Monday, February 23, 2009

Disciple Now 2009

Johnny and I got invited this past weekend to be a part of a youth event that takes place once a year in an inner city church. The pastor of this church was my youth minister growing up. Yes, I am an inner-city kid. The church where I grew up was a "safe place" for me to be outside of my home. For other kids it was their only safe place, and I remember my youth pastor had to play the role of "Dad" for the majority of us as most of us came from broken homes where a father figure was non existent or just not there. I remember my youth minister showing up at my high school often times where I would run into him in the hallways. I knew he was checking in on his kids, or one of them was in trouble in the office. James Darby, I'll always be grateful to you for allowing us to be your kids and taking us under your wing!

My church was what you would call a multi-cultural church. I often have heard it said that Sunday Mornings is usually one of the most racially segregated times of the week. Well, not at my church it wasn't. You could walk in on any Sunday morning and find people of all different colors, and ethnicity's worshipping together under the same roof. It is such that it has even been recognized among Christian leaders for it's congregational makeup. My pastor even wrote a book about the struggles that our church went through to realize this dream of seeing all people come together to worship under the same roof. It was Awesome! I'am sure this is where my love of gospel music was rooted! ;) I still remember the church's mission statement...."WBC is God's multi-ethnic bridge that draws all people to Jesus Christ, who transforms them from unbelievers to missionaries." Here is a CNN article that highlighted my home church in Houston.

NEways, my then youth minister is now a pastor of a new church. He is carrying the same torch that my home church pastor carried as well! They invited Johnny and I to be a part of their Disciple Now weekend, where teenagers from all walks of life come and spend the entire weekend together in Bible Study, Worship and plain good ole' fun. What's a youth event without that! I had the privilege of leading a group of 8th and 9th grade girls and Johnny had 9th + 10th grade boys. Each group stayed in a host home for the weekend and traveled to and from the church in a van. At church we had large group worship and sermons and then followed the theme up with smaller bible lessons at the host homes. Sprinkled in were fun activities like a city wide scavenger hunt and group service project.

I think we got more out of this weekend that the kids. I saw my young self in most of them. They totally opened themselves up this weekend and allowed the Lord to do a work in them. It was a totally awesome sight to see! We saw so much redemption, forgiveness and repentance. We were so privileged to even be involved in being a part of holding their hands to meet the Lord for the first time! It was so exhilarating to say the least!

The fire they had or caught for Christ this weekend was contagious. And it reminded me that no matter how old we get or are that fire should never grow dim. Now if only I can have their energy! I had lots of catching up on sleep when I got home!

Below is a picture of our whole group and then our smaller group. If your wondering about the club. Well let's just say my group of girls had a few tricks up their sleeve and locked Johnny's boys van's steering wheel during the timed scavenger hunt. Oh yah! Those girls rocked! We got a good head start on them boys! The whole weekend was full of pranks! We'll just keep it at that. I won't say who took the gold for best prank!

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

My Spicy Valentine

Johnny and I usually stay in for Valentines and stay out of the way from all the Valentine crowds at every restaurant. However this year, we had a gift card laying around to go to Capital Grill. (Thanks KD & DD!) I guess we've been saving it for the perfect time to get all dressed up and enjoy a night out on the town. So that's what we did! We made reservations and got all dressed up and enjoyed a nice meal at this fancy place. Ati was spending the night at my mom's so we had the rest of the night to enjoy! We couldn't go home after dinner cause we felt like we had to take advantage of Ati being at my mom's and go do something that we both enjoy so much but don't get the chance to do much anymore. Salsa Dancing! We hit up a local spot and danced the night away. Oh, we had a ball!

My footwork was a bit rusty but I got back in the Groove after listening to that spicy, latin, salsa music. Your body just can't resist! We had so much fun indeed that we decided to sign up for some Salsa Lessons together! I managed to find a place not too far from home and isn't going to break our budget. We can't wait! We're gonna start in March. I think this is gonna be a great way to spice up our date nights as well as meet new people do go dancing with in our area!

I think watching Dancing with the Stars last season got us motivated to finally get off the couch and take up our favorite pass time. Before Ati was born we used to sweat our nights away on the dance floor. I think not only is this gonna spice up our date nights but is considered exercise too! Knock two birds with one stone!

What sort of creative things do you do on your date nights? Please share! Any salsa dancers out there or ones that wanna learn? Forget Dancing with the Stars..... our show is called Dancing with your Spouse!! Let's RRRRRRRUMBA!

Speaking of which I need to clean the dust off my dancing shoes!

Friday, February 13, 2009

For my Mom!

