Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Love is A Verb

I have never been one to read more than one book at a time! I guess it comes from my need to complete a project before I start another...I don't know. BUT, as I got into my bed last night- I told Lupe that I was feeling pretty smart with my stacks of books and notebooks beside my bed- and I am in the middle of reading 4 of them (and Yes, that's Tenly's artwork on my Message Bible)! Anyway, the newest one I am reading is the book for our Mom's Bible Study, "Real Moms, Real Jesus"- it is such a great book- but I'll get to more of that in a bit.
I am so pleased to report, that I have a much anticipated "Meeting" every Monday evening! Okay, not actually meeting as much as a great time of "nothing" with my friend, Kim. We used to do this commonly and then summer came and scheduling conflicts with it and it just stopped. Well, Kim and I decided we were way past due and restarted our wonderful "nothing time". Just us and a cup of coffee in Starbucks with no agenda, but just to "be". This past Monday, we found ourselves discussing many different things- some with no depth and others very deep. One of the topics was, our witness to others in our daily lives/activities.
Kim and I were both raised in church and have memories of going door to door to witness to people with our families and churches- something that doesn't happen much anymore. Anyway, we were discussing what the most effective "witness" is- it can be very different for each person, I guess. She and I both agreed that to us, is The Love of God that people see in us.
My husband Lupe is a perfect example of this. In his position at work, he works alongside many people. Upon meeting these people, he didn't shake their hand declaring he was a born again Christian and telling each of them all of the unGodly things they were doing. Lupe did his job and conducted himself in a Godly manner and jumped on every opportunity to share the Love of God with his co-workers- and every time the response went something like this, "I KNEW it- I knew you were a Christian- there's just something different about you!" or "Is that why you're always so calm and happy all the time? Is that why you never get mad or stressed- because you're a Christian?" The same thing happened to me at work- I never came out and made a loud declaration of my Christianity- but every opportunity that arose for me to talk about the Goodness and Love of My God- I took. Two of my co-workers told me, "See, I knew it- that's why I never cussed around you, because I had a feeling you were a Christian."
I was reading the third chapter in "Real Moms, Real Jesus" after Kim and I had coffee that night. Ironically enough, it was about having a Gentle Spirit and gave the example of "The Woman at the Well" in John 4. It talked about the way Jesus talked and spent time with the woman and eventually, very gently, inquired about the man she was living with. He didn't condemn her or rebuke her- He loved her and spent time with her- and that drew her in and caused her to want to change.
There are times, that I have been told or even thought maybe I need to be more aggressive about God- but between my conversation with Kim and reading this- I walked away with the reassurance that The Love of God is what draws others in. Having empathy, compassion, and just listening can often leave the biggest life changing effects on others. Not to say that there aren't things I need to do differently and be more passionate about- but I am convinced that allowing others to see the love of Jesus in all we do, say, and live has a far greater impact than the best sermon that the best preacher could ever preach.
O lives should be the greatest sermon.........................

Friday, September 16, 2011

One of The Good Moms

Here is the Monologue I did last week- it was a lot of fun- and it honestly speaks my heart (well, in under 8 minutes that is)............

