I Dreamed a Dream

I often think about why is it that when we become older, the dreams we once had begin to fade? As children, we have no hangups or limitations with our imaginations in what we can do or in who we can become! We dream about becoming an astronaut, a firefighter, a singer, a painter, an actor, the best athlete ever, or even president just to name a few. We even dream about falling in love and living a life happily-ever-after.

But then reality kicks in and before long, we become consumed with agendas and dead-lines. We are up to our neck with studies in trying to get ahead, or we’re drowning in work trying to make ends meet, or in raising a family that we have no time for self — these all take precedence and so we put our dreams on hold … or the dreams once dreamt simply fade away.

Or perhaps someone spoke death over us:

Grow up.

You’ll never amount to anything.

You’re not smart enough.

You’re not good enough.

I want a divorce.

I don’t love you anymore.

You’re too old.

It’s too late.

It’s over.

Been there. Done that. I’ve walked on some of these roads. I know the feelings of hopelessness and devastation. What feels like the end isn’t always the end but a new beginning. No matter the outcome, don’t let your dream die as mentioned in the last stanza of Les Misérables: Now life has killed the dream I dreamed …

 

Yes, life happens. Seasons change and our perspective may shift. Today is Day 35 that I am working from home, and it is Day 21 of our state’s Stay-at-Home mandate due to COVID-19. These past few days, I have been doing a little self-reflection. While most days I keep myself occupied, other days, I can become a bit melancholy. These are indeed challenging times and remaining in prayer is what keeps me whole and in positive spirits.  (Devotion: Philippians 4:6-9 )

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Resurrection Day

Because He lives, I can face tomorrow! 🙌🏼 in Him we live and move and have our being! 👆🏼

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Celebrating our 26th Wedding Anniversary

Hi fellow bloggers,

On a daily basis, we find ourselves navigating uncharted waters due to the COVID-19 pandemic. My household and family members are taking the necessary precautions to ensure safety all around. We are also caring for my elderly Mama at our home and desire to keep her in the best of health possible.

So, here we are, staying at home and locked-down. I believe it is day number 14. Today is April 6th, our wedding anniversary. Usually, my hubby treats me to a romantic evening of wining and dining. Well, I’m here to tell you, he did not disappoint.

Our meal, under the stars, consisted of a well prepared tossed salad, mouth-watering rib-eyes, sautéed mushrooms and buttery baked potatoes – all done to perfection by my hubby. As the music played softly in the background, after our delicious meal, we even danced to a couple of songs (out on the driveway).

This is definitely one for the books!

I came across a short article to staying positive during COVID-19 pandemic and here are three points from psychologist Joshua Williams. He suggested:

  • Take a break

You don’t have to watch, read or talk about COVID-19 all day. It’s important to stay informed but not consumed.

  • Make time to unwind

Pick up an old hobby. Start a new one. Just do something you enjoy.

  • Take care of yourself

Mind, body and soul. Take a walk. Listen to music. Read something uplifting. Try to eat healthy, well-balanced meals, exercise regularly, get plenty of sleep and avoid alcohol and drugs.

Good stuff. I will add, remain mindful of others. Pray for those who are hurting and if possible, extend a helping hand, even if from a distance.

While it is true that experts are saying we don’t know what the future holds, how about focusing on the todays instead? Focus on all that Almighty God has brought you out of in the past. Take one day at a time. Determination to making the best out of any situation is the key.

Let. Go. Of. Fear.

Be aware and remain updated, but don’t overkill. Believe me when I say how fear can grasp your heart if you dwell on the negatives! Instead, go for a walk, lay out in the sun, ride a bike, read that book (have you read my memoir?), clean out your closet, garage, and the weeds in your garden. Organize those drawers, closet pantries and photo album. Learn a new hobby or try a new recipe.

Or just have dinner out on the driveway.

