Quality Time with My Family

Recently my son and daughter-in-law decided to start hosting game night at their home as a way to spend time together since all of our workloads haven’t allowed for many opportunities to catch up with one another. I’m excited because it not only allows me to see my grandchildren more, but my son is also the one who can always lift my spirits and make me laugh until it hurts. Although I’m glad he’s left the nest, I still miss his company. This quality time allows me to become more acquainted with my daughter-in-law as well as her family members.

The first game night was a blast! For me, it was emotional and exhausting all in one. I’d forgotten how much fun my children and I used to have when it was only us in the home. The daughter-in-law blended smoothly into the mix. It was a pleasure to see a side of her I’d yet to witness. The plan initially was to start with a game of dominoes; however, since none of us had played in a while, there were minor details regarding the rules some couldn’t agree on, lol. So instead, we began with something that was new to all of us. Unfortunately for this first gathering the only one’s present were my son and his wife, my daughter and of course myself. We started with a game titled “Do you Know Me”, which was a great since the idea was for us all to re-connect since the pandemic began along with all the other changes over the last few years. This is a card game where basically each player pulls cards with various questions along with a series of cards that read “yes” and “no”. One card of each based on the number of people playing the game. There are also blank cards for the option to create a question of your choice which proved to be very interesting. Initially, I figured the game may possibly be unfair to my daughter-in-law, thinking my kids and I (for the most part) knew the answers in regard to one another, but once again, a lot of time has passed and with that time also came much change for us all. Aside from that, I was a bit off with anticipating what the cards would say.

Next, we played a drawing game that from what I understand has been popular lately on social media. Each of us have a blank sheet of paper with one person standing behind the other. Every person has their eyes closed with the exception of the very last person. The person at the front of the line uses the wall as a platform to draw what they think the “feel” the person behind then who’s using their back as the drawing platform. The key is to firmly press the tool used for drawing against their back so they can feel the direction of the markings being made while attempting to draw the same pattern. This was a challenge considering my son stands over 6ft and my daughter barely 5ft. After 2-3 minutes everyone opens their eyes to see how close in comparison the drawings are. The goal is to discover how accurate one can “feel” the pattern of what the person behind them is. Each person rotates until all participants have drawn in each order from first in line to being in the very back of the line. This was hilarious to discover how rare any of our drawing turned out to be similar or even close in comparison to another person in the line. After discussing it, we found it the reason was mainly due to not “feeling” what the person was drawing, but more so trying to think like the person and guess what they would draw. The outcome was fun and brought us closer together sharing a great laugh.

Although I try my best not to, it’s hard to resist pleading with my son to sing for me EVERYTIME I see him. When he sings, his voice takes me to a place of peace that I can’t seem to find anywhere else. To my surprise he ended the night by not only adding a bit of karaoke, but before long we were all joining in. Ok, I tried to sing but we know I can’t, lol. I love when my children sing together and put on a show, but who knew the daughter-in-law could also hold a tune. The love and passion for music that my children have always had motivates them to listen to and enjoy all genres of music. In my son’s excitement, he made a wager very confident that I didn’t know a particular song he anxiously waited until the end of the night to sing for me. I was nervous until I heart the first few very distinct notes of the song as I hid my grin. I’m almost sure I’ve had to mention it at some point before now, maybe he forgot. A-Ha’s Take on Me, one of my many fav’s growing up, mainly due to the video. He was in shock! The bet was, he now has to sing for me every time we see each other. Had I lost, I’d be making lasagna and a few of his other favorite meals to bring to game night from now on.

Thankful For Monday

A person can do nothing better than to

…. find satisfaction in their own toil.

Ecclesiastes 2:24

I used to dread Mondays. Sometimes, when I got off the train to head to a previous job, I’d sit at the station for a while, trying to delay reaching the building, if only for a few minutes. My heart would beat fast as I worried over meeting the deadlines and managing the moods of a temperamental boss.

