Wednesday, July 1, 2015

And It's Been a While

There are times when absence seems to be the best option. It makes you rethink, revisit what you're doing. On this blog I have shared a lot of my spiritual journey. It's been real! However, I never wanted this to be a soul-venting site. I wanted to share my life. I wanted to give you pieces of me, my ups and downs, what makes me move and what stops me dead in my tracks. I feel as if I've robbed you of all that.

I've gone back to reread my posts. Those were trying times, when my faith is what kept me standing. I am truly grateful for that. While I was away, I did a lot of Jesus-searching, some days better than others. For a while there, I felt good about my life. I was becoming content with my ins and outs. There was a settling satisfaction within me that sighed a sigh of relief. I was able to look at myself in the mirror and smile. There I was, a good girl who loves her God and her family; who will continue to do good and to never trip up again. This was my mantra every morning I awoke, feeling so very proud of myself for having changed and not reverting back to the old sinful me.

But then it happened...

I began to spiral down the same paths. Same thoughts, same feelings. That dormant part of me whom I thought I had vanquished was just hiding, waiting for that precise moment of assurance and pride. I struck a blow to my "almost perfect" self, to that girl who was going down the right path but started to get boastful about it. Because I got too sure of myself I weakened and those parts of me that I thought I had control over emerged once again and I fell prey.

I messed up in real and hurtful ways.

Remember that famous scene in the movie 300, when the main guy (I never remember character names or lines, but I can allude to stuff...that means nothing, right?) kicks the enemy into what seemed like a never-ending pit shouting "THIS IS SPARTA?" Yup, that was me, being kicked into the pit, falling, falling, never to hit bottom.

And so in all this time of silence I've continued to live, but watching myself as if an audience member ad not part of the ensemble. I have to say that it's all quite chaotic and so may things have changed.

So lets start over, shall we?

Okay, here goes...

Hi! My name is Ivy. I am happily married to J. and have four beautiful kids. Zay who is my sixteen year old stepson, Liani, my ten year old daughter, Naya, my six year old little girl, and Lucas, who has just turned one. I am a Catholic who struggles so much to strengthen my faith everyday. I love the church and have grown to understand it more and more. My mom is alive and well, thanks be to God. My father deceased now for many years. He succumbed to HIV when I was eight years old. I have a half sister named Lee and I have wonderful friends whom I consider family. My husband is my love and my best friend and God knows that I don't deserve such a loving and forgiving man but he is my strength and my fortress. The Lord know I need him.

I'm not one of those woman who say I don't need a man, but I believe that doesn't make me an anti-feminist. As a matter of fact, I believe that a true feminist is the woman who recognizes the true gifts that God has given her as a woman and the talents her femininity brings to any relationship. I believe that those feminine qualities I have compliment those qualities that J. has and therefore we fit like two puzzle pieces.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Love is Painful

Love is painful.

I don't want to paint a pretty picture of love every time, don't want to romanticize it,  because the truth is that love, true love, hurts.

Love cannot be contained. It travels in me, claims me, has made me and keeps remaking me. Love is meant to give out, never to hold, only to disperse in striking amounts so that we can receive True Love. And its exit is painful.

I can't romanticize love. At times it can be reflected this way and that, but to say that love shouldn't hurt is to say that I've not loved enough. I've not loved big enough, high enough. To say that love is not painful is to assume that I am not weak, that my very flesh is invincible, immortal, perfect. To say that painful love is not love is to say that I have not given myself at all and am not willing to.

That is not love to me.

To say so would negate an act of love that poured Itself out on the very ground, opened Itself with each scourging blow, with each buffet and insult, those very wounds becoming faucets of mercy and love. To say love doesn't hurt says I can't perceive the pain of lonliness up high on a cross, the abandonment of friends, the alienation of this world upon the shoulders of this God-Man, my King subjected to be nailed to a tree aside two common thieves. To say I negate the pain in this act of love is to deny myself of the very Love being given from it.

True Love is riddled with self sacrifice and this world today is a clear sign of how painful that love can be, so much so that people have created a "pain-free" world in order not to feel the emptying of what true love really is. My heart sees a world of hearts not willing to give of themselves, holding on to the most valuable talent He gave us, dooming us to hold on selfishly to what isn't ours to begin with, what He commanded be shared.

The only reason love exists is because He is Love. In creating me, Love is branded throughout my very being. And this abundant Love is meant to be distributed, to the very last tearful drop.

Because a vat filled with wine cannot receive new, fresh wine. Its emptiness is required.

This vat, made of flesh and bone, feels the emptying of self, in love, to receive a Love far beyond my comprehension, far beyond my very own power to love. I can never receive That Love if I don't release the limited love I contain within.

