Confession of a Daughter

I still get jealous.

I confess.

After all this time, it pains me to admit this, but it’s true. Whenever I hear other’s express their close bond that they have with their mothers, I marvel how grand that must be!

And it stings.

Mama used to say: “You can have ten fathers but only one mother.”

I heard that line growing up and believed it. After my parents divorced, I had three different step-dads. In my young state of mind, I didn’t want to share my mama — she wasn’t married to any of them. I wanted us to be by ourselves. But Mama was too busy for me. I’m sure she did the best she could, but nurturing wasn’t in her DNA. Left on my own a great deal, I was a neglected child.

Loneliness was my middle name.

At age nine, once we moved to Florida, my grandma was more like a mother to me. I knew then what a mother’s love felt like and it just wasn’t the same as Mama’s. Not long after my daddy remarried, during visitations, my stepmother loved and welcomed me with opened arms. I felt special in her eyes. With Mama, sometimes I felt she didn’t even see me because she was so preoccupied. As I became older, bitterness festered and I wasn’t necessarily a role model teenager either. I just couldn’t wait to leave home and do better than Mama, in search of love. I fell flat on my face. But I learned some things.

I learned Mama was a prisoner in her own mind, but she did the best she knew to do. She felt I was always matured for my age, never realizing how much I needed her. I haven’t stopped loving Mama. I loved her then and I certainly love her now. But because I had no choice but to grow up too fast, our roles have always felt reversed.  Most of the time, I’ve felt like I was the mother.

The miles separate, the years have passed, Mama and I have since aged. I can look back and forgive my past; it has made me who I am today. I’ve had to learn to forgive Mama a hundred times over, whose harshness and demeanor become more passive and feeble with time. I must show her kindness and love. No she’s not perfect, but neither am I.

Today, I am someone’s mother and grandmother. I pray that my own loved ones will always feel my love, even when we don’t agree.

No matter what.

It takes work. Patience. Prayer.

And much forgiveness.

As for Mama and I: Our communication skills remain much to be desired. I’ll keep working at it.

Mother’s Day is around the corner. It has always been so complicated for me in choosing the right Mother’s Day card. Once again, I find myself putting the cards back on the shelf in search for the one that describes Mama perfectly.

I think I’ll continue to write one for her myself:14572937_10211331684595701_5234886440039336664_n

To my one and only Mama.

I loved you then.

I love you now.

No matter what.

Love always, still your little girl.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Mother's Day, Mother/Daughter

To “Let Go”

To let go doesn’t mean to stop caring,
it means that I can’t do it for someone else.

To let go is not to cut myself off,
it’s the realization that I can’t control another.

To let go is not to enable,
but to allow learning from natural consequences.

To let go is to admit powerlessness,
which means the outcome is not in my hands.

To let go is not to try to change or blame another,
I can only change myself.

To let go is not to care for,
but to care about.

To let go is not to fix,
but to be supportive.

To let go is not to judge,
but to allow another to be a human being.

To let go is not to be in the middle arranging all the outcomes,
but to allow others to affect their own destinies.

To let go as not to be protective,
it is to permit another to face reality.

To let go is not to deny, but to accept.

To let go is not to nag, scold or argue,
but to search out my own shortcomings and correct them.

To let go is not to adjust everything to my desires,
but to take each day as it comes, and cherish the moment.

To let go is not to criticize and regulate anyone,
but to try to become what I dream I can be.

To let go is not to regret the past,
but to grow and live for the future.

To let go is to feel less and to love more.

~ Author Unknown
(credited in ‘The Grace Awakening’ by Charles R. Swindoll)

letting-go

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Filed under How to "Let Go", Overcoming Adversity, Perseverance, poetry

Sunday’s a Coming!

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Dance with Me

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Well, here we are! It’s hard to fathom that we’ve reached our 23rd year. It’s been an amazing ride!

From the beginning, I knew I could rely on him. For the first time, I didn’t have to face my struggles alone. When he vowed in becoming my soul-mate, he stood up to the plate in becoming a loving daddy to my four children. Although the roads have been bumpy, the ride has been exhilarating.

The route may not always be smooth, but the pathway is attainable because of his steadfastness. With every twist and turn, I find strength while learning to lean on his shoulders. In his arms, there is shelter in the midst of the rainstorms and warmth from the frigid winds.

He may not be perfect, but he’s the perfect one for me

Babe, thank you for choosing me. You believed in me before I believed in myself.  I want to thank you, for all the years by my side. Your laughter is music to my ears. When I look at you, I see the love in your eyes still twinkling … for me.

