Great mothers and husbands :)

I promised my lovely daughter Adina I'd bring gratitude mondays and prayer fridays back. I definitely need to bring gratitude mondays back... I'm in desperate need of the transforming power of gratitude in my heart to learn patience and perseverance on things that have been happening in my life. Due to the fact that I didn't do a gratitude monday this week I'll be posting it here along with prayer friday.
So here we go again.

*565 Feeling great at our new youth group that will soon have another baby in the mix.
*567 Super excited about the professionals youth church and getting there more.
*568 Can't wait to see my mom next month on July 10.
*569 Speaking of which, super duper grateful my mom is turning a year older today.
*570 Grateful with God for giving my mom another year and for letting her enjoy her birthday with my sister in Panama.

*571 Grateful for July to get here to celebrate three years of marriage the day Emmalee turns 7 months of age.
*572 Happy to watch Emmalee grow and develop. She is so funny trying to crawl.
*573 Thankful for the awesome worship time last Wednesday that was much needed for some brokeness and praise to You.
*574 Grateful for friends that remain through the years and whose friendship only get better with time.
*575 Grateful for Luis Andre's birth and that his mommy is also doing good. Thank You that we were able to visit him on his first day on earth on his own.
*576 Grateful for Abi's birth and how much she is making us learn and come together in faith.
*577 Grateful for Abi's parents and their amazing example (Read more of them here.)
*578 Grateful for Terry and Lanky's first encounters with Emmalee. They are so respectful of her and her space. I love my dogs.
*579 Grateful for a patio much improved after much hard work. Grateful for the work still needed for it to be done and for the strength, will, and health to do it.
*580 Grateful that my lactancy hour is over. It was good while it lasted and much appreciated.
*581 Grateful for losing weight! It's a long journey ahead to be in an ideal weight for my next pregnancy, but eating well no longer feels like a sacrifice.
*582 Grateful for understanding and loving husbands, for me and my friends (especially my pregnant friends)
*583 Grateful for Gaby and Gaby's pregnancies. Praying the pregnancies can go with the least discomfort.
*584 Blessed to be surrounded by women who love and fear the Lord and are everyday closer to being like You.
*585 Thank You for letting us share time with the Millers. I loved watching Kristine as a mother and realize our lives have changed so much with being parents we spent almost three hours speaking of babies.

Dear Father,
I am blessed beyond Your grace. You are just to good to me, as You are with all Your children. This is something You have been teaching me. In a personal level, You have taught me Your goodness and mercy with how normal and "easy" my pregnancy was and how healthy and perfect Emmalee is. Thank You because You have been showing Your goodness, faithfulness, and care for  my dear friends and their baby girl's heart condition and with my dear friend Gaby and her delicate pregnancy. Father, You are shaping these dear brothers and sisters of mine into faith warriors and fierce lovers of You that I want to immitate. I pray that my dear friends find the correct doctors and financial resources to do Abi's first surgery and the consequent surgery as well. Give the baby girl strength and health to go through the surgeries with no complications or risks. Let our hearts be resting in You and constantly praying for You to show Yourself to us through these times. I pray that Gaby may soon be freed from her bed rest without any abortion threats. Let that baby form perfectly inside her and that we may gaze into those eyes soon. And, because You are a Father that listens to Your children, can we be picky and ask You that the baby be a girl? We want a girl, but we would also love a boy. We just want that baby here with us. Let us join not only in prayer but in action to be there for them as Your hands and feet. Thank You for all You've been teaching me through these amazing mothers and fathers. Thank You that these two fathers are also wonderful husbands that care for their wives and children and are their wives strength, calm, and support. Thank You for my man and for him being all of this for us. I pray that all my girlfriends know the joy of being marry to such men. I pray that all my male friends are/become such men for their wives. Let us grow as a church and as Your body in strong families that seek You wholeheartedly. That we may be a strong generation that seeks to honor You with our lives. Let us not put our eyes in this world but in what brings You glory. Let our hearts not covet earthly posessions and experiences and replace what You have called us to be and live for them. Keep moving us towards You and daily transforming our hearts to be more like You.
Thank You because You gave me the best mom I could need and thank You for giving her another year of life. Give her a great day next to my sister.
I Love You


Other's Faith

One thing motherhood has done in me is make me more sensitive.
Everything makes me cry. From hearing Dumbo's "baby of mine" to any sad story I hear, I'm in tears in no second. 
It is no news for anyone who frequents this learning place of mine that I struggle with disbelief. 
It was hard for to believe everything was going to be fine with my pregnancy, birthing, and child. 
Everything did go fine with my pregnancy, birthing, and child.
Recently, I have stumbled on the web on stories of parents who tell a different story. 
Stories like Lacey and Christian's story and Eliot Mooney's story have made me cry and reflect on my blessings and on the power of their faith. 