And once I do let go and let Love, it is only then that I feel immense joy. Love leads to joy. To love, give it, wear it vulnerable and raw, is the only way to receive joy, not the fleeting kind, the everlasting kind. Eternal Joy.

Love to me is....

When I look at her, at her innocent beauty, her purity, my heart empties out, painfully ebbing out through the thinnest of tears. I lose myself, only to fill up with her. Her little fingers letting go of her love to wipe those tears. The exchange begins with pain and ends in joy.

I think of him and once again, the passion of detachment, my very soul, whose fibers have entwined with his, start to pull at mine, even with bodies close, whispers heard loud, emptying myself in helpless love. The exchange begins with pain and ends in joy.

But most of all, love is when I look upon my Savior, in whatever form He chooses to reveal Himself to me, His eyes turned to me, His wounded Heart beating for me, each pain-filled thump creating a whisper of the words, I Love You. This exchange begins with His pain and ends in my joy. In this moment I realize what Love is, I let go of me, bearing that pain, my heart being able to truly beat back...

I love You too.

God bless!

Thursday, February 6, 2014

Curveballs of the Past

We all go through lifestyle changes. We all make decisions in our lives that perhaps we would've never thought of making, say five, ten years ago, but have decided to make them now for our betterment. We change for the better and it is a part of growth.

And when we make those drastic changes we feel good, our bodies feel good. We trust we have chosen correctly for ourselves. We are content, so much so, we begin to tell our friends and loved ones about our change and how they too can achieve this new lifestyle. We are different and we vow not to go back to our old selves. We are committed to our new selves.

But then something happens... someone decides to throw us a curveball, and not just any old curveball. We get thrown at us a curveball of our past; a pitch that comes out of nowhere and twists and turns to show us who we used to be, the things we used to do. Most times we don't see it coming until it's almost too late. We have seen what it brings; a reminder of where we were, of how we use to be, and we get distracted.

I'll use myself as an example.

I used to be a smoker. I wasn't a chain smoker, but there were times in my life where I smoked so much I landed in the hospital. I knew the damage it was doing to me. My lungs burned, my asthma worsened, my skin took on an unhealthy hue, my breath, clothes, and fingertips stunk. I knew it was a bad habit, but knowing the damage I was doing didn't stop me. I kept on smoking and making excuses like, "I'm stressed and smoking calms me, " or "I only smoke when I drink." It was bad for me, hurtful to my body, and to be honest with you, I really didn't know how or even wanted to stop.

When I met J, I hid my smoking from him. From what I gathered as I was getting to know him, he didn't like girls who smoked. I liked him enough to keep it from him, but not enough to quit. By the time he realized I was a smoker I was in love with him. He asked me to stop and I did. Just like that. I didn't stop because of the health issues, of the smell, the financial burden even. I stopped because someone I loved and someone who loved me asked me to and I didn't want to be separated from him. So I gave up smoking so that I can be happy with him instead. That was more than ten years ago and I slowly gave it up. Every now and then I'd find a cigarette back in my hands but I knew I had changed. I no longer felt I had the option to go backwards and lose what I gained when I let go of the smoking habit. It wasn't until later that I saw the benefits of quitting to my body, my wallet, but I can honestly say that if it wasn't for J telling me to quit, I probably would have kept on smoking. Perhaps quitting for J wasn't the best reason in many people's eyes, but it led me to change my lifestyle. Now when I see people I love smoking I ask them to quit, hoping to have a similar effect on them as J had on me. But, in doing so, sometimes, I get the curveball of my past smoking lifestyle. When I see it coming it reminds me of the damage done.

Jesus Christ has had the same effect on me. Smoking is bad but perhaps not my worst of sins and my past is riddled with them. My lifestyle before Christ was so very different. I was not thinking about the damage I was doing to my soul. My former ways weren't just breaking God's heart, but my very own. Unfortunately, that didn't make me stop. I didn't know Jesus loved me. I didn't know Jesus, I mean, really know Him, and so I didn't love Him either. But the minute I bumped into Jesus on my life's road, He immediately showed me His wounds, His scars. He showed me His love. I was hurting myself and in turn hurting Him. He asked me to stop. I promised I would try.

And I decided to change my lifestyle for Him. I love Jesus. I don't want to be separated from Him. If I go back to my former ways, if I stick to them and decide to dismiss my changes, I will be unhappy, I will feel empty, defeated, ashamed. Jesus will always love me, but if I go back, I'm choosing to walk away from Him. And I love Jesus. So I'm doing my best to change my lifestyle. I'm still making progress but I have definitely changed for my better.

But, of course, every now and then, I get thrown that curveball. It comes down the plate, tricking me into believing that my past is gonna strike me out. All I've worked so much for to get here won't mean a thing because this curveball of the past is about to try and transport me back to the old ways. It has the power to make me believe that I have never changed.

