- I'm still learning- but I'm a good mom who fails at times but continues to fight nevertheless. Family is my first ministry, I don't want to win 1000's of others to see my other 2 lost..........! I found and I know that God honors my fight for my family!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Green Light Means GO!

April of 2010. Lupe and I were in our bedroom. He was laying on the bed watching some TV while I was folding and putting away laundry.We were making some small talk here and there (during commercials, because everyone knows a man can't multitask with a TV on), just a relaxing night after the girls were in bed. Suddenly, Lupe says to me out of nowhere, "I think it's time"- I had no idea what he was talking about, I asked for more information. Lupe began to explain that he was feeling the release from The Ministry. Of course, I had been feeling the same thing (because that's the way God works). I love how we both had been feeling for a release for a few weeks but neither of us had said anything- we both wanted to be sure. What was so wonderful, is that everything was fine- no drama or 'situations' going on, we weren't angry or bitter with anything/anyone- we just felt that release because it was simply the time. I began telling Lupe how God had been whispering the same to me- I felt such a peace and freedom and joy as we began talking and discussing our future.
We had no details/plans/jobs- nothing- but we did have a "Green Light" from God to start our new season, or our New Life, and that in itself brought an incredible peace. My friend, Carrie, recently described the jump into the unknown with NO plan in sight as "...Faith or stupidity.." (Carrie and her family can speak candidly considering they took the same 'leap' we did at the same time from the same place). It took a few weeks for us to process, are we really doing this!?!?! After much discussion, we felt we were suppose to move to Florida- Lupe had some family in Texas- but we both felt we needed to be near family that were able to be ever present for us and our girls. Lupe loves my family as if he were there own- and they love him the same (I sometimes think they'd keep him over me). That was one BIG decision down, now we had to think of which city, jobs, homes, schools, moving money, the process, and WHEN!
You would think the "when" would be a matter of looking at a calender and coordinating with a schedule of needs and necessities and timing. Well, typically that would be true. But, according to the ministry guidelines that we agreed to (and were determined to honor)- we needed to wait to give our "notice" until the 1st of September, after that we and the leadership would decide on a mutually agreed upon "exit date" (last day). So, yes- they determined our last day- not us. We knew this going in, and began to plan the best way we could without knowing. We weren't allowed to tell anyone of our plans- everything was secretive. Although, in full disclosure, I did tell a handful of people that I was close to and Lupe mentioned it to about 2 people he was close to.
It was scary, we knew of people and couples who had resigned before and were given a couple weeks (or days) to pack up and leave. That scared the heck out of me that potentially we could be give the same terms. We were trying to save money, to prepare and be ready for almost anything at any time. I began packing boxes a bit at a time, moved all the furniture out of the dining room and began replacing it all with boxes. Things continued going smoothly, not much was said for awhile after we gave our notice- not that we wanted a lot said, but sometimes silence is scarier than a screaming match.
Finally, Lupe had a "meeting"- in that meeting they released us from all church services and gave Lupe the weekends off- except when there was a retreat- but we still had no "exit date". We continued to go to church although we had been "released" (I mean, come on, where else would we be). Rumors starting flying of course and it started to "leak out" among the staff that we were resigning. It was weird, I would walk away from a conversation and just know that the person I was speaking to knew- although they didn't say a word about it. There was a strange undercurrent we felt- it may of been valid or it may have been our imagination and paranoia.
During all of this, I questioned my ability to hear God's voice. Why did I question it? I questioned it because the leadership, that taught me how to listen and hear God's voice, questioned our ability to hear it. But, Lupe and I grew closer together, and our prayer life grew- and in that we knew that God had given us direction. Since arriving in Florida, I have questioned it again- but each time I am reassured when God proves Himself and shows Himself time and time again.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Stability, Safety, Securtity

