Why blog?

It's therapeutic... specially for dorks like me who communicate better when they have the chance to process their thoughts, select their words, and write precisely what they want to say. As much as I'm a "talker", I stumble, stutter, and don't always say things right. English as a second language might have something to do with that (unfortunately, I don't think I could blog in Spanish... I lost my grammar in that language). I like to pour out my thoughts and leave it out there in the cosmos (or the world wide web) for other people to mull over...

Thursday, April 14, 2011


I was reading the Bible today after many weeks of not even touching it. I don't know how or why it happens but I was so busy with one thing or another that eventually, even when I had the time to I wouldn't think of it; I'd try to keep myself entertained or busy instead.

I open to my daily reading and its 2nd Chronicles chapters 22-25. And in the devotional for the daily reading it points out that the saddest thing about King Josiah's time is that the Word of God has been missing for years but nobody really missed it.

Well God always has a way of letting things strike me when I'm dense... and I'm pretty dense!

I read on to see this young boy take over his father's reign in Judah. His dad, Manasseh, was the most wicked king in all of Jewish history. His 55 years of terror brought Judah to a point from which they could not be recovered spiritually or physically. In the last chapter of Manasseh's life, he finally repents - when he's broken, captive, and useless. It was too late for the kingdom.

But it wasn't too late for Josiah!

Josiah becomes king at 8 years old and doesn't seem to do much to run the kingdom until he is 18 or so. He starts getting involved in rebuilding the Temple of the Lord, and this project seems to pop up as one of the first things he does as king. As he invests in the Temple's repair, they find the Scriptures, otherwise known as "The Book of the Law". Basically all of Jewish history up until his kingdom. Everything God has ever spoken to His people. All of God's instructions thus far. All of God's warning.

The guy who finds it doesn't even know what it is! He takes it to the king and says, "Yeah we gave the money to the construction overseers and they are taking care of the temple and getting the wood and carpenters and mason work, etc... oh and by the way, we found this scroll."

But when Josiah reads it, not only does he recognize it but his heart breaks. He realizes that he hasn't done a blessed thing God has instructed. More over, the nation hasn't done a blessed thing God instructed since as far back as he had knowledge of! Somewhere there it says that they had not celebrated the Passover (the big celebration God instructed the Hebrews to do in memory of their exodus out of Egypt and their freedom from slavery) since the times of King Solomon! How much time was that? Well, King Solomon was like the 3rd king in Israel... Josiah was the 3rd-to-last king in Judah before the Babylonians wiped everything clean and stripped them all away to captivity.

Josiah prays and repents, and sends the priests to ask God if all the judgment they deserve was coming upon Judah. God responds with a "Yes, but because you have turned to me with all your heart, it will not happen while you are alive to see it." The judgment of exile was inevitable; hundreds of years had already turned the gears in motion, the Babylonians growing stronger and practically at the door. Multiple sieges had already happened. But in God's mercy, He listened to Josiah's heart, and gave Josiah a second chance.

Josiah went to work with his second chance too. He wasn't satisfied with, "Oh, I'll be ok. Nevermind then." It seems he still tried to turn the nation right side up again, even though it didn't outlive him. He tore up the asherah poles, destroyed the molech altar, cleaned up the temple, instituted the Passover again... Spent the rest of his life trying to clean up hundreds of years of idolatry until he was killed in battle by the Egyptian Pharaoh.

Then the book ends with siege after siege until finally the Babylonians take everything, burn the temple to the ground, destroy the wall of Jerusalem, and leave it like a ghost town.

I want to have a change of heart like Josiah. I don't want to be ok with the Word being missing from my life. I realized how thin and gray the line between a relationship with God and a religion goes, how suddenly I found my self on the side of a dead religion!

