He is the one for me. He is the man who has stuck by my side since day one as my loving confidant, helpmate and best friend. He is the man who loves me, cherishes me, and tells me that I am beautiful. He loves me on my best days and he loves me on my worse days. He knows my past and has never belittled me nor made me feel inadequate. He is faithful, a man true to his word. I can count on his constant love and remain secure in his arms. He praises me in my accomplishments and encourages me in my failures. When I’m happy, his warm laughter melts my heart. When I’m sad or fearful, his gentle touch wipes away my tears.
I love you my husband. And I am proud to be your wife. I am truly grateful to the Lord for joining us together to share the remainder of our days. As we celebrate our twenty-eighth wedding anniversary, may our constant love nourish and sustain each other until the end of time.
So, I’ve been away from posting any new materials of late. One of the reasons is that I have been quite busy in my spare time, trying to translate my memoir chapters into Spanish. One of the hardest and most tedious tasks for me thus far. I couldn’t do it without the help and the reliance upon others. Initially, I sought the ‘professionals’ and their prices were sky-high, too rich for my blood. My reality check. I then requested help from family and friends, and even after telling me yes, are too busy and couldn’t commit.
Well, my son’s new girl in his life dove right in and is taking on the task. And recently, wouldn’t you know it, I have another friend and her mother looking over the chapters. I am far from being finished and know that I will have to find professional editing afterward. But I am up to the challenge.
So many sentences, chapters, and conversations across every page of my memoir come alive and I find myself reliving almost every word. I find myself touched and tears roll down my face. You see, it hits me – I’ve survived so much! Truly, God has been good to me; a constant and steadfastness in my unstabled life. God is the God of miracles.
“¡Respondeme!” Me dio una bofetada de revés. Vi estrellas.
The above quote is just a small picture of what once was … I will retell my story that others may know hope and about the God of second chances and new beginnings. If He can do it for me, He can certainly do it for you!
Retrospecting can be a good thing. Last year, Thanksgiving Day, I remember feeling sad and a bit irritated. The reason: we were not having our regular holiday family gathering due to the Covid Pandemic restrictions. My emotions floundered all over the place. I did my best to focus on the positive. I even wrote this message to my family and friends:
If I am to be honest, I’ve been bummed out for a couple of days, knowing I would be missing our traditional, family Thanksgiving Day celebration in our home, which has always filled my heart with so much joy. Instead, I must choose to focus on what I have and count my blessings, giving God the thanks and the glory for all in my life!
Even on my worst days, He loves me! I have known Him in the valley, I have known Him on the mountaintops. While I love being on the mountaintops, it was trudging in the valleys where I grew closest to my Lord, and where I learned that the God on the mountain is still God in the valleys.
I am thankful He has given me health, provision, shelter, a loving husband, beautiful family, and wonderful friends – He has made many dreams come to fruition.
I am a work in progress. Thank you, Lord, for not having given up on me, and I know You’re not finished with any of us yet.
HAPPY THANKSGIVING TO ALL MY FAMILY AND FRIENDS!!!
“In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thess 5:18
Jump over to the present:
I am happy to report that on this Thanksgiving Day, the day turned out to be special in so many ways. Yes, I am truly grateful for my loved ones. You see, while we celebrated the holiday with prayer, food, and fellowship, I glanced around the table, caressing my eyes over each face representing my family. And I realized, Mary, you’re not alone anymore. You see, as a kid growing up, I once felt alone and rejected. Matter of fact, I felt insignificant, always on the outside looking in. I had many insecurities and felt much like second-class. It wouldn’t be until many years later in my adulthood, that I experienced inner-healing and received a breakthrough in my personal life. So much so, I put my story to pen and paper and published my book, “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace.”
We did something different this year, thanks to my youngest daughter’s prompting. We each held a strip of paper of questions we took turns reading out loud and then answering. This was epic because the questions caused most of us to dig deep and open up with heartfelt answers.
As I listened to the different ones share, I felt my heart would burst with gratitude in hearing my children speak over me. I wasn’t prepared for this raw reaction, nor was I prepared for what I would say when my turn came. I found that I was able to share my heart with thankfulness and humility. I blessed each of my children and grandchildren and expressed to them what I appreciated about them. I blessed my husband for being the man that he was and, again, for accepting somebody else’s children by stepping up to the plate another man left on the table. And finally, I turned to my mom and expressed my undying love for her, no matter that our relationship is a complex one. I also asked her forgiveness for getting short with her, and I assured her that I will always be her little girl.
We are all flawed. But we can rise above stinking-thinking and look beyond ourselves. Take a look at others, really see them, and love on them. I thank the Lord for making all things new – His mercies are new every morning!
Celebrating the woman who gave birth to me. A mother and daughter’s relationship can be a complicated one. It’s true, we’ve been through some rough and challenging seasons throughout the years! But I loved her as a little girl then, and I love her as a woman now. If you want to know more, read the book, https://www.amazon.com/Running-Heels-Memoir-Grit-Grace/dp/1944952039.
