Saturdays are busy days, verdad que si? Y pues, reading my bible on weekends is a bit different for me than the rest of the week. Asi es, I’m usually too busy to spend time on the slow lane and leisurely read. Me da vergüeza to admit it. Anyway, today I slowed down and I’m glad I did, it’s always an incredible time to sup with Jesus. Sup: To eat slowly by spoonfuls. Hijole! On weekends I tend to gobble up and swallow up whole chapters without chewing. Gracias a Dios that he helps me to slow down.
I was moving along reading, and I kind of stumble over a passage, but I kept moving forward. I had work to do. Pero that phrase, “the people began to complain…” that word that tripped me was still pulling on me. Porque? You see I always take these moments personally. Mira,
Complain: to express dissatisfaction, pain, uneasiness, censure, resentment, or grief; find fault:
Numbers 11:1 (NLT) Soon the people began to complain about their hardship, and the Lord heard everything they said. Then the Lords anger blazed against them, and he sent a fire to rage among them, and he destroyed some of the people in the outskirts of the camp.
Here’s a blurb of the backstory. In a very dramatic fashion, with signs and wonders the Hebrews are no longer slaves. God begins, through Moses, to set up laws and regulations for them to operate by. Now that they are no longer under Egyptian culture, they needed to establish a new government. It took a long time, things dragged on because they had to sit and wait for Moses to get the entire plan from God. (Look up the book of Numbers in the Old Testament) Luego, when it is finally all said and done, it’s time to go and “take the land” that God had promised them. Pues, it turned out that moving was also going to be a slow process. Imaginate how hard all that waiting and waiting for them, it must have made them restless. Isn’t deliverance supposed to be like Bam? Listo! Live your best life Now! Instead they were now they could barely move toward that promised new life.
Yikes! They complained. Doesn’t everyone complain? Well I was kind of indignant saying, Do you blame them? Pero fijate, when they complained about the hardship, pain and suffering of slavery, God heard them and sent them a leader to emancipate them. This was a legitimate complaint. Later, in Numbers chapter 11, their complaining turned to whining and fault finding. Asi es, they murmured about the free food they were getting and about their leader. Quizas they complained about being bored, just sitting around and waiting? Bottom line is that this complaining came out of ungrateful and unbelieving hearts. Primero, they didn’t appreciate the incredible miracle God did by delivering them out of more than 300 years of bondage. Luego, they still did not believe in this unseen Omnipotent God and they showed it by their irreverent actions! They pointed an ungrateful finger toward Moses and God, “If you really cared…” It seems like they wanted to put him in the same place as the Egyptian gods that had infiltrated and diluted their faith.
I asked God why are you pointing this out to me? And he hears me. No creas, it’s hard sometimes to wait on God. Praying for things that are not unrighteous or selfish, hoping, waiting, watching for a specific answer to my prayer. These times are hard for me, so I run to God’s pavilion for his strength and protection. These times sanctify me, they expose sin in my heart, sometimes I am ignorant of wrong mindsets and strongholds, or I want to suppress or hide it because it’s easier.
Reading my bible is different and when I slow down, gracias a Dios. It prepares me to face the giants in my life and I chew slowly digesting His Word, it makes me so grateful for his great bounty.
All through the day I’ve been scrambling through my mind and through my files to find a fun writing prompt or a happy one at least. It’s still raining in San Diego and so my heart is dreary and my mind is blocked.
Pero mira, I found this thought I wrote last year. The year I was born again, the day, the hour, the place, all of it is still vivid. I’m glad I saw this because it reminded me of how patiently Jesus pursued me in winter, spring and summer that year of 1984. With all the heavy clouds I needed this reminder of his patient love.
“37 years ago my day began in the wee hours of the morning with a bubbly joyful laughter that woke my sister Patty up from her sleep. She shook me from that dream and when she asked what I was dreaming and why I was laughing, I said “Idk , but it has to do with your church.” When I got up for the day I knew something was up. And all day I watched for something, afraid of the unknown, and that evening (I had timidly gone to a church concert with my sister Patty) at the altar, Jesus Christ the author of my life met me and changed me (my heart and mind) forever. I was born-again.”
Como me acuerdo de esos días. Oh the turmoil of those days, the dissatisfaction I felt, the indignation of being told that I was a sinner. My empty heart pushed out Jesus, I already had religion. Mostly I remember the fear. I was afraid. “Changing” religions wasn’t something to mess with, what if God wasn’t provoking all this restlessness in my spirit? Was it possible that Jesus was calling me out of my religious habits and into a personal and intimate relationship with him? Did one individual matter so much? Jesus, the Savior of all the earth was seeking me? An awkward 18 year old girl. Why? Why wasn’t I ok in my religion? I questioned, I faltered, too afraid to offend and disappoint anyone, especially my apa and ama. What if? What if? As I write this I am thinking of the character Much-Afraid in the allegory book Hinds Feet on High Places. I was so “much afraid” to believe and accept the message of the gospel.
