Sunday, June 30, 2019

Hobby- My Trigger Word

What are your hobbies?  It's a simple question, yet when I am asked this, I just lose it.  I want to rage and yell.  I have been thinking about why it bothers me so much. 

As a child, I loved Holly Hobby.  My very first lunch box was a Holly Hobby lunch box.  I loved Holly Hobby.  I think that I found her so very wholesome and sweet.  Okay, I used to love this concept of hobby.  I learned how to crochet.  I taught myself.  My mother taught me how to knit and I understood the instructions enough to understand how to follow directions and do more complicated stitches.  If you ask me nicely, I can embroider a little bit.  I don't see cooking as a hobby but as a life skills.  Is reading a hobby?  Is writing?  Is blogging? 

I have gone into the Hobby Stores.  There is a bunch of them around me.  Santi used to love Hobby Stores.  He would try his hand at beading.  He would buy his canvasses and his paint there.  If you would let him, he would wander the aisles for hours just looking at all of the creative things that could be done and achieved.  These stores overwhelm me.  I see loose beads and half started projects that clutter the room.  Is this why the word, "hobby" upsets me?

Beyond the creative or arts and crafty, I think that hobby upsets me because of the insinuation of time.  I think this is what upsets me the most.  What do I like to do in my spare time?  Uh... sleep?  Blogging is a type of hobby, isn't it?  Yes, it is- but I am also using this blog as a type of therapy.  I don't know.  I'll try it on for size.  Do you have any hobbies?  NO!!!  I DON'T HAVE ANY TIME FOR HOBBIES!!!  WHO HAS TIME FOR A HOBBY!!!  (Deep breath)  Okay, maybe I need to try that again.  Give me a second... I'm counting up to ten...  Hey Elle, do you have any hobbies? (Deep breath, don't yell)  Yes.  I write a blog.  I think I'm getting a headache from not yelling but I did it.  Whew.

Okay, there will come a day when I will have time to do needlework.  I will take up yoga with Glenda.  I will do small home projects as a hobby and have HGTV on all day long learning about stuff.  I will watch television.  There will come a time when I will collect pretty beads and make all types of fun and expressive jewelry.  I will keep up with my eyebrows and nails.  Man, I'm here daydreaming. There will come a day when I will be the Hobby Queen!!!

Until then, I take advantage of my time and let my expression and creativity flow through my make up and my hair; two birds in one stone type of deal.  I read a few minutes before I drift off to sleep.  And I write this blog, which I am so thankful for.  I don't keep all the crazy in- I let it out and paint my life with words instead of color.  What a blessing!!!  I'm still not a fan of Hobby. I'll let it marinate and I'll let you know what happens.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

He Will Hold Me Fast

As I look back on my life, I see it as a journey.  I am walking around in different settings. I feel that my year has not been a walk in the desert.  Instead I have been in a wilderness at night.  I should have been scared but I felt...peace.  I can hear the owl hooting.  I can hear the crunches of animals scurrying and surviving.  It feels like I have been waiting.  Maybe I have been wandering, trying to find my way out of this dark forest. 

Yesterday, I recognized a signpost.  It may have said, "Exit this way."  Part of me wants to pretend I didn't see it.  I want to continue wandering in the forest where it is dark but peaceful.  It is almost like playing solitaire and getting to that point where you know you are going to win.  It's like playing Candy Crush and understanding that you are going to pass the level.  For me, knowing I am going to win gives me mixed feelings.  I was enjoying the challenge.  This just shows you the extent of my craziness.  There are some of you understanding this conundrum.  After all, life is about the journey, isn't it?  

I can see that it still will be a hard time finding my way out but as I look ahead, I can see that there are markers.  There is a path.  Let's be clear, there was always a path.  I don't know what it will look like once I get out of here.  I don't know who I will be.  However, I never really needed to know.  Am I scared?  No, I am not scared.  I'm scared of some things but not of this.  I know that God is with me.  He will never leave me nor forsake me.  I think of Joshua and the times that God reassured Joshua.  I can hear the words of Joshua 1:9, "Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and of good courage; do not be afraid, nor be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."  You see, He was with me in the wilderness.  He was with me in the desert.  He is with me as I drag my feet toward the signpost.  

There is this song.  It is "He Will Hold Me Fast."  Some of you have heard of it and some have not.  I hear it now.  It is a song on my heart reminding me when I want to forget.  It almost sounds like I am ungrateful.  I am not.  I am very grateful.  God has been good to us.  I look at my children.  They are not scared or worried.  It's almost as if they hear the song too.  They know who we follow.  "Come on, Mom!"  Such Sweethearts, rooting for me.  I pray that when they reach their own wilderness, they remember who to follow.  This will first and foremost be my utmost desire: that they allow God to always hold them fast.  

I look back on what I have been through.  I know it's time.  My children are up ahead.  I understand when Mary keeps things in her heart.  I'm keeping it in my heart.  Let's see what the next signpost looks like.  Until then, allow Christ to hold you fast too.

Friday, June 28, 2019

Saturdays

What is it about Saturdays?  I wake up and I like to sit and drink my coffee while looking out of the window.  Saturdays have a different feel to them.  When people make plans on Saturdays, I usually go but there is a part of me that goes begrudgingly.  In my head I'm like, "Don't you know that Saturdays are sacred to me?  Don't you know that I like to wake up and read and drink coffee?"  People like to plan stuff for 10:00am and I cry.  I know that it will eat up my morning. In my head it takes 5 minutes to get ready.  In reality, it takes 2 hours as I talk myself into getting dressed and doing what I have to do.  Am I the only one who talks to myself as I get ready?

I like days where there is cleaning done but it is happy cleaning done in sunlight and with music.  You clean a little, you sit, you eat.  You clean a little, you sit you eat.  It gets done little by little with just a little stress thrown in for good measure.  I cook weird meals out of the stuff that I find in the fridge and freezer.  I don't know why but they always come out delicious to me.  My kids like anything home made so... It's a win/win.

Then as the sun fades, we like to be outside and walk to go to the park.  Maybe we'll go get a slushie or a drink somewhere.  Maybe we'll eat out and find a new favorite place.  We don't mind being places in the afternoon.  I think it is our Saturday mornings that matter the most.

We will substitute a morning at home for a morning travelling.  We like to hike and visit places.  We will prep stuff the night before and get everything ready.  I don't know if my children are happy or sad when they ask me on Friday night if there is anything that they are doing on Saturday.  It's with a mix of both happiness and sadness that they get a calm and peaceful day home.

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Third Date: Reboot

I'm a spazz and I'm finding out that dating is scary.  Out of the blue, this nice guy starts talking to me and we decide to meet for coffee.  I can handle coffee.  I thought I could handle coffee.  Anyway, he comes out of his car and he's SHORTER THAN ME!!!  I must be short guy fodder.  I'm okay with it but he's kind of cute, nice voice; but I'm nervous.  I found out something very important in the course of this venture: Dating is scary. 

We had a good conversation.  We talked about education.  He was well-mannered and potty trained.  I think we have a good vibe going.  I think the question on our mind is, "Do I like him?"  I don't.  He was nicer about the send off.  I was like, "It was nice meeting you."  But I knew even as I left that there would be no second date.  Again, I was relieved.

I'm laughing.  It only took three dates and being stood up to find out that dating is scary and there is every possibility that I am not cut out for this.  It's been fun.  I'm definitely better at talking online with people.  I'm good at theoretically dating.  There is this guy that I am chatting with and we text.  We have been texting in 10 days a conversation that you would normally have in 10 minutes.  In a year, we may meet and I'm not that upset about it. 

I wonder what I want and what I am hoping to find with these dates?  I sit here writing.  I want to ask other dating women what they are looking for.  Online dating seems barbaric to me.  I miss the way it was when we were in school and everyone was single.  You had a crush and was happy when they spoke to you.  Every look was a research project.  We became scientists then.  We analyzed voice timbre and facial expression.  It wasn't just about what he said, it was how he said it.  We miss out on all of that in online dating.  We pick up what other people throw down but what about the whole person? 

There has been no second dates.  I'm okay with it.  Isaiah 26:3 says, "You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You."  So, I will live my hot mess life and be who I am and keep my mind stayed on Jesus because I trust him.  I'm thankful for these experiences.