Good Moms.....
"Okay, I might as well put it out there: I AM one of the GOOD MOMS!
That’s right, along with the many other Mom’s out there potty training, wiping up spills from “non-spill” sippy cups- (can anyone say FALSE advertisement?!), changing diapers, having sleepless nights, reading the same book 10 times, chauffeuring the whole family, balancing 4+ peoples schedules- WE are the Good Mom’s!
I am talking about myself and the millions of other Mom’s who put everyone and everything else before them.  Who constantly feel ourselves in a tug-a-war between our relationship with God, marriage, children, time, work, and the overcoming feeling of guilt when we dare to have a little “Me Time”! How many times have we neglected ourselves striving for “Mommy Perfectionism”? Ahhh, but yet we STILL…are The Good Moms!
UN-Perfect Christmas Pic
As I awake daily to my incredible job, as a Mother to my wonderful girls, Tenly and Gianna, - I have no exact job description, no exact manual….and no time allotted learning curve to master it all. I fail as many times, if not more times, than I succeed. One thing I am forever grateful for- is God’s Grace-in spite of my constant tug-a-war- His Grace is why I am still one of The Good Moms.
I mean, come on- let’s be real here! I, and all other Mom’s, must admit we are not perfect Women or perfect Mothers. Like, skipping a shower, or getting to work and realizing I, or my kids, forgot to brush their teeth, or put on deodorant! Have you ever walked into the bathroom at church and looked in the mirror to realize that you having hairs growing off your chin or your need to bleach your upper lip- or maybe your hair resembles a skunk with the gray stripe down your roots. I would much rather rejoice over a great pedicure rather than the fact that my husband is out in ironed clothes! But, despite my un-pedicured toes- I’m still one of the Good Moms.
Fixing the dress with a glue gun!
What about all of our secret mommy confessions? You know! Like- think back to when your kids were babies- past or present- do you remember “not noticing” your child’s dirty, sagging diaper so your husband would be the one to have to change it? Who’s done the unforgivable thing of letting Disney Jr. or PBS babysit your kids? Here’s a classic, skipping pages or rewriting your kids long books? Who writes children’s books with 5 paragraphs on a page anyway? Of course you come to church to grow in God, but who would admit that occasionally it’s the only peaceful time in a week that your kids are in a safe environment with someone else besides you! Guilt and all, still we are The Good Mom’s!
I was thinking recently of “SOME day”- the day I will do some AMAZING things, like… “SOME” day, I’ll go back to the gym faithfully and get all of my body parts back where they should be! “SOME” day, I’m going to take a dream vacation to Hawaii! “SOME” day, I’m going to finish my degree. “SOME” day, I will have time for everything. “SOME” day, I will get a pedicure again. “SOME” day, I will get a full body massage. “SOME” days- will come faster than others. BUT, on THIS day- I’m going to watch my 5 year old walk into Kindergarten all by her self and my 3 year old discover that she can swim under water. I’m going to watch these 2 precious girls, who started out as 6lbs 3oz and 7lbs 6oz, I am going to stare at them in total awe of the beautiful miracle that they are and I am going to think, “My GOD, THIS is amazing!”
Yes, I am a good mom.
I struggle with feelings of guilt and unworthiness and disappointing others. The house doesn’t look perfect enough, the ironing is building up, I haven’t read my girls enough books, my dinners should be more spectacular and healthy, I shouldn’t of bought myself that pair of shoes, I should of prayed longer today, I haven’t read my Bible enough. My list could go on forever. Aren’t you glad that others do not see us the way we see ourselves. Why do I focus on these things instead of capitalizing on the gifts, talents, and abilities God has given me?
How do we, as Mothers, forget about ourselves-we always end up lost in the shuffling of schedules and people- we are not a priority?  But, I’m reminding myself, and anyone who will listen, that taking time for ourselves as Mothers and Women makes us better Moms, Wives, and Friends!                                      
Balance- WOW, what a word- it means “An even distribution of weight enabling someone or something to remain upright and steady. To keep or put (something) in a steady position so that it does not fall.” Easier said than done, right? Schedules, kids, toys, meals, church, soccer, ballet, dance, gymnastics, family, school, doctors, groceries, laundry, cleaning, ironing, friends, work, bills, budget, marriage, dates, your “love” life (or lack there of)…Balance and Priorities!
A Good Mom- That’s ME! We celebrate our children’s triumphs, anticipating every milestone, and struggling to document EVERY memory so that we never forget them. Isn’t it amazing how instant the love for our children is? Before we even see them, and feel this little alien moving inside our bodies, we love them. Then the doctor hands them to us as soon as they leave our bodies, and this overwhelming, unconditional love, that is almost impossible to explain, instantly grips us upon looking into our child’s eyes for the first time. If you think about it, it’s a perfect reflection of Christ’s love for us.
I am a Good Mom- my heart aches with love for my children, and knowing I’m their first teacher, example, and primary role model, brings out wonderful God-given qualities in me like patience, kindness, faith, trust, and empathy. Because being Tenly and Gianna’s Mother has made me want to be my very best self- the Woman and Mother- God has called and challenged me to be- not just for my girls, but for me too. Yes, I will continue to make mistakes. I will get angry and yell at times, and have to go back and ask for forgiveness. I will serve “lazy dinners” to many times, and even keep my girls up a little later than I should because I just want to hold them a little longer or because I am completely oblivious of the time. I will make wrong choices and struggle to find balance. But, I will always strive to demonstrate and teach the Love of God in all I say and do. I will bring my girls to the House of God, I will teach them the Power of Prayer, I will demonstrate a Godly Loving Marriage, and I will teach them the Word of God, and surround them with Godly People. BUT, here I am the good, the bad, and the ugly…………….
I AM a Good- NO- I am a Great, Loving, and Spectacular, and Above Average Mom!"