To be honest, I don’t even remember the dream; the series of thoughts, images and sensations happening while I slept, except for the joyful laughter. Unspeakable joy that woke me up that morning and set my life onto a new path. I’m thankful that God did that for me, I was having a hard time doing what he wanted me to do. While I slept, all the questions, investigations and prayers I had challengingly put out to God came together and cleared the way for me. Me siento muy feliz, porque Dios esta conmigo siempre, y! I know that Jesus loves me so.
Daniella added a Bible Journaling page to my blog and, in strong latina fashion I’m feeling all kinds of emotions about it. Journaling is already a great tool for any person trying to figure out life. I call it my free therapy sessions (writers, you get me). I put it on paper and see my issue, not just feel it, somehow it helps. When I add bible reading to the process, the living Word of God, journaling helps me absorb it. I find answers to all the questions of life.
I have found the facts in the bible incredulous! Así es, the stories are also super dramatic and even scandalous at times. I love it!
I get so excited about the secrets I uncover that I find any opportunity to share my findings. I’m probably too much for my flaco, but my friends indulge me and my kids, pues, they stop and listen to me, I am their mother after all.
I am looking forward to sharing, but I’m nerviosa because everything I write es gran cosa. I want others to be amazed with my grand revelations. Ojala it comes out nice and crisp, porque pues my journal is blotchy with tears and smears.
There is this thing, this lurking vanity that says “Mira, she’s so organized”….. like my thoughts are ever organized, hijole. Here’s my “nice diagram” attempt to show you what my journaling process might look like:
Pero ya sabes, it’s not really that neat and orderly. Ya te imagínas!
I told Daniella to be more dramatica about the title of this page but she’s not convinced it needs to be. Really! A strong Latina woman and her journals?!
Bible journaling is so incredibly helpful, I strongly recommend it, and you’ll see que Dios te va a bendecir.
Seven days into 2023, Feliz año nuevo! Yes! I love a fresh start with renewed vision and hope. I’ve been on the New Years Resolution track, pero, all of a sudden I thought, why don’t I review the year and see how I did with last year’s resolutions? Throughout the entire year, though I prayed for strength and perseverance, I drop the resolutions, then pick them back up, then drop them again, hijole! Lots of wonderful things happened last year in between the “resolving” of resolutions.
The one repeated resolution that is always on my list is weight loss, ya se, ya se. In 2022 I proposed to lose 25 lbs. Por supuesto que I needed to lose more, pero I needed to keep it real. Then, I Went to our Winter Bible Conference and had a wonderful time with God and the people of God. I ate too much. Heavy sigh, like the kind that says my gut is too full and another heavy sigh that says, I’ll get back on track, mañana.
I also resolved to write more, write better, write transparently and focus more on my manuscript. I started writing on my other blog for a little while and I maintained my weekly post on this blog.
Love was in the air. Proverbs 18:22 had become so personal to my sons life: “The man who finds a wife finds a treasure and he receives favor from the Lord” My second son, Emery had found the woman he wanted to marry and spend the rest of his life with. Por supuesto, that I saw this coming so I resolved to be a good mother in law to this new up and coming Mrs. Greene. I remembered my suegra, and how she welcomed me into the family.
And speaking about marriage, I prayed for my own marriage. I resolved again to be a better wife to my flaco, I prayed so much more and asked God for wisdom. Jesus heard my prayer, he knew I would need much patience as we swatted down the cobwebs of a 33 year union. Cobwebs that form when complacency and neglect are allowed to squat. Watching my son rejoice as he courted his girl, stirred my resolve.
We watched the love story unfold while we toiled in our own lives. Birthdays came and we celebrated. Then I had my chance to coach and play some volleyball, what an invigorating time it was, with a vengeance I picked up the resolution to lose those pounds.
Filled to capacity with activities, events, celebrations and emotion. Our second son was 25 and ready to ask for Monique’s hand in marriage. It was a whirlwind of events. I did have lots of writing topics for my blog. My manuscript was almost covered up with “other” writings of importance. She said yes and we all scrambled to get into the wedding mode radar.
Groomzilla emerges! In the midst of wedding talk, wedding plans, wedding expenses and wedding stress, the other pages of living did go on, just in slower motion. Stress prevailed and the pounds were falling off, does that count as part of my “resolution” goal?
Y pues, what do I tell you about my other resolutions? Writing goals and wife goals seemed to hang in the balances. The mother in law dance was happening already.
