I used to get upset when my kids made poor choices, or fought, or used foul language, or... I used to tell them how wrong they are and maybe even shout at them, or shame them, or otherwise express my disappointment. But this was a long time ago...like last year, or last month or ahem...yesterday. Each new day, though brings such wonderful opportunities for a new approach for them and for me. Lately, we've had some really ugly situations filled with cursing and name calling, but what an awesome opportunity to point them towards their ABSOLUTE NEED for a Savior!
Sometimes, It's just a matter of remembering that we are all still a work in progress.
See that man up there? That handsome man in the white cowboy hat? Look at him for a bit. Now focus in. That man, right there will be my focus for the year of 2014...
Last year, I read several blogs and snippets about a verse of the year or a word of the year. People chose a verse or a word to focus on throughout the year. There were some amazingly inspiring words as focus for 2013... intentional, love, inspire, courage...
I told you they were great! I thought about it long and hard, so long and hard that I never really landed on a word, then I promptly forgot about it.
So, this year, when I again started seeing #wordoftheyear all over the blogosphere, I got to thinking again. I asked God for a word. I tried a couple of them on... intentional? focus? marriage? They seemed like a good enough place the start, but then, I read Sarah Mae's blog. She decided to use her husband's name as her word of the year. I liked it, but was it right for me for 2014?
I thought about it, a lot. I prayed about it, a little (just trying to keep things honest, here). Then, I went about my day. I kept rolling all of the words over my tongue and through my mind as I set about my daily tasks. And things kept happening. Little things...I listened to a webcast from Focus on the Family about our behavior in marriage. I looked at my cart on Christianbook.com and noticed that it was full of marriage books, and then I added one more book to the cart which made my balance a perfect balance to get free shipping, and I knew that it was the word that God was placing on my heart for 2014. I know it seems like a stretch, but it was the confirmation that I was looking for (as if the fact that he works tirelessly each and every day to support our family wasn't enough).
It would be lying if I said that it's going to be easy. It won't be. I'm honestly a little afraid to be putting this out there. I know that focusing on my husband, my man, my love will be one of the hardest things I do this year. I will have to contend with Satan on this, but mostly I will have to deal with my own selfish desires. But, I love this man, and he is worth it!
So, here it goes. 2014 - The year of Rafael...
I am linked up with Sarah Mae's blog. So, go check it out and see other women with a similar word of the year!
As many know, I recently read the book TORN: Rescuing the Gospel from the Gays-VS.-Christians Debate, written by Justin Lee. I have taken my time to gather my thoughts and write them down. These are those thoughts, however rambling they may seem...
I read the book in a weekend (nearly unheard of in my home of 6), and I am changed. Seems silly to say that it took a memoir-esque book written by a Gay Christian man to change me and who I am as a Christian. I believe that God led me to read this book in His effort to change me. Even if no one listens and hears what I have to say, I know that I am different, and so I must share what I learned.
In October of 2001, I became a Christian. From that point, I did what lots of Christians do. I set about to determine what it means to be a Christian and live a godly life. I love God, and I love Jesus, and I want to live my life to bring Him honor and glory. I (my husband, really) found a bible believing, bible teaching church and we attended regularly, I began to read and engross myself in many bible studies, mostly at home by myself. I went through discipleship with a wonderful woman who did her best to reproduce her kind, patient, loving, God-honoring self in a know-it-all, like me. I read books written by Christian authors that told me how to be a godly woman, wife, and mother. I began to feel convicted in many areas of my life and tried my best to follow these convictions. As any human, I failed at reaching my own "ideal" of godliness on a daily basis, as others continued to do the same around me. And I began to judge them. I judged what they said, what they did, what they watched on tv. I judged the music that they listened to, what they wore (how little, mostly), and I even judged them by what they pinned on their pinterest boards (I know, right?!?). I would compare their "godliness" to my own, since I was judging Christians. It was really ugly. I was really ugly. I made a lot of decisions about people based on what I believed to be their sins. Can you believe that? WOW! I lived a "pot calling the kettle black" sort of life. I judged others by their behaviors for years in an attempt to figure out what it means to be "godly". I judged them by my standards, the crazy standards that I had gleaned from society's idea of Christianity, though I probably shouldn't bring "society" into this.
