Sunday, March 23, 2014

Paper: One Year!

A year ago today, Greg and I were legally married!

It has been quite the adventure. This first year has brought so many changes! God has been so, so faithful. I can see His hand in every step of the way. I am filled with awe and gratefulness.

If you are interested, here is the story (and many pictures!): Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3

Greg, thank you for being such a godly, wonderful, and patient husband. Thank you for showing me how much the Lord loves me. Through easy and difficult times, I pray that our marriage is full of Him, His grace and His love. I love being your wife. I pray for many more years by your side. I love you!

And thank you, for reading our story.  

Praising Him,

(For some people it's confusing, since we just had our religious wedding ceremony in October of 2013. For many reasons [and timing], we were legally married for seven months before we received the Sacrament of Matrimony through the church. We decided not to live together until we made this covenant. So atypical, I know. Two dates, two celebrations, both equally special. His plans are perfect!)

Monday, March 17, 2014

Melodies and Meditations on the Cross: Si Hubiera Estado Allí (If I had been there).

Si Hubiera Estado Allí by Jesús Adrian Romero

Si hubiera estado allí, entre la multitud,
Que tu muerte pidió, que te crucifico.
Lo tengo que admitir, hubiera yo también,
Clavado en esa cruz, tus manos mi Jesús.
Si hubiera estado allí.

If I had been there, in between the crowd,
That your death asked, that crucified you.
I have to admit, I would have too,
Nailed to that cross, your hands my Jesus.
If I had been there.

Pensándolo mas bien, también yo estaba allí,
Yo fui el que te escupió, y de ti se burlo.
Pensándolo mas bien, yo fui el que corono,
De espinas y dolor, tu frente buen Senor.
También yo estaba allí.

Thinking about it, I was also there,
I was the one who spit at you, and made fun of you.
Thinking about it, I was the one who crowned you,
With thorns and pain, your head good Lord.
I was also there.

Si hubiera estado allí, al pie de aquella cruz,
Oyéndote clamar, al Padre en soledad.
Lo tengo que admitir, te hubiera yo también,
Dejado así morir, mirándote sufrir.
Si hubiera estado allí.

If I had been there, at the foot of that cross,
Listening to you cry, in loneliness to the Father.
I have to admit, I would have too,
Left you dying, looking at you suffering.
If I had been there.

Pensándolo mas bien, también yo estaba allí,
Yo fui el que te escupió, y tu costado hirió.
Pensándolo mas bien, yo fui el que corono,
De espinas y dolor, tu frente buen Senor.

Thinking about it, I was also there,
I was the one who spit at you, and hurt your side.
Thinking about it, I was the one who crowned you,
With thorns and pain, your head good Lord.

Pensándolo mas bien, también yo estaba allí,
Yo fui el que te golpeo, y de ti se burlo.

Thinking about it, I was also there,
I was the one who pushed you, and made fun of you. 

Pensándolo mas bien, yo fui el que te azoto,
Yo fui el que lacero, tu espalda mi Senor.

Thinking about it, I was the one who hit you,
I was the one who lacerated, your back my Lord.

También yo estaba allí.
También yo estaba allí.
También yo estaba allí.

I was also there.
I was also there.
I was also there. 

And even then, Lord, You continue to love me. I have sinned against You over and over again, yet You sacrificed Yourself for me. When I think about that day, the day You were crucified, I often wonder what I would have done, where I would have been. Forgive me Savior. Teach me how to forgive. Let me see my sin when I crown and crucify my neighbor, my friend, my husband, my family, my church. Teach me to seek forgiveness and love others in and through you.

Sadly, the beauty of this song is lost in translation. I hope that you were able to grasp its beautiful meaning. When I see movies or read about the Crucifixion, my heart is hurt and in rage against the men who literally crucified Him. I often think I would be comforting Him, helping Him carry the cross, crying, yelling, pleading to let Him go, or maybe comforting Mary. However, I often find myself on "the other side" as I crucify Him every time I sin against Him or my neighbor.

Reflect upon it.

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. - 2 Corinthians 5:21


*I [unofficially] translated his song into the English language. Therefore, it may contain mistakes.*

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Three little visitors and a not-so-ordinary day.

Two days ago, we had three little visitors.

Here is what a six-year-old and two four-year-olds had to say:

At the sight of the Capitol.
C: "Auntie Gabby, look at the church!"
Me: "That is not the church, C. It's the Capitol."
C: "What is that?"
Me: "Well, its a place where there are a bunch of offices for the government and people work there."
M: "What is a gov-ment?"
Me: "They make the rules we have to follow in the city we live in."
B: (six-year-old joins our conversation) "Is that like Mount Rushmore? It has presidents in it."
Siiiiimilar concept.

