Friday, June 28, 2013

Of Minnesota, rain, flowers and toddlers.

Hello, everyone!

This week, I am blessed to be posting from Minnesota! I came to spend some time with Greg and Greg's family (now mine, too). The weather has been quite bipolar and wonderful, compared to Texas heat!

Rain!
I was quite excited.




What are your secrets to capturing rain? 

I was quite excited to hang out with cute toddlers, too. 



We've had some sunny days as well. Today, I went to my mother-in-law's flower garden to capture some pictures. I don't know most of the flowers' names, but when she arrives, I'll ask her!



Yesterday, I was playing outside with the girls (Greg's nieces), and we did some sidewalk art. 
One of our nieces, 3, called me "Auntie Gabby" for the first time (she had always called me just "Gabby"), it was quite cute. 










It was quite a challenge going around the garden, on wet soil and grass, in a long skirt!




The Barbie on the floor cracks me up!



This statue of the virgin Mary belonged to Greg's grandparents, who were very devout Catholics. When his grandfather passed away and his grandmother no longer lived at the house, Greg and his dad (I think) walked with this statue from his grandparent's house to his (around a block and a half!). 










This old chair (and ladder beside it) in a corner of the garden reminded me of The Secret Garden. 
One of the very first books I read! I know, random.







And then, it started to rain once again! 



Thankfully, I was under the porch when it started raining.

I love the wind, the rain and the smell of fresh-cut wet grass.

Have a lovely weekend! I'll be enjoying Minnesota and my family (including my sister, who is here, too) for a few more days (my parents are coming tomorrow!).

Love, 
Gabby 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Why do you go to church?

So, this past Sunday I decided to attend a different church because I missed the service at the church I regularly attend. Don't ask me why I just didn't skip it all together. I really needed to go.

Anywho, the priest/pastor at this church started the sermon by asking the congregation,

"Why do you go to church?"

Hmm...good question.

Not only that, he actually started going around the congregation asking individual people. 

Please don't ask me, please don't ask me, please don't ask me... 

Some of the answers people gave were very valid legalistic answers. One guy pointed out he attended out of obligation because he really didn't want to go to hell. Some other answers where answers I was already thinking in my head. Some answers were more laid back.

Yeah, I want to get to know God better. Yeah, I want to worship Him. Yeah, I want to praise Him for all of His blessings. Yeah, I want to be connected to the Body of Christ. But, yeah...why? 

I really didn't have a why to my why I go to church reasons. Maybe I had it, but I didn't quite know how to formulate a real, from the heart, answer. And, besides, I was a visitor to the church. I really didn't want the attention...or I wasn't really brave. And, my word, thank goodness he chose my neighbor (as in the person sitting beside me) to answer. Phew.

You know, growing up, I went to a church where most of the people I knew seemed to go for very non-Christ centered reasons. I could hear whispers, loud talk and even laughing among the congregation during the service (and not because the priest/pastor said something funny). I am guilty of that. Especially during my teenage years. I didn't really remember anything about the sermon as soon as I walked out the door. Needless to say, I didn't really apply anything that I learned to ordinary life. There are many other examples, but I am not trying to judge or be negative here. I am telling you this from what I saw and did. I didn't know their inward reasons. 

My charming hometown in Mexico. You can see the steeple of the church I grew up in. My husband took this picture from the roof of a hotel.
But, why did we all go? To socialize? To make an appearance? Because of obligation? To show other people how "good" we were? To "please" God? To ask for forgiveness for the sins we/I committed that week, feel good and then sin again the following week? Because we/I really want to go to heaven, regardless of what we/I do on earth (hey, at least I went to church every Sunday!)? To sing some "feel good" songs? Because I/we haven't gone in a long time? Yes, I've also posted "@church" or "#church" on the www. 

It's ok if you can relate to one of these questions. I certainly do.

