Different, from the outside in…

I’ve come to realize that

God made me different

I’m not the same

not the socialite queen

not the buzzing friend machine

just me

different than the rest

on the outside and

on the in

programmed to LOVE, LOVE, LOVE

forgive quickly

and forget the hurts

you may not know me,

but I’m here to stay

gonna serve my Lord from now

until my dying day

gonna write

gonna draw

gonna paint

gonna sing

gonna dance

gonna love

Cause this is me 

this is who I am

God made me different

in Him I’ll never be the same


Worship like a tree…

palm trees swaying

strong roots

outstretched branches

ready to receive

Withstanding sun

Torrential rain

Never changing posture

Bending towards the sun

Reaching eternally towards Heaven

Embracing seasons changes with grace

Words

Did you ever realize that there can be SO much in a word? I mean really a lot… Wanted to drop one here to turn over in your mouths, minds, and hearts for a minute

Heredity

There’s so much that can be passed down to us and that we can pass down to our own children.  Most often people think of illness or body shapes, size, appearance when they think of heredity.  But there is so much more that we can pass down to our children than has been captured by science…

  • blessings
  • gifts
  • love
  • disposition
  • sense of humor
  • intelligence
  • traits
  • curses
  • bad habits
  • fears
It’s almost like this invisible supernatural chain that links us to one another, genetically intertwining us.  Just let that word sit in your mouth for a moment.  Say it out loud, let your breath free around it.  What mysteries/ plans are in it for you?  What has been passed down to you?  What have you passed down to your children or what do you stand to pass down to them?
Heredity

Changing my WALK…

1 of 2 Two delightful girls give thumbs up - R...

this isn't me jogging... but it's pretty cool anyhow

A SILENT KILLER

Depression can kill you.  Seriously, it can literally kill you.  Not only will you feel like death but you could potentially die.  Depression at its worst can lead to suicide, which takes about 850,000 lives per year according to the World Health Organization[i].  For young people, ages 15 to 24, suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death.  [ii]However, outside of the most evident cause of death for depression (suicide), depression itself can also lead to other physical conditions that can cause death including cardiovascular disease among others.

I was actually surprised when watching a recent episode of Dr. G the Medical Examiner[iii], a young man was in good health and fell into a depression after his separation from his wife and child.  The knowledge that he wouldn’t be in his little girl’s life spiraled him down into such a pit of despair that he rarely moved from his bed, choosing to languish instead.  Eventually because of his non-movement, all of his organs began to slow down.  This sluggishness caused his bowels to eventually become completely impacted.  This impaction of fecal matter caused a leaking of e-coli into his blood stream, causing an infection that quickly killed him.

Yes, he died because he let himself wallow in misery a little too long and actually became full of crap?? Well, in a nut shell, yes.  Hard to believe, but true.

MY WALK ALONG DEATH’S DOOR

You may not know this but I know firsthand about depression and have battled with it off and on during my life.   I don’t know when it first began, but I have a self-portrait that I painted in high school and it’s me with blue skin to represent the pain that I felt inside.  I think the piece was supposed to be similar to Dali’s style and I actually have a scale floating behind me and a school and a ball and chain.  But somehow, I’ve always gotten the depression to subside for a bit.

It’d actually been about 4 years since my last bout of depression.  But God in his sovereignty, allowed me to revisit those days ever so briefly recently.  One of the things that became clear to me as Jesus pulled me out of the hole of despair, was that I had to take a look at the things that I had been doing that let me trip and fall into the hole in the first place.  I had to ask myself what was going on with my body physically.  What pieces/factors from that could have been contributing to the emotions that caused my tumble and then enabled me to stay down there?

