Routine Prayer

Most nights are pretty predictable at my house.
I get home after the gym. Eat a quick meal while the kids do some last minute running around, screaming and playing hide and seek with their baby brother.

Get the bottles of milk ready for baby David, or Toddler David, I don’t know really it sounds weird. He’s a 40lb 2 yr old wearing 4T…it’s hard to call him a baby…
Then we all head to Sofy’s room to talk about our day and start story time. 

Right now, we are reading a children’s version of the Bible which (Lord don’t strike me down for saying this) makes the stories a little less boring and a lot more understandable for the kids.
They interject occasionally and ask questions, sometimes random, so I’m not always sure if they are really paying attention. 
Today we were reading about David and Goliath, but Vicky wanted to talk about Adam and Eve and the bad fruit. The whole being “naked” in the garden really blew their minds.
“And then they had sons. And one son, Cain, he killed his brother!” Vicky was really concerned about this. They all were, but they quickly chimed in that they could never do that to each other.

Meanwhile, David is laying back on one of Sofy’s pillows drinking his milk and minding his business.

After we finally get through a story, we share thoughts about what we read and how it can apply to our lives presently.

Then, we take turns each night saying a quick prayer, before everyone heads off to their bed, bunk, crib, and so on.

Each of us prays slightly different, but for the most part we thank God for everything that we have including each other.

Gaby thanks God for family and friends, and video games.

Sofy thanks God for family and friends, our house, books, and her ipad.

And tonight, for example, Vicky thanked God “for our lovely home and socks”, among other things.

So, last Wednesday I went out to dinner with two good friends of mine. I rarely go “out” and even less smack dab in the middle of the week. But sometimes it’s really hard to find time for friends and loved ones, so I made a point of setting aside that night.

Of course by the time I got home, around 10:45pm, they were fast asleep.

Fast forward to the next night, after we read as usual, I started to ask whose turn it was to pray, but quickly remembered.

“Okay guys. I’m gonna pray, since I missed my turn last night.”

“I prayed last night, mom.” Sofy said softly.

I looked over at her surprised, “You did?”

“Yea, you weren’t here. I forgot, but when Gaby and Vicky were asleep, I prayed by myself.”

I gave her a kiss and hugged her tight for a few moments.

I was shocked. Sofia had taken the initiative to pray on her own. Neither I nor her dad had to remind her or ask her to do it.

I felt so much joy in my heart.

She only just turned 10 last month, but suddenly it felt like a real turning point.

So, yea. Most nights are pretty predictable; and I try to stick to a specific routine with the kids.
But I guess some of the best moments are the ones you don’t plan for.
————–

And I just have to add, I’m no religious nut. (Oh boy, here she goes ::reader rolls eyes::)

I believe in God, and I believe in prayer, and I believe in the Bible.
I curse; I get angry; I yell; I can be a BITCH. (Ask my sisters.)

I’m not perfect, and I’m not a fanatic.

But I don’t think I have to be.

You don’t have to be an every Sunday chruch abiding Christian in order to believe in God and the Bible, or have a relationship with Him.
Whether or not there really was a talking serpent; an ark that carried humans and creatures for 40 days and nights through the flooding of earth without them devouring each other; whether Methusala lived to be 969 or not; or whether Jesus was God’s Son or just a REALLY good person.
All of these are debateable points, but I believe. And I think it’s good to believe, and have faith. Anyting can be interpreted hundreds of ways; we are humans, it’s in our nature to doubt and question. And I don’t have a problem with my kids having doubts or questions.

I just want them to believe for themselves.
And honestly, I couldn’t be prouder of my big girl and her growing heart.

Adult Kid

We’ve all heard the tired cliché, “Wait until you have kids of your own; then you’ll understand.”

Usually, we get this from our parents with whom we’ve had some disagreement or misunderstanding, or yes, even a full-fledged screaming match (e.g. with Mom…again).

::rolls eyes::

But how often do we think about when we are old and gray like our parents?

Newborns

Parents of newborns deal with late night feedings, messy diaper changes, inconvenient spills, a barrage of items to tote around (don’t forget to get the baby), and having to adhere to an infant’s schedule.

Babies are so tiny and helpless, AND WE ADORE THEM! You could be exhausted, drained, tired, on the brink of an anxiety attack; and yet you* will still get up each and every time the baby monitor starts lighting up like Times Square on New Year’s. They can’t thank you or call out, except for the crying, and yet you don’t resent them.

*”You” in this case refers to good mothers and/or fathers, where such is the case. Depressingly enough, we all know some lame moms and dads.

::rolls eyes::

 

Not So Newborn

But as the children get older, parents often talk about how hard it is, how unappreciated they are.

The kids begin talking (complaining) and doing (asking you to do) more and more things for themselves, and you begin to notice all the little AND big things you do for them that go unnoticed, and without a thank you. I mean sometimes, you get a loose hug or a forced, “Thanks mom”, but more often than not, your children will take you for granted, and yet you continue to cater to their every need, demanded and unspoken alike.

They think you are a pain, or uncool, and that YOU just don’t understand what THEY are going through, what they want or what they need.*

*Some of you who know me and my family, are thinking, just wait ’til your 9-year-old daughter is a 13-year-old nightmare.

