Gideon Made Me Breakfast

Gideon kept calling me to come downstairs. He said he had a surprise for me. When I finally made my way into the kitchen, I walked into this:

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Gideon made us breakfast

Gideon had made us breakfast. Not only had he found and used all the things seen here, he had also cleaned up after himself. The note he wrote to me said “I LOVE YOU” with a gigantic heart on it. He set our bowls to face the backyard so we could watch the birds at the suet feeder.

I love him so much it makes my chest hurt. I look at him, and I see the most beautiful thing God has ever created. I love everything about his body. I stare at him, I take him in. His long, skinny legs. His fast feet. His delicious cheeks. His envy-worthy eyelashes. In all his six years of life, I still have not lost that sense of wonder when I see him.

I used to live by the ocean. I decided to be intentional about never looking out onto the vastness flippantly. In the 4 years that the Pacific was my neighbor, I never did take it for granted. But it took daily effort.

As a mother my days revolve around being intentional and mindful. But I never intend to stare in wonder at this little person that God knit together in my womb. It just happens.

And then, and then he goes and does things like this.

And it makes me want to burst into tears of love, gratitude, pride, and praise to the One who is having His way in Gideon’s heart.

Heavenly Father, Gideon loves you so much. You have a little 6 year-old disciple who loves you so much. May your relationship with one another always evolve and grow in trust, joy, and unity. May I never hinder but always encourage Gideon to love you, find comfort in you, and see you as the source of all that is good in his life. Thank you for allowing me to be on the receiving end of what YOU are doing in him. 

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Clara Luz (1930 – 2018)

My Abuela, Clara Luz Fernandez de Bloise, was born and raised in Mendoza, Argentina by her single, hard-working mother during the days of Eva Perón. My Abuela was a very talented seamstress for many years. But her heart was not at the sewing machine. Her life’s work, her passion, her pride, was her family. She made food for her five children, their husbands and wives, and all her many grandchildren. Abuela would set her work aside, and spend all day making homemade ravioli and noquis. At the end of the day we would all sit at a very long table and eat together. She loved birds, flowers, painting, and believed that if we only talked to our plants, they would grow stronger.

Oh, but Abuela was witty too. She was mischievous and playful. She’d pull hilarious stunts and get away with it because she was Clara Luz for goodness sakes. “Doña Luz” got into people’s hearts, and no one who met her could help but just LOVE her and the lightheartedness she came with. And she just loved them back. She was just that kind of person, you know?

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Clara Luz, age 18

She married a very handsome man in 1951. My beloved Abuelo, Eduardo Fernando Bloise. He loved cars, planes, and above all, the Tango.

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Wedding Day in 1951

On March 21st, 1983, my Abuela got the call that I had been born. She was determined to come see me, and nothing was getting in her way. So my Abuela sold her wedding ring and used all the money to get her first passport and buy a one-way ticket to Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA.

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My Abuela believes [and so do I] that she had an encounter with an angel on her way to see me. A foreigner who did not know a lick of English, she was terrified when she arrived at the DFW airport. A “tall gringo” approached her, spoke to her in her dialect, and led her to her gate only to disappear when she turned to thank him.

 

My Abuela and I. She made my blue dress out of one of my dad’s shirts.

Some of my favorite memories of my Abuela, are of the two of us sharing hours upon hours sitting in her dining room. I would walk to her house after school, and stay there as long as my parents allowed. She would work at her sewing machine while I did my homework at the table.  I would take breaks to help her undo seams, or iron pieces that she’d completed. Abuela never seemed to mind that I talked her ear off about school, boys, mean girls, and things that consume the mind of an elementary school girl. I told her all about my deepest insecurities and fears. Abuela always listened. Abuela always had time.

“Vos no sos mejor que nadie, y nadie es mejor que vos.” 

“You are better than no one. And no one is better than you.”

Powerful words for a 10 year-old who already struggled with self-loathing. Words that will stay with me forever.

 

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My Abuela’s health declined with each passing winter, and this current cold season was the final straw. On August 22, 2018 I got to talk to my Abuela on the phone for the last time. My dad and I stood in my kitchen and sang her a couple of her favorite songs, prayed for her, and tried our best to comfort her.

This is a moment that I will treasure and carry with me all of my days.