To Mama: Always and forever I’ll be your little girl, and nothing will ever change that. Happy Birthday Mama! xoxoxoxo
I remember first holding you, so tiny in my arms.
Next thing I knew, you turned two, angelic, and quite a charm.
Your silhouette dancing in my dreams before my eyes –
Remembering your joy with my simple lullabies.
I imagine your eyes, your voice, your laughter,
Spending time together, nothing else mattered.
Thinking about you often before crawling in bed at night,
I loved you so much, never wanting you out of my sight.
I wish you could tell me what’s on your mind today?
What are the things you’re longing to say?
Would you have married a wonderful husband?
Live in a castle and have many children?
Oh, if only, if only, I could see you now,
I would run to you, hold you tight and twirl you around!
Oh, sister, there will always be a hole in my heart,
But I guess I knew that from the start.
If I still had you now to talk with, share secrets, laugh and cry
I would not be here now thinking: Why? Why did you have to die?
As we approach the anniversary of my baby sister’s life and death, what I have shared is very dear and personal to my heart. As my eyes mist with tears, I still feel my heart burn heavy from missing her! But please understand that I do NOT “blame” God for my sister’s death! Our God is Sovereign and I believe that He allows certain things to happen to us for His greater plan and purpose. (Isa. 57: 1). After all, His ways are higher than our ways.
Now, I’m not by any means a theologian, a preacher, or a Bible teacher. I’m just a layman, a simple woman of faith, with a finite mind trying to serve an Infinite God. I know that it rains on the just and unjust (Matt. 5:45); bad things do happen to good people.
If I am to be honest, I don’t always understand the mind of God. Howbeit, I purpose in my heart to trust Him! And if I am to be truthful, yes, till this day my heart does have a few unanswered questions. On occasions, in my journey of life I have meltdowns, wallow in self-pity, and find myself clouded by doubts and fears. However, because of His steadfast love and His unfathomable mercy for me, I thank God that I don’t have to remain in that state of mind!
You see, I am a work in progress.
In memory of my sister who prematurely passed away 53 years ago by a hit-and-run driver. (To learn more of her story, click here.) She would have been ten years older than my first-born daughter! I had to say goodbye to my little sister when I was nine, just a month after she turned two years old. I remember so much pain and suffering as a child back then. In retrospect, I believe God may have spared her from something worse. I look forward to the Blessed Hope that some day we will embrace one another once again. She will not return to me, but I will go to her one day. (II Sam 12:23). And we will NEVER have to be apart.
By 2001, I had worked two years for a reputable high-end carpet cleaning company. I started out as a receptionist, and then promoted to inside sales. I sported around in a Jeep Grand Cherokee and I’d been married for seven wonderful years. Mark had become a devoted Christian, and we attended church as a close-knit family. In April, we purchased our home southwest of Houston in Fort Bend County. Five months later, while driving to work, my tranquil life was interrupted by distress and unexpected terror.
On September 11th, around 7:50 in the morning, I heard on the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As soon as I arrived at the office, I flicked on the TV to see the live broadcast of a massive hole in one tower caused by the plane’s impact. Co-workers gathered around and we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the screen. Black smoke billowed out the building, soon engulfed by flames.
We heard what we didn’t want to hear and continued to see unbelievable images that will forever be etched in our minds. My heart plummeted as I saw a second plane hit the other tower. Buildings collapsed minutes later and we all gasped in horror knowing that hundreds—thousands—lost their lives.
That night, President Bush spoke powerful words: “Freedom itself was attacked this morning by a faceless coward, and freedom will be defended.”
Freedom isn’t free, I thought, and freedom is worth any cost.
Not just sometimes, but a lot more than I care to admit.
I am not a soft-spoken person. I don’t know how to be, nor have I ever been. Matter of fact, I specifically recall several years ago when I went up for prayer due to my terrible marriage because of my terrible husband, who constantly caused me grief and undue stress, that this little prayer warrior woman looked up at me square in the eyes and said, “Learn to keep your mouth shut. It would hold you in good stead.”
As I think back, there had only been one soft-spoken and genteel person in our family, and that was my maternal grandma. Mama sure wasn’t … and still isn’t. My daughters, too, all have loud voices. We have a tendency to spout out. When my grandson was small, listening to us three talking up a storm, like we normally do, he made an observation and commented how “extra” we were. Haha. I wish I can say it’s a Nuyorican thing (Puerto Rican born in New York), but I’m not so sure I can get away with that.
So amidst the clatter and the sounding of clucking hens–especially when we women folk get together (you should hear my aunts in the same room); in my alone and quiet time, I want to be still and hear God’s voice.