I know, I know. I have a loooooooong way to go before I’m licensed to preach, but I have learned a thing or two from my own parents along the way and from the relationships I’ve been able to observe around me.

And, unfortunately, myself to be included, we are mostly failing, not at parenting our children, but at taking care of our “Adult Kids”.

Adult Kids

What the heck is an “Adult Kid”?

And please don’t misinterpret this as a derogatory term.

As far as your parents are concerned, you will always be their “baby“, but, unfortunately, at one point in their lives the roles begin to reverse and they become an “Adult Kid”.

Several years ago, this short anecdote was brought to my attention by my father. I don’t have the original he showed me then, but there are several versions you can find around the internet. This one is from Snopes.

******

The Wooden Spoon

A frail old man went to live with his son, daughter-in-law, and four-year old grandson.

The old man’s hands trembled, his eyesight was blurred, and his step faltered.

The family ate together at the table.

But the elderly grandfather’s shaky hands and failing sight made eating difficult. Peas rolled off his spoon onto the floor. When he grasped the glass, milk spilled on the tablecloth. The son and daughter-in-law became irritated with the mess.

“We must do something about Grandfather,” said the son. I’ve had enough of his spilled milk, noisy eating, and food on the floor.

So the husband and wife set a small table in the corner.

There, Grandfather ate alone while the rest of the family enjoyed dinner. Since Grandfather had broken a dish or two, his food was now served in a wooden bowl.

When the family glanced in Grandfather’s direction, sometimes he had a tear in his eye as he sat alone.

Still, the only words the couple had for him were sharp admonitions when he dropped a fork or spilled food.

The four-year-old watched it all in silence.

One evening before supper, the father noticed his son playing with wood scraps on the floor. He asked the child sweetly, “What are you making?”

Just as sweetly, the boy responded, “Oh, I am making a little bowl for you and Mama to eat your food from when I grow up.”

The four-year-old smiled and went back to work.

The words so struck the parents that they were speechless. Then tears started to stream down their cheeks. Though no word was spoken, both knew what must be done.

That evening the husband took Grandfather’s hand and gently led him back to the family table.

For the remainder of his days he ate every meal with the family.

And for some reason, neither husband nor wife seemed to care any longer when a fork was dropped, milk spilled, or the tablecloth got soiled.

Children are remarkably perceptive. Their eyes ever observe, their ears ever listen, and their minds ever process the messages they absorb. If they see us patiently provide a happy home atmosphere for family members, they will imitate that attitude for the rest of their lives.

*******

The Shift

Somehow, as we get older, our responsibility as a parent and adult becomes more important than our responsibility as sons and daughters, or even as brothers and sisters.

“We” are no longer our parent’s problem, and we’ve got our own problems to deal with. Our parents take a backseat to our own parenting. Suddenly they find themselves with no one to look after them. Suddenly, there isn’t a family unit that can depend on each other; instead, everyone has been broken off into independent sectors. To each his own.

The truth is your parents, grandparents, or even siblings may eventually become as time consuming and/or costly as your own children. They need to be taken care of; perhaps even fed, bathed, or changed; taken to the doctor or market. They need to be nurtured, talked to, and listened to just like your kids do. They need love and attention, even when it is burdensome.

No one will admit that their children can feel like a burden, because they think that will make them sound like a bad parent; however, how quick we are to express how much of a heavy load our elders have become.

Your parents would never choose to put a strain on your life, in the same way a baby doesn’t choose to come into this world.

 

100/100 or 50/50 ?

We demand so much of our parents and elders, whom rarely demanded such from us. No one is saying it is easy to care for either an infant or an elderly person; nor am I suggesting one can’t voice their discontent or frustrations. We are only human. However, we must not forget our Duty. Yes, we LOVE our family, and we should do all things out of love.

But guess what?

Love is about sacrifice, and sacrifice usually means doing something you don’t really feel like doing. I read a quote on Facebook today about marriage being 100/100, rather than 50/50. You have to be willing to give everything; and this applies to any relationship with a loved one, not just marriage.

We have to love and support each other even when it is hard and inconvenient; even when we do not think our actions will be reciprocated.

Often times our loved ones ARE aware of the lack of attention and of just how much of a hindrance they have become in our lives. To the point where some begin to wonder, “is this really living?” and “is this really worth living?”

Life can be difficult enough when you are young, healthy, and independent; imagine how it must feel for your elders, or those who are sick and dependent on others for care.

That short story really touched my heart years ago; it still gets to me every time I read it. Yet I can’t say that I have done much to change. As of late, however, it keeps coming to the forefront of my mind.

And although the main focus of this post has been that we should care for our elderly loved ones, it is really a call in general to not abandon your family. No matter the distance (please do not break out into the Backstreet Boys), no matter what may occur between you and your loved ones; forgive and forget, move on and love on.

1 John 4:20  (NIV)

Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.

REMEMBER: Kids are like sponges, observing and ABSORBING everything around them. Let them observe and Absorb your good ways.

Ephesians 6:1-3 (NIV)

Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. “Honor your father and mother”—which is the first commandment with a promise— “so that it may go well with you and that you may enjoy long life on the earth.”

Challenge

I challenge all (10 of you reading this) to take just 5 minutes out of each day for your parents, grandparents, or any loved ones that might need your love and attention. 5 minutes is a mere .3% of your day. YES, POINT 3 Percent. Not even 1 %!