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

I Am Fine

I always am so surprised to find that I still have words.  I journal my prayers and I write letters and texts to friends.  The only time when I lack words is when I have to sell myself.  Then, all of the lovely words disappear.  Isn't that always the case?

Today, I woke up to work and I am by my computer.  I am at ease.  Praise the Lord.  In a minute, I will continue working on my school work.  I will attempt to finish it all today before I take my son to his Bible study, before my daughter and I will have a few moments alone to do girly things.  Right now I am fine. 

I have been struggling.  Struggling with getting older; struggling with body image; struggling with school work and work work; struggling with identity; and other outside stimuli.  I don't always win these struggles.  There are days that I lay defeated in a puddle on my bed waiting for Jesus to come.  But right now, I am good.  Right this moment.  I am okay.  There is a break in the clouds and the sun shines, quietly and sweetly upon my face.  Today the quiet is not heavy, nor does it remind me of loss.  Today the quiet is peaceful and kind.  Thank You, so much for moments of calm.  And friends to check up on me.  And Your Word that gives me hope.  Is this what it is?  Hope? 

I am hopeful that despite anything I may go through, I have God and He is with me.  I am never alone.  I am not forsaken.  So, God's got my back.  Praise the Lord.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Getting Stood Up

So, I met this guy and we started chatting.  We hit it off and we arranged for a public date.  I don't know what happened.  I want to believe that it was an issue of miscommunication but the fact of the matter is that I got stood up.  Right now, I still don't know what happened.  I think not knowing what happened bothers more than anything.  Did he just not show up?  Did he show up and leave?  Was he even planning on showing up?  Was there an emergency?  Did he forget the day and time?  I don't know.  I have been ghosted.

I blame my legs.  I mean, this was my first response.  He saw my chunky short legs and he was like, "Nope!"  It wasn't my legs.  It wasn't part of the plan to meet.  That's all.  Honestly, my calm rational part understands this completely.  I have another part that gets mad at God.  Yes, I know that we should not get mad at God.  But every now and then, kids get mad at their parents and we hear their complaints.  I'm not saying that it is good.  In fact, I am not recommending going out and yelling or being mad at God.  God is good.  God is great.  I praise God.  I think that if we are going to have a relationship with God, we need to talk to him about what bugs us.  "God, I don't like knowing what happened.  I like closure."  I think I hear Him sometimes respond to me, "Too bad."  I don't leave it alone.  Me: But God, I feel like you dealt me a bad hand.  I lost my husband.  I have chunky thighs and I get stood up?  God, you don't think that's a bit much?"  Then I hear God say, "When you are weak then you are strong. (II Corinthians 12)."  Apparently I'm running a spiritual triathlon.

So, I'm taking a break after two dates and a third non-date.  I'll keep the line on the fishing pole to see if I get a bite but I'm definitely not using a net.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

A Hard Place

Ever hear the expression, "In between a rock and a hard place?"  I have wanted to be transparent in my musings.  I find that dating can be funny.  I always think about this experimental phase knowing that in a month or two, I will abandon it and take up a hobby.  I like learning the little things I didn't realize about myself and how I translate to other people out of my circle.  It has been a stretch for this little introvert.  I am branching out and attempting to eat healthy and work out.  I'm not doing this to lose weight.  I'm doing this because of the hard place.

I think about mental health a lot.  I think about it as it relates to Christ.  I think about it as it relates to students that I have worked with and currently work with  I think about how easy it is to fall into a depression or have anxiety.  Everyone feels blue every once in a while.  Everyone can feel anxious.  I think for some people, myself included, there are times when it is like a zombie, waiting, clawing outside your door waiting to consume you and take you over.

I have this scary thought.  In II Corinthians 12, Paul the apostle talks about not boasting in anything good that he has.  Then he talks about this "thorn in his flesh."  He pleaded with the Lord three times and the Lord did not take it away.  It says, "And He said to me, 'My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.'"  I'm scared.  I think about the nurse who gave me my epidural for my son.  What if she had said, "No epidural for you."  I would have given birth without it but I thank God for the rest that it allowed me.  I have worked a lot of jobs and some I have worked, you have to wait for the other person to come before you can leave.  There you are looking at the clock.  You are thinking about what you are going to do after.  You can't wait to leave and... the other person doesn't come.  You know that they are going to ask you to stay.  There is a heavy obligation on your heart to stay.  So, you stay, but you feel as if part of your soul just died a tiny bit.

I have a lot on my plate, Friends.  I am in a hard place.  Paul says, "Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake.  For when I am weak then I am strong."  In my head, I'm like, "Well, he's a better man than me!!!"  But what does that mean?  What does that look like to take pleasure in an infirmity?  I think of some friends who died of cancer thinking of home.  Is this what it meas?  What about needs?  I have to pay APS.  I have no money.  God provides.  Taking pleasure in the hard place?  I have to think about this.  I have to marinate.  I need to take pleasure in this hard place.  People tell me, it will pass.  Yeah... maybe... when I'm dead.  It may not pass this side of heaven.  I may miss my husband, mourn him and never marry, dying a widow's death.  How many years is that?

Paul also says, that when he is weak, God is strong.  When I am weak, then God is strong.  I lean on God in these hard places.  I confess my weakness before my mighty refuge.  I allow God to hide me.  I take all of my brokenness to him.  Apparently God is the best stylist, publicist and all around spin doctor.  He makes me look good.  Praise the Lord.

If you have no idea what I'm talking about and you have never had a sad or an angry day of your life.  If you have two loving parents and the love and support of your family all of the time, then by all means, pray for us who are a hot mess.  Pray for us and over us.  Ask us how to pray for you.  Now to those who struggle and have been struggling.  Ask people to pray for you.  Don't say, "God knows."  Pick a few people to go to and be honest about it if you want them to pray for you.  I needed help cleaning my house one day so I called my best friend, Glenda.  I told her to come over to help.  She came over.  She came into my mess.  She helped me clean it up.  Imagine if I told her to come over and help but didn't let her in?  What was she going to do?  Would she stay outside directing me?

I'm not trying to be mean.  I know that I am sometimes without trying.  I am trying to be open and honest for the sake of others as well as myself.  God is good all the time whether we feel it or not. And sometimes we need help believing it.  I pray for you, Friends.  Keep me in prayer.  God is good.

Friday, June 21, 2019

Shallow

Pray for my shallow heart, my friends.  This is the heart issue that I am uncovering through this journey.  Everything I complain about, I am.  Yes, I am.  I would like to be seen and admired but I don't want to do that for someone else unless they are in my demented vision, attractive. I thought I was better than this.  I thought I had the ability to see people for who they were.  I am not.  I don't.  Is this too honest?  I mean, what does it mean to live in community if we aren't honest with ourselves.  There are days that I forget that I deserve death on a cross.  I feel that this flesh is always warring with its ego. 

I find that I am unkind in my assessment of people.  What do I think I want?  There is something that I am not articulating that has to do with self-assessment.  I have asked before when I see the guys that reach out to me, these poor souls that don't know that all I have for them is my disdain, are these the guys that I attract?  You see, I thought I was attractive and fun. In looking in the mirror, I see symmetry to my face and if not beauty than a pleasing look.  I thought I was funny and sweet in a sour, cynical, sarcastic way that was appreciated and not looked on as being mean.  My current self-assessment is this: I'm not that cute.

So I am currently going through some of the poor guys I have had some conversations with who liked me.  Do I really mind if they are shorter than me or my height?  So what if they have more wrinkles than a Shar-Pei, right? Does it really matter if they resemble the Stay Pufft Man?  What about their beautiful souls?  You know even as I'm writing this paragraph, I can feel my face wrinkle up in an expression of what I can only describe as disgust mixed with a "Please no."  Maybe my prayer shall be for God to work on my shallow heart so that I can see people for who they are and not exactly what they look like.  I mean I do this when I'm not looking for a mate, I think I can make the transition. 