You are my safe place. I am not afraid to be me when I am with you.

Thank you for your sincere compliments, and for making me laugh (yes, I still laugh at his jokes). Thank you for putting a spring in my step, even when I throw my back out on occasion. Thank you for caring deeply whenever I’m sad, discouraged, or unsure.

I still want to curl up with you, with your hairy legs wrapped around my legs. I enjoy your gentle hugs, warm embraces and sweet kisses — even the ones on my head.

I thank God for making us one, knowing that together we will weather the storms.

I pray that God will grant us many more years in making more memories. I appreciate you, admire you, and love you more today than I did yesterday.

May I have this dance for the rest of our lives?

 

 

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Valiant Blogger Award

Although I have a full 45 hour-week work schedule, along with juggling in being a wife, mother and a grandmother who does monthly weekend road trips, marketing and promoting my published memoir, I do my best to continue blogging and working on other writing projects in between. I have enjoyed the process and taking you all along with me.

I would like to thank one of my faithful follower and fan for nominating me for The Valiant Blogger Award. I am both grateful and humbled by her nomination. Cheri is a gifted writer and a courageous survivor in her own right. You should visit Cheri’s blog at Joyously Hopeful. Her hope in the face of life’s many challenges, her persistence and her faithfulness in the midst of it all exemplifies a lioness heart!


The Valiant Blogger Award is for the blogger who is brave and courageous. It is dedicated to someone who, despite being faced with the most difficult obstacles in life, chooses to fight on and never give up. It is for the lionhearted, one who faces fears and challenges, who has become an inspiration to so many along the way.

RULES:
1. Post the award on your blog.
2. Provide a link to the Hall of Valor.
3. In 200 words or less, share about the greatest challenge in your life and HOW you got through it.
4. Give one piece of advice to people who are struggling with something in their life.
5. Thank the person who nominated you, and nominate a new blogger for the award.


An intro about me:

Even before attempting to blog, I had begun to write about my childhood journeys on into my adulthood. At first I thought it would be for my kids’ eyes only. But after being told that I had a story worth sharing so that others may hear and become inspired, I began to think outside the box. I believe doors open in God’s perfect timing as He puts the right people in your path. Me publishing my memoir two years ago is a dream fulfilled.

I share my story that I might inspire and encourage others to find their own strength and to overcome bitterness through accepting God’s grace. That was the key to my freedom from a cycle of poverty and abuse, and if my story helps someone else understand the power of forgiveness to purchase liberty, then I’ve accomplished my mission.

Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace” is more than a memoir. It is a promise of hope and survival to anyone who woke up hungry and went to bed hungrier every day, for anyone who was abandoned as a child or an adult, for every wife who has loved a husband who left bruises on her heart and on her body.


My Greatest Challenge

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My greatest challenge in life was finding my self-worth. I struggled with low self-esteem, and still fight it on occasion.  I was not born with a silver spoon in my mouth. I grew up in an impoverished home and was a high school drop out. I fell in love with a ruthless man twice my age, married, and the babies came while I was still so young.

When you’re going through struggles, you sometimes feel like you’re all alone. The pain is real. The hurt feels as though your insides will burst, and in your brokenness you feel hopeless, like there will never be an end. Instead of reaching out, you become a shut-in. Sometimes you medicate yourself with alcohol, drugs, or even food. You feel like all hope is lost and no one cares. Sometimes you keep your struggles to yourself because you are too ashamed of your pain.


One Piece of Advice

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You don’t have to be a product of your environment. You can rise above the ashes and become stronger than any storm that tried to take the wind out of your sail. Your yesterday does not define your today. Never forget that God is a God of second chances and new beginnings, bringing hope to the hopeless and forgiveness to the inexcusable. You don’t have to remain a victim, alone or afraid.

You may be a mess today, but your mess can turn into a message of hope, survival and forgiveness.


I nominate:

Karin Lynn-Hill, FOGwalkerBirdie, a charming and uplifting blogger and author. She is a breath of fresh air who continually presses through, counting it all joy and giving God all the glory! Karin is the author of several devotional books. Here are some to name a few:

Psalm 119 – A Deeper Look: An In-Depth Bible Study & Interactive Journal
Forgiveness: An Act of Obedience
Walking and Living Joyfully: Discovering True Joy

Look for them on  Amazon!   https://www.amazon.com/Karin-Lynn-Hill/e/B01KKHXOQO/

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Mediocrity

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I recently read about the curse of mediocrity … this so resonated with me! Truth be told, sometimes I just don’t feel right within myself, I can’t put my finger on it other than I know there really is no one else to blame. Ever have that “meh” feeling? Just want to veg out and chill and do nothing? Your mojo is gone! You say like Scarlett, “I’ll think about that tomorrow.”

