How To Survive October 31

Costumes and Candy

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, what costume can I wear? I have to have a costume

“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. 

En conclusion:

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!

How to Survive Youth and Age Gracefully.

How to Grow old with Grace

As I’ve grown older, I have always loved birthday celebrations, especially mine. Bien vanidosa! I love all the happy birthday wishes I receive all day long, and throughout the week 🥳 and all of a sudden I don’t mind sharing my size, hijole!

Dale, dale, dale. (Hit hit hit)

No pierdas el tino, (Don’t lose your sureness)

porque si lo pierdes, pierdes el camino. (because if you lose it, you’ll lose your way)

Ya le diste una, ya le diste dos, ya le diste tres. (You’ve hit it once, you’ve hit it twice, you’ve hit it thrice)

Y tu tiempo se acabó.(Now your time is up)

My birthday celebration

A Birthday Memory

 I was going on sixteen, los gringos dicen “a sweet 16 birthday”, que sweet! I was feeling anything but sweet. I was feeling like the emotional teen I was. Nothing special was gonna happen, my birthday was on a weekday, and if it wasn’t, I wasn’t going to have a big birthday party anyway. Things were terrible in every part of my life!  They had not miraculously changed liked I thought they would when I entered high school and they seemed to progress to horrible!  I was supposed to be pretty, instead I was getting pimples. High school was supposed to be all fun and games, it wasn’t. Volleyball season, my favorite sport, was in jeopardy. My position as ‘the’ setter was shared with a little freshman girl, she was trying to steal my starting place on the varsity team! Imaginate! How could Miss George do this to me? I was the setter, I was relieved that at least she couldn’t serve like me, that should keep me off the bench. 

I was struggling in math, my geometry class was almost too much for me, it was pretty humiliating to have to constantly be asking for help in class and out. Pero, the worst of all my tribulations was that the love of my life, the most handsome boy in school, still didn’t know I existed. It didn’t help me that I was a wreck anytime he even came near me. At sixteen with all these dramatic situations I felt like my life was over? 

I wasn’t gonna make a big deal of my birthday. Manana I would pretend like it was just another day and it would pass without notice. Quizas, the whole year would just pass unnoticed. y de repente! I could just be all grown up and pretty and ‘he’ would notice me then. But I couldn’t help it, I always made a big deal on my birthday, my mind always went into fantastic fantasies of a surprise party with a bang. Maybe, just maybe this time ama would surprise me? Don’t get me wrong, I definitely didn’t want another dress up birthday, my quince was way too much for me.  Anyway, I went to bed pushing down that hope, after all it was just another weekday, nothing special ever happened in the middle of week. 

Posole Celebration:

The next morning, while I was still sleeping, ama was preparing a celebration. She had invited Sarah and Lisa, our friends from down the street. Patty and Marina were present, it was early, the day hadn’t begun and my ama had stirred them awake to celebrate. 

When everyone was ready, they burst into my bedroom wishing me a happy birthday, they were singing and I was surprised. My ama had gotten up extra early or went to bed super late and in very Mexican tradition prepared Posole, a delicious red chile meat and hominy soup. however she did it, we all enjoyed a nice hot bowl of chicken posole with all the fixings for my birthday. It is a sweet sixteen birthday memory that only now I can truly appreciate. Gracias ama, there’s that wish again for sending texts to heaven. “Ama, I really did love your posole, and I didn’t notice then, how much sacrifice and love you put into serving us a hot bowl or plate of your delicious food, but I know it now. I can’t wait to thank you in person ama, I’m all grown up now. 

Throughout that day, my first day of sixteen, I got lots of attention from my friends and teachers for my birthday and I reveled in it. It kind of got me addicted to wanting ‘extra doses’ of attention on my birthdays.

Here are some things I’ve appreciated throughout the years on my birthday:

-Phone calls from Marina to wish me a happy birthday, although sometimes she’s done it on Daniella’s birthday or my anniversary, es que she thinks often of me verdad?

-My brother Fernando was always very good about calling or sending a card

-Brother Ben, before he was my Benjamin, gave me a bible as my first birthday gift when we were dating. I was impressed by his spirituality.