 

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Then Came the Morning

Brokenhearted . . .
How can I bear the pain?
So many plans . . . permanently interrupted.
So many dreams . . . shattered.
Hopes . . . dashed.
All gone.
Why?
Why this?
Why us? Why me?
Helplessness . . . hopelessness . . .
Life will never be the same again.
Is it even worth living?
Where are you, God?

I’m right here beside you, my child.
Even though you may not feel my presence,
I’m holding you close under the shadow of my wings.
I will walk with you through this dark night.

Do not shrink from weeping.
I gave you tears for emotional release.
Don’t try to hide your grief.
Let it become for you a source of healing,
A process of restoration,
For I have planned it so.
Those who mourn shall be blessed.
I’ll be holding on to you,
Even when you feel you can’t hold on to me.

Seek my face, child of mine.
Receive my promise, impossible as it may seem now,
That joy will come in the morning.
It may take much time,
But I will heal your broken heart.
I know the night seems endless,
but MORNING WILL COME.
I have promised.

–From the Haven of Rest Newsletter

Note: I came across the above poem sometime ago, and wanted to share it with my readers. So many times we can’t see the light because of so much fear, darkness, despair, grief and pain. We wonder how long? How much more? When will it end? God, are you really there? Friends, please know that as long as you have a pulse, there is a purpose. As long as you have breathe, there is hope. And as long as you’re in your right mind, there are possibilities. Under the shadow of His wings, stay the course. One day at a time. Full speed ahead!

Weeping may endure for the night, but joy comes in the morning.

EASTER IS AROUND THE CORNER – THAT HASN’T BEEN CANCELLED.

 

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Stay the Course

Something worth repeating for such a time as this!

Reflections From the Heart

Help!

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

I don’t understand …

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

I don’t think I can anymore …

“All things are possible to them that believe.”

What’s the point?

“I will make a way when there seems to be no way.”

I can’t!

“You can do all things through Christ.”

I’m tired!

“Come to Me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

I feel so alone!

“I will never leave you or forsake you.”

I am weak!

“Be strong in the Lord, and in the power of His…

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Build Me a Son

Dedicated to my precious son. Happy Birthday Daniel. Thank you for being the son described in this beautiful prayer by General Douglas MacArthur. I love you with all my heart!

“Build me a son, O Lord, who will be strong enough to know when he is weak, brave enough to face himself when he is afraid, one who will be proud and unbending in honest defeat, and humble and gentle in victory.

Build me a son whose wishes will not take the place of deeds; a son who will know Thee — and that to know himself is the foundation stone of knowledge.

Lead him, I pray, not in the path of ease and comfort, but under the stress and spur of difficulties and challenge. Here let him learn to stand up in the storm; here let him learn compassion for those who fail …

Build me a son whose heart will be clear, whose goal will be high; a son who will master himself before he seeks to master other men; one who will reach into the future, yet never forget the past.

And after all these things are his, add, I pray, enough of sense of humor, so that he may always be serious, yet never take himself too seriously.

Give him humility, so that he may always remember the simplicity of true greatness, the open mind of true wisdom, and the meekness of true strength.

Then, I, his father [mother], will dare to whisper, ‘I have not lived in vain.’”

What is your prayer for your child? We will probably never achieve the level of accomplishment of General Douglas MacArthur, but when all is said and done, what will make us whisper “I have not lived in vain”.

 

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Are Audiobooks Worth It for Authors?

Thank you Ella for a wonderful write up and sharing my journey as an author.


Are Audiobooks Worth It for Authors?

It’s not enough that Mary Ann Pérez released a paperback, hardcover, and e-book of Running in Heels, her autobiography of grit and grace in the shadows of her mother’s choices and her own abusive marriage. And it’s not enough that she has been visiting book clubs and appearing at book signings around Houston since its release in 2016.

ch12photo3resized-300x200   MA poster   blog image 2

Her audience wants more. They want an audiobook.

But is an audiobook worth the investment for an author?

Some say yes . . .

