Mothers

Motherhood is such a gift!

It is the gift of all gifts given to a soul, female soul. The ability to conceive, give birth, nurture. That’s the task. The main reason why she was put on the earth to have a child, children.

God is the Creator. Nothing else gives life unless He wills it. To gift a woman to conceive, is an extension of His divinity. It’s an act of great favor.

All that signifies safety, home, and a love special comes from a Mother. She is the shelter and light when all seems chaotic. She’s the peace pushed forth from Father God to distribute kindness and gentleness.

The gifts designed for the Mother were intentional to shape the world. No other being can fully share that love like a Mother. It is when she lives with a faith and belief in God that it becomes truly perfect.

On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for my Mom Barbara and the special love she allowed to breathe through her from the Holy Spirit. I cannot describe in words how blessed I am that she was my Mom. To my sister Denise for commitment of being my help and shield, my Godmother Diana for stepping up when I needed support, and all aunts and cousins, who have shown me unconditional care and concern.

“Women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more.” – St. Pope John Paul, Mulieris Dignitatem, The Dignity of a Woman

“Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.” – St. John Paul, Letter to Women

Letter to Women by Pope John Paul

Evenings at Grandma’s

Grandma’s house lovingly comes to mind now that the beginning of the spring/summer change is here.

The air is mild at sunset with a subtle breeze. The air and soon darkness of these evenings remind me of many memories I had at my Grandma Rosa’s house in Tucson, Arizona.

Family or friends who would visit, joined my Grandma who loved to sit in the front yard under her huge eucalyptus tree. Hours and hours of conversation over drinks of beer and laughter. I was too young to know what they were talking about since I would go off and play, because I knew this always meant I could be outside until possibly midnight.

Other times, Grandma would hose down her plants around the perimeter of her house, which wasn’t very big. The smell of wet dirt , even in my home backyard, reminds me of times with her during these desert nights. It’s a fragrance that stirs up home, safekeeping, peace.

I’m often thankful for memories that come with multiple senses. Now in my fifties, I choose to spend time in them, not letting them slip away so fast. Allows me to still feel the life of the moment and thank God for the remembrance.

A year has passed

A year has passed, Mom, and reflecting on the final days of your life, even if I didn’t want to, is happening without much effort. I say even if I don’t want to because I’ve already asked God for healing in this area of my grieving. But there is something to the timeline of a loved one’s final days that out of human nature, you can’t help, but reflect on. Much like holy week, which so happens to be the same timeline of Mom’s final days. In 2021, her rapid decline began during holy week.

There are many emotions and trials I went through during this first year. Going through all the grieving processes even as current as a month ago.

Conversations have continued with family and friends on all that took place during those final days. Signs, last things she said, etc. And in those conversations, my agony has been to repeat an area that was still very caught up in me.

It had to do with the anger I had towards the hospital and doctors. Also, my care and attention for Mom since she relied on me to help her. People often would say to me “but she’s with Our Lord”, “she’s in heaven”. And I would look at them a bit agitated because that piece of my heart knew that. None of these thoughts were taking away from that peace or fact that she died peacefully and is at rest.

It had to do with the loss of control I had to tend to her during her final days. I had no control.

Lent 2022 came presenting itself with what I knew needed greater participation on my part. Yes, of course, because of Easter, but also because of the suffering I still had with Mom’s passing.

One of the practices I tried to keep was adoration in front of the Blessed Sacrament at my parish. Fr. John often asks us to go and would it be too much to be there for even 15 minutes to sit and be still. I’m an occasional visitor, but now I realize I need to visit more. Each time I went, the hour would fly by.

On this particular visit, I happened to be there by myself, which is unusual. There are always parishioners present. I quickly stopped paying attention to that and began my dumping out, which means I go through all the areas of my life starting with my husband to everyone who’s on my heart and pray to the Lord for them. Then after my rosary was said, my mind drifted to the issue about Mom’s final days and the distraught I still carried about not having control to comfort her or help her in the hours where we had to be away from her in the hospital. The thoughts of her being left alone, no one helping her to eat, go to restroom, praying with her, any thought of neglect. I sat there in front of the Blessed Sacrament with my eyes closed as I thought these things. Regretful, sorrowful. Then a voice came loud into my soul, like a charge sent to my mind that said, “Give it to Me!” Without a doubt, I knew that was Our Lord and no thought of mine creating that. I quickly said “Yes, Lord, please take it from me. I give it all to You!” I’m done. I no longer want that in my life so that I can turn my attention where it needs to be. I know you have her.

