So here are my faves for the night... Maybe you'll like a few, too. Or maybe your suspicions about my weirdness will just finally be confirmed. Either way, enjoy!
"Shared joy is a doubled joy; shared sorrow is half a sorrow" - Swedish Proverb
"Music expresses that which can not be said and on which it is impossible to be silent." - Victor Hugo
"A friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing... not healing, not curing... that is a friend who cares." - Henri Nouwen
"This year, or this month, or more likely, this very day, we have failed to practice ourselves the kind of behavior we expect from other people." - C.S. Lewis
"If we knew each other's secrets, what comfort we would find." - John Churton Collins
"Love me when I least deserve it, because that's when I really need it." - Swedish Proverb
"Live simply so others may simply live." - Mother Teresa
"I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel." - Maya Angelou
"Courage is the discovery that you may not win, and trying when you know you can lose." - Tom Krause
"God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world." "Pain removes the veil ; it plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul." - C.S. Lewis
"God gave us memories that we might have roses in December." - J.M. Barrie
"Forever is composed of nows." - Emily Dickinson
"Seize from every moment its unique novelty, and do not prepare your joys." - Andre Gide
"Attitudes are contagious. Are yours worth catching?" - Dennis and Wendy Mannering
"To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring." - George Santayana
"I don't like that man. I must get to know him better." - Abraham Lincoln
"Every time you smile at someone, it is an action of love, a gift to that person, a beautiful thing." - Mother Teresa
"I don't think of all the misery but of all the beauty that still remains." Anne Frank
"Let me enjoy the earth no less
Because the all-enacting Might
Which fashioned forth its loveliness
Had other aims than my delight." - Thomas Hardy
"The hope of a secure and livable world lies with disciplined nonconformists who are dedicated to justice, peace and brotherhood." - Martin Luther King Jr.
"Never forget that everything Hitler did in Germany was legal." - Martin Luther King Jr.
"Love to be real, it must cost - it must hurt - it must empty us of self." - Mother Teresa
"It is a poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish." - Mother Teresa
"Each of them is Jesus in disguise." - Mother Teresa
Well, this particular blog is born out of inspiration... From one of the books I'm reading. Yes, you read that correctly. By no means am I tooting any invisible horns by mentioning that I'm reading more than one book at a time. Although, I do keep up with my books more regularly than my blog, I'm not ashamed to admit that sometimes a page will be dog-eared for several weeks before I move it over another chapter or two.
Anywho - so the latest book I've started (and hopefully will finish in record time), is John Piper's new book God is the Gospel. I just want to share an excerpt from the introduction (even though I am actually past the introduction, mind you ;) ).
I hope it wakes you up, the way it did me.
The sad thing is that a radically man-centered view of love permeates our culture and our churches. From the time they can toddle we teach our children that feeling loved means feeling made much of. We have built whole educational philosophies around this view of love - curricula, parenting skills, motivational strategies, theraputic models, and selling techniques. Most modern people can scarcely imnagine an alternative understanding of feeling loved other than feeling made much of. If you don't make much of me you are not loving me.
But when you apply this definition of love to God, it weakens his worth, undermines his goodness, and steals our final satisfaction. If the enjoyment of God himself is not the final and best gift of love, then God is not the greatest treasure, his self-giving is not the highest mercy, the gospel is not the good news that sinners may enjoy their Maker, Chirst did not suffer to bring us to God, and our souls must look beyond him for satisfaction.
This distortion of divine love into an endorsement of self-admiration is subtle. It creeps into our most religious acts. We claim to be praising God because he loves us. But if his love for us is at bottom his making much of us, who is really being praised? We are willing to be God-centered, it seems, as long as God is man-centered. We are willing to boast in the cross as long as the cross is a witness to our worth. Who then is our pride and joy?
Wow - that's a lot to process... for me, anyway. I pray, by the grace of God, to always be mold-able, a [divine] work-in-progress... but may I/we progress at the pace intended for ourselves, and not stumble so much along the way that something crucial is missed.