Wedding time. A Pacific Coast trip. Although this would be a life changing trip, unfortunately it wasn’t going to be a leisurely trip. We packed our highlander as tight as we could safely manage and made the 20 hour trip,in 18 hours. It was a terrific trip, ladened down with a lot of work and not just a little anxiety. It was a sweet and beautiful wedding, my favorite wedding party participant was the wedding boy, Jeremiah Joseph, mi nietecito, bien chulo! At 3 years old, this had not been his first wedding you know, just two weeks prior he had honored another tio with his graces and dubbed himself “Wedding Boy”
About my resolutions, I had lost 20 lbs. I was too stressed to notice though. I had looked over my manuscript outline several times, but the writing for my book was getting dusty. Pero, I was still married 😁 and I was still praying for wisdom, does that count for a “good wife”?
My Benjamin and I entered into our 34th year of marriage and life and circumstance had stopped us on our tracks. We were looking at each other, making time to invest in each other. After raising four kids we were rediscovering each other, examining, uncovering and finding peace. We had remembered the spouse of our youth, I cried in relief, my cold blooded Englishman doesn’t do those things. Tears of appreciation for God’s wonderful mercy and grace. I love my flaco and he loves me. I rest at the fact that God is with us and hears our prayer.
A glorious time. Pero, I forgot my main yearly resolutions. In the words of Chimoltrufia, Chavo del Ochos friend and my apas favorite. “Paque le digo que no, si si” (Why tell you, no, when the answer is yes) That’s right. Yes, I dropped a couple of resolutions again. I have some good excuses, I was a different kind of busy still and I wasn’t stressed anymore and some weight crept back on. Pero, my mother in law dance is flowing along, y Dios is helping me with wisdom in my marriage.
As I have packed up last year, before I close up the box, I count all the blessings and encourage myself in the resolution successes I experienced, even if they are a work in progress.
My resolutions are refastened. Pienso que, these lifelong resolutions, are just that, lifelong. I am so grateful that God, Emmanuel is with me always through these resolutions. It’s a new year, a clean slate, clearer vision, Amen! Y pues, like my apa always said Rosalba, here the words: “Echale ganas!”
El Halloween is here and it can be a stressful time. Costumes and candy is something we do all year round, but en Halloween, it really was a dread to me as we were raising our children.
When I was chiquita, I loved that candy season, a pillowcase full of all kinds of dulces that of course, I ate in moderation. That’s right, no cute plastic pumpkin basket, a sturdy pillowcase to contain all my loot was needed, besides, like every other holiday, mi ama was a minimalist when it came to holiday paraphernalia. What I didn’t know was that October 31 most likely stressed her out too. The whining and the nagging for stuff for that day rained down on her usually a couple of days before Halloween.
“Ama, can you buy me a costume like Lil Debbie’s?” A bruja costume? All the little girls were witches
“Ama, we’re having a party at school, will you buy cookies?
“Ama, do you have enough candy for the kids that come to our house?
“Amaaaa, I don’t know what to wear for Halloween.” (read that in the whiny voice)
“Ama, can I use your _____ for my costume? I’ll be careful with it.
“Ama, can I go trick or treating? (this started around kindergarten age)
“Ama, Patty doesn’t want to go with me. (I had to bargain with Patty with candy I didn’t have yet)
Then it was over and she was left with the aftermath of too much candy and cavities lurking, waiting to pounce.
Then when I grew up, or when I turned 18 and became a Christian, Halloween became the “holiday of witches and goblins” Hijole! No more Halloween as I knew it. Pero luego, my pastor turned it into a tool for evangelism. All of a sudden, my church was out on the streets on trick or treat day, maximizing the opportunity to bring the Gospel to the streets. Y pues that was great for me as a single young woman, we created street dramas and introduced a “Haunted House” with a Gospel message, they were scary! I had a great time sharing candy and the message of Jesus, a win, win situation. Pero! Then I grew up some more. I got married and had kids and they learned about costumes and candy, hijole!
I found myself slowly unraveling in my resolve to not participate in Halloween like the world did. If I dressed my kid up, was I a compromising Christian? Was I partaking in the devil’s schemes? Would I confuse my kids? What would Jesus Do? Esperate. I’m not mocking or dwindling this issue down to a “silly notion” this was a real fight within me, I was frustrated that I seemed alone in this stand I was making.
Here’s how it went down through the years as we raised our kids.
At school if Halloween fell on a school day, I didn’t dress them up, but la maestra always had back up costumes for those poor little kids who didn’t bring a costume from home. My son Jonathan, in his first year of school, asked if he could wear his cowboy boots, vest and hat to school that week of Halloween and I confess, I knew what he was doing, but I also knew that he loved to dress like a cowboy all the time, so I let him. I think it was Daniella who told me how “terrible” it was for them to be singled out as the pobrecitos, poor little kids who were denied the costume experience on Halloween. Everyone felt sorry for them.