It’s now been two weeks since this happened.

I recognize that was the final area to letting go of Mom’s death.

This Lent, for me, has grown my soul in ways that I know I’ve grown deeper in relationship, but also recognize those areas of my soul that I still need to work on. Thank God for that! I’m a sinner who needs a Physician! It’s been a Lent where I feel God’s present carrying my husband and I, family, in so many areas including my niece’s recent diagnosis. Shaping us, gracing us, building us.

It’s Holy Week and the Church focuses on the Passion of Our Lord preceding Easter. It begins on Palm Sunday, as every parish in the Catholic Church, reads Luke 22 and 23 that describes pivotal moments in the final days of Jesus. We go through the motions of what took place from the Last Supper (Eucharist) to his final words “Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” on the Cross.

When I recognized that Mom’s time was near, before she went into the hospital, I placed a mini white board in front of her bed so she could see it that had these same very words. I know in my heart she repeated them in her mind. This period of time will always bring so many beautiful sights, sounds, and even smells. In my personal life and my Church life. Mom’s final words, her room surrounded by flowers, family whom she loved, and Christ’s Presence.

Jesus on the Cross is all love. It represents a multitude of areas in our lives. Every time I reflect on His Passion, I find how it relates to my life. Prayer, dependency, trust, giving up self-will, peace, hope, promise of eternal life. Knowing my place on this earth and His place on the Throne.

Paul sets the example

Today is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle.

Recently, I noticed an Instagram account I follow that for the most part exhibits the universal Church message. They push more on the side of the Church Militant which we are, but in a way that explains the evil forces we fight against addictions, pornography, etc.

However, they posted a clip from a ‘speaker’ who I defiantly don’t follow or give any of my time. I have heard a couple of this speakers’ talks and my heart shut off once I started to hear him point out things that get others angered or rage about either the Pope, “weak priests”, certain Church teachings. It scares me the following he has because he gets many to settle in on what he thinks should be the focus. Intertwined with some uplifting faith remarks to make him look like a good and faithful servant.

What dumbfounds me is that the same group of people will listen to Bishop Barron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and then ‘this guy’ who at this time I don’t want to make known his name.  How they don’t see how vastly different ‘this guy’ is to others who are being disciples of the Church by preaching/teaching words of salvation. Do they ever hear our great evangelizers share out the same message as ‘this guy’?  Isn’t it strange there are not more like him in the spotlight?  Don’t get me wrong, he does have a spotlight because more and more follow his message.  And the message is attack and divide. Comes at a time, when so much is this focus. Good timing.

That may sound too strong of an opinion on this person, but when it comes to pointing out things to stir up negative emotions, that’s a red flag for me. And it saddens me how the faithful fall in it. Why are some giving ‘this guy’ any time?

Which brings me back to St. Paul.

St. Paul was zealous for God in his mind. Yes, God did choose past Old Testament individuals to fight against opposition who did not want to follow the Law nor count God as God. He did use them to fight and conquer even to the point of bloodshed. In the New Testament, Saul, who later was named Paul by the Lord, was much like those characters from the past but no longer needed. He thought it was his duty and right, to fight against those who he and the group he followed, to separate those who didn’t worship God in the way they thought was accurate. He admitted he had been following human invention. Persecuting areas he thought were his right to do and getting others to join in with him. Those that joined in with him could no longer recognize the tone Saul had because he made them believe he was a true believer of God.

Tone.

Once St. Paul had his conversion what struck me the most was his tone. His tone was full of strength but abundant with great love and humility. First thing was recognizing what he had done, the great remorse, and then opening himself up to learn what God wanted him to gain. St. Paul’s message that we are greatly blessed to have in his writings, teach us the main purpose of our call to discipleship – leading others to Christ. Period. That’s it!

