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Pathway to Tears

I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived a few hard knocks along life’s path: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting …

BUT God!

Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called “tears”. A family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a beloved pet, even an insect (hey, they make pets too, at least they did for me when I was a child). I recently cried when my husband surprised me with flowers after having a taxing day. I cried – or blubbered rather – after shooting my first deer. I may cry during weddings, engrossed in a book, listening to a song, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry while laughing at something funny, in opening up presents, when saying goodbye, while praying, or worshiping and singing in church. Seeing majestic mountains, colorful rainbows, the stillness of the ocean, a fluffy kitten, or a hummingbird nestling near by can make me cry. I even cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And yes, at times I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry.

But I don’t want you to know that. Because I am tough. Not weak. Remember?

Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go.

When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness.

So, I say: It’s okay. It’s okay to let your guard down at times and reveal your softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean you’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God. Bottles. Our. Tears.

And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say:

Sometimes God cries.

Thank you Lord, for loving me for me.

© M.A. Perez 2017, All Rights Reserved

bottled tears

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Filed under emotions

I’ll Never Forget 9/11

I imagine most of us remember where we were or what we were doing on September 11th, 2001.

Around 7:50 a.m. while driving to work, the morning newscast blared over the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As soon as I arrived at the office, I ran in and flicked on the TV to see the live broadcast of a massive hole in one of the towers caused by the plane’s impact minutes before. As fellow co-workers gathered in the small conference room, we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the screen. Black smoke billowed out the building, soon engulfed by flames.

We heard what our ears didn’t want to hear and continued to see images that will forever be etched in our minds. My insides 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.

My heart went out to those who lost loved ones on that fatal day.

That same evening, 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.

(Excerpt from “Running in Heels: A Memoir of Grit and Grace,” chapter 43.)

May our presidents keep us free from terror, both at home and abroad.
May Almighty God keep us safe and secure in our hearts and in our homes.

photo credit: inktheworld.blogspot.com

Sign2

 

© M.A. Pérez, 2015, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Remembering 9/11/2001

Into the Shark Tank – Part Two

An hour later, reluctantly, I arrived at the clinic holding the door open, ushering the girls inside. I noticed there were no other kids or parents scheduled at the same time as we were. I wondered if they had opened just for us. I rang the bell at the counter, took a questionnaire to fill out, and plopped in a chair. My girls busied themselves exploring their surroundings, investigating all the toys and books a-plenty.

The waiting room was kid friendly but cold like a funeral home. Cushioned chairs lined the walls plastered with billboards regarding child safety laws. Small toys scattered on the gray linoleum, bookshelves crammed with picture books and stuffed animals. A small fish tank rested on the counter, and a yellow Legos table sat in the middle of the room. Above the sign-in window hung a large round clock.

I wanted to flee but rang the bell again.

A petite, white-coated woman emerged behind the counter. She looked odd wearing glasses too large for her narrow face, with an over-exaggerated smile as wide. She held a clipboard in her hand and glanced down, skimming the pages.

“The gangs all here?” she inquired.

I nodded. “Yep.”

“Right on time. I will be calling your girls one by one to go into the examining room.”

“Do I get to go in, too?” I asked.

She answered with a phony grin.“Won’t be necessary.” Then, she turned and called in a sing-song voice, “Anna?”

She and Anna Marie disappeared behind the door. I glanced at the clock.

I flipped through pages of a magazine. Diana tossed a picture book on my lap she wanted me to read. Glad to occupy some time, I made up the words and pretended to read to her.

Minutes passed before Ms. White-Coat with her fake smile and tone returned. Anna Marie skipped by, chewing gum and joined her sisters.

“Diana. You’re next,” Ms. White-Coat chirped. Diana glared at her suspiciously, but when White-Coat produced a piece of candy, Diana’s face lit. They vanished behind the door.

My mind scrambled as I paced.

What questions are they asking Diana? She won’t understand nor will be able to answer properly. They’ll trick her or have her to repeat whatever they want her to say. What if they ask if her Mommy ever spanks her? Or takes things away? Or sends her to her room?

I wanted to drill Anna Marie about what Ms. White-Coat had asked, but feared the room might be bugged.

I stared at the clock, unseeing. The tick-tock of the second hand turned. I peered out the curtain and watched an ant crawl along the windowsill, carrying a big crumb in its mouth, too heavy of a load for such a tiny thing. Like I sometimes felt.

Diana wasn’t kept long. The door burst open, and she scampered out with a balloon in her hand and a grape BlowPop in her mouth. I smiled. She’s no dummy; she got what she wanted. I hope Diana gave Ms. White-Coat-Goodie-Two-Shoe a run for her money.

“Okay, I guess we were finished anyway,” she said out of breath. “That leaves you, my dear. Angela, right?”

My baby girl held onto my leg shielding her face. “Mommy, no,” she pleaded.

“It’s okay, Angela. Mommy will be right here waiting,” I said.

