Thankful Thursdays

For life-changing flights.

This week marks the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11’s mission and Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin taking humanity’s first steps on the moon. Those astronauts…man, talk about courage. The entire Apollo program, forever remarkable.

Page from my Cuban passport.

That summer of ’69 in Havana, I watched the moon landing thanks to a neighbor armed with a super duper antenna. The historic broadcast also could be heard on shortwave radio. At the time, in a Cuba already neck-deep in communism, there was something else brewing in my home besides the excitement of the moonwalk. While the world stopped for a brief instant to witness this unforgettable accomplishment, my family was anxiously preparing for our own “giant leap” – – a life-changing exile flight that would take place four months after the lunar landing. Heading that expedition were my parents, also full of courage.

I was six years old when I boarded our flight that November day, and I thought our turboprop plane would fly as high as Neil did on that rocket of his. I remember I could not sit still in my seat. Hours after takeoff, on November 20, 1969, exactly four months after the moon landing, I set foot on what seemed to me like a different planet. But no, it was Spain. Unlike the crew of Apollo 11, I would not return home, though. Mine was a one-way ticket to freedom.

April 19, 2001 * * * Photos by CCP

May 14, 2010 * * * Photos by CCP

Over the years, long-time space enthusiasts that we are, we have followed the space program. In April 2001, we were fortunate enough to catch Endeavor’s launch and, in May 2010, Atlantis’ second to last launch. Both were very thrilling experiences. I highly recommend taking a trip to Florida’s space coast to view one of today’s rockets take off. So cool.

 

These days, we run outside whenever we get alerts on our phones that the ISS is about to pass over us. If it happens to be a clear night, the space station is quite a sight.

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, you can now see Atlantis up close and personal at Kennedy Space Center where it is retired.

Today, as I think back on that life-changing flight when I was six, I thank God for looking out for us during our journey, and for looking out for Neil, Collins, and Buzz, too, during theirs.

 

Just the other day. * * * Photo by KSC

 

 

May we continue to reach for the stars and beyond.

 

 

 

 

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“That was a memorable day to me, for it made great changes in me. But it is the same with any life. Imagine one selected day struck out of it, and think how different its course would have been. Pause you who read this, and think for a moment of the long chain of iron or gold, of thorns or flowers, that would never have bound you, but for the formation of the first link on one memorable day.”
-Charles Dickens

“We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one which we intend to win.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Man on the moon!”
Walter Cronkite, CBS News anchor

 

Thankful Thursdays

For the Perez household engine.

There are days when I keep crossing things off my to-do list like I’m on a mission or something. Those days are super amazing. It feels great to get things done. Of course, there are days when I just want to relax and, well, maybe do nothing. If you’re like me, you probably don’t mind that kind of day at all, and welcome it. If you’re like my daughter, who’s always on the go, that kind of day may give you anxiety. And if you’re like my husband, who’s the epitome of activity, that kind of day just doesn’t exist.

Not me, I like a lazy day, but I do realize the upside of crossing things off the list. That’s why sometimes I’ll mix both. I’ll accomplish ONE thing on my to-do list and call it a day.  🙂  A perfectly productive lazy day, don’t you agree?

But, honestly, productive people rock. So I dedicate today’s post to the most energetic and productive person I know – my husband. Thank you, Babe, for all that you do for us. You’re the Perez household engine.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“The best things in life make you sweaty.”
-Edgar Allan Poe

“It is not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is: What are we busy about?”
-H.D. Thoreau

“The key is not to prioritize what’s on your schedule, but to schedule your priorities.”
-S. Covey

“In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
-Matthew 5:16

Thankful Thursdays

For the red, white and blue.

Today, in this country, we celebrate Independence Day. As I take a moment to reflect on the many freedoms we are fortunate enough to have, I give thanks for all of those who gave their lives so that you and I can enjoy this great land. Although it is not a perfect nation by any means, we do have freedoms and opportunities many people around the world do not have.

I was born in Cuba and lived there under a communist regime. I could write a book about what my family went through. A lot to tell. But, for now, let me just say that I am grateful for the blessings we enjoy as citizens of this great country.

Happy Independence Day, ‘Merica!

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“We hold these Truths to be self-evident, that all Men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.”
-Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence

“Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe to assure the survival and the success of liberty.”
-John F. Kennedy

“Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.”
-Ronald Reagan

Thankful Thursdays

For sticky prayers…and our interceders.

Some time ago, I began placing on a St. Jude prayer card sticky notes with the names of people for whom I invoke a blessing or special intention. People who are ill, who are going through some type of adversity, or who are trying to achieve something seemingly impossible. You see, St. Jude is the patron saint of desperate causes.