My mom is from Guatemala. A country that is rich in culture and traces of its Mayan background apparant wherever you travel. I remember as a little girl when my grandmother was still alive that my family would travel there quiet often. My mom would visit at least once a year. Back then, we were not fortunate enough to afford plane tickets. So my most memorable part of our trips was loading our truck full of stuff and my sister and I making ourselves a little home on the cab of our extended pickup truck. Literally, I am talking about the little seats in a pickup truck right behind the driver and passenger seats. We would stuff that little area with pillows from the floor to the seats and pretend it was our little bed for the next couple of days. I would lay down on one side and my sister on the other, our bodies laying right next to each other. My feet right by her face and hers by mine. If we wanted to sit up we just got rid of the pillows and put them behind our backs and sat up. There was no more room than that. Now that's a road trip! Not a comfortable one, but we were 8 and 6 yrs. old give or take and didn't know any other form or way of travel. We traveled this way all along the Mexican coast down to Central America to our Mayan destination and our mother's birthplace! I'll never forget those days.

I must admit that my memories of those trips are also ones of awe of a world that I was not a part of or even aware of. At the tender age of 8 I grew to learn that not every one in the world had the same "luxuries" that I had. I didn't have much growing up but I soon realized that I did. At 8 yrs. old I learned that electricity, clean water, kitchen, dirt floor vs. carpet in my home were luxuries that my mother's little village was not accustomed to.

My grandmother passed away several years ago. I have not visited since I was a little girl. My mother really has no more family to go back to. But she still makes a point in traveling to her native country. For the last couple of years I have been giving my mom beef about her travels to Guatemala. I have been telling her she deserves a "real vacation". She's worked her butt off all her life and I wanted to see her enjoy it for once and go somewhere where she's never gone before and explore and just rest and enjoy the rest of the world. Instead of going to her little village to endure the heat, dirty water, and poverty that is everywhere you turn. I wanted her to see the other side of life for once. The good life.

I never really knew what my mom's reasons for traveling to Guatemala were. I really didn't care. All I knew was that she was spending money to go somewhere where she didn't have anymore family left to see when she could be spending it to go somewhere worthwhile and enjoying herself.

Well, my post is to pay homage to what my mom has been doing these last couple of years. She has a heart of Gold and a passion for her people in Guatemala. For the past two Christmases she has been organizing relief help for the people in her little town. It's not much considering that it's a one man show. Really, two since my dad has been helping her. Every Christmas my mom had been asking me for my family's old clothes, shoes, toys anything! I knew she wanted to do something with them and it was Guatemala related but never gave it much thought. Two years ago she traveled during Christmas to Guatemala and delivered wrapped toys to the sick children in the little hospital of her town. This past Christmas she had put together baskets of non-perishable items, dry goods for people who needed them most. Her plan was to be there this past Christmas to deliver them but she couldn't make it. So instead she sent her baskets down there and her friend had video taped the delivery of these baskets so my mom could see the fruits of her labor. My mom shared the video with me and I must say it brought me to tears. My mom was being the hands & feet of Jesus to the people in this village. And she wasn't even there to enjoy the fruit of her labor. I am so proud to call her my mom! I knew I got that trait from somewhere! :) LOL.

NEways, there was a short clip in the video that I thought was too great not to post. Please note this lady's home behind her. It's literally a tin shack located right by the river. They wash clothes in the river, wash dishes there and am sure bathe themselves there also. My heart aches to see the living conditions. Her children in the video know no other life. THIS IS THEIR LIFE.

I know it's in Spanish, but there's one quote that struck me that the recipient of my mom's basket says. In her gratitude she says, "Thank you,even though I don't know you, God does." Wow, how powerful those words are! We all are God's children and are to serve one another. This lady who lives in a whole other country in living circumstances and arrangements that we can't even imagine has the wisdom and knowledge that God is taking care for them. And will send his workers. This is the peace in her heart. I hope you take the time to view the short video clip. If you want more info. about how to participate or just want to donate ANYTHING you can e-mail or leave a comment. My mom would surely appreciate it from the bottom of her heart.

I love you Mom!! Keep doin what your doin! No more beef about your crazy trips from me!

P.S.-It took me FOREVER to figure out how to convert a home made DVD to a program the computer could read and cut. I learned how to cut a video and then posted it! All from a DVD. I never thought I could do it! But alot of time and downloaded programs later, I did it! Iam movin' on up on my technology capabilities! Oh yeah! I'am officially a video editor! My brain was fried in the process, so I think that deserves a nod on the skills section of my resume! ;) hehe