Do the math. You spend a lot more time in the bathroom doing your necessities, so to speak; let alone on useless nonsense like social media and the internet.

::raises hand::

(Guilty as Charged)

Leviticus 19:32 (NIV)

Stand up in the presence of the aged, show respect for the elderly and revere your God. I am the Lord.

1 Timothy 5:1-2 (NIV)

Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.

Being a Good Human is Hard Enough

Each morning I wake up easy enough. Then again, I suppose I shouldn’t say “easy“. I toss and turn and SNOOZE 3,4,5 times? And like quicksand, the more I resist the deeper I sink.

I mean “easy” in that for the most part we don’t have to think much about your actions.

MORNING ROUTINE

1: Open your eyes

2: Take that first morning breath, or let out that first morning sigh (especially on Mondays).

3: Throw the sheets off your body and swing your legs over the side of the bed.

All simple things we don’t think twice about. 

Drag yourself to the toilet, then the sink, wash your face, brush your teeth, peruse the closet, choose an outfit, then shoes (some of us my take a tad longer with this part), apply makeup.  

Besides the harrowing decision of which pumps to wear, in general, none of these are very tasking deeds, nor do they require any ethical, moral or common sense decisions.

Although, I will say it does take some common sense to look in a mirror BEFORE walking out the door in some outfits. Something I have forgotten to do all too often.

Why didn’t I get rid of that blouse the last time I hated it. -_-

Needless to say, there are a lot of people lacking in this area.

The HARD part of getting up each day is figuring out how to be a good wife, a good mother, good daughter, sister, aunt, employee, boss, friend, Christian, Buddhist. 

Being a good human is hard enough; a good Christian, damn near mythological feat. I mean right there I just sinned. 

Whatever you are, even an atheist, it takes dedication and constant application to convince people that something doesn’t exist; particularly, invisible fantastical beings like God (although I see him all around), or the Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny, Santa, The Abominable Snowman, Big Foot.

Did I just compare Jesus to characters from children’s tales? 

Yes, I did.

Isn’t that what many think He is, just a great character from the past?

SANTA

Santa is based on the story of Saint Nicholas, Jolly Old St. Nick. He was a real man, who couldn’t go down chimneys or fly around on a sleigh; or walk on water or heal the sick; however, he did bring happiness to many needy children and families in real life.

Matthew 19:21 (NIV) Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.” 

“Obeying Jesus’ words to “sell what you own and give the money to the poor,” Nicholas used his whole inheritance to assist the needy, the sick, and the suffering. He dedicated his life to serving God and was made Bishop of Myra while still a young man. Bishop Nicholas became known throughout the land for his generosity to those in need, his love for children, and his concern for sailors and ships.” (StNicholasCenter.org)

I think it’s wonderful for kids to believe in Santa. He isn’t make-believe. The same goes for Jesus. Once kids are too old, or stop believing, or find out from friends that Santa “isn’t real”, the explanation really shouldn’t be so complicated.

You see, St Nicholas (Santa) WAS a man, a Christian. He loved Jesus, and he loved to help people. The tradition of Santa Claus has been kept alive through parents, to honor the good Nicholas did, and to give children something good to look forward to and someone positive to look up to.

Don’t skip the next section because I titled it Jesus. You made it this far.

JESUS

Jesus may not be on earth today, but He was a man, He did exist, and while He was here He did many great things. Why? Because He loved us. And whether or not you believe that He resurrected, or is in heaven, or that He is actually God AND the Holy Spirit, you can at least still believe what He once was, what “men” once wrote about Him, the same way “men” wrote about Saint Nicholas.

You can live your life in a way that glorifies His life, His purpose; that sheds light on the good He did, and more importantly, WHY He did it—out of love and the simple goodness of His heart with no gains.

If Jesus, the man, went to heaven, wouldn’t you want to go there too when you die?

Whether Jesus was God or just a simple man, doesn’t He sound like someone you want to be more like?

You can’t work your way to heaven?
The Bible teaches that you cannot go to heaven through works alone. You have to believe in Jesus and the whole “story”

I understand that; I get it.

You can’t out exercise a poor diet.

But whenever someone does something good, any good action, whether they like it or not, they are representing what Jesus stood for and glorifying him. They are eating His fruit AND exercising His good works at the same time.

Is it easy to be a good person? No.

Is it easy to do what you know and feel is right even when others tell you not to waste your time, because others don’t care, and won’t reciprocate? No.

Is it easy to believe in something or someone that you cannot see? No.

But Jesus doesn’t take the form of one man or thing, but many. Men and women, doing good all over the world. Jesus is Amorphous. He is a budding flower, a cloud, a snowy mountain top, the growing green blades of grass, a sweet melody, a ripe fruit, a beautiful creature (even ants -_-), a crying infant, a walking toddler, a smiling child, a helpful sibling, a loving parent, a sweaty laborer, and whether we like to believe it or not even some lawyers and politicians.

He is all around us in everything we see and do. 

So one myth (Jesus) yielded another (Santa). Well, folktale or not, I hope He leads me to become a legend as well. 

DOING GOOD

I guess it is inherently selfish, because doing good makes YOU feel good, so in the end you are really just pleasing yourself…

But also, hopefully, by doing good you make others feel better and motivate others to do good and seek good in turn.