-My Benjamin does everything he can to make it special for me, with help from the kids and my friends of course. I learned a hard lesson the year I moved my apa into our home. I was struggling with the caregiving transition and I was feeling sorry for myself. I said to him “Don’t worry about doing anything special for my birthday this year, things are kind of hard right now” Y sabes que? He believed me, he really thought I didn’t want to celebrate?! Hijole! The day of my birthday came and he wished me a happy birthday, gave me my gift and my kids did the same and it was a quiet day and I couldn’t believe it! An uneventful birthday! I was so indignant, how could Ben be so cold blooded? He had taken my words literally!? Like I said, he goes the extra mile to ensure my happy birthdays 😀 Mira nomas, maybe I haven’t grown up yet? 

-On my 40th birthday, I had been mourning the “falling” of my body, so my son Jonathan figured he would cheer me up by making a cake of a woman (me) with boobs in the proper place, hijole!

-One year my kids pitched in to pay for a nice trip to visit my bestie.

-Jonathan, my first born has had a new birthday family tradition. He has enjoyed ruining the rhythm of the Happy Birthday Song, he believes off key or no key is much more fun. In the end it’s a bunch of mumbo jumbo laughter before the candles get blown out. 

-My church family loves me and lavishes me with beautiful happy birthday wishes and gifts and lunch dates

En Conclusion 

Pero, when I’m not celebrating the time of my birthday, I see too much gray and too much wrinkles. Luego, I feel and sometimes hear my creaky bones. Asi es, and it shouldn’t be like this. Thomas, my youngest, is the best gift receiver I’ve ever known. He is always delighted with every gift he receives and with the same token he is always excited to give the gifts he buys others on their birthday. When I really really grow up, I want to be just like Thomas, a grateful person. I do give thanks to God for my life, and for my new year, 57 is not a milestone year but it has a few new beginnings in it, y gracias a Dios for that too.

How To Talk With To Your Husband

I was entertained by my grandsons this week and in between smirks and laughter, without their knowledge of course, I was reminded of the age old dilemma of communication with the opposite sex. I write through the lens of my own experiences, married to a quiet man, a very quiet man and raising three boys. Y pues, of course like a true woman I talk to other ladies, who are also looking for ways to fix them, I mean the problem of communication. Por supuesto que there are the rare occasions  where in a relationship a man is a talker and the woman could be, but she’s not quick enough to get her words out.  

Asi es, for a long time it has been discovered, or maybe uncovered? Girls love to talk and want to be heard, by anyone, by everyone, pero, especially by their husband or honey. Ves, it’s so important it’s got to come out now! Meanwhile boys don’t want to talk, but they will if the topic is in their radar. Otherwise, they would prefer not to hear us, because when they do, they are confused!  “What is she talking about?” Or in the doghouse, “What did I do?”

 Por supuesto, in a good womanly fashion, I must tell you some back story before I share my “Conversations with the opposite sex” stories.

I think that the empty nest changes have provoked Ben and I to work on “us” more intimately. Like in, working really hard at better communication. Imaginate, my cold blooded Englishman is digging deep, maybe even borrowing words from others to have a conversation with me. Meanwhile I’m exercising much self control to not say too much, or worse! Say nothing at all and still communicate my love and peace with him. Hijole! Ya se, ya se, you would think that after 34 years of marriage we would be “coaching” others verdad? I can report that God is patient and longsuffering even when we’re not. He isa great coach for us, when we let him, he directs us from his word and through easily accessible resources.

One of the places I’ve gleaned from is a recent podcast called Real Relationship Talk. After listening to Dana Che I realized that we just didn’t communicate at all, but now I realize that we were! It was just not good communication. She puts both sides of an issue on the table, raw and real conversations that have helped us. As Empty Nesters were starting from the beginning, getting on the same page😉.

Without further ado, here’s a clip of some of my conversations :

Rosie: Man! I didn’t take my walk this morning, I have to make sure I do it tomorrow morning.

Ben:   If you can wait for me, I’ll walk with you tomorrow”

Rosie: Oh, ok.  (But in my mind I had mixed emotions since my morning walks are my “hashing     out my issues” in conversation with God, now I had to talk to Ben. Duh! Isn’t this what I want, time with Ben? 

The next morning…

Rosie: Are you ready?

Ben: Yup, just let me get my tennis shoes on.

We stepped outside and the silence wasn’t acceptable so I started talking.

Rosie: Maybe we can listen to a conference sermon?

Ben:  Oh, ok. (regarding the neighbors yard) I don’t care for this yard, rocks instead of grass. 

A few steps of quiet, oh oh.

Rosie: (I pull out my phone) Let me find that sermon.

