Daddy’s Home

I had the distinct privilege of being raised by a feminist mother who applauded women’s equality and also an intact family.

My father spent lots of time outside of the home. While my father was gone our house almost held their collective breath. My mother made it clear we were not complete without my father. Once my dad arrived it was as if we all breathed a sigh of relief, as if we were finally a family, as if we were a part of a home.

Oh, we got along fine when he was away but when he came home there was rejoicing. Daddy’s home now we are safe, now we are together was the message we received throughout our childhood. It was in those moments that I saw the struggles each family member made to make a house a home. We were never threatened by my father coming home. My mother handled her business. It was not a home in which the ‘wait until your father gets home’ mantra was ever a thing. It was never a home in which my mother made my father feel useless or as if he contributed nothing. We were always keenly aware that mom could hold down the fort with one hand tied behind her back but we knew that she didn’t want to. She had a career, sent cookies to the school for party days, showed up for parent teacher conference and came home and cooked dinner.

Perhaps it is that mindset that was instilled in me that has me thinking of how important a father is to a home. It is with that mindset that I know I can’t be a father, only a mother. I understood early on that we fall short when we try to be both roles instead of being the best in our shoes and not trying fit in another’s.

My mother’s example taught me that being able to financially sustain and run a home was a necessary task and a worthwhile endeavor. She could do that and I can do that. She also taught me the importance of team work and that it doesn’t have to fall completely on my shoulders and that my ability isn’t minimized but rather enhanced in the role of marriage.

Daddy’s home. Men, you often get a bad rap for not pulling your supposed weight or not doing things the way a woman would do it. We minimize your worth and needs but true feminism acknowledges the strengths you have without diminishing ours. You are necessary and you are wanted and needed. You too help make a house a home. You are half of what creates a solid foundation for a family. Feminism was never meant to wipe you out of the picture. We got it twisted. It was always about equality in opportunity not equality in outcome. We will never win as a nation when we fight one another in our home.

Today I thank my father for believing I could be whatever I set my mind to. I thank him for pushing me to learn to think, for allowing me an opinion and for telling me I deserved a seat in the boardroom.

Today I thank my mother who showed me that glass ceilings were meant to be broken. I thank her for showing me how to deal in heels, for showing me that chores around the house were not gender specific, for showing me that a woman only puts up with what she chooses to put up with.

Today I thank my husband because although he didn’t grow up with a working mom he has applauded my endeavors. He has kicked in support at home which allows me to take classes, to teach classes, and to fulfill callings. He has a busy schedule with many demands but when he steps through the door of our house and we are together at the end of the day I can say with a grateful heart and a sigh of relief, we are part of family and we are finally a home.

You Are Not Them

You straighten the crowns of others.
You intercede on your knees.
You have abundant love and strength.
You are not frivolous with your words or your time.
You are not scared of the future.
You are a conqueror.
You are God’s daughter. You are a woman who walks in peace.

Let others swing at the wind.
Let others fight meaningless battles.
Let others take offense at words spoken.
Let others point fingers at you.
Let others gossip.
Let others stand in fear of inflation, and rumors of war, masks, mandated vaccines, and shut downs as if God has never done anything for them. Let others build tribes of agreement. Let others worry about who likes them and who doesn’t.

You know your arsenal is not carnal.
You know where your help comes from. You were built brave and strong.

You are not a woman with a chip on her shoulder. You are not a woman who has tell the world how brave she is. No, you look to the future with joyful anticipation. You see the darkness and command light. You are fully rested, assured of your Savior’s promise. You are beautifully loved and adored.

You are saved, redeemed, loved, and transformed. You are ready.

I’m Proud of TLC4WOMEN

I have taught TLC for women for 16 years now. It is not lost on me all that I have learned.

That women go through some stuff meant to take them out.

That the war on women often is waged by other women.

That no matter how horrific your life has been, someone else has been through things that would have taken you out. We all have our own giants to slay.

But Jesus….

Jesus took a walk through our life and called us to himself. Jesus invited us to a relationship where shame and pain could be healed. Many said no thanks, but you, mighty women of TLC, you said yes. You studied his word faithfully and took him up on his offer to endure the wound care, taking out any infection and stitching you back up to heal. You came to TLC and trusted women, the very ones who hurt you. You did the hard work of healing not because it was easy but because the idea of growing old,resentful, and bitter was not appealing to you. You did the hard work of reconciliation.

My heart is for you. If you are reading this, I urge you to find a solid group of women that can come along beside you and love you right where you are. The expectation is that they will lower your bed before the master physician.