And I knew the exact answer to that question.  For months, I had fallen into a slump of eating poorly and basically not exercising.  Those things had been pushed down so far on my priority list that they didn’t make the list at all.  As a result, I’d gained close to 20 lbs.  Yes, 20 pounds.  And although the weight bothered me a little, I was so wrapped in other things in my life, all good things like God and my family, that it didn’t really bother me that much.  The issue that really had me down was my skin.  My skin was worse than it had been during my teen years.  And just a step shy of all over facial breakout like the time I used a facial moisturizer that I had an allergy to and developed acne worthy of a PROACTIVE commercial.

About a year ago this time, I was very active in the gym, but I stopped that when my daughter began to give me too hard of a time when going to the gym child care center.

CHANGING MY WALK

It was a bit of a smack in the face to realize that the very same things that I had been putting in my mouth had caused my grief.  And I could point the finger of blame only at myself in the mirror.  I did this to myself.  And I said, enough.  I decided that I had to cut certain things out of my diet for a while until my skin was back on track and I lost a little weight… most dairy, sugar, carbohydrates, candy, soda, juice, and a few other things.  If I had to have coffee every day, then it’s not going to be this pleasurable experience or phenomenon that I had let it become – coffee with milk, sugar and bread dragging out the cup to the last drop.  No more, my body is a Temple of the Holy Spirit and deserves to be treated with that level of respect.

So I’m making changes in my life.  But this time around I’m so excited because I have God in my life that will support me through this life change.  Not through this temporary weight loss until I get to go on my trip with the girls to South Beach or whatever… No this time, it’s for my physical, spiritual, and emotional health.  And not only do I have God, but one of my wonderful friends, Paula, comes with me to the gym about 4 times a week!  So I’m working out again!  And, to top it off, a few of the women from my church are actively changing their eating lifestyle as well.  And blogging about it too!
I’ll continue to update you all from time to time on my progress, I won’t promise daily updates.  But tag along with me for the ride.  And please encourage me, I need all the uplifting I can get along the way!  Thanks as always for stopping and taking a glimpse into my soul… Have a blessed one!

[i] World Health Organization statistics on depression – http://www.who.int/mental_health/management/depression/definition/en/index.html

Is Chivalry Dead?

Kick me (Explored)

Yes, the feminists killed it. Then they came back and kicked in the stomach to make sure it was really dead before they walked away empowered.

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Suffer not the little children…

The Painting entitled "Jesus Blessing the...

Image via Wikipedia

Yesterday was Eric’s Confirmation.  One of the seven sacraments that are given to Catholics during life and the final one that you receive as a child.  Him receiving the sacrament was something that I was on the fence about because we’re Christians now.  Not Catholics.  And I want Eric to embrace that, real raw worship of God, not rituals and traditions rooted in the antiquated that make it hard to find God hidden behind them.  And make God feel unobtainable, like this entity far off in the cosmos somewhere watching us on and off with feigned interest.  No, that’s not what God is, He is so much larger and bigger than what I had ever imagined and so much more personal too, attached and interested in each of us genuinely.  Not like an acquaintance that you meet and you small talk with, no He doesn’t want that.   He wants us to talk to Him and be REAL with Him because he’s walked our walks with us.  He’s counted every tear that has every fallen from our cheeks, and knows us so intimately that he knows how many hairs we have on our heads.  Yes, he loves us THAT much!

So, Confirmation, the receiving of the gift of the Holy Spirit, in this reserved ceremony seemed so strange and ritualistic almost to me now.  But as Eric was kind enough to point out to his brother when he told him “why are you doing that? We’re not Catholic!  We’re Christians now”  He simply responded “well I’m HALF-Catholic!”  Okay.  And in honor of the half of him that was Catholic, we acquiesed.  The Holy Spirit is the Holy Spirit after all.  And if my son is going to receive a touch of God in any form, then I’m all for it.  Even if that touch comes from an old religion that’s struggling to keep up with modern times and modern issues and challenges.  It almost seems like a an old pressed leaf between the pages of a book that you find after years.  Still clinging to life but really just stuck between two worlds – life and death.