And no, there is no rush.  I'm not even sure that I'm looking for a mate but a best friend.  Most of my friends are married with children.  So, collaborating with them to go out and just hang is like a Mission to Mars.  A month in advance we are planning and coordinating.  With single friends, it's easier because there is more flexibility.  The problem is that your single friends meet people and then the cycle begins again.  Imagine hanging out with a buddy.  That person you call when you need some reassurance.  Isn't that how it begins?  Isn't that wonderful?  When you get to unfold a person and see who they are underneath.  I just want to meet people and see the interesting origami that we present and maybe I'll meet someone who I can hang out with.  Someone who will come to the gym with me and try the cross fit class as well as Zumba.  Someone who will hike a mountain with me (not in the summer and not at the crack of dawn) and who will wait till I slowly climb up and slowly make my way down.  Imagine someone to go on roadtrips with where you aren't the only one driving.  Listening to 80s songs and Colbie Caillat in the sunshine while letting the breeze blow through your hair.  Someone to text good morning to and if there is something going on you can tell them, "Pray for me."  All of a sudden, I am missing my best friend.  I know that I will not find another like him.  We spoke the same crazy language.  I can't believe I have to do this without him.  He would tell me to be shallow. 

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Considering Cougar-hood

So... ask me if I'm having fun dating yet.  Go ahead and ask me.  No, I'm not having as much fun as I thought I would.  I guess this is where I miss NYC, where I think people are more prone to have a conversation.  Well, I miss the NYC I grew up in.  Now that I'm thinking about it, I think that the real and true issue is that I miss being 22 years old.  Man, it was easier then!

Now, there is another issue.  In my head, I don't really think like a 47 year old.  I feel and act younger.  I think it is from hanging out with young kids all day and then raising young kids.  This momma is definitely immature.  You know who is not immature?  47-50 year old men!!!  I think I may be a cougar.  Do you know what a cougar is?  It is an older woman prowling around for younger men.  I don't want to be a cougar!  I just want to live my life and be happy!!!  Can Christian women even be cougars?  I mean, was Tamar a cougar?  I will tell you that I am understanding Tamar better.

Here she is, she was promised Judah's youngest son and she's waiting, and waiting.  What happened I think is that they forgot about her.  Judah forgot about her.  Everyone forgot about this widow who never got her chance to have children.  So when Judah goes looking for a good time, he finds... Tamar.  She gets his stuff and then acts like a prostitute.  When she comes out pregnant, the townspeople go and find Judah to tell him that his daughter-in-law has been acting like a ho'.   Then they bring out his stuff and tell him, "Ms. Thing says that these things belong to the baby's daddy."  When Judah sees the stuff he's like, "Wait a minute, this is my stuff.  Am I the Baby Daddy?"  Yes, Judah! Ding Ding Ding!  You are the Baby Daddy, and you didn't even need Maury.  How do I know this?  It's in Genesis but it is also in Matthew 1.  The child that they end up having is in the lineage of Christ.  I kid you not.  Now that I think of it, she wasn't a cougar was she.  She ended up being a kitten.

Okay, am I shallow because the guys that are single and are my age look a little older?  Yes.  Pray for me and pray for my judgmental and picky heart.  I'm sure that there are good guys underneath all of those wrinkles, a lot of wisdom.  I need wisdom.  I do.  I was hoping not to have to iron out wrinkles in order to find them but I need wisdom!!!  Maybe I'm just not cute enough.  I think I translate better in person than on line.  I may need a dating guru.

Well, here is my conclusion.  Guys suck.  Dating sucks.  The guys that like you, you don't like them.  In fact, you start thinking that there is something very very wrong with you if these are the guys that you attract.  And the guys that you find even remotely attractive don't like you.  Then there are the guys in the middle.  You know.  They are the guys that you read through the profile more than once because you don't know.  I think those are the guys that are on your level.  You swipe the yes side but they don't contact you.  They don't ask you out for coffee.  Is it hard to ask someone out for coffee?  Is it hard to ask me out for coffee?  Maybe I am hard to ask out for coffee.

I think about Luke 9:23:
Then He said to them all, "If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me."  I think that this is the recipe for any resolution.  I have to tell myself this, "Elle, did you deny yourself?  Did you take up your cross today?  Are you following Christ?"  No, I am not following Christ.  I'm thinking of myself.  I didn't take up my cross today.  I was mean in saying that guys suck simply because they are not attracted to me.  Isn't that awful?  Just like I want to be appreciated for what I bring to the table, I need to appreciate others for what they bring to the table.  Maybe I can do what I was created to do in this, I can reflect the glory of God.  Maybe I can speak hope to someone who has nothing but broken promises and baggage.  Maybe I can actually follow Christ.

Okay, so Santi was 9 days younger than me so I have always been a cougar.


Aspirations of a Hot Mess

Let me be clear on something.  I have always been a hot mess.  As I look back in my history I try to determine when it started.  I look at pictures.  I think I had it there for a minute.  Then my mother died, when I was 10 years old.  It was a weird age.  I remember trying to hide it.  I was ashamed of not having a clue what to do.  "How are you doing?"  people would ask with the pity look.  What am I supposed to say?  "My world is crumbing into a darkness of pain so sharp it takes my breath away.  Thanks for asking."  I look at my kids now.  I know what it is like to lose a parent at their age.  I look for signs of crumbling.  It makes me thankful that I have this experience, for their sakes.

I want to compare my hot mess with other hot messes out in the world.  I want to know that my hot mess is not as bad as others.  I know that this does not make me a good person.  I know that I am not a good person.  I understand that I need Jesus.  Pray for me.  Back to my sin nature though, I observe and listen (maybe gossip).  It's so bad!  When I hear of some craziness, even in the world of entertainment, my response is glee!!!  I mean, how evil am I!!!  Why?  Because someone's hot mess is greater than mine.  I am not the worst of the worst!  This is what I tell myself.  I'm still a hot mess though.

And let me tell you, dating is not making it better!  Let me ask you, how do you sell being a hot mess?  "Hey, my name is Elle.  I'm a hot mess.  If we are being technical, I'm a hot mess on toast.  Want to go out for coffee?"  Do guys want to hear that?  Then, I find myself being judgmental because I don't want someone who is a hot mess to add to my hot mess.  You know what I mean?  Honestly, I have no idea what guys want to hear.  You know, they see your picture.  They read your profile.  They reach out. "Hey, how are you?"  I don't know what to say!!!  "I'm a widow.  Yeah, it sucks.  I have two children dealing with not only the death of their father but with their hormones.  Me too, maybe I'm a little peri-menopausal-ish, so I'm kind of prone to crying for apparently no reason at all.  It's a lot of fun.  I have this renovation that I started but don't know how to finish.  I am in school for a degree that I don't know if I can finish and I'm a teacher, so you know what that means?  I'm broke."  LOL!!!

But God...  Praise the Lord!!!  I was reading Psalms today, 55-57.  He is our shelter.  He is on our side.  He is our refuge.  The Word told me to cast my burdens on Him.  God counts every wandering and every tear He bottles. So I sat and talked with God.  I cried it all out to Him.  How could I not follow Jesus?  He takes the mess and He makes it something else.  He makes it something so incredibly beautiful.  Suddenly, everything has potential.  I have potential.

I make it clear that I'm a hot mess.  I think it is important to own the parts of you that is hot mess.  Right?  I was in Women's Bible Study so convicted that I'm sinful and not good all of the time.  But we recalibrate when we come to church and study the Bible and pray to God.  My friend, Carmen was saying that just because we are a hot mess doesn't mean that we should stay a hot mess and wallow in the world of waste.  I call this the Mega Mind phenomenon.  You know the movie, Mega Mind was a bad guy.  He got the label as a little kid so he was going to be the best bad guy he could be.  He was owning the bad guy label, until he realized that he was more than that.  Same goes for hot messes.  I have slapped the label on but I don't have to work at being the best hot mess I can be.  This hot mess has aspirations of going home and being perfected.  This hot mess would like nothing more than for God to say, "Well done, good and faithful servant.  Well done." 

So my prayer is to hold on to Jesus.  My prayer is to trust in God because He will sustain me and hide me.  Those of you who are hot messes like me, just bring all your messes to God like you would your junk to Goodwill.  Somehow He uses it.  Marie Kondo not just your closet but your life (funny enough, I'm not a big Marie Kondo fan but the reference works here).  That's all for now.  I'm still under construction.  I'll let you know how it goes.

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

What I Don't Want

Have you ever been hungry but not really know what you want to eat?  You go through the roster of the things in your fridge or things in the surrounding area that you can eat.  You're like, "No.  Not that."  You don't know what you want but you know what you don't want.  I think that you need to go through everything in order to rule it out or check it off.  You aren't sure what you want but you are sure of what you don't want.