I keep this prayer card at work and, in time, others started asking that I add names to it for their own prayer intentions. My St. Jude card filled up quickly, to the point that I could only see the man’s face. And that’s when I turned to Amazon (my patron saint of shopping) and ordered a board so I can have more space for sticky prayer notes. Already looks like I’m gonna need to size it up.

Saints, in case you don’t know, are those individuals who were persecuted and martyred for their Christian faith, or who lived their lives generally as holy people. Those who, through their extraordinary lives of virtue, upon entering Heaven, are believed to share in what is called the Beatific Vision, a face-to-face experience of the presence of God, and are thereby able to provide assistance to us mortals when we ask through prayers directed at them. Although we are strong in our faith in God and, through our prayers, we intend to give our troubles to Him, some of us choose to call upon the saints as well for assistance. They are not to be worshiped, but can be prayed to, to intercede on our behalf.

There is a long and distinguished list of saints. There is a patron saint for practically every area of life you can think of — St. Jude, who I mentioned above, is my personal favorite and one I kept quite busy clearing many obstacles I encountered during Mom’s illness; St. Christopher, patron saint of travelers (always with me during our adventures); St. Joseph, patron saint of homes and families; St. Thomas More, patron saint of lawyers…wait what? Lawyers? — And the list goes on.

Of course, as is the norm with prayer, sometimes we become discouraged and frustrated when time goes by and it seems our prayers to these saints fall on deaf ears. I’ve been there. I am still waiting to see the outcome I want from some of my petitions. The outcome “I” want…which lack thereof, by the way, could only mean they are not the results God intends. So why pray to the saints then? Well, why not? Don’t you ask friends, sometimes-even strangers, for help? I for one like believing there is someone besides me, someone out there in the spiritual world pleading my case and pulling for me. Strength in numbers, you know.

So for sticky prayers and our interceders, I am most definitely thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“God creates out of nothing. Wonderful you say. Yes, to be sure, but he does what is still more wonderful: he makes saints out of sinners.”
-S. Kierkegaard

“First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people….”
-1 Timothy 2:1

“The saints are like the stars. In his providence Christ conceals them in a hidden place that they may not shine before others when they might wish to do so. Yet they are always ready to exchange the quiet of contemplation for the works of mercy as soon as they perceive in their heart the invitation of Christ.”
-St. Anthony of Padua

Thankful Thursdays

That there’s a season for everything.

Tomorrow we welcome summer. Yaaay!! I love summer. My favorite season. It’s the time of sunny days and longer daylight (okay, and lots of rain, but that’s good for the grass), and it’s a time to move like we’ve got a purpose. I know what you’re thinking. There’s only one season in South Florida. Legit thought. But never mind that.

The beginning of every [calendar] season reminds me that there is an appointed time for everything. That all things, not just nature, have a seasonal rhythm…thank God. Because imagine if life wasn’t divvied up like that. If sad times didn’t end and happy times didn’t begin? If trials didn’t teach and wisdom wasn’t born from them? Right.

I, for one, am glad God chapterizes our lives. And that He blesses us with grace and strength to help us embrace and brave whatever season we are on — so we can bloom where we are planted. For that, today and always, I am thankful.

Summer up, and enjoy!

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“When life is sweet, say thank you and celebrate. And when life is bitter, say thank you and grow.”
-S. Niequist

“There is a time for everything, 
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
   a time to be born and a time to die,
   a time to plant and a time to uproot,
   a time to kill and a time to heal,
   a time to tear down and a time to build,
   a time to weep and a time to laugh,
   a time to mourn and a time to dance,
   a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
   a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
   a time to search and a time to give up,
   a time to keep and a time to throw away,
   a time to tear and a time to mend,
   a time to be silent and a time to speak,
   a time to love and a time to hate,
   a time for war and a time for peace.”
-Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

“Summer is the time when one sheds one’s tensions with one’s clothes, and the right kind of day is jeweled balm for the battered spirit.”
-A.L. Huxtable

Thankful Thursdays

For my “snap out of it” gadgets.

Picture this: I’m at work busy at the computer, lost in words, deadlines, and numbers, totally unaware of my surroundings. Suddenly, out of the corner of my eye I catch sight of the picture that just scrolled on my digital frame and, BAM! I’m transported to a sweet memory. Seconds later, my eyes shift back to the computer and I am once again typing, clicking, printing, etc. Ahh….but, during the time spent in between reminiscing about the picture and before continuing to work, during that time, I am entirely present – – seeing, experiencing and feeling. Once again consciously experiencing my surroundings, feeling grateful about the experiences that led to that photo, and about my life now.

Same thing happens every time my watch buzzes and reminds me to breathe (as if I wasn’t already). Do I need an app to remind me to breathe? No. Though it really does snap me out of autopilot mode.