I came across this poignant read in my devotions from Zig Ziglar and Dr. Ike Reighard in “The One Year Daily Insights.”

“Do you ever feel as if you’re going through the motions? Some of us, for any number of reasons, have lost our passion for work, God, our families, and everything else in our lives. We drag ourselves in after a long day and collapse on the sofa only to tune out in front of the television. We no longer want to change the world. The most we can muster is changing the channel.”

“Even if the stress levels in our lives are only slightly above optimum, our minds, hearts, and bodies eventually wear down, and all forms of energy in our lives dissipate. We used to be excited about this goal or that purpose, but no longer. We used to care deeply about this person or that cause, but not anymore. All we want is to be left alone or to find somebody or something that will give us a few moments’ pleasure. The curse of mediocrity ruins us and everyone we touch.”

“If your heart is lukewarm, step back, take stock of your stress level, notice any negative habits you’ve allowed to develop—and make changes. Don’t settle for mediocrity any longer, but don’t just add more activity to your life. To become fully alive again, you may have to eliminate even more than add.”

Zig Ziglar goes on to say:

“…the most miserable creature on earth is the fence-straddler trying to please God and man. He fails to do either and ends up not even pleasing himself, mush less his fellow man or his God.”

Wow! Maybe at times, we are so busy being too busy that we lose focus and sight of our purpose. We don’t take time for ourselves to regroup or to refuel. We become empty, burned out and have nothing left other than leftovers to give to our loved ones let alone any one else! I’m talking about in doing the right things; we can still lose sight and forget the “whys” behind the drive. And who likes feeling as though they themselves are mediocre? Don’t even get me started! Anyone who has read my memoir knows I fought the feeling of being “less-than” for the majority of my life, and on occasion still fight this battle from within. But I refuse to remain on Mediocre Lane.

Listen, God don’t make junk. When He created you, He didn’t make anyone else like you. You are unique and a prize possession, the apple in His eye. Never give up on yourself. Sure, you will have some down days and you will reach a melting period, just don’t stay there! Let’s think about that TODAY.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Perfect Love

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March 2, 2017 · 7:15 PM

The Day the Earth Stood Still

“No, not again! Not now!” I cried out in the bathroom. I’ll call Marisa. She’s always been strong. She has it together.

I reached for the phone and dialed her number. When she answered, I blurted, “The test is positive! I’m pregnant.” She’ll lift my spirits.

“Mary . . .” she began. “How in the world will you care for another baby?”

Then again, maybe not.

“What are you going to do?” Marisa squealed.

I thought, If I knew that, I wouldn’t have called you. Wasn’t I the one supposed to get some reassurances, some guidance, some support here?

“I . . . I don’t know, I thought–”

“Mary, what were you thinking?” she shot back. “You can’t possibly have another baby! You’re only twenty-one; you already have three children, and now number four on its way? Your husband drinks too much, he works only when he wants to, you have a child with special needs, you guys don’t have enough money . . . !”

My mind swirled. I hung by a flimsy strand, all hope slipping. Okay! Tell me something I don’t know. Marisa’s right, whom am I kidding? I. Can’t. Go. On.

Then, she added, “Listen, I’ll help you. If you will get an abortion . . . I will help you pay for one.”

So, that’s it? The quick-fix solution to the problem . . . to end an innocent life?

“I . . . I’ll have to think about this,” I muttered. “Let me sleep on it and get back with you.”

Did that answer come out of me?

I placed the receiver down, heavy with conflicting emotions. My world came to a halt. My heart felt heavy. I cradled my belly, thinking: I can’t have another baby. But can I truly consider this the way out?

The girls slept in their room. Their father was—Lord only knows where. I sat alone in the dark, crossed-legged on the bed. My head ached. My stomach tied in knots. Overcome with waves of hopelessness, memories churned to the one security blanket I had ever known: the home of my grandparents. And I realized I was sinking. Fast.

What happened to my anchor of faith? My hope? Isn’t God big enough to handle the mess in my life? I have to admit, I’ve been too busy for Him. Now that I need Him, does He still care? Then it occurred to me: If I can’t trust God now, then what’s the point of going on?