When I'm working with kids and I ask them what they want to be.  A lot of times, they will tell me that they don't have any idea of what they want to do after they graduate from high school.  I go through some assessments with them and sometimes in the middle, they will be able to tell me the area they are interested in.  Some I would go through each of the recommended areas and recommended jobs and they would just reject each job one by one till we get close to what they want to do.  It's harder to articulate what they want and easier to reject what they don't want.  

I am feeling this as I am looking through men.  I am not too sure what will work with me but I think I have an idea of what will not work.  I am reading through the profiles and I find that there is something a bit off about one or the other.  I look at the faces as if they could tell me something.  I measure their words.  This is not a hard thing.  I'm not invested so, there is an easiness to being picky.  In fact, I recommend being picky.  Be as picky as possible!!!  I am not thinking about if they like me.  I'm not worried about anything.  Proverbs 3:5-6 says:

"Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your path."

There is something ultimately, should I even say it, attractive about confidence.  There is something... otherworldly about being secure.  My heart is not broken if someone doesn't like me.  I'm not upset if I miss a connection.  I am trusting in God with my whole heart and I am not trying to make sense of things.  If God wants me with someone, guess what?  I'll be with someone.  If God wants me by myself, so be it.  I want to believe that He knows my heart and He knows what I can take and what I can't take.  I'm not even going to pretend that I have any idea that I know what I'm doing, because I don't. I really really don't. 


Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Two Dates

First of all, make sure that you have a decent dating site.  Some of the dating sites are true trash (I really didn't like Christian Mingle).  I didn't get any response from anybody on that site.  Maybe I didn't look Christian enough?  It's okay.  I'm going to say it is more of a blessing. 

Okay, I went on my first date on Father's Day.  The guy was allegedly only two years older than me but he definitely looked a little bit older than that.  I told him that I would buy him a coffee for Father's Day.  He was fine with it.  So then he told me a place.  He didn't suggest we meet halfway.  I'm assuming that this place was right by his house because he was waiting for me when I got there.  He sort of resembled his picture.  What I wasn't expecting was the flip flops, shorts, tank top and baseball cap.  We went in and I bought him his frappuccino.  He told me that he was from Rochester, New York.  He knew that I was Puerto Rican.  He works close to wear I live.  He works in Aviation Technology.  He has two daughters.  Are you noting that I know a lot about him?  I WONDER WHY!!!  It is because he spent a lot of time talking about himself.  Thank God it got hot and we decided to leave.  He walked me out to his car.  And then... he leaned down.  He was as interesting as paint drying and we was going to kiss me?  I shook his hand and sort of power walked to my car.  I sat down and just stayed there for a minute.  Then I started laughing.  I laughed and laughed and laughed.  By the time I got home, I was still laughing.  I was relieved.  It went badly but I made it out in one piece. 

This second date, we started texting.  Then we started chatting on the phone.  He was such a sweetheart, great conversationalist on the phone.  Allegedly 5'8" tall, and I'm about 5'4".  So what happened?  He froze.  It was soooo awkward.  So, I sort of had to carry it and if you know me, you know that I am not always great in these type of social situations.  And he was shorter but it wasn't that he was shorter because I think I could deal with this.  He's smaller.  I felt like Barbie being matched with a GI Joe (not that I'm a Barbie, you know what I mean).  I think I scared him away.  It wasn't as bad as the first date. 

This is what I'm learning.  I don't look or act like my age.  This is a problem because guys that are my age do look and act their age.  I like men to be secure and funny.  They don't have to be super good looking but they should be easier not harder on the eyes.  I like nice guys that don't make things too hard. 

Here's the honest to goodness truth.  I have not exhausted bad dates.  I'm learning stuff about men.  I'm learning stuff about middle aged Phoenix men.  It's kind of fun because I am meeting new people. I have other things that need my attention.  There is every possibility I end up alone.  That wouldn't be so bad.

Now, there were some almost dates.  There was the guy who said that he didn't like me but then spoke to me on the phone and changed his mind when he realized that I had some personality.  There is this nice guy but he has only reached out to me intermittently online.  He sends a lot of pictures but he hasn't really asked me out.  Then there is this other guy but he lives far and he is definitely shorter than me which I don't know if I can deal with...

I can't help but think of my tall handsome man. Santi had met some of my exes and he hated that they were my height or close to it.  He didn't think any of them were good looking enough.  Maybe there was one or two that past muster but for the most part, he was unimpressed with my taste in men.  As I peruse the pictures on the dating apps, I could almost hear him advise me to pick guys that are way out of my league.  I think he would have had a blast planning dates for me.  Someone came up to me and asked if I was missing my husband.  I am missing him.  There is a Santi shaped hole in my heart.  It is going to take forever to heal. Let's see what happens.  God is in control.   

Saturday, June 15, 2019

Waiting and Changing

I hate to wait.  When I get into a series of books or shows, I wait until I know all of the the episodes are done so that I can watch or read it at my own time and I don't have to wait for anything.  Well, I'm in a waiting and changing season. I am finding that this is my place of discomfort.  I don't think I have been this uncomfortable in my life. 

I usually have an idea of what I want to do.  I have a plan in place.  I think about the times when I was faced with death before.  When my mother died, I had my father to lean on day in, day out.  When my father died, I had Santi to lean on day in, day out.  Now that it is just me and the kids, I find that I can not lean on the children.  Instead, I have to be strong for the children.  I mean, the children don't want me to lean on them.  They want me to be there for me, the way that my father was there for me. 

So, I find that there are some days that I am not happy.  I find that I am tired.  I find that there are moments that I am bitter.  There are moments that I am angry.  I have to follow the emotion down to the root and there I find the anger.  I have had to ask why.  It is not fun tracing down to the root of the matter.  I think mixed into the anger there is envy.  Down in the root of the matter, I find that there are moments where life has been unfair to me.  Even now, admitting this, I know that this is a sore spot.  Like a toothache your tongue can't stop bothering.  Like the pimple, you need to mess with.  This is my emotional spot. 

Some that are married tell me, "You'll find someone."  Some that are single say, "Single life is good."  Some that tell me, "You don't need anyone else."  This is when I want to ask angrily, "Have you lost everyone yet?  Have you lost your siblings, mother, father and husband?  Have you had miscarriages?"  I breathe in deeply and slowly, in and out.  I pray to God, "You will never leave me nor forsake me.  I am not alone.  You are with me." 

Too honest?  I feel like it's too honest.  I'm sorry.  I think about what I should share all of the time but I think it's important to share the hard as well as the funny and the good.  When I meet someone new I want to tell them, "You don't know this but I am broken.  How are you with broken things?"  This reminds me of some Scripture:

Psalm 51:15-17 
"O Lord, open my lips,
And my mouth shall show forth Your praise.
For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it;
You do not delight in burnt offering.
The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit,
A broken and a contrite heart-
These, O God, You will not despise." 

God says, "You're broken?  Bring your broken pieces to me.  I will fix it."  So here I am.  God, I am tired, overwhelmed, waiting and changing.  I am being redesigned.  For a remodel, there is usually demolition.  I stand on the porch at night in my quiet neighborhood.  I breathe it all in.  I can feel it.  I can almost taste it.  Change is coming. Am I afraid to stay the same or am I scared to change?  I don't know.  I need to trust God in this.  Sometimes having faith is hard.  Sometimes trusting God requires a lot.  So... Ask me what I do.  I'll tell you.  I praise God.  I praise God in sadness.  I praise God in anger.  I praise God with tears pouring down my face.  When I'm angry, I tell Him.  When I'm sad, I tell Him.  Frustrated, embarrassed, broke and done, I pray.  The UNDER CONSTRUCTION sign is up.  Let's see what God does with this life of His. 



Thursday, June 13, 2019

Dating is like House Buying

So, I'm noticing that dating is a lot like house buying.  Let me talk to you a little about buying your first house as an adult.  Maybe you can relate.  When I moved to Phoenix, I waited before buying a house and then when we finally made the decision to try to buy one with an FHA Loan, the market was changing.  Houses were really low.  I was coming at the very end of the bubble.  I did my research on FHA loans and tried a few places before working with this woman named Beverly in Fairway Mortgage.  I liked her because she talked to us like a human being and not like a corporation.  She asked if we had a realtor dealing with FHA loans.  I told her that I did not.  She recommended a lady at the ReMax office but it wasn't a good fit.  Soon I had Darrell West on my team and he is such a good realtor.  We went out and tireless looked for houses in our spectrum.  He didn't laugh at my wants list.  He sent me listings every day.  He got to know us and our crazy personalities.  My kids threw up and he didn't even blink. 