Not to be overcome by the world. Not to give others the power to dictate to us what is darkness and how we are to go after it. The power to guide us comes from the Word of God, Church teachings, and prayer. Anyone can manipulate anything to make it seem right. You see it every day. Fear causes us to want to jump on something that is going to protect our right, our future. But we are not to live in that manner. But we are to test it asking the Holy Spirit to help us discern and place in our souls His wisdom.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:13-18

When St. Peter was with Christ at Gethsemane, when the soldier guards came to take him away, St. Peter thought on his own to strike Malchus. What did Christ tell St. Peter?

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

John 18:11

St. Peter did not consult Jesus before striking. He did it in what he thought was zeal for the Lord. He did it out of his flesh in thinking he was standing up for something. Never in any teaching does Jesus asks us to assemble and fight against things that stir up agitation, rage against other human beings. Never.  He asks us to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Steadfastness in Faith.

27Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.

Philippians 1

These ‘Catholic speakers/podcast/Youtubers/Influencers’ who like to preach with false authority, arrogance, are the ones to watch out and pray others stop taking the bait. Recognize what Church organizers, leaders, evangelizers are to possess. If it carries disrespect, strikes fear towards your fellow brothers/sisters, pretty sure, that’s not the one to follow. Listen less to their gospel and literally pick up the Gospel.  That will stamp out the noise.

1. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13

St. Paul, the Apostle, pray for us!+++ Help us to know who we are fighting!

A Thank You to my Aunts and Uncles

Recently, I’ve been thinking more on the lives of my aunts and uncles. I am blessed in that I share wonderful relationships with my remaining family. At this time, they are all in their late 70s or early 80s. Unfortunately, dealing with physical challenges, which for most of them did not have for the majority of their lives. And because of Covid, the ability to visit has not been possible. But our phone conversations have carried us along.

When recalling each of them, it takes me to times spent and how great those memories are because of how they were and are.

My sister and I were blessed with large families on both sides of our family.  My Mom came from a family of twelve.  My Dad came from a family of seven.  Both of my parents were raised in close knit families.  Family occasions were bountiful and there was always something to look forward to.

From a young age, my Mom always made sure I had a birthday party. There could never be a small party because our family wouldn’t allow that.  The size of your house didn’t matter either.  You gathered because you were family and that was the only concern.  Aunts and Uncles would always show up with their big families.  It was a given that everyone would attend.  It wasn’t a question because then life wasn’t so complicated with other schedules affecting decisions.

My Dad would take my Mom, sister, and I to California every Thanksgiving. Dad’s side of the family lived in different parts of the State allowing us to see many sites such as the beach, Disneyland, etc.  Those family trips opened up my awareness on how both sides of the family were equally important. It was always something I would look forward to.  To see my cousins who I would only get to have fun with at this time of year. The playful times running around, sweet treats, game playing, and laughing.  The sharing and the spoiling I would receive from my aunts and uncles topped off with a gift. 

As I speak to my aunts and uncles more so these days, I can’t help recall who they were in their younger age. Memories pop up. The vibrancy they all had. Being at this stage in their elderly lives, their bodies can no longer keep up with their minds. But even so, knowing their physical challenges, most don’t “sound” like they’re suffering. Their minds are as sharp as can be. Just how I’ve always known them. It always amazes me after each call.

Each of them inspired me with a personality trait that I think I’ve adapted into my own way of thinking. Ways about them that made me take notice and love them for being that person in my upbringing.  I have not always noticed that all these years, but playfully at times, my sister points out to me that I have them. Good or bad, I accept.

Majority of them were and still are quick witted. Some were highly educated. Some never worked. Some traveled the world. Some went through difficult marriages, some never married, or had kids. Some endured illness, some reaped financial success, and some lived in humble ways. Some were not always present when I was young, but have completely been present as an adult.

My Mom always stressed to me the importance of family, but regretfully as a young teen and young adult, I did not always feel this way. For a period of time, the celebrations in our family took a different direction that caused a stain in how I viewed the gatherings, specifically at the time my parents divorced. I was too immature to separate the love for them from their actions. This wasn’t the overall case, but some instances drew me to distance myself some. Thankfully, now in my marriage, importance of family developed by God’s design in numerous ways He gave us, has strengthened it in a way fitting now.

