Thankful Thursdays

For that Higher Power.

What are we in control of, really? These days more than ever we make ourselves crazy over the things that are not going our way. I know I do. But let me share with you a little exercise I use to put me in my place. Please repeat after me: “There is a Higher Power, and I am not it.” 

This plainly means that we must do what we can and leave what we can’t in the hands of He who can and will. Period. I have experienced that letting go of what I can’t control has proven to be in my best interest. And that handing over my worries, concerns, and stubbornness to God (as difficult as that may be) leaves space in my mind for happier and more productive thoughts.

For that Higher Power today and always, I am thankful.

How do you “let go and let God”? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”
-Matthew 6:34

“Incredible change happens in your life when you decide to take control of what you do have power over instead of craving control over what you don’t.”
-Steve Maraboli


Thankful Thursdays

For awakenings.

Last week I had surgery to remove my gallbladder (because 2020 wasn’t exciting enough). Would have preferred to have kept it, but it wasn’t in the plan for me. As I sat in the recovery room and my body and mind awoke (that anesthesia was the bomb), I was immediately thankful to be awake, and grateful for the doctors and healthcare workers who had a hand in seeing me through the process. Today, I’m also thankful for my squad at home who are taking such good care of me.

But I’m mostly thinking about, and praying for, those going through much more serious health issues than a dysfunctional gallbladder. May the Lord heal you. Keep the faith. Stay strong.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“The First wealth is health.”
-R.W. Emerson

“There is one consolation in being sick; and that is the possibility that you may recover to a better state than you were ever in before.”
-H.D. Thoreau

“The best six doctors anywhere
And no one can deny it
Are sunshine, water, rest, and air
Exercise and diet.
These six will gladly you attend
If only you are willing
Your mind they’ll ease
Your will they’ll mend
And charge you not a shilling.”
-W. Fields

 

Thankful Thursdays

For Mom’s angel.

Lazara Ortega was unlike anyone I have ever known. She came into our lives shortly after my grandfather passed away in 1992 when, through a friend of a friend, she was put in touch with us about renting my grandfather’s apartment, which connected to our house. Instantly, we took a liking to her. It was impossible not to. She had a kind and noble disposition.

Lazara came from Cuba many years ago and the closest she had to family was the people she worked for. She was no stranger to hard work. In fact, that’s all she did her entire life, work hard. Always for others. Cleaning, cooking (boy could she cook!), babysitting, etc. With barely a second grade level education, she relied mostly on strength, experience and wisdom to tackle everything in life. As admirable as that was, what impressed me most about Lazara was her no-matter-what unwavering faith. It was worthy of envy. God in her lips all the time, no matter the circumstances. In her early 90’s she’d still walk to church daily for morning Mass, rain or shine – – that worthy of envy.

She adored Lauren and Danny and often, even after a long day’s work, would cook a meal for them and either send it with Mom or show up at our doorstep, pots in hand. Just the other day on the phone she said to me, “Les voy hacer una comidita.” I’m going to make them a little meal. Never mind she no longer had the strength or health to do that, she had the will.

Through the years, she and Mom became very close. They looked in on each other, had their afternoon cafecito together, shared stories, treated each other’s ailments, and celebrated milestones together. Mom would tell everyone Lazara was her angel. “Ella es mi angelito negro,” she would say.

Today, I’m posting about Lazara in remembrance of her life and the legacy of humility, strength and faith she leaves behind. She left this world a few days ago as the saying goes, “Con los zapatos bien puestos.” With her shoes firmly on. A warrior. She was 96 when the Lord summoned her. I am sure in a “Beam me up, Scotty” sort of way. Heaven did not have to wait long for that soul to reach it. Not a woman like her.

For Mom’s angel, and ours, I am thankful. Rest in Peace, Lazarita. You will always hold a special place in our hearts.

Do you have an angel here on Earth? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“…and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.”
-Ephesians 6:15

Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.”
Matthew 26:13

Thankful Thursdays

For interim spots.

