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Making Family Traditions; Part One

As I write this late at night, I am getting ready to go on a much needed vacation! This trip however is so much more than just a regular get a way. I am visiting my homeland of Portugal and as you learn more about my testimony, you will find out a lot more about my mother’s heritage and traditions. One thing I know for sure is being raised in the Portuguese culture means you were brought up to be very strong and stubborn, a great cook, a loyal friend and an independent woman!

I have wanted to visit this country for so long and as fate would have it, my youngest daughter was the inspiration for this vacation in the making. She graduated from college this last May and as a present my husband and I gave her the opportunity to take a few months off before getting a job and let her travel for the summer (so European of us!)

As I waited to see which friend she would want to go with, she approached me with the idea that she thought it would be fun if I would go with her and we could visit Portugal, Paris and wherever else we could squeeze in for a few weeks. I was elated that she wanted to take me on this journey with her! It shows that the love and  loyalty continues in this family I have raised. Who would have known that the child that gave me the hardest time as a teen was now the sweetest young woman who I loved spending time with.

But this trip is also about both of us learning more about ourselves and where we come from too. I have had much anxiety in the last week as my mind has drifted off in places I don’t care to share and I am constantly reminding myself that I only need to breathe, pray and know that God has a plan and we only need to follow our path that He has paved for us. Every day He shows me how He is in control and I am not and it’s a good thing! His plans are much better than mine can ever be. I am now excited to go, the fear of the unknown has lessened, and I am ready for new adventures.

I am looking forward to what I will learn and experience and that is the reason this will be Part One; because you my friends will be going on this journey with me! I will update you during the next couple of weeks (each Friday if I get service!) and we will find out together how other cultures live and how I am the same or different than my ancestors.

So hang tight; there is more to come!!

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LEAVING A LEGACY…

This week I was sharing texts with 2 people who were waiting for babies to be born. One was going to be a brand new grandmother and the other a brand new Auntie. Both excited to meet these two new human beings that would someday leave an imprint in this world.

Then last night I had the privilege of attending a dinner for a man who was celebrating his 82nd birthday and listening to his family get up and describe how he had left such a great legacy on his family, the town, the schools, and made such an impression to future generations. It got me thinking about how important it is to make sure the things you bring and leave to this life make a difference to those around you.

I used to just “live for the moment.” I didn’t care what others thought and if they didn’t like it, well…too bad! But age sometimes bring wisdom. So does faith. I listen to another voice now when I am going about my day. I pray about what kind of blessing I can be to others each and every day. I want to make sure people feel the peace I feel just by being able to get up and be in a country where we can do whatever we want, whenever we want. We should NOT take this lightly. In these times when there is so much turmoil and unsettling of opinions and danger of other people’s agendas, we still have a choice to do the right thing. We are leaving an imprint in this world, good or bad.

There is a bible verse that goes like this:
“Follow God’s example, therefore, as dearly loved children and walk in the way of love, just as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us as a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God.” Ephesians 5; 1&2

When I think about what a legacy Jesus left for us, it brings me to tears. Whether you believe in this or not, it’s quite a story! I believe it because I have and do feel God’s presence all the time and have witnessed his love for me on several occasions. The sacrifice He gave to us is “golden.” DON’T WASTE IT!

This life is meant to be shared. You are meant to help, be loving, encouraging, selfless and a comfort. People are watching you. Children and teens are watching you. God is watching you. Are you going to waste His perfect creation? He formed you perfectly to make a difference! Think about this as you go about your day. You may be responsible for future generations, so be careful how you present yourself. Make your words count. Be passionate, excited and happy about your life…God wants to see you make it count!

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High School; Glory Days or Not?

I have a confession to make; I HATED HIGH SCHOOL!! Not just high school but everything about it. I dreaded getting up in the morning, getting my sister ready for school, picking up whatever was leftover from my mom’s escapades from the night before, walking to school no matter what the weather because we didn’t own a car, having to walk into class with this big secret of having a horrible home life while I thought everyone else had a beautiful calm childhood, oh and just plain feeling dumber than any other classmate around. So I did what any rebellious teen did; I smoked cigarettes on the front steps of school and watched everyone walk into class and then got in a car with some friends and drove off to drink the day away; or go swimming, or just hang out with other kids who didn’t fit in either. We were called the “burnouts” but we took the name with pride because we thought we could cheat the system by going to class “JUST ENOUGH” to pass the class.

But that’s not my confession… my confession is that after doing this for 4 years I thought I HAD beaten the system and I could go on with my life and move out of my home and be on my own. It didn’t happen that way however. I was called into the principal’s office 2 weeks before graduation and told I could NOT walk with my class and had to take summer school classes since I was short on credits and then I could get my diploma. I was devastated. And mad at myself. So I did the usual thing I did when I was put in a hard situation; I put on a stiff upper lip and walked out pretending I didn’t care and decided I would make it on my own just fine without that piece of paper!