I didn't think I would have friends amongst me in a similar situation. 
The dear friend for whom we hosted the baby shower mentioned here had her baby girl three weeks ago. 
Her baby was diagnosed with a heart condition that will require her to have heart surgery at 3 months and at 6 or 8 months. 

When I heard of the struggle my friends were going through I thought how I would handle it if it were me. 
The first thing that came to my mind was that I would never sleep watching her like a hawk 24/7. I was like this with Emmalee even though she had been born with good health. I would not sleep checking on her constantly always fearing that SIDS would take her. You have heard of my husband's help in my learning to wait and rest in the Lord. 

We visited our friends and their baby girl last Sunday. I wanted to take her some of the breastfeeding and baby stuff that were to help mommy. Boy did we leave there feeling uplifted! It's those kind of situations were you are supposed to be the one to offer encouragement and support and leave having been encouraged and supported yourself instead. It is in those situation where you can see God's joy beyond reason and His work at hand. 

The baby's father began explaining to us his daughter's condition and the surgeries she needs. He talked so calmly. His calm was contagious. I'm sure his wife has been basking in that calmness and taking strength from it. He told us of how he was grateful they were going through this situation because he could see the work God was doing in his family, in his wife's family, and in their home; see how it was bringing them closer together and bringing hearts closer to God. 

"I had never experienced a situation in my life were my faith was truly tested," he said, "so I want to stand firm in God's goodness and His provision for us. I tell my wife to enjoy her daughter, because we don't know how long she will be with us." Wow, just writing his words down makes my eyes watery. What an amazing man of faith!

I remember when I was pregnant people would always tell me they prayed God would give me a healthy baby. I was showered so powerfully by prayer I felt love and kindredness by people miles away (my mom had a praying campaign on Panama) But I remember once telling God that I wouldn't mind if my baby wasn't healthy as long as it was alive and by my side. God's goodness is in giving and in taking, but He cares about the "blessed be His name" part. I don't know if I would have a "blessing-God's-name-amidst-tribulation" testimony, especially seeing how in my non-tribulation I fail to trust Him wholeheartedly. 

When I saw my friend holding her baby girl carrying a huge smile on her face I did my best to hold my tears. Her smile was not a smile put on for us; it was smile put on her by God and you could feel it. The baby woke up and opened her eyes at the sound of Emmalee's babbling. She looked more alert than most newborns, more than Emmalee did at her age. We shared breastfeeding and birthing stories and laughed at Emmalee's now loud babbling asking for attention. Emmalee was getting tired so we said our goodbye's.

My husband and I entered and we both looked at each other in amazement. "What a great example they are," my husband said. "I know. I feel they did more for us than we did for them." I replied. And they surely did. I think of them constantly, more than they will ever know. They are in my prayers and in my heart all day. The sensitivity motherhood has brought upon me has made me become better at praying for others. 
I don't want my sensitivity make me into an unbeliever. I want, like they do, see God's glory in everything that happens even if we wished it would go away and the power of God's work in the lives of everyone around us. I want my faith be contagious to others like theirs has changed me, like Eliot and his parents and Lacey and Christian have impacted my life and the life of millions. I want to enjoy Emmalee growing up under God's wings, not under mommy's.

Thank You for my friend's lives. Thank You for teaching us through them. Help them, Father. Let us all be joined in prayer for their baby's upcoming surgeries, for the provision for such surgeries, for the doctors, for the place they'll do the surgeries (they will need to travel to a different country), for strength and joy for her parents. That little baby girl has already brought glory to Your name and may she do so for many years to come here on earth. Her parents are heroes in the faith. Let us all learn from them and give them our support, however we can and with what has been given to us to share. Thank You for Your goodness in their lives and mine and in all of us. Thank You, Lord. 
I love You. 


Dear Emmalee / 6 Months

Half a year already!
I've been a mom for half a year!
This year is going pretty fast, but I have to confess I'm happy about that. It's been a great year filled with tons of lessons both in parenting and in marriage. It has been hard to learn to put my husband before the tiny little baby that asks my attention with cries. I'm still getting the hang of it.
Emmalee has reached all her milestones for which I am very grateful.
She is sitting down unsupported and on the verge of crawling. She is laughing and babbling alot. She even plays peekabo at such a young age.

Dear Emmalee,
Do you know how happy you make me? 
Every morning you are on your knees and arms trying to move past your crib's corner and when you hear me you turn with a big smile. You are such a good sleeper you give mom and dad peace of mind. 
Everything seems to appear tasty because you take everything to your mouth. Thank heavens you haven't gotten sick. You are so engaging and demanding too. You are so eager to crawl you get very upset when you're on your knees and arms but unable to move forward. You just stay there and begin to cry as if that is going to make you move forward. You are so funny baby girl. You laugh so beautifully now, all cute giggles. You love watching mommy and daddy make fool of themselves to make you laugh and you comply. You started eating solids!! Mommy loves cereal feeding time in the morning. It's the push I need to start my days earlier. You don't make a mess at all and you eat all opening your mouth wide to eat your goods. Grandma Martha is feeding you veggies in the afternoon and you also love them. Baby girl, thank you for existing. Thank you for coming to our lives and making it wonderful. We love you. Happy half year.

