Friday, March 30, 2012

Easter and Losing the Faith

The peach tree is blooming!

These always bloom around Easter weekend and here they are in full glory the last week of February and the first week of March!

I think its here to stay…. Spring. And, that means spending every waking moment knee deep in dirt- ahh gardening season!

Little G helped me decorate our home for Easter on one of those rare days when I am home with him. (I treasure those days since they help alleviate the immense guilt that I feel when I am at work.  I have yet to meet a working momma that does not have that same feeling.)

Little G did his best at eating every jelly bean he could while I was busy fluffing another part of the nest.

He finally asked me what Easter was about and if Jesus was being born that day too.
I guess you could say he was. I did my best to explain the real meaning of Easter. As a Christian, I know full well that the eggs and the bunny rabbits have more to do with  ancient stories of Eastre- a goddess- or the spring equinox celebration and an angry moment that turned a bird into rabbit (this is where the confused rabbit fills a nest with eggs?).
super cheap at the $1 store!
 I also know full well how the Christian movement used these symbols to help celebrate the resurrection. I related that for us the eggs are symbols of rebirth- just as chick leaves its egg, Jesus left the tomb when he resurrected- an almost rebirth. And, that the rabbit is simply a symbol of spring's arrival.
I found these three crocheted eggs that Little A and I completed a couple of years ago. I also found her embroidery handy work from Kindergarten…. lovely. And, I will always bring it out at this time of the year, even when she is in high school and it embarrasses her. 
Finally I put out a little plaque- as I call it-  that I made. These do it yourself tile coasters are allover the internet, but this one is not meant for a glass (although I think it will stand up to it well). It needs to stand up for these little lines have shaken my life and given me perspective. Here is why…

2011 was a very very difficult year. Paralysis and blindness, surgeries, job loss and even more health problems plagued my life. With illness comes fear. When you find out that your little girl has a heart condition while you are ill as well, the fear consumes you. With illness comes bills, high bills regardless of medical insurance and you wonder if you should pay the bill so that you can continue to get care or buy your medication so that you can get to your appointment in the first place.  With illness comes weakness physically and at times mentally. With illness your faith is shaken. With illness comes anger and I can go on and on about how difficult illness makes your life as it touches upon things that you believed to be strong in your life and are now shaken. 
I became angry, confused and lost; yet, I kept smiling through the pain and relying on God for strength as I have done many many times before. Afterall, if God has seen me through some very difficult times (I have been ill since I was little), God will see me through this one more time. I was in my mind, a graduated warrior. We have been through my DH's job loss before and made it through without a scratch thanks to savy money saving and God's mercy. We have made it through previous surgeries and made it through thanks to a sense of humor. We have made it through other issues and always came out on top with God's help and team work. 
Yet, this time it was different. I could not hear God, I could not see God. I could see God's wonderworks in my children's laughter, in the flower on my table, the smile and concerns from the circle of strength that surrounds me; Yet, God had somehow abandoned me. 
There I was: a child of God and bearing fruit and someone yanked me from the garden and threw me into the dessert and left me there and without my permission too might I add! Then I got more angry.
Those that love me, pitied me and did their best to encourage me but always mentioned that my strong faith would get me through it all. They continuously told me to have faith. And, the more they told me to have faith and rely on God, the more angry I became and the less faith I had. As they told me, "God has a purpose for everything", I would think "Can God let me in on it instead of just taking me for the ride?". There were no messages from God to my life. Sermons at church and other women's ministries were the same to me: Have Faith- Got it I would say. I have heard it a thousand times before… have faith. 
Songs that renewed my soul bored me. Biblical scriptures meant nothing to me. I would open my bible and find myself reading a Psalm and thinking, "Man, David was one depressed and bitter guy who really detested his enemies. This doesn't apply to me". My anger grew and my faith dwindled. 
I cried alone though and smiled publicly. My children only knew that I was ill but nothing in their lives had changed. 
I would not allow my illness to change them or concern them.  
I continued to be an on the go mom. I decided that a body in motion stays in motion and that this would apply to me regardless of what my body was doing. I slapped on a smile, continued to work, busied myself with too many dinner parties, did more craft fairs, baked one too many pastries, planned my future and kept going despite the internal turmoil I was having with faith. My husband tried to slow me down. I became angry at him too. 
I started to feel better. I started to feel stronger physically. I could see too. The husbter got his job back.  Things were looking a whole lot better. Except for the faith department. Anger had replaced my faith. After all, God had abandoned me. Of course I would NEVER tell anyone that was my thought on faith at the time. Oh no! Christians are supposed to be folks of faith, especially those raised in ministry. We are supposed to be women of grace, faith and positiveness. And, with what I do for a living, no one could ever find out that I was lost, confused and very very angry at God. What a hypocrite I was. 
Then it happened. I read something that gave me perspective.
The hubster or DH as I call him, knew something wasn't right. For my birthday he decided to take me for a weekend in a wonderfully historic little town lined with craft and gift shops, bakeries, wineries, antique shops, bookstores and restaurants-- my kind of town.  This was a bit of a splurge given that we were just getting back on our feet and I was losing sleep over the cost. Yet within days of planning it, birthday money came in to cover the cost! Oh yeah! I started to see a bit of God there!
On our last day, and after the DH patiently escorted me through all the shops in town I wanted to see, we stepped into what would be our last shop. I had by now, read a thousand sayings and verses in a thousand cute frames. Then, the DH pointed out one particular picture frame. "Read this, it applies to you". There it was, the saying below. Later I found out that this was scrawled on a wall in Cologne, Germany by someone hiding from the Nazi's. It is believed that a child could have written this. 
I took the verse home and made on of those tile coasters out of it, but I don't use it as a coaster.

