Monday, November 28, 2011

Forgiving "The Church"

Let me begin by saying, it has never been about The Church needing my forgiveness- but rather about me forgiving. This is not about 1 church in particular, but rather as a whole.
My family is coming up to an important anniversary (I will write about next week), reflecting back on this past year has caused me to reevaluate my heart and my attitude. I've realized I have forgiven "The Church"- this has been a long process......
I guess forgiving has come in stages for me..2 steps forward, 4 steps back at times. I remember when I started getting bitter and angry at "The Church", I was around 13-14 years old and was a "PK"- Preachers Kid.
It was a very hurtful time when all I really understood was that the actions of "The Church" were not what I had been taught. After that, I became jealous and angry at the time "The Church" took my parents away- sometimes justified and sometimes not. Then came a horrible situation that hurt my parents, and thus my whole family, so badly it seemed to take away my Fathers spirit for a long time and it was a long journey back for all of us.
It could be argued about who was right and who was wrong, but the only thing that matters is that people were hurt on all different levels- and I had to watch my parents struggle to recuperate for a very long time. It was during that time that I decided what kind of relationship God and I would have. I believe my initial statement was, "If THIS is Christianity, I do NOT want it.".
After awhile, my heart softened and I guess I forgave a bit and then decided, "Okay God, I will serve and love You- but I will never be in the ministry so You cannot ask or require that of me." I thought that was pretty reasonable, and it worked for quite sometime. I volunteered for things at the church, was a youth leader for awhile, and just served where I was comfortable.
THEN, God directed me to go to Texas Bible Institute, I clearly knew that was where I was suppose to be. It was during that time, I had some spiritual heart surgery. After awhile, I began to let God tear down the walls I had built up- it was then that I truly began to choose to forgive. My heart was lighter, and I was happier.
Many years went by, and I found myself engaged to the man of my dreams- it was almost comical that he was an ordained minister in full time ministry. Before we were engaged, we had conversations about our future, and we both knew that Lupe was not suppose to leave the ministry he was at yet- which meant I was going to be a ministers wife and in full time ministry. I have written before about some of my struggles throughout those years, some of my struggles came out of my past anger towards "The Church". Some of those struggles also came out of fear of what could be, and because those possibilities loomed in front of me, I made issues where I probably shouldn't have. I was just so determined not to let the past repeat itself with me and with my husband and children.
Once we left the ministry and moved to Florida, I found myself more calloused and angry than ever at "The Church". I had to finally draw boundaries, that may have unintentionally hurt others, but it was to help me and honestly protect them from being on the receiving end of my anger.
I say all of that to say this, I am beyond it. I love "The Church". Although, "The Church" has trampled and scarred my heart at times- it has also repaired my heart and carried me at others. I have had to realize, that as much as others have hurt me- I have also caused hurt and have been forgiven- how could I dare expect or take something I cannot give. I even feel ready to let others back in that I have pushed away, and except responsibility for the times I have not acted as God requires me. I mean, really, I will never have to forgive more than God has had to forgive me.
This has been a painful and tough road, but I'm so blessed and happy to be walking beyond the hurt others have caused me and the hurt I've caused others. Forgiving will not change the past, but it will enlarge my future.
 Visit Rediscovering Domesticity to see how others are dealing with "The Mess In My Heart".

Saturday, November 26, 2011

This Responsibility Is NOT Fair....

This morning, I finally did it! I have been avoiding it for quite some time. Even though 6 months ago a room full of friends told me it was very important to do- I waited until today. I don't know why this has been so hard for me to do, part of me is so glad I finally did it- but most of me is just hurt and angry that I had to at all.
Today, I sat my girls down and explained to them why I have to take medicine and explained I had Diabetes (for anyone that does know, I am an insulin dependent Diabetic on an insulin pump). From the second we sat down I was holding back tears.
First, I asked them if they understood why I had to wear my medicine (insulin pump) all the time. They said no, and asked why all mommies do not have to wear medicine like me. That opened the door to explain I had Diabetes and only some mommies and daddies have that. I explained further what a pancreas is and how mine doesn't work right. At that point, I was doing pretty good- until....
As my girls stared at me wondering where we were going from there, I had to gain the strength of giving them the responsibility no child should have. I began to explain that sometimes my body gets "messed up" or "sick" and I may "fall asleep"- if they can't seem to wake me up they needed to call 9-1-1 and then call Daddy. Before our talk began, I had written down on a paper the numbers so I could hang them up in a special place.
Then it happened, I looked up and saw Tenly's lip quivering and tears. My heart fell and was crushed. I asked her what was wrong, she replied with tears running down her face, "Mommy, I don't want to do that- Please just don't get sick, don't fall asleep Mommy- I don't want to do that! I don't like it." I tried explaining certain parts again, to reassure her that it's only to help me...blah, blah, blah...what I really wanted to say is I KNOW, it's NOT fair, you should NOT have to hear or do this, it's NOT fair!
Tenly crawled up in my lap, laid her head on my shoulder and cried while I cried (I couldn't hold it in anymore) and told her how sorry I was. Gianna just wrapped her arms around both of us and told Tenly it was okay, she would be here with her and would always help. Strangely enough, that brought Tenly a lot of comfort- and created more tears for me.
We went together and hung up the paper in the pantry, and Tenly kept asking me to put it somewhere else because she doesn't like to see it. I convinced her to keep it there, and we all ate a snack.
Now, my "mood" is similar to what it was almost 16 years ago when I was labeled a Diabetic on insulin with a "dead" pancreas. I was beyond angry- I was straight up pissed off. My mom brought me my Bible in the hospital, I put it on the other side of the room and refused to read it for days. The only talking I did to God was more like yelling, accusations, and questioning His existence. After awhile, I let go of it..a honestly took me years and almost death, to truly let go of it all.
So, here I am...don't worry...I'm not going to allow myself to be controlled by circumstances again. I learned 12 years ago to trust when I don't understand and to let all of these opportunities in my life to be used in making me stronger and to help others.
I will never be okay with my little girls holding this responsibility, but I also realize that other parents have had to have conversations that held a much worse ending. My girls are fine, and I have to hold onto the fact that our little talk was necessary (whether I like it or not), it could change a circumstance(whether I like it or not), it will make them stronger (whether I like it or not), and they are/will be thankful for that talk one day (whether I like it or not).
I will stop typing now (and hopefully stop crying), I am going to pray and let go of hurt and anger so that it will never have the opportunity to take my heart or my life again........................