Amid the chaos, I need His peace that surpasses all my understanding. I need His strength when I am weak. I desire His guidance and wisdom to flood my soul and take over. You know how it is: Jesus, take the wheel! Help me to be the woman you have called me to be. Give me understanding beyond my comprehension. I want grace seasoned over my words and soft answers poured over others, even within my own family. In times of frustration, confusion, and ruckus – we need to remember that God is not the Author of confusion but of peace.
I don’t know about you but I’ve been bombarded with challenges and distractions of late. And you know what? Today is my birthday! So I received a birthday card from Mama and the words on the envelope addressed to me, leaped out and touched me to the core of my being. I just stared at the words … and wept. You have to know that Mama isn’t big on giving compliments or speaking platitudes. But these words spoke volume. Our mother-daughter relationship is a complicated one. Yet here she was telling me in the best way she knew, that she loved me. Yes, people, we need to count our blessings.
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in pictures of silver. (Proverbs 25:11).
Ok, never too old to learn, I’m still working on this!
Expect nothing… Just keep an open heart and an open mind.
Once in Florida with the idea of visiting my dad, Mark and I had also planned on driving a couple of hours to Tampa to finally see his biological son, Marshil, who he hadn’t seen since he was a small boy. Mark remained deep in thought and I could only imagine full of nerves. I pulled a sneaky, going along with Mark’s plan to drive to Tampa, all the while secretly scheming a different one. When I initially informed Marshil that we were going to be in Kissimmee on Father’s Day week, surprisingly, he told me that he, too, was going to be in Kissimmee for a couple of days that week to attend a concert. When I asked Marshil if he had mentioned this to Mark and he said no, I suggested for him to keep it that way. So together, we decided to spring a surprise reunion on Mark.
The big night finally arrived, the meet-up place was at a nice steak joint. Mark was none the wiser. He thought it was just a date night for us as we were to head out to Tampa the next day. Later, when Mark came out of the restroom, there stood Marshil right in front of him saying hello. They embraced and for a moment … time stood still.
Someone said: It is not flesh and blood but the heart which makes us fathers and sons.
As I pensively sat and observed father and son’s mannerisms while listening to their conversation, I was amazed and touched by the connection transpiring right before my eyes. While I think it’s true to say, we expect nothing and hope for the best, my deepest hope and prayer is that these two men, so much alike, would not only reconnect but regain some of those years gone by. Neither one has had an easy life; many filled with pain, discouragement, and regrets with some hard lessons in tow.
Sometime later, I asked my hubby what was his takeaway in meeting Marshil. His answer with misty eyes, “I really like him! And he doesn’t hate me!”
I’ve read that every man is trying to either live up to his father’s expectations or make up for his father’s mistakes. I don’t know how much of that is true. I only know that these two men have strong work ethics, are likable, lovable, loyal (mixed with a little craziness), and have a record of being a number one, devoted step-dad.
“You can’t go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending.” C.S. Lewis
Today the dam was broken. The tide has turned. The waters shifted.
Only God can heal and transform hearts. While it’s true we don’t know what the future holds, I know Who holds our future. I’m giving it all to God to let Him work out the details with all of my concerns, uncertainties, and troubles. He’s a lot better at holding things together than I am anyway. Thank you, Lord, for being the Author and Finisher of my faith!
Here’s to second chances and new beginnings! We all look forward to spending more quality time together with meaningful conversations in the coming days, months, and years ahead.
This past Father’s Day week was filled with anticipation of renewal and adventure. With the ongoing planning, came lots of prayers and nerves into the unknown.
Let me explain …
As more and more Covid mandates lifted regarding the wearing of masks and social distancing, etc., people were beginning to venture out once again and do some traveling. It was decided that my husband and I would fly to Florida for a one-week vacation. Finally, I was going to be with my dad and celebrate Father’s Day with him. I connected with my sister and she made all of the meeting arrangements.
They said Daddy was in the beginning stages of dementia. My concerns were many … the main one being: will Daddy remember me? Oh, how I prayed that he would!
In Kissimmee, we met up at an outdoor market, and when I walked up to Daddy, the familiar twinkle in his eyes met me and those eyes still sparkled! We hugged and kissed. Yes, he remembered me! Later when we embraced for a bit longer, I took his beautiful face all in and my tears started falling. He hugged me and looked me in the eye and asked, “Why are you crying?”
I cried because I love him. I cried because God is good and granted me another tender moment with my dad, forever imprinted in my heart. I cried because I miss my daddy. I cried because he is getting older and frail and I didn’t ever want him to forget me. I cried because we live in another state and I couldn’t always be by his side. I cried because I was grateful that I got to know him after he and my mom separated when I was 3 and divorced by the time I was 6. I cried because I knew he wouldn’t always be around for us to visit. I cried because of the dreaded impended reality of a child one day having to say goodbye to their parent. Forever.
Daddy, if you could see yourself through my eyes, you would then know how truly special you are to me. And I am grateful for our time together.
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