If you made it to the end..(I know, it's a little long)...I hope you enjoyed it and you were able to take something away!

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

I Never Imagined

I've been wanting to get on here all week to Blog.................................
Last Saturday was the Women's Event at my church that I had the opportunity to speak at- I was excited nervous and expectant when I went to bed on Friday. When I awoke Saturday, I was still excited, nervous, and expectant- and a little chaotic!Let me back up for a minute. My incredible husband, Lupe, volunteered (after I gently suggested how talented he was to the team) to help with the food. He was making a quiche/egg casserole- we were serving a brunch. On Friday afternoon, we attacked Sam's Club and bought all the ingredients- and Lupe did a trial run to make sure he knew the exact time it was going to take for them to cook. Well, as prepared as my husband was- prepped ingredients night before and all- sometimes things still throw a curve ball. He had 12 large Casseroles to make, and we had allowed for 45 minutes for them to cook. Well, that didn't happen- the pans were to large so we couldn't put as many in the oven as we originally thought- and they were taking over an hour to cook, actually close to an hour and a half. Therefore, I was running a tad late and Lupe ended up getting there over an hour later than he hoped to help prep for serving the ladies. But, the chaos passed.....
I arrived to find Joanne (she was also sharing that day and is teaching the Bible Study also) having a similar type of morning. She and I had been working together to get all the decorations and centerpieces done for a couple of weeks and had been there a couple of days earlier putting the stage and "dining hall" together with several other volunteers- so we were really anticipating this to be a great day. After praying and reminding ourselves of why we were there- we were ready to be used to minister to these ladies- nerves and all.
As Stephanie Bringas (CCC's Conections Director) kicked off the event and then invited the worship team up, I was so relieved to enter into worship- it helped to calm me and completely put me at peace- I almost didn't even feel nervous. Joanne was the first to begin- as the ladies immediately responded with laughter to her opening monologue, it was so wonderful to see her shoulders just relax and see God just take control and use her!
Then I see my name and "my verse", Jeremiah 29:11, on the screen- I whispered, "..okay, God- me and You- here goes something.." as I walked to the center of the stage. I spit out the first line of my monologue- and kept going with absolute peace, "Okay, I might as well put it out there...I am one of The Good Moms..". The ladies were so receptive- and I do think God used me. My prayer had been, "God, I want each of these women to be met at their point of need..", I believe they were. New friends were made, decisions were made, choices were made, changes were made. Most of all, God used me. When I left Texas, I never imagined that I would be used in this way at all- especially this soon. I am leading a Bible Study and was given the opportunity to speak for a moment at a women's event. I have found myself wondering why me instead of someone else- and honestly, I don't know. But, I guess that's truly not important- it's hard to explain but- as I spoke to all those women what God had placed on my heart, I was ministered to in a major way that I cannot describe. A healing took place on that stage in front of all of those women, and I will be forever grateful. That was a day full of rediscovery....................................
Joanne and I
(Later this week, I will post the monologue that I did considering we did not get to video it)