If you don’t know me, you might be thinking, “Gosh, this girl is a Jesus FREAK!”

Hardly.

I just believe what I believe, and I’m not afraid to say it. I make plenty of mistakes and my fair share of bad decisions. And among other things, I curse…occassionally…like a sailor.

So, I guess the question is: How can I be a good person all around? How can I do right by everyone around me, keep a sane mind and somehow be happy also?

It is really hard. 

I can’t, by myself. 

I’m not perfect, and I don’t want to be perfect.

But I do want to be good…

And I will keep keep trying. 

God’s Mercy: The Shrimp Boat

5 de Junio 1980
Port of Mariel, Cuba
———-
Many waited in the large room. Among them, my parents and sister—only 10 months old at the time—my aunt, uncle and cousin.

Like pupils, they listened intently for their names, not just to indicate that they were present, but because it meant they were a few steps closer to freedom.

The summer heat only added to the bubbling tension. As each name was called, uneasy looks turned into smiles. Families, couples, men & women headed into another room. Sometimes one after the other, but more often than not, the order didn’t seem to have any rhyme or reason. 

The room grew empty as people rejoined each other in the other room that may as well have already been called America. 

After some time, my father found himself alone; only a few others whom he didn’t know remained.

He waited, conjectured, speculated, imagined the worst; he prayed; and then he saw my mother and sister returning with a guard. 

They hadn’t called his name. He would not be authorized to leave through the Mariel boatlift.

He had previously been imprisoned for attempting to leave the island, and now, years later despite a wife and infant, it seemed they weren’t going to let him go so easily.

My mother couldn’t speak as she approached him. Fear welled up in her eyes, and in his heart. 

He bit his bottom lip, opened his mouth, then hesitated. 

He told her to take my sister, and go ahead with my uncle.

“Tranquila,” he said and held them close as she sobbed. 

“Despidese ya, que usted no lo va a ver mas,” the guard sneered heartlessly. What joy could he find in separating a family?

She kissed him one last time. He cupped my sister’s face in his hands and kissed her forehead lightly, smelling her hair at the same time, hoping to remember her sweet face whenever he smelled the familiar baby cologne. 

My mother’s heart ached, but even at 19 she was obedient and loyal. 

My father watched them go, towards an uncertain future, but better nonetheless, even if the sea would forever lie between them.

My aunt held my sister for the majority of the trip, while my mother vomited over the edge of the boat that brought them to the United States. She was seasick the entire voyage, perhaps heartbroken and distraught by her decision as well. 

———-

Thankfully, with the help of God and the support of our families, my father was able to leave Cuba a few days later. The boat that brought my father to the United States on June 10, 1980, and would eventually reunite my father with his family, was named God’s Mercy; and so has it carried us ever since. 

———-

This is just a piece of the story of my parents exodus from Cuba; however, the sacrifice they were willing to make that day is not unlike those they have continued to make over the last 35 years. They always put their families’ needs first, above and before their own desires. My parents have been amazing examples and pillars of instruction my entire life. I am so grateful to have them both. More than anything though, I am grateful to God for his mercy and the blessings he has bestowed on our entire family.

How to get away with Mur…MARRIAGE!

How to get away with Mur…RIAGE!

Ha! Marriage!
Yes, I almost said Murder; but both go hand in hand if you ask 40-50% of the population.

MARRIAGE: It’s supposed to be a “Merry-Age”? But for a lot of people it’s more like a slow torturous death.

The plus side is you can always just pull the plug and get a divorce, RIGHT?

NO!!! This totally annoys me.

If you inherently believe that you are gonna fail at something the whole while you are attempting it, don’t you think that negativity will filter through? At the first sign of trouble, you just throw in the towel and bail?

Gosh, we’d probably still be pushing boulders around and beating each other over the head with clubs if we gave up on everything so easily.

Yes, some issues arise because people get married for the wrong reasons, or without getting to know each other well enough, and so on. But for the purpose of this blog post, let’s assume both parties are in love and genuinely believe they WANT to spend the rest of their lives together.

I always hated the phrase “Marriage takes work.” If marriage takes work, then I guess parenting is unpaid overtime, with no breaks or benefits?

I only kid (if you are single and not a parent yet).

If you ARE married and/or also in the parenting phase of your life/relationship, have Faith; be Steadfast; YOU CAN DO THIS!

How? How can I get through another day, you ask? How can I be happy, make my partner happy, and be a good parent at the same time?

Well this post has all the answers you’ve been looking for, you just have to read the whooooole thing to find out.

Okay, I lied.

It’s not easy. It takes a lot of slapping yourself in the face, and saying “Snap out of it!” And “Stop whining like a lil B—-!”

Hi. My name is Carmen.

I’m 17 years into my relationship; almost 11 years into my marriage; and 8 1/2 years into the parenting phase.

And I’m very happy with my life, marriage and family up till now. Many will say I’m happy because I haven’t gotten to the bad part yet. Why do people always wanna have a worse story than you? Wether it’s relationship stories or the horrific labor stories women tell, we are always trying to one up with the bad vibes or bad news.

Well, thankfully, we passed the “7 year itch” without a hitch. We’ve got four kids, all natural labors, 3 with epidural. And although our oldest is only 8, she is frightfully maturing at the speed of light.

Unfortunately, there’s no epidural for marriage, but you shouldn’t need one.