Lupe and I were 38 and 29 when we got engaged. Although we were a bit 'older', we still thought it would be very wise to seek premarital counseling before we were married. It wasn't the easiest thing to do considering Lupe was in Texas and I in Florida- but Pastor Ben, one of my Pastors growing up, made it almost easy. He sent Lupe and I a set of the videos and the workbooks- a couple of times a week Lupe and I would study and watch the videos together. Pastor Ben would alternate having phone sessions with either one of us or both of us every week- it took a bit of work but it was so worth it! Towards the end, Pastor Ben asked us what things we needed from each other. Behind Unconditional Love, I remember my next 3 to be Stability, Safety, and Security. I am very blessed to have a husband who truly strives to make sure I, and the girls, have these 3 things and will do just about anything to make sure we always do and always will.
Change scares me, I guess it scares everyone to an extent, but I have literally been paralyzed with fear of the unknown at times- not knowing means you are walking blindly and have to survive on a pure raw TRUST. Change and the unknown brings no promise of stability, safety, or security. To Trust, means to let go and forces you to function without a plan- that takes me so far outside my comfort zone I can't even see straight- and at times makes me a difficult person to live with (I know, your shocked)!
There was a few times during our 3 year, never ending, wait to transition out of the ministry, that things were going pretty good. I would find myself asking God, are you sure we're suppose to leave. Starting wondering if I need to stop "rocking the boat"- if I stopped praying about it- maybe God would 'forget' that we were suppose to be preparing our hearts to leave, comical right? But, ultimately- I always knew the time was coming regardless of how great or not so great things were going. Looking back, it's so obvious God knew what He was doing. There were a few situations that took place after we gave our notice, those situations would of made it very hard to stay considering we just had a very different perspective. It wasn't exactly a matter of right/wrong- but it was becoming clear that our vision and perspective were different from the leadership. When you work in a ministry you must share the same vision or else you and your heart will always be in a tug-of-war with the pastoral staff and that can never be productive. Lupe used to counsel staff and students and tell them, "When it's your ministry- you can do it differently- but as long as you're serving this leadership you must line yourself up with their vision and support it". We were no different and had to hold ourselves accountable to that same counsel.
Anyway, I finally had to sit down and analyze myself and figure out what was making me so stir crazy about us being ready to give that resignation when we were give the green light from God. I was quickly taken back to those 3 words: Stability, Safety, Security. The ministry we were serving in definitely painted a picture of those- our beautiful big "rent free" home, no water bill, Lupe worked 3 minutes down the road, "free" full medical insurance for the whole family, "free" yard maintenance, "free" trash collection, go karts/huge water slides/horses/swimming pool on the property, meals at the camp (when I was to lazy to cook)- of course, although these things were "free"- they came with a price. But, it was so easy to look at from the outside (we call it the "Disney World" mentality- everything looks magical at Disney but you may get a different perspective from the employees and executives)and when we thought of all the things moving away were going to bring it even looked attractive to us. But, if you are not where you are suppose to be- listening to God's plan/voice- those things I just listed don't even make you feel Stable, Safe, or Secure anymore.
I began trying to trust- God, Lupe, and I knew that this was not going to come easy for me. I was honest with God and He was patient with me. My excitement and hope for our upcoming future and what we call "Our New Life" started to overshadow my fear of change. Looking back, it's amazing to see where God has literally carried us through the last 1 1/2 years- and of course I can't help but speak of His faithfulness and how I am able to trust a lot easier nowadays. I hate that God had to prove Himself to show me, I wish I could of just said "Okay"- but of course God does whatever He has to and always helps us where we lack. This last year hasn't exactly been Stable at times, but we never went without, we were always Safe, and we were always Secure, and everyday we are more and more Stable.

Friday, June 17, 2011

PLEASE, Do NOT "Honor" Me!