Ben: I don’t think it’s gonna rain after all.

Rosie: I don’t know, it looks like it might. (I hold off on the sermon)

A few more seconds of empty space. Ok, I’ll talk then. 

Rosie: It’s going to be…

Ben: (regarding another yard)  I don’t like this ivy, I prefer grass, just nice green grass.

Rosie: (In my mind- Maybe I’ll not play the sermon, maybe he’s gonna want to talk)  Yes, I think green…

Ben: See it gets brown and messy.  (regarding someone’s boat) I don’t like those kinds of boats.

Rosie: (looking over at the big speed boat-aren’t they all the same?) Really, why?

Ben: they’re just power boats, no place to sit, they’re just for speed.

I had no response and I worried the conversation attempt would die.

Rosie: I wonder How Joe’s doing?

Ben: I liked  my dad’s boat, it had character. 

Rosie: oh (in my mind- he doesn’t need me to hold a conversation)

All of a sudden, I had nothing to say and I was walking faster. The warnings blared as he glanced over at me and the words escaped Ben as he tried to figure out what happened.

Later that morning I was watching my grandson Judah. Judah was happy to read a book. Then I also had a couple of little girls from church to babysit. When they arrived Judah kept on reading. They immediately wanted to play with him, he wasn’t interested, nor was he listening as they jabbered away. Then he snuck out to the backyard, but the girls were quick to get their shoes and go outside too. A short while later I went outside to check on them.

Judah was standing there just staring at them.

Ama: What’s going on out here? Is everyone behaving?

Judah: Yes, but I don’t understand what they’re saying.

Belen: My name is Belen, b. e. l. e. n.

Judah stared at her confused.

Ama: What are you saying Belen?

Belen: His name is Judah. My name is Belen, b.e.l.e.n. (all that was said as she multitasked, climbing in and out of the toy car)

Judah stared at her blankly. 

Ama: Alveena? (the toddler was also jabbering away)  What are you saying? Judah, can you tell me what she’s saying?

Judah: No, I do not know what she’s saying.

And as she ran across the yard she screeched

Alveena: I chay it! 

Belen: cheese, cheese cheese

Ama: Oh my gosh

Judah was immersed in their words and not knowing what to do he decided it was best to ignore them.

I had a good laugh, poor Judah, he would never understand them, or any woman for that matter. De repente, it hit me! Ben and I had just had that very same experience! Lack of understanding or misunderstanding. He thought I wanted words from him, it is what I have said to him. Pero, doesn’t he understand that what I really want is time well spent with him, communicating in silence is doable, I’ve had to learn things when I step into his quiet space, pero, I also want and need meaningful conversation. What I didn’t see was that Ben was really trying, he was using topics he was comfortable in. Ok, scrap that attempt, let’s try again.

Luego, the next evening,  on another round of abuela watch, I loaded up the van with the other  grandchildren. We were off to keep Thomas busy at his job at the city recreation center. 

During the drive, I was reminded of how straight forward men talk, no backstory and minimal description. Fijate.

11 month old Uriah: Da Da Da Da Da Da

3 year old Jeremiah: D’mamybabybrotherdays

Uriah: Da Da Da

Jeremiah: D’maD’ma

Ama: Yes Jeremiah?

Uriah: Da Da Da

Jeremiah: D’maD’ma

Ama: Yes Jeremiah

Jeremiah: mybabybruderdays…mybabybruderdays…hedayshelovesyou

Ama: Jeremiah I don’t understand you. Say it again, slower (I listened with a sharp ear)

Jeremiah: Riah days he loves you D’ma!.

Ama: Really?

Jeremiah: Des

Uriah: Da Da Da

Ama: Awe Uriah, thank you, I love you too.

Jeremiah: wecum

En conclusion:

Some couples flow in their ability to communicate so easily. Well, at least that’s what it looks like from the outside looking in. I’m encouraged, God has been with us for thirty-four years and as empty nesters we are relearning and learning new ways (new to us at least) of communication  con la ayuda de Dios, because God has always helped us, I’ll learn and respect “Benese” and he’ll learn and navigate through “Rosiese” 

God Bless you all in your communication growth 🙃

My Greene Side

Ben and I enjoyed a beautiful 2nd weekend of our 34th year of marriage. I won’t talk about the weekend before, except to say that rewinds, redos, they are needed at times, advice from a wise new 30 year old, I’m glad we took her suggestion.