However, as I continue to grow in Him, I become more and more aware that one of the [personal] main reasons of why I should gather with the church (you!) is because of/as an act of...gratitude

My church-going reason should be out of gratitude. Gratitude because of what Jesus has done for me on the cross. I am not saved by what I do. Yes, it is a requirement to do good, but it is not enough to get me to heaven. However, I truly believe I am saved because of an act of Grace. An act of Love. I don't deserve it and I certainly can't earn it by "pleasing" God with my good works and my decency. I am not enough!

And, all of the other reasons I have for going to church may be good reasons, too.

The priest/pastor didn't really give a concrete answer, or judged, or said "that's a valid answer and that's not", etc. But he really made me think.

I can go on and on about this. So, I want to challenge you with the same question... "Why do you go to church?" You don't have to answer in a comment (if you want to, you can, comments make me happy), just think about it.

What you discover about yourself might be dangerous. How beautiful is that?

Under so much Grace, 
Gabby


Monday, June 17, 2013

Friends

Top L to R: Lucero, Jimena, Diana (my sister), me, Grisyan and Paty
Bottom L to R: America and Yoly

I noticed that in my short blogger life, I've mainly talked about Greg and my family. However, I would also like for you to know about some of the most important girls in my life (some are missing!). We recently met at a nearby city and had a blast spending the weekend together!

I met most of the girls when I was really really young. However, it wasn't until we were older (like highschool-old) that we became really good friends.

I met Lucero in our really strict Christian school. She and my sister were in the same class and then we found out we lived approximately two blocks from each other! We grew up together and I have so many memories of her. She is now a mommy to a gorgeous little boy.

As for Jimena, I met her at one of Paty's birthday parties. Actually, at one of those parties, Jimena's hair was so messy that her mother placed Sprite on her hair (like hair gel) and there were flies flying around her head from that point on. Don't tell her I told you that! Have I told you that she sings beautifully and is going for her Master's Degree in some sort of music? ;-) "Estas son las mananitas que cantaba el Rey David..." (inside joke).

I met Grisyan because our families used (still do) hang out together along with some other families. She confessed not too long ago that she didn't like my sister and I when she met us. ;-) We ended up going to the same school from 9th-11th grade and we would ride together along with Paty. Together, we were the "Nitro" buddies.

Paty...She has been like a little sister to me. I met her because her family invited my family to her birthday parties. She always had big birthday parties! When we were older, we ended up in the same school and we found out that she and my sister were born on the same day, same year. Instant bond! My sister and I went through some pretty rough times with her that made our bond even closer. Paty, my sister and I also went to Europe together! She is now a mommy to a blue/gray eyed boy and a beautiful little girl!

As for Yoly, she and I met at a birthday party at her grandmother's house! I can clearly remember that birthday party. We also ended up going to the same school (from 9th-11th grade) where we became the best of friends. She was always the planner, leader and defender of the group (still is). She is now an event/wedding planner!

America. Golly, we met at school, too. We had the same lunch hour and sat at the same table. Also, she happened to go to a Catholic school with Jimena, Paty, Yoly and Grisyan prior to our 9th grade year. We both graduated as Juniors and went off to a huge university in a huge city. She was my rock and support those first semesters of college. We also became college roommates!...And I happen to be her confirmation godmother/sponsor. She calls me "Godmother". ;-) She now works in Miami, FL!

And, last but not least, my sister. THE absolute most important girl in my life. I love her to death. Y'all know her.

We all live in different cities, now, and have completely different lives, yet our friendship remains the same (maybe a little more mature).

I am so blessed to call them my friends.

"Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Colossians 3: 12-14

Wishing you a great week,
Gabby

Friday, June 7, 2013

Set a Fire

(Captured this picture on a cold winter night in Minnesota)

No place I'd rather be
Here in Your love

Set a fire down in my soul
That I can't contain
That I can't control
I want more of You, God. 