The dining room has been their interim home office for four months now. She never would’ve imagined that, she said. Anyway, in this interim office, she has the best spot. It’s next to the bar and faces the blooming Crape Myrtle. From this spot, she can see Amazon, UPS, FedEx, and USPS without wondering who that annoying thing they call the Ring camera is picking up. From this spot she also gets to see walk-by neighbors she didn’t know she had. Me too! And I see Nelly, their cat, being Nelly. One day…just wait.

Lockdown sucks, but this view’s not bad. I’m really enjoying it. For this spot, and the blessing that my human family is still employed, today I am thankful. – Beni Heinz Perez

What’s your lockdown spot like, and what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursdays post…si Dios quiere.

“Things work out best for those who make the best of how things work out.” -J. Wooden

“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are.” –T. Roosevelt

 

Thankful Thursdays

For skills discovered.

Cooking is not for everyone. It’s definitely not my cup of tea, that’s no secret, and my family can attest to it. Sadly, I didn’t inherit Mom’s love for cooking or her skill for creating her amazing meals. I really never had an interest for the craft, to be honest. For me it was more of a task, so I tended to look away whenever she tried to teach me. She cooked everything ojo and the most I managed to pick up were guesstimations here and there to put together a quick meal.

Knowing well I was culinarily challenged, she gave us a famous cookbook shortly after we got married, dedication page and all. But, no matter how inspiring Mom’s inscription, whenever I considered taking on one of the dishes in this book, I’d quickly reconsider after reading the recipe. It was just as comedian Rita Rudner would say: “I read recipes the same way I read science fiction. I get to the end and say to myself ‘well, that’s not going to happen.’”

What did happen was the lockdown and the boredom and the extra time, which forced the flow of some creative juices I didn’t know I had. All of a sudden, I found myself trying my hand at some of Mom’s pinches of this and dashes of that, and creating some inventos of my own. Que?, I actually can cook! That, by the way, has been confirmed by my closest critics, my husband and kids. This trio is raw honest when it comes to food taste, sin pena, so when they say, “Wow, this is pretty good,” trust me, it must be. They’ve stopped adding Sriracha sauce and Ketchup to most of the food so I’m feeling quite accomplished.

Before lockdown, how can I put this…we ate. During lockdown, it’s more like dine. “Ya era hora,” Mom must be saying from above. Thanks, Mom, for the cookbook, I love reading the inscription. I think I’ll start reading the rest of the pages.

For skills discovered, today and always, I am thankful. What skills have you discovered during your lockdown? And what are you thankful for today?

I dedicate this post to my husband who celebrates a birthday today. Happy birthday, babe 🎂🎉 thanks for never complaining about my cooking (or lack thereof). ❤️

Translation: 
To my dearest children, Connie and Jose:
There’s a very old saying that says: ‘Love enters through the kitchen.’ I know very well that your love is blessed by God and is true and beautiful. In this book there are many easy and tasty recipes, I hope to try some of them.
Save this as a reminder of someone who prays every day for your happiness.
Receive a thousand kisses and hugs
from your mommy
Olga

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“You never know what you can do until you try, and very few try unless they have to.” -C.S. Lewis

“The only reason I have a kitchen is because it came with the house.”

 

Thankful Thursdays

For America – for better or worse, in sickness and in health.

Let me ask you something personal: Do you think America is the greatest country in the world? I suppose one could easily argue that it is, and just as easily argue that it’s not. After all, we’re in the midst of some pretty difficult times right now. For me, it’s a yes. There’s no place I rather live in, even during imperfect times. Having lived under a communist regime and exiled to a socialist country before making it here, freedom and opportunity are high on my list. The freedom and opportunity to express this opinion, for instance, and for us to disagree.

I know that what I love and respect about this nation may be what you dislike and despise about it. But the fact that you and I are choosing to live in it – – happily or miserably – – irrespective of our reasons, and even when we reject some of its principles, says, to me, a lot about its greatness.

For your sake and mine, may God protect it, calm us the heck down, and keep it free. Porque de aquí, ¿Pa’dónde? That’s why for better or worse, in sickness and in health, for this country, I am thankful.

Wishing all of you a happy and healthy Fourth of July. 