What is "Honor", really? How do you "Honor" someone, or actually- how do you make someone feel "Honored"?
I began to ask myself these questions a year or so ago, because I would be told (to my face and from a platform in front of thousands) that I was being "Honored"- but I walked away feeling nothing close to what I thought "Honor"should feel like. I felt useless, untalented, unwanted, a number instead of a person, a body to feel a chair, purposeless, an obligation. I was to the point of saying, PLEASE, do not "Honor" me!
I had a conversation with my mom about how I questioned "Honor" and it's intentions. I had no idea our conversation was. She told me about a book my Sister, Tara, and her Husband, Craig, (who are Senior Pastors in Georgia) were reading called "Culture of Honor" by Danny Silk. The book discusses/explains/challenges most of the questions I had. Tara and Craig said that the book had completely changed the way they Pastored and Parented and even conducted themselves. My Mom went on to explain to me some projects Tara and Craig had started implementing in their church in trying to create a Culture of Honor- Mom said it was an incredible thing to witness and the difference you felt in that church. THAT perked my interest, and I was determined to learn how to "Honor" because I knew that "Honor" had to be more than a word with no meaning.
I've recently started studying a bit again out of my own "need". Much of what I've studied and learned so far hit me more the second time around than the first!
Honor empowers! We honor others by identifying their gifts/talents and empowering them to use them. We look for ways to include someone and use them and empower them.
Honor ELEVATES- it does not become about status, but about equals. One of my favorite things I heard was, Honor brings Freedom, which brings responsibility, for ME to "be ME"- no matter who you are or who you expect me to be, no matter what you do, say, or have. Because when we honor we respect and value the individual and their gifts and have no need to change or mold them.
Honor coming from an esteemed individual (often a Pastor, Boss, Mentor) protects us- especially when we're Honored in spite of mistakes. It also causes us to protect our esteemed individual- to protect should not feel like an obligation.
Honor does not punish repentance.
Honor makes "confrontation conflict" okay. It's alright to confront and not agree- because there's freedom and safety, there's an appreciation for individualization and differences of opinion. Have you ever been asked a "yes or no" question- but you knew there was really only one answer and you better give it? Ever asked your opinion but knew there would be repercussions for giving it? Have you ever questioned something but would never dare say it out loud and just agreed to be 'safe'? Well, obviously I've been in those situations and witnessed them- and that is NOT honor, that is ego. If it is done honorably- confrontation conflict is effective and healthy and needed.
I began to look past the failed "Honor"- and realized it was ignorance, they really didn't know what true "Honor" was. Truthfully, I didn't either- I just knew sitting me on the front row did NOT honor me. Saying my name from the platform did NOT honor me. Acknowledging my presence did NOT honor me. Hugging me out of obligation did NOT honor me. Asking me to make a cake did NOT honor me. Lying to me did NOT honor me. It actually hurt more than anything, because I came to realize they did not KNOW me to acknowledge or "Honor" me in any other way. That saying, "Actions speak louder than words".
What have I learned? I've learned what Honor is, I've learned what I need to feel Honored, most importantly I've learned how to Honor others and the importance of it.

I highly encourage everyone to read this book: Culture of Honor by Danny Silk

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Opposites Attract (and Make Us Better)

For some reason, the other day I was reminiscing about my dorm life in my college days. I know I wrote previously of my roommates who I'm still in contact (on a regular basis thanks to Facebook) with. Jasmine and I had been in another dorm together, but did not share a room. We got along really well and decided to try and move into the nicer dorms on the other side of campus and become roomies.
There were 8 of us living in a 4 bedroom dorm with a common living area and a decent bathroom (most of the time). My roomie and I were the only 2 from Florida- while the other 6 were from Alabama: There was Angie- our peacemaker, Krystal- carefree and full of life, Tenly- (who my daughter is named after) focused and gentle, Rachel- creative and insightful, Dana- loved to laugh and spontaneous (and could bring a smile to anyone), and Jasmine- I'll get to her in a minute. Thank goodness first impressions do not last forever, because their first impression with me was a bit like " long do we HAVE to live with her..?". Jasmine and I had been put through the ringer up to the last minute getting moved into that dorm- so when we finally were able to walk through the doors, I will just say I wasn't exactly "perky".
I was between 6-8 years older than most of my roommates, but I don't think any of us really saw the age difference. Once the new semester started and we were finally getting everything established, I started to realize big similarities and differences between Jaz and I that weren't so apparent at first! I am very organized, neat, clean, always has a plan, etc. Jasmine, well she is a breath of fresh air, she almost always has a smile on her face that will light up a room! We were SO opposite though, she does not need to have a place for everything and it did not "rock her world" if she left some clothes on the floor or didn't make her bed. She had no reason to wake up 2-3 hours before her classes. She is so sickeningly beautiful that she could jump in and out of the shower get dressed and fly out the door with a little make up in a matter 15-20 minutes and look like she had been up for hours!
I envied her 'ease' so much! I tried not caring about my bed being made like she did, and found myself trying to run clear across campus between classes to just make it! When I would try to wake up late and walk out the door 'all together' like she did, I would instead find myself frazzled all day. The other side, was when I would try to convince Jaz that my way was The Way. I wouldn't necessarily just come out and tell her verbally, but I would do those little subtle things. I would organize her desk for her, pick up her clothes, make her bed, organize her shoes, etc. She was so great, she'd come in the room and laugh, she would say "you just couldn't take it?". (she may have been infuriated with me, but never showed it if so)
Looking back, I realize how having a roommate SO opposite of me helped me grow! I learned to relax (well at least a little) and let things go, sometimes. It was a lesson I needed so badly to learn, and God gave me the opportunity to learn it in the best way possible- through giving me one of the dearest friends and allowing me to just simply watch and admire and better me.
Everyone needs people like this in their life. Jasmine is not the only friend I have who is opposite of me. But, she is the one who helped me see how and the need to change some things- and I am grateful!