Here are 10 other things you can do be happy in your marriage. I say other because there are so many factors that contribute to a happy marriage.

1: Play hide & seek.
Or, as I like to call it: randomly hide from your husband and scare the crap out of him.

WARNING: while this is EXTREMELY fun, and HILARIOUS, be warned that I cannot be responsible if you get punched or kicked in the face by your frightened significant other.

Whenever I hear him coming down the hall, I find a quiet place to hide and then wait… And wait… And wait. Sometimes for several minutes.

Sounds sinister, I know, but it makes for a great laugh for the both of us, after the initial scare that is. Thankfully he seems to forget to get me back.

2: Serenade each other randomly. 

You don’t need a fancy guitar or Mariachis. Just sing in the car or at home when “your song” comes on. Or text them randomly if you hear your song or any other romantic song on the radio. And don’t discriminate if it’s “Bump and Grind”; it’s the thought that counts.

3: Say I love you when you’re just going to another room.

Say I love you a lot! NO, it does not take the meaning away! Sometimes we don’t say it enough to avoid overuse.

Are you kidding me? Do you know how many times we use the word “the” or “and” everyday? Try taking that out of   rest of this blog post see how odd it would be.

Say “I love you” often as you can.

4: Make time to be Intimate.

This should be number 1, but the order doesn’t really matter.

This is especially true once you have kids, but even before. You get married, and have jobs and responsibilities, and before you know it you could be in a slump! Do not give in to the slump. As tacky or unexciting as it may sound, set aside time to be intimate. Literally, count the days and plan for it.

As boring as that may sound, it will still be fun and exciting once you get around to it! So book your calendars just as you would a mani, pedi, or gym-time.

5: Leave little love notes for each other. 

This one is more for the ladies.

Ladies, don’t read this and say, “my guy never does that.” You see THAT is YOUR biggest problem. Stop comparing your guy to someone else’s. AND stop expecting things from him just because you do them, or want him to do them. Men are totally different animals than us. They DO NOT think the way we do. So you have to learn to interpret and appreciate the little things they do for us.

Like what?

Well, how about when they fix something around the house; deal with your car problems; maybe they let you pick a movie. Okay, maybe it’s just a show between the commercials of the football game; okay, maybe you just hold the remote. FINE! Who am I kidding, we barely have remote rights.

Also, ladies, men are terrible guessers. Just tell them what you want and stop expecting them to “know” everything.

6: Compliment each other.

Naturally, as time passes and you start to settle into the relationship, you get so comfortable you forget how attractive you once found each other. You forget about the chase because you already caught each other, and even though you still have the hots for each other, you stop saying/showing it.

This sort of goes back to number 4/1, but also leads to #7.

7: Be confident.
Too often we don’t give ourselves enough worth. We get down on ourselves because we don’t like what we see in the mirror and we ASSume the other person is unhappy with us as well.

Well, NEWSFLASH, men are easier to please than you think. NO they are not blind; you ARE NOT Miranda Kerr or Sofia Vergara, and yes they find these women very attractive. BUT nevertheless, your spouse wants YOU! So ACT like you look like Miranda Kerr, just don’t talk like Sofia Vergara (that’s just annoying). Put on something sexy no matter what you look like, and your spouse will be happily surprised!

8: Never keep track of who owes who.

Marriage is a give and take (this also goes back to number 4/1).

It’s about compromising and sacrificing.

Sometimes you will feel like you are giving more than the other person. But you aren’t supposed to keep tabs. It’s not a math equation.

You don’t give in hopes of receiving, although the saying goes “you rub my back, I’ll rub yours.” And who doesn’t love a good back rub?

You have to love the person more than yourself. If you are both truly in love, then it all balances out.

Ask my husband and he’ll confirm, “Happy Wife; Happy Life!”

9: Don’t worry about other people’s relationships.

NOBODY is perfect. No matter how “happy” people seem.

You know what makes for a great marriage?

Discretion.
Keep your problems between the both of you. Work them out together, whenever possible just between you and your spouse. Because your unconditional love will forgive many things, but your friends, family and Facebook will not be as understanding or forgiving.

10: Articles about Marriage are like Fad diets.

Their advice WORKS! But the second you atop dieting, you gain all the weight/problems back.

You see marriage is for a lifetime. There is no quick fix, or one time remedy because life takes it’s own course. You have to face obstacles and challenges as they came. It’s impossible to plan for anything.

I hope this post is somewhat helpful. If I have to pick one out of the ten as thee most important, I would go with number 4! 😉

Like Nike says,“Just Do It!” LITERALLY!

A Happy Meal?

Several months ago, I took my daughter to Mcdonald’s after a doctor’s visit. (Probably NOT the healthiest option, but it made her smile after getting some routine bloodwork.) It’s not called a Happy Meal for nothing.

She unpacked her happy meal, chicken nuggets, fries, and a cheeseburger with no pickles.

Using the fries as teeth, she pretended to be a vampire. I snapped a picture for posterity, (Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter) and laughed at my silly little girl. Sofy giggled and all the fries fell out.

“Now you do it, Mommy.”

Suddenly, there was a loud grunting and whining from across the room; someone was pounding on one of the tables.