Most of us practice mindfulness purposely at some point during the day, be it through morning prayer or during workouts like yoga, for example. That’s a good thing. However, how many of us actually purposefully do it often throughout the day?

Sure, reflecting on the past helps us learn from our mistakes and looking forward helps us plan for our future, but nothing brings to mind gratefulness like living in the moment, and vice versa. So let’s live in the breath. And take advantage of whatever “snap out of it” gadgets turn off our autopilot.

For my digital photo frame, the Breath app…and moments of awareness, today and always, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“The key to enjoying the moment is to always carry a list of ‘Things I Gotta Do That Can Wait. ‘“
-Robert Brault

“Life is a great and wondrous mystery, and the only thing we know that we have for sure is what is right here right now. Don’t miss it. “
-Leo Buscaglia

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”
-Matthew 6:34

Thankful Thursdays

For knowledge, understanding, and wisdom.

This week saw the end [inevitably] of James Holzhauer’s winning streak on Jeopardy. The wealth of knowledge on that guy is…wow, impressive. Conversely, recently on Game of Thrones, we watched how Jon Snow, well, really knows nothing. Bravery’s his thing.

We all have our thing. We all have valuable attributes and, sure, knowledge is useful, knowledge is impressive, but I think it falls short without some understanding and wisdom to back it up, or, as I like to say, to walk the talk. Possessing this trio of attributes, however, is a rare gift. One I’ve known in only a couple of people. My grandfather Arturo had the complete bundle. Because he exhibited these traits and shared them with me in the humblest of ways, I learned a thing or two, I’ve understood a thing or two, and I’ve gained a bit of wisdom.

So all of us should play our part in sharing whichever one of these powerful attributes is our forte….Don’t forget the humble part.

What are you thankful for today?

I dedicate today’s post to the heroes of D-Day. Bravery was surely their thing.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Knowledge is measuring that a desert path is 12.4 miles long.
Understanding is packing enough water for the hike.
Wisdom is building a lemonade stand at mile 6.

“Any fool can know. The point is to understand.”
-Albert Einstein 

“Learn to light a candle in the darkest moments of someone’s life. Be the light that helps others see; it is what gives life its deepest significance.” 
-R.T. Bennett

Thankful Thursdays

For time together.

Fresh back from a long weekend with the kids and a few of their closest friends. Nothing like moments shared (with a bunch of twenty-somethings going on 15, ha ha). We had a great time, and I’m so grateful we got to hang out.

Unfortunately, time together is not always doable, as our schedules in today’s rapid pace don’t cooperate as often as we’d like. But let’s be real, we’re here one day, gone the next, so we should find a way to make it happen.

For every minute and every hug we get to squeeze in with those we love, today and always, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“A life-long blessing for children is to fill them with warm memories of times together. Happy memories become treasures in the heart to pull out on the tough days of adulthood.”
-Charlotte Sophia Kasl

“You may delay, but time will not.”
-Benjamin Franklin

Thankful Thursdays

For morning drives.

They’re so much more than transportation. It’s that time of day when we head out to live our purpose. Be it to work (okay let’s not think traffic for one moment) or on a road trip to somewhere magical; be it by car or train or bus or bicycle, morning drives are a daily routine for so many of us. But other than getting us from point A to point B, what do our morning drives mean to us?

Mine often question whether I’ll make a difference in someone’s life that day, or if I’ll learn something new, or teach something old. And between those thoughts and the honking, regardless of where I’m off to, I remind myself that it suits me best to love where I’m headed.

I pray we all have many more morning drives. For the one I got today, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Nothing is so rewarding than the patience that you take to go over the ramps of life. They may slow you down, but you are an unstoppable hero. Keep driving!”
-I. Ayivor

“Living is like driving,” my grandmother used to say. “You have to pick a lane.” Have I chosen the right lane?
-K. Flinn

 

Thankful Thursdays

For those who inspire.

Fact: All of us face adversity in our lives. As I write this and you read it, some of us are probably going through a rough patch. Along the road, we look to others for strength and courage.

When I’m there, I think about my nephew and how he beat and came out of the addiction that almost killed him. I think about my father grinding through pain with a morphine pump attached to his liver, yet putting in a full day’s work. I think about my friend Ledys, who laughs through adversity better and louder than anyone I know.

Ordinary people who behave in extraordinary ways. All for love of self and others, and for love of life. My husband and kids included, whose commitment and support, no matter what, propel me to “brave up” every day of my life.

So for those who inspire, those who show that when life gives you lemons you can make the sweetest lemonade, today and always, I am thankful.

Who inspires you? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Beauty is not who you are on the outside, it is the wisdom and time you gave away to save another struggling soul like you.”
-S.L. Alder

“Never let hard lessons harden your heart; the hard lessons of life are meant to make you better, not bitter.”
-R.T. Bennett