I worked at a hamburger joint while paying for rent and living with 3 other girls (and our boyfriends!) and trying to figure out what else I could do with my limited education. I finally took some night courses and learned to type and started getting office jobs so I didn’t smell like hamburgers and onions all the time. And life went on. But one day I received an envelope in the mail and it was from a class mate from high school. It had been 10 years and they were having a high school reunion! Every anxiety I ever felt about high school came flooding back to my body. I couldn’t breathe, I was shaking just thinking about seeing all those smart successful people and having to tell them about my weak little life.

Well I did go to a few of those reunions over the years and most of those classmates were really nice, but of course there were a few who turned their nose up at me, and those were the ones I remembered, not the people who always loved on me. So I never went back to any reunions because it was too painful for me. Imagine my surprise when 41 years later I get a message from one of those sweet girls contacting me and saying there was a group of them that had started getting together every few months for dinner at one of their houses so they didn’t have to want for a reunion and they wanted me to join them! My body started to shake, and I felt sick inside… but then I heard God’s voice who had been having me do things this year even if I was scared! And every time I trusted Him, I ended up feeling so good about doing something that freaks me out so much and in the end, I successfully did it!

So I called this friend and told her I would love to come! My heart was pounding hard as I got out of the car and walked up to a home I had never been to before. As I walked in I was greeted by the biggest hug and smile as if we were old friends, and it went on like that for the rest of the night! Every woman that walked through that door was genuinely happy to see me and my heart began to melt into pure love. The conversation was easy and many funny stories were told and the night flew by.

As I thanked my host at the end of the night, she walked me outside with another classmate. I told her of my fears and why. She never remembered me not walking with our class mostly because she hated high school so much that she graduated in 3 1/2 years so she could get out! I told her now I hated her because she was so smart! We laughed so hard at our childhood insecurities. Our other classmate that had walked out with us said she loved high school! We laughed again and told her it was fine if she did, we all had different experiences.

I learned this night that time sometimes does heal and growing up can be a good thing if you learn the lessons life throws at you, and most importantly keeping your heart open for healing at ANY time in your life. I’m always so grateful for my faith that I can stay open to whatever or wherever God leads me. He knows what I need in my life before I do and it keeps me growing and learning about myself and Him.

So to this I say; can’t wait to see all my new/old friends again at the next dinner party! And thanks for reaching out to that little insecure girl who really needed that healing in her heart.

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Change is coming…

I feel like I have been either on a plane or driving to some graduation, bridal, baby or some kind of party these last few months and it got me  thinking of the changes we go through as one chapter of our life closes and another opens. I have gone through 26 years of marriage, both my children graduating from college, one daughter getting married  and now I am watching some of my friends saying goodbye to their children as they head to college; or celebrating and watching their child about to become a parent themselves. We are entering a new chapter of our lives when we are becoming “confidants” and putting away our “mommy” hats. That’s not to say you still  aren’t their mom in those really hard times, but it’s time to let them decide those grown up decisions by themselves. This is a necessary evil if they have moved far away and they can’t run home every time something happens. However, if your child stays local or even decides to stay home and go to school locally, you need to force yourself to let them make their own decisions (and their own beds!!)     It’s a transition that is important for them and for you. That next step into adulthood can’t happen if you never want them to be unhappy or sad or frustrated at times. I see a trend with parents now where the children who are getting ready to turn 18 haven’t ever been by themselves, know how to drive a car, or are so afraid of doing something as simple as making a dentist appointment,  that they cry until their parent does it for them.

I love seeing families that are loving and close, but I fear for the adult child who can’t maneuver through the world. We are ALL meant to change and grow during each season of our lives! That means you too. The only way to make your child grow into a thriving adult is to show them the confidence and believe in them in a way that encourages them to take chances. Do that thing that sometimes scares you (like being alone) and knowing that you can survive! It is similar to when they were babies and you had to teach them to comfort themselves back to sleep, or walk or talk! All new chapters in their lives, and this new chapter will be just as rewarding!

As I have watched my girls grow into beautiful young women and my oldest now a bride, I realize that my role is to wait for them to need me. I don’t need to be intruding in their lives every day, unless of course they need me for a specific reason; like asking for my help with decorating a new apartment or helping to organize something.  It is also rewarding in that once they reach their 20’s you can actually now be a friend to them! That is the fun part! They will have a new found respect for you and the things they took for granted when they were home and now they have to do those things on their own. It’s not a time when you break away and think that they won’t need you anymore, just the opposite, they will be calling for advice, recipes, problem solving, etc. and the conversations will be deeper as will the love.

Change is hard, but change is necessary so this next generation can be our bright future and the promise of good things to come~

Congratulations class of 2016!