Friday, November 18, 2011

I'm Not Lonely.....

First, let me give an update on our ever changing life!! On Monday, Lupe started work at his new job as the Culinary Manager at Winn Dixie. So far, he absolutely LOVES it, which makes me so happy! It is so worth the pay cut and even driving into Miami to receive his training- I keep telling myself this long drive (because we only have one vehicle) is temporary and will be worth it!
Funny thing is, a very sad thing also happened on Monday...I lost my job! It's funny because if I didn't laugh I would cry...and what good would that do. At our weekly meeting Monday afternoon, I knew as soon as I walked in something was up! Well, I was right when at the beginning of our meeting they informed us that with the rough economy the  business had taken a hit and they could no longer keep the doors open. So, as of November 30 I will no longer be employed and the doors to The Little Gym in Plantation will permanently close. It's tough! I really liked my job, I was really good at my job, it was close to home, had the flexibility I needed, my girls were able to take classes as often as they wish. I don't understand WHY, and wont try to! I learned a long time ago to "Trust when you don't understand", and doing anything else only brings a headache and a really bad mood! Keep me in your prayers as I begin the pursuit for the "right job"!
The other day, I was asked the question, "WHO are you Thankful for"? Well, the obvious of course- My Lord and Saviour, my Husband, my Children, my Family. I tried to think beyond that. and quickly thought of my Friends.
It's been almost a year since we left Texas. I began to remember the certain ones who carried us through that time. If I began to name names- I would forget someone and feel horrible! BUT, they know who they are! They talked to me and listen to me cry and yell, they sat in the middle of my floor packing boxes, they preoccupied and watched my children with no expectation of a return, they stayed VERY late and rose VERY early, they hugged me, and they loved me and mine!
Thinking of friends takes me back to January when we were looking for a new church. The very first service I went to at CCC, I read about a Bible Study for Moms. To be honest, I've never really done a Bible Study Group and do not like being vulnerable- which is what I felt as I stepped into a room of total strangers! It was SO God, He knew what I needed more than I did! I needed a group of women who were going to love me and expect nothing in return. No one judged me, no one eyed me up and down to see how "appropriate" I was/was not, they were not quizzing on how spiritual I was/was not. There were around 8 of us who began to "click". I KNOW that it was God ordained and God Orchestrated. Some of them I see often, some I see less often- but any of them I could call and they would stand with me and love me...THIS I know!
I remember when one of them called me because she felt a nudge to- and at that moment I was in a sinking pit- we talked and we prayed and I was okay...
I remember a friend calling..just because...
I remember many times of laughing that took me away from many distractions...
I remember a friend asked me to help and she began to uncover gifts again that I forgot I had...
I remember a friend listening over many cups of coffee and allowing me to listen...
I remember a friend offering to take my girls so I wouldn't feel rushed...
I remember a friend babysitting my girls ALL day with no expectations...
I remember a friend telling me I had made a difference...
I could "remember" forever...
There are times in my life that I have felt very alone, and that makes me even more Thankful to have REAL Godly friendships in my life. I have always felt that you earn the right to speak into peoples lives, and these friends have done that. Not because they had to work at it or pass a test, but because they love me unconditionally. They love me for who I am and accept me for who I am. These are friends who hold me accountable and allow me to do the same for them. They give me tough love at times and compassion the others, I can always trust them to make me laugh and to cry on their shoulders.
I am so Thankful for my Incredible Friends! (I wish had pics of all of them, believe me..but I don't!)

