31 Down…

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For the last couple of years I’ve started a personal tradition…birthday reflections.  It’s a way for me to reflect on my past year of life, and look forward to what my next 365 days will be.  New Year resolutions are such a daunting task for me, and there’s a great deal of pressure to set goals.  Being a Christmas Eve baby can at times be mentally exhausting…we are at the peak of the holiday season, which is enough craziness in itself…no wonder we only do that once a year…New Year buzz is in the air, and in the midst of it all, it’s quite refreshing to take some quiet time to reflect and appreciate how many years of life I’ve been given.

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31 has been a wonderful year for me…I gave birth to another beautiful son, the hubs and I became homeowners, and more importantly, God has opened my eyes even more to the woman He has created me to be.  Ever since I turned 30, something magical has been happening.  Confidence, acceptance, assurance…everything that I’ve tried to convince myself that I feel, but never truly felt them; until now.  I know who I am…I love the woman I’m becoming…I’m living a life for an audience of One.

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Although this past year has challenged my core, it’s strengthened me.  My faith has been tested…(actually I can’t think of a year when my faith hasn’t been tested)…I’ve had to define and prioritize relationships…did I mention I gave birth to another boy??  Yes, year 31 has been crazy, exciting, frustrating, painful, and amazing.  With 31 years down, I’m eager to see what year 32 will bring me.

P.S. The only good thing about having a Christmas Eve birthday is that America believes it’s the most wonderful time of the year. 😉

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Me vs. Ferguson…

This is the first time that I’ve addressed an issue such as this…everything on the outside tells me to keep my opinion to myself, but my insides are screaming out in disappointment and disgust of the ignorance of our society.  As a minority, a mother of two sons and a wife of an officer…a white officer to be exact…I’m put in an extremely tough position.  I’m an objective thinker, I rarely base decisions on emotion, I’m a skeptic, I’m a facts seeker…yes, these types of issues frustrate me to the core.  When my husband leaves for work I usually give him a quick hug and a kiss.  However, there are times when something in my soul urges me to give him a lengthy embrace; there is a likelihood that he will not return home to us.

Please, for one moment, look outside society’s box and take on another perspective…a perspective that may be difficult to understand, but engage with me for just a moment…

Everyday that my husband puts on his uniform he’s painted a villain simply for doing his job.  He went to hell and back in an academy, (Which is not the same for everyone hence a previous blog post I’ve written titled Whom Do You Want To Answer Your 9-1-1 Call?) took an oath to serve and protect perfect strangers, and is called a racist on a daily basis because he’s a white cop…so much so that when he hears it he just rolls his eyes and begins to articulate to said ignorant people why he stopped them.  Little do they know he comes home to a brown skinned wife and two beautiful mixed babies.  He rarely vents about it, but when he does I get upset and defensive for him.  How dare they accuse him of something he’s not just because of an assumption based on an outside appearance…you see, we all do it!  Our communities scream about injustice, yet they are committing the same injustices.  We could go back and forth and debate until we are blue in the face about this case, but at the end of the day, my husband has been drilled and trained over and over about what he needs to do to protect his community and come home to his family.  I’m not ashamed at all to say that he better use the tools in his belt that have been entrusted to him if the circumstance presents itself.  Do I want somebody to die?  Not in the least bit, and I pray constantly that it will never have to come to that.  However, I don’t want my husband to be afraid to use necessary force to defend himself because of what the public will think.

I’m not naive to think that there aren’t fishy situations and crooked systems…in this particular situation I feel that the officer did what he has been trained to do.  Why do I think that?  As stated before, I am a facts seeker and I am an objective thinker.  I don’t base decisions out of emotion.  I do agree with the majority that the incident was poorly handled and communicated, but I don’t believe the officer should be punished for doing his job.  (Just for the record, having all of our officers have body cameras will not solve the problem.  I guarantee you protesters will find something else to protest about.  It will simply be a waste of tax dollars.)  Let’s just agree to disagree…or some of you may actually agree, and to you I say thank you for thinking objectively.