At church, while the adults evangelized the kids had fun at a small church Harvest Festival we moms organized. Pero! No witches, ghosts or scary costumes were allowed. We even tried bible characters, but as creative as we mom’s got, the kids all looked alike! Once in a while a mom stepped out and dressed her kid like the Balaams donkey who talked in the bible. Like my ama, I was “the minimalist mom” with costumes. I knew how to work with what you already had at home.
The adolescent years were tricky. Three kids in the mix had whittled down my resolve. The secret discussions about Halloween always happened between my kids, they planned without me and I was always impressed at their creativity. Emery was the master at pushing for what he wanted. He worded and timed his requests for help for optimal results. Y pues, I remembered how I plotted as a kid during Halloween.
By the fourth kid, I was hands on in planning out costumes for Thomas. Daniella, his “little mother” was creative and resourceful, y pues we had a good time. At this point in parenting I realized that trick or treating and costumes were the least of my parenting battles. They were harassed by temptation and peer pressure at school and at church. They were facing the reality of God’s pressure.
Halloween isn’t so scary to me anymore. We buy candy to share, appreciate the creative costumes and take the opportunity to share the message of Jesus. As far as surviving, just keep the main thing, the main. Porque sabes que? Even on October 31 Jesus is Lord!
Happy Independence Day! And how many people walk in true liberty? Porque pues, there are many people in the world practicing their freedom with no kind of limits.
Here I was in beautiful San Diego, fresh out of H.S. with an extra layer of sun on my skin from working in the grapevines of Coachella Valley, the American Dream at my finger tips. I teetered on the onset of adulthood with no parent rules, setting my own schedule, I thought I was free to do anything I wanted to do. Well sort of, I mean, I didn’t have a car, money or friends, I didn’t fit in and I was lonely. Even the Mexican-Americans around me didn’t speak Spanglish, hijole I was one free miserable little girl. One weekend I decided to push myself in with a group of girls that were going across the border to party. Que ranchera! I felt like Laura Ingalls from Little House on the Prairie, Comfort or cuteness? Sexy was way beyond my imagination. Hmmm… The girls were all cool or trying to look savvy in their vestiditos, they entered the club and so did I as part of their clique. When we were seated, the waiter came to take our drink order and since I didn’t know what I was doing, I ordered ice water. He said, in broken English “you must order to stay” Hijole! Then one of the girls said, in a very haughty tone, “just bring her a bloody mary” I was disgusted! A Clamato, with something in it that burned my tongue! Needless to say that I nursed that drink all evening, pretending that I didn’t even notice that I wasn’t getting asked to dance. WooHoo! Let freedom ring, verdad?
Pero asi es, somebody perpetuates the lie that the pursuit of happiness includes, having “the” substance, to get you out of your mind, then you can be crazy. Many find themselves deceived, miserable and without hope. As for me, I got freedom one Indepence day 38 years ago. Asi paso, I was fighting with God insisting that my religious practices made me a good girl and that was enough! But I certainly felt caged in my good works, did God even notice? Gracias a Dios, that in this free country we still have the liberty to preach the Gospel and assemble (no thanks to covid) And as I was being stubborn, God in his mercy, let me hear the message of His love for me. Wasn’t he too busy to pursue me? Yet he wasn’t, and he still isn’t. He knocked and he knocked on the door of my heart until I couldn’t resist, I had to see all that this Lover of my soul offered me. Oh what a glorious day, that day when Jesus came into my heart and took out all the filthy rags of my works. That self righteous indignation, cleaned away. That angry unforgiving heart, healed. And, that loose tongue that lied too much and was a little too swift with the cussing and fussing, twisted and then straightened out! I rested immediately, and since that day, we share un “cafecito.” Le digotodo, because I can trust him with my secrets. He loves me so much and when my heart condemns me, because it will, He is bigger than my heart.
Ahora si! Let freedom ring! Happy 4th of July, enjoy the liberties we have at the cost of others before us and may God keep helping America!
June 24, 2022 was a good day in the fight for life. It reminded me of the ancient days of bible history, when queen Esther’s People won an opportunity to fight for their lives. Deveras, I mean the law wasn’t overturned, the Jews were still very much in danger pero at least, a new edict made provision for them to defend themselves. Hijole! That alone was a great victory, I recommend you read the story, it has all the fixing for a good novela.
Reconozco that this moment in history isn’t necessarily about motherhood, but for me, it definitely shines a light on this calling we women are honored with.
Como me acuerdo de mis amigas. They expected to be mothers one day, it was something they desired, pero, it was a long journey y con muchodolor. Such yearning to experience motherhood, waiting was so difficult. Such anxiety that the tiny living souls were in their hands. What healing it brought when her womb couldn’t carry a baby, a baby was birthed and she would nurture her. Constantly squelching down that feeling of impatience as the final documents for adoption were being signed. There are different roads to motherhood y mis fieles amigas trusted in God, and after the hard days of waiting, oh how I rejoiced with these mommas.