White-Coat held a doll and in her ever-so-fake-sweet voice coaxed my daughter to going in with her.

Once the examination finished, another woman came out to talk with me. She introduced herself with a last name I couldn’t pronounce. I read her name tag: Gretchen. She told me that the physicals went well. The tests came out clean and she saw that my girls were happy and that I cared for them. Yet, account of our history of alcohol and violence, she deemed our home an unsafe environment for the girls.

Here it comes. I held my breath and stared at the floor.

“We understand your dire straits; however, due to your present condition”—I cradled my belly— “and financial situation, you have expressed you haven’t any other place to go. For this reason, we must remove the girls from the home today into a more stable and suitable environment.”

A wave of nausea washed over me.

She rambled on. “Before the girls can return home, you must provide a safe place for them to return to, or . . . your husband moves . . . .”

Lost in my thoughts, my mind spun; her voice faded in and out.

“. . . recommendations . . . ,” “. . . counseling . . . ,” “. . . seek professional . . . ,”
“. . . proper care . . . ,” “. . . unfit . . . ,” “. . . temporarily . . .,” “. . . so sorry . . . .”

Stability, I thought. Where were these jokers when I was a kid?

My baby kicked. I went back to the waiting area, feeling light-headed.

“Girls, Mommy has to go away now.” On bended knee, at eye level, I struggled to control my queasiness and hide the devastation in my voice. This is the darkest day of my life!

“You will be staying at another place for a short time . . . until you can come back home again. . .” I felt my composure slipping, and didn’t want to say too much and alarm them.

“You’ll have fun.” A tear escaped my eye. “Remember, Mommy loves you so much. . .” I felt I might freak out at anytime, bawl in front of them and never stop.

“Give Mommy a kiss. Mommy will see you again soon. I promise.”

Anna Marie focused more on the toys in her hands than in what I struggled to convey. She nodded when I gave her a kiss and a tight squeeze. Diana repeated, “Bye-bye,” hugging her balloon instead of me.

But my two-year old Angela, clung to me tightly. She wouldn’t let go and began to cry hard. Somehow, she understood. She felt my pain.

After kissing and hugging the girls, I trotted away as quickly as possible, leaving them behind with a CPS worker. Sobbing in the elevator, I couldn’t breathe. My heart ripped from my chest. Seeing black spots, vigorous waves thrashed about in my head. I felt like a drowning child again, greedily grasping for air; only this time, CPS sharks encircled me, and I, the bait.

I was five-and-a-half months pregnant. I cradled my belly, holding my unborn child in the safety of my womb. They won’t take this one away from me!

I numbly attended a brief court session and had to consent to relinquish temporary custody of my daughters to foster care. I went through the motions of that ordeal alone, but remembering the details afterward remained a blur. When I arrived home to the empty apartment, the quietness jarred me. I imagined my girl’s chatter and giggles. My head echoed in what a failure I was. Hadn’t God given me three innocent beauties to care for? My own heart felt like I’d surely die from brokenness. And guilt.

“Where are the girls?” Donny demanded after he came home and looked around.

“Where do you think they are?” I growled. The look of shock on his face drove me onward, with rage. Before he uttered another word, I lashed out, “CPS took them so they can be someplace safe. They have a right to a healthy, normal childhood I never had. You’re not going take that away from them!” I ran from his sight, locked myself in the bathroom and bawled my eyes out.

“Mary, come on,” Donny pleaded. “Whatever it takes, we’ll get them back.”

He almost sounds like he cares. “Go away.”

“You’re going to get yourself sick. I promise I’ll make it up to you.”

“Leave me alone.”

“You’re going to have to come out sooner or later.” His voice trailed away.

“I can’t stand you!” I shouted.

But I hated myself even more.

(Although more in the book, this completes the excerpt from Chapter 32 “Running in Heels – A Memoir of Grit and Grace.” To read Part One of this chapter go here. In posting this for you my readers, the emotions of those three dreary months as a young struggling mother were one of the hardest I’d ever gone through. Prayer sustained me. God’s Grace got me through.)

© M.A. Perez 2014, All Rights Reserved

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Filed under Memoir

This Lesson About Life

The lesson about life with its many twists and turns has been an amazing journey. I often think: What legacy will I leave behind when I’m finished with this race? What I do today, will it count for something tomorrow? When I’m long gone, will I merely be a faded memory, or burn in someone’s heart? Will my deeds be forgotten? Lost? Or buried?

I’ve read about some incredible women. These women did not allow age, status, limitations, or even imprisonment to keep them from their destiny. As fleeting as it is, they knew their self-worth and value in this life. Women like Mother Teresa who gave 50 years of service to the poor, the sick, the orphans, and the dying in Calcutta India. Women like Corrie ten Boom who spent 10 months in a concentration camp, who at the age of 53 began a worldwide ministry that took her into more than 60 countries in the next 33 years of her life. I didn’t know them personally, but they were admirable, inspirational women.

They made a difference.