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“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

“Let us not seek to satisfy our thirst for freedom by drinking from the cup of bitterness and hatred.”
-Martin Luther King, Jr.

“If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
-Theodore Roosevelt

 

Thankful Thursdays

For a chance like this one.

Go ahead, and take a seat on that bench. The bench is anywhere you’d like it to be. Next to you is anyone you choose to chat with for one hour. Who would that someone be? 

Although I would be tempted to choose God, I really don’t think I’m ready to hear His answers to my questions, or His reasons to my whys. That’s a conversation for a time when my soul will be capable of deeper understanding.

Although I would be tempted to choose my mother, I think she instilled in me enough of the best of her to guide me for the rest of my life. No questions would be asked, only thanks would be given.

And although I would be tempted to choose my father, I think I already know how that hour would go: lots of laughs and baseball talk over a game of dominos.

No, I would choose the one person I miss the most. The one I have an unfinished life with – – my sister. Her untimely death robbed me (yes, I’m being selfish), robbed me of … her shy smile, her obsessive neatness, her relentless thoughtfulness, our countless conversations throughout the day, her solid advice, her unfailing call always the first on my birthday, and of the way she loved my kids. What a chat this would be.

Thankfully, my faith is my ticket to this sit down. One day. This bench right here would be good.

For a chance like this, I’ll be eternally grateful.

So who would your someone be? And what are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

 

“There are stars whose light only reaches the Earth long
after they have fallen apart. There are people whose
remembrance gives light in this world, long after they
have passed away. This light shines in our darkest
nights on the road we must follow.”
-The Talmud

 

If I could talk to God, I’d have a million questions
If we could sit down face to face
I’d inquire how He likes to spend His days
And if He has any regrets about this world He made

Everywhere I look, children hungry, people hurting
Is it working? Does it really have to be this way?
I think He might say
“Hey, it’s really very simple, follow My example”
People, it’s not so hard living the right way
Learn to love each other, your sister and your brother

If I could talk to God, I wonder if that’s what he’d say
If I could talk to God, I’d look him in the eye and
Ask him about my destiny
Shouldn’t I spend my time on grander things
And does it even make a difference anyway
In a world full of confusion am I part of the solution?
And will it take a revolution for the world to change

I think He might say
“Children you’re not there for a long, long time”
Is it so hard to just play nice?
     -Alice Peacock

 

Thankful Thursdays

For colorful blooms.

I was taking them for granted, I guess. All the pretty flowers we plant every year. But this spring and summer they are not going unnoticed. On the contrary, the are being watered and cared for and admired more than ever. With the lockdown and home confinement, there’s been more time to “stop and smell the roses.”

And with it, a miraculous infusion of hope. After two minutes of news, I step out back and my gloom is brightened with the beauty of God’s nature. Better days will come, my friends. Have faith. Be hopeful. Let’s bloom where we are planted!

I dedicate today’s post to my husband, the man who nurtures our garden and trees and Lauren and Danny. Happy Father’s Day, babe!

 

For colorful and meaningful blooms, today and always, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“You’re only here for a short visit.
Don’t hurry. Don’t worry.
And be sure to smell the flowers
along the way.”
-W. Hagen

“The quality of a father can be seen in the goals, dreams and aspirations he sets not only for himself, but for his family.” -R. Markham

Thankful Thursdays

For a different twist this week, I asked what our kids are thankful for. Because the world’s on fire and we need perspective and a dose of hope. Here it is:

“I am thankful to be part of a supportive family that I know will have my back in whatever I do or where ever I go.”
     -Taylor Quintero, 18

“I am thankful for all the opportunities I have been given – great family, great school and a great team.”
     -Bailey Quintero, 16

“I am thankful for my health, my family, my friends and for the world I live in! I am lucky enough to say this! I have the best support system in all of these and I couldn’t thank god at a time like this for having all of them in my life and keeping everyone in my life healthy!”
     -Andrea Garcia, 27

“I am thankful for being able to move to a new city and have the opportunity to begin my new journey as a resident!”
     -Elen Volovich, 25