Monday, June 13, 2011


I'm to tired to retype it, so I'll cut and paste the Facebook status I just posted: "It's been a wonderful day- but I am straight up'm EXHAUSTED! Still have to bathe the girls, fix dinner, eat dinner, put clothes away, vacuum, pick up Lupe, and put the girls to bed! BUT, I'm choosing to focus on the 'It's been a WONDERFUL day' part!" I forgot to add to that, I have to bake muffins for Tenly's snack day at school tomorrow- but still focusing on "...Wonderful..."!!! :)
So, my post is going to be a little different today: I'm asking for HELP and ADVICE from all you moms who have been working outside of your home. How, for the love of Jesus, do you do it (or did you do it)? 
I've been working for awhile now, but my job just kicked into overdrive with our summer camp schedule. Let me explain, I work at The Little Gym of Plantation (incredible place- check out the website for one near you). Anyway, so I'm not just 'working'- I am running, flipping, spinning, jumping, donkey kicking, monkey jumping ALL DAY LONG (and today Gianna went with me). So much to do, and my perfectionist self makes it that much harder to do it. On top of making the time with my girls and Lupe special and top priority. I know, some of you are saying you just have to let things go and enjoy time. I've been doing that, and trying to pretend I don't notice the house needs to be dusted, but it's driving me crazy! I feel guilty that I'm sitting here typing my blog and not vacuuming my house and putting the clothes away and ironing my husbands shirts (for real, I really am)! I have my cleaning schedule, which I love, but to be honest I'm having a hard time keeping up.
I must admit, I'm blessed with a husband who is more than willing to help me (for instance, I forgot to take something out for dinner tonight- but he had already done it.). But, I feel bad asking for help sometimes because of how hard he works.
I'm sure there is no true formula for all of this (although I would LOVE for someone to reassure me there is- and then give it to me)- but I am so tired right now and trying to walk around with blinders so I don't see the dust in my house is not working for me. 
But, as my Facebook status just said, I'm choosing to focus on the wonderful day I've had- as exhausted as I am- it was a great day for my whole family. Being able to say that is truly a blessing!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Transition: RIGHT NOW Would Be Better....

TRANSITION, it's not easy- but it is very necessary.
Lupe and I had been married about 3 years when that exciting and scary word appeared: Transition. In our situation, that word meant we would be leaving our current position at the ministry. Not just leaving our position, but leaving our home, many comfortable things that we had while working there.
I didn't say much to Lupe about it at first, I had to make sure I was truly hearing the right thing and not acting on emotions or anger. It didn't appear at a difficult time, I was content and things were going smoothly. I still struggled with some things, but was beginning to learn how to pick my battles and work on me instead of trying to change everyone else.
I felt confident that this 'feeling' was not emotional, so I starting really seeking God- I had to know for sure before I went to Lupe. Then one night a couple weeks later, Lupe casually mentions  that he really felt we were in a time of transition. I looked at him and asked, "REALLY?" (it's very rare for Lupe to ever speak off of emotions- so I new this was real and BIG!) Well, that helped confirm exactly what I was feeling- so my next question was, "WHEN?".
The ministry we worked for had a set of guidelines, it helped not only protect- but keep the ministry(s) running smoothly because of the unique setup of the many different entities that came from under that one umbrella. Therefore, within the guidelines there were times established for "a change of season" or when you resigned- of course, we had agreed to the guidelines and had every intention of honoring them. Lupe and I continued to pray, and quickly sensed we weren't to resign then. Transition, we knew, could be anywhere from a couple months to 3 years or so.
Well, my Transition required something I'm not very good at: PATIENCE! Especially when some of our other friends we're resigning and stepping out into new things- that brought a bit of jealousy and moments of me begging God. We wanted so badly to leave at the right time. I had watched people stay TOO long, and they turned so bitter and angry that they can't even step foot back on the ministry grounds- and many of them no longer have any relationship with God.We also wanted our Pastor to know before we even told him, we felt like if this was God (and we were sure it was) it wouldn't come as any surprise, that God would have already prepared his heart before we said a word. We knew we couldn't control any one's actions or response, but we could only control ours, and were determined to do the right thing regardless of what may/may not happen. Lupe had been there 15 years- that is a LONG time- he wasn't perfect at his job, but he was really good at it- he had it down to a science. So, it was kind of like Lupe letting go of his "baby"- he'd worked/developed/trained/organized- and he wanted to be sure that he could walk away with the confidence that he'd done everything he was suppose to.
But, of course, that would all come 3 years down the road. 3 years of waiting and sometimes telling God- I'm not ready and sometimes BEGGING God to let me go!! So much to go through to prepare for a major transition. But, we walked it- and jumped many hurdles, fell down, and tripped along the way.
As I look back at this, I wonder- where was I during this?, what did I take away?, where can I find me now in it? While I was "in it", I was fearful- I don't like change and thrive on stability- I knew this wasn't going to be easy. I took away, understanding the process and being thankful for it and I, trust- I learned how to trust, and I grew in patience.
Looking back- what did I lose and what do I want to "take back"?- I second guessed myself and Lupe a lot, which came from fear of being wrong and fear of disappointing a man. My "take away" is my confidence in knowing that I know my God's voice and putting my trust and hope in Him and not a man. SO, I'm finding that confidence in not only God and knowing His voice- but also in my relationship with Him.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Don't Want To Forget One Moment

