Thursday, September 10, 2015

Play Ball!

Life Before and After Sports


After sitting quietly on the sidelines for close to two years, our cozy family time at home came to an end when my daughter was released from all her medical restrictions, caught up with her high school credits and on track to graduate, I knew our lives would change and go back to the hustle and bustle of full time sports schedule with both kids in high school.

My son, a freshman in high school, made the freshmen baseball team while my daughter was invited back by her coach during her second semester, and after nine practices in nearly two years, she made the softball team as a floater for Varsity and JV.  She also plays a leading role in her high school choir and travels with them for competition, camps, and performances. Between high school life and church, there is little time to eat, rest, sleep, and absolutely no leisure time.

Our family time is precious and valuable to our family. We would start mornings on our own. We use to grab breakfast as we got ready. We managed to yell out an "I love you" before everyone heads out the door. During the day, we would sent or receive a loving text, then we would all gather for dinner and take part of our family conversation.

We share our lives and love. We absolutely loved watching movies and eating pop-corn on a Saturday night; yes, my teenage children enjoyed spending their Saturday nights with us! Then, attending/serving church on Wednesday's and Sunday's has been a family thing, and recently Sunday evenings as well.

But now, we have traded all that family time and routine for frozen waffles, a two part dinner (my husband and I have dinner when we get home from work, then the kids have dinner when they get home from practice, after 7 PM), no movies, no pop-corn, missed church time, freezing evenings in the park-wrapped in blankets as we cheer for our kids as they take the field.

We grab leftovers from the refrigerator or a burger from the value menu. We sneak food into the fields and eat dinner on the run. We pull clothes from the hamper and hope a little of Febreze will do the job, or we wear an almost dry shirt. Most of the time, I am setting alarms to go off at 2 o'clock in the morning to throw laundry from washer to dryer, then wake an hour earlier to set another load.

Our beds are never made. Our floors are seldom mopped. Our dishes consist of paper plates and baggies for those meals on the go. In the mornings, we snooze one more time...

Even though our days are shorter and we don't have time to watch The Walking Dead, my kid's memories are being filled with what they love to do; playing ball, singing, spending time with high school friends and activities. The best part of it all, is that we are right there with them, waiting for them to get off of practice, even if it runs an hour late, watching their games, supporting them, attending those parent meetings that everyone wants to avoid but know they are necessary for the success of the organization, selling tickets, raising money, putting in some elbow grease and extra work to pay for it all, taking kids, picking them up, talking about the game: "I AM proud of you."

I love my kids and I support them in their pursuits, as long as they are using their God given gifts and talents to honor our God.

It Wasn't Always Very Nice

Once upon a time, playing had become work for them. We said we were supportive, but we just added a layer of stress, a thick one at that. Even if our kids played in great, disciplined teams, they played with a heavy load on their shoulders to please my husband and I.

We thought we were being good, strict, parents, but it had the opposite effect on their performance. They worked so hard to get a hit, or catch that easy pop-up that they missed golden opportunities. The rides home were the worst as we pointed and picked on every error, every strike, every. single. time. It was like their mistakes were more important to point out rather than the times they got on base, or the beautiful throws they had.

We became their 24 hours a day, 7 days a week coaches. They couldn't get away from it. If they made a mistake, not only would they hear from their coaches, but they would hear it from us, over and over. So, when my daughter became ill, then her surgery, then recovery time, and she was restricted for all physical activities, we missed seeing her out on the field.

We had so much regret when we realized how lucky we had been for those years she was playing. We realized we had taken her, her brother and their playing for granted. It was not until then that we made a decision to be supporting, loving, parents at all times. Win or lose. Errors or perfect game. We realized that when they make mistakes or strike out, they have to face their coaches, peers, and teammates. The last thing they need is to feel that they have to face us after the game as well.