So while we had a quiet lunch, acuerdense, with my flaco, it usually is quiet, unless I’m spilling out my many words. I was hunkering down to really rest while I listened to a Nicolas Sparks audiobook. Then Ben did it, he threw me off with spontaneity! He calculated the afternoon time and figured we could have a nice walk at Coronado Island and then come home for his Sunday afternoon nap. Sorry to be so non romantic here, Pero, I too calculated my winnings, time spent with my Cold Blooded Englishman or a novela? Hard cold calculations didn’t stop us, so off we went to Coronado.

Crossing the Coronado bridge is a beautiful sight: the boats on the bay, the ocean water, and sunbathing on the sand, it is what San Diego thrives on. Bien bonito! It felt good to be out with Ben, just because. Then, with the boats on his radar, my flaco began to share his memories and I peeked into his childhood again. Hijole! His memories always floor me, because what he experienced with his family  is so completely foriegn to me, deveras que, I get a little, no! MUY uncomfortable at the reminder of how different the worlds we came from are. I’m thinking of the famous Mexican singer/actor Pedro Infante. One of his movies is called “Nosotros Los Pobres.” “We The Poor.” I’ll have to sit down and watch it with my sis again, he was a favorite of my ama and our unreachable heart throb. 

 I have joked with Ben about his rich upbringing, and he laughs, because he says they weren’t rich, they were just middle class. Pero fijense, with very little prompting as we walked hand in hand, Ben remembered his childhood summer vacations.  My brain was working hard to grasp what he described, and it kept coming to a blank wall. His family drove to the coast of Massachusetts and Rhode Island where they chartered a boat and sailed from one island to another. “What did you do?” Ben was puzzled at my question, well, they enjoyed the ocean air, fishing, visiting the different islands, pero, my California mind couldn’t imagine such quiet repose as enjoyment. In the end he had to show me on google maps and images what he enjoyed.

Ben’s father, whom I didn’t get the chance to meet, was an architect. He designed the house Ben and his brothers grew up in. It was designed in Mid Century style, and Nancy, mi suegra decorated her house beautifully with her artistic flair. The first time I went there I was nervous, it felt a little bit like I was walking through a museum. Mid century modern furniture and real painting on the walls and expensive pottery, everything individual yet it all tied together nicely. The predominant trait was the huge glass windows from ceiling to floor all around the house. The windows all around the house intimidated me. Anyone could look right into the house. Even though you could see the beautiful scenery outdoors, I wondered what I was going to do when I had to use the bathroom, not to mention a shower. Pero, gracias a Dios that Ben taught me the trick of steaming up the large bathroom windows first, hijole!

This style of houses were “trending” in those days and Bens apa Walter Farrar Greene aka “Skip” had connections with other architects, thus he was able to acquire the use of the well known Glass House in Martha’s Vineyard for their family vacations! And he says they weren’t rich?! He’s quick to humbly correct my assumptions by telling me that his dad knew the brother of the architect, and I say “Ok, vacation on Martha’s Vineyard Island.” True vacations, where they rested, enjoyed good books, took in the nature of the island and of course went spent time on the boat. Maybe the only “unrest” that my suegra experienced was her three little boys nagging her to take them to the beach again. When I go over to Ben’s world in New England and we vacation, my Southern California spirit yearns for action and activity after three days of rest! The quietness gets too noisy for me. A la otra, on our next vacation I’ll have to have Ben take me to one of those Islands he visited. 

It was bien nice hanging out with my flaco on our own San Diego Island in Coronado last weekend. We walked and he talked, asi es, my man of few words, shared them with me. Luego, I danced with Elvis. 

En conclusion, 

Again I’m amazed that after 34 years of incompatibility and our different worlds God has blessed our journey and carried us through the very difficult terrain. Gracias a Dios, that he is always with us.

A Kiss For Apa

I was having a conversation with someone just yesterday about her relationship with her mother and well, she sadly described her mother as manipulative. Pero esperate! As a mother, quickly I defended my fellow mother and said, “she just doesn’t want you to move and is glad for the extra time she’ll have with you, she’s gonna find the change difficult” Pero, the quick response was “No. She knows how to manipulate me and get her way” And what did I do? I pulled out my mothering portfolio. Asi soy yo? Do my kids see me like that… then it went to my marriage relationship. Do I use my words and feelings to manipulate? Hijole!

