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

When The Whole World Sings

A commercial jingle of the 1970s inspired a generation. Created as part of Coca Cola’s “The Real Thing” ad campaign, a British group called The New Seekers eventually sang it as a full-length song that climbed to the top of music charts around the world. But many will never forget the original television version sung by young people on a hilltop outside of Rome. Whimsical as it was, with visions of honeybees and fruit trees, we resonated with a songwriter’s desire to teach the world to sing with the heart and harmony of love.

The apostle John describes something like that idealized dream, only vastly greater. He envisioned a song sung by “every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them” (Revelation 5:13). There’s nothing whimsical about this anthem. Nothing could be more realistic than the price paid by the One to whom this song is sung. Neither could there be anything more foreboding than the visions of war, death, and consequence that His sacrifice of love would have to overcome.

Yet this is what it took for the Lamb of God to bear our sin and defeat death, overcome our fear of death, and teach all heaven and earth to sing—in perfect harmony.

Reflect: What gives you cause to sing? What happens to your heart and mind when you embrace John’s vision of every created being singing in united praise of the Lamb and His love?

Pray: Father in heaven, please help me to sense the wonder of what You’ve done to give me a song that can be sung in joy by everyone and every living creature.

50 YEARS OF FLAVOR

She has always been a hard worker, protective and dedicated

numerous achievements, award winner-highly educated.

Willing to fight for what she believes in healing pain through her truths

energy radiates when she enters-that strength you sense, IS the root.

Loving, care-free, ready to dance in any & every city

A two-step is not enough- she’ll gladly give you FIFTY!

Happy Birthday Momma! You always have & you always will be the person in my life who inspires me the most. You give me confidence to be myself, you’ve never been afraid to ask for help & you treat every situation/opportunity as a learning experience. You are truly special & I’m blessed to be cut from your cloth. I love you.

IF

Another childhood favorite I want to share. Many may recognize the name from his short stories, poetry or the Jungle Book Movies

Joseph Rudyard Kipling was an English novelist, short-story writer, poet and journalist. Born in British India which inspired most of his work. December 30, 1865-January 18, 1936.

If you can keep your head when all about you   

    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

    But make allowance for their doubting too;   

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   

    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

    And treat those two impostors just the same;   

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

    And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   

    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,

If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

    If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   

    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

The Measure of a Man

Not- How did he die? But- How
          did he live?
Not- What did he gain? But- what
           did he give?

These are the things that 
    measure the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of
              birth.

Not- What was his situation? But-
       had he a heart?
And- How did he play his God-
          given part?

Was he ever ready with a word of
          good cheer?
To bring back a smile, to banish a 
               tear?

Not- What was his church? Not-
       What was his creed?
 But- Had he befriended those
         really in need?

Not-What did the sketch in the
       newspaper say?
But- How many were sorry when
        he passed away?

These are the things that measure
             the worth
Of a man as a man, regardless of
              birth.

(Author Unknown)

Note: I've come across this several times over the years, but never gave it much thought until recently when I saw it again. While trying to find the author and recall where I've seen it, several different versions came up. If anyone has any knowledge or feedback on this, I would greatly appreciate it.