Raquel yearned for a baby, her heart ached as she waited for a miracle. Each time she tested, she was careful and each time her hope fell. Why wasn’t she getting pregnant? She and her husband waited 10 years. Al fin, when it seemed impossible, un milagro! God gave her the incredible experience of pregnancy and mothering 3 varones!
Patty thought she was too old to carry a baby. She had married later in life… How amazing it was that it wasn’t too late, in her womb she cradled her son. It was glorious to hear her baby’s heartbeat.
Stacie had endured the labor of foster parenting and now she held her breath as she waited for the baby to be permanently in her arms. Miracle would have her forever family.
Cita sat in that Neonatal intensive care unit watching her 2 lb. preemie fighting for her life. Her pregnancy had been hard and now She prayed for her tiny baby girl, asking God for strength for them both! Daily it had to be renewed as Cita learned how to care for her and face this giant in her life. Today she’s a thriving 4 year old.
Always God is with us, these are just a few glimpses of God’s grace and mercy on the lives of these women and their babies.
One of the highlights of my year is going to our church’s bible conference. Asi es, we make that long 6 hour drive, ending with a winding mountain top, all for us to hear 17 seminars/sermons, aimed to keep us on the straight and narrow. Pero es más que eso.
It is a mountaintop retreat for me. A week away from the hustle and bustle at home, a time for just Ben and I. I’m not that girly girl that likes to dress up, I don’t care for all the hard work of primping, but I do like the end results when I stand in front of the mirror, que guapa! I drink up all the nuggets of truth and inspiration that fill my mind, heart and notebook when I sit and listen to each seminar. The Donut break and afternoon break gives me that wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and when I’m feeling bold and confident, I step out and make a new friend. Sabes que? Conference time makes my flaco such a social butterfly, this man of few words, goes around getting to know his brethren! It makes me kinda sorta jealous of him and for him. Then there’s the updates, I love them! The missionaries we send and support all around the world, come home and share their experiences. They pass the mantle to men of those nations; nationals, who carry on the vision. I’m not a world traveler, but hearing the various accents, seeing the cultural attire while listening to glimpses of all those supernatural things that God is doing around the world helps me see the incredible thing I’m a part of.
My fellowship ( Asi es. Zepedas, maybe Mexicans across the board, tend to appropriate everything they are attached to. Something very personal happens and we must declare it with “my” well because, it’s mine) CFM Ministries; Christian Fellowship Ministries- a Pentecostal movement born during the Jesus People revival. One small struggling church in Prescott Az. grew to a network of thousands of churches worldwide with a mission to preach the gospel. Bible conferences bring our churches together for a time of refreshment and renewed vision.
The highlight of the conference at the end of the week is to hear the announcements of new churches going domestically and internationally. Ves, for me it is so very personal, because in 1983 a couple rose to the challenge and came to San Diego to start a church. Just the couple and their kids, we call it “pioneering”. I was ‘born again’ in 1984 after hearing the message of salvation and because they went there, into my city, I’ve had this anchor all of my adult life.
Almost 40 years later, besides my church, our fellowship is over 20 churches strong in San Diego. This January conference, 7 international works were announced and several domestic works around the U.S. Gloria a Dios! Me atrevoa decir, God is advancing his gospel message around the world. Announcements were made for Samoa, Sudan y por supuesto, I was excited to hear 2 announcements of churches into the heart of Mexico.
Y sabes otra cosa? Besides all the excitement of new churches and new christians, I have my own personal turning points. Milestones that happened while I absorbed the full conference experience.
It was at one of my first conferences on a nice Arizona warm desert day that I broke up with my Flaco, because in this Jesus People culture, dating is intended to lead to Gods institution of marriage! Hijole! I felt that marriage wasn’t for me, at least not until I was very old, like 30. Pero, as soon as our relationship ended, I began to wonder if marriage could be blessed? Indeed! I know now, after 33 years with my Benjamin, that in Christ, a marriage covenant could be prosperous, even when our traditional culture and color was so opposite. Gracias a Dios for my patient cold blooded Englishman from the East Coast, he learned how to roll with this feisty latina woman from the West Coast. Y yo? Well learned how to be still…. mas o menos 😏
It was at a conference that Ben was approached about his little girl and this time he wouldn’t say “she’s too young”. In a twinkling of an eye she had entered that grown up stage of life. Dating, whirlwind and marriage. Is it ok if I tell you that nobody warned me about that part of parenting, you know when you must release your child. Hijole, it was hard, you lose a part of you for a season.