That instant I prayed like never before, and pored over my Bible. The Book of Psalms always comforted me, and that night before sleep overtook me, my “Ah hah” moment came after reading Psalm 139:13: For You created my innermost being; You knit me together in my mother’s womb. I wasn’t about to take the life of my unborn child, believing that God gave that life in me.

Come morning. A new day. A fresh start. Resolute in my decision, faith sparked. God had always taken care of me before. I determined to trust Him to carry me now. I believe, Lord. Help my unbelief. Give me the grace to endure…

I reached for the phone and dialed Marisa’s number.

“Thanks, but no thanks.”

“Mary, think about what—”

“No!” I shouted. “I’m going to walk on and trust God. You knew my convictions. I thought they were yours too.”

“Mary, I was only trying. . .”

“How?” I interrupted, pacing the floor. “By offering me an abortion? I came to you down and out for encouragement and prayer. I needed to hear ‘hope’ beyond my pain, but you didn’t—you wouldn’t—give me that!”

“Look Mary, you’re still so young. I’ve been around longer than you. . .”

“You never had children,” I protested.

“I married a jerk once too. They don’t change.” Marisa went on to give one reason after another how she was looking out for my best interest.

After long seconds of dead silence and nothing else to say, we hung up.

I thought of a lesson in Sunday school about Job who called his friends miserable comforters, even his wife told him to “curse God and die.” They were supposed to be his friends; yet, those comforters increased his trouble by condemning him.

Marisa and I parted ways. Our friendship ended that day.

Days, weeks and months overlapped one another; my past troubles behind me. With my heart overflowing and my eyes drowning in tears, I reached down to kiss my newborn. “Hello, Daniel Michael,” I whispered. “I’m your Mommy.”

**********

Before long, my little curly-lock hair boy is running around with deep brown eyes touching my heart each time he looks up at me.

Next thing I knew I blinked, and the little boy is now a strapping young man and I am gazing up at him.

(An excerpt from Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace)

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Note: Please understand I share this story not to condemn, criticize, judge or belittle anyone who for whatever reason may have made a different decision than I did. Everyone has their own story to tell; this is mine. I may have made a lot of mistakes in my life. This was one example when I was strong enough to make the right decision for me. I believe that strength came as I prayed to my Heavenly Father. While it’s true that I may have my share of regrets in life, not giving birth to my one and only son thirty-five years ago is not one of them.

Happy Birthday, son! I love you with all my heart!

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Memoir, Pro-Life, Uncategorized

No Strings Attached

It was just a harmless prank, that’s all it was.

And it wasn’t as if Old Lady Hayes didn’t deserve it. The way she used to scream at us for “borrowing” a few of her precious raspberries each summer, like we were stealing gold out of Fort Knox … well, she had it coming.

At least, that’s the way we saw it as George finished tying the string to the red, heart-shaped box. We giggled as Ron added the final touch: two plastic red roses, glued to the lid. “I wonder what will surprise her most,” I asked as George practiced jerking the box out of reach by yanking on the string. “Seeing a box of candy on her step, or watching it fly away when she tries to pick it up?”

We laughed as we watched George make Albert chase the box around the garage. For a chubby 10-year-old, Albert did a good imitation of Mrs. Hayes’s hunched hobble and her seemingly permanent scowl. And we howled when he picked up a broom and pretended to ride it through the midwinter air while shouting, “I’m Old Lady Hayes, the driedest-up old prune in the West!”

Ron was first to notice my dad in the doorway. Within seconds, Ron’s anxiety was shared by all but Albert, who continued to swoop around the garage until he came face-to-belt-buckle with our silent observer. For a moment the only movement in the room came from the little puffs of steam escaping our mouths. Dad broke the stillness by walking slowly to the empty candy box lying on the floor. He picked it up and dangled it by the string, watching it swing back and forth. Then he looked into the eyes of the frightened boys. And, as was his custom, he looked into their hearts as well.

“It doesn’t seem so long ago that I was pulling Valentine’s Day pranks,” he said as he laid the box on a workbench. “One year my cousins and I decided to pull one on our Grandma Walker even though we loved her — she was the sweetest grandma a boy could have. We were just feeling devilish and decided to have some fun at her expense.

“Early in the evening we snuck up to her doorstep with a can of red paint. Grandma was hard of hearing, so we didn’t have to worry about being very quiet. Which was a good thing, because every time we thought about how funny it was going to be to see Grandma try to pick up a valentine that was just painted on her doorstep, we couldn’t keep from laughing.