After a hard last few weeks of life, on the evening of Sunday, August 26th, 2018, my Abuela passed away. A woman whose ring finger was bare for the last 35 years of her life because once there are children and grandchildren in the picture, the symbolic circle of endless love expands beyond marriage. And the evidence of endless married love is right here in Cincinnati, Ohio, in this 35 year-old woman who loves and owes so much to her Abuelos. The evidence is in Mendoza. In Buenos Aires. In Tarragona, Spain. In a small city near Barcelona. In West Virginia.  And it’s on route across the USA to Texas today. My Abuela is a woman whose passing makes the flowers lose a tiny bit of tint.

Knowing Abuela, she probably snuck that extra hue of color off to heaven for the canvases she will paint up there. I imagine God just shook his head, chuckled, and said “Ay, Doña Luz”. Like everyone did.

 

 

Reflections: 11 Year Anniversary

The moment I walked into your dorm room on that rainy Sunday afternoon, a switch went off. Something was different, and I changed. You were the first person I introduced myself to by my middle name. I hadn’t felt like Denice in a long time, and was just waiting for the perfect moment to make that small but significant transformation. Something about you exuded comfort and safety. I didn’t want to be Denice anymore, and something inside told me to be “Elina” to you. Elina has been my name ever since.
I didn’t know – and I wouldn’t know for quite some time – but God was telling me that you were it for me, when you asked me “What’s your name?” and I said for the first time in my life, “Elina.”

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13 years later, I am your wife of 11 years. Unable to sleep because our cat is in one of her possessed moods and refuses to be still and quiet. Also because I want to make sure that I have something written down for you to read as soon as you wake up in the morning. Our 4 year old son sleeps soundly in the bed that you built for him with your own bare hands. The new set of dishes are in the cupboard because we finally managed to break all but 3 of the ones we received as wedding gifts. There is a heap of gloves and scarves and coats in the back seat of the car. I think we forgot to take the trash to the curb.

I have loved every stage of our relationship. I loved getting to know you. I loved falling in love with you. I loved our wedding. I loved all of our adventures to different parts of the country and of the world. I loved the way you whisked me off for a road trip to the east coast after I graduated from graduate school. I loved buying a fixer upper with you. I loved being a family of two plus a cat. I loved the way you knew exactly what I needed when you took me on a prayer walk through the woods after I miscarried. I loved seeing the two lines appear as clear as day. I loved how you came to choose the perfect name for our son. I loved how you were the perfect companion as I labored in the hospital. I loved how you brought the iPad to my room in the ICU to see Gideon in real time. I loved how you took such good care of us.

I love the father you have become. I love the husband you have become. I can’t wait to see what you are like in 11 more years.

So here’s to you, my love.

Contigo pan y aqua.

My Two Cents: Jesus and Prayer

I hear a lot of yelling and shouting.

In the midst of terror, death, and darkness, I hear so much yelling and shouting.

I’ve heard all of it before.  All the yelling seems to come from a place of despair, anger, outrage, and annoyance. And rightfully so! It’s so interesting, though, how the same emotions can lead to such contrasting responses.

Someone yells, and the only ones listening agree with the person holding the megaphone. But there is no reaching across opposing lines. We’ve grown deaf to each other. And it’s no wonder. No one likes to be patronized or yelled at.

The only yelling we like to hear is the kind that expresses what we believe to be the solutions to all the worlds problems. Do I understand and respect the need to yell? Yes. Do I believe in the first amendment? Absolutely.

But there’s got to be a better way. Yelling can’t be it.

Over the last few years I have heard a newer message being yelled. And for the first time in a long time, I actually felt a deep, aching sorrow.

This sorrow was not physical or mental, it was not rooted in the sadness brought on by the depravity or evil that mankind can engage in. This was a sorrow of spiritual magnitude that only one who believes in the redemptive power of prayer can feel.

My eyes, mind, and soul cried when I heard this terrifying shriek.

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For a person who looks to Jesus for guidance and hope, this message knocked the wind out of me.

I don’t live under a rock, and I understand that there have always been people who deny the power of prayer for change in the world. But with new platforms on which to stand and use the right of free speech, this ideology has gotten louder.

And it’s done a lot of damage.

But just like any message, it eventually hits a wall. And this wall is settled on an unshakable Cornerstone.

Thoughts and prayers are not enough?

I respectfully disagree with this statement with every fiber of my being.

You see, there once lived a man who knew when, how, and by whom He was going to die. And His destiny was not to die warm in His bed while He slept, nor was He to trip and hit His head in just the right way to end His life. A disease would not ravage His body.