Friday, September 9, 2011

Out of The Comfort Zone, Here Goes Nothing

Once we arrived in the Fort Lauderdale area, we quickly started searching for a church. Personally, I knew better than to wait. I guess I was kind of aware of the "state" I was in, and knew that if I took a break for weeks or months, I would get complacent and comfortable and would stop going. Deep down, it was also very apparent that I needed to continue to be fed the Word and be surrounded by others who would keep me encouraged and focused on God. Not to mention, I always want my kids to know that this is what we do as a family- we go to church to worship God and keep ourselves centered in Him.
We pretty quickly made the decision to join Community Christian Church, before we even decided that this would be our church home- I saw a Bible Study for Mom's that I knew was for me.
It wasn't comfortable to join a Bible Study where I didn't know anyone at all, and really didn't even know the ins and outs of the church yet. I just knew, that I needed some time to focus on Me and leave encouraged and uplifted- I knew this enough to force myself to show up, I am so glad I did. During that study, I met and have some of the closest friends I have had in a long time.
Joanne was the leader of that first Bible Study I did at CCC, and has become a wonderful friend. While planning the Studies for the school year, Joanne mentioned to our Connection Director, Stephanie, that she thought they should ask me to do a Thursday morning Study. I was a bit taken aback when I received that phone call. I couldn't believe it, someone saw potential in me? Enough potential to allow me to speak into other women's lives?
After prayer and talking with Lupe, I said Yes and felt the excitement building. I'll admit there were a couple times that I panicked because of past experiences in ministry related stuff- but I jumped the hurdle and plowed ahead. We're calling the Mom Group "Manna For Mommies" and are studying a book by the name of Real Mom's Real Jesus by Jill Savage. During the planning stages of our upcoming women's event (tomorrow!) where all the Studies for women will be introduce- Stephanie thought all of the Study leaders should speak. Now, I'm not very intimidated by a stage. Anyone who knows me, knows I am very talkative (some would say to talkative) and am typically not intimidated by people. But, as the day (TOMORROW) has grown closer, I have felt myself getting so nervous. Joanne and I both decided that we would do a fun monologue type thing before speaking. I think this is bringing on a bit of my nervousness- as much as I enjoy acting- it's been a LONG time!
Our decorations thus far.
Joanne and I have had a lot of fun planning for this event (this is my first and she's done a ton), so after we and a few of the ladies finished arranging all of the decor (pics to come) we had the opportunity to rehearse with the other 3 ladies. It went well, and I am so lucky that we had the opportunity to run through the monologue- it put me at ease and made me feel very confident that I am going in the right direction and God has guided me while writing it. I am speaking on being "One of The Good Moms". We're hoping to have a good enough recording so I can post it on here.
SO, as I sign off to go pray and memorize lines (SO hard, I feel like I pushed out my memory with the placenta and what didn't come out then my girls sucked out while breastfeeding, lol.), tomorrow around 10:00am- say a prayer for myself and the CCC ladies Ministry Team. We want this to be a safe place for women to let down their guard and trust God to meet them at their point of need.
I'm finding myself again, and to be honest- it's not where or how I thought! Doesn't it always seem to go that way? I'm realizing that on this journey, it's a little scary not knowing what's coming around each corner- but shockingly enough- it's a bit enjoyable and not all bad (can you hear that optimism coming out, lol?). Jeremiah 29:11- He knows!

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

O, What A Feeling!

It's a "different" feeling, I wont lie.With so many questions, I guess I'm supposed to be freaking out- as I have done many times in the past. But, this is such a great feeling to be walking in such wonderful Peace! It really is.
What's different now, than in the past? Well, not that I haven't prayed about difficult situations in the past, but  I think I've done it out of duty. That's just what we're suppose to do as Christians- pray. It doesn't take a genius to figure the difference between "duty" and heart felt prayer coupled with a trusting and faith heart. I think that has made the biggest difference, but also surrounding myself with praise and worship as often as possible to set the atmosphere and attitude of my day and my heart. This feeling of Peace is a wonderful feeling!

My family and I attend Community Christian Church, and the past 2 weeks have left me encouraged and given me a "settling for nothing less" attitude. A couple weeks ago Pastor Scott was finishing up a series on "Life's To Short". On this particular Sunday he was encouraging us to Dive In, he stated this quote (can't remember who said it originally): "There are people who prefer to say 'yes' and those who say 'no'. Those who say 'yes' are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say 'no' are rewarded by the safety they attain." When Lupe and I heard him say that, we both looked at each other and nodded our heads. It took us back to leaving Texas, when so many thought we were crazy. We had so much safety there, and we knew leaving was going to be an adventure (Boy, were we RIGHT!)- but because we knew, that we knew, that we knew...we said 'yes'.
Team:No Limits from Expedition Impossible
This past week, Pastor Tim (our youth pastor) spoke on "Faith..No Matter What". You know how you sit in church thinking, "WOW, he is preaching directly to me!" To the point, you think someone has been giving him "inside information". Well, I guess God is the somebody giving out the info- and I am so thankful the pastors are listening! Pastor Tim made it is so simple and plain, which it actually it really is- not always easy- but simple and plain. He shared this clip from a TV reality show called Expedition Impossible, the premise of the show is to be the first team to make it to each destination so not to be eliminated and be the last team standing. One of the teams of 3, had a blind guy on it along with his long time best friend. The 2 of them had gone on many expeditions over the years which built a friendship of complete trust and trust. In this clip, Leap of Faith, the guys are about to jump off a clip. The link I posted here shows a small portion, but if you watch that whole part at this link: Expedition Impossible: Leap of Faith it's even more eye opening. This guy, Eric, trust and has total faith in his friend with no doubts, it's a pretty amazing thing to watch.
Anyway, I said a lot to say- That although Lupe's replacement was hired, last week, suddenly it was decided that it was not going to work out with that particular person. Which means, Lupe still has time to look while they continue to look. I know it's such a small thing, but WOW- God knows!
I am "Finding Myself" with a lot more faith and trust and it's make this journey so much easier. Thank you to all of our friends who are praying and sending us job tips and possibilities- you are making such a difference.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

O, The Guilt.............