I get very distracted.

Those old buddies of mine, Shame and Regret come along for the ride. There were days when they would grab me, but not without a struggle. Nowadays, I let them take me sometimes. See, I do have regrets, and there are times when I do feel shame. I used to fight these feelings. I used to say I have no regrets, I'm not ashamed of my past. But I am, and it's a good thing. Shame and Regret serve a purpose in my life now. They are reminders of where I don't want to be again. If these two didn't come around, if I walked through life still stating my lack of shame and regret, I guarantee you that I will repeat my past doings. If I don't feel shame and regret I give myself license to not be held accountable for my sins, past, present and future, and I will keep on hurting the person I love most, Jesus, and, in turn hurting myself.

Shame and Regret somehow keep me focused on where I am going and how far I've come.

When someone decides to throw you a curveball of the past, try and knock you out of play and tell you that you are still the same old person, let it past you. It is impossible for us to travel back in time. The past is the past but you can glance back when you want and remind yourself of where you've been. A couple of curveballs may have to pass you by to recognize what they really are and what purpose they serve. Some may even strike you out, but the game isn't over. Study them, look at them, feel the speed as they whizz by. Once you begin to realize that the past is a tool now, not to bring you back, or to knock you down, but to remind you of how far you have come, meet that pitch, make contact with your bat and knock that curveball of the past out of the park. You will see it again, but chances are you will know how to use it for good next time around.

Today I choose Jesus. Tomorrow I pray I keep choosing Jesus. He knows my past. He loves me enough to ask me to change, to not be afraid, to trust in Him. He's my coach, waving me home, telling me I can do it. I may trip and I may fall, but His encouragement keeps me rounding the bases and all I want is to get home to heaven and score one for the winning team. Keep those curveballs coming!

God bless!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The Perfect Person I Am Not

Dear Liani,

First off, let me start by saying that I love you immensely, and it is because of this love that I write this to you.

I feel that my responsibility as a mom is to be as loving and honest as possible. Sometimes parents find reasons to tell untruths to keep our children happy, to prevent from hurting them in any way, but it is done out of love.

I want you to know something about me. I am not perfect. Although I am constantly telling you how to be a better person, showing you how to be what I consider happy and normal, I myself need a lot of help and lecturing. Yes, as an adult, I too don't have it together.

As you know I am very messy. It is why I get so upset at your messiness. I don't want you to inherit that from me. I wish I was neater, but, I'm not, yet I expect you to be. Not good.

I also sometimes make promises that I know I won't be able to keep. I wish I had a better handle on time management, on my responsibilities, but I don't and yet I expect you to get your act together when it comes to school and homework. Not good.

Mommy is lazy. Sometimes I have a spurt of energy and desire to get things done, most times I'm lethargic. I get upset when you try and take the easy way out, yet I watch myself do the very same thing.  Not good.

There are things that mommy does that perhaps you are still too young to even think of doing. I gossip, which is awful because I hurt people that I say I love and care for with words that way. I am full of pride and I love getting the glory, knowing, thinking I am or should be the star. I have a temper that isn't set off by much. I am not very thankful sometimes. Many times I say things that are wrong, not nice, judgemental. There are times where I think of something bad happening to someone just because they hurt me. I have so many faults, so many sins. Mommy is not a perfect person.

I'm just a weak sinner who needs Jesus. This is why I go to church, why I pray to Mary, why I read about the Saints. I need Jesus to help me get better. And every time I get a little better, I turn to Him with a thankful heart. You know, Jesus said that He came for the sick, for the poor in spirit. He came to lift us up, to take us out of our slavery to sin. He came to heal my heart and increase my faith. He forgives me because He loves me and knows that I will probably sin again. But when I go back to Him, head and heart hung low, He forgives me again. I go to Mary because I want to be like her. She loved Jesus best. I go to her so she can help me, show me how, because moms know how to show their kids to be better. And the Saints are people like you and me, struggling to do better, many times falling, but getting up to try and love Jesus and our neighbor better with each rising. It's not about their faults, but about how they know Jesus loves them in spite of their shortcomings, and their persistence in always doing better next time. They weren't perfect either, like most people think. On the contrary, we can relate to their imperfections and ask them to pray for us to improve.

I just wanted to tell you that I'm sorry. I mess up a lot and not just with you but with lots of people. Each day I pray that I do better as a mom and as a person. I want you to know that you don't need to be perfect. But always strive to be better, more loving to God and His people. (Everyone is a son and daughter of God, whether they acknowledge that or not, whatever their sins are. We are called to love, forgive and not seek revenge. ) And always lean on Christ for help with everything. Because sometimes we think we know and we don't know a thing. But He knows everything and He loves us anyway.

Love you to pieces my baby girl,
Your Mommy

God bless!