Pero! Then came the conference that another turning point came. El gran dia that I turned the corner and became an abuela. It was a bittersweet day, Maricella was supposed to wait until I got back from the conference. I would be ready to receive my reward. Pero, instead she arrived early we welcomed her into the world via facetime and she welcomed us home! Ahora, We, Apa and Ama have 8 little gems. I have forgotten the days I thought I lost my children, my hands are full again.
It was at a conference during the exciting time of announcements that we heard a very personal announcement. “Out of San Diego Ca. into Bonita Ca. (also a community of San Diego) Jon & Denise Greene.” My heart swelled with delight at the very idea that my hijo and his beautiful helpmeet would be pioneering a church. In my heart I’ve always held a special place for the pioneer pastor who willingly leaves behind his steady grounded life to go to regions beyond. Y para que? To preach the message of the gospel to individuals like me, some broken, some empty, trying to find their way in life. Y ahora, my son is out preaching and teaching. Mi hijo, el pastor. Hijole! Maybe he’s gonna get a “Rosie” in his church?
Sometimes, especially in these 2 years with the Covid invasion, my faith has been challenged and I’ve had to stand when I’m too tired. It’s a spiritual connection with a supernatural God who loves me, us, who graciously refills our vessel through his word. Por supuesto that this connection also happens at home alone during my devotions, or when I go to church. O ya sabes, God is with us always, pero, at conferences I am stirred when I see what God is doing all around the world for any willing and open heart. It’s catching a vision of hope for the lost, and for me. Lost men and women who are restored and go back into all the world to rescue a soul. CFM Bible Conferences, quizas they sound dull or boring, but they are a lifeline to me. I love what God does through them.
Tis the season to be thankful. I take too many things for granted, in these strange and difficult days. Good health and strength is something I’m so grateful for, especially as I’m climbing that mountain. Wait! Or am I…. descending the mountain? A healthy mind to process life does not go unnoticed in my book anymore. I’m recognizing again that we have things for seasons and sometimes we get special one time experiences that a grateful heart will tuck away into the memory, sometimes dormant, until something triggers it. Today was a trigger day.
Usually when things happen they pile up needing attention ahorita mismo! This entire week has been chaotic, as all hands are on deck to plan a baby shower for our 8th, asi es 8th grandchild. As you can imagine everything is a mess, and with the weather being dry, everything is dusty and dirty. De repente, I get notice that I’ll have guests, que exagerada! It only felt like all of a sudden a grenade was launched and I had to get busy to save my life! The room I had to prepare was my apas room. I call it Tatas room. His room has had use, but not often in these past 11 months. I use it and it is not weird or painful to go in it, no mas que ahora I had to do some deep cleaning, and dusting reaching areas that require moving furniture around, ya saben. I had wiped down photo frames with images of dad and family. These faces look right at me whenever I go in, they’re part of the room. Suddenly I was transported back to those initial transition days of taking care of my apa. It was such a confusing and difficult time for him. He said he could do life alone, and he truly believed he still could. He stood his ground, there was nothing wrong with him he argued, he wasn’t stupid and he certainly wasn’t a baby. Dementia was already present but of course he didn’t know it.
The straw that broke the camel’s back, was yet another fall in his daycare facility, a blow to the head that sent him to the hospital. My sister and I scrambled. One of his caregivers was with him in the ER waiting for test results and for me to arrive. I already had a room ready for him in my home.
I’m going to attempt to describe what it is to battle Dementia, or mejor dicho, what me and my sister experienced with our apa. Dementia refers to memory loss and the loss of other reasoning abilities. It is a progressive disease, which when severe enough will alter a person’s ability to function daily. Our apa dealt with dementia of the Alzhemiers kind. It gets into the brain and squashes out memory and spreads until it reaches across the mind. Many sundown experiences put us into a twilight zone episode where we spun around in circles getting nowhere. “Redirect him,” the nurse would tell us, and when we weren’t bound up in frustration and angry emotions, we could manage that. Some of the more successful evening battles against dementia usually involved dad telling a childhood story from his long term memory archives. I tried to always be prepared with my writing tools.
Sometimes the skirmishes at sundown left me confused! Today, deep cleaning this room, triggered a night time conversation I’d had with my apa. That first night in his new surroundings he was uncomfortable and awkward. We had settled him into bed and he wondered where I was going to sleep since he had taken my bed.
Me: No apa, es su cama
Apa: No, mi cama esta en mi casa
Me: Esta es su casa
He chuckled, like I was being polite, you know how we latinos open our home up, “mi casa es su casa.” Que casualidad that he remembered that he wasn’t home. Sometimes dementia made me suspicious that perhaps he wasn’t confused, could he be faking it? Apa was worried about where I would sleep. I assured him that I was going to my room but if he needed anything I would hear him call and come check on him. I had a good monitor that picked up even the sound of his breathing.