So, how, you may ask did reading the book, TORN, change me? For so many people, this is a book about whether or not it's a sin to be gay and live a "gay life". When my friends talked to me about what I was reading, one of the first questions they would ask was, "Does he believe that the homosexual lifestyle is ok?" The second was, "Well, does he live that lifestyle?" At the time, I just kept saying, "I don't know, yet. He hasn't spoken to that, yet." After finishing the book, I can answer the first part of the question. Yes, he does believe that a committed relationship between two people of the same sex is ok. For me though, this book wasn't about whether or not gay love is a sin. It isn't about tolerance of others. It isn't about tolerance of sin (whatever that may be).
“A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples,
if you love one another.”
John 13: 34-35
This book, to me talked about LOVE, the "2nd greatest commandment" kind of love. At the end of the day, it just doesn't matter if being gay or engaging in gay behaviors is sinful. It doesn't matter if I think so. It doesn't matter if you think so. It doesn't even matter if God thinks so (to me), because I'm not gay. You know what does matter?? God calls us to LOVE one another, and he tells us to leave the judging to Him.
The Holy Spirit dwells within me, not to call my attention to the "sins" of others, but to convict me of my own. So, lately, I have really been asking for God to change me in how I love others. The "judging part" of me is still there, but God, as always is very good at reminding me that I am not perfect. My heart is softening for my Christian brothers and sisters and everyone else that I encounter. Life is hard, and we all struggle with something. We all have a story.
"Come, follow me," Jesus said, "and I will send you out to fish for people."
If we are to be "fishers of men" and draw people to a saving belief in Jesus, we need to start loving like Jesus did. He didn't draw people in by pointing out their sins (whatever they may be). He drew them in by loving them right where they were for who He knew them to be, His children.
Last Sunday, Pastor Adams taught about 3 principles that are necessary to "conquer" temptation, or at least be ready for it so that you can defeat it, one temptation at a time.
1. Be filled with the Spirit.
I absolutely loved the analogy that Pastor Adams used; shouting "I know karate!" will not save us from an attacker any more than shouting "I've read the bible!!!" will help us conquer temptation. we need to do as Jesus did and remember, retrieve and repeat the actual verses that we have hidden in our hearts...
Which means, (ahem) we need to spend time in and memorize the Bible!! This is an area that I have been really thinking about and wanting to work on. There is so much wisdom in the bible!
I know! I know! Profound, right?!?! ....wisdom in the Word of God...go figure!
I have been helping my 8 year old daughter with her memory verse for church, over the past couple of months, and ya know something??? I have memorized, them, too! I have also had many opportunities to repeat them to myself, to my children and to friends, in remembrance, for teaching and for encouragement!
Next step? Work harder with all of my children in this discipline and continue to develop the skill for myself, as well.
2. Know where you will be tempted...
I am often tempted to eat more than I should, the things that I shouldn't, because they are just so good!!
I am tempted to disrespect my man, because, ya know, he's human and imperfect (ahem...like me).
I am tempted often to skirt the responsibilities around my home and with the children because I deserve some "me" time, right?!?
The temptations go on and on and on, but I should be sure that Satan will definitely tempt me in the very same ways he tempted Adam, Eve, and Jesus.
He will use my flesh, my eyes and my mind to convince me that there are things that I want or need and just have to have.
He will try his best to convince me that God is holding out on me, or in the very least is just sitting by "watching" with disinterest.
EW! Where is the "unlike" button? While I can't speak for everyone, I am not a fan of the suffering "bit". Not at all, but I can say that on the days of what I could describe as my most difficult days, there has always been a great sense of peace and/or joy that can only come from one place.... "God".
Pretty sure, that this also means that we sacrifice some of the things that we think we "need" and wait for God's timing. Which leads me to another of Pastor Adams' awesome points that really made me think...
ALL of the trees in the garden were good. ALL of the fruit was good. God said so, Himself. He created it. It was ALL good! God wasn't keeping Adam and Eve from goodness. He wasn't witholding anything!!! He was protecting them. Isn't it so much easier to understand when we think of our own children and the treasure we give and/or keep for them?!?
Now, I need to remember it for myself!
Satan's big plan is to trick us into living our life without God, while we sometimes mistakening think that we are living it "for" God!