At the sight of the Cathedral.
Me: "Look C! That's the church."
M: "That's where Mommy and Daddy got married."
B: "...And N also had water poured on his head there!"
Me: "Yeah. N got baptized there. You were there for his baptism and you were all baptized there, too, when you were babies."
M: "What's bap-, bap-..."
Me: "Baptism."
M: "Yeah."
Me: (unsure of what their parents have told them about this subject) "It's...umm...when you become...umm... a son of God."
M: "Oh. Yeah, N was wearing a gown and they poured water over his head. When I was little, they washed my hair, too!"
Lord, have mercy. 

While passing the Cathedral.
M: "Auntie Gabby, why do people get married?"
Me: "Umm...well...when you grow up, two people fall in love, they decide they want to stay together forever, the boy gives the girl a ring, they go to a church and they get married."
C: "When I get married, I want a big, big, big, big, biiiiiig ring."
Priorities of a four-year-old. 

B: "Auntie Gabby, is Spain a town or a city?"
Me: "It's a country! A city is like St. Paul and a country is like the United States."
M: "Yeah. We are St. Poloans!"
Greg: "What?! You live in the North Pole?!"
M: "No, silly. That's where Santa Claus lives."
M: (distracted by a tall building) "Wow! That building must have cost one-hundred dollars!"

I am happy to report that we survived taking care of not one, but three little ones. When I picked them up, they informed me of the rules. They were instructed to take care of each other, hold hands when we walked on the street, and to be very good listeners. We went swimming in an indoor pool, watched Lilo & Stitch, the little girls played ring-around-the-rosie (with a teddy bear as their third person), and I fed them juice, mac&cheese and brownies (whoops).

To end this post: C: "Auntie Gabby, you make the most delicious brownies in the whole wide world forever!" ;-)

And that, friends, is the beauty of a not-so-ordinary day. ;-)


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

On fasting, Lent and Chick-fil-A.

Via Pinterest (broken link)
Picture this: Last Wednesday, Greg and I drove to a dentist appointment in a nearby city. When we were there, we noticed that this city had a Chick-fil-A. For some of you, this isn't a big deal. Well, in our hometown in Minnesota, I've only found one Chick-fil-A, and it's in the airport, past security (off-limits). In Texas, there is one every few blocks. We were very excited that we had found a Chick-fil-A. So excited that we sort-of forgot it was Ash Wednesday. For some Christian denominations, this means fasting from meat (or other foods) during Lent, Ash Wednesday and/or Fridays. So, yes, we were that couple ordering nuggets and a fish sandwich (lucky Greg) with big ol' ash crosses on our foreheads.

This event uncovered a topic that Greg and I had not talked about that much. To give you a little background, my husband's family has traditional and conservative Catholic beliefs. My family is a little more liberal/relaxed about Catholicism. Needless to say, we have varying opinions.

Why do you fast (specifically from meat)? Because the Catholic Church says so. Because it is a rule our church has. Because I grew up with that custom. I don't know, my parents do it, so I do it. Because the Bible says so. Ugh, it's Friday, I can't eat meat!

Umm...What?! This wasn't our specific conversation, but statements I've said and heard throughout my life.

So, Greg and I have begun to explore what the Bible says, what the church says, what we believe, and how we are going to incorporate those beliefs into our family.

Giving up sweets, meat, the internet or other worldly idols for Lent is not going sanctify me, bring me closer to God, or help me attain salvation, if our motive and drive isn't Jesus and what He did for me on the cross.

I am no theologian, but this is my prayer: May our fasting from meat (or other discipline) be one that points to Jesus. May fasting from meat represent denying our own sinful flesh. May our own itty-bitty sacrifices remind us of His suffering and huge sacrifice for us. May this season teach us so much more than we expect, in a different way than we expect, and may we wake up on Resurrection Sunday looking a little bit more like our Savior.

We have made a decision for our family. Sometimes, we may fail, sin, and may go to Chick-fil-A again. Despite this, we want our family to be on fire for Christ as we humbly obey Christianity/Catholicism out of our love for Him and because of that ultimate sacrifice.

We are still learning. It's a beautiful thing, and this is just the beginning.


Please, let me know if you have any thoughts! I would love to know about your journey/beliefs. Have a great, great week!


Friday, March 7, 2014

Melodies and Meditations on the Cross: Why?

Why by Nicole Nordeman

We rode into town the other day,
Just me and my Daddy.
He said I'd finally reach that age, 
And I could ride with him on my horse, 
That, of course, was not quite as wide.

We heard a crowd of people shouting, 
And so we stopped to find out why.
There was that Man,
That my Dad said he loved, 
But today there was fear in his eyes. 