To my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, let’s expend our energy in a godly way.  Sin is sin…it’s ugly and is destroying our country.  I challenge you to take a stand for Christ, and not for a judgement made by, at times, an imperfect system…the only perfect judgement will be by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He comes down to this earth to claim His bride.  God has created our differences and has asked us to love and embrace every color.  There are millions of people in our society craving for something to stand for…share the Good News with them.  Let us not forget why God put us on this earth…it is for His purpose alone!

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The Center of My Universe…

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January 3, 2004 was a monumental moment in my life.  During this time I was 21 years old, in college, dating an amazing boyfriend, and started attending an awesome new church.  New beginnings were on the horizon…it was the day the man of my dreams got down on one knee and asked me to be his wife.  I said yes, and on October 16, 2004 we both said, “I do.”  Four years later, I was taking an acting class in college…as a dancer, having to verbally “act” is somewhat torture…I muscled through it, and for our final project we had to write and perform a monologue based on a personal life experience.  Being newly married and still in bliss, I chose to write about the exact moment my boyfriend clearly became the center of my universe.

“The best decision I ever made was marrying my best friend.  He is the cream in my coffee, the wind in my sails, the jelly to my peanut butter, and the center of my universe.  He is the one that pushes me to follow my heart’s desires.  I’ll never forget the day he proposed.  We took a trip with my cousin down to Santa Barbara.  We walked along the pier at State Beach, had breakfast, went shopping, and enjoyed the cool, crisp January air.  The sun was shining on the water just right and the beach was desolate.  We decided to take a walk on the beach while my cousin conveniently disappeared.  I began to write in the sand “Nate and Gaby 4-ever”.  He motioned me to come give him a hug, and as we separated our embrace I watched him slowly bend down on one knee and open this tiny velvet box.  The sun shined brightly illuminating this gorgeous ring.  My heart started pounding, the world got quiet, and tears began rolling down my cheeks.  I couldn’t hear anything he was saying; I just saw his mouth moving.  This was the moment I had been waiting for!  As my mind started to digest what was happening I said, “Yes,” and we hugged for what felt like an eternity.  It’s been four years since that moment and our love is stronger then ever.  He is my rock, my partner in crime, my lover, and my best friend.”

Tomorrow marks our 10 year anniversary…as an 18 year old, I fell in love and never looked back.  Life has happened, but we have chosen to stick by one another even when all hope was lost.  I look into those green eyes everyday and thank God for blessing me with a phenomenal man, and allowing our love to create two beautiful children…having a man in uniform is simply an added bonus!

Happy 10th Anniversary to my one and only, and still, the center of my universe.

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Mi Casa es Su Casa…

As we received the text saying, “Congratulations!  You are on record and you officially own your home,”  I just smiled for a moment…no response, just an overwhelming realization of how good God has been to us.  Up until now, this moment felt like nothing more than a dream, a desire, a hope.  Now it is a reality.  We are homeowners!

We will be celebrating 10 years of marriage this week, and during those 10 years financial struggle became the norm.  So much so at one point we had to move in with family for about 3 1/2 years.  Year after year we could not catch a break.  We have been on the verge of getting evicted, surviving on credit cards due to lack of income, and at times, trying to survive on $20.00 a week.  Quick story…we actually laugh about it now, but this will give you an idea of how bad it actually got.  Early in our marriage Ebay was starting to get popular, so we decided to sell some of our stuff to pay off a few bills.  While digging through our closet, we found some items that would actually be worth some money.  Our feelings of relief lasted but a minute when we realized you needed .99 to open a PayPal account.  Sadly we didn’t even have a dollar to our name.