We carry into our new relationships so much baggage, so much old things, hidden things and sometimes we don’t even realize it. Relationships can take so many turns, verdad que si? Some relationships are easier to maneuver than others. Hijole! This sounds like a therapy session huh? Pero, I had a beautiful conversation with my sister this week, it was very therapeutic. She shared with me a beautiful memory and it turned out to be another puzzle piece in my own memories and conclusions of mi ama. I was so grateful for it, through my sister, my ama gave me a useful tool to use as I practice relationships. 

When I was 15 years old, I had stepped into some nasty reality. It felt gross  and I angrily formed judgments, from my perspective my parents weren’t doing things well at all! and our lives shouldn’t be affected negatively. I would take care of my own heart.  I built walls of protection, that weren’t much protection at all! They were ungrateful walls of pride and “stinking thinking” like my pastor says. Thankfully at 18 years old God drew me to him and his reality and He has carried me through the seasons of life. That was almost 4 decades ago and of course as I’ve entered into my own relationships I’ve understood and experienced some of the ugly realities of life. I’ve learned to push back against the lies and misconceptions, face the facts and use the freedom I have to make right and good choices for my life that will affect others.  I do not have to accept what the devil wants to throw at me, I do not have to conform to the ways of this world, even though I live here. 

As I continue to learn to learn and practice good healthy habits in relationships, I am ever grateful for those surprises of healing that come unexpectedly. 

As Marina and I were talking and comparing notes on how God speaks to us and shows us the concern he has for the littlest of details in our lives, we turned to talking about the most vulnerable and sometimes very difficult relationship we are experiencing, our marriage relationship. That relationship that God created for a man and a woman, God said that it was not good for man to be alone. Por supuesto que my latina, novela driven mind explodes at what that first meeting must have been like for the man and his wife. Eve, innocent, batting her lashes and Adam exploding at the gift? The responsibility? The journey? That lay before him. Anyway, back to my story.

As women we yearn to express so freely our love for our husbands, to tell them, to show them, but circumstances or history or baggage inhibit us. There we were on the phone talking about how hard it is to just be free to express our amor, then Marina said, “Don’t you remember the way my mom always kissed dad on the forehead?” Explosion in my head! Like a wrecking ball hitting a strong wall of pride. Y yo dije “What?! I don’t remember that? I never saw my ama kiss dad, never!” And Marina was surprised, because she saw it often. Como? How was it that I never saw that? Pero asi es, some memories stick more than others. For Marina all these years it has been something else she learned from our ama and now practices it and it pulls her through whatever wave wants to knock her down. When things are sticky and difficult. When walls of isolation want to stubbornly climb higher and higher, she’ll do like our ama did and look at her husband and while he’s busy, not even interrupting him, she goes over to him and kisses him on the forehead and it helps her.

I was humbled again at my mothers strength. I again appreciated her perseverance in the most difficult relationship she chose to maintain. I was happy that I could see beyond the “facts” and I told Marina that I too was going to use that kiss to break down a wall. I left that conversation so incredibly blessed for the kiss my ama gave me. 

Wedding Day Details

Just 30 days left of Wedding plan for my son and his girl. Just 30 days for his sister, the unofficial and untitled wedding planner to fuel their wedding day dream, with untried creativity. Thirty more days for the rest of us to help or meddle. Pero, la verdad es que all the detallitos, those little embellishments confound me. I mean, how critical is it that the utensils be ensembled a particular way?  I am working hard at NOT letting other details arrest me. Por ejemplo,  it’s my third child getting married, no big deal verdad? I’m already wearing the mother in law shoes. I know mi hijo won’t forget me. I hope that this strong latina suegra won’t scare his sweet girl. I’m praying that when life settles down he’ll put me in the right place in his heart and with his wife in his arms, I’ll enjoy the newest San Diego Greene couple. 

As the day draws closer and closer I’m stepping back in my own wedding planning or lack of it. Ahora si, now that I’m an abuela, an ‘old married lady’ I have my opinion. Can anyone hear me? Will it matter now? My stomach is jittery again and I’m wondering how’s Ems beautiful girl is handling the wedding planning.

During Engagement:

When I was engaged, I wasn’t sure how I was supposed to behave. I had a ring on my finger, but no date and my “husband to be” was out to sea. I was a busy fiancé writing love letters  to my comprometido, telling him my woes of singleness. I was keeping busy accepting any dinner invite my lonely heart received and as I consumed the delicious tostones and arroz con habichuelas that my Puerto Rican friends offered I put aside the wedding plans for mañana.