Anyhow, it struck me while I was there, most people that were there had forgotten the old routines of when to sit, stand and kneel.  The priests had to remind everyone of what was to take place next.  That spoke of how often everyone who sat in the pews had been there over the past few months and years… often enough that the hands of time had worn away the traditions that were supposed to have been etched in their minds.

I was also amazed by the high level of distractability of everyone in the church.  Anytime there was a noise (most  often made by a child), about 10 or 20 people would turn their heads to see where the noise came from and glare at the noisy offender, annoyed that they had imposed on their silent glazed self-controlled obedience…

Now if at anytime you find yourself so distracted by little things, one would think it might be time to search your own heart.  What’s going on that your giving the sound of a pew falling or  little feet walking a higher place than God?  Question yourself!  Why are you so quick to turn and judge the child and the parents instead of judging yourself??  Now, this actually has nothing to do with my own children but a man who was seated in front of us with his small 3 year old son.  With every glare, he would turn red and look at his own son with anger.  And his poor little son was pretty well behaved considering the circumstances.

It amazed me though that after YEARS, the same thing is still going on.  I remember every Sunday after mass when I was small getting spanked for having turned around to look at the people behind us and disrupting the mass.  But the Catholic Church has never embraced any sort of children’s church, they always wanted children in service with parents, and the poor parents have to suffer through service trying to feel God’s presence and keep their children as still as if they were immobilized statues without voices, impossible for children.

Now let’s think for a moment, if the adults that kept turning to pay attention to noises were a child in the present day classrooms and displayed that same high level of distractability… what would that lead to??  They could very well be labeled ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) and be drugged to become focused.  So my question is… does the problem lie with the child who’s behaving normally or the adult who’s behaving distractedly??  How much of the expectations that we are placing on children today are valid??  And how much of those same expectations that you uphold for others children were YOU able to uphold as a child OR did you have your own children uphold??

Now let’s stop for a moment to look at what the Great Teacher, Jesus, had to say about children…

Then the little children were brought to Jesus for Him to place his hands on them and pray for them.  But the disciples rebuked those who brought them.  Jesus said “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to such as these.”  When he had placed his hands on them, he went on from there.  –Matthew 19:13-14

Yes, Jesus stopped and prayed for EACH and EVERY child before he moved forward.  Little children are THAT important to him.  Praise God!  So all of you who are seeking the Kingdom of God, for eternal savation, who basically don’t want to go to Hell until the end of time, you must first make yourself like a child to gain that entry.  So don’t think yourself better than the child or the parent who’s there seeking the same thing you are but sit and marvel at them!  Be in awe of their honest sweet innocence.  LEARN from them!  Pray to God to give you what they have – a childlike heart in love, a childlike heart in faith, a childlike heart in forgiveness.  What is different about how a child loves in comparison to how an adult loves?  What’s different about how a child forgives to how an adult forgives?  And what’s different about how a child has faith, how they BELIEVE versus how an adult believes??

Do you get it now?  Yes, you too, have a few good things that you stand to gain by observing and learning from a child.  And above all else, keep your eyes on God, during service, when praying and even in life in general.  Don’t let little distractions pull you away from YOUR portion.  What is God trying to give and bless you with right now that you are too distracted to notice??

Father God, I just pray right now for us to keep our eyes on you in all things Lord.  And when distractions are wonderful blessings from Heaven, instead of judging, let us be soft hearted Lord!  Remove the callouses that the world has placed on our hearts and give us YOUR heart!  YOUR eyes to see.  We love you Lord.  Help us to seek you every day.  Increase us Lord.  Increase our hearts to love without conditions like children.  Increase our faith to believe like children without science, facts and proof.  Increase our capacity to forgive our hurts Lord without making others jump through hoops and over mountains and hills to EARN forgiveness.  Let us forgive even when its not warranted or deserved to be closer to YOU Lord.  All this I pray and more in JESUS NAME.  Amen.

 

Thanksgiving lessons from my 6 year old

Cranberry sauce from a can, sliced.