So I said, "Daddy, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why is He dressed in that bright purple robe?
I'll bet that crown hurts Him more than He shows.
Daddy, please can't you do something?
He looks as though He's gonna cry.
You said He was stronger than all of those guys.
Daddy, please tell me why?
Why does everyone want Him to die?"

Later that day, the sky grew cloudy,
And Daddy said I should go inside.
Somehow he knew things would get stormy.
Boy, was he right. 
But i could not keep from wondering,
If there was something he had to hide.
So after he left I had to find out.
I was not afraid of getting lost,
So, I followed the crowds,
To a hill where I knew men had been killed,
And I heard a voice come from the cross.

And it said, "Father, why are they screaming?
Why are the faces of some of them beaming?
Why are they casting their lots for My robe?
This crown of thorns hurts Me more than it shows.
Father, please can't You do something?
I know that You must hear My cry.
I thought I could handle a cross of this size.
Father, remind Me why.
Why does everyone want Me to die?
When will I understand why?"

"My precious Son, I hear them screaming.
I'am watching the face of the enemy beaming.
But soon I will clothe You in robes of My own.
Jesus, this hurts Me much more than You know.
But this dark hour I must do nothing.
Though, I've heard your unbearable cry.
The power of Your blood destroys all the lies.
Soon You'll see past their unmerciful eyes.
Look there below, see the child,
Trembling by her father's side,
Now I can tell You why.
She is why You must die."

A few years ago, when I heard this song, it reminded me of a time in my Christian elementary school. I can't remember what time of the year it was, but I must have just heard a story or seen a movie on the Crucifixion. I do remember, however, going to the playground, and asking myself similar questions. Why was he being punished like that? Why death? Why couldn't God do something about it? I hadn't fully grasped what happened on Crucifixion day. 

I wanted to share the lyrics with you to remind you: It was for YOU. 

But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon Him, and by His wounds we are healed. - Isaiah 53:5

Allow this Truth to sink in throughout your day. 


Thursday, March 6, 2014

The Sunshine Award

Many thanks to Bethany for nominating me for this award! Bethany blogs at Liberty or Death. I always enjoy visiting her blog. Go visit her now!

I've known about the Sunshine Award for some time now. It's main purpose is to recognize other bloggers, as well as share a bit more about themselves. I am pretty sure that the rules are to: use the logo above, acknowledge nominating blogger, share 10 random facts about yourself, answer 10 questions the nominating blogger asked, nominate other bloggers (not the one who nominated you), prepare 10 questions for your nominees.

I thought it was a fun thing to do, so here we go.

Random (or not so random) facts:

1. My legal name is 5 names long. For real. My license doesn't even say my entire name because it didn't fit.
2. My first name is after my dad and my grandfather (feminine form) and my middle name is after my mom. On that subject, there are a lot of Gabriel/a's in my family.
3. I am a citizen of Mexico and a permanent resident of the United States.
4. My favorite foods are chocolate doughnuts and Reeses. ;-)
5. When I was little, I told my parents I wanted to be an astronaut, a nun, or a doctor/nurse when I grew up. I had a long nun-phase at 10 years old. My sister and I even played "nuns" by placing pillow cases over our heads.
6. I have two crooked toes, inherited from my great-grandma according to my mom. ;-) It makes me laugh at the thought of it.
7. I don't remember "learning" English. People always ask me how my experience was, since my first language is Spanish.
8. While we are on the English language topic, I have an accent. Not a very strong one, though.
9. I was raised Catholic, went to a Pentecostal middle/jr high school, attended a very liberal public college for two years, and went to a non-denominational church while attending a Lutheran college for years 3 and 4 and had lovely, non-believing roommates (except for one year). Phew! I've had many friends and many different and interesting conversations. I am grateful that this exposure has made the culturally-competent person I need to be as a nurse.
10. I sleep with my legs in the shape of a number 4 and my right arm over my head.

Bethany's questions:

1. How did you become a Christian? I was born and raised in a Christian/Catholic family. I had "accepted" Jesus as my Savior when I was very young. However, I didn't grasp the essence of true Christianity until I was halfway through college. I think it wasn't until this time that I fully understood what Jesus had done for me on the cross and declared Him as my Savior.

2. What is your favorite Bible verse?  Oh goodness. I have many. One that I have lived by for many years is Jeremiah 29:11.

3. What is your favorite color? Blue! Can I have two? Purple! Many of my belongings are purple, and much of my clothing is blue! 

4. What are your favorite sports or other hobbies? As for sports, I don't play any on a regular basis, but two of my favorites (to watch) are football and soccer. As for hobbies, I love photography, reading and hiking!

5. If you won $10,000 what would you do with it? Hmm. Down payment for a house! Priorities of married life. ;-) If I could just do anything...definitely travel to a distant country and stay there for a long time. In reality, this would be difficult for me to do, because I am more of a saver than a spender. 