“I am thankful that Juanky and I were able to purchase our first home together.”
     -Vicky Rodriguez, 27

“I am thankful for some very important people in my life that have turned my life into a blessing: my boyfriend Tyler Farnstrom, my two best friends Suyeny Diaz and Lauren Christine Perez, and my Ohana (everyone who is part of our DisneyCrew) . I cannot imagine my life without any of them!” 
     -Charlenne Blanco, 26

“I am most thankful for my family and for friends who have become family. My grandparents were always like second parents to my brother and me. My mom and dad and I have grown so close as I’ve gotten older. My cousins are like my brothers and sisters. We are a very tight knit family, and I love that even though some of us are miles away, we still try to see each other every year and stay connected. 
My friends are also so important to me. To me, my friends are the family that I’ve chosen for myself. They’re the people I know I can go to for anything. I’ve been so blessed to have made friends from around the world, and I love that we always find time to see each other as well. I know that I can always count on them, even if the miles separate us ♥️”
     -Kristin Worsham, 29

“I am thankful for the people who choose to be my “family”. For those who choose to stay by my side through the ups and downs, the ones who accept me and the ones who Love me. Those are the people who keep me centered. I thank God every day for them.”
     -Lauren Ashley Campana, 24

“I am thankful for not having to set an alarm. Throughout this quarantine period, I no longer have the obligation to wake up early to ensure that I am showered and ready for school or work since all of my responsibilities have gone “remote”. Forgoing my old morning routine has allowed my body to naturally wake up on its own at the same time in the morning before starting my work. *Throws on NASA hat* Who needs pants anyways, right?”
     -Daniel Christian Perez, 24

“I am thankful for the hardships we go through. Without them we wouldn’t grow, and without growth we wouldn’t feel purpose. Purpose is all God wants for us, and I’m grateful that He keeps me going.”
     -Lauren Christine Perez, 28

“With everything going on in the world today, we start to see the little things that we have taken for granted. Reflecting on the past few months I have realized how thankful I am to have my family and friends in my life. We sometimes take for granted the people that God has put in our path, but in this time it has really taught me to appreciate these people. During this time of self isolation, I have grown existing friendships and have spent time with family members that I don’t always spend enough time with. I am thankful for these people and the time I’ve been able to spend with them.”
     -Cristy Lopez, 29

“I am thankful that Papa Dios made the Earth.”
     -Anastasia Simon, 5

“I am thankful for my health and my support system.”
     -Miled Finianos, 24

“Health, friends and family, education.”
     -Anel Velasquez, 19

“Health.”
     -Alia Velasquez, 15

“Family, food, dog.”
     -Ania Velasquez, 11

“Family, roof over my head, education.”
     -Aila Velasquez, 11

“My dogs. They make me smile.”
     -Gabriela Casariego, 26

“I’m thankful for my mom & cousin. My Disney Crew friends and my Orlando Family friends. For music. I’m thankful to be working during this time. And lastly, thankful to have found faith again. ♥️”
     -Suyeny Diaz, 27

“I am thankful for a world full of diversity in all aspects! Without diversity, the world would be boring. Every single person has different knowledge, culture, upbringing, and morals.
I am also thankful for the ability to learn and be open to all knowledge. It’s important to learn/view things from a different perspective. Knowledge is an ever-growing powerful tool.”   
     -Kevin Maestre, 28

“Although the world’s been crazy these days, I’m thankful for the ability to adapt quickly. I’m grateful to have a job that still continues to develop me even while working remotely and hasn’t missed a beat through it all.”
     -Samantha Mannion, 28

“In my 27 rotations around the sun, I have had so many things happen in my life that I have to be grateful for. But what I have been extremely grateful for is the lessons I’ve learned, the experiences that I have gone through, the laughs, the memories, my family and friends and their families that have become family. Life has been a rollercoaster full of ups and downs, twist and turns but it has always been something to be grateful for.”
     -Gabriel Rodriguez, 27

“I’m thankful for having had the opportunity to leave Cuba, where the Castro Regime has oppressed generations of families, to grow up in a country whose cornerstones are based on freedom, and the ability to pull yourself up by your boot straps and achieve the American dream.”
     -Julio Enrique Rodriguez, 29