And I promised Adina I'd bring back gratitude mondays.
*556 Emmalee is growing healthy and perfect and beautiful
*557 I have a mom I can always count on that makes my life better with a single phone call
*558 A very patient loving husband
*559 The great example of faith from the Martinez family and their baby girl Abi
*560 A great beginning at the 180° professionals church feeling encouraged
*561 Our first wedding as a family. Grateful for the Solorzano family and my wonderful coworkers.
*562 Wonderful in-loves that love Emmalee to death.
*563 Pit is reunited with my mom and on to a new beginning
*564 We finally started working on the garden and it seems to be progressing.

Thank You for Your blessings Lord. 


Rise to the occasion (Adding goodness to your faith part 4)

Sometimes I don't want to. I don't want to say yes. I don't want to be there for that friend.
Sometimes being a friend is hard to do.
Especially if the past hurts me.
When they discarded my friendship but require it when they are in need.
When they betrayed my trust.
When they distance themselves from me because they don't like it when I confront them with their sin.
When they have been dishonest.
When they are only there in the good times.
When they just want to talk of their needs but never listen to mine.

And the list could go on.
And then I stopped and realize I have been that friend to Jesus. I have...
And yet, He is always there.
Always loving, always receiving, always with arms stretched wide.
And I want to be like Him, don't I?
And what am I doing to be more like him?

And that is just a small list of people I don't feel like being their friend anymore.
What about those I don't even want to befriend:
The preachy guy who always has an opinion on what I do.
The talkative girl who exaggerates every thing she says.
Those who seem too weird.
Those who only speak of the mundane.
The guy who is a little harsh and cold when he talks to you.
The girl pretending to be something she is not.
First of, those are ALL judgments and again God NEVER gives us license to judge.
Secondly, maybe I'm the preachy, talkative, exaggerating, weird, mundane, harsh, pretender to others. (Most likely and altogether)

There is someone in my life I noticed calling out for help. That person has been trying to get close to me. I didn't want to let that person close. I resisted that friendship. We had been friends in the past and that friendship had been disappointing to me.
"Is it my obligation to be there" I asked myself. "Does God require it of me?"
The answer is yes, but the problem is not in the command to love others but in the fact that before I say "no" I am seeking if it is "required" and if I have a way out of it instead of rising to the occasion with a prompt "yes".
The problem is not the others.
The problem is my heart.

There was once a time were the thing I most strived for in my life was radical living for Christ.
(esp. of change or action) Relating to or affecting the fundamental nature of something; far-reaching or thorough.

I like this part: far-reaching. 
I don't think that someone who is looking for a way out is looking to far-reach, do you?
What is so wrong with my heart that I would rather look at my friend's past transgressions instead of their need. And let me tell you something, if this person is seeking ME it's because this person is desperate because I'm not much help or good company. 
I'm a disappointing friend too. Recently a very dear friend lost her great grandmother and I was unable to go to the funeral and be by her side. I'm also a very absent friend always busy with work, duty, and family. And sometimes I'm too busy for family, barely seeing my sister and father who live accross the street from me. 
Where is my heart of a servant?
Where is my heart that feels compassion for others?
Where is my heart that seeks be like Jesus, love like Jesus, comfort others like He has comforted me? 

If I numbered the reasons I resist this friend you would probably side with me. But in the Christ-centered life they are just excuses and pride. And in the light of Jesus' love for me, they are a reminder that Jesus would have more reasons to resist me. 

Matthew 5
43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

Let's rephrase that to: "If you love those who like you,", "if you those you like," "if you love those who are good friends," "if you love those who never fail you (and there is not such thing)," what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 
Where are you, Linda, being RADICAL?

Dear Lord, 
I'm sorry. My heart has been self-absorbed, self-centered. I've let my pride take the reigns of my heart instead of love and compassion. Let me not require brokeness always in order to examine this heart of mine; let me be transformed by your example and unconditional love towards this lowly sinner. I've been told I've been more tender and caring since becoming a mommy. Let this be true. Let my heart be more sensitive to others and be radical in my love and life. Let me not be looking to do the minimum but finding ways to do more, to be more for You. This I want for my daughter, this I must live. I often tell people she appears to have her father's tender and gentle temperament. It should be mommy's too. Lord teach me and transform me. You are able to do great things in me and in adding goodness I add faith believing You can and will.
Thank Jesus for loving me as I am. 
I forever love You.