Through those times we stood firm in our faith and trusted in the Lord.  Don’t get me wrong…it was absolutely miserable, humbling, frustrating, and just down right depressing.  Yet one thing remained and that was God’s hand on us.  We stayed obedient to the Lord and continued to tithe what little we did have to our church.  There were several times we looked at each other and said, “Do we eat today or write a tithe check?”  Tithing is a principle that we strongly believe in and through it all we knew that if we just stayed faithful God would work it out in the end.  We didn’t think the end of the tunnel would be 10 years later, but in the grand scheme of things the time frame is insignificant.  What matters is that God has had favor on us and has blessed us beyond belief.  You see, when God promises to take care of us, He does just that.  It’s usually not in our timing, but knowing He has the bigger picture in mind is what gives us comfort.

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Can I get an amen?!

IF God is Real…

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Two weekends ago I attended a women’s conference at my church.  Let me just pause there for a moment and say that typically women events are not my favorite.  No offense to those who take time to organize said events…it just isn’t something I look forward to.  However, I do feel obligated to participate because I am a woman and I try to support events at my church as much as possible.  This time around I was asked to be a part of the worship portion of the conference…right away I felt that was an exciting incentive for me, yet excuse after excuse filled my brain that seemed like justifiable reasons not to attend.  Who’s going to watch my boys since the hubs works nights?  How am I going to make time to nurse my 2 month old during the conference?  I’m too tired to even think about attending band rehearsals…who’s going to watch the boys while I attend those rehearsals?  Isn’t it funny how those negative and complaining thoughts enter the brain ever so quickly?!  With that being said, I decided to ignore those thoughts and be obedient to the Lord.  There were some bumps in the road leading up to the conference, but knowing what I know, that is how it is when God is trying to expose you to something great!  I pressed forward, logistically everything worked out, and as a result my spiritual life has been shaken up and challenged.

Without going into too much detail about my past female friendships, I’ll just quickly say that they have not generally been the best.  I have been the girl who has had mostly guy friends…ever since junior high and high school I’ve had female relationships that have ended in me being hurt and filled with unnecessary drama.  Even recently, as a 30 something, I’m still being hurt by women.  It’s now clear to me that the cycle will never end…how I move on from it and how I react to it is now what matters.  I had to come to grips with the fact that as a Christian woman, a wife and a mother, it is spiritually healthy for me to have strong friendships with women.  Ultimately those are the relationships that I can have the greatest impact.  (Although, I will say that God had grace on me when he blessed me with two boys!)

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Throughout the last few years, God has placed several women in my life that have given me hope in female friendships.  There have been rough moments, as well as joyous moments, that I have had the pleasure in sharing with these women.  In the past I would have closed off in fear of being hurt, yet through marriage, childbirth, depression, anxiety, marriage trouble, and a miscarriage, these women have been there.  Whether or not I realized it at the time, they were there.  I did not not have this epiphany until I was sitting in my seat listening to Christine Caine (www.ChristineCaine.com) encouraging us women to essentially cut the crap, band together, and change the world.  (My own synopsis of course!)  Questioning why we compare each other or focus on who’s the next big thing.  I began to get chills recognizing that I was simply not trusting God.  I didn’t  have faith that He would allow me to have meaningful relationships because it was not happening in my timing.  One of the speakers of the conference said something that tied this all together for me.  “The Christian life is NOT a sprint, it’s a marathon.  Don’t look to the right or the left…run your race!”

All the times that I have been hurt has made me truly appreciate the women in my life that God has placed there.  They all are in my life for various reasons.  IF I believe in my heart of hearts that God is real, then why am I questioning His process?  “Affirmation from the world cannot mend a broken heart…do everything for an audience of one!”  There is a stirring in my heart for women…did I just say that?!  Yes!  I am not the typical woman…I am not emotional and I eat like a man…IF I believe God is real, then I have to let go of what I think I want, and let the Lord show me what He wants.