(Set a Fire - United Pursuit)

Love, 
Gabby

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Dear Girl I saw at McDonald's


Dear Girl I saw at McDonald's,

You may think no one saw you. But I did. I saw you. You had shoulder length, blonde hair, and you were wearing a plain white t-shirt, jeans, and black tennis shoes. You looked like you were in your early twenties..around my age. I am sorry I didn't take a closer look, it was just seconds that I saw you.

You were accompanied by your boyfriend or your husband, I suppose.

I observed that the guy who was with you took the drinks from the drive-thru cashier with force. Your boyfriend (or husband) then drove down a small distance away from the drive-thru window, but were still close to my car.

Then, it happened. I didn't pay attention to the cashier who was telling me how much I needed to pay for my food.

I saw as his arm went up. I saw when he clenched his hand to make a fist. I saw when he moved those two towards you. I saw as you tried to cover your face. The car you were in was forcibly moving from left to right. That's how much force he had. He attacked you multiple times.

Then, the door on your side of the car opened and I saw his arms and hands push you out of the car. You barely touched the asphalt and quickly got up. That is when I saw you.

And you returned back into to the car.

Your boyfriend (or husband) and you drove away in your white car, never to be seen again by me or the cashier, who saw everything.

But I saw you dear Girl and what happened to you made me physically sick.

You know, I grew up in a family where, I believe, physical abuse does not happen and it is not talked about. My dad and mom only told my siblings and I that we should not physically hurt each other or allow anyone else to hurt us "ni con el petalo de una rosa", which means, "not even with the petal of a rose". Most of my friends come from families like mine. I've seen the effects of physical abuse in other places outside of home, but I've never actually seen physical abuse. You were the first one.

And I didn't do anything. I was too shocked to call the police. Too shocked to take a picture or memorize the license plates.

I am sorry. I don't know your circumstances or what led up to him attacking you.

I hope you don't become uncomfortable by the next thing I am going to say, but I did ask God why did He allow this to happen to you (to any girl, really). I don't know if you are a believer, but I'd like to believe He was with you and He saw everything.

Don't you worry, I am not writing you this letter to give you advice. It is not my place. However, if I may, I will say one word:

Run.

I'd like to tell you about a Man who was crucified on a cross, died and rose again for the forgiveness of your sins (and your guy's sins). His name is Jesus. I'd like to tell you about His love for you. You are highly valuable in His eyes. Run into His arms. You will find healing, love, and your sense of worth in Him.

Staying in a place where an abuser is present makes you vulnerable to his attacks. No one deserves to physically, sexually, mentally, emotionally or spiritually abused. It is not your fault and it is never, ever okay. You are not alone. I hope you seek help and advice from those who know and love you, Girl. Because you do deserve love.

Praying for you, 
The Girl in the car behind yours at McDonald's.

"About the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' - which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" Matthew 27: 46
"...and surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28: 20

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Greg's visit to Texas: Port A

These are the last few pictures of Greg's visit to Texas, I promise. :-) For the last few days, we took a road trip to the (closest) beach in Texas!

It was such a blessing spending time with Greg and knowing more and more about him every day!

It was such a beautiful morning. The sky was blue, the weather was not too hot, not too cold. Perfection.





I took this picture because of the older couple. It was so sweet. 


One of the secrets and beauty of Port A is that it doesn't have a lot of visitors, like some of the neighboring beaches!




I HAD to do the jumping picture. ;-)


My husband is so sweet. 





The following were taken by Greg (obviously). He loves taking pictures and I love that!








Is this considered fifty cents in sea money? 
:-) 

Probably not the smartest thing to do at the beach. I also tried this and my knees hurt!



Complete sand dollar. 





We rented a golf cart that day and drove it around the small town and the beach (it is actually legal to drive them in town!).










Empty beach. Car. Shoes. Purse. Camera bag.

(My camera bag actually took this picture for us) 
:-) 


That is all!

How is your Monday (well, Tuesday, since it's ten minutes past midnight)? Today is my Friday! I worked all weekend long. Today has been pretty quiet and I am grateful for some rest.

Love, 
Gabby