Now after losing both of my parents and observing their relationships with their siblings, I have a new profound respect and appreciation for my aunts and uncles.

Both of my parents loved their families greatly. They truly treasured each of them in their hearts and you could feel that in them in their final days.

In closing, I know I am fortunately blessed that I had aunts and uncles who I had strong relationships with. Their impact in how they were there for me in the troubled times throughout my life is something I now pass on and show to my nephews and niece. Dignity and honor, fortitude, unconditional love, are all seeds they showed that I want to carry on.

Thank you Tios for the treasured presence you brought to the family, memories, the legacy of your representation, I will always keep close in my heart and soul.

Will the Light

Today, was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. I went to my parish 8:30a Mass. I’ve been dealing with restlessness and anxiety for weeks due to mourning my Mom.

She passed away in April, but as the grieving process goes, and the holidays upon us, it feels like she passed away yesterday.

My days have been fidgety, but no matter how I busy myself, I keep to The Bible in a Year study even though I’m about 3 months behind. Life took some turns these last months and so I couldn’t keep up. Even if I did have time, I couldn’t focus.

But it’s been a saving grace for me. Listening, thinking, has given me the fuel to get through the day. I always feel peace and a bit stronger after I do my study. Most times, it does feel like I’m reaching for Our Lord’s garment.

During Advent, I admit I’ve been sluggish in what I wanted to do which was to attend weekday Mass twice a week. Because today was a holy day, I for sure did not want to miss.

Fr. Augustine, a new priest to our parish, was the celebrant. He’s known to give powerful homilies. You know when he wants you to get a point because his voice changes to a loud, deeper tone.

In his homily, he spoke about letting go of things that weigh us down. In contrast, the easy response from Mary, when she said yes to do God’s will. He also spoke about how disobedience is not only in the actions that lead to sin, but the inactions as well. For some divine reason as Fr. was speaking, it touched my soul how there has still been regrets. Much having to do in the inactions in how I dealt with the caretaking for my Mom. Holy Spirit prompted me to give it all to God – thoughts, sorrow, heartache, remorse, regret, the actions/inactions, doubts, etc. Intermixed with grieving of my mom’s absence, my soul is wrecked each day with what I wished I could’ve done or corrected. Because I’m not ever going to get that chance again, I feel as though I live in this odd, incomplete life.

That morning, Jesus made me see I can no longer do that.

Now even when thoughts try to stick in my mind, I quickly give it to God. Recognize what’s happening and pray.

This Christmas season feels numb. Days are moving, but I feel like it’s not really here, which makes Advent more difficult. I know the Lord sees me and knows my heart. I try to keep a grip and thank Him for everyday for the joys that did come.

A Time for Love

These last weeks I’ve been going through my Mom’s things. Mom passed away on April 12th. My sister and I have been sifting through, deciding on who will possess her things, donate, etc. And even though we went a solid week doing this, individually we are still going through Mom’s items. Being that Mom lived with my husband and I, I keep coming across treasures that are adding more to her memory.

There is something about life as a family when you lose your parents that my sister and I are now just appreciating or maybe it’s a whole new appreciation. Not that we didn’t appreciate our parents before, but I guess with maturity comes different perspectives. In the shuffle of time as a child, speaking for myself, I did much comparing my parents to others. Looking at how my friend’s parents spent time with them, gave attention, cared for, etc. That was my gauge. I grew up with that mentality and captured it against my parents, blocking me from seeing them individually and who they were.

It had much to do with feeling abandoned, which led to insecurity. Frustrations that turned me into being angry with my parents. There was never conversation or intimate talks on what had happened or where things were going. It was living through each day only to be disappointed.

To be clear, it’s not that my parents did not provide for me or celebrate me with birthday parties or Christmas gifts, but the relationship between parent and child and the respect needed was absent. I didn’t feel valued and neither did they. They were facing their own demons that only became stronger obstacles as life went by. Seeing them crutched my soul and paralyzed my lens towards them. Mom never explained to me her life situation, what she was facing, what she was battling when she made the decision to divorce my Dad. I only viewed it as her making the mistake. All my teen years was a lash out for that decision and a heart that at times was bitter towards her. I don’t know why she never shared. Instead she just let me be. Her life too became a result of broken love.