I teared up when I first read this. My hair stood on end. There in that shop my life did a turn around. Here I am a grown women with over 30 years in a relationship with God and I am doubting. Here this person, perhaps even a child, was certain to die and yet this person, this child, still believed!  I was ashamed. I looked back and saw everything that God has allowed me to do inspite of everything that life has thrown my way. I looked back and counted my blessings and finally opened up about what I was going through with my husband. He knew all along but didn't want to push me. Once I opened up with him, I could be honest with others. The DH was quick to point out that there still was faith in me and the evidence was this internal struggle I was going through. A light bulb turned on with that one. I understood that it was ok to be angry and confused. I read Psalms again and found an angry and confused David who constantly asked, "hey God, where are you?'. I realized that it was ok to be real. David wasn't the only believer that had permission to be angry and lost. It was ok to be a Christian, Godly women and be real!! It was ok to show those that rely on you daily that you aren't so strong after all. It was ok to show those that you have helped in the past know that you are weak at times too. What a relief! My faith started to grow as I brought to memory all God has done for me and continued to be honest with God and those around me.
Now that I think about it, how dumb of me.  I know scripture fairly well and it troubles me that I was blinded by my anger to see what was in front of me.
The bible says it clearly that we should "Bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 ESV. Yet, there I was trying to walk it alone. Once I shared my burden, it became a whole lot lighter. God was silent because I had folks around me that were added to my life for a purpose. God was coming to the rescue through those around me but I was not letting them in. I was not being real with them. How were they to know how to help me, if I didn't let them in? God was silent, because I was silent with those He has put in my life.

I would read Psalms and ignore this completely before

1. Let my whole being[a] bless the LORD! 
   Let everything inside me 
   bless his holy name! 
2 Let my whole being bless the LORD 
   and never forget all his good deeds: 
 3 how God forgives all your sins, 
   heals all your sickness, Psalms 103: 1-4

How could I be so blind and not see everything that God has done for me!
Thank God for his mercies and patience with me. As I counted my blessings my faith grew and my anger dwindled.

Today, I continue to be real although I find that I am much stronger physically and faith wise as well. I know that, regardless of what life throws my way, my future will always be a.o.k. I know that it is ok to let others in to help carry your burden even if you are usually the one who carries others' burdens. I know that it is ok to not be everything to everyone all the time. Yes, I am starting to practice what I tell others to do. I ask for help when I need it and I bring to memory all the good in my life during the difficult times. Most importantly, I know God is there even when He is silent.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Please Stay Spring

Where we live, weather goes from this:

To this 
in a day. 
I will never forget the day we had a 45 degree change! 
Right now we are enjoying the 70's. The yard is under a massive cleanup. The beds are being revived and there is growth. The bulbs planted last fall are over 4inches tall and the hydrangeas and roses made it through our mild winter. 
We are used to below zero weather in the winter and I rarely needed to get out the boots and the big coat. This was quite a contrast to the blizzard we had the previous winter. But, I am not complaining. 
What I am curiously concerned about is the animal or animals that have taken shelter under our shed. I am sure its not a skunk and it may be too small for a raccoon; so I am thinking the baby bunny rabbit I saw last spring has definetly moved in and put on a few pounds. My irisis and lillies planted here have also taken a beating to the critter's chewing. 
I have no idea how to get rid of this it in the nicest way possible. 
Alas the little ones need spring hats and I must get to it. I must crochet and think, think, think about it. 
This hat made via an inspring pattern found at thedaintydaisyblog the flower was my own inspiration but I found an even better looking and organized one at crochetdreamz.