About 2 years ago, Tenly was in her first preschool class and a wonderful preschool in Columbus, TX. It was a wonderful place and Tenly just adored her teachers, as did I. During the school year, they do the routine general eye and ear exams for all the students. Well, Tenly failed her eye exam, she was 3 at the time. Just to clarify, at that time- Tenly was very reserved/cautious in unfamiliar places with unfamiliar people. She's an observer, she totally observes and evaluates a situation and surroundings before she interacts or puts herself "out there". Therefore, we- and her teachers- didn't put much weight into the fact that she didn't pass it.
That takes us to her 4 year check up last year in Katy, TX. It wasn't her typical nurse, so yet again she clammed up and was extremely conservative and uncooperative with communicating what she could/could not see. The nurse and I blew it off, assuming it was a case of her being bashful at the time.
So, here we are to about a week ago at Tenly's 5 year exam. Much to my satisfaction, Tenly has become much more confident in herself and her ability to communicate. It seems as if, she still takes time to evaluate her situation/surroundings, but is able to do it much more quickly. First thing they did was her eye exam, they had a great way of doing it there and it really did put Tenly immediately at ease. She first went right up to the chart and identified each object to the nurse, before going down the hall to read from a distance with each eye individually. They asked she read with her right eye first, and she told them every single picture (up to 20/30) very confidently and loudly. Then we covered her right and asked her to read with her left. Now, if you think back- the first big picture on the chart is a pretty big sail boat- which Tenly confidently saw with her right eye- but could NOT see that big boat with her left. I literally stood there with that "Dumb Bubba" look on my face. I looked at Tenly and said, "Tenly, you can see that- what do you see up there?" She then tried to move my hand off of her right eye "so she could see". That was after we had done the whole thing over 3 times. When the nurse saw her try to move my other hand "so she could see", she instantly knew we had a problem. Because once I took my hand away, Tenly instantly said, "Oh, that's a sailboat." I was absolutely SHOCKED. At that point they were showing her to have 20/70-20/80 in her left eye. That's a drastic difference.
The Doctor suggested we get her in to a specialist ASAP. We were given some pretty major favor and were given an appointment the following Thursday (when there were no appointments available for 2 months) with the best specialist in the area. Tenly did great at the appointment, well- until they had to put the drops in her eyes, but she recovered quickly. The whole staff and Doctor were amazing. There was no doubt from the get go that Tenly was going to need glasses. Once we saw the Doctor, he informed me that she has a double astigmatism in her left eye and a mild one in her right. Her brain has completely stopped using her left eye and thus is over using her right.
Much to Tenly's excitement, she is getting glasses. Her exact words were, "Wow, so I get to be a grown up like Daddy (daddy wears glasses)? That is SO cool!" We are praying that her brain cooperates and starts using the glasses, or else we will have to patch her right eye to force her brain to start using the left one again. Something we truly do not want to do as she is just starting school, learning to write and read.
She had no problem picking out her purple glasses with flowers on them, first ones she put on and refused to try anymore because, "...they are perfectly beautiful...".
What does all this bring to a Mom- MOMMY GUILT!! Why didn't I follow up the first time? Why didn't I follow up the second time? Were there signs? Did I ignore the signs? Should I have been looking for signs? MY POOR BABY!! Yada, Yada, Yada....and I go on and on...! But, it's not helping me or Tenly to flood myself with guilt. I'll share what's helped, I'm thankful..................
Here's a really great part to this story- my being grateful and thankful part! This all showed up when we still have insurance. Not only insurance, but also really great vision insurance. Tenly's glasses, would of cost us close to $200,  but we paid $25!!!! I am Thankful! He knows, God knows............and my Tenly (and we) are just fine!
(BTW, have some updates on our situation, that seems to change by the day, but that'll be the next post....Maybe.)