This man lived in order to die at the early age of 30, by the most horrifying method of torture and execution of His time. He had good days and bad days – dark days. On good days He would spend all of his time with all sorts of people. He would listen to them, talk to them, pray with them, feed them, heal what ailed them, and he would stop everything to let the children gather around him to talk or sing or play.

On His dark days, He would retreat.

On His dark days, He would pray.

He understood the power of prayer so profoundly, that He would summon His friends to pray too. Once, His friends took a nap instead of praying and He was pretty frustrated with them, which speaks to how badly He wished they would take prayer seriously.

No one knows how many bad days this man had, but the book about His life does tell us in great detail about what happened on the eve of His death.

He retreated.

He prayed.

He prayed so fervently and with such intensity that his body actually started to break down. The blood vessels around his face were so contracted, so strained, that they burst through his skin. He was in such physical pain over the agony of what he was going to experience, that he sweat. And His sweat was tinged with blood.

There was no yelling, He made no demands, there was no political stand substantial enough to sway Him. He just prayed.

That prayer resulted in a story that changed history, with political repercussions that have lasted centuries even to this very day. But most importantly, it lead a girl to die for her faith in Colorado in 1999. It inspires countless Christians to go where no one else dares go with nothing but a book and a testimony. It makes men and women brave to serve and face evil, at the risk of dying for what Jesus stood for. It moves a little girl to set up a lemonade stand as an excuse to tell people about her personal Super Hero.

It persuades people to fall on their knees in private to raise the loudest shout, the loudest yell that mankind can ever transmit through space and time. 

Because beckoning our Creator for help and rescue transcends the speed of sound, the speed of light, and the speed of thought.

All I’m saying is, fellow believers, please don’t lose hope in the one thing Jesus found comfort in on his bad days. When you feel despair and helpless over the horrors going on, don’t stay weary. Don’t settle for just calling your representatives, or just standing on your platform to say that mankind needs to solve problems rooted in fractured hearts (we can’t). Don’t even settle just doing as the world defines “doing”. Because “doing” and “taking action” means different things to different people.

As someone who is helpless without Jesus’ model, the definition of doing “enough” in the face of evil is completely different. [Not that I’m not guilty of forgetting Jesus’ model before].

Because isn’t any action we take just a band-aid if it’s not first made powerful to heal hearts and souls through our request for God’s intervention?

Jesus had a choice to be a band-aid, but he would have none of that.

His final dialogue with God was the only thing that gave him the strength to stand upright and peacefully approach His captors. Prayer was what kept him focused on his goal, which would cause the greatest revolution mankind will ever know.

To my fellow equal and friend, you who do not buy into all this, know that you are heard. I hear you. And I don’t blame you for your disquiet, for your anger. The fact that you are restless and proactive in the face of what is going on in our world gives me great hope.

So this one’s for the person who can’t imagine not devoting all your time to prayer when tragedy ensues.  Thank you for standing up for mankind, and bringing our shortcomings to the feet of the Father. Don’t waiver. I advocate for a lot of things, and you are one of them.

Don’t stop praying.

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YOUR VOICE AND CHARACTER HAVE VALUE!

Something has been breaking my heart for months now. I knew that whatever was grieving me stemmed from the unnerving political climate of today, but I kept grasping to discover the root of my broken heartedness.

Not surprisingly, delving into scripture and asking for clarity made the answer to my question come off the page like those 3D images that were huge in the 90’s.
I first identified who I was hurting for. I hurt for those who feel afraid to express their opinions. Those who are afraid of being looked down on as insensitive, ignorant, or much worse. I hurt for everyone who was being gossiped about, and slandered – politician and non, capitalist and socialist, left and right, rich and poor, liberal and conservative, PhD and high school diploma, CNN and FOX watchers. Attack, retribution, shaming, fall out. Over and over again. And it’s still happening.

I don’t see Jesus in any of it. Not that I ever did, but this fact was brought to the forefront of my heart and mind.

What is something that is at the essence of every person? Their character, right? Character is “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual”. God gave each of us the ability to have one, as he has one too (only his is perfect). He has the in on everything that makes our character what it is.

We live in a society where our characters – what is at the heart of what we do, say, and think – are constantly being attacked. People are constantly being criticized and judged by those who think they know better.

Attacks on character are prevalent and commonly used (tactfully and heedlessly) as a weapon by some these days. You don’t have look far to see this. It’s all up in our faces. If you have no idea what I am talking about, tell me your secret. Impart your wisdom on your humble servant.