My heart is for you Transforming Life Center 4 Women. You have been my teacher, my cheerleader, my safe place and my love for Jesus has grown exponentially through your leading.

“But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.” ‭‭1 Corinthians‬ ‭15:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Resurrection To Deception

Riu Palace Riviera Maya

Every day on our vacation I walked by her.

This faceless, right-hand missing statue.

She holds a water bucket in her left hand.

It’s rather small, I wonder how she fills it?

She is surrounded by Phoenix.

Early Christians adapted the Phoenix to signify death, burial, and resurrection after the mythology story.

It wasn’t lost on me that this statue, if it is symbolic, has resurrected without a brain, without power, unable to give the right hand of fellowship, and without rest. The right hand also signifies favor and sonship.

So it is with some who although born again are not at peace.

Can you imagine how she walks through life?

Threats real and imagined have stolen her thoughts.

These perceived threats that hold her tomorrows, steal her peace, her rest, and more importantly, without her right hand of fellowship, her power.

I begin to see her from my imagination.

Does her anxiety keep her up at night, infiltrating her every thought and conversation as she flails at the wind pretending to be strong in her own might?

Lacking in faith she runs here and there looking for a manmade solution.

Her need to be significant to a social construct is flimsy at best.

Scared of the future she is afraid to lose what little she thinks she possesses and yet she has no hand to put more in.

Here she stands.

Memorialized.

A resurrection of conflict and deception.

Adorned without the only things that make her His. His hand in her right hand.

She stands upright in declaration sure she has fooled the world. For you see, she has anointing in her left hand but can’t grip her appointment.

So she poses.

She stands sure she has it all together. She believes she is the model of transformation.

She is the new version of the emperor who wears no clothes. We smile at her because to tell her the truth is to bring wrath upon ourselves.

Without the ability renew the mind, she is lost. I wonder how long ago she lost herself?

A woman at war within herself and she can’t even see it. Vapid at best.

“You were resurrected for so much more”, I tell her as I pass her by to sit quietly on the ocean to read my book on this fabulous vacation. “I wish you knew you can create a life that is happy if you just let go.”

Then the Holy Spirit whispers:

“She believed her own press instead of pressing in.”

I answer with a deep sigh, “Nothing smacks you down quicker than the humility of the stumble when your eyes are closed and your ears are stopped up. Lord, thank you that even in the middle of a rest you allow me see visuals of what I don’t want to become.”

“Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.” Proverbs 3:13-18 NIV

“For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.” Isaiah 41:13 NIV

“The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet.” Psalms 110:1 NIV

We’re Back!

Blue White Job Post _ Vacancy _ Announcement Flyer-4

 

A new season of TLC4Women is ready to begin and I am so excited to start up again. It seems that it has been a long time coming. We will have studies in two ways this year. Please do what feels most comfortable to you. We will have in person gatherings Monday evenings at 7 pm beginning August 24. We will have Zoom gatherings on Tuesdays at 7 pm beginning August 25. Registration will be required so that we may order books and get them to you ASAP. Cost is $16.00

To register for in person gatherings please register here

To register for Zoom gatherings please register here

 

I Wonder If She Knows…

I watch Cameron intently as he plays. He is serious, studious, loving, funny in a sarcastic way, and I can’t help but see my son in him. His profile, the way he assesses the environment before he either engages or not. The way he moves closer to us as a stranger walks into the room. His total refusal to call my mom Nana because as he pointed out, “No, you my Nana.” It points to his loyalty. The way he sees himself as protector.

I point all of this out to my daughter-in-love and while she smiles and laughs with me I recognize she has no point of reference to her husband as a toddler. Nor should she.

I wonder if she knows that as she mothers him the time flies quickly by? I wonder if she knows that the reason why he will pick a great wife is that she will raise a great man and have faith in herself that she can? I wonder if she knows the love she feels for her son will multiply a thousand times when she looks at his child?

No, she doesn’t know yet because none of us do before it happens. Instead good moms stress kindness, love, manners, respect, honor, humility, and education all while juggling a huge to-do list and worrying that we aren’t doing enough or that we are doing too much. In the meantime our children wrap themselves around our heart and we know that we will never be the same and we don’t want to be. No, no one can prepare you for those feelings that will come until they do.

I look at my grandson and my heart swells with joy. When we sing together or when he says, “Nana I will sing you a song” and breaks out in a toddler version of Amazing Grace it is as if angels are singing. Yes, yes, off key and pitch but nevertheless beautiful and a sound you wouldn’t trade for the world.