For some of us, it can be especially difficult to start another dreary workweek. We may be feeling overwhelmed or underappreciated in our job. King Solomon described the toil of work when he wrote: “What do people get for all the toil and anxious striving with which they labor under the sun? All their days their work is grief and pain” (Ecclesiastes 2:22–23).

While the wise king didn’t give us a panacea for making work less stressful or more rewarding, he did offer us a change in perspective. No matter how difficult our work is, he encourages us to “find satisfaction” in it with God’s help (v. 24). Perhaps it will come as the Holy Spirit enables us to display Christlike character. Or as we hear from someone who’s been blessed through our service. Or as we remember the wisdom God provided to deal with a difficult situation. Though our work may be difficult, our faithful God is there with us. His presence and power can light up even gloomy days. With His help, we can be thankful for Monday.

Reflect: What gives you the Monday blues? How will you lean on God’s help to find satisfaction in your work today?

Pray: Faithful God, help me to see the good You’re enabling me to accomplish through my work today!

Of All the Gifts…

Years ago, while enrolled in a “college success” course, the professor asked us to write our eulogies based on what we think our loved ones would say after transitioning. Instantly I became overwhelmed with anxiety by the thought of regardless of who spoke at my funeral, the only memorable events people seemed to always recall were those that involved me in a physical altercation. My main concern was that my brother would be the ringleader in rehashing those moments I’ve never been proud of nor considered humorous. I’ve always said (even before this assignment) that I don’t want a funeral. I’m not fearful of death, it’s simply that when my time does come, I don’t see any reason for people gathering to say goodbye when many didn’t bother to say hello. Thankfully though, my brother assured me along with a giggle as if my concerns about what he’d say when my time does come were absolutely ridiculous, that he wouldn’t dare speak of those encounters. I beg to differ since he is in fact the jokester of the family. Although he did compliment me by acknowledging my growth over the years and recognizing the many positive aspects of my life to reflect on.

That day in class caused me to reflect on my choices and decisions during my earlier years. One day while teaching my oldest grandson who was only 3 at the time, how to ride a bike, I realized I was responsible for so much more than what I give while I’m still here. Quality time, laughable moments, great memories and lessons learned are all valuable; however, to me what’s just as important consists of the traditions and the overall lasting impacts of my faith and character. These are the gifts of my legacy I want to one day pass on to my children and grandchildren in hopes that they will keep the stories of our family alive as well as thrive in their own endeavors, becoming trailblazers for future generations.

Over the years my children have watched me continue to get back up, regardless of how many times I’ve fallen. We’ve openly discussed difficult lessons learned due to making bad choices which on occasion led to unpleasant consequences. They eventually came to understand why it has been vital to arm myself with knowledge and faith by reading and listening to prepare for whatever life throws at me. I may not have won every battle, but I felt equipped at the very least mentally with having the right mindset in handling situations as opposed to giving up or giving in to sinful temptations. Some of those battles include not burning bridges yet able to have a positive attitude knowing it’s ok when someone walks out of our lives. Accountability and keeping your word are major attributes in my opinion. There was a time when all I had was my word to live on. Knowing how to improvise and account for variables is important. There are always unexpected twists in life. The law of averages will always kick in as well. If you put in the time in effort, eventually it will pay off. Never be too proud. If I’m mucking stalls, at least I’m earning wages until something better comes along. Everyone will need help at some point. There’s not much I’ve if anything, I’ve accomplished “all by myself”. Somehow, somewhere, someone opened a door for me. They may have told me about a job, even something seemingly small like offering a pen to fill out that application when mine ran out of ink. Maybe it was a prayer or good advice to help get to the next stage. Pick and choose battles wisely, but don’t be a doormat. The list goes on of course. The light bulb clicks at different times for different people and the lessons never cease. I too am still learning, yet of all the gifts I’ve given my children and grandchildren, these are the ones to cherish.