I want to remind you that if you are or have been at the receiving end of character attacks, while they seem impossible to refute because they slam the door on any logical discussion, YOU get to determine the power of this weapon. Is it a splinter? Is it a dagger? Is it a pebble stuck in the grooves of the bottom of your shoe? You decide whether the attack comes from somewhere pertinent or not. People can hurl character attacks at you for thinking, looking, talking, acting differently. You determine whether the attack causes damage or not.

The real power is not in the rhetoric. The REAL power is in the relationship you have with your Creator. If that relationship is strong and vital to you, then what would otherwise be a paralyzing dagger in your spine, might just be a pebble in your shoe that you just have to shake out.

Ask for discernment, and He’ll freely give it! Even if something someone tells you has some relevance but comes from somewhere insensitive, you take the relevance without the insensitivity and do something good with it. If someone tells you something that is irrelevent but it comes from somewhere sensitive, you appreciate that sensitivity as something we need a lot of.

See God, He looks at the heart. That reality makes us all cringe. No one likes the idea of the ugly parts being out in the open for Him to see. But remember that “God has always loved us then saved us. Not the other way around.” Wise words of a good friend of mine.

So what I’m hoping for all of us is an extra dose of wisdom. Wisdom when we speak, and when we are at the receiving end of things that are said about us or to us. My hope is that we give power where power is due.

Character attacks that are outright misplaced or don’t mirror Jesus’ manner or intentions, are not due any power. None at all.

Be encouraged! Your voice and character have value!

My Big 3 Year Old Boy

A few major milestones have been reached in the last month, and it was time to put these down on the Blog for the sake of preserving memories. I’ll start with the most impactful.

Gideon is finally potty trained! It was not an easy journey. I got to the point of resenting potty training. But after two frustrating attempts, Gideon was finally ready to leave diapers in the past at the age of 3 years and 3 months. After two attempts at potty training, I realized that a potty LEARNING approach made more sense considering Gideon’s personality. We equipped him with the knowledge, left everything set up for him, and waited for him to be ready. And voila! He did it! Live and learn.

Gideon has been working so hard with his progress in learning to play cello. Two weeks ago his instructor surprised him with his first bow! He definitely earned it. His cello teacher has all of her students name their cello and bow. Gideon named his cello “Jesus”, which speaks to how special Jesus is to him. He named his bow “Komodo” [dragon], after his favorite animal. We’re so proud of our little cellist.

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Gideon earned his first real bow!
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Gideon with the Honor Guard on Memorial Day. Sergeant Daniel is holding the american flag. We’re so proud of him. 
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Gideon rocked his first dentist appointment!
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My human son with his feline big sister. So much love!

On Saturday Gideon and I spent the morning finding treasures at garage sales in the area. Gideon scored with some animal figurines he didn’t already have in his collection. He did a great job cleaning them before introducing them to his other animals.

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Gideon is going through a phase where he is obsessed with helping me. He has not yet learned to be disgusted by toilets, and offers to scrub them with the toilet brush all the time. I don’t hesitate to take him up on his offer! One of his favorite chores is putting the silverware away in the morning.

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My little helper
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It’s a hammerhead shark, mommy! The boy is obsessed with animals.
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Not every day is fun. Sometimes we spike fevers and sleep all day. 

Cleaning Day

Today was my weekly cleaning day which means that I have nothing interesting to report. Daniel let me sleep in for an additional half hour, and I always feel so much more rested when that happens. Gideon spent part of his morning outside with Daniel doing yard work, but other than that he tagged along and “helped” me with my cleaning or spent some quality time playing by himself.
One of my favorite things right now, is catching him playing by himself and observing him. His imagination and ability to make-believe has really blossomed over the last few months. It’s one of the parts of him that brings me the most joy. I always want to foster his ability to dream and imagine.

Since there is nothing much to report, and since I’ve left such a gap in blogging about my little man, here are some pictures of March 8th, his 3rd birthday.

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My big 3 year-old boy
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Gideon’s big day started with his first cello lesson at the Mother House. He has since earned his cello, is practicing with a wood bow, and is in the process of graduating his foot chart.
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His request for the day was to visit the Komodo Dragon at the Zoo. He is obsessed with this creature.
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After a busy morning, we took a break and let Gideon eat his favorite!

 

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Giving a birthday gift from his grandma a try for the night.

 

Short entry, but the pictures will really trigger some memories for me – which is part of the point of my blog! Now it’s time to take it easy and watch “Age of Adeline”.