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Until We Meet Again…

Yesterday afternoon I said farewell to my grandfather. As I sat there listening to person after person reflecting on how wonderful a man my grandfather was, I began to ponder on my own memories with him…

The first 13 years of my life I was blessed to live across the street from him. He was always within arms reach…we would snuggle on the couch eating vanilla bean ice cream or peanuts while watching Walker, Texas Ranger. (Torture I know, but I was with my grandaddy so it was worth it.) He liked his coffee black and would drink out of this blue coffee mug. I was the youngest of the four grandchildren for quite a few years so I was grandaddy’s baby…this tiny little petite thing that loved nothing more than to be on his lap. My grandaddy was a runner and ran about five miles every single day. I could never keep up, so I would ride my bike alongside him. He was in great shape; so much so, that at 74 years of age he sailed through the Lake Tahoe Marathon.

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Finding out that I was pregnant with my son was one of the most exciting moments in my life. We told our family and close friends as soon as we found out. The last thing I said to my mom that night was, “It’s late, so I’ll call Grammy and Grandaddy in the morning to tell them.” That morning I received a phone call from my mom telling me that Grandaddy had a massive stroke and he’s in the ICU. I began weeping. How could this happen? He was so healthy! That past month we were just celebrating he and Grammy’s 75th birthday…we danced and laughed the whole night. I don’t understand! I didn’t get a chance to tell him I was pregnant. That was four years ago this past January. I haven’t been able to hear his voice, see him run, hear him quote scripture, tell a joke, or see his smile. All I’ve been able to do is stare into those captivating grey-blue eyes and hope he could hear me when I said, “Grandaddy, I love you”…”Grandaddy, I graduated college”…”Grandaddy, I had a healthy son named Javan and he’s perfect”…”Grandaddy, hubby’s graduating the Academy”…”Grandaddy, I’m having another baby”…”Grandaddy, I love you and I miss hearing your voice”…”Grandaddy, we had a miscarriage and I have to have surgery”…”Grandaddy, please tell my Grandpa, Uncle Jeff and my baby I said I love them.”

On April 20, 2013, he took his last breath here on this earth. As I stood there yesterday watching them lower him into the ground, all I could do was stand and accept it…all I kept saying in my head was, “Father, you won’t give us more than we can handle.” As we began the drive home I felt exhausted to the core. Hubby looked at me and said, “Wow, you held yourself together really well. I’m proud of you.” I thought to myself for a moment and realized that my grieving started four years ago. This was closure and a celebration that my grandaddy is sitting at the foot of Jesus hearing Him say, “Well done, my good and faithful servant. Welcome to your final destination.”

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The Manhunt…

In the last days I have tried to avoid what has been happening in the world.  Mainly because my mind is already at capacity with knowing the crime that happens on a daily basis; awful crimes that nobody ever hears about because it isn’t “big enough” to make the news.  Last night I was inundated with BREAKING NEWS…as I began to sit and watch, my eyes could not focus on anything but flashing lights and police everywhere with their weapons drawn.  I grabbed the remote and turned it off.  I sat still for a moment almost feeling guilty for not allowing myself to indulge in what was in front of me.  I kissed my son goodnight and said a little prayer.  Today I felt the need to know…no longer wanted to live in bliss, but desired to take a closer look at the tragedies that have been occurring.  As I dove into articles, video footage and photos my eyes filled with tears…no longer naive, but eyes wide open to this recent tragedy.  Anxiety started to creep in as my mind began to focus on the aftermath.   The aftermath of a tragedy are the moments that most people do not reflect on…but those are the moments that my mind refuses to shake.  The tragedy in itself creates enough emotional exhaustion that when it’s over we tend to force ourselves back into normalcy.  For the men and women in blue, this has turned into a manhunt.  A fearful moment for all of us that have loved ones in law enforcement.  Yes, they are trained to do this, but that doesn’t make them bulletproof.  More lives can be lost, more damage can be done…I hope and pray it’s him and not one of ours.

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My heart and prayers go out to the family of Officer Sean Collier.