When our kids have bad games, we encourage them. When they have good games, we praise them. We no longer act as coaches. We no longer act like bully parents. We no longer criticize them or any of their teammates; who knows how many of their teammates still go home with bully parents. The W is no longer the reason for our involvement, but rather the embracing of our children, the team, the development of a well-rounded child, and the gift that they have been given by God.

Don't get me wrong. We are still very competitive, but we are no longer ruthless. In fact, my husband still has a hard time with losing, or a "barley" win. I joke that he still rolls his eyes when I say "poor baby" to describe a player who is struggling (when in the past I would say "they suck"). Those players who struggle still have feelings, they are someones kid, and they certainly don't want to be called names - that can be YOUR kid. In the blink of an eye, everything can change; it did for us.  

We have learned that behind every child, struggling athlete or super star, there are feelings that need to be nurtured and strengthened. Behind every player are families that struggle with acceptance, addictions, rejection, absent parents, abuse, neglect, over-worked, over-sheduled, extreme expectations, no expectations, and the list goes on and on. They all have a desire and a need to be accepted and loved, no matter what.

My Prayer


I pray for every kid on the team. I even pray for the kids on the opposite team. I pray that the team that God sees fit to win, win. I pray for no injuries on either team. I pray for a fair called game. And most of all, I pray that my children go out with the confidence of humility, knowing that they play because God has given them a set of skills, gifts, and talents to play, and that even though they may not be the best at what they are doing, they can achieve huge athletic success through Jesus Christ - who makes everything possible.

Friday, May 29, 2015

This is who I am....NOT

Growing up, and up to several years ago, I felt as if I were competing against everyone for everything. From the way I spoke, to what I drove. Sometimes I felt I was ahead of the race while most times I felt inadequate to even be considered to compete. Keeping up with the Joneses broke me, bleached hair faded, new car dented, new home foreclosed, clothes went out of style... so what is left? Me. Myself. And I.

This is who I AM, and who I am NOT.
I am not a clean, bleach it all, a place for everything and everything in its place type of woman. My floors are dirty most of the time, there is visible dust on my furniture, clothes on the floor, a dish or two, or three in the sink, and my laundry/catch all room is a chaotic room in which you could possibly get sucked into and lost for a few days. Sometimes I just want to drop bread crumbs to be able to find my way back, and even if I did my dog Zoey would eat them then we'd both be lost.

I AM the mommy who sweeps the crumbs that don't get eaten by the dogs when company comes . I AM the mommy who bravely goes through the laundry/catch all room for everyone else and bravely (or barley) makes it back.

I am not always the housekeeper I should be. On some days you will smell my dogs inside the house. You may see pet hair on the floor or paw prints on the tile.

I AM the pet mommy who will clean after them, sweep their shedding hair, and loves on them. And you will always, ALWAYS see two happy, rescued dogs, eager to play with you or knock you on your butt if you're not watching out!

I am not the wife who ever says "the laundry is done," even if I drop a load or two daily. And there are piles -ceiling high! of clean clothes...and it waits to be put away, but we just use the laundry room as an extension of our drawers and closet.

I Am the mommy who has pulled out a dirty uniform from the bottom of the laundry basket, sprayed it with Febreze, air it out with my hands to "magically" clean them. It's a superhero quality mommies have, by the way.

I am not the mommy who cooks the healthiest meals. Sometimes, cereal looks good for all three meals, and if we throw in some ramen noodles, then we have conquered the day!

I AM the mommy who will always make sure my family eats everyday. Cereal, noodles, or steak and potatoes. Either at the dinner table or on the go, all wrapped up in a flour tortilla (SCORE!).

I am not the woman who goes to the beauty salon every month, gets her pedicures or manicures, peels, tans, jogs, watches Grey's Anatomy, spends hours at coffee shops, upgrades her cell phone, or wears the name brand clothing. Don't get me wrong, not that I don't want to (I. Want. To!) but most of the time it's either because I don't have the money, and when I have the money I don't have the time.