Man, how good it felt to pray, and count my blessings, and truly tell God how sorry I was. I had built up little shrines of idolatry based on selfishness, busyness, worry, and distraction. But God in His mercy didn't just let me go. He had been working in my heart answering prayer, showing me a light at the end of this particular tunnel I was going through. He was still my Shepherd, calling me as I was straying further and further away. I still don't know why today was different than the past couple of weeks and I just decided to pick up my Bible and read it. I am thankful that, unlike Josiah, there isn't an irrevocable wave of destruction headed towards me and my children. There isn't centuries of idolatry and immorality to undo.

I asked Jesus to protect my children from the effects that these past 2 weeks might've had on them; that their hearts wouldn't be hardened, that they would still be open and eager to come to know Him, and that I didn't in any way hurt them (by omission or commission). I asked him for help in healing Caleb, remembering the scripture in Mark where the man with leprosy approached Jesus and said, "If you are willing, you can make me clean!" The Bible says that Jesus was full of compassion and said, "I am willing..." I know He has compassion for us, and for Caleb, and is willing to touch His little body. But most of all, I asked Him to turn my heart back to Him. It isn't something that I can do, or that church can do. But He can draw me in to a relationship that my heart will follow.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

An Open Letter

I think one of the biggest harm to the Christian cause is duplicity.

Personally, I can't STAND it. It irks me to no end in any way shape or form. I don't tolerate duplicity or excuse it. Some people justify it by implying that your church life, your home life, and your work life are separate. I disagree! Who you are and how you treat people should be the same all the time.

I know how painful it is to children when their parents act one way with them in public and a completely different way in private. And I've seen it happen to both ends; the parents that are affectionate at home but distant at church, and the parents that are affectionate in the grocery store but cold at home. I decided I don't want to put my kids through that.

It goes further than how you act. A lot of people get uncomfortable with how you FEEL. It seems that, specially if you are a "Christian", expressing anger, frustration, or hopelessness is inappropriate. No one would deny that you can experience these emotions regardless of where you are in your faith, yet demonstrating these emotions to the "public" seems to be an act of faithlessness in and of itself!

I don't like stuffing how I feel. Those emotions bind to you so hard when you keep it inside... and they grow like weeds. I'm struggling with unforgiveness from my childhood due mainly to the fact that during these times I couldn't express my anger and my frustration then! And it plagues me now. Oh how I would've loved to just let it out, have dealt with it then, and moved on!

So now I don't want to keep locking in more stuff.... I've enjoyed just venting on my blogs and on facebook in a sort of uncensored manner.

I've been angry lately. I despair a lot. Worry gives me insomnia, insomnia makes me cranky during the day, crankiness makes me angry at everything that goes wrong. It's a vicious cycle that I have no power to break on my own. Not that it justifies me being rude or mean at home or at work - because it doesn't; I still owe everyone the same kindness, gentleness, and love as if I felt great and happy. But it's a rut I'm learning to crawl out of and I think it's only fair that everyone be warned.

I express my emotions to my kids. They may be too young to understand the whys or hows, but they definitely get, "Mommy is sad right now". Or "Mommy is mad". Sometimes they try to fix it. Most times they give me hugs (and apologies if required). I always try to tell them why I'm upset/sad, or at least that it isn't their fault and they didn't do anything for me to behave this way. And the odd thing is, this helps so much! Because they help me more, and I'm not taking it out on them. Even saying it out loud: "Mommy is having a bad day. It's not your fault, I just need a few minutes." I audibly remind myself not to be snappy at them or easily agitated... "It's not your fault..." I remember the source of my crankiness and I can separate myself from it and just be "Mom" to the kids. I want them to always know they can express what they feel - and that they won't be penalized for their feelings, only held accountable for their actions.

I never was one to keep secrets in the first place. I don't even enjoy friendships loaded with secrecy, I'd rather be on my own! That goes for myself too.