“I’m thankful for my beautiful mother who constantly loves and cares for those around her and in difficult times always does her best to provide the most she can.”
     -Ciara Torres, 17

“Thankful for my family’s love and support, for my health and the education that has been provided to me.”
     -Andres Casariego, 23

“In the midst of a global pandemic and movement, it may be difficult trying to maintain a positive outlook on life and remain thankful for. Not for me. As I take a minute to sit on my stoop, and reflect on all that has happened not only during the past couple of months, but this first half of 2020, I can’t help but take a deep breath, then smile. I am so thankful that my closest family and friends are safe and well. I am thankful that in the midst of unemployment and uncertainty, every bill has been paid and every meal has been provided. I am thankful for everyone who has decided to stay at home to protect not only themselves but to protect strangers in their community from this pandemic. I am thankful to everyone who has joined me in taking a stand for equality and for justice. Amidst all the adversity, there has been a unified mentality throughout the world that I am thankful for and proud to be a part of. There is a lot of unknowns moving forward, a lot of adjustments not only for our country but for us as individuals, however I can’t help but be thankful for it all. I can be thankful because I know that God is in control of it all. He is omnipresent. Most importantly, his timing is perfect and because I believe in that with my whole heart, I am thankful.” 
     -Alena Ramos, 27

It’s our responsibility to teach our children about thankfulness and to appreciate what they have; even the little things. We want them to have grateful hearts no matter the circumstances. I know some days those lessons come more easily than others. But judging from the submissions above, they have certainly mastered the concept. We, too, learn from them.

Thank you all so much for sharing and making today’s Thankful Thursday post so very special. I am thankful for YOU!

Taylor and Bailey, Andrea, Elen, Vicky & Juanky, Charlenne, Kristin (and Ellie), Lauren Ashley, Daniel Christian, and Lauren Christine(and Beni). 
Cristy, Anastasia, Miled, Anel, Alia, Ania, and Aila, Gabriela, Suyeny, Kevin & Lauren, Samantha, and Gabriel.


Julio Enrique, Ciara, Andres, Alena, and the Disney Crew.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about.”
-A. Schwindt

“Hem your blessings with thankfulness so they don’t unravel.”
-A. Tan

 

 

Thankful Thursdays

I’m at a loss for words this Thankful Thursday. Let me see how best to articulate why.

It is disheartening to see the greatest country in the world in chaos. Chaos of any sort, but especially this sort; man-made. While we saw the best of humanity at the height of the Coronavirus pandemic – – people helping people – – now we see the worst of humanity unfolding in the streets – – people hating people. Just a different kind of virus, I guess. Do you think God’s looking down and saying “Look at those fools!”? He would have good reason to.

The realist in me doubts that this will be the last time we see this. Surely, much change is needed. We must have faith that God will provide us with discernment in that regard. Our saving grace, if you believe, is that God is merciful. It is His mercy that allows us to experience love, compassion, forgiveness and peace. Even when we don’t deserve it. That’s the only way we rise above.

May God help us now to restore peace and guide us out of the current tumultuous time. Let’s pull on God’s mercy with all we’ve got and make things right. Before He comes back, really pissed.

This Thankful Thursday, I’m extremely grateful for God’s mercy. There, I found my words.

What are you thankful for today?

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

“There is nothing more man needs than Divine Mercy – that love which is benevolent, which is compassionate, which raises man above his weakness to the infinite heights to the holiness of God.”
-Saint John Paul II

“Two things in life are infinite; the stupidity of man and the mercy of God.”
-G.I. Gurdjieff

”When I say it’s you I like, I’m talking about that part of you that knows that life is far more than anything you can ever see or hear or touch.
That deep part of you that allows you to stand for those things without which humankind cannot survive. Love that conquers hate, peace that rises triumphant over war, and justice that proves more powerful than greed.”
-Fred Rogers

“Though justice be thy plea consider this, that in the course of justice none of us should see salvation. We do pray for mercy.”
-William Shakespeare