He will stop at nothing to destroy our lives, our relationships, our persons. He will not stop until ALL that God has created is destroyed...our marriages, our families, and our reputations.
Watch Pastor Adams' message in it's entirety, here.
As many know, my Gaby has eye surgery scheduled for August 20th. The surgery is needed to correct a "lazy" eye which is a result of damage done to the 3rd cranial nerve during a horseback riding accident (during which she was wearing her helmet) and subsequent traumatic brain injury.
I had been praying for all to go well with surgery. I had been praying for the surgeon. I had been praying for Gaby. I had been praying for peace and health.
My mom had been praying for God to provide us a way to avoid surgery all together! Why hadn't I thought of that?!?
About 3 weeks ago, Mom called and asked if she could take Gaby to a massage therapist that she had been seeing with excellent results (another blog for another time). My husband and I agreed to the therapy, though skeptical that it would produce the miracle results needed to eliminate the need for surgery. Gaby had 2 different sessions in 2 different weeks, and honestly, I didn't see a difference at all. Rafa said he thought things were improving. I figured it was still just wishful thinking.
This week, we went to stay with my Mom, who had been trained in technique while earning continuing education credits many years ago, but had never really used it. After working with the massage therapist on Gaby a couple of sessions, she was ready to do this herself at home.
The morning after receiving a treatment with Mom, Gaby's eyes looked more on center. Upon talking to Gaby we discovered that while she does still have double vision, the images are closer together than they had been. Mom gave her another treatment that morning. That afternoon, Gaby tried and was successful at combining the images. For the first time since before the accident, she was able to see just one of something. Throughout the day, her eye moved back to the "lazy" position, and I began to doubt what I had seen and heard.
Yesterday morning, I noticed that her left eye was once again much more centered. I asked her questions about the images and their locations. A little over a week ago, my 2nd "me" was about 2 1/2 feet to my left. Now, "I'm" right next to me. For the first time in almost 10 months, Gaby was able to look at one tv. That is really important to an 8 year old, apparently. She said she had been trying and trying to do that.
So, for now, we have decided to cancel the surgery. We have another appointment in October with the opthalmologist to see if there are any changes from last month. I've seen that there are.
Thank you for all who may have been praying Mom's prayer, for having that kind of faith. Thank you also who have been praying for a successful surgery. The most successful surgery is one averted. Please keep praying that Gaby's left eye continues to improve and has lasting results!
God has been so good to us!!
For the entire story of Gaby's accident and recovery, click here.
I want to be a faithful follower of Christ. I want to wake up early each morning and fill my soul with His breath before I do anything else. I do. I really do. Wanting doesn't get it done though. I also want to be organized and healthy and crafty. All of those things require work, discipline, and dedication.
I have found, over the course of my life so far, that what I need above all else is some accountability to get started and keep going. Which is why I signed up for Hello Mornings and joined a group. Starting August 20th, I will be committing to get up earlier each and every morning to spend some time with God. I plan to pray and do some bible study, plan my day (by choosing 3 things that need to be done), and move my body. Hey! I think that by doing these things, I'm well on my way towards my wants from above, no? Then, I plan to check in with my group and share what I am learning.
I do have some hang ups, though. I've tried this kind of thing before. I have participated in several Beth Moore bible studies through my amazing church with varying levels of success. By success I mean, getting the homework done...I have some workbooks that are virtually blank.
I do have one workbook, though, that is completely filled. Last fall, as I was going through the Beth Moore's study, Jesus, The One and Only, I kept up with my homework and was very faithful. As we travelled through the Book of Luke, I felt so close to my Savior. Then, about half way through, my second oldest daughter was involved in a horseback riding accident. She suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury and was in a coma for a little over a week. She was in the hospital for almost a month, then in rehab for several more months. She is doing so well. She returned to school after missing nearly 2 1/2 quarters and ended the year with all A's and B's (previously a straight A student). Her recovery has been miraculous. And I owe it ALL to my Lord, who selected the doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists to put in Gaby's path. Throughout her time in the PICU and her recovery, God has been faithful with me, as well. So many passages from the bible came to me, through loved ones and friends that I had just studied. God provided me with so much peace. I saw so many people that prayed for her before, during and after our ordeal. I was shown the faithfulness of children who prayed for her. I have been forever humbled by how others love us... how much God loves us.