I AM the woman who is so busy and tired by the end of the day, that I am perfectly fine with it. Sometimes I run out the door and finish tying my shoes at a red light, or I chew off a chipped nail. My tan is free of charge when I stand in the sun at my kids games - then I peel, hehe - And who wants to jog when they are running around all the time, right? My TV shows are American Idol, as I spend time with my daughter and then I turn into a voice critic. I also watch The Walking Dead and I spend that time with my hubby and son. I am no good with high tech cell phones, so I would like my flip phone back, thank you very much. And my old, comfy jeans and a t-shirt are all I need to get through the day. And one day I will own a pair of boots.

My yard has weeds, and dirt, and some dog poop overlooked by the kids. And our fence has a lawn chair on it, hoping it will keep our dogs from jumping out of our yard. It helps, but the view is a little...well, it keeps our dogs in our yard.

I AM the woman who dreams of a lush yard, with a variety of fruit trees, a gathering place to sing worship music with a tall wooden cross to anchor our yard. A place to honor our Lord and to thank Him for who I Am; a perfect child of His.

It is in Him that I take comfort in accepting and confessing who I am. Not in the details of my home, but in the overwhelming love He has for me just the way I am. Not in the luxuries I don't posses, but in the treasures He provides in my character through Jesus. I don't take comfort in this world which only lasts but a blink, but in the presence of His Majesty for eternity. He has created me with His own Powerful Hands... blessed AM I. And that is who I AM.


Saturday, September 6, 2014

Sweet Summer 16th


Friday.  As Aldo and I drove to drop Summer off at her friend, Jaylynn's house to spend the night, I was hoping Summer would not notice the cars parked in front of the house. She had already suspected her friends from church were up to something for her birthday. We got off the truck and walked Summer to the door, where her friend’s mom (and my friend as well), Angela, opened the door. It was suspiciously quiet as we walked in the house, and I noticed the view to the back yard was blocked. As Summer walked closer to the back yard sliding door where Jaylynn was waiting to greet her, she got a glimpse of everyone waiting to surprise her. Little by little, not only some of her church friends walked inside the house to greet and surprise Summer, but also most of her closest friends from school, including her brother, my son, Nate, who is increasingly becoming part of "the group," where anxiously waiting to surprise Summer and honor her on her 16th birthday. Tears only welled up in my eyes to see how happy Summer was, and how we had just witnessed God's blessing on our family. As her friends trickled in, Angela showed us the cake that was lovingly baked by another of Summer's friends. There were streamers and balloons, food on the counter, wow! As we made our way to the door, no sooner had we decided to leave than Summer being pushed in the pool as a gesture of love from her friends, shoes and all.

Saturday. Aldo and I drove Summer and Nate to the hangout house, the twins, for a day of hanging out, working out, eating...the usual when the high-schoolers are there. To all of our surprise, once again, Summer was surprised and showered with more love from her friends there.
 Many times we think of God's provisions as monetary. Truth of the matter is, He provides in many ways, using many people. For example, we had not planned on a party for Summer this year; much has happened. But God used Jaylynn and her family to bless our family by hosting this amazing "sleepover (wink-wink)" party and flooded Summer with love. Then Saturday, God used the twins to do it all over again. Oh, God never leaves us. He knows our every need and provides for them before we ask.
16 Years Ago. A week before I gave birth to Summer, we were at the hospital only to find that I was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions. Being my first child, I was paranoid. A couple of days from that hospital visit, my doctor scheduled me to be induced in the days to follow. I was so excited that I would finally see my baby girl, and yet I was so nervous of what was ahead of us.