In those moments we do not have the profound revelation that all that we have lived through, all the hurts, pains, dysfunction that we all face will be worth it for the results that await us in the near future.

My daughter-in-love is beautiful. She is real, honest, loving, filled with integrity and character and the most amazing mom on the planet. She along with her husband are teaching Cameron the value of family, creating a strong and stable home where violence and love are opposed to one another. I heard Anthony say to Cameron in the middle of a toddler tantrum, “No, I don’t hit you and you don’t hit me. You can be angry but you can’t hit.” Above all their home is Christ-centered and they are laying solid foundation in our faith as Christians.

I am grateful she continues to humor me as I tell her stories of my son as a toddler, listens to recordings of his bath time, and has taken time to read through every single piece of art he made in pre-school. She is preparing Cameron to be a good big brother, a worthwhile friend, a man of character who will one day lead his family well. And although she doesn’t know it yet, she is preparing her heart to guide a daughter-in-love, to love her well, and to laugh and hold her grand babies one day.

I wonder if she knows that I hold her close in my heart because of who she is all by herself? My son’s wife, my grandson’s mom is all secondary to who she is. Her name is Frances Martinez and you are blessed if you know her.

Intentional Planning

I was listening to a call from Dr. Laura that has me mulling some things over. Have you ever heard the desperation in someone’s voice and related to those thoughts? The conversation I heard has made a significant self discovery. 

The call was from a mom who had her last daughter leave for college. She was having a hard time adjusting to an empty nest. She had poured herself into her life as a mom and she felt she no longer had purpose beyond that. Dr. Laura carefully navigated her back to herself. She asked her what she had dreamed of being as a young woman and took her on a journey of rediscovering her life before motherhood and moving her toward her life after motherhood. 

None of this to say that motherhood is bad It is a wonderful season. She immersed herself in the role that was offered in that time and space of her life. I am happy she was able to see and set her priority as a mom. This isn’t easy to do.  I was driving during the call and actually said out loud to the radio, “Awww, you’re a mom with a good heart.” 

Then it got real. Dr. Laura told her she was to be commended for her thoughtful way of navigating this time of her life. She said that sometimes women have more babies so as to not let go of that feeling of being needed. As soon as their child gets to a certain age, they’ll have another baby and begin a cycle. Dr. Laura didn’t say it as a bad thing rather just a fact of life for some. 

It was then that it hit me. I was that woman. When my daughter Casey was heading off to college and the thought of being alone hit me, I immersed myself in a new marriage, small stepchildren. When things got especially hard, I immersed myself in one week old rescue dog I named Lulu which was an ode to Toddler Casey who one day proclaimed that her name was CaseyLulu and no one could address her as Casey anymore. When nothing seemed to be going right and I felt as if I were drowning in grief and displacement, I went harder at this process never allowing myself to settle in a new role. So while I didn’t have another child physically, I began again in essence. Perhaps the reason I didn’t think about what happens next was because I was a young mom and I had never been an adult without children. If I learned a lesson, can I put it down in words for myself and others who are going through these same points in life? 

Our season as our kid’s parents is short in the relative scheme of life. We are entrusted with these little beings to raise and it is our job to entrust them with the future and the knowledge of God and healthy relationships with others. After that, we become colleagues to these familiar adults and offer advice when asked. It is before we get to this time that we have to look for the next thing we are going to do with our lives. 

Life is forever changing. 

My hope is that you are aware and looking forward to the next part of your life. My time for mothering is complete. My children are all up and out. Each of them are productive members of society and for that I am grateful beyond measure to God. 

This new season that I am in brings on challenges of its own in new thought processes. I have a new purpose as a Nana to Cameron Joshua who is 2. Lulu the Wonder Dog turns 13 in about a month and our eyes fix on what is next. We are weighing options of retirement, where and when are the questions as we look to the next opportunity. As I type I realize much of life’s answers and good choices are made with lots of prayer and self reflection before we impulsively plunge into something that looks like a solution to frankly a problem that doesn’t have to be one. Life isn’t lived out fully if we are putting out fires of what-if thinking but instead it is lived out with assessment and consideration and looking at the bigger picture and the future that awaits.  

Prayer For My Journey

1AC6FDBB-D623-4637-8A03-5AA9C70494EDI still look for your input and find it missing. I absentmindedly go to Facebook looking for your comments or look for our last text and email to see what you have to say about something. After years of your advice where does one go to hear wisdom from a godly sage?