Covered in Questions:

At church, at work, with friends, y con la familia the questions buried me and my engagement ring.

“Do you have a dress? Where are you looking? Do you know what style you want? Have you tried on some dresses? Y sabes que, I’ve been getting those same questions again! And I’m just the mother of the groom.

“Who’s your maid of honor? Bridesmaids? Flower girl? Ring bearer? What colors will you be using? I thought white was the only color I needed, ya se, ya se, pobrecita Rosie…I still don’t have a favorite color! Y! Back in those days there was no beautiful little girl or boy, like my grandchildren that captured my heart to crown them flower girl and ring bearer. Maybe I was remembering the uncooperative flower girl I had been.

Where are you getting your flowers? Who’s making your cake? Where’s the reception? What’s on the menu? Did you find a photographer?  Always my answer was “I don’t know”

The Things in Miss Rosalba’s Head

Despite the mountain of  “I don’t knows” the things that worried me were:

Will my familia be there? I was stepping into uncharted waters, marrying outside of mi gente and my wedding was outside of the family’s tradition. Would my ama come to my wedding? I worried that my apa wouldn’t give me away. 

What was Ben’s mother gonna really think of me? My heart trembled, “Oh God, help me”

I needed to figure out how to make a wedding invitation that would embrace both of our heritage. Spanglish was just me and besides it was too uncouth. Although in reality it would have fit right in with my unplanned wedding day details. In the end I chose two completely different styles, English and Spanish. I’m not sure if I asked for advice or ignored it. 

What was I going to focus on when I gave my testimony during the ceremony? Oh I worried that I wouldn’t get the whole beautiful story of redemption across. 

On My Wedding Day:

Mira lo que sigue conmigo, I was unused to too much makeup, and I felt overdone with eyeshadow, ya se ya se. 

My testimony was wordy, did anyone get the revelation that I was a new creation in Christ?

I shared my first meal with my Benjamin, fried chicken and potato salad. I was hungry! I thought brides were too full of butterflies to feel hunger, of course I would be different!

Ben shocked me when we cut the cake, he smeared frosting on my face! And guess what? I couldn’t do it back to him!

My parents gave me their blessing and my apa represented them both on my wedding day. Ama was physically unable to attend, and it broke her heart. My apa was nervous, but his proud regal Zepeda stance sustained him as he stood with me that day. His sister, my faithful Tia Chepina and her family came to my wedding, something I’m forever grateful for. My apas brother, Tio Chuy was there too. He and his wife, my quirky Tia Cuca always appreciated that I included them into my life. My sisters, pillars in my support system were there, making sure they encircled me with protection as I ventured into this voyage. 

Me acuerdo, that the drive up the mountain to see my ama at the hospital was long and winding. I sat next to mi esposo and apa sat in the back seat. Hijole! Was it ok to hold his hand? 

If I Could Do It Over:

What would I do differently if I had the knowledge I have now? Probably everything would change! Pero, so many other little things, seemingly unimportant things remain in my heart, those things for sure I wouldn’t change.

In the fire of wedding planning so many things happen, and so many things are dropped. So much explosive emotions and countless offenses can happen. The best thing I can do for Ems girl is pray for her peace. Emery knows I’m here to help, y gracias a Dios, he’s not hesitating to ask for it.  

Que Dios los Bendiga, with his hedge of protection and peace on these last 30 days of wedding planning.

If I Could Send a Text To Heaven

The Heavy Weight of Loss

Ya se, ya se. Here I am in beautiful San Diego smack dab in the middle of the summer, beautiful city, perfect weather y aun asi my heart is heavy with loss. Circumstances of my life have propelled me into a feeling of swimming for survival. Que dramatic verdad?

My ama, oh how I wish we could talk. I would pick her brain about her marriage and motherhood and grandmotherhood. Ahora si, I see her sacrifices, and totally relate to her tears and her fatigue. Y, I’d pull out the pictures of her great grandchildren, “Mire ama, todo lo que Dios me ha concedido” Oh I know she would cry tears of joy to see my beautiful inheritance. I get anxious at times about my apa. Is he indeed resting in peace? so I’d also have her ask her “Como esta mi apa?”  In my mind I still imagine some of those unspoken difficult conversations, pero, gracias a Dios, that He was with my apa till  he finished his race.  I do want to tell him about Hector, his youngest. The travieso!, his troublemaking days are behind him, I hope he knows that is ok. 