Buying a house was a lot like the last kid trying to get candy from the piƱata.  I thought I would be stuck with a stepped on Tootsie Roll and a melted Milky Way bar.  Then we found our house.  Our house had everything on the wants list but needed some love.  It still needs a lot of love if I'm completely honest (I'm hoping to find a handyman to help me out.  J/K...not really but we can pretend I'm kidding).  Nevertheless, I'm currently a homeowner. 

So, here I am, in my 40s.  I didn't think that I would be dating at this stage of the game.  I joined a few dating apps.  I haven't gone to any open houses or I haven't gone to see any houses.  You know, I took the virtual tours and I'm not really that happy with what I'm seeing.  Apparently, the "houses"  that I am looking at are way out of my price range.  You know what I'm talking about!!!  The "houses" that are in my price range are...  Fixer Uppers?  I know that's not fair to say.  I would say that I need some fixing up too.  But here's the thing, I don't even know how to hammer a nail in and I'm going to get a fixer upper!!!  I mean that both metaphorically and literally.  There may be one or two good houses but they don't have the non-negotiables on my want list. 

Here's the thing, guys don't want a fixer upper either!!!  I don't really know what they want but I know that much is true.  Okay, so at first glance.  I may not be the fanciest house on the block but I'm a solid investment.  Yes, I may need some love but I'll last you.  I know I shouldn't say this but I have a good personality.  People hear that and automatically think, "Ugly."  I have no problem being ugly either!!!  But that is not what the rap songs talk about.  Imagine hearing a rap song about a girl with a good personality and a good sense of humor.  (I'm missing Jesse McCartney singing about "Beautiful Soul" right about now.  Man, I have the maturity of a 16 year old.)

So, all of this dating app stuff and flirting is okay for now but I really don't think that it's my thing.  I'll do it for a little bit.  I'll finish school.  I'll join a crochet circle.  We'll make scarves and afghans for the homeless.  I don't have to buy a house.  I don't have to date.  I don't have to worry about mortgage rates.  I don't have to worry about it at all.  I can just leave it all alone and walk away.  I could look at the night sky and know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I am loved by a good God.  I can eat a gluten free cookie and know that I am still the daughter of a King.  I know that I am wonderfully and fearfully made.  It's not like I have never been married or never been loved.  I have been.  It was great.  I think of an old song:

"Some day, when I'm awfully low.
And the world is cold.
I will get a glow, just thinking of you.
And the way you look tonight." 

I'm still glowing.  It may never stop. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

The Art of Flirting

I used to be such a great flirt.  I don't know if I can say that it's a New York thing or a Latina thing but back when I lived in New York, I was great at flirting.  I would even go as far as to say that I was able to flirt in my sleep.  One flick of the eye to do that non-corny wink.  I could call someone over to me with just a glance.  I had perfected the semi-smile that definitely would tell you that I had a secret and maybe I would tell you.  I would be able to ask, "what?" with my nose.  I didn't even have to use words.  Words.  I would say that words are my area of expertise and they escape me in this current online dating millieu.  Obviously I don't want people to know that I am insane with my first response.  However, since I'm not really invested in this endeavor, every now and again, I find that my response after Hi is... Hi.  This is the response of a great wordsmith.  Once I found myself asking, "Who do I want to be?"  Man, I need to get this identity thing going.

I have been told that I am a flirt.  My father would tell me all the time that I was a flirt.  I have been accused of flirting when I was just having a conversation.  Could I be flirting and not know it?  Is that even possible?

I came to Arizona and found this crazy societal dynamic.  People didn't flirt.  I think it may be because it is a car state and not a pedestrian state.  I would meet people all the time who would compliment me or flirt with me in New York that was not offensive.  Some were offensive but that is another post for another day.  I remember walking and one man came up to me and said, "You have beautiful eyes."  And continued walking on his merry way.  It is an appreciation for my eyes, not an illicit invitation.  I miss this and I would talk about it with Santi.  He agreed.  Arizona is not a flirting-friendly state.

I was talking to my friend on the phone the other day and he told me to hold on as he needed to get something from the McDonald's line.  I listened while on the other line as he flirted with the cashier at the register.  I could hear him being playful and making jokes.  It was flirty.  "Who are you flirting with?"  I asked him.  He responded that he wasn't flirting.  He was making conversation.  No, it was more than that.  He was appealing to the other person and making the other person feel at ease.  The other person allowed this dialogue and there was a state of flirting.

I have a much younger co-worker that I like to flirt with at my job.  It doesn't mean anything.  We are friends.  It makes me feel at home when he throws me a wink.  We laugh.  It has become part of our communication.  That's what we do.  I have another person at work that we communicate through fighting.  That's just the way that it is.

I would like to be friendly but not suggestive.  I would like to be pleasant but not send mixed signals.  I feel that flirting can be misconstrued easily.  I love flirting when it is understood that I'm just flirting and I will go on my merry way and you will go on your merry way.  I try to flirt now and it's like, "Who is this old chunky lady talking to me this way?"  Man do I need to work on my flirting!!!  So take a moment and think about how you flirt.  And if you see me winking at you, I'm practicing.

Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Too blessed

I have always wanted to live my most authentic life.  I think that in my life, I have always been protecting someone.  I want to tell you that my whole life, I have been a keeper of secrets.  In fact, this blog is a dream come true.  It is a wonderful thing to be able to write this blog and to be so transparent, crazy and authentic.  I am so thankful to have some of you reach out to me and talk to me, write comments, message me, and leave comments.  Thank you so much.  Thank you for living your life with me.

I started this post with another intention in my heart.  But something happened.  As you know, I work at my church doing Summer Arts Festival, our version of VBS.  Usually, I see SAF as a mixture of work and exhaustion.  This year is different.  This year I come with a new perspective.

I have always been so grateful to have a church family like Trinity Bible Church.  It was my desire and prayer that I would find a church that I could call a home.  I knew the type of church I wanted to go to.  I wanted a church that wasn't too big.  In New York, we were going to Times Square Church for a good while.  I love Times Square Church but it was just so big.  Trinity is great.
We have been going there for about 10 years coming up this year.  I love meeting the new people and seeing kids that were babies a decade ago and now they are big. 

I was thinking about being happy today.  I mean, I was happy and I am happy now.  I think Trinity has a lot to do with it.  I remember my husband dying on a Tuesday and on Wednesday I was at church.  There was no other place I would rather have been.  I miss my people when I am not there.  I miss sniffing babies (don't ask).  I love giving and getting hugs.  Today when I showed up for SAF, this sweet girl was so happy to see me.  She gave me such a hug.  I love that!!!  Such a blessing!  This year as I serve, I am thankful.  Imagine what my life would be like without my church family.  Imagine what it would be like without my community, without my people.  I thank God for the ability to serve in my church.

How does this relate to dating?  Well, here's my thought.  I am not alone.  I have God.  I am not lonely because I have my family of believers to encourage me, listen to me, hold me while I cry, offer me and my children hospitality and the ability to show that we are useful and loved and needed.  If someone out there in the dating world doesn't see that in me, it is okay!!!  I am secure.  I am so loved.  In fact, someone texted me that the other day.  You are so loved.  I love this experience because I'm finding I'm picky.  I can afford to be picky.  According to Maslow's Hierarchy of Need, I have a lot of needs already being met.  The adage for me goes, "I'm too blessed to stress."   So... I'm facing tomorrow.  I'm going to SAF.  I'm going to be going on dates... lunch dates, coffee dates and hang out dates with the people of my church.  I'm just so thankful.  Praise the Lord!!!

Monday, June 10, 2019

On Being Puerto Rican

Yesterday was National Puerto Rican Day.  I stalked the social media of my friends, especially in New York to see pictures of the festivals and of the parade.  You see, the day before this particular Sunday, the streets in Spanish Harlem and all over the boroughs break out in song and dance celebrating our rich culture.  There are pastelillos(meat patty), and someone selling coquito (Italian Ice).  There is a man with a big block of ice making piraguas(shaved ice)Everywhere and every place imaginable is the Puerto Rican flag.  It is on windows and the hoods of cars.  Those sneakers on the heel have a small insignia reppin' the culture.  I hear the Spanish and the English that sound like my people.  Just thinking of it makes my heart swell and I miss it. 