Everyone turned to stare at a tall hairy boy, maybe six foot, late twenties, at least 250 pounds. His tattered white t-shirt was a size too small; his shorts fell slightly askew below his waist. He wore heavy looking, black laced up shoes, like those you might put on a child whose feet turn inward. His dark black hair was as untamable as his spirit.

He was a giant compared to the woman next to him who tried ineffectively to appease him.

Her brown hair, pulled back in a short ponytail, was highlighted by whites and greys. Her skin was the reddish brown of someone who might toil under the sun all day, like farmers, construction workers, or beggars. She reached out and placed her callused hands on his, shushing him. The dirt under her fingernails contrasted sharply against the boy’s pale white skin.

Her eyes looked up at him, but past him as well, pleading for the boy to calm down.

His squinty eyes looked confused, and he gnawed at his balled up fists as he continued to moan in in-compliance.

People were staring, including Sofy, who seemed frightened by his loud outbursts. His pounding rattled the chairs around his table.

“It’s not polite to stare,” I reminded her and reached out for her little hands.

“Mommy, what’s wrong with him?”

I explained that some kids are just born different: speech impediments, physical abnormalities, mental handicaps, and so on.

“It’s very sad and nobody’s fault. And it’s not nice to stare at or make fun of someone because they are different.”

The boy grew more upset until an old man, his father, finally came over with a tray of food. The man took off his dirty Yankee’s cap and brushed his hand through his thinning, and also greying, hair. He had the same burnt skin as his wife. He needed a haircut and a shave. His jeans were dirty and torn at the heels from dragging. His belt had grown too big for his waist, and you could see where he had added extra holes and cut off the excess.

He was a third of the size of the boy, but he calmly motioned the boy to take a seat. After some quiet negotiating, the boy listened and sat next to his teary eyed mother. He and his mother shared a 10 piece nuggets meal, a burger and fries. The father had asked for a cup for water; he went to the soda machine and got some fruit punch for himself. That was all.

Perhaps he had already eaten?

I felt so blessed to have not one, but three, happy and healthy children. I couldn’t begin to imagine the struggles they were going through, physically, emotionally, and monetarily.

We picked up and headed for the door. As I reached the door, I looked back for one last look at the depressing situation that I was leaving behind, that which they couldn’t.

The old man looked up at that moment, and I realized I had seen that face before.

**********

A few days before, I was waiting at a traffic light when I noticed a beggar walking down my lane. He held up a cardboard handwritten sign.

“I HAVE AN AUTISTIC SON. I CAN’T FIND WORK. HE NEEDS FOOD AND SPECIAL CARE. PLEASE HELP.
GOD BLESS.”

I was so angry. How could this lazy man pretend to have a sick child in order to get pity and charity from other hardworking people.

He’s probably gonna get drunk, or buy drugs.

Needless to say, I didn’t open the window. Although I’m always inclined to give money to the homeless, I thought I was going to teach him a lesson.

**********

I never thought I would run into him and his Autistic son at that McDonald’s, and see first hand the circumstances he so poignantly described on cardboard.

Now, whenever I see him, I always ask about his son. I give him what I can.

I don’t know how he got there or why, but I’m not supposed to. I’m no one to judge or determine worthiness…

What we receive is not ours to keep and hoard, it is His for us to give.

Ecclesiastes 6:12 NIV
For who knows what is good for a person in life, during the few and meaningless days they pass through like a shadow? Who can tell them what will happen under the sun after they are gone?

Proverbs 11:24-25, 28 NIV
[24] One person gives freely, yet gains even more; another withholds unduly, but comes to poverty.
[25] A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.
[28] Those who trust in their riches will fall, but the righteous will thrive like a green leaf.

Proverbs 3:27-28 NIV
[27] Do not withhold good from those to whom it is due, when it is in your power to act. [28] Do not say to your neighbor, “Come back tomorrow and I’ll give it to you”—when you already have it with you.

**********

This post is in no way intended to indicate that Autism is necessarily a sickness or a weakness, or that people with Autism can’t function normally, and live happy lives.

The boy in the post had other problems and limitations which weren’t caused by the Autism.

This is a portrayal of events that actually took place from my point of view, and I have no expert knowledge about Autism.

In no way is this post intended to offend anyone with Autism, nor anyone with relatives who have autism.

Church

Recently my daughter’s teacher asked me if we go to church?

My son and daughter attend a private Christian School, and I wondered hesitantly if she was asking because one of them had done something wrong.

But then I thought, I do go to church everday.

Every morning when I wake up and thank God for another day; and I pray that I will be a good person and do the best I can to do His will. I also pray that I’ll win the lotto, AND promise to share the winnings.

Every time someone asks me for help or advice, and I can sit, listen and we work together to find a solution.

[1 Corinthians 14:26 What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.]

When my dad tells me stories about his past experiences, situations he faced, and how God helped him get through when he was certain failure was at hand.

When I give money to the homeless lady, not knowing where the money will go, but certain that’s as far as my job goes.

Every time I go over the homework with my kids; when they happily recite their weekly bible verse from memory; when we read; when I watch them play together or help each other out; when they pick up their room. That last one happens… sometimes. Besides, cleanliness is next to Godliness… Isn’t that one of the commandments?

When I lay down with each of my three kids at night and pray with them.

[Matthew 18:20 For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.]

My youngest doesn’t really know what she’s doing, but she puts her hands together and says thank you for everything from Mom and Dad, to pollitos and papitas.

