Thankful Thursdays

Here’s to the graduates. And to He who makes it all possible.

Lauren’s graduate school ceremony is tonight; Danny receives his bachelor’s degree tomorrow night. Watching them both bravely thrive through college has been quite the parental journey, I can tell you that. We are grateful that God granted us the means to put them through school, and that He blessed both of them with the will and determination to see themselves through the stumbles and the challenges. Now we pray He strengthens their faith to run the race before them.

Kids, we are proud of your accomplishments; of what you’ve done but even more so, of who you’ve become. What a blessing to see you find your way in life and grow into genuine, good-hearted young adults. Remember who made this possible for you. No, not us. We are merely instruments. Thank Him, through whom we can do what we do.

To Lauren and Danny, and to their classmates, we say: Congratulations! Now, go forth and make it count, and let all you do be done in love. Oh, yes, and May HIS force be with you always!    😉

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“The tassel’s worth the hassle!”
-Author Unknown

“…and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us…”
-Hebrews 12:1

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
-Philippians 4:13

Thankful Thursdays

For Friends. The old ones we’ve had in our lives forever, and the new ones we’ve managed to make old ones out of. The ones who stick through thick and thin and are always present, and the ones whose presence is felt through the distance. And let’s not forget those who God reconnects us with, always in timely fashion.

I am so blessed to have in my life friends who, through the years, have taught me about trust, compassion, acceptance, humility, forgiveness, and loyalty. For them, today and always, I am thankful.  ♥   In my Father’s house are many mansions, and I hope yours will be next to mine.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art…. It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival.”
-C.S. Lewis

“When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives mean the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a warm and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares.”
-Henri Nouwen

 

Thankful Thursdays

For Christmas Cards. This is the time of year I remind you to take a break from social media and write out…and touch someone.

The rise of social media has us posting, liking, tweeting, e-mailing, and/or texting our sentiments, in a flash. Convenient, sure, but lacks personal touch. I think the digital Christmas card is today’s scrooge.

At home, we get Christmas and holiday cards from our insurance company and from our bank and from our car dealership, and I think, “Oh okay, that’s nice,” but they don’t give me the warm fuzzies. But the ones we get from family and friends do, and those make me smile.

Taking time to sign and address a card and, even better, to write a short note inside, says you took time to think about that person, at least a little longer than it takes to click “send.” It’s a nice change to find in our mailboxes mail that is not junk or a bill (a different kind of junk). And there’s a nice warm feeling about those greeting cards that arrive via snail mail in time to decorate the mantle or wall, and to warm our hearts.

So c’mon, go retro, I challenge you to make someone pull some joy out of the mailbox. Dale.

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Stop the habit of wishful thinking and start the habit of thoughtful wishes.”
-Mary Martin

“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.”
-William Wordsworth

“The act of putting pen to paper encourages pause for thought, this in turn makes us think more deeply about life, which helps us regain our equilibrium.”
-Norbet Platt

 

Thanksgiving Thankful Thursday

That His love will always find us. Life is a hellova coaster ride, as we know, where we’re strapped in alongside the good, the bad, and the ugly. And I must say, among all of the emotions I personally experience during life’s ups and downs and crazy turnarounds, I’ve learned that the one constant is love. Love from my family and friends (those with us here and those with us in spirit) and love from God. Please, while on your own ride, open your eyes or close your eyes, don’t matter, just feel the love.

I truly believe that love will always find us in the good, the bad, and the ugly. And for that and the many blessings God has bestowed upon me, today and always, I am Thankful.

From our home to yours, a very blessed Thanksgiving to all. Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“What a grand thing, to be loved! What a grander thing still, to love!”
-Victor Hugo

“You can never run away from God’s love. No matter who you are or where you have been, God’s love will find you.”
-G. Mona

“To be grateful is to recognize the Love of God in everything He has given us – and He has given us everything. Every breath we draw is a gift of His love, every moment of existence is a grace, for it brings with it immense graces from Him. Gratitude therefore takes nothing for granted, is never unresponsive, is constantly awakening to new wonder and to praise of the goodness of God. For the grateful person knows that God is good, not by hearsay but by experience. And that is what makes all the difference.”
-Thomas Merton

Throwback Thankful Thursday

For great parents. My siblings and I were blessed with parents who loved us and guided us. Mom and Dad always put us first and sacrificed so much for us. They taught us, among many things, about respect, responsibility, faith, and loyalty. And through example, they gave us a roadmap to this highway called Life.

Dad’s been gone for quite some time, and Mom just joined him. On this Throwback Thankful Thursday, I remember them both. Gracias, Mami y Papi!

Until next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“I thank my God every time I remember you.”
-Philippians 3:1

“It is not until much later, as the skin sags and the heart weakens, that children understand; their stories, and all their accomplishments, sit atop the stories of their mothers and fathers, stones upon stones, beneath the waters of their lives.”
Mitch Albom

“Thank God for good parents who teach their children to live right and pray right and do right and to be kind to others and to forgive their enemies.”
-Anonymous

“If at first you don’t succeed, do it like your mother told you.” -Author Unknown

 

Thankful Thursdays

For November days in the 305. It’s crowded here, traffic’s a bear, people are weird, but that’s the case in most big cities. However, you can’t beat the weather in Florida, especially during this time of year. And for that, I’m thankful.

Hasta next Thursday’s post…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“I live in Florida, and when people ask how close to the beach I am, I say, ‘Twelve minutes or twelve hours. Depends on which beach you want to go to.’”
-J. Kintz

We have thousands of opportunities every day to be grateful: for having good weather, to have slept well last night, to be able to get up, to be healthy, to have enough to eat. There’s opportunity upon opportunity to be grateful; that’s what life is.
-D. Steindl-Rast

—Outside my window this a.m.—

Thankful Thursdays

For God’s saving grace. This unconditional gift sustains us, fills all our empty spaces, and gives us peace. And peace is the perfect posture I want for my soul. “But by the grace of God I am what I am.” [1 Corinthians 15:10]  No joke.

Until next Thursday’s post, friends…si Dios quiere.

What are you thankful for today?

“Peace is the number one beautiful ornament you can wear, I really believe that. They say you should always wear a smile, but I don’t believe that you should “always” wear a smile, seriously, you’re going to look stupid! But peace, you should always carry peace within you, it’s the most beautifying thing you could ever have or do. Peace makes your heart beautiful and it makes you look beautiful, too. You want to have perfect physical posture when you stand, sit, and walk, and peace is the perfect posture of the soul, really. Try perfect posture outside as well as inside. Peace creates grace and grace gives peace.”
-C.JoyBell C.

“Our worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace.”
-J. Bridges

“I am no longer anxious about anything, as I realize the Lord is able to carry out His will, and His will is mine. It makes no matter where He places me, or how. That is rather for Him to consider than for me; for in the easiest positions He must give me His grace, and in the most difficult, His grace is sufficient.”
-H. Taylor

Thankful Thursdays

Thanks for the Eulogy, Mom!  Mom’s eulogy was the result of an “epishower.” The epiphany came to me while I showered as I got ready for the services last Saturday.

Days prior to her passing, whenever I thought about what to say at Mom’s Mass, I would end up dismissing the idea because I thought, “Nah, I’m not even going to be able to get through the words anyway.” But, that day, while getting ready for the services, the thought came to me that I already had half of Mom’s eulogy ready – her own words. A lengthy talk written by her years ago which she gave at her church group about the role of grandmothers, and in which she gives advice to parents. I came out of the shower, and half dressed with hair wrapped in a towel (excuse the visual), I rushed to look for her writing. After a tense moment trying to remember where exactly I had tucked it away, I found it, and with it I sat in my family room and in just a few minutes I jotted down some thoughts. That afternoon, at the end of the Mass, when the time came for me to speak the words I was so sure I wasn’t going to be able to get through, I asked the Holy Spirit for strength, and I asked Mom to help me honor her. They each did.

Some of you who attended the Mass have told me how touched you were by the eulogy, and I thank you. I know a handful of you couldn’t understand it in full as it was mostly in Spanish. Forgive me, but Mom would’ve tugged at my hair once again (me hubiera alado el pelo de seguro) if I would’ve done it all in English. After hearing about it from others, a few of you who could not make it to the Mass have told me you wish you could’ve been there to hear it, and asked if I would share it once again, especially Mom’s words. For that reason, I share with you now Mom’s writing, in part, as read last Saturday, and the few words I jotted down that day to accompany hers:

Ante todo, gracias por acompañarnos hoy. Sé que varios lo hacen por estar aquí con nosotros, y sé que la mayoría lo hacen porque en realidad conocieron a Mami – la mujer, esposa, madre, abuela, y amiga que fue. Y el ángel que hoy es.

Una persona dedicada a su familia y amigos, y dedicada a esta parroquia – su segundo hogar – nuestro segundo hogar.

Siempre Dios en sus labios. Toda oración, toda frase, terminada con un “si Dios quiere.” Aun cuando le faltaban sus palabras hacia el final de su enfermedad, cuando solo le salía o un sí o un no, yo le decía, “Mom, nos vemos mañana,” y ella con mucho trabajo, pero me respondía, “Si Dios quiere.”

Quiero compartir con ustedes solo unas partes de una charla que ella preparo varios años atrás para dar en una reunión de su grupo de cursillos. Fue por el día de Santa Ana, ósea, el Día de las Abuelas. Después de su charla, me dio el escrito a guardar para un día cuando yo quisiera compartirlo. Lo tituló “Lo Mejor De Lo Nuestro.” Y dice en parte así:

“Para comenzar, hay que rezar y dar gracias a Dios por todo lo lindo que nos regala día a día y ensenarles a orar con palabras sencillas que ellos puedan entender. Llevarlos ante un crucifijo y mostrarles quien es “papa Dios,” cuanto él nos ama y cuanto debemos amarle a él, y al mostrárselo, decirles “él es nuestro padre del cielo,” y hablarles también de nuestra Santa Virgen Maria. Explicarles que en todo hogar donde reine Cristo hay paz y la familia vive unida por siempre.

Yo soy de las abuelas que disfruta y se esfuerza en mantener nuestras raíces. Esto conlleva esfuerzo, sacrificio y paciencia porque creo que no es solo cocinarles arroz y frijoles negros. Lo primero, hablarles en español para que conozcan y dominen el idioma de sus padres y antepasados, y contarles algo de lo nuestro.

Ahora, en otro paréntesis, me referiré a los padres de las criaturas, a los que debemos dejarles muchas responsabilidades, sobre todo en los weekenes, para que sepan valorar nuestro sacrificio y que nos consideren como personas mayores. Es muy importante que tomen la batuta y sepan lo que son “cajitas de dulce guayaba” y si usted es viejo viejo de verdad, recordará esta frase. Yo sé que tienen que trabajar pero compartir con sus hijos y darles su amor y su calor es súper importante.”

De Mami aprendí muchos dichos Cubanos. Aprendí la diferencia entre “un arroz con mango” y algo “que le ronca el mango.” Que a veces las cosas están feas y entonces “a correr liberales del perico.” Ese todavía no se bien lo quiere decir. Y si la oía decir “Que Dios nos coja confesados,” sabía que las cosas estaban mal y era hora de empezar a rezar.”

Mami terminó su charla diciendo:

“Bueno hermanos, todo en la vida tiene su recompensa y no creemos que lo mejor sea la de ganarse la lotería, porque unas sencillas palabras de agradecimiento y reconocimiento venidas de un hijo es lo más hermoso y grande que hace latir nuestro corazón de gozo.

Éstas que les voy a leer son de mi hija Connie, mi hijo Arturo, y mi hija Olguita, y me las escribieron el pasado año en el Día de las Madres.”

Mami entonces les leyó unas tarjetas que le habíamos regalado. Y así terminó su charla.

Mi hermano, Dios te bendijo a tí, a mi hermana, y a mí con excelentes padres. Ralph, Rick, Lauren, Daniel, Taylor, and Bailey, Dios los bendijo a ustedes con una gran abuela. Ella los adoraba. China, you, Zonia, Charlie, y Maria, nunca fueron cuñadas, cuñado, ni suegra. Siempre han sido para mí hermanas, hermano, y madre.

Baby, better husband, better father to our children, and better son to my mother, does not exist. Kids, you have blown me away. Your dedication, strength, and faith have blown me away. I have no doubt that because of that and in great part thanks to Abuela, you will be great parents and grandparents. The three of you are my oxygen, you know that, and I am forever grateful for the support and love you’ve always shown Mom. I love you guys.

Y ahora le decimos a ella: Mom, Abuela, te queremos, y nos vemos, “si Dios quiere.”

I’ve received so many messages from family and friends. E-mails, texts, phone calls, and voicemails, all with heartfelt sentiments. Even days later, just to check up on me. I tell you that the outpouring of love for Mom has been felt. Really felt. And I thank you all.

So, that’s it for now, until my post next Thursday, “si Dios quiere.”

What are you thankful for today?

“Very often people come to me and say: “Do you think we shall know each other in Heaven?” Very often it is a mother who has lost a dear child, and who wishes to see it again. Sometimes it is a child who has lost a mother, a father; and who wants to recognize them in Heaven. There is a verse in Scripture in answer to this, and that is: “We shall be satisfied” (Psalm 17:15). It is all I want to know. My brother who went up there the other day I shall see, because I shall be satisfied. We will see all those we loved on Earth up there, and if we loved them here, we will love them ten thousand times more when we meet them there. –Dwight L. Moody

Thankful Thursdays

That “I can do all things through Christ who strenghens me.” [Philippians 4:13]. Especially now. That, and the group hugs at home, and I’m good to go.

What are you thankful for today?

“My precious child, I love you and will never leave you.
Never, ever, during your trials and testings.
When you saw only one set of footprints,
It was then that I carried you.”

Thankful Thursdays

For Thumper…and Jose Martí. A rabbit and a poet whose words are golden. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say nothing at all.” Maybe that scene from Bambi oughta be looping online 24/7.  And Martí’s La Rosa Blanca? Well, someone please embed this poem in my mind permanently.

Most of us put our thoughts out there, in verbal form or written; and the second we do, whether intentionally or not, we solicit someone else’s point of view. As we give we shall receive, no doubt about that. This is true especially online, where we feel obligated to reply simply because we have a keyboard. And fine, we’re all entitled to our opinions. The thing is, there is no respect for them. It seems it’s only safe to express them to those we know will share a similar sentiment. Or else, be ready to waive the right to invoke Thumper’s Rule my friend, because we know chances are we’re gonna get an ear-full and it probably won’t be pretty.

Today’s discourse, sadly, has descended to gutter-level expression. Although insults and put-downs have been used for ages, they are now on steroids in this era of social media. How incredibly unfortunate that we have forgotten the impact our words have. Or is it that we just don’t care? Frankly, I’m fed up with the disrespect, aren’t you? I feel we have lost the basic regard for others that most of us were taught as children. Like the kind of values instilled in Martí’s La Rosa Blanca: to cultivate love and forgiveness for friend and foe alike.  I remember Mom reciting his words as I was growing up; their meaning so much more relevant now.

I know that biting our tongue is difficult, really I do, but I wish we would work harder at expressing our thoughts and opinions without the insults. Or, perhaps we should just zip it?

For every time You remind me, Lord, to practice Thumper’s Rule, and cultivate a “white rose,” I thank you.

What are you thankful for today?

–La Rosa Blanca–
Cultivo una rosa blanca
en julio como en enero
para el amigo sincero
que me da su mano franca.

Y para el cruel que me arranca
el corazón con que vivo,
cardo ni oruga cultivo:
cultivo la rosa blanca.
-Jose Martí

–The White Rose–
I cultivate a white rose
in July as in January
for the true friend
who offers me his loyal hand.

And for the cruel one who tears out
the heart with which I live,
I cultivate neither thistle nor thorn:
I cultivate a white rose.
-Jose Martí

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.”
Matthew 12:34

“The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place, but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment.”
Dorothy Nevill

“Words are like eggs dropped from great heights; you can no more call them back than ignore the mess they leave when they fall.”
Jodi Pucoult