I was determined not to use any painkillers; I wanted to have a natural birth. When the real contractions began, I was horrified to know that they would only intensify 100 times stronger! In a moment of panic (actually, it was a moment of about 30 seconds), I was quick to leave my "natural birth" thoughts for a few hours of "bring it on" thoughts. I asked for painkillers! Quickly! I was not dilated enough for the really good stuff, so I had to settle for the stuff that knocks you out, but you still feel the horrific pain coming and going, getting stronger and stronger. When my contractions were strong enough and I was dilated enough for the stronger painkillers, I had to wait because I was still under the other, weaker medication. It wasn't till I was very close to giving birth that I was administered the strong stuff, but by then, everything went pretty quickly.

As soon as I gave birth to Summer, I looked at her. I was speechless. The medical staff took her vitals, cleaned her up, wrapped her up, and then placed this precious gift from God in my arms. I just stared at her. I couldn't even remember how exhausted I was. I just stared.
She was born Monday, September 7th, 1998 at 4:15 in the

afternoon.

Sunday, September 7th, 2014.  There is no other place to be than in God's House on Sundays. Even when there is a football game going on. We just love to hear God's Word. He reminds us how loved we are. Today, this particular Sunday, we are reminded of how He loves us so much, that He entrusted us with this beautiful girl, to teach her His ways, and to raise her in His love. 

Thank You, Lord, that you have found that tiny, miniscule capability in us that You have lavished us with such a delicate and valuable gift, our daughter, Summer Rain Magana. Thank You for blessing her with Your gifts, for giving her and fortifying in her a heart that is after Your heart. Thank You for sharing her with us; we are honored.

As always, we give all glory and honor to God, the Mighty One.

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday, Summer!

I know it's not the day my daughter, Summer Rain, was born; her 16th birthday is about three weeks away. But today marks the birth of a new life. A life marked by God's grace. A miracle. A year today, Summer had her right temporal lobe completely removed. Today also marks a year free of seizures.

In God's amazing plan for our lives, He created Summer in a very special way. He kept the right temporal lobe of her brain from developing completely during my pregnancy.  Though Summer appeared to be a normal infant, there were signs that something could be wrong, but then again, they were so subtle that they were always diagnosed as something else by her pediatricians. For years she began to have seizures that were not recognized as seizures, but rather her doctors assured us they were night terrors and she would outgrow them. Then, when she was about 12 years old, she began to have "Deja-vu" once in a while. This happened only once in a while, but when it did, Summer had a sense of nausea, which we dismissed as an overreaction to Deja-vu; after all, we've all had Deja-vu and we didn't feel this way. But, over the next couple of years, the Deja-vu sensation became more frequent and stronger with other body movements. We also discovered that during these Deja-vu moments Summer was blacking out, even for just a few seconds. After many doctor visits, lab work, and several exams like EEG's and MRI's, and different anti-seizure medication, doctors and specialists could not figure out why her seizures could not be controlled. They finally referred Summer to Cook Children's Hospital in Ft. Worth, Texas, where they have a unit that specializes in Epilepsy with the most modern and state of the art technology. When Summer was 14 years old, they discovered this very special way that God created her, and she had brain surgery to remove this underdeveloped and damaged area.

The day before her surgery, we had her Pre-op appointment, and let me tell you what! It is much different from the neurosurgeons point of view! The neurosurgeon explained what he will do and what he hopes to accomplish, but the pre-op appointment is where you read about everything that can go wrong.  We essentially had to do what we already knew but were hoping we didn’t have to; pray for the best and prepare for the worst. Everything from a blood transfusion to a mental disability to the unusual event of death, very unusual, but at the time, a very real possibility. But God never left us. Not for one nanosecond.

This is where I began to understand that this was all part of God's plan for Summer and our family. This was God's plan for our close friends and family; for those who cared to listen, not just hear the story, but listen with their hearts how His hand would be on our story-line. He turned this terrible and sad story of uncontrollable seizures and an uncertain future into a story of beautiful grace and redemption.  He turned all of our unbelieving hearts into humble followers. He turned shaking faith into unshakable testimonies. He took our undernourished souls and gave them a hunger for Him. He took our pain through a dark moment, only a fraction of our lives, and turned it into everlasting light and knowledge of Who. He. Is!