6. What are your favorite shows/movies? I don't watch shows that much, but I do have some movies I like. I love classic movies and many, many Disney movies I watched when I was younger. Matilda was a favorite one! My sister and I would always watch Madeline, as well!

7. What are some of your favorite books? Ooh. A Little Princess (F. Hodgson Burnett), Pride and Prejudice and Emma (J. Austen), every book by Paulo Coelho, Grace for the Good Girl (E. Freeman), and the list goes on...and on. A recent one that I read was The Wedding Dress by Rachel Hauck and it was really good!

8. What's your favorite animal and why? Due to an unfortunate event when I was younger (approximately 6 years old), I had never liked animals in general. However, that changed when my family had Rocco (Chihuahua) and Nena (Lab). They have both passed, but I really love dogs now and I am a lot more open about other animals as well!

9. What's your favorite season and why? Autumn. Living in Mexico/Texas my entire life, this season is/was like a breath of fresh air (literally). Spring quickly became hot, summer was even hotter, and winter was all sorts of seasons into one. When I came to Minnesota for the first time, I experienced a real fall season, and fell even more in love (with the season and my now husband)! ;-) Besides that, my birthday is during fall. I may be biased. 
10. What was one time you were in a very difficult situation and the Lord helped you? I have seen the Lord's hand in many, many situations that my family and I had to deal with. A more recent one was my move to Minnesota for obvious reasons. I was completely overwhelmed by this. Leaving everything and everyone "behind" was not easy. The Lord helped Greg and I with all the details and allowed me to see it in a different perspective. He has been so faithful! 

Here are my nominees:

Patty from A Modern Grace
Laura from String of Pearls (who is also author of Finding Grace)
Clare from Come Further Up
and anyone else who wants to share some blogging love!

I love reading your blogs, ladies! I love reading many blogs. However, some of these blogs have already been nominated and/or the blog's main focus is not one of sharing everyday life.

1. Describe yourself in one word. Go!
2. If you could visit any country, free of charge, where would you go?
3. What is your favorite food?
4. What did you want to be when you "grew up" and why?
5. What is your favorite Bible verse?
6. If you could go back in time, what era would you like to visit and why?
7. What is your favorite childhood memory?
8. What are your favorite sports/hobbies?
9. What are your favorite shows/movies?
10. What is something you are looking forward to?

If you decide to do it, there is no rush, ladies. I know it's time consuming. *You can also answer the questions in a blog comment if you don't want to make an entire post about it.* Ladies who don't have a blog are also welcome!*

Thank you for reading and thank you, Bethany!


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Marzo Goals.

Wow, time is flying by! March (Spanish = Marzo) is already here. How was your February?

Well, as I did for January and February, it's time to set up some goals for the month of March (and beyond).

Here are my goals for February. In some, I would give myself a B+ and in others, a big F.

7) Spend quality time with my husband. = I think we did really good on this one. For most weekends, we tried to set apart a day for just us. As I told Greg, we don't have to go out or spend money to do something fun.

8) Organize my kitchen. = Hm. I kind of organized tupper-ware is! However, we still have a lot of stuff...and my kitchen is so small.

9) Place stuff that needs to be in storage, IN STORAGE. = Okay. This gets a big F. I didn't move a thing into storage. You can still spot a brown box and a blue box in our living room.

10) Be more actively involved at my church. = Could I mention how difficult this is? My church is very large. There are some groups out there, but they mainly target older women, or youth (as in teens), or everyone else but young adults. However, I am planning on going to the Re-discover series in my Archdiocese. I am excited! We shall see.

March. Besides continuing with some of my past goals...

11) Grocery planning and be a better coupon-er. 

So, my sister-in-law is a major couponer. She got me into this. I decided I would at least try it. Maybe I could save us 2 or 3 dollars. So, I grocery planned before our grocery trip, organized our coupons...and saved us $40 for that trip! This past Saturday, we saved $28. Not much, but it's a very exciting start! It takes a lot of dedication.

12) Less worthless time on the computer/phone.

Sometimes, I go into Facebook, Blogger, Instagram, etcetera, way more time than I had originally planned. I am not saying its a bad thing, but it does become addicting (and has a direct effect on quality time with husband/family). I need more discipline in this area.

13) Get my husband and I a physical exam.

We need to make health a priority. As a nurse, I tend to ignore some signs my body gives me, thinking it's nothing. I need to set the example as a healthcare provider.

In other news, a bloggy friend shared some blogging love with me, and I am excited to share that with you in the next post! Also, Lent is right around the corner. This will be the first time that I am going to try my best to make it an intentional Lent. If you do observe it, do you want to share with me what this season means to you?

"...Everything is meaningless. All go to the same place; all come from dust, and to dust all return." 
-Ecclesiastes 2:20