My father was Colombian.  He wasn't very close to his family and friends.  I have lost touch with them in Cali.  My father taught me his Colombian roots as much as he could but he recognized that my soul was Puerto Rican.  My Spanish was Puerto Rican.  I looked like him but with Puerto Rican features.  He would tell me I have the warmth and the alegria, the joy of a Puerto Rican.  So I never went to the Colombian Day parade.  If there was a culture I was celebrating, it was Boriqua. 

My children consider themselves Latino.  They look Latino.  I explain that they are half Latino and half European.  I try to talk to them in Spanish and if they don't understand the language, they understand the intent of what I tell them.  Regardless of what I tell them.  They want to be what I am and when someone asks them what they are, they answer, "Puerto Rican."  I don't correct them. 

When I moved to Phoenix, it was hard for me because I didn't really fit in.  There is not a big Puerto Rican community here.  Some people didn't even know what I was talking about when I told them I was Puerto Rican.  "Do you speak Mexican?"  "I speak Spanish."  "You look mixed."  "I am mixed.  I'm Puerto Rican.  Puerto Ricans are mixed."  I would call my Titi Lily and she would remind me, "You are Puerto Rican.  Ya basta."  Ya basta- it means "Enough already."  But when she said it, I took that being Puerto Rican is enough to explain where I come from. 

Funny enough, my husband loved Puerto Ricans.  When his stepmother met me, she said, "I knew you would be Puerto Rican."  In fact, Santi thought he was Puerto Rican.  His step grandfather was Puerto Rican and so he grew up thinking that he was not understanding that his grandfather was by marriage not blood.  He would put ketchup on his scrabbled eggs then shake his head at me and tell me that he was more Puerto Rican than I was.  When he was younger, a lot of his friends were all Puerto Rican.  His best man at our wedding and the children's godfather is his Puerto Rican brother.  I can't imagine him as anything else. Thank you for always looking out for him. 

I carry within me the blood of my ancestors.  I remember the stories told to me by family members playing Parcheesi or Dominoes.  I am linked to this island.  I feel it run through my veins.  I can see the clear waters.  I can smell it.  I can see my people.  When I am among them, they recognize me as their own.  I can see my grandmother cooking on Sundays.  I can hear my mother's Puerto Rican Spanish.  I can feel the faith that they imparted to me.  When there was nothing else, there was faith.  there was God.  We always said, "God willing."  We recognized always the sovereignty of our Lord.  Today, I represent them.  I am their dream.  I am their hope.  With their strength and their will, I go forward.  There have been days that I stand after I've fallen simply because I have remembered to honor the sacrifices of those who came before me. 

My son asked me what I thought about DNA testing.  I told him that I had no interest in finding out what is written in my DNA.  I am a Puerto Rican, this is enough. 

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Some of Them

So, I don't think I'm dating until I go out on a date.  My friend has made me promise that I am not to go out on any dates or meet ups without her.  She says that she will be the woman by the plants... EVERY SINGLE TIME!!!  I love her. 

There are dating apps that you look at the profiles and I'm like, "What am I looking at?"  I have to ask myself, "Is this what I want?"  I do this for each profile I come across.  I don't want to be one of those shallow people so I read the profiles.  On some of the dating apps, all of the men that I come across have really sweet profiles.  They are all very nice.  You should know that I have absolutely nothing against nice men.  I like nice men.  I eat them for lunch with ketchup but they are usually very tasty.  I'm kidding... a little bit.  I'm kidding but most of it is true.

I met this guy before Santi.  I won't tell you his name to protect the innocent.  He was a really nice guy.  He took me to this work thing and I met his boss.  I think I liked him.  I know he liked me.  So what happened?  HE WAS REALLY NICE!!!  We got in the car and I don't know what happened but I rolled my eyes at him.  He stopped the car.  Then he turns to me and tells me that he doesn't appreciate my attitude.  I promise you that in my heart I laughed so hard.  I rolled my eyes.  What was he going to do when I got really mad?  I knew it then.  He was too nice.

Some apps are better than others.  I like the ones you swipe.   For a while there I was trying to make a match with the ones I didn't want and I was rejecting the ones that I wanted.  Apparently I confused MY right and MY left.  I love reading the profiles.  I think this is my favorite thing.  It's not all about the looks.  It is a little about the looks.  OKAY!  Looks have a lot to do with it!!!  More importantly, it has to do with that unspoken thing where you just... know.  I read on one of the profiles this guy that wrote something like, "Please look like your profile.  If not, we are drinking until you do."  That was the best thing that I read.

I didn't think this whole thing through either.  What if they ask me out?  I will have to find a place with plants so my friend could hide.  I will have to meet with them and make... pleasant small talk!!!  Does it have to be pleasant?  Do I have to smile?   Can I just say "No" when they sit down if I know right away?  I have the perfect way to say no.  I'll smile sweetly and ask, "So, when can we start planning the wedding?"  LOL!!!  Too evil?  I'll let you know if I have to use it.  

Some of the sites allow you to put WIDOW in your profile.  I think this is helpful.  One of the sites doesn't and this one guy sent me a message.  He ended up asking me about my last relationship and why we broke up.  I was nice as I explained I was a widow.  I think someone else would just be like Oh and leave. 

Then, there is this app that people message.  Messaging is strange and hard to do.  I'm suppose to say something to you?  I know like three things about you.  I also don't want to say anything that can be misconstrued.  Already I have gotten in trouble talking about the Phoenix weather and it being hot...  I had to go back to my post to see how it could have been twisted.  I saw it then.  I suck!  I'm learning a lot about myself too, other than I suck.  I'm learning that I don't really like meeting new people online.  Already I'm tired.  I may have to look up some events to go to in person.  I'm better in person.  I may have to save up for Events and Adventures.

So far, no dates.  I'm relieved.  Dating could be like car shopping.  You look and look but you don't really have the money to buy until you are ready to buy.  I'm not online dating, I'm man shopping and comparing prices.  Just kidding.  I'm taking it day by day.  God is still in control and He is sovereign.  I'm not stressing at all.  If dating were like car shopping, I am a older model vintage car that runs well but that may need body work.  I know that I'm not the latest model of Tesla or even Honda but I run well and I'm reliable.  I need to find someone who has an appreciation for vintage cars, that's all.  This will not be everyone.  This is a niche crowd.  I'm okay with this.  I am sure to attract a particular clientele.  I don't need several owners.  I lost control of this metaphor so I'm going to stop.

So far, some of the guys are nice.  I'm relieved.  Some guys have reached out to me.  If I don't meet someone, I'm okay with it.  If I do, I'm good with it too.  Part of me thinks that I may not want to date, maybe I just want a guy best friend.  You know, someone to go to a movie that is isn't just me and the kids.  May be I just want to go dancing and know that someone has my back.  I don't know.  I think I may need a friendship.  Well, that's all for now.  Just thinking about things. 


Saturday, June 8, 2019

Be Ugly

I love the Guardians of the Galaxy.  I'm a huge Marvel fan.  Groot may be my spirit animal.  Well, my spirit Avenger at the very least.  So, when Drax is talking to Mantis and he tells her she is horrifying to look at, she turns sad, but then he says something that I have thought about often.  I think that you may have thought of it too.  He says, "When you are ugly and someone loves you, you know they love you for who you are.  Beautiful people never know who to trust."  What!!!  I remember seeing this in the movie and thinking, "Wait. What?"  It is such a profound statement.

I remember being a teenager in junior year and I wanted nothing more but to be thin.  I went on this diet and lost a lot of weight.  That year, I failed Mr. Costello's history class and I had to go to summer school.  I'm glad that I wasn't the only one.  This summer, I went to Roosevelt High School to make up this horrible class.  By the way, my failing score was only by one point.  In any case, I remember going that first day with a pink t-shirt crop top and a pinstripe denim mini skirt.  That day, I met Tito.  Tito has captain of the handball team at Clinton High School.  He had blonde curly hair and that Puerto Rican golden skin.  He was my summer boyfriend that year.  It was a good summer but there were times when he had no idea what I was talking about.  I have always been a reader and I tried to talk to him about the books I was reading and the movies that I enjoyed.  He was pretty to look at.  I kept on thinking if I hadn't lost the weight, would he have talked to me that day...