And today, we celebrate the birth of our family to a new life. And like babies, our eyes began to open and we began to see Him in everything, like when He reminded us that we could do anything through Christ, Jesus, when He placed us in room P413 and like when He appointed a believer in Him as Summer's neurosurgeon. We thank God for our new lives, our new sight, and our new hearts. We thank Him, that while we were sinning against Him, He was only pulling us closer to Him to reveal that inscription He carved into the very depths of our DNA when He created us; that we have been chosen and created by Him and for Him.

And so, today we celebrate life, in thanksgiving to the Creator. And we give all praise, glory, and honor to the One who has given it all to us, including His life. And through Jesus Christ, our Father God will be glorified. GLORY BE TO GOD!


Thursday, July 10, 2014

A Letter to my Younger Self


Dearest Bea,

How you love your babies.

For years, you will love them unconditionally, you will care for them and spend sleepless nights when they are sick, and you will forgive them even when they don’t apologize, you will nurture them, you will protect them and that’s just the emotional side of it.  You will also work hard for a living for them, you will clean a house that will never seem clean, you will cook, you will do a ton of laundry and the pile will never go down…and there will seem like there is no end to the physical aspect just so that it can pair up beautifully with the emotional.

They will instantly fall in love with you and you will become their hero, superMOM, and the one who will solve anything and accomplish everything!  They will believe you know every answer to every question like, “How did the Power Puff Girls know my phone number?” (Power Puff Girls will call Summer when she is potty trained, wink, wink). They will be amazed at how you cooked such fluffy pancakes, and they will just love the way you microwave those frozen taquitos, which they will think are the best because you warmed them up.  They will cling on to you when they feel scared because they know you can make all of the scary things go away with just a prayer (while you wear your superhero cape, of course).  Actually, they will cling on you just because you are their very special mommy.  They will love going to the park with you as you soft toss their first baseball/softball because they will think you were once the greatest athlete that college ever knew.  They will whisper all of their secrets in your ear, and they will share all of their discoveries with a sparkle in their eyes. 

You may not feel like it, but you will be the star of their show.  You will be what they want to be when they are grown.  You are their example of how an incredibly amazing person should look, act, speak, and laugh.

You may not be perfect, but they will think you are.  They will be blind to your faults and defects.  They will be oblivious to your hang-ups and failures.  They will not care if you had a past because they will think you were created the moment they were born just to care for them.

Love them fiercely.  Love them all the time, continuously.  Love them when they make wrong decisions.  Love them as they grow and fall and fail.  Love them when they’re asleep.  Love them with words ALL the time!  Love them with actions even more!

Teach them to love, to forgive, to respect, to be compassionate, to care, to help, and to be humble.  Teach them that the world does not revolve around them.  Teach them to put others first.  Teach them to share and give of their things, their time, and themselves.  Teach them that man does not live on bread alone….

Enjoy and cherish every day, every thing about your babies.  Don’t allow time to slip you by because it is one of the things you will never get back or make up.  Don’t allow opportunities to fade into the should-have.

One day, when they are teenagers, they will think they have figured life out and they will begin to see how wrong you are.  They will not think you are funny, but rather embarrassing.  They will figure out how little you know of the world and how much more they know.  They will reject the lunch you carefully prepared for them after their long hours of practice, just because they are upset with you.  They will roll their eyes when you try to strike a conversation with them, and even ask you NOT to participate in future technology because it is for young, cool people.  They will give you a mean look when they are on the phone and you call out their name for dinner.  They will want to listen to their music through their headphones when you are all in the car and ignore your comments.  They will want to play video games instead of doing life with you.