Since the accident, I have gone through another bible study, but my book looks very similar to those older workbooks, with more blank lines than filled ones. I enter into this next committment to prayer, study and time with God with excitement, joy, and a bit of trepidation. I want to be faithful, yet when I was last faithful, trials came, as they always do.
But, then I remember...what would I have done without Him?
After I realizing that I can't possibly live up to my "Summertime" Board on Pinterest...
I decided on 3 goals this summer,
1. Learn to make Flour Tortillas from scratch just like mi suegra (my mother-in-law)
2. Potty Train Jake
3. Maximize my Mornings
2 out of 3 isn't bad, right?
I have been married for almost 12 years to a wonderful, hard working man, who just happens to be Mexican. I have tried very hard for most of those 12 years to learn to cook food that my man loves to eat. I started off simply enough with huevos rancheros (my style)...scrambled eggs with jalapenos, tomatoes and onions served with store bought flour tortillas and a sliced avocado on the side and graduated to more complicated dishes from Mole (from a jar) to Chile Colorado (not perfected just yet, but good none the less).
But one recipe has always alluded me. Try as I might, I could NOT make homemade flour tortillas to save my life. They always ended up more crisp like a cracker than soft like a tortilla. The flavor was good, but texture is EVERYTHING!
So this summer, I decided to learn, or die trying!
Mi suegra was in town throughout the month of May, and I had a couple of opportunities to work with her to learn how to make these ellusive yummies. Hers turn out great everytime (though I did see a couple of burnt edges...shhhhh).
I tried my hand at it with my cousin helping out and they were... eh. While they were MUCH better than any attempt I had made thus far, they weren't "quite right". So, I called up mi querida cunada (my dear sister-in-law) and made a date to try again with her.
She let me do all or the work while she started cooking lunch to go with our soon to be fresh tortillas. She guided me throughout the process, tasting to see if there was enough salt, and encouraging me to add more water, even when I thought it was a big gloppy mess. She showed me her technique for forming the small balls that will soon be worked into tortillas, and even her "rolling" method which differed from that of mi suegra. "Everyone has their own techinque. You have to discover yours," she said, but much more beautifully in Spanish.
There were no "real" measurements... There is a feel and a texture to the dough.
I have made them several times since, all with slightly different results. Sometimes, they aren't as round as others, and sometimes the feel is a little off, but when MY MAN said, "this is just how I like them", well....
1/2 bag of all purpose flour
2 heaping tablespoons baking powder (and I mean the ones you eat off of...we call them cereal spoons in our house, because my man likes to eat his cereal off of them)
salt to taste (a couple of teaspoons)
1/2 pound of lard
roughly 3 Cups of HOT, HOT water (I have to microwave mine, since my hot water heater is set to safe for the kiddies)
1. Mix dry ingredients well.
2. Cut in lard with your hands until the flour will hold a ball shape when squeezed (throughout the mixture).
3. Begin to add water (I add about 2 C to start, then add as I go to get the desired texture)...honestly this is where you call me and ask me to invite you over next time I make them, because I could not EVER get the texture down until I did it myself under instruction... SERIOUSLY!
4. Pull apart small handfulls of dough and form balls (There is a technique to this as well)..
5. Let them sit on the table while you form all balls, then starting with the first balls you formed, squish them out and start to roll with rolling pin. Push ever so slightly and (I) push up and back, then turn tortilla 1/8 of a turn and do it again, until tortilla is preferred diameter and thickness. If they are smallish, you can make gorditas with them. If they are thin, they make great burrito tortillas. Worry not.
6. After rolling out all of the tortillas (if you are doing this on your own), heat skillet (I use my daughter's pancake griddle) to medium high heat. Cook a couple of minutes or until lightly browned on both sides. They will start to bubble up, kind of like pancakes. Turn them over and cool a little longer on the other side. It helps to have a "plancha" or tortilla iron to weight it down. I have one that mi suegra brought me on one of her visits, but you can improvise (at my mom's house, we used a brick covered in foil and placed it inside of a foil pan for ease of handling).
7. Store wrapped in a clean cloth inside of a plastic bag at room temperature. They keep for several days, but mine definitely start growing around day 6, so eat them up! The kids love them with melted butter and cinnamon sugar.