Y mis hermanas, my sisters, I want to assure them, or maybe me, that all is well. 

With all the things to come, I think I’m behaving quite “self controlled”. While I’m not quite Ben (my cold blooded Englishman), I’m handling life. Pero, I’m tending to want to keep on that terrible and wicked stronghold of pride, yet I know it only damages me. If you’re latina, (or maybe pride affects everyone) ya sabes. Hold your head up, if needed, look angry to ‘prove’ you are a strong latina woman and nothing can knock you down. O, if something has threatened you push back, be strong, fight, no te dejes! 

Like I’ve said a few times, anything can trigger mourning, my sister Patty’s birthday just passed, and I asked God if he would give her a message. Honestly, as long as I’ve been Born Again, I have very little knowledge of heaven. Note to self: Learn about the place you’ll spend eternity girl! The streets are paved with gold, Jesus, my savior is preparing my place, there will be no more suffering, pain or mourning. But I don’t know how Heaven functions, I pray and and hold fast to His promises, then one day I’ll be there with my familia.

If I Could Send a Text:

I want Patty to know that our Emery is getting married and she would be quite pleased with the jewel God is making her to be; beautiful, strong, sweet and spicy are the traits I’ve detected thus far. 

Could an unfeeling text, even with emojis, relate my heart in this? I want my ama to know that I understand her now. I want her to know that I regret my disrespectful ignorant attitude toward her trials. I want her to know that I realize how much we kids took a piece of her heart and I’m so sorry I broke it. 

I still want them to let me know how much they miss me, but missing someone is painful sometimes, and in Heaven they don’t suffer from pain anymore. 

The Days Pass Like Vapor:

As time is passing and life is quickly changing, I’m hanging on to Christ, the only one that doesn’t change. 

Coming to America – Fernando’s Story

In this post I’m going to introduce you to el “Chapparo,” my third older brother. His name is Fernando but my apa called him Chaparro, for you non Spanglishers this means a shorty, sorry Fernando I had to clarify. Of course Fernando did not put on that nickname, it was exclusive for my apa and ama. In high school he was dubbed  “Zap”  by one of his teachers. I believe it was a derivative from our last name Zepeda, which every teacher mispronounced. That teacher must have pronounced it “Zapeeduh.” My brother had his own battles to fight while in transition to learning the English language and American ways.

School and the Immigrant Child

Like my other siblings, Fernando was dropped into the American education system without knowing how to speak English. I know the difficulty of going to an unfamiliar place as a little kindergartener and not having your safe and secure pillars, like ama and apa visible and near. I was a chilliona my first year and cried until the teacher handed me to my 4th grade big sisterPero no me imagino what it must be like for a child to be dropped at school with a bunch of strangers and not understanding a word they’re saying to you. Chapparro (it feels weird to call him that since it was an exclusive name used by our parents) went along with the program as well as he could.

No Hablo Ingles

Un dia, while the class was working with messy art stuff, Fernando needed to wash his hands, he looked around and didn’t see a sink, so he went looking for one. He walked right into the girls bathroom and proceeded to scrub his hands. Luego, as he was washing vigorously he felt that uneasy feeling of someone watching him. He turned around and saw that some of the little girls in his class had followed him. They were chattering indignantly and staring at him in disbelief. Didn’t he know that he was in the girls bathroom?! Since he didn’t understand them, Fernando went back to washing his hands, but before he could finish he felt a nasty tug on his ear as he was being pulled out of the bathroom. Now he was indignant! The teacher was saying something to him and pointing at the words on the bathroom door “GIRLS” Fernando looked at the door and at her and using the universal “body language.” He shrugged his shoulders and knowing my brother, he had that natural Zepeda frown on his face. That’s when it hit the teacher, a “face palm” moment, that if he couldn’t speak English, he wouldn’t be able to read it. She showed him where the BOYS bathroom was and from that point on Fernando knew exactly where to go. No confusion, boys used the boys bathroom and girls used the girls one, and the English acquisition continued steadily for my big bro. 

I really enjoy sharing these stories, in my opinion, they are such a vital part of our American history. Y, para mi, it enriches my treasure vault. 

My Independence Day

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 digo todo, 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! 

A Pro Life Victory

Fighting For Life

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 mucho dolor. 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.