The popularity of audiobooks is on the rise – and not just with Pérez’s followers. Fifty percent of consumers say they’ve opted for an audiobook in the last year. They like the ease and ability to multi-task. Seventy-seven percent of people say audiobooks help them finish more books.[1]

Advocates of audiobooks point out that…     (Read more…)

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December 6, 2019 · 6:00 PM

A Tale of Three Mothers

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times …”


As I contemplated writing this piece, I was reminded of the famous opening line in the classic novel, A Tale of Two Cities.

Please bear with me as I put pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) and attempt to express the stirrings of my heart. While difficult to write, write I must!

On my last post, I wrote about me and my husband’s recent returned from a wonderful, much-needed vacation on a cruise with a couple of friends. Because neither one of us cared about adding the extra fee for internet usage, we opted out and enjoyed our getaway. As we neared the Port of Galveston upon our return, we were inundated with unexpected text messages and several missed calls.

Shockingly, I learned that my 79-year-old stepmother–who had always been like a mother to me–was hospitalized and in ICU. My sister stayed with her rarely leaving her side, her “labor of love,” as she so well put it. After suffering from a bout of excruciating pain, my stepmother had to have emergency surgery due to a small bowel obstruction.

A series of complications and alarming close calls left my family in panic, bombarding heaven with their prayers. Three weeks later, thankfully, my stepmother was released from the hospital. She continues recuperating at home, working on gaining her strength and some weight back.

My sister continues to care for her and our dad in Florida, and she is doing an extraordinary job, indeed a labor of love!

Ironically enough, while we were on our cruise, our friend’s own dear 90-year old mother was admitted into hospice. She had suffered a stroke, which soon led to another. The day we returned, our friend flew back to her hometown in Kentucky to be near her mother’s bedside. Needless to say, our hearts were heavy.

With permission, I share the words written by my friend’s sister, regarding their mother:

Mom isn’t doing too good she has had another stroke.
Hospice said it could be anytime she would be joining Dad.
She can’t talk, eat, or drink or move.
She is trapped in that old broken down body which seems such a horrible place to be!
I still love her so much.
I can’t stand to see her in such a way.
Part of me wants her to pass so she can escape that horrible prison;
But to escape she has to leave me physically.
Mom has been gone for over 2 yrs mentally,
But her body has remained.
But when I think of her passing …
I shudder to think about I! 
So much mixed emotions are going through me at this time:
I feel guilty in wanting her to go, But selfish for wanting her to stay.
I know it is in Lords hands. I do not make that decision; the Lord will make it.
I imagine my Dad has been begging and pleading with the Lord since he got into heaven to bring her home!
I know Dad is getting everything ready for her arrival … 
Our family can use some prayers!

Less than a week later, their precious mother passed away …

Many times, situations seem so out of control, and we are left feeling helpless. Even if one clings to their faith in God, and tries to prepare for the inevitable regarding elderly parents, the heartache and sadness of that loss loved one still crushes you and leaves a hole in your heart. But don’t despair! We are reminded in Psalms 34:18: “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit.”

And wouldn’t you know the very day our friend’s mother passed, we celebrated my own mama’s 85th birthday!

The pendulum swings in the momentum of life.

Although Mama is not the best of health, I am grateful to God that we are able to celebrate her life and bring her joy.

She’s had a hard life, which I shared about in my memoir. We both have. But God has turned our mess into a message.

I feel blessed knowing that I can bring Mama some joy surrounded by family.

My husband, children and their spouses, helped to make her day special, as we showered her with gifts at one of her favorite restaurants.

While I have made no bones about our complicated mother-daughter relationship, those obstacles have never diminished my love for her.


The bottom line is: We. Love. Our. Mothers. And we desire to honor them.

I pray the Lord grant us the strength to relinquish them into His hands when that time comes for us all. May this blog post bring perfect peace and be a tribute to all our mothers.

We love you Gloria Esther Perez.