But the truth is that there is a testimony to the rest of the world in being an open letter. Because if in my despair, in my lack of faith, I suddenly find myself encouraged, the world can see and know that it wasn't due to any of my virtues but only because of my God. He is glorified when it's obvious and apparent that He is the Source, and not anything I can find or accomplish. And the reality is that it isn't "Maria is optimistic" but rather, "Maria has hope thanks to Christ." It's not "Maria is cheerful" but rather, "The joy of the Lord is Maria's strength". It's never been "Maria can handle it", but always "Maria can do all things only through Christ who gives her strength"...

People may disagree, but I'm finding that in my weakness, in my ugliest, and in my worst, the Cross has never been more desirable! How appealing redemption has become for me! How much more I appreciate Jesus taking my place on the cross, giving me a right standing with God that I don't deserve or can ever achieve on my own. Oh how I depend on His fellowship, His grace, and His mercy for healing while I walk through this valley! How much freedom I am experiencing as I open myself up and find that He loves me as I am now - and not based on what I'm supposed to be!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Life... I'm not really living...

I feel burnt out and weak. It probably has something to do with the fact that we are broke and have no food-stamps right now so we are eating WIC products and ramen noodles and that's pretty much it (unless friends bring food or order pizza). I haven't had any red meat in about 2 weeks. I feel the weakness I consistently experience when I'm anemic. Thank God my Mom sent me Harina Pan because we've been having arepas a LOT lately.

And it's just that we are in re-certification... for everything...

We got the day care settled. The kids are in school full-time and our payment is only $28 a month. Or at least, it would be - except our current day care charges $5 more per day so we're actually paying $103 a month per their math. but compared to $217 for only 9 days a month, we are not complaining.

And this month drained me completely. Just as I'm starting to work my tail bone off and kind of make money at my job everything starts going downhill. I just can't keep doing this anymore.

So I'm looking, dropping off resumes, going to interviews. Waiting and seeing what God may have for me. I am willing to do an excellent job wherever He places me. I trust Him! I'm not worried because I know God will open the right door at the right time. He takes care of our needs. He knows what I need better than I do!

Which means I'll have to go through the food-stamps/daycare paperwork one more time, probably beginning of May. I'll have to change the kid's day care again because I may not need to drive that far south anymore. I have to notify them of the job change and the new income and let them determine all over again what we are going to get. And I'm alright with doing all of it ONE more time.

It's all worth it for Paul to go to school. He's going to school full-time, he's getting good grades. He's enjoying it, seeing himself in a new career field, and I know that once he graduates he'll get good job. The sky's the limit for him! He can then go on to nursing, or even becoming a doctor. It may take a few years of studying, then paying off the student loan, then taking a few more classes with the money we save up... It'll be worth it. We just have to make it until then!

I just need God to hold me up until then. I'm ready to sleep for the next 4 weeks and just wake up when it's all over. I need so much grace, mercy, forgiveness.... I'm such a short fuse with the kids, I always have a migraine, I can't tolerate them just being kids. I don't have any energy. I barely have an appetite. I'm a zombie. Just going from one to-do thing to the next... jumping from one hoop to the next. Paying a little bit of one bill, then another. Functional just enough until I can finally but my head to the pillow and sleep... and then start over again!

Pepper's company is really a blessing to me. She's like my comfort blankie. Everyone has something that helps them to feel a bit better than their circumstances are. To some people it's a night at a bar, or a specific food. It's the reason why a lot of women have hobbies. Well I can't crochet and I don't bead but I enjoy dogs. I like walking, cuddling, training. Pepper helps me change my countenance and reminds me that being home can be fun.

The kids are adorable, too. They are growing so fast and they do so much already! I'm just amazed at how we blink and they hit milestone after milestone... how much Anakin and Brielle talk! How much Caleb does on his own! I wish I didn't see them so much as "work" when I'm home (diapers, laundry, baths, dinner, bedtime) and just enjoyed their company. I'm praying that the sound of their laughter doesn't pierce through my skull and make me want to beat my head into the wall. They are so special, just the way they are. I can't be the Mom they deserve out of my own strength. I am dragging myself on God's love and His peace.