I was originally planning on writing something else today, and then the events of the day overtook me and I completely changed my mind. Which as a woman, is my right ;).
READY for school!
TODAY, my 4 (almost 5) year old started school. Let me explain, Tenly is starting VPK- which is a program Florida started to make sure ALL children are prepared for Kindergarten. Regardless of how much $$$ you do/do not make- the state pays for your child to go to preschool. Tenly was in PreK when we left Texas, but by the time we were settled in our home in Plantation we felt it was a little late and would start her during the summer. So, as all the children were out of school yesterday, my Tenly started school today. She was BEYOND excited, we let her pick out a new backpack and lunchbox yesterday (Gianna too, of course). The lunch box thing really got me, I've never had to pack my baby's lunch- she was always home with me. As I grocery shopped, buying all of the 'lunch stuff', I couldn't stop crying- I know everyone thought I was a mental case. Tenly is in school from 8am-3:30pm- what a LONG day for a 4 year old.....and her mommy!
Anyway, I'm sure majority of you know how nostalgic days like these can make someone. I was so blessed that Lupe had the day off today and was able to 'mark' this day with us. I was proud of myself, I held up pretty good, as I started to get a bit weepy- Tenly is the one who was able to distract me.
Throughout the day, I thought of some of those special moments with Tenly: Walking, riding her bike, our talks, her love for cooking/baking. Then, Gianna fell asleep in my arms (rarely ever happens anymore), I would normally lay her down, but today I held onto her awhile. For some reason, I just needed that moment today.
A few months ago, I started a 'Mommy's Memories' Journal. There were those little moments that my girls would say or do something, or I would feel something/notice something/observe something- and I didn't want to forget and wanted my girls to be able to have those memories, too. Documenting it seemed like the most logical thing to do, and what a beautiful thing to get to pass down.
While I was thinking about my girls and remembering all the wonderful moments, I recalled some not so lovely moments. But, then I realized that those not-so-lovely moments are some of things that have molded my girls into being so great. There were the late sleepless nights of feedings, but my girls are healthy. I remember the knock out drag out nights of letting them "cry it out", very difficult, but my girls are very independent and go to sleep with no assistance what so ever (besides Monkey Boy and Stringy Blanket). There was the potty training (how many times a day did I scrub/mop my floors), but my girls were in panties within a week. Can't forget the battle of taking at least one bite of everything on your plate, there is no longer any fights and they'll try everything. There were the nasty temper tantrums that I would not give into (still happen, but they are fewer and shorter), but my girls are (generally) respectful and (generally) well-behaved.
Then, I began thinking of this blog and some of the battles I have wrote about and some battles I continue to face. Some have been more difficult than others, and some have lingered longer than others- but they all play a big part in who I am today- the good/bad/ugly! For Example:
The diabetes has made me a more educated and aware person and I have learned to take my health very seriously and encourage others to do the same. Anorexia taught me to stop looking on the surface, something I still remind myself of daily. Bad choices have made me very aware of the consequences that follow. People gossiping/talking/judging me has taught me to watch my own mouth and thoughts- and that I do not know the whole story (nor do I need to). People trying to cram me in a box and put me into a mold- has taught me to be bold and to discover what I really believe in, and why. Being single- taught me patience, lol- (SM)! Being a mother, taught me PATIENCE (and how impatient I truly am). The ministry, taught me to be humble and helped me discover what honor really is/is not. Getting my car broke into and my purse stolen- taught me not to leave my purse in my car- especially in Miami! Financial difficulties have taught me the difference between a need and a want- and that God's Faithfulness is so real!
Today has been a day of remembering a lot of moments- and finding the good- even in the bad and ugly! What did I 'find' in myelf be grateful in all and for all things.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Strengths and Weaknesses