I do have to smile as I crochet and think, 
for this little critter survived, regardless of the mild winter, some wind, snow and rains and has chosen my garden to stay alive, to be fed, to call a home. 
It reassured me that if He watches the sparrows 
and gives life to this little critter 
during the long winter, 
then I am sure He watches me during those 
long winters in my life.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A Message in a Napkin

My weekday mornings sound like a broken record:
"G, please sit properly so you won't spill".
"But mommy, I don't love it sitting that way".
"G, please sit properly for mommy and so you won't spill".
I leave the room momentarily knowing for certain what will happen next.
G will get up. He will go over to A and tickle her or incite her to chase him.
They both abandon their breakfast.
"You guys better be eating!" I'll yell from the bathroom.
"We are".
I'll hear a shuffles, giggles, and chairs scooting in at the table and a plate drop.
I'll come back down to find G's breakfast all over the place.
"I'm sorry mommy, A was bothering me".
"No, I wasn't".
"Yeah she was".
"Mommy, honestly I wasn't. He started to tickle me".
"I know, I know. I saw it from the top of the stairs. Now please finish what is left of your breakfast", I'll say as I grab a towel to pick up most of G's breakfast.

This happens on almost a daily basis.
I tire of this and have to remind myself often that:
1) I am privileged to witness their growth
2) children are true miracles of life
3) if you have children, you have gift that never stops giving
4) their laughter will not always be around
5) that one day they will have children of their own who will pay back every bit of hard work that they have given me;)

Today something reminded me of the above. With napkin in hand, I was ready in my sumo wrestler position to pick up G's breakfast (butt up and head down and a very unhealthy thing for your back), when I noticed something in the napkin. I thought it was perhaps a scrap of food. When I looked closer, I saw the heart (excuse the bad pic- man do I need a new camera!).
A heart… a tiny heart… right on the corner made me stop and slow down. It made me listen to their tiny voices and funny conversations that I miss as I hurry to clean up the morning mess and busy my mind with the never ending to do list. This tiny incidental heart made me realize how blessed I am.

It takes heart to do what mommy's do; 
To make sure they are well when you are ill,
   to listen intently when you have a thousand worries on your mind, 
         to make it all better when you feel like nothing is right, 
to smile and give a hug when you need someone to hold you instead, 
                                to patiently forgive their mistakes when time is not on your side,                  to stay up all night keeping monsters away when you have monsters of your own to fight in the a.m., 
…….and to forget all of the long hours of detailed hard work when you feel you no longer have physical strength.
                       It takes heart to do what mommy's do and no one can do it like mommy's do. 


Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Small Shamrock Crochet Tutorial

I don't celebrate St. Patricks Day. Its a lovely holiday. I just don't celebrate it. I am not Irish… not even a tiny bit. I am a mix of wonderful that makes up my Puerto Rican ancestry.  I do like however, Irish music. Its so cheerful!

I found my love for this music when my sister introduced it to me while in college.  She loves anything Irish.  Most Puerto Ricans are very proud of their heritage.  This is not to say that my sister is not. But, she would trade it over in a second if she could be Irish. I wonder when this started and why.  Perhaps its because she is the only one among us siblings with reddish brown hair. In the summer, it blazes a beautiful penny red.

My son has inherited this hair color and yes I am jealous of its wonderful color. My husband's beard comes in red (and a bit of white recently which he blames on me). But not me. I am just a plain black hair gal. When my son was born, trying to remake myself into a cool mama, I had my hair professionally colored red. It didn't work. The colorist went for a lighter color. I ended up looking lie a pumpkin. I decided then and there to never do that again.

Ahh, we are never satisfied with what we are. My mother used to say, "Los palidos desean ser mas trigueños, y los trigueños desean ser mas palido y jamas podran" (The pale ones want to be darker and the darker ones want to be paler and neither will ever be).

To help my sister celebrate her love of the Irish, I made these tiny shamrocks for her. They are so easy to make and the patterns can be found allover the internet. I plan to make them into a bunting. They are really, really simple to crochet:

chain 4
join with a slip stitch
chain three (counts as first DC)
tc into the ring or circle as I like to say
chain three and slip stitch it into the circle (ring)

Make three of these.
Now for the stem I tried two ways:
First method:
At the third one, after slip stitching, chain 6
SC up the chain of 6 and slip stitch it into the ring
fasten off and voila, you are done

Second method:
I chained 6
I single crocheted not into the chain but outside and around the chain. That is I captured the chain and wrapped it with the yarn as I sc up the chain.

Here is a pic of the difference.
For an even clearer pattern on these great little guys and better pics, check out Suzies-yarnie-stuff and Skip to my Lou. I got the idea from both of these sites, but really there are other sites using the same pattern.

I ended up making way too many of these (too easy to make= addiction). So, I added pins to the back and gave them out at work. It gave me tons of smiles in return;)

No two of the shamrocks are alike. This is because I crochet too tight to begin with and when the pain in my hand starts, I loosen up way too  much. Its also due to the fact that I have hooks everywhere: in the car, in my favorite chair, in the kitchen, in the mess drawer, in my purses. I talk myself into thinking that the hook that I have in the purse is the same one as the one I am working with and that all I need to take with me is the yarn. I am usually wrong. The hooks are different sizes.