Using What God Gave You

As many of you may recall from a previous post, I had been reading The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren. I’ll admit, while it was supposed to be a 40-day read, it took me a bit longer. I didn’t want to rush through it, but actually take notes, study, reflect as well as memorize scriptures. This was a fascinating read and I’ve learned so much. Although certain aspects of the book were stressful, I knew that I was simply being tested because as a whole, it provided confirmation that I’ve been on the right path. I clearly also recognized areas I need to work on. The title above is from chapter 32 which truly stood out for me so I’m sharing the scripture below. I will likely be sharing more of my experiences from the book in future post as I now take my time with dissecting what I’ve learned.

In another post I wrote titled https://5thgenerationgirl.blog/2021/07/18/we-all-have-a-gift/ that was inspired after my mother questioned whether or not she possessed any gifts or talents, this message was refreshing. I wasn’t aware of this scripture then and couldn’t wait to share it with her after coming across it in the book.

                  Since we find ourselves fashioned into
                all these excellently formed and marvelously
              functioning parts in Christ's Body, let's just
                 go ahead and be what we were made to be
                           Romans 12:5 (Msg) 

                    What you are is God's gift to you,
                What you do with yourself is your gift to God 
                          (Danish proverb)   

With Open Arms

My dearest daughter, in 30 years not a day has gone by without you on my mind. Some days are consumed with thoughts of regret, constantly questioning whether or not I made the right decision. Every day I pray that you are well and will eventually come to forgive me. My hope is that through your forgiveness, it will relinquish at the very least some of the pain I caused you if not all when we last saw each other. I’d like you to know that being a mother has always been my most cherished position in life and although I didn’t raise you, you have always been and will always be very much a huge part of me. My heart is filled with just as much love for you as it is for your sister and brother. I love you and will continue to reach out to you regardless of how long it takes. Know that I will not give up on you!

As you may already be aware, I recently communicated with your husband after he contacted me via messenger. To my surprise, especially after all the wonderfully conversations him and I had in the past, this time he was extremely vile. I wasn’t bothered much by his comments because I understood that he was simply trying to support you as he explained you both are in the process of rebuilding your lives after what your adoptive mother did to you. His frustrations may have been justified but certainly not his attempt at verbally abusing me. I will not tolerate disrespect as you are well aware of considering that is partially the reason we’re here now. When he and I used to talk, in a sense for me it was a way of feeling closer to you. I’d always hope that eventually you would hop on the other end of the phone. Apparently, you simply weren’t ready, and I completely understand.

The thing is, it finally occurred to me that it may not have been the best idea in communicating with your husband. What he shared about your feelings and emotions can’t candidly or accurately be expressed through someone else. It would be as if someone writing this for me and only think they know what’s in my heart. The conversation that needs to be had should be between you and me. Even as I write this, I’m having trouble finding the right words with wanting you to know that I AM SORRY! I apologize for everything from the beginning with my decision to let you go as well as our encounter when you came to visit years ago. Once I finally gained the courage to share that I have another daughter, people always asked “why did I put you up for adoption”. Although my reasons and fears were valid during that traumatic time, in my heart and mind; now playing it back, no answer ever seems to be the right one or a justifiable reason for such a major decision. Therefore, I find myself stuck in this constant tug-of-war with my emotions and can only imagine what you must be experiencing. I can’t change the past, but while I’m still here on this earth, I’d love the opportunity to be of support to you, perhaps even one day still be a mother. I’d appreciate the chance to do whatever I can to make things right between us and show you that I love you unconditionally. Whenever you are ready, however long it takes, always know that I will be waiting with open arms.

Love always,

mommy

The Story Isn’t Over

(From September 23, 2022)

When British drama Line of Duty concluded, record numbers watched to see how its fight against organized crime would end. But many viewers were left disappointed when the finale implied that evil would ultimately win. “I wanted the bad guys brought to justice,” one fan said. “We needed that moral ending.

Sociologist Peter Berger once noted that we hunger for hope and justice—hope that evil will one day be overcome and that those who caused it will be made to face their crimes. A world where the bad guys win goes against how we know the world should work. Without probably realizing it, those disappointed fans were expressing humanity’s deep longing for the world to be made right again.