Apa: Y Ben donde esta?
Me: Apa, Ben esta en nuestro cuarto.
He chuckled again, looking at me sideways.
Apa: Ese no es Ben! Hijole! Dads long term memory only remembered the young Ben not the… hmmm… mature one 😀
Of course I was offended, dementia or no dementia mi apa was insinuating that another man would be in my bed! Imaginate! I stood up for myself of course and explained and explained again, four or five times, that Ben was the only man for me. I eventually resorted to the redirection trick and it worked. We survived our first night, apenas! Another thing to be grateful for is my flaco who was patient and kind even though his suegro many times thought he was a stranger in the house.
Dementia torments it’s victims and their caregivers. Y por supuesto, my outlet has been my writing. It cages you up sometimes. At times I felt sorry for my apa and other times I was right in the cage with him. We experimented with him living part time in my home and part time in his, but we realized after a few months that it had only confused him more.
I wrote this after a long evening of confusion for him and fatigue for me.
When are you taking me home?
Dad, you are home.
This is my home?
I must be losing my mind.
Your wife died last year.
What? I saw her last night.
I must be losing my mind.
Is my mother alive?
She died a long time ago.
Why didn’t anyone tell me?
I must be losing my mind.
Where’s my wallet?
In your pocket.
Where’s my keys?
I must be losing my mind.
Is my car outside?
It’s right outside.
I can’t see it.
I must be losing my mind.
Tell me about your family?
Your husband repairs tires?
That’s my sisters husband,
My husband paints houses.
I must be losing my mind.
When are you taking me home?
You are home Dad.
Don’t you recognize the pictures?
I must be losing my mind.
Dad voiced those words many times when he couldn’t remember and then he would get confused and plenty of times angry because we didn’t understand him. It was a vicious cycle.
Today, I was sad for a moment about that trigger that led me down to that memory, but then I was glad for the opportunity to have lived it.
I am thankful for those years with my dad and for all the years I’ve had with family and friends. I’m grateful for every year that I have a healthy mind, to cherish, understand and appreciate my loved ones.
Todo el mundo is wanting to know about my little nietas hemangioma story. Miren, I had much interest in the Sippy Cup post so I’m going to share more of Rachels experience, because it was definitely un besito de Dios, for my daughter in-law Denise also.
Rachel was born a few days before her due date, she weighed in at just over 6lbs. and 19 inches long. All was well when she went home from the hospital the next day.
On their first day home Denise noticed that Rachels bottom lip was tight,and red on the right side. She also felt excruciating pain when the baby couldn’t latch, this was just the beginning.
Protocol required that she take her baby for a followup within 2 days of birth and Denise was relieved, she needed to know what could be happening to her baby.
It was a routine check up. All was well, the doctor said, Rachel was fine, and she had been, no signs of pain or distress other than the issue with nursing which brought up the question of the tight, red and a little puffy skin on the area of her lip. The doctor re-examined her and concluded that her lip was simply chapped! Nothing to worry about, a little balm on it would heal it right up. Oh! And be sure to schedule Rachels 2 month appointment. Pero, algo estaba mal. Denise felt uneasy about the baby.
After the appointment Denise asked others about the red mark and soon discovered it was a ‘strawberry birthmark’. She began to research strawberry birthmarks. Everything she read said that they were harmless. She learned that it would grow and eventually after a few years it would most likely fade. This helped ease Denise’s anxiety.
Denise had her 6 week appointment and her gynecologist confirmed that it was “a strawberry birthmark” As the days progressed, Rachels birthmark had spread across to half her lip and down her chin and it had puffed up, but still she was ok.
Two Month Appointment
Rachel was 2 months old and her birthmark was dark red and puffed out. When the pediatrician saw her she was surprised at the size and rate it was growing, just a little concerned she said she would give her a referral for the dermatologist, there she could get a cream for it.
One look at lil Rachel and the specialist knew that it wasn’t just a strawberry birthmark. Rachel was dealing with a hemangioma which is common and more so in girls and caucasion children. Pero mira, What I didn’t tell you is that because of where the birthmark was situated, on her lip, it was probable that she could be dealing with a more severe and rare condition called PHACE syndrome. “the uncommon association between large infantile hemangiomas, usually of the face, and birth defects of the brain, heart, eyes, skin and/or arteries.” Ya se imaginan how my poor daughter in law must have felt. The doctor needed to find out immediatamente which, if any of Rachel’s organs were affected, her life depended on it. An MRI and several other major tests were requested. She would have to go under anesthesia to endure the testing. Luego! To make matters worse, her skin had stretched to such a degree that it had begun to ulcerate.