For 6 years, I have had the honor of having one of the best jobs around as a "Domestic Manger" (I even wanted to make business cards). A Domestic Manger is a demanding job that requires a lot of multi-tasking among many other things: being at home taking care of children, husband, cleaning, laundry, creativity, imagination, coordinating schedules/events/Dr. Appt.'s/activities, meals, finances, etc.
Anyway, about 6 weeks ago I told Lupe I thought I should go back to work to help take some of the load off of his shoulders (I know he needed me to go back to work, but he would of never asked- I love him!)- Lupe agreed and I started on my pursuit.
I said all of that to talk about this:
I found myself in those wonderful, uncomfortable, stressful job interviews- which I must admit- I'm very good at! Potential employers ask you all of these crazy questions in hopes of getting an accurate picture of who you are and what you can do.  I was asked THE question: What are your Strengths? What are your Weaknesses? This question may stump some, but was an easy question for me, because just months before I realized that my Strengths were also my Weaknesses.
Sometimes it can be hard to say your Strengths out loud for fear of sounding cocky and full of yourself. But, in this search of rediscovering me- I have to confidently acknowledge what I am good at and what I enjoy, in order for me to utilize those things and to allow others to utilize them! So, here we go:
- I am organized, neat, clean.
- I am creative.
- I am passionate.
- I love to plan and coordinate events.
- I love to read.
- I love to be outside and active.
- I like to bake/cook.
- I love to read.
(There may be a few more, but these are what stand out to me).
Already, I feel like I should be explaining myself and the reasons why I feel like I'm good at/enjoy these things out of fear of how others are interpreting me- but I wont! LOL!
But, some of these things can quickly become my weaknesses. Many of my friends who have lived with me or close to me are probably saying- "YES"!!
The Weaknesses of:
- Being Organized- is the inability to function outside of your neat home and schedule. It has been crippling at times. I had surgery around this time last year, I prolonged my recovery because I was unable to let things just be. When everyone would leave the house, I would sneak downstairs and start cleaning everything MY way (because my way is the right way), put all the toys in the correct labeled drawers, etc. I began having complications that had me on permanent bed rest for weeks instead of days because of my inability to allow things to just 'be'.
Another weakness of my organized self is, I have always been a mom with a schedule and firmly believe children need and require predictability- so, of course, my girls have always been on a schedule. Overall, that predictable schedule has always been wonderful- the only time it is not wonderful is when we were off the schedule (especially when they were younger). When Tenly started preschool, she had a hard time on days that her class did something out of the ordinary- she, like me- thrives on a schedule and predictability. Tenly has gotten much better at 'going with  the flow', but we try to prepare her the day before so she can still predict to a degree.
- Being Creative- not to many weaknesses to this one- except that it's hard to sit back and watch a lack of creativity- especially those times when you are not able (invited) to do anything about it. I've learned (the hard way) to ask, "How can I help?" and do only what you have been invited to do or offer only what you've been invited to offer. It's not worth hurting others feelings just so you can be creative or have input. In other words, it's a giving up of control (that's a big OUCH for me).

- Being Passionate- sometimes your passion can push people away instead of embracing them. Just because it's your passion does not mean it must be everyone else's.
It's so empowering once you're able to not only recognize your strengths and weaknesses, but also embrace them. I still havent' 'arrived'- and have to tell myself often that I need others- to thrive within my talents and gifting and to invite others in to fill in my gaps. I was not created to do it all myself, and to be honest, I don't want to do it all myself. I am not perfect (I know, you're shocked)- and find it funny that I tried (sometimes still try) to be.
What are you good at? What do you LOVE to do? Capitalize on the gifts and talents God has given you, He gave you these talents for a reason. If you're not using your them, look for an outlet to use them- but first you have to acknowledge what they are. After that, call or email somebody (even me) to tell them what you are good at and what you are going to do about it.