I am not perfect. I do not have to be perfect. I wasn't made to be perfect, in and of myself. I am not a robot with endless amounts of energy and consistent behaviors. I can stop trying to make everything around me perfect. We are all different, but we were created (all of us) in the image of God our Father, our Creator. HE is working to bring everything and everyone to perfection. Its a process that I am believing and trusting in. HE is in control of all my days and all my moments. He will lift me up when I fall, and show me the error in my ways. He will teach me the way to be, and the way to go. He will extend His immeasurable and incomprehensible grace to me. He forgives, and He loves.
My life is yours for the taking, Lord. I am learning that I can not live this life in my own capacity, without failing miserably. I need You to help me. I know You are in control, so I can stop striving. I can stop wearing myself [and everyone around me] out in attempt to make everything something different from what it is. It is what it is because You made it that way... and You are making it what it needs to be. Knowing that You are in control, I can rest.
It's been a loooong time since I've posted a blog. And, this one is going to be short and sweet, too. As we're wrapping up the year, I wanted to highlight some of the fun that our family has had this year...
Here is the Rodriguez Family TOP 10 for 2010:
10. AUGUST! Teo started Preschool, Eva started walking and Abuela Carmen visited from Bogota! We LOVE it when family comes to visit!!
9. ROAD TRIPS! Driving to Savannah for [best friend] Seth's wedding! Driving to Ohio for [Monica's cousin] Katrina's wedding! And driving to Chicago for [new niece] Keara's Christening!
8. Spending long summer days (and evenings) at the pool. This is mommy's favorite!
7. Thursday nights with Grandpa and cousins, Josh and Jackson! ~ Thanks Dad!!
6. It snowed in December! This never happens where we live, so you can imagine our surprise when we had to start using the heater in early November, and the cold weather progressed enough to bring us a little snow a month later. They are forecasting snow flurries on Christmas Day! This is really exciting for Teo :)
5. Felipe started a new job this year in November! He's the Operations Manager at the LA Fitness (2 miles from our house!!). He's super-busy, but in a good way :) and he enjoys the work he's doing (for a change)!
4. Abuelo Christian coming to visit in December!! We love and miss Abuelo more than words can say, so his visits are always anticipated and welcomed!!
3. Our little guy is completely potty-trained (as of around August/September). I wasn't sure how much longer I was going to be able to deal with the "smell" from his laundry basket (wet undies and pants), but fortunately now, all the clothes in the basket are dry when they go in!
2. Teo can write his name, recognizes letters and numbers, knows all his colors and is such a great helper and big brother. We're so proud of the little man he's growing in to. We've celebrated at his Preschool for Harvest Parties and Christmas plays and Christmas parties too. He was a shepherd in the play and he did a great job! He loves all his friends at Preschool and his teachers too.
1. We're excited about Tia Alejandra's (Felipe's sister) upcoming wedding in July of 2011!! Oscar proposed a couple of weeks ago and the wedding planning has begun :) We can't wait for Oscar to be an "official" part of the family! Congrats to them both and we love them SOOOO much!!
Here and now. Now - Eva has been walking for like 3 whole weeks! She's got the cutest little penguin waddle that really makes my heart flutter and melt every time I really focus in. She's beginning to understand the words that I say to her - "sit down", "put it away" and "give it back" are the ones that she understands right away. I love this stage! They are just learning to understand and apply your instructions and are so eager to do so. They aren't aware of the option to do otherwise... Not that that's something to be taken advantage of... its just nice to not have such a little person question every instruction I give for a change ;) Which brings me to my other little miracle... Teo!
Teo started PreSchool this year! I remember Felipe and I debating back and forth whether he should go 2 or 3 mornings a week (as the school offers both options). We thought 3 days might be too much for his sensitive little self. But, we were wrong because he LOVES it! On the days that he doesn't go, I think he's a little bummed about it. He loves his teachers, Ms. Sharon and Ms. Kalpana. He likes "Brooke" and "Brad" and [his little partner in crime] "Cameron". I know nothing of these little ones other than their names, but Teo loves them. I've had to ground him from his computer games for getting into trouble with Cameron - throwing wood chips and running around the room during craft time are things not to be taken lightly in the Rodriguez house ;) He's so good about repentance though... Which I'm thankful for, but makes me wonder... I suppose the next lesson taught should be that its NOT better to ask forgiveness than permission.