As the family waited for an opening for the testing, Rachels ulcers grew deeper and with it came pain. It was so difficult for the poor baby, whenever she nursed she yelped in pain, then she began to skip meals. Dios mio!, how difficult it was to watch our baby suffer.
The day of the testing fue un dia largissimo! A long and almost too hard to endure day. My dear 2 month old nietecita had to fast for 12 hours and be sedated for the tubes to go down her nose, a camera that would reveal her internal condition. Oh what immense relief it was to discover that her organs were fine. Now, the doctors could implement a plan to control the rapidly growing hemangioma with a strong medication called PropranololHijole! Such a strong medicine but now there was the issue of the open ulcer that was continually open and painful.
The medication was started immediately, but en realidad, the more urgent matter was the desperate pain lil Rachel almost constantly felt. The doctor had also prescribed a numbing gel that relieved her for about 45 min when applied. Things were getting desperate.
During all this time, Denise and Jonathan (mi hijo) were doing all they could to keep life as normal as possible. The older 2 girls were feeling the absence of their momma. Many evenings Denise sat in their dim lighted bedroom comforting Rachel. In the midst of all this, like a spring bouquet, the family was having a wedding. My nephew Emmanuel (aka Meño) was to be married to our unofficially adopted daughter, Sierra, Oh happy day! Meño is a loyal primo, he picked Jonathan to be his best man. Hemangioma or not! Jonathan would do all he could to help his cousin on his wedding day while helping Denise take care of Rachel.
Just days before the wedding, things hadn’t improved for Rachel, in fact, the hemangioma was quite large and the ulcer was constantly open. Laser treatments had only left a deeper gash on her lip and didn’t help. The doctor had pronounced that another level of treatment was needed. An infusion of the medication would be introduced the following week, the infusion would reach her heart quicker and thus hopefully affect the hemangioma and stop it from growing. ¡Qué desesperación! What a desperate feeling to see your baby in so much pain and growing disfiguration,
Denise was desperate, the doctor’s solution was not her only hope. She clung to God’s word and allowed the popular song Even If by MercyMe to comfort her. Through tears and desperate cries while the family prepared for the wedding, she held and comforted her baby and cried out to her God. “God I know you can, you are my hope, regardless of what doctors tell me. I’m gonna pray everytime she cries, I’m gonna beg until you do something Lord, because you’re my God.” The Wednesday after the wedding, plans for the treatment would be set.
Wedding Day Miracle
“Even if” tears came on the Sunday morning of the wedding, Denise knew there would also be tears of joy on Meño and Citas wedding day, she dressed her girls, then herself joyfully.
In Jesus People weddings everyone is invited to the ceremony. The bride is not necessarily the center of attention. although all eyes are on her. In that beautiful magical time while the bride and groom look into each other’s eyes and promise themselves one to another “til death do them part” Rachel rested, the numbing gel had not worn off yet, so Denise breathed easy, sighing as the groom kissed his bride. Mr. and Mrs. Zepeda were introduced and the cheer went up, Rachel stirred.
In the midst of hugs and kisses through joyful tears, someone bumped Rachel and we all froze. Seconds seemed to drop noisily as we waited. Que?! Where were the piercing cries? Denise took her quickly to nurse her. Since she still hadn’t cried out in pain she would wait for the numbing cream. Despite all the commotion of a wedding reception somehow both Rachel and Denise were at peace.
At home that evening Rachel still hadn’t needed the relief gel medication. She nursed and was quite content even though her ulcer was quite open and messy. The next day Rachel was still muy agusto, nursing and happy all day long. Denise was so relaxed herself that it wasn’t until she looked down at Rachel in her arms and saw a line across the ulcer of her lip. It was closing! That’s when reality hit her. Jesus had healed Rachel! Since the day before at the wedding she hadn’t had piercing painful cries and she was nursing without a struggle. Y ahora, she could see the wound beginning to heal.
The next day, Tuesday. Jonathan took his family to SeaWorld to celebrate.
Now they couldn’t wait to see the doctor the following day.
At the doctors office, Denise could not hold it in. The moment the doctor walked through the door into their examination room she blurted out “She has no more pain! Jesus has healed her” But of course the doctor must examine Rachel, after all the strawberry birthmark deformed by the ulcer was still very visible. The doctor speculated that perhaps the medication was taking effect? That couldn’t explain how the ulcer was closing and the pain was suddenly and completely gone.
While I am eternally grateful to doctors for their hard work, on this occasion God stepped in to help our little Rachel. It is our wedding day miracle.
Rachel Daniella’s first 3 months of life were incredibly difficult but as soon as God healed her, she got on with her living. She is no longer the baby, but a big sister and she’s well into her kindergarten year and absolutely loves it. Denise swears by Abeka Academy for her homeschooling needs. If you look closely at Rachel you’ll see the scars of the days gone by and I can only thank God for his goodness always.