Monday, November 7, 2011

My Love for My Dining Room Table...

Our "Yard Sale Table & Chairs"
My Dining Room Table, that is what I am Thankful for today. Of course, I must tell the story.......
When we moved to Florida last year, we left our things in Texas until we found where we would be living. Once we found our apartment, it became quite clear that our large 10 seat dining room table was not going to fit our much smaller home. Besides the fact, it took us 2 weeks to get our furniture- another long story told in a previous post. So, when we moved in, the only furniture we had was our girls beds, and a couple of air mattresses- and at that point we did not know how long it would take to get the rest of our stuff.
Memories, Fruit Pizza at our Table
My wonderful husband got up early on that Saturday and decided he was going to a couple of yard sales to see what he could find. By the way, this is another little thing I love about Lupe- he knows it would just make it better. Well, he was successful- he first found a Yard Sale with one of those white plastic outdoor tables and 7 outdoor plastic chairs to match for $20. A couple of Yard Sales later, he found the table in my picture- an older, slightly warped marked up, wooden table for $10 (no chairs), and he knew that it would suit us better. (He also found a cushioned outdoor metal chair that we used in our living room until our furniture arrived)
Made Smoothies at Our Table
Once our furniture did arrive, we gave our huge table away and gratefully continued using our "bargain table" with the plastic yard chairs. Here we are 9 months later, and we still sit to our comfy "bargain table" for every meal. Sometimes, I look at it and wish for a prettier "matching" table- but most of the time I don't even notice the mismatched plastic chairs and all the scrapes and bubbles. I guess, I just appreciate a place for my family to sit together and have a meal. We could of used money to have bought a new one already, but I love the fact that we have used the little extra we've had a few times to create other memories and moments as a family.
Our "Former" Table Memories
I started "loving" my little table this past week when we've taking time to say and talk about what we are Thankful for- something my girls and us look forward to nowadays. I am SO thankful, my family has a little yard sale table to sit around in plastic chairs in our small cozy apartment eating a hot good meal TOGETHER! Looking back, there are many miracles that have brought us to today- I am beyond Thankful for the Grace of God that has sustained us.
Daddy's Birthday at Our Old Table
An update on Lupe's job: They have been having some "opportunities" getting some of the paperwork through, so it has pushed Lupe's start date to Nov. 12- which means no paycheck for 2 weeks when we are not at a place to go without one. On a positive note, Lupe has had a 2 week FULL vacation- that hasn't happened in a LONG time! I love that we have not panicked- but have more easily trusted God, believing He will make a way. Just today, at work we had to let someone go because of an unfortunate situation. As badly as that was for that person, my hours at work more than doubled. I am still learning Trust and Faith, but I am more convinced of it every day! God is SO good and so faithful!

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Teaching Thankfulness

It's November, and I've noticed on Facebook and Blogs, many expressing Thankfulness and Gratitude in posts and status updates. So, I started to think about the things I'm Thankful for, and also how to teach my girls that same thing. I decided, that as a family we could use our dinner time as an opportunity to learn about and express what we are thankful for and I would write it down in the journal that I keep and put it in a "Thankful Jar".
I also decided, I would use my Blog as an opportunity to share what I am Thankful for- and in doing so, I hope to change my heart and my mindset.
There are the obvious things- but also the most important things- that I am Thankful for. My family, my Parents, my Sister and Brothers and their Husband/Wives, my nieces and nephew, Aunts, Uncles, and Cousins.
Then of course, I am Thankful for my incredible Husband, Lupe, and my beautiful Daughters, Tenly and Gianna.
It is so easy to take family for granted sometimes. We often take our frustrations, bad moods, inadequacies, failures, tiredness, moodiness out on our families....the very people who love us most. It seems as if that is why we take our "stuff" out on them for that very reason- because we love them and they love us so much. I mean, they have to love us regardless of what we do/say/act, because they are family. But, that doesn't mean that we still have scard them with our words/actions/emotions.
I was watching Oprah's new show on the OWN Network last night (that's right, I watched Oprah- and learned something- don't judge me!!), and she was reflecting back on a show that she did with Toni Morrison. Toni Morrison was explaining about a life changing moment she had with her children. She was speaking of how she reacted when her children entered the room- she explained how often she was telling them to do something, change something, clean something, complete something. Then, one day she had the realization that she was lacking to celebrate them and was beginning to see a look of sadness/frustration on their faces because they were not being celebrated/validated.
It seems like such a simple thing- and really, it is! So, I know I'm not the only one who finds myself doing the very thing that Toni Morrison found herself doing. Not that our kids do not need to be reminded to do/clean/change/complete things- but can we at least celebrate them before we give them a list of instructions.
So, in being Thankful for my family, I find myself challenged to celebrate not only my children- but all of them! I'm doing this for myself- but also for my girls- I want to teach them how to appreciate their family and to celebrate them- the ones we see frequently and the ones we seldom see.