At 30 something I have accepted who I am, freckles and all, short hair and all. After all, there is only one of me. When I was made, the mold was broken or the hook was changed. My thoughts are as unique as my spirit and I am thankful for this wonderfully and intelligently created design that is me. 

Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous--how well I know it. Psalms 139:14 (NLT)


Friday, March 2, 2012

Valentines Day 2012

Valentines Day came with giggles and tons and tons and tons of candy. Is it you Gabli, or is Valentines Day turning out to be a Halloween type of day when candy is collected by the buckets? Gabli you do it all the time too! The funny thing is, the kiddos don't even eat the stuff. It just sits there for months and I eventually throw it away. This sounds grouchy but I prefer the pencils, erasers and cute stickers that the kids get instead of the candy.  The kids use that stuff and I don't have to throw it away after several months.

Now to sound like a real old lady: In my day we rarely got to savor candy. And, if we did, it was usually those mint, hard candy, pin wheels. When there wasn't enough for everyone, and this is the God honest truth, momma would break them and give us each a piece. How on earth do you break hard candy? You smash it on the floor (in its wrapper) and share the broken tiny chunks. We were all happy to get our piece. Today, the kiddos come home with happy pink and red bags full to the rim of all sorts of delish chocolates. Then, they ignore the candy after the 1st day. Wow. I just realized how blessed we are. Sounds crazy but seriously Gabli, you rarely ate candy as a kid due to the financial stress of a large family. Now, you throw it out. I wonder if there is anything you can do with it?

We celebrate the easy and frugal way around here. Thanks to, we got some pretty cool lips and mustaches for our lollipops. Cost: under $2.50 for the lollipops and it would have been cheaper if I got them at the dollar store instead.

For Little G we bought bubbles and simply removed the store labels and added our own : " Have a Bubbly Valentines Day". Cost: under $3.00 and again would have been cheaper if I just had gone to the dollar store. Wow, I really need a new camera ! Wait, wasn't a new camera my Christmas 2011 present? Someone owes me a present… a camera present!

Because we are trying to save money, the hubster and I decided to stay home and not do a Valentines exchange. He never follows the rules and got me a little something which is nice but now I feel like a crappy wife for not getting him a little something. So...I grabbed a 98 cent box of milk duds while grocery shopping and give him that. Such a sad little thing but it brought him a little smile that I still remember these were his childhood favorites. In retrospect, I could have written a lovely note, wrapped it up or done something nice even if he does not care for that stuff. Whoa, I think I am one cheap momma. As long as he knows that I adore him and am connected to him for the rest of our lives….right? 

My big sister with her dear husband (he supplies me with the best coffee money can buy) came over and when she comes over a party gets started. The kids go nuts over here and Gabli you should smile that they are in love with her. She is a blessing since I was a child. I always say she was my second momma. She still wants to take care of me and now my children. If there ever was a mothering award, it would go to her. She loves kids and connects with them easily and at any age group. I admire her patience with children. 

She decided to spend V-day with us and made a delish pot roast that seriously just melted in your mouth (drooling over it right now). Delicioso!  We like to eat this with a side of fresh tortillas. So good. 

I had done a bit of baking earlier that day and had hidden these well due to the wandering hands of the hubster and the little guy. I decided to make this my V-day treat for the hubby since I still felt guilty over my 98 cent box of milk duds. I took a regular simple yellow cake mix and added smashed bananas (the ones that are just one or two days away from going into the trash). I simply cut out any black spots and just added the smashed bananas to the mix. These turned out sabrosos and oh so moist! Add my cake topper from our wedding and some white frosting and I am done. Simple right?
Well not really. The big sister found some decorating stuff and added her personal touch. She and little A took out all of the red sprinkles from a green and red Christmas mix and flourished these moist cupcakes. Now that is something I would not have done. I just don't have the patience. And yet, somehow, she and little A took their time and decorated each one for the hubby. She also reminded me to save the candy the bring home to decorate cupcakes. Duh!!  Why didn't I think of that? I just am not a kitchen person.
 In reality, I think the hubster only ate 2 and we ate the rest of them…but he praised how good they tasted and saved a couple for lunch at work the next day. 

I picture my big guy sitting among other big guys with their rugged clothes, boots and hard hats eating lunch. I picture my guy taking out these little cakes out of his large and maculine lunchbox. I pray that he knows that I bake because I love him. I pray that he knows that he is enough. I pray that he knows that the fancy things and the expensive things are not what I need. I pray that he knows that he is greatly loved. I pray that God continues to bless him with strength, solidarity and and patience.  I pray that he continues to build this wonderful legacy he has started.