“Lord I ask for courage, Courage to face and conquer my own fears…Courage to take me where others will not go…I ask for strength, Strength of body to protect others and strength of spirit to lead others…I ask for dedication, Dedication to my job, to do it well.  Dedication to my community, to keep it safe…Give me Lord, concern for others who trust me and compassion for those who need me…And please Lord…Through it all…Be by my side.”

Still Waiting…

Days have passed, life has carried on, yet in my quiet moments the pain is still present. When will I wake and not wonder, “What next?” When will I have a genuine smile? My daily tears have surpassed, but in my quiet moments they return. My sad eyes are tired…tired of worrying and wondering if this will turn serious. The lingering questions have haunted me, but I have to stay strong. Focused thoughts on being healthy physically, mentally and spiritually are keeping me whole. I desire to give life again…until then, I’m still waiting.

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“Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him.”  -Psalms 62:5

HENRY 51…

Many times I turn a blind eye when it comes to the types of calls my hubby gets dispatched to.  Not because I want to be ignorant about the true danger that he’s constantly surrounded by, but because I need to stay strong for my son and I.  Being a paranoid mess is never good for anybody.  Recently I was recommended a movie called END OF WATCH.  It was a realistic portrayal of a day in the life of LAPD’s finest.  The opening monologue was instantaneously captivating.  Within the first 10 minutes of the movie I looked over at my husband with concerned eyes because it was painfully obvious how accurate this faux documentary was.  Hands down the movie was thrilling, funny, heart-wrenching, and to us civilians, jaw-dropping.  At the end of the movie I was silent and secretly wiping away my tears as the next words I heard haunted me for the next couple of hours…”Wow, I feel like I was just at work.”  As a wife of an officer, you never desire to dwell on the dangers of the job, but in that moment, I did.  My “ignorance is bliss” motto quickly escaped me.  I became sad, fearful, concerned and slightly anxious…the same feeling I have when I hear about an officer losing his life in the line of duty.  What it did do for me was give me a new understanding and appreciation.  I now understand why he’s in certain moods throughout the day.  I understand why he has to leave his soul at home.  I understand why his tolerance for people has dwindled.  I understand why he needs a hug immediately when he gets home.  I appreciate his willingness to help strangers.  I appreciate him going out of his way to protect our community from people who should not be intermingled with society.  I appreciate his strength and composure when he gets cursed at and spit on for simply doing his job.

I now pray a different prayer and love him in a new way because I never know when our last hug goodbye will be.

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I am the police, and I’m here to arrest you. You’ve broken the law. I did not write the law. I may disagree with the law but I will enforce it. No matter how you plead, cajole, beg or attempt to stir my sympathy. Nothing you do will stop me from placing you in a steel cage with gray bars. If you run away I will chase you. If you fight me I will fight back. If you shoot at me I will shoot back. By law I am unable to walk away. I am a consequence. I am the unpaid bill. I am fate with a badge and a gun. Behind my badge is a heart like yours. I bleed, I think, I love, and yes I can be killed. And although I am but one man, I have thousands of brothers and sisters who are the same as me. They will lay down their lives for me and I them. We stand watch together. The thin-blue-line, protecting the prey from the predators, the good from the bad. We are the police.

-from End of Watch

An Unexplainable Loss…

Loneliness, confusion, heartbreak, pain…words can’t comprehend the emptiness.  A life so precious, so strong, now gone.  Searching for answers are constant…I try to turn it off, but the thoughts keep me up at night.  I wake and embrace quickly to realize the physical change has now ended.  The emptiness creeps back in and no words can explain the pain.  My mind still in shock, yet my heart understands.  “What now?”…is the question that haunts me.  Finding normalcy feels almost unattainable for I will never be the same again…my normalcy has to be re-created.  Just when all hope is lost I find rest in Him. Like a precious life finds comfort in the arms of a mother, there is comfort in Him.  Tiny heartbeat once so strong is now gone…my hope is that we will meet again.       -me

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