We love you Edna Tinsley Canter.

We love you Ruth Ann Mendez.

Mother’s love is something that no one can explain, it is made of deep devotion and of sacrifice and pain, it is endless and unselfish and enduring come what may. For nothing can destroy it or take that love away.”
~ Hellen Steiner Rice

“It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known.”

 

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Cruising – 2019

Ever have a dream, but priorities along with the responsibilities puts that dream on hold? Yeah, me too.

Well, after ten years, that dream finally became a reality! For my birthday and silver anniversary gift to hubby and I, the children all pitched in–in-laws and Mama included–giving us the surprise of our life! What an unexpected BLESSING!

We went on our first cruise, ever! So yes, I got a taste of it and now, it’s in my blood! Haha!

Our stateroom with an ocean view was very comfortable, the food and service impeccable, with plenty of activities, music, shopping, and shows to chose from. We enjoyed everything about our four day cruise on the Royal Caribbean to Cozumel. A couple of our friends had  joined us, and made our little getaway feel extra special.

Without further ado – here are just a few photos of our adventure!

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“And in the end it’s not the years in your life that count; it’s the life in your years.”

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Touched by an Angel

I ADORED MY little sister growing so fast. To see her beaming face at the window highlighted my day after school. She always reached up to carry my books, no matter how heavy. After we shared a snack, then time for homework. Anna took naps or played alone, while I finished my studies. Then we’d go out for a walk.

She loved the outdoors. Our outings became adventures—it made me feel good to see her hopping and skipping alongside me. If something piqued her curiosity, we stopped, whether it was to find a fallen bird’s nest or to watch a worm squirm under a rock to hide. We’d listen to the mockingbirds while we gathered sprigs of white wildflowers, and the red hibiscus and puffy yellow marigolds in bloom, smelling their fragrance before taking some home for Mama.

Anna cheerfully greeted everyone we passed. “What a beautiful angel she is,” they’d say. Her enchanting smile and deep blue, watchful eyes mesmerized. The warmth of her merry laughter penetrated hearts, including mine. “She’s my sister,” I’d proudly boast. Anna’s countenance radiated joy. I cherished her carefree spirit and relished her innocence.

Since Mama stayed in bed until the afternoons, Anna and I usually ate a bowl of corn flakes for breakfast. We’d watch Sesame Street on the black-and-white tube. Whenever Big Bird appeared, my sister squealed and clapped. Then when Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood came on, we sang along with him.

We ate our meals sitting on cushions on the floor. We didn’t have a scheduled time to eat. Chow time consisted of simple bologna sandwiches, a heated can of SpaghettiOs, or sometimes a can of tomato soup. On special occasions, we ate Swanson chicken TV dinners.

Mama expected me to care for my sister. In the evenings, when she and Jimmy went out, Anna and I stayed home by ourselves. We’d lay on the floor to color or played inside our blanket tent, having tea parties with our plastic cups. I sometimes read aloud, making up the words I didn’t know. We stayed up until we grew sleepy.

Whatever we did, doing it together was more fun than being alone.

One particular evening, as I gazed into my sister’s baby-blues, a sudden feeling of sorrow swept over me. Tears clouded my eyes. Something burned within my chest. I cried out, “Please God, don’t let nothing bad happen to her!”

Anna gazed at me with her gentle, trusting eyes.

“I’ll protect you,” I whispered to her. “For always.”

Before bedtime, we repeated a child’s prayer Grandma taught me, one that hung on the wall:

“. . . I pray thee, Lord, my soul to keep . . .”

That night I clung to my sister and kept the strange premonition to myself.

Excerpt of Chapter 4: The Little Green Dress in Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace

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In memory of my angel, my sister born Sept. 23, 1966.
Taken too soon from us on Oct. 22, 1968.
I’ll love you forever, for true and for always.

“I shall go to her, but she shall not return to me.”
2 Sam. 12:23

 

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