Today.  Right now.  I think about eating nothing but vegetables and chicken for the remainder of my days; Even as I have some gluten free cake that I made in the fridge.  I have sworn off sugar in my coffee and the other day I was telling my daughter, "Maybe I should give up coffee."  She asked me who I was and if I had seen her mother.   Here's the thing.  I'll drink the coffee but it doesn't give me the same joy as it used to.  I love pizza.  I love cheese.  I like to buy DiGiorno's gluten free thin crust and put broccoli and spinach with a little more mozzarella and garlic.  I eat it with the crust just the tiniest bit burnt.  It's so good I want to cry.  It makes me so happy some days.

I look down at my chunky legs.  I look at my flabby arms and my graying hair.   There are days when I see the aging in my face.  I see the parts of my personality that can be selfish and mean.  I am an imperfect human.  I have a lot of stuff going on.  Some of it is good and some of it is bad.  What I want is to sit and be ugly and still be loved for who I am.  Doesn't everyone?  I want to be seen, really seen!!!

I think of my mother.  I can not think of my mother as anything but the most beautiful human I have ever met.  Was she pretty?  Was she thin?  Was she perfect?  You see.  She was perfect to me.  I could not see her without love goggles on even if I tried.  I don't know if she was pretty, thin or perfect and I don't care.  This is how I want to be loved.  Here's the kicker.  I am loved this way.  My children are loved this way.  God loves us this way.  So... I'm okay being ugly.  I'm okay showing my face as I have just woken up with my favorite pajama on.  I know that the people that love me really don't care if I'm pretty or not.  They love me for me.  So, be ugly and be loved.

Thursday, June 6, 2019

The Dating Profile

I am cracking up right now.  You know how government agencies have national reporting systems for people who are suspicious or whatever.  Well, I think that these dating sites should have something like that for me.  How in the world are you supposed to fill out a dating profile?  I want to write:

  • Don't be a loser.
  • Don't smell.
  • Smile at least in one of your pictures.
  • Don't be one of those crazy nervous sweaters.
  • Look like your profile.
This is just to start.  

I want to write crazy stuff on my profiles.  I have two going on right now.  I'm telling you that this is an experiment.  I don't know if I will meet anyone but I think I'm going to have a lot of fun, I'm going to get some attention and I'm going to meet some great people.  I'll try it for a couple of months and then I'm taking up judo, writing a novel, becoming a yogi or something more worthwhile. 

Back to the dating sites and profiles.  It's really hard to talk about yourself.  What do I like to do in my free time?  I like to read, play Candy Crush Saga and sleep in my free time.  Who are the people you text the most?  I have three but we don't really text.  With two of them, I reach out to the every day... in a battle of wills that is Words with Friends.  That's how I know they love me and that they are alive.  The other, I exchange crazy and inappropriate memes we find on social media to each other because apparently, we are the only ones that understand each other.   

What's my ideal date?  You see this is a very hard question!!!  We are talking IDEAL date!!!  I'm thinking total comfort.  Sleepwear, pillows and a drama.  When I say sleepwear, I'm talking about my comfiest pajamas, no make up, hair in a braid and I'm not even looking to see if there are flyaways, because they are there.  You would not believe how high up my flyaways are when I wake up.  Pillows to support my back and put my feet up and drama- I like Downton Abbey.  You want to watch it with me while feeding me Doritos and ice cream?

On my profile, I feel like I'm nice but I'm not really a nice person.  I mean, I have an edge.  I don't like manicures.  I like painting my nails and hair weird colors.  I dress in things that make me feel comfortable.  I don't always care if I look pretty.  In fact, get used to me not being pretty because who cares if I'm pretty if I have a good heart.  About my heart... I'm sarcastic and honest.  I have a quick temper.  I hate people who are inconsiderate.  I don't know how to decorate, or fix things.  I would die first in the zombie apocalypse.  I love kids but I'm not having any more.  I love to hug.  I'm loyal to a fault.  When I'm sad, I praise God.  When I'm happy, I praise God.  I can not make one move without Him.  Yes, I'm one of those.  I love to dance and listen to music with rhythms and a beat.  I love to laugh.  I love it.  I'm not afraid to cry. I like to listen to people.  I like to meet people but I like to see the whole person so big parties get me overwhelmed.  At parties, I stick to one or two people.  I am polite and will say hi but I stick to my base. I'm called Spicy.  People think that's a good thing.  It's not a good thing.  I'm sassy.  There's an edge to me.    

What do I want?  You see.  Dating is like shopping and you don't really know what you love until you love it.  I'll give you a couple of examples.  When I was a little girl, my mother took me ice skating for the first time.  It was in Riverdale.  I had this idea I wanted to be the Puerto Rican Peggy Fleming.  So my mom bought me skates and took me.  I was not gifted at the ice skating.  I spent most of the time on the floor.  I fell so many times, my pants were soaked through.  My mom took me to this store and bought me this skirt on clearance just so I didn't have to wear the wet pants.  That skirt became my favorite skirt in the world.  It was the color of burnt sienna and it was made of polyester and it had a bell to it.  I wore it all of the time.  I couldn't stop wearing this skirt.  I didn't know that this would be my favorite skirt.  It just wore on me.  

I love purses.  However, the one that I use the most is this brown one that I found at Goodwill from Lucky.   It's big and made of leather.  I picked it because it look like I could just throw stuff into it.  I lose my keys all the time but it's not too fancy but it is durable and I can use it anywhere.  Did I know that this bag would be my favorite?  No, I did not.  That's the thing, you never know what will be the things that ends up being your favorite.  I have bought shoes that I thought I would love but then live in a pair of Skechers.  Isn't that the way life goes?  I mean, isn't this the whole premise of Toy Story 4 (girl falls in love with spork)?

So... I want to find someone whose presence clicks with mine.  It's not anything tangible or identifiable.  When you are with them and when they are with you, they understand you.  You realize you are cut somehow from the same irreverent cloth.  Because of this, you want to listen to Jason Mraz and Colbie Caillat while taking day trips to locations that have hills and valleys as well as creeks and waterfalls.  I want someone who will not be upset when it takes me twice as long to climb the mountain but be happy that I'm willing to climb, on a hot day, while sweating profusely, at least once a year.  On the drive home we could stop to have a cheese burger (with a gluten free bun) and fries and then listen to Prince really loud with the windows down and singing all of the words even when there is traffic. 

How do I explain that I am not a pet person but that I have not one but two cats and and dog that I love and can not live without.  How do I explain that I have been broken and rebuilt out of nothing more than faith and that the glitter that is seen comes from the many thousand tears that I have cried and sobbed out while I was breaking.  Somehow the salt from those tears dried and now they shine on the veneer of my soul. How do I tell someone that I am both a sail and an anchor?  Or that I believe in God in a way that seems beyond childish and yet it makes sense to me.  How do you tell someone that Death is a friend who has taken everyone you have loved home and that they are waiting for you there with Jesus?  It can be seen as insanity but it is insanity (Jesus)  that has pulled me from the darkness and has allowed me to float with clouds and rainbows feeling loved and secure. So, you see my predicament with a profile.   

Honestly, I want to get all of the bad things I don't like about myself out to the way first.  I might be a little insane.  I wear my pajamas until they are threads.  I crack my gum really loud all the time so don't ever feed me gum because that's where I keep all of my Bronx.  If you care about the details and appearances, I'm not the girl for you.   I'm all about Jesus and I'm all about the heart.  Be brave and kind with me in this world.  It may not be easy but I'll help make it fun and there will be laughter and hugs and beautiful sunsets and thanks.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Self Care

I have been hearing this word bandied about.  Self-care.  It means to take care of yourself.  There is more to it than that.  In order to care for yourself, you have to understand and recognize when you need it.  Sometimes, self-care is a luxury.  We as humans, as women, as moms, we go until we can't go any more and then we break.  Why? How?  I understand that I have trust issues.  I understand that I think I can better than God.  God calls us to trust in Him and He will give us rest.  So, is self-care allowed?  I say yes.

I'm finding that there are two types of self-care.  There is the physical self-care that we allow ourselves to fix ourselves up.  Then there is mental self-care.  Sometimes one leads to the other.  A bath is physical self-care but it allows us to relax which then feeds our mental self-care.  Within the mental aspect is the thoughts and feelings portion of our lives that get really get us crazy.