I recently found documentation from my Mom’s annulment process. This has forever changed my view on my Mom to which I regret not knowing about her struggles or her point of view at the time of her decision to divorce my Dad. Life was very different back then. No one butt into others business. Mom pushed through decision out of fear on both sides. Dad was spiraling in his life of addiction and had no grip on reality.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel if I would’ve taken the time to know my Mom as “Barbara” and not just Mom, my relationship with her could have been richer. I say this not to beat myself up, but with an appreciation and awareness to share that with my nephews and niece so they can find that fortune.

Mom was a very reserved person. She wasn’t one to share her frustrations or make her issues your issues. There was much to her life before she was married and while she was married that I did not know. While she lived with me, I did spend time asking her questions on her life. Those conversations were informative, but still didn’t reveal what I recently found.

The point I’m getting here is how much more profound it is to me the phrase “everyone is on a journey”. Dad and Mom battled their family circumstances/upbringing in their marriage. They were equipped with the knowledge they had. It was difficult and inconsistent. Any hurt my sister and I received was the side effect. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us, but they struggled to make it our strength.

Looking back at their lives, I am even more grateful to know what they overcame from all their trials, sufferings, disappointments, battles, by the redemption from Our Lord Jesus Christ. They found Him!

For whatever was absent in my childhood, I received a hundred fold when they both gave their lives to Christ. That is why their presence is greatly missed. Because the love that Christ wanted them to pour out onto our family broke through when they gave their lives to Him. My family and I all received that token of grace. Their lives were not their own. We experienced their love in endless ways that will live in our souls forever.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ache

Death can be cruel.

The mourning and grieving is the soft blade that strikes your soul out of nowhere in your day .

Given reality that reminds you of heartache and shame.

Heartache that doesn’t go away.

Heartache that everyday feels like a big empty void caught up in the air which is relieved by inhaling peace.

Peace that comes after the graces and then you do it again next day.

Shame often likes to appear.

From the many thoughts of things you wished you would’ve said while she was still here.

So much pent up appreciation with no air to go.

No other chance to say what you really wanted to say.

Death can be cruel.

Because all what you realize after never gets to be.

You at times feel incomplete.

But you know you can’t keep there but to run to the Father who will help.

That this cruel thing He can only transform into love for someone else.

 

Mama’s Day

Mom passed away on April 12th.  I feel like my whole being is frozen. Living, moving, but frozen. I feel a sense of me is no longer. 

It was not that we did not know she was not well.  It was not because there were lack of signs making it evident that her end was near.

But the speed in which it came is something I am still coping with.

I’ve often written about my childhood and my parents’ selfishness in my upbringing. How the effects of their decisions impacted my sinful choices.

I have also written about the dynamics of how taking care of my mom in her elderly years, reverse roles, was designed by God’s providence to teach us both area of our lives that needed healing.

But there was a lesson given right after Mom died that I had no idea would exist.  I’m pushing through and learning from it.

It is something I feel as though I need to make known to other daughters who care for their mom or don’t even know they too will be put into a situation to care for them.  Sometimes the pace of caregiving can make you lose sight of many things. If I knew those last months, days were my mom’s last, I would have changed how I did things. Some families are blessed where they know their loved one is at the end of their life. Much of my mom’s end felt quick and out of control. I know I can’t beat myself up, but wish I had paid less attention to the tasks and more of the sacred time with her.

My mom’s decline started to happen in December 2020. Out of nowhere she started to experience extreme pain in her upper arms. Thanks to God, mom never had debilitating pain ever in her life. This was new to her which caused her to stay in bed. And with Covid still lingering above our heads, a heavier cross was given to her overall mental health. Since she was already working at being patient in what her frail mind allowed her. Through January we were seeking answers to her pain. Then her blood pressure became an issue and even though her liver issue had seemed to be normal, at the start of March evident physical signs emerged.