In the Lord’s Prayer, Jesus is realistic about evil. It exists not only between us, requiring forgiveness (Matthew 6:12), but on a grand scale, requiring deliverance (v. 13). This realism, however, is matched with hope. There’s a place where evil doesn’t exist—heaven—and that heavenly kingdom is coming to earth (v. 10). One day God’s justice will be complete, His “moral ending” will come, and evil will be banished for good (Revelation 21:4)

So, when the real-life bad guys win and disappointment sets in, let’s remember this: until God’s will is done “on earth as it is in heaven,” there is always hope—because the story isn’t over.

Reflect: Why do you think we hunger for hope and justice? How can praying the Lord’s Prayer help you face evil and disappointment?

Pray: Heavenly Father, may Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven!

Birthday Shenanigan’s Wrap Up!

Started off with some shopping

Week 1: Tried some new local restaurants

Dinner, pool & cocktails

Actual B-day Week 2: Bowling with my babies, friends & met my new grandson!

Week 3: Ladies Night

Week 3: I’ll spare y’all the photos, lol

Week 4: Alive after 5 Cruise with the ladies around American River!

Turning 50 has been a blessing and I am truly humble in looking back at all I’ve overcome to where I am now. I didn’t have anything planned for my birthday this year and my children surprised me with a party at the bowling alley, a place that holds a lot of great childhood memories when my parents bowled on a league there. Because I had been so focused during the pandemic with figuring out how I would earn a living since being denied three times for Social Security; even though I earned more than my share of credits years ago to qualify, I hadn’t ventured out much or had any real fun. So, I wanted to do something, anything, every weekend the month of September to celebrate my day and relax my mind off all the information I’ve learned since the start of the pandemic. Things just kind of happened, one invite after another led to a full month of fun and shenanigans. My first time on a yacht and I was a bit nervous being on the top level whenever it would sway, or someone would stand too close to the edge trying to snap photos. It turned out to be a fabulous experience. The DJ was amazing with all the old school jams and interacting with the ladies, I am so thankful! I tried to upload videos for you all to view the scenery and see me on the dance floor again, but for some reason we couldn’t get them to upload. Thank you all for the previous birthday wishes, I’m optimistic about the future and reaching beyond the stars. Until next week, take care & God Bless you all!

Learning and Loving

At a primary school in Greenock, Scotland, three teachers on maternity leave brought their babies to school every two weeks to interact with schoolchildren. Playtime with babies teaches children empathy, or care in feeling for others. Often, the most receptive are the students who are “a little challenging,” as one teacher put it. “It’s often [schoolchildren] who interact more on a one-to -one level.” They learn “how much hard work it is to take care of a child,” and “more about each other’s feelings as well.”

Learning from an infant to care about others isn’t a new idea to believers in Jesus. We know the One who came as the baby Jesus. His birth changed everything we understand about caring relationships. The first to learn of Christ’s birth were shepherds, a humble profession involving care of weak and vulnerable sheep. Later, when children were brought to Jesus, He corrected disciples who thought children unworthy. “Let the little children come to me,” he said “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as theses” (Mark 10:14).

Jesus “took the children in his arms, placed his hands on them and blessed them” (v.16). In our own lives, as His sometimes “challenging” children, we could be considered unworthy too. Instead, as the One who came as a child, Christ accepts us with His love-thereby teaching us the caring power of loving babies and all people. (By: Particia Raybon)

Reflect: What do you enjoy about spending time with children? What is Jesus teaching you today about how to love and care for others?

Pray: Our caring God, when I forget to show empathy for others, help me to care as You would.