Peers? No, my peers are on the same journey I am on. Maybe different circumstances but they aren’t looking back to advise their younger self as you were with me.

I remember the last time we spoke you said God had spoken and he was taking you on a new journey. You were so happy to hear and waiting in anticipating of what it might be. You said, “Oh Honey, at my age to be doing a new thing is exciting and scary all at once.” What we didn’t know was that the new thing was going to be your greatest calling.

A heart attack the very next week and the words that I didn’t want to hear, “Nothing more we can do.” But you rejoiced. Your voice was breathy and strong as you said, “Oh Honey, I so love you but don’t pray for my healing. Pray for my journey that I not tarry here. I am excited to see Jesus face to face.” Then in your sarcastic way, which maybe would have scared me if you hadn’t have said it but you said, “I have friends coming out of the woodwork wanting to pray for my healing. I don’t want them to pray for my healing, I want them to pray for my journey. Honey, tell them not to pray for my healing.”

So when Pastor Ida called to find out the details, I spoke up as you have taught, “She is ready to go. She asked that we not pray for her healing but for her journey.” Pastor Ida comforted me as only she can. She was a dear, dear friend to you and has been wonderful to me.

The last call when you assured me that they were treating you well and spoiling you rotten and that you loved me didn’t go unnoticed. You wanted us to know how much you loved us and you didn’t want us to worry.

Even in your passing from this temporal life to your eternal home you taught me to stand strong on my faith. You never ceased being a mentor in this Jesus life we live.

To always follow Jesus.

To put your fears aside.

To carry on because an unimaginable hope awaits.

To pray for our journey.

One step at a time.

So today if you are reading this, my spiritual mother, Doris Avila has gone on to be with Jesus. Never one to be shy about her faith she taught me to stand strong. Over and over again she offered advice, counseled, prayed, gave words of knowledge, heard my heart, told me when I was wrong, and loved me through it all.

If you don’t have a mentor, I urge you to get one. Then I urge you to listen. My very first visit to her home she corrected me. “We say Grace in this home before we put food in our mouth.” I was embarrassed at my misstep. I apologized and got on with the meal because as I was to find out, she was an excellent cook. To think, I would have lost all of that precious advice had I walked away offended. Instead I stayed and listened and gleaned. Find that one, my friend. She will make your journey one of blessing. As you read this, pray for my journey as I walk it out without one who always had a listening ear. That voice for me is gone in the physical realm but her words still ring strong in my heart. May it be so for you.

 

The Strong Women Beside Me

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Today we lay to rest a mighty woman of God. Terri Rivas, on the left in this picture, came to our TLC4Women bible study years ago. A quiet woman with a bible and pen in her hand, she had been invited by a pillar in our group her best friend Bernie, on the right above. Both women had been friends with each other for over 50 years. They each attended different churches but they each loved to study the word. Bernie is a solid, grounded, woman of the word and so I knew her friend would be as well. What does it say that two women are friends for 50 years? In a time when we are offended so easily and friendships tend to come and go, this was something to be admired.

It didn’t take long for me to find out that Terri was not quiet at all. She had a quick wit and would make all of us laugh with that smirk-y smile she would get right before she made a comment.  She celebrated all of our successes and she told about her escapades with Bernie. Bernie and Terri wouldn’t sit together in study because Terri would say she was afraid Bernie would get her into trouble.

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I discovered that I could go to Terri for anything and she would pray. She wasn’t about gossip and she wasn’t about drama but she could pray. I saw why she and Bernie were such great friends. Two women who stood strong on the word of God and were mentors to each of us in the group. When Terri decided to move her membership to our church, she came with a notepad, scriptures, and a word from the Lord, BUT she wanted to talk to us first to make sure that we knew she would not to be any trouble. She taught me about honor and hearing from the Lord.  She wasn’t going to walk on what she thought was the right thing to do she weighed it out, got counsel, and waited on God.

When she decided to retire from the hospital we talked about it and it turned out she didn’t have to retire she could work from home. She was thrilled to do that but again, wanted us to pray to make sure it was the right thing to do.

When Terri developed Parkinson’s she came to me with a quake in her voice and announced the news. I could tell it had shaken her and I had never seen her scared before, she had faith for so many others, in that moment I needed her to have that same faith for herself. I reminded her that the Great Physician had the final say and we prayed together. I honestly didn’t think I would lose her. I thought she would battle on. She had been through a lot in her life and I thought this would be another victory story. When she determined that she could no longer trust her driving at night she told me bible study would be out. I told her to let Bernie bring her. She instantly replied, “Have you ever been in a car with Bernie? Pastor Susan I want to live.” I answered, “Well, at least you’d go together right?” She laughed and said, “Bernie would probably survive.” But laughter or not, scared or not, there would Terri be, walking in the door of bible study with Bernie.