I have always done good by mom when it came to her care. If I saw something, I would contact her doctor or research for a home remedy. When I noticed her repeating things, I had her see her neurologist. He said it was Alzheimer’s, but I felt there was something more to it. In the days after, her physical ability started to change. Sleeping more, eating less. I could not get her in with her hepatologist because he was booked, he instructed I take her to his hospital ER to evaluate her. That sequence of events turned out to be her final days.

During the last six months, I was so caught up in the tasks, I would lose the preciousness of the moments.  But there were times we discussed our faith and readiness for death. How on one afternoon I pushed myself to have the discussion with mom on what to pray for in those conversations with Our Lord. Her convicted response was she does pray for a “happy death” and how she prays “for God’s mercy on her sins”. Other times, we talked about memories of her childhood, her love for her grandchildren, and her two marriages.

But there is something more that I am reconciling with Our Lord about “time” at the end of my mom’s life despite all these conversations. Something I feel was missed. And this is what I feel I must make known in some cautionary way.

So often in our relationships with our mom’s we don’t take hold of the sacred time. We don’t ever think of life without her. I have known many women including my mom who lost their mother at a young age. I have seen their tears.  I have counseled and expressed my prayers to them. But there is something I missed or did not understand from them in their mourning. No fault of their own.  Not easy to express what it feels like to lose your mother.  Even now, me trying to put into words how much life drastically changes when your mom’s life is taken, isn’t fully explaining it.

This “feeling” of your mother’s soul not existing on earth is like a deep hole in your heart that extends to the clouds. It’s a hard, anxious exhale. A deep wound looking to be comforted from the one who no longer physically can. It is not like any other deceased loved one in your life. I can’t say I have experienced losing my husband or sister.  But I have lost my father, family, and friend.

Your mother brought you in the world. God’s great gifts are bestowed in a Mother. The fruits of the spirit are the definition of a mother – charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness…

In God’s great design, all that I felt I didn’t have in my Mom in my adolescence, she took on His will to allow her to live these great fruits in her later life once she became a grandmother.  Her focus, time, and attention were elevated in what she always had possessed, but didn’t let shine until God helped her recognize.

There are moments I think, did mom know how much I appreciated her? Did she know how much I loved her as she loved me? Did I communicate to her these same fruits she showed me?  All these thoughts are normal in the grieving process.  To question but not stay asking.

When you’re living your life you don’t often think of the moment. We can get caught up in the family gatherings, holidays, etc., but not necessarily pay attention to the person.

I can say my family and I had many great memories.  Mom lived for 78 years.  Birthday celebrations, mother’s days, trips to California.  Shopping sprees at Walmart, her favorite place. Driving down to Tucson, visiting family. Learning her recipes – creole chicken, salsas, chile con carne. Her teaching the grandchildren how to play poker where she learned from Camp Pendleton marines in the early 1960s.  We also had many conversations on her life.  Her childhood. Father dying at age two.  Mother dying at age 38. Never having a father figure. No male ever to show her how she should be valued. Her marriage to my Dad. How much she loved him and the shatter of her dreams when he chose addiction over their marriage. Later, how strong a blessing it was to her that in dad’s recovery, he asked her for forgiveness. Her seeking to find value and love after but never finding it. I value every time we spoke and thank God for all those random discussions that helped me to see her.

I often say to family and friends that God had us come together under the same roof again for healing. Even though mom’s move in with my husband and I was due to her health.  For almost seven years, we learned things about each other.  I learned there was still pent-up anger towards her for not giving me the attention I needed as a child. There were often challenges with that in that moments would hit me where I’m splitting time of my married life to care for her. How I would often have to decline invites because I was caring for my mom. Canceling trips, events, etc. because I couldn’t leave my mom alone. Battling with these reminders on how easily I sacrificed, at times, crippled me because I would remember how mom would set herself first.

Then God did what He could only do.  He flourished in her soul so that I, my sister, family, those in her life, could feel her love in the way He always meant it to be.

For all those daughters who have similar experiences, for the daughters who maybe too busy to see the preciousness of time, to the daughters who are getting fatigued with the care of their mother, for the daughter who thinks there is all this time ahead, for the daughter who doesn’t take the time to forgive – please stop and turn your heart.  The moment Our Lord takes your Mom – nothing – will ever matter so much more than to just have another moment with her.