Dave’s Blessing

Many of you are already aware from previous post of my time of employment as a manager at Taco Bell some thirty or so years ago. Although this was not my experience, I recall a time when people who worked in the fast-food industry were deemed as less than. However, of all the jobs I’ve held over the years, Taco Bell was indeed my favorite and for various reasons. One main reason was some of the unique customers I encountered. On occasion people would come in like Tina Macuha, one of our local news anchors from Good Day Sacramento. Then there were the regulars who came in, like Dave. During my time at Taco Bell, I’d been employed at two different locations. Both were on Folsom Blvd. which stretches several miles through Sacramento into other nearby cities. Neither of those locations are still there today, but because Folsom is one of the city’s major streets; you can find several taco bell restaurants while traveling this particular boulevard. To my surprise while out running errands one day nearly 7 years ago also feeling defeated, I saw a familiar face and suddenly my mood changed from wanting to give up, to becoming overwhelmed with hope once recognizing it was Dave.

What’s so special about Dave? Well, I recently found out a few weeks ago after seeing him again and finally gaining the courage to engage in a conversation with him. When he came into taco bell all those years ago, I knew there was something different about Dave. There were no obvious physical challenges and like back then, he still walks and takes the city train everywhere. He rarely made eye contact with the restaurant employees, and never with other customers nor people on the street. Dave seemingly always walked with his head down, but never appeared to be sad yet simply didn’t care to engage. He speaks clearly; however, extremely loud and a bit exaggerated with each word. Because there were no obvious signs, I came to the conclusion that he was shy and very reserved. With that conclusion and without realizing it, to an extent I’d become Dave’s protector back then and now, which was part of my excitement when seeing him again after all these years, alive and well. I never really spoke of Dave to anyone other than my children or other former taco bell employees I’d encounter from time to time, none of whom remembered Dave. He visited the taco bell the same time Monday through Friday, so I’d have his favorite table by the window cleaned and always prepared his order myself; 3 bean burritos no red sauce and a medium drink. Aside from taking his order and saying “hi Dave” over the years when seeing him in passing, (always within the same 2-mile radius), Dave and I had never had a conversation until recently.

The difference this time was first my shock to see him in my neighborhood, nowhere near Folsom Blvd. It has always been a pleasure to see him and as usual, I smiled to say hello. By the way, with all our encounters even since the taco bell days, he seems to not remember me at all, but I’m not certain. On this day, it so happens that Dave and I were standing across from yet another taco bell while waiting for the train. I asked if he went there to eat and he responded with disgust, “no, no, no” I would never eat there”. I wasn’t surprised because nor would I at that particular location. As the train approached, I said bye thinking he was boarding the first cart but to my surprise, not only did he join me on the same cart, but he also sat directly across from me. I took advantage of the opportunity in getting to know him better. I learned that Dave, who looks the same as he did all those years ago, is 68 years old, wow! I was amazed, thinking in that moment he was no more than 45ish. His wardrobe was consistent, plain jeans, button down short sleeve stripped shirt and still sporting the same short cut with his extreme pearly white hair. Dave struggles with mental health challenges and lives with a brother and their father. Whenever his current taco bell location closes for business, he finds a new one to frequent, still on Folsom Blvd. I’d always been hesitant to spark a conversation with Dave for fear of invading his space, I never want to push or trigger him. This time though, he initiated the conversation, I simply followed his pace and to my surprise he was very open.

All these years I’d worry about Dave and pray mainly that no one bothers him while he’s out walking around and wondering if he had any support or if he was alone. The questions in my head regarding him were never ending. Once we arrived at his destination before exiting, Dave gave me the tightest hug and said, “God bless you always”! Stunned, I broke down in tears. The people sitting in ear shot of our interaction during the ride had looks of confusion on their faces, some smiling in awe and in that moment, I realized while always thinking that “I” had been the one looking out for Dave, he had actually been helping me. Even when he used to come into taco bell sometimes on my hardest days, seeing him helped me strive to get through the day. His presence had a way of changing my attitude for the better. As it turns out, Dave wasn’t necessarily the one who needed blessings, he was/is a blessing. Whenever I see him now, the following word comes to mind:

Beatitude: The noun refers to a state of great joy. / Supreme blessedness. “The expression of beatitude the religious sometimes adopt”

literal meaning: a state of utmost bliss