Cranberry sauce from a can, sliced.

Today is the last day of the Thanksgiving can drive he said

His eyes stared up at mine questioning and hopeful, expecting

I had 6 cans of the stuff we never eat ready to go. 

Cranberry sauce, gelatinous glop, I had never liked the stuff and I never serve it.  But somehow about 6 cans of it had made its way into my cabinets.

But Cranberry sauce wasn’t enough he said.   He didn’t want to take the same thing. He wanted some different stuff, some good stuff. 

He opened the cabinet and pulled out green beans, corn and raviolis.  And inside I panicked.  But that’s our food.  That’s for us. 

Times have been really tight and with 3 kids I don’t want to give away cans of food we can eat to anonymous families.  We can use that food.  We can eat that stuff.

But he’s only 6, so he doesn’t understand the food math that Mami is quickly calculating in her brain.  And he drops them into his bag.

I swallowed my fear and let it go.

It’s thanksgiving after all.  Isn’t that what it’s all about, giving? And being thankful that you have been blessed to receive and to give?

We walked to the bus stop this morning, me carrying hot cocoa in one hand for my darling and his bag of 6 cans in my other hand.

Dark night about to be broken by day filled the sky.

Soft mist swirled about the grass on the park.

Chris looked at the sky and pointed at something he saw “what’s that white light Mami?”

“It’s a star honey.”  The only star that you could see through the smog of the city.  Cause there really aren’t stars in the night sky in Philly anymore. 

Star light star bright

First star I see tonight

I wish I may I wish I might…

There’s not much wishing on stars in Philly anymore.  Not much at all.

But this morning, we saw the one and only, the star of hope.  And I just felt blessed.

And suddenly the anonymous family became a real family in my mind.  A single mother that had less food in her cabinets then me.  And would be so happy for the cans of real food that Chris gave with such an open heart.  I could picture the mother feeling peace come into her heart as she knew her babies wouldn’t go hungry that day.

The bus came and picked up my little bundle of love.  And I walked home with prayers of thanks on my lips, that I would never want to keep my pantry overfilled at the expense of someone else.

Give us today our daily bread. 

And let me not try to store food like a squirrel, but give openly and in my giving have faith that I will receive, that God will provide, just as He provided what was on my shelves to begin with.

 

Halloween Hesitations…

To dress up or not to dress up? That is the question…

Happy Hoosier Halloween

Halloween has always been one of, if not my favorite holiday of the year. A time to get dressed up and be different even if it’s only for a few hours and get candy. What could ever be wrong with that? I’d heard some people tell me that they didn’t celebrate Halloween and I thought it oddly fanatical and strange. I mean we didn’t actually turn into real witches, or ghouls or monsters, or whatever we were dressed as on Halloween … we just pretended to be whatever it was for a few hours. I never liked the idea of having my children dress up as devils, so we had never taken it that far… but then this year something changed…

This year in fact, has been a year of tremendous change for me. It’s the year that I found God really. Well, I shouldn’t say found Him, as if He had been lost for all of my life and I just completed a maze and received a God prize. No, it’s almost like for the first time in my life, I’ve taken my blindfold off and I can see Him so clearly now. Even when I look back on my life, I can see Him and how He’s always been here for me. Where before I felt so lost and alone and confused and aimless, now I see He’s been here all along, guiding my steps, holding my hand, picking me up when I fell, even dropping blessings on me that I didn’t even deserve.

And now that film has been lifted from my eyes, everything looks different, everything sounds different even. Music that I used to listen to, doesn’t sound the same. Shows that I used to watch on tv, disturb me. And now Halloween just makes me think… what really are we celebrating?? What is the purpose of celebrating the dark things of this world? The things that cause destruction and turmoil in the lives of so many?? Why should I and my family essentially glorify them?? I’m here to glorify God now.