 I’m living with thankfulness that out does any other experience I may ever have.  I will miss hugging her and kissing her every night. I will miss her sitting at her desk.  I will miss seeing her in my passenger’s seat driving around. I will miss arguing with her about going to the casino. Her telling me my dinners were “so good”.  Overhearing her conversations to my aunts on what my day consisted of instead of her own.  I will miss her asking me “what do you think” when she’s trying to decide to buy something.

Last, I came to realization that in all my time of seeking the Lord, reading countless books, attending church events, mass attendance, confession, podcasts, bible study that there is something strongly missed that could not be gained until your Mother passes away. The mother was designed to give life. Children born is to glorify God and to fulfill His will. The mother in her fiat to do God’s will passes onto the child in continuing to glorify God. Not all mothers know what their role truly is in those initial moments or years. It is faith and belief in Jesus that turns the cycle of life in what it is meant to be. No matter what time in life that becomes known. The love that pours out of the Son to the mother is the greatest source of living. Everything comes to be in right order. The understanding of heaven is ever more real to me now. Because how great the void of your mother’s love to just cease makes no sense. It’s as if to say, that’s it. You had it, now it’ s gone. You’ll never find that again. You’ll never know it again. But that’s not the case. We know a greater love and that is Jesus. That ounce of love that is your Mother’s love is a drop in the ocean compared to Jesus’ love for us. Knowing His promise, communion of saints, the chance to see our loved ones again…sustains me. Ever more real. Ever more grateful.

This way of life now with my husband at my side has forever changed. It’s awkward, strange, doesn’t seem real. But everyday, I ask God to have mercy on my wretchedness. To help me move forward with His plans. And with what I have learned may be shared and be a heart opening in their relationship with their mother so that God’s peace may be full.

I’ll never get another moment with Mom, but I know she knows how much I love her and need her prayers to grow and be ready too when it’s my time to go Home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

25 Years

Twenty five years young, Ruben and I celebrate today. On February 16,1996 we said our “I do’s” with little knowledge we knew of what a commitment for life would mean. From the moment of our big wedding until now, our lives would grow in ways we didn’t know we needed. And that’s all in thanks to Jesus!

When we met in 1991, we were coworkers who then hung out as friends. It took a while to realize we wanted to date each other. And once we did, it soon became clear to me, who I wanted as my forever mate.

I came from a life of no structure and Ruben came from clear opposite. He came from a life of confidence and was I still seeking it. We both had some seeds of faith sprinkled in our lives that our family had given us, but neither one of us understood it as a priority or its strong purpose.

But through each movement, Ruben let me see his trust. That when his proposal came with the truest love I have ever seen, I said yes with all shakiness and insecurity inside of me. I used to look back at times and think how did I deserve his offer? But now my thoughts confidently shift and know whole heartedly, it was divinely designed. A year later, the great day came. When we took each other’s hands, in God’s presence, and vowed our forevers.

We quickly initiated our marriage life away from our hometown and worked towards our budding new careers. A few years later, a new home, a new stage of life, and a new stage of growth.

In 2001, five years later, lupus changed our stride. Making me weak and having us see, there was lack of importance in our marriage that needed our attention.

Then our brother passed away. And my Dad did too. Life kept teaching us fragility, sacrifice, commitment, and the need to turn to God in every way.

God has continually moved in our lives to grow in areas we didn’t know we needed. To mature and strengthen for what came next. But this only came because we gave Him access into our marriage. Showing us the life we needed to have Him, breathe in us.

And from the very beginning even though we came into our marriage with thorns and thistles (pains/brokenness from the past) to what we thought was enough to offer our marriage, God little by little began to bloom and sow our love throughout these 25 years. How much we were unaware of the need of Him in the soil of souls. To become who we are today and yet better, by God’s grace, who we are tomorrow.

Our life is ever changing and so is our maturity. We are nowhere perfect, but we help each other along the way. We know now our true life is handing over the control and giving to God what is His. To strive for a better marriage not just for ourselves, but for others to whom He places in our lives. It truly is all thanks be to God.

“To have and to hold from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and health, until death do us part.”

Happy 25th Anniversary, my Hub.

My hero, my best friend.

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