“It didn’t take long, and it wasn’t very artistic. But for an old woman with bad eyes, it would do. We kicked the door and hid behind bushes. When Grandma finally appeared she stood in the doorway, her gray hair pulled back tightly into her usual bun, wiping her hands on her usual apron. She must have heard the commotion in the bushes because she looked in our direction and spoke loudly enough for us to hear: ‘Who could be knocking at my door?’ Then she looked down. Even from 15 feet away we could see the joy in her eyes when she spotted a splash of red at her feet.

“‘A valentine for Grandma!’ she exclaimed. ‘And I thought I’d be forgotten again this year!’

“She tried to retrieve her prize. This was the moment we had been waiting for, but somehow it wasn’t as much fun as we expected. Grandma groped at the fresh paint for a moment. Slowly, she figured out our prank. She tried to smile. Then, with as much dignity as she could muster, she turned and walked back into her house, absently wiping red paint on her clean, white apron.”

Dad paused, and for the first time I noticed that his eyes were moist. He took a deep breath. “Grandma died later that year,” he said. “I never had another chance to give her a real valentine.”

He took the box from the bench and handed it to me. Then he turned and left the garage.

Later that night a red, heart-shaped box with two plastic roses on it was placed on Mrs. Hayes’s front doorstep by six giggling boys. We hid behind snow-covered bushes to see how she would react to receiving a full pound of candy and nuts.

With no strings attached.

Story by Joseph Walker

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Does Size Matter?

Hey y’all!

Here’s a continuation of my Toastmasters journey.

My first speech, The Ice Breaker was given  a few weeks ago. The following is Speech #2 of the Toastmasters speech series. Objectives: Supporting material, transitions, strong opening and closing statements withing 4-6 minutes. I’d like to share with you my speech which I titled, “Does Size Matter?” Once again, yes, I was nervous, although my husband in the audience said I hid it well. Yes, I even said a phrase backwards, but hey, you just press on through it.

My fellow Toastmasters:

How many of you have dreams? Visions? Goals? Most of you, right?

Some things don’t sit right with me & here is a Pet Peeve:

I have heard time & time again how one has to dream BIG in

Order to achieve something … or be something …

0r change something …

You’ve heard the saying:

IF YOUR DREAMS DON’T SCARE YOU THEY AREN’T BIG ENOUGH!

This is what I’d like to say about that:

I’ve got plenty of dreams, okay?

Your dream may not be mine and I can guarantee

that mine aren’t yours. But a dream is a dream is a dream.

I just don’t buy the line, hook & sinker that dictates:

Your dream doesn’t count; or isn’t as important if it isn’t

“BIG” enough!

No, sir!  No, ma’am!

Think what you will – but you can’t look down on my dreams

and say that yours is more important than mine.

My dreams mean everything to me! Who are you to downplay them?

Have you walked in my shoes?

When I wrote “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit & Grace,”

I not only mentioned some of the heartaches that I endured

both as a child & a young adult, but I had also mentioned

the good, happy and contented times. And you know what?

Some people actually frowned upon some of those events I wrote about,

because it seemed insignificant to them.

You see, apparently, my life wasn’t glamorous enough, or special enough.

For example:

1st puppy

1st home cooked meal that I made  as a child– chewy pasta/soupy spaghetti sauce

1st taste of French Toast

1st bubble bath

1st Barbie Doll

Going to park/playing on swing set with my real Dad

Living with my grandparents/eating 3-meals a day

Now I ask you: For them to suggest that was it fair?

I’d like to say to them: Hey! I’m tickled pink you had such a much happier life than mine!

Nonetheless, those were my special & cherished moments and they meant everything to this gal!

You understand – I held on to HOPE. Do you know that a little hope goes a long way?

I embraced faith {show photo} like this picture, having a “mustard seed” type of faith,

Just enough faith to believe that anything is possible!!!

Someone said: Little girls with dreams become women with vision.

And you know what? I AM A DREAM COME TRUE.

We ALL have goals – we ALL dream dreams.

Just don’t try to be like anyone else.

Be true to yourself and follow your heart.

Pursue your passion; pursue your dreams and

Don’t ever quit or stop trying.

Now timing is everything and sometimes it takes baby steps.

But don’t allow anyone to downplay or rob you of your

Dreams … Talents … or Strengths!

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No matter the size.

So I ask you:

Does Size Matter?

Whoever said the small things don’t matter

has never seen a match start a wildfire.

Thank you!

How did I do? There was a tied – me and the best speaker in this group. How awesome is that?

Remember: You’ll never know the outcome if you don’t put yourself out of your comfort zone and just try.
© M.A. Pérez, 2017, All Rights Reserved

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