When my family gets together on saturday nights, despite our differences of opinions and lifestyles. Family always comes first, THEN cigars, whiskey and pork rinds.

When I lay down in my bed at the end of a long day and pray for family, friends, work (Please less work); when I give thanks for all I that I have; when I look up a verse on my bible app, or read a short devotional.

There’s an app for everything! iChurch? J/K O_o



Without a doubt going to church has its merits. It reinforces what you believe, reminds you to practice good habits. At times, the message speaks to you, like it was specifically tailored to your struggles that week.

But if you listen, God is speaking to you all day long, through the people and situations you endure, at work, at school, at home, even in your dreams; in every opportunity that you are given to be like Him.

I guess I could make time to go to church, but I don’t want to dedicate just one day, morning or afternoon to be open to God’s message.

**********

Rather than go into that long explanation, and fearing the awkward silence had already lasted longer than a second, I replied, “No, we don’t go to church.”

“Really? I thought most certainly that you did. Your daughter is so sweet, and the way she talks about God, I just can’t believe it. She is just such a sweet little girl, and a joy to teach. You are obviously doing a good job.”

[Proverbs 22:6
Direct your children onto the right path, and when they are older, they will not leave it.]

I gave myself a good ol’ pat on the back and thanked her.

No saber es no entender.

Hoy participe en un evento para la comunidad-El Poder de Saber. Un evento desarollado por Telemundo y apoyado en parte por la cadena de tiendas Valsan.

Se repartieron mas de 1,100 mochilas llenas de materiales escolares para niños de sexto a doceavo grado. El evento enfocaba en estudiantes de estas edades, en particular, porque a esa edad muchos pierden la esperanza en el sistema educativo y dejan los estudios, sea por razones de salud, familia, o monetarias.

El Poder de Saber es una campaña que apoya los muchachos para motivarlos a continuar su educaion y, al menos, terminar la secundaria.

—–

Es el ultimo fin de semana antes de comenzar el nuevo curso escolar.

La reparticion de las mochilas seria de diez de la mañana a dos de la tarde, pero a las 8:45 de la mañana, ya habian varias personas esperando y preguntando sobre las mochilas. Algunos preguntaban con bastante anxiedad porque en los dias designados, no habian obtenido los vales necesarios para recojer una mochila.

Los que no obtuvieron vales tenian que regresar en la tarde para obtener uno, en caso de que sobraran algunas mochilas.

Muchos esperan hasta el ultimo momento para conseguir los materiales escolares, y no es por vagancia. La realidad es que muchas de estas familias no saben con que van a cenar, mucho menos como van a comprar algo tan sencillo como una libreta.

Por lo general las personas entendian las reglas.

-Se repartia un vale por cada niño de sexto a doceavo grado.

-Un adulto deberia acompañar al niño para obtener el vale, y luego para entregarlo en cambio de una mochila.

-El o los niños deberian estar presentes en el momento de recojer la mochila.

La mochila contenia libretas, una carpeta, composition books, lapices, y boligrafos-materiales basicos, pero esenciales.

Una señora se acerco a la mesa con sus dos hijos. Su blusa empapada en sudor, y sus cachetes rojos de esperar en la cola bajo el sol.

Entrego el vale y agarro una mochila para su hijo mayor. Enseguida el se la engacho en la espalda y se viraron hacia el parqueo.

Pero, parece que le salto alguna duda a la madre, y se viro de nuevo hacia la mesa.

“Las mochilas son para los niños de sexto a doceavo grado solamente, verdad?”

“Si señora,” le respondio la encargada de cambiar los vales por mochilas.

“Ok. Gracias.” En el momento que la mama contesto, el niño mas pequeño salio de atras de ella.

Ella le puso la mano en la cabeza y le restrego el pelo cariñosamente. “It’s okay,” le dijo.

Se despegaron de la mesa, y la encargada continuo a colectar los vales.

“Esperate!” Les dije, pero no me escucharon.

La coordinadora de la mesa me miro y entendio enseguida.

“Niño! Ven aca,” le dijo, a la misma vez extendiendole una mochila.

El miro a su mama para aprobacion y luego se acerco.

“Como tu te llamas?”

Apenas se escuchaba su respuesta, pues estaba apenado.

La coordinadora continuo,”Esta mochila es para ti. Portate bien en la escuela.”

El niño agarro la mochila sonriente y se acerco a la mama, quien lo abrazo a su lado.

“Muchas gracias,” dijeron y salieron caminando.

No habian caminado mas de diez pies del parqueo cuando la mama paro. Los hijos se viraron y le preguntaron,”Mama, que pasa?”

La mama se tapo los ojos, pero las lagrimas se veian correr por su cara.

Ella no podia hablar, ni yo que la estaba mirando.

Pero, ella no tenia que hablar, sus lagrimas lo contaban todo.

Pity Cat

If you utilize any form of social media, then it’s very likely you have encountered the Grumpy Cat meme.
20130523-001743.jpg

But…I bet you’ve never seen the Pity Cat meme…
20130523-003611.jpgOk. That is a really cute, sad kitty, but we all KNOW a Pity Cat.

They thrive off your pity and NEED your attention. Yet, rather than get attention by doing something positive, they focus on all the “bad” things that “happen to them” and ONLY them.