Many endearing women have come into my life, not only as friends, but as mothers, sisters, and grandmothers. While each embodies unique gifting, each holds a special place in my heart.

One such individual is Elizabeth. She loves people. She is full of life, charm and wit. She believes in having a 90% attitude and 10% circumstance. She loves to laugh, crack a joke, watch the Kentucky Derby, share about her travels around the world, read anything that takes her miles away, watch The Lawrence Welk Show, and go right on dancing if only she could.

I’ve known her for over thirty years, but within the past couple of years, she is unable to use her walker. She doesn’t walk anymore. Yet her mind is still intact; her wits still sharp, as well as her tongue. My husband, daughter and I take care of her. While we attend to her daily needs, she is teaching us about life. Oh, and did I mention a horse and buggy rushed her to the hospital and that she was one-years-old during the Titanic?

That’s right, Elizabeth was born in 1911. You do the math.

To know Elizabeth is to have your life enriched.

As I age, may I emulate her love and passion for living.

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© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

20 Comments

October 24, 2013 · 10:26 PM

This Thing Called Tears

I consider myself a tough cookie. After all, aren’t I a survivor? I’ve survived some hard times: A broken home by age three, followed by poverty, hunger, homelessness, alcoholism, neglect, loss of a sibling at age nine, two near-drowning incidents, in a car wreck, juvenile detention home, taunting, brawls, racism, alternative schooling, marriage to a ruthless man twice my age, bearing four children by the time I was twenty-two—three  by cesarean—physical abuse, verbal abuse, emotional abuse, betrayal, hopelessness, despair, rejection, abandonment, being shot at (he missed), divorce, single-parenting …

BUT God!

Howbeit, there is a softer side to me as well. This thing called tears. Yes, a family member has even called me sentimental. I have been known to cry after losing a pet, even an insect. I cried when I shot my first deer. I may cry when reading a book, in a dance, a song, during weddings, or when watching a movie. I especially cry when I hear a newborn’s first cry, whether in real life or on TV, I can’t help it, the tears flow. I sometimes cry when opening presents, saying goodbye, at being pleasantly surprised, while laughing, praying, or worshipping in church. Seeing mountains, rainbows, the ocean, a kitten, or a hummingbird can make me cry. I cried when I heard my grandchild call me “Mimi” for the first time. And at times, I cry when I’m hurt, scared, tired, or angry.

But I don’t want you to know that. I am tough. Not weak. Remember?

Now I’m not much of a horse person, but I know enough to know that a horse is full of grace and strength with every muscle, tendons and ligaments working in unison to support a rider at galloping speed. Yet, that same powerful, majestic horse is controlled by a bit in its mouth and will move in the direction the rider wants to go.

When I read about Moses, he was the meekest man who walked the earth. When I read about Jesus, He was all-powerful, yet kept that power in check. His meekness was not weakness.

So, I say: It’s okay to let our guard down at times and reveal our softer, sensitive self. It doesn’t mean we’re a softy, or a weakling, or a pushover. Power under control means self-control, and that is a virtue. After all, we are human with God-given emotions. Besides, God bottles our tears.

And because God loves us so much, I would venture to say: Sometimes God cries.

© M.A. Perez 2013, All Rights Reserved

tears

23 Comments

Filed under musing, virtues

Remembering 9/11

I imagine most of us remember where we were or what we were doing on September 11th, 2001.

Around 7:50 a.m. while driving to work, the morning newscast blared over the radio that a plane had crashed into the World Trade Center in New York. As soon as I arrived at the office, I ran in and flicked on the TV to see the live broadcast of a massive hole in one of the towers caused by the plane’s impact minutes before. As fellow co-workers gathered in the small conference room, we couldn’t peel our eyes away from the screen. Black smoke billowed out the building, soon engulfed by flames.

We heard what our ears didn’t want to hear and continued to see images that will forever be etched in our minds. My insides 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.

My heart went out to those who lost loved ones on that fatal day.

That same evening, 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.

May our presidents keep us free from terror, both at home and abroad.
May Almighty God keep us safe and secure in our hearts and in our homes.

flag

6 Comments

Filed under Sept. 11

What Happened?

To “Please” and “Thank You”?
To supper at the table with the family at 5 or 6 PM?

To men holding the door open for women, helping her in her chair, walking on the outside of the curb, closing and opening the car door for her?
To saying, “I’m sorry” after offensives are made?
To picnics at the park?
Hand-written letters, and thank you notes?
In having family devotions? Saying grace?
To walks on the beach?
Random acts of kindness?
A gentle hand? A kind word?
A warm embrace?
To Honesty? Respect?
Truth? Prayer?
Humility?
Commitment in after the “I Do,” and “Til Death Do You Part”?
The Golden Rule?
Morals? Values?
Integrity? Or Honor?
In Saying, “Forgive me.”
Where have they gone? Why did they go?
What has happened …
To Us?

© M.A. Perez, 2013, All Rights Reserved

5 Comments

Filed under Social, Values