Oh my - all the many, many, many things that people don't share about parenthood. There is definately 'the good, the bad and the ugly'... No matter who you are or what you have/don't have! Right now, Teo is running around the living room in his Iron Man halloween costume yelling out super-hero-ish things and saving the world (good). He's making a huge mess with all the toys that I just cleaned up (bad), and he just informed me that he pooped in his pull-up (ugly).... And now he's singing a worship song that he learned at church - "so that I can praise Him, so that I can praise Him, so that I can praise Him" (priceless).
And before I knew it, it was Saturday (party day). Everything went off without a hitch (since I don't consider only giving myself an hour to set up a "hitch"). We started party-ing around 11:30, and the rain held out until 4:30, which was perfect timing, as we were packing everything up around 4:15. Teo had so much fun with all his cousins and family. And we made sure to capture some memories for Eva to relive (through photos), so she can see how everyone singing her Happy Birthday made her cry. Of course, I don't think it was the actual song that made her cry, but more-so the volume of the song that did her in. Speaking of singing Happy Birthday... Teo LOVES to sing, and he sings Happy Birthday all the time. He will sing it at the top of his lungs, solo, on demand, or on a whim if he wants to. He just loves to sing it. And when I say, "Ok, its time to sing Happy Birthday..." before I can get another syllable out of my mouth, he's bellting it out for everyone to hear and gets halfway through before I can get his attention to tell him to stop and wait for everyone else to sing along. So, I think Teo sang Happy Birthday to himself about three times in all, plus a couple times to Eva... What can I say - he may be the spitting image of his dad, but he is his mommy's boy - a persister, through and through.
The house was a DISASTER when we finally got home, and Eva went down for her, much needed, nap right away. But, Teo was SO excited over his new toys, he just played and played and played, and eventually I managed to muster up enough motivation to start cleaning up, setting up new toys, and rearrange their room to accomodate said toys. It was a long day. But, SUCH a good one :)
We were up-and-adam early on Sunday, as we wanted to catch the early service (9:30 - which is early for us) at church. I'm not sure the message could've been more fitting if I'd picked it myself. It was about parenting. Not a "how to" or even, "how [not] to", but more of a "let God". It was a wonderful reminder to me, on the heels of celebrating the awesome lives of our two kids with their birthday, that my children are uniquely and amazingly created by God to do unique and amazing things for God. And the most important job of ours, as their parents, is not to make sure they are the best dressed in their class, or the smartest kid in their Pre-K, or the most popular, the best athlete, or most accomplished musician in whole wide world. The most important job of ours, as their parents, is to make sure they know who God is. To make sure they know that God loves them no matter what failures or successes they experience in their lives. To make sure they know that God does not measure them by what they can bring to His table, but rather on how they respond to what He brings to theirs.
My kids are 3 and 1, and I have no idea what I'm going to be when I grow up - much less what they are going to be when they grow up. But, I know that God is sovereign. He is purposeful, and He is a planner. He's got this. Which is awesome. When I remember that, a weight is lifted. And rest results. Thank you Jesus, that I don't have to worry about the things that I worry about. I pray to be wise in the ways of Christ - to point myself and my kids in the direction of Him - "Seek first the kingdom of God..." and know that He's got the rest. Because, in 20 years, my kids will be 23 and 21 (and I don't even want to think of how old I'll be), and I can't think of ANYTHING in the world that I could give them now that'll do them any good then, other than the knowledge, truth and love of God - and to teach them about faith in Him. Even if I could give them a million dollars and the best financial planner in the world to go along with that million dollars... money, and the beautiful things it can buy will not last. And I've never seen anyone use a fancy car as a casket, and the rings on your fingers don't usually make it to your body's final resting place. So, I can spend my energy, effort and heart teaching my kids to "chase after the wind" - and keep chasing and chasing and chasing, because we all know how quickly the wind changes (styles, technology, phones, cars, trends, etc.). Or, I can spend my energy, effort and heart teaching my kids to chase after the One the NEVER changes, NEVER leaves, NEVER not loves or provides in His own way. That's the BEST thing I can ever do for my kids. And Lord knows how badly I'm capable of screwing that up too - so I pray for His grace to help me teach them right and well, and to be an example of it all for them.