As with Grumpy Cat, we often enjoy drama and BS, like Maury and Caso Cerrado, more than we enjoy hearing good uplifting stories.

Pity Cat is often motivated by other Pity Cats through likes and friend requests across the social media board. Some “likers” probably really DO sympathize with Pity Cat. After all, they are sad, annoying, and pathetic.

I warrant I’ve had my fair share of whiny, complaining, “I need a vacay, NOW!” type of post; however, for the most part, I refrain from bombarding timelines.

Side note: I do need a vacation, and I’m taking one this weekend!

20130523-012723.jpg
YES!

Typical posts from Pity Cat consist of:

20130523-003209.jpg

Ohhh, damn. Traffic, huh? The cars must’ve magically dropped out of the sky and surrounded yours.

We LIVE in Miami! There is always traffic, and yes, an overpopulation of hispanics—Cubans to be exact. And I LOVE IT! In fact, it’s a little off putting that one day, when there isn’t traffic, someone honking at you, or cutting you off, and you actually get somewhere on time. If you DON’T like the traffic, or us “Cubans”, please move away.

20130523-003251.jpg

Bills? What are those? Oh, you mean like phone, light, & water bill, rent, car payments, insurance, food expenses, and so on. You’re right, you deserve to win the lottery; nobody else has to work long hours or pay bills.

How about the infamous…

20130523-010427.jpg

You know what? I will go over there right now to watch your kid, so you can have that drink!

Put. Down. The bottle! It’s called, Sarcasm!

It really might be 1 drink, but how big is the glass? Or perhaps, just a couple of innocent glasses of wine. After all, leading doctors recommend wine with dinner, right? It really doesn’t matter what they are saying now-a-days; doctors change their minds every time they go to the bathroom. Stop hiding behind statistics, and the latest pill pushing medical reports. It’s like adding “LOL” at the end of a rude or sarcastic message, it doesn’t hide your disdain…unless the person is an imbecile.

#JustSaying #WinkyFace #SmileyFace ❤

Let's face it, it's never 1 drink. You either think you have more tolerance than others, or believe that you know when to stop. Seriously though? I don't know about you other moms, but my kids do NOT sleep through the night, and they are 6, 4 and 2. When it’s not a bad dream, random fever or episode of vomiting, it’s one or more of them asking “mommy, can I sleep with you.” So, what do you do then, that “one” night when you and the bottle finish each other, and your kid wakes up crying, sick, or just scared, and you don’t…

Guess what, Pity Cat? Everyone has tough days, and bills to pay, mouths to feed, and mucho trafico throughout. Stop Winening! (spelling intentional)
20130523-015640.jpg
If you think you NEED to drink every day to get the “edge” off, you’re an idiot!
20130523-015923.jpgLOL
::remember to insert smiley face to take the edge off::

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The Jackpot

“Mommy, can I ask you something?”

Sofia begins 5-6 conversations a day with that question.

“Sure,” I say, quickly pondering what outrageous interrogation will ensue.

“Is it hard to be a Mommy?”

This was the second time in the past week that she had asked me. The first time, I responded with a lot of Uh’s and Um’s, but this time I was more prepared.

“Well, sometimes it feels hard, because I’m tired from work, but you guys make it easy, because you are so wonderful. Why do you ask?”

“When I’m a mom, I’m gonna have 6, or 4, or 5 kids.”

I was glad to hear that response, because I didn’t want to frighten her away from her dream of having so many children.

Women aren’t easily motivated nowadays to have one kid, let alone 6, or 4, or 5.

9 months of swelling, indigestion, and 20 to 60 pounds of weight gain—yes, I gained 60 pounds throughout each of my 3 pregnancies, on a 5’1″ frame, you could say I “got around; then a long, tedious, painful labor and delivery—with or without an epidural, it bites; 30 to 45 endless nights, of crying and crankiness, and not just you, the baby is adjusting to living outside your body, as opposed to the water world they inhabited for 40 weeks; 40 torturous nights without intimacy, where you think, “I’ll never say no to sex again!”—that doesn’t last; add on the throw up, poop, pee, and other things you can’t identify that babies spew all over you; and all of a sudden, before your baby is even walking, it’s settled. You’re done. “One baby is more than enough!”

You’re right! All of that does sound awful; but there are rewards in between. Sweet smiles and giggles; gentle tugging at your hair while they nap; eyes that bat softly to sleep to your lullabies, despite your awful singing voice; and when they start talking, it’s all over.

That first time they call you Momma or Daddy, it’s like hitting the 600 million dollar PowerBall. Ok, I know it probably seems like there’s NOTHING better than hitting the 600 million dollar PowerBall, but I feel that becoming a parent is like buying a ticket and winning the jackpot every day.

So, when Sofia asked me if it’s hard to be a mommy, I quickly answered no. I don’t mean to lie to her, I just don’t want her to fear motherhood and all the responsibilities, sacrifices, and spit-up it throws at you.

What is the right answer to that question?

I don’t know, but kids don’t know that you don’t know. So, just give it your best shot.

Tonight, I lay next to my curious daughter, after reading a story and praying. She said “Mommy, can I ask you something?”

Third time’s the charm, I thought. I was ready with my fairytale response about motherhood.

“What is it, Sofy?”

“Mommy, what’s a solar eclipse?”

Mouth agape, I blurted, “Go to sleep!