So I decided this year would be different. We will not stop celebrating Halloween, my kids could never understand that. We will still give out candy, and go trick-or-treating. We will dress up. But this year will be a “positive” Halloween. We will not dress up as any scary ghouls or monsters or goblins. I wanted us to only dress as positive things for Halloween. And decorations, just never really happened this year. I have decorations in the basement but I just didn’t pull them out.

But all in all, I feel much better about embracing the holiday in the manner that we are. Next year, when I have even more time to really think about this topic, I’m going to come up with different ways for us to really celebrate Halloween while continuing to stay true to our beliefs. This year, it’s just the beginning of bigger and brighter Halloween celebrations to come…
 

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Everything but the kitchen sink

So today the kitchen sink and water were finally reconnected in my kitchen!  After almost TWO weeks of having no water in the kitchen because of the installation of granite and a new sink (and problems that cropped up with it)… but now it’s up and working again. 

And I’ve never been happier to wash dishes in my sink!  It’s crazy because washing dishes was always up there on my top 5 most disliked chores — right behind cleaning the bathroom.  But today is a new day!  It’s this amazing feeling to wash dishes in my new huge sink.  I think I might never use my dishwasher again. 🙂

So next week the backsplash goes up, followed by the new floors and then shortly there after the new kitchen table and chairs should arrive.   I’ll follow up with pictures later for all of my curious readers.  Maybe I’ll include one of myself with my apron on washing dishes too just for fun! 😉

The Memory HOARDER…

So many of you know me, may already know my favorite channel – HGTV.  I love to watch as people’s homes start out in one state and in the span of 30 minutes becomes something completely different – warm, inviting, appealing.  And it’s no secret to all of you that I try and do a lot of those things on my own here at home.  But recently I’ve found that there’s another channel, or should I say 1 show in particular that’s been drawing me away from HGTV.  This isn’t American Idol so I’ll cut right to the chase, no cutting to commercial now.  It’s A&E ‘s HOARDERS. 

Hoarders

Image via Wikipedia

Yes, HOARDERS.  Yuck.  Even the sound of the name is repulsive.  But there’s something about the show that compels me and draws me in.  Sometimes the people looked really mentally off.  But sometimes they are remarkably lucent and yet still have trouble letting go of things.  Although the things are so piled high in their homes that they have to create little footpaths to get through.  Relatives will fall and break arms or legs and yet the clutter, the mountains of things remain. 

pathway in a hoarder's home

Their inability to let the things go really confuses me.  I mean if it came down to one of my children or a photo album from my childhood, that photo album would be history.  These people make connections to things.  And those things instantly will transport them in their mind to that time/place in their memories when they experienced something wonderful.  An empty old wooden basket reminded one woman of her father.  And although it was not from her childhood.  She didn’t want to part with it.

As much as I might not want to admit it, as much as we all might not want to admit it.  We all have a little HOARDER somewhere in us.  I distinctly remember the first time it dawned on me that there was a little piece of a hoarder in me.  Another   I was watching an episode and the counselor was talking to one homeown about reducing her collection of jelly jars.  Which caused a huge issue for her.  She didn’t want to part with any of them.  And in my mind as I watched her dilemma, instantly a picture of my own collection of jelly jars that sat on top of the fridge flashed in my mind.  Needless to say, I placed all the jars in the recycle bin that day. 

Me rocking Christopher in the rocking chair when he was a baby

But we all have things in our lives that at times can transport us to memories.  The nursery rocking chair that has temporarily become my computer desk chair for one.  I sat in it yesterday and just rocked for a moment and closed my eyes.  And I was transported back to nights awake alone with my children.  Breastfeeding, changing pampers, baby lotion, soft skin, falling asleep sitting up with the baby asleep in my arms.  And for that moment, I thought, I’m never going to get rid of this ratty old rocker. 

embracing what's to come...

But then I remembered, my memories will always be  there.  A rocker won’t solidify them anymore.  And if I crowd my mind with memories of the past, who could really embrace the wonderful present and the even more wonderful future?

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