Love them anyways; it will be the only way they know how to be when they grow up.  Continue to be their supermom; though to them its just child’s-play, deep down they need it.  Continue to sing loud and dance silly when they are around, deep down they love it.  Continue to forgive them, because it is how they will learn to forgive you when you fall short of your supermommy status.  Continue to teach them, they will continue to learn throughout their life through your examples, they just don’t know it yet.  Continue to press on to the end goal, never give up on them.  They will catch on. 

One day, when you go through this, you will cry.  But your cry is not for the pain your own children bring you, though there will be plenty of those, but for the pain your own parents felt at this point of their lives, and no one was there to tell them it would all turn out ok.  Just as you will feel that you will always need your parents, so do your own children, they will not admit to it during their teenage years, though.  And sometimes through their young adulthood years.  But like the prodigal child, they too will come back to you.  Just pray.  A lot.  It’ll be the only thing to keep you strong and to keep you loving your unlovable teenagers.  Not because you don’t want to love them, but because they don’t want to be loved by this amazing, never-ending, messy and sometimes sloppy, supermommy love.

With so much love for our own children, I can’t imagine what loving a grandchild will be like, but when I find out, I’ll write you another letter.  Then maybe, together we can do something right in our lives.  In the meantime, along with your spouse, seek and love the Lord with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.

Love you forever,

A mature and new creation in Christ, Bea

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Unsettled

Have you ever been there? Where there is a knot in the pit of your stomach? There is a heaviness in your heart, but you're not sure what it is. You think back but you can't come up with anything?

That was me about a month ago. I had felt a very heavy spirit. I was in a spiritual slump...lost for words of encouragement...scripture slipped my tongue...couldn't settle down for routine prayer...

It hit me on a Sunday morning at church. Another great pastor and a big chunk of church were leaving our congregation to plant a church in our sister city. I knew this was the plan, but when I saw the team on stage, I realize just how big the team was and I couldn't help but to cry and feel as though if I were being abandoned.

You see, for the past eight or nine months, our church has been sending the best of our congregation to plant churches in Zambia,  Atlanta, and then the one leaving to our sister city.

The pastoral teams leaving our church were essential to our church, and have been there for us in our time of need, but now, they are leaving huge gaps.

It hit me that Sunday, and I felt as if I were personally being abandoned. That's when I realized that this had been my burden. All along, I had been praising God that our church is branching out and it would reach people in Texas, Georgia, and Zambia. I wanted to convince myself that everything would be fine and that the Lord will raise our church, and raise those to be planted....

But I finally had to admit that I was hurt. The people I counted on for spiritual support and guidance, my friends, my community, my church family...they were leaving. As I allowed my tears to flow, I began to understand that my spiritual slump was actually my spirit grieving the great loss.

Our senior pastor, one of the greatest pastors I know, prayed over me and with pain in his voice let me know he was hurting also. I cannot imagine his pain.  I was so consumed with my own feelings that I failed to see the overwhelming pain in others.

All of a sudden, I realize why I was so unsettled. Because while I praised God, I didn't trust Him. I knew I had to change the way and who I prayed for. My focus had to change from me to them.  My heart had to pray for the teams that were leaving; pray for spiritual wisdom, courage, strength, passion, protection, and provisions. That they continue to be on fire and also ignite that spiritual fire in people who will come to know the Lord, and that their words and actions please the Lord.

I also had to pray for our pastor and his wife who remain here. That the Lord continues to bless them with their spiritual and leadership gifts. That the Lord raises a stronger church. That He may prepare our hearts and prepare my heart for the next church planters to come!

Today, I feel a little better. And although planting a church is not a small thing, letting go is {not easy, but small in comparison}. Giving in to the will of God has made a world of a difference to my heart.

Are you holding on to something small that can make a big difference?



Verse of the Month

Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek His will in all you do, and He will show you which path to take."



Join me and many others for more encouraging words with Holley Gerth at  Coffee for Your Heart  or join me at asoftgentlevoice.blogspot.ca













Love and Blessings, Bea