Terri, I love you, I will miss you. The impact you have made on my life cannot be measured. I was graced by your friendship. I was graced by your love of my children and my grandson. And even though I mourn the loss of you here on earth, you won the victory. I know that you made it home safely. That all of the promises of God are true and that we will one day be together again. I’m sure you are talking to loved ones and strangers and everyone you meet. You’re making people laugh, and you’re awaiting the time when we’re all joined together again.

Proverbs 31:29 “Many women have done excellently, but you surpass them all.”

terririvas

 

State Of Confusion

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As I have been watching events unfold I am looking curiously at the ramifications of revelation. While some ramifications are positive as it gets us to right our world some are negative as we watch the pendulum swing in the opposite direction causing an imbalance.

I heard a man say he saw a co-worker walk into the office and commented, “You look pretty today.” He then said he went to his office and immediately panicked. Is that sexual harassment? Would he be called into HR or worse a meeting with his boss? Could he be fired?

This is the negative ramification of the #METOO #CHURCHTOO movement. While it certainly is wisdom to check your comments and behavior, it is not right that an innocent comment can be taken out of context. I get it though. We’re all prickly over the abuse of women in the workplace. It went on far too long and although women had rights and were working equally as hard as a man in the workplace, this was an area of vulnerability. There are those men who make you feel uncomfortable with their remarks and then there are those guys who are work buddies who never cross the line into inappropriate boundaries, only in this climate how do we tell the difference?

Is it how it makes me feel or what was actually said? I saw an older man who was married with seven kids and one with whom I had never detected an ounce of inappropriateness lose his job before my eyes. He was walking out the door of our building carrying an armload of work supplies just as a woman was walking into the building. He stepped to the left to let her pass but she also stepped to her right to let him go through as his hands were full and they both ended up face to face on the opposite side of the door. They then simultaneously stepped in the opposite direction. It has probably happened to us all. He then laughed and said, “Shall we dance?”, which is a saying that people his age use when this happen, as he backed up and moved away to allow her to come through the door. The woman immediately went to her supervisor and said the man made her feel uncomfortable and he was fired on the spot. Did he say or do something inappropriate or was it a feeling she had?

I once reported a military officer for inappropriate comments to me and was told by his commander, “Susan, do you really want to cause problems or be a team player?” I found another job.

The question in our society is now what is appropriate for a man? The answer seems to be whatever women want it to be which is unfair. The rules are changing and there seems to be a state of confusion which only leads to further abuse and misunderstanding.

Should a man pay for a date or is that sexist and silently saying he doesn’t believe women are capable of paying for dates?

Should a man compliment a co-worker or is that sexual?

Can a man be proud that he can provide for his wife and allow her to stay home with their children or does he demean her by offering this option?

Here is some advice for what it is worth…..

Let the man pay for the date. While it may seem old-fashioned, if my need as a woman is security let me know up front that I am a priority, that I have been thought about, and that I have been worth planning for. If I’m honest, my husband and I each plan and pay for dates, okay, okay it comes from the same account but it’s that thought and preparation that is key.

“Hey, you look nice today”, is not sexual harassment. It’s a comment. An appropriate response is, “Thank you”, as you move about your day. There doesn’t need to be a discourse on how you bought your dress on clearance at Marshalls. A healthy man couldn’t care less, save that for your girlfriend, that comment isn’t a reportable offense. Now, if he comes and says, “Hey, you look nice today, why don’t you come into my office and let me see what’s under that dress”, then heck yes, report it. That is not a man, that is a male and there is a difference.

A man who can adequately provide for his family and can offer his wife the decision to stay home is admirable. I do not ascribe to the male who can’t adequately provide for his family so they are leeching off of everyone so that his wife can stay home. No one put a gun to their head to have family. You BOTH have a responsibility to provide for your family. If he works days, you can work nights but pay for your own kids. Alright, off topic sorry.  If he’s proud he can provide then good for him. It doesn’t make him a caveman, or abusive. It makes him a man and that’s a great thing. The male who demands his wife stays home has work to do.

Let’s get back to a place where we celebrate each other, we call each other on truly bad things, and we don’t look for offense in every gesture or comment.