I understand that my feelings and my thoughts can run counter intuitively to what the will of God is.  Some people would refer to it as the flesh.  I don't think we should ignore the flesh because I think not acknowledging it can lead to a bigger break down the line.  I think of the Count in Chocolat who lost it over...well... chocolate.  I think we should consider what it is that we feel and what we think and then run to God with the appropriate petitions.  I'll give you an example. So, these days it is easy for me to feel envious.  Here I am, tired and rundown.  And here comes Miss Thing!!!  We all have at least one Miss Thing in our lives. Miss Thing is bragging about how her husband did the SWEETEST THING.  He filled her tank, had the tires rotated and the oil changed in the car and then picked up the kids so that she could get her nails done (I'm making this up because I imagine being Miss Thing but you know Miss Thing exists).  Well, you KNOW that I am beyond hating on her right now as I look at my uneven, dried up, messed up nails. The cuticles take up half my nail bed and on the sides, hang nails. It's not like I tell myself, "Don't feel envious. Don't feel envious. Don't feel envious."  Until I get home to pray.  I process what I am feeling.  "Elle, I know you feel bad and you may even feel envious because you would love to not be the one to fill up your own tank and do all of those things to your car but lets be honest, you don't even like going to the manicurist." Then I go home and talk to God about how I feel.  After that, I take out my cuticle remover and I get to work on my talons.   It's not a formula or a science.  I don't make conditions about what and when I need self-care like you would a pair of shoes.  "When I get a hole in the sole, then I'll get a new pair." 

I understand that when I am hormonal, I feel more fatigue.  I am prone to feeling more sadness.  I can be impulsive and I can eat more.  When I have more time on my hands, I can get overwhelmed with what to do first.  These are all honest and genuine admissions.  There are months when I find that it has gotten worse since the death of my husband.  Let me be clear.  This is the worst death I have survived.  I don't recommend it not one bit.

So, what do I do?  I know green leafy vegetables make me feel better so I eat green leafy vegetables.  I like to read books that make me happy so I read books that make me happy.  I like to paint my hair and my nails.  I try to get in a walk at night because I feel better about myself in the morning.  I buy lotions on clearance from Bath and Body Works because I like their products and have been using them for years (BTW, the clearance sale is coming up!!!).  I write blogs, I read my Bible, I read devotionals, and I write my prayers.

Some of you may need to reach out and meet up with friends.  Whether you are on the need side or the giving side, I recommend being honest.  "Hey, I had a rough week and I would love to meet up and have some coffee with you."  "I only have an hour on Saturday morning but I would love to meet up with you."  Or "Girl, you know I have these crazy kids, you want to come over to my house and help me go through last year's clothing?"  The answer is yes!!!  We can help each other out.  So, take care of yourselves and reach out when you need help or just need someone to sit with so that you know you aren't alone.  Finally, pray.  Just pray it all to God.  He hears us.  God bless.

Tuesday, June 4, 2019

Cakes

I am not a baker.  In fact, I am gluten intolerant.  However, as you know, I signed up to work at the Summer Arts Festival at my church.  I said that I would make some cakes.  16 6 inch cakes to be exact.  I ended up making 17.  Do you know that they all looked different?  They were all cakes, and they were made with the same ingredients.  We didn't change much but it's not a factory.  They all came out different.  Some just popped out of the pan.  Some I struggled with.  There were one or two that really didn't come out well at all.  My daughter loved all of the "mistakes." She has a bowl of cake mistakes that she eats alone or with pudding to make parfait.  She loves the cake.

I learned something about those cakes.  Each one is the same but different.  Some of the cakes came out with more than others.  Sound familiar?  I am not a great baker and I may have made one or two mistakes.  God is not like me.  He is awesome.  I have to tell myself that He is a good God and that He has a good plan for me.  God made me just the way I am meant to be.  So I think about who I am and what I like and what I don't like.  I'm hoping you spend sometime thinking about these things too.  If you had three wishes, what would you spend them on?  Doesn't that tell you about yourself?  I asked my daughter what would her three wishes be and she didn't know.  I have an idea of what my wishes would be but I'm just excited about the idea of wishes.

You don't like cakes?  You could do it with anything not factory made: strawberries, homemade afghans, pumpkins, people.  Isn't that amazing!  Yes, yes it is!!!  And the ending of the cakes is still yet to come.  They will be decorated with buttercream soon.  Some of them will have remarkable, unique designs filled with color and representing the identity of the maker.  Maybe I just need to bake more cakes?  Uhm... then again, maybe not! There is a special project that I am working on.  I'm excited to see what is next and this is the summer to work on it.  Let's call it a special hobby.  So exciting!!!  God is good, all the time, regardless of what I feel and today I feel good knowing that I have good work to do on the horizon.  Praise God!

Monday, June 3, 2019

Monday

I had a completely different sentiment to write about.  When I have an idea for a post, I usually write a draft.  I keep the draft and look at it to see which draft is more fitting for the day.  Some of the drafts talk about what will happen tomorrow or yesterday.  These drafts take precedence over other drafts.  I had been thinking about this particular Monday. Today is the first real Monday of my decompression week.  Yes, there are things that I need to do.  I was planning on doing none of them.  My plan was to pick up a book that calls to my heart, The Overdue Life of Amy Byler.  It is at this moment, overdue so I thought it apropos to read it right away.  I have another book waiting in the wings and then maybe I will be ready to finish the Darkest Minds series.  My plan was to pay bills when I get around to it and make a shopping list.  I was going to wash clothes and then look to see what I really need to do.  I wanted to lay in bed and just lay there. 

Well, I was wrong.  Today turns out to have a lot of things calling.  I need to go to work to drop off a Birthday Present for Esther as well as pick up some things from the office.  Today I need to look at some research and see what other things I need to do before next week's Summer Arts Festival Total Take Over.  One week each June, my church has a Summer Art Festival which is more like Vacation Bible School.  I have been volunteering for SAF for every year I have been attending Trinity Bible Church with the exception of last year.  My son is a youth volunteer and this is my daughter's last year to attend before she herself is in Youth.  I wish I had the time to mourn my children's transition into adolescence.  For those of you who are moms of little ones, it goes by fast and I find it painful to look around and there are no more little ones in the house.  Maybe I'm a softie who is over sentimental but WARNING there is some pain there, at least there is for me. 

Back to today, SAF is exhausting and it will take the whole week out of the month.  My true rest Monday will be the Monday after this June 17th.  I will lay in bed and not get out until it is time for Bible Study.  It is a busy month and today I woke up understanding that I am already behind schedule.  I tell myself, "Don't take out any more books to read.  Don't make any more plans to meet up with people.  You have a lot of stuff to do."  I hear a little voice.  It is so small but it is all I hear.  Yes, I'm crazy, just go with it!!! 

The voice asks me what I wanted to do when I was younger.  I have always wanted to write.  Even when I was busy wishing to be a princess, I wanted to write.  In eighth grade, I wanted to be a child psychologist.  In high school, I wanted to be an English teacher to at risk youth.  In college, I wanted to be an accountant, a writer, and a professor.  I have been almost every single thing I have ever wanted.  I have one or two things that I have yet to try.  I think about the possibilities.  Today, I am allowing myself to dream of being and doing more, even today when I'm tired and cranky that I need to do stuff I didn't want to do.  Don't laugh but I recently discovered that I like airports.  I do!  I need to understand why I like them.  I would like to travel and see places.  I met this man from Montana and I didn't even really know where it was on the map.  It is a cold place I hear.  It is up north and there is a famous national park there.  I look at the pictures and I think that I would like to go there.  I have a friend that has me wondering what Alaska is like.  Have I forgotten what it was like to dream?

Today I am meditating on James 4.  I can't even say anything because there is a lot going on in that chapter and the whole thing is interconnected.  But, maybe I need to ask God where He wants me to go... and maybe this is the Monday to do it. 

James 4 New King James Version (NKJV)

Pride Promotes Strife

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures. Adulterers and adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Whoever therefore wants to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. Or do you think that the Scripture says in vain, “The Spirit who dwells in us yearns jealously”?
But He gives more grace. Therefore He says:
“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

Humility Cures Worldliness

Therefore submit to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you. Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. 10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.

Do Not Judge a Brother

11 Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. 12 There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?

Do Not Boast About Tomorrow

13 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”; 14 whereas you do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. 15 Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and do this or that.” 16 But now you boast in your arrogance. All such boasting is evil.
17 Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin