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

Thankful Thursdays

For what fuels our hope. My heart, like yours I’m sure, sinks every time a senseless, deadly act happens. Today it aches for those lost, and those who lost a loved one at the hands of this latest madman. Ugh, these things just chip away at my hope for a better world. But, this evil we saw on Sunday was confronted by the best of humanity, heroically. And there’s no better fuel for hope than that.

For the best of humanity, and for every second of every day that God protects us, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

“Heroes may not be braver than anyone else. They’re just braver 5 minutes longer.”
-Ronald Reagan

“When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a time, they can seem invincible, but in the end, they always fall. Think of it–always.”
-Mahatma Gandhi

“Bran thought about it. ‘Can a man still be brave if he’s afraid?’ ‘That is the only time a man can be brave,’ his father told him.”
-George R.R. Martin, Game of Thrones 



Thankful Thursdays

For honor, gratitude, and a little common sense. We can protest all we want. We certainly live in the right country for that. I wish, however, a different form of solidarity would have been chosen for these days’ renewed and most passionate protest, because this one really has me baffled. It’s even, I think, doing more harm than good for its cause, as it is often the case with controversial methods. It’s difficult, you know, to hear the message when the delivery is objectionable and/or offensive. And this one’s carrying so much passion on both sides, that now words have turned nasty. That’s why some are finding it challenging to demand respect for this country’s symbols, when respect for each other has gone out the window. What a dilemma!

For me, this particular predicament is not about political parties, or sports, or, even less, about presidents. It’s about honor and gratitude, and a little common sense. Maybe because my family and I fled from an oppressive communist regime and I grew up seeing that this country’s flag and anthem meant more than freedom. They meant life. And so I grew up learning for what to stand, and for Whom to kneel. And today, for that, I’m thankful.

Whatever your stance, what are you thankful for today?

“It’s important the people should know what you stand for. It’s equally important that they know what you won’t stand for.”
-M.H. Waldrip

“The will of God prevails. In great contests each party claims to act in accordance with the will of God. Both *may* be, and one *must* be, wrong. God cannot be *for* and *against* the same thing at the same time. In the present civil war it is quite possible that God’s purpose is something different from the purpose of either party – and yet the human instrumentalities, working just as they do, are of the best adaption to effect His purpose.”
-Abraham Lincoln

What is the essence of America?  Finding and maintaining that perfect, delicate balance between freedom “to” and freedom “from.” 
– M. vos Savant

“America is a tune. It must be sung together.”
-G.S. Lee


Thankful Thursdays

For electricity, ice, and lighted mirrors. Rough couple of weeks for many of us. But now, as normalcy has begun for most of us, we are reminded of how blessed we are to have some of the things we so often take for granted. I must say, these last few days, I was taken back to my missionary work days. It felt D.R.-hot! ¡Qué calor!  Even the ice, when we found some, was melting at warp speed. I don’t know about you, but for some reason, getting power back this time around felt more joyous than when we got it back after two and a half weeks without it post Andrew. I guess I’ve had more years to get even more spoiled. I was even happy to switch on that dreadful lighted makeup mirror that never lies. It meant we had electricity! So, rough days, yes, but not nearly as difficult as for those who have been devastated by these storms and this earthquake. Prayers continue for them.

Meanwhile, thank heavens for family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, who kept us sane. My friends and family, Mother Nature tests us, human nature prevails. And for that, most of all, I am thankful.

What are you thankful for today?

“It is to the credit of human nature, that, except where its selfishness is brought into play, it loves more readily than it hates.”
-N. Hawthorne

“Normal day, let me be aware of the treasure you are. Let me learn from you, love you, bless you before you depart. Let me not pass you by in quest of some rare and perfect tomorrow. Let me hold you while I may, for it may not always be so. One day I shall dig my nails into the earth, or bury my face in the pillow, or stretch myself taut, or raise my hands to the sky and want, more than all the world, your return.”
-M.J. Irion

Thankful Thursdays

Feeling very fortunate after that mad storm! We still don’t have power and the inconveniences have been many, but we are safe and sound. Neighbors, family, and friends, all coming together to lend a helping hand. How awesome to experience that.

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those who were not as fortunate. The road ahead will be tough, but God will give them strength.

We are very grateful to our kids for their help with the clean-up, which has been quite a project, and also with taking care of their Abuela. Perez Team rocks!

Stay strong, Floridians!

What are you thankful for today?

“One of the most important things you can do on this earth is to let people know they are not alone.”
-S.L. Alder

Thankful Thursdays

Coming at you late this morning, as we prepare for and deal with this little interruption called Hurricane Irma. Grateful to have one another to lean on while we weather this storm. And thanking God, in advance, for watching over us before, during, and after this hurricane. Stay safe everybody!

What are you thankful for today?

“Whether the weather be fine
Or whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold
Or whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather
Whatever the weather,
Whether we like it or not.”

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
Jeremiah 29:11

“You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.”
Thomas Merton

rainbow over ocean