A Birthday Tribute to My Mama

I had planned on writing a Mother’s Day post prior to my one month sabbatical this past spring and am now getting to it as we near my mama’s birthday here in November. Better late than never!

My mama is my very best friend and closest sister in Christ. Every Sunday morning she phones at precisely 10:30 a.m. for our weekly visit and chat. I can’t begin to relate how much her love means to me, but I humbly will attempt to as I blunder my way through this seemingly inadequate post.

“Mama”, as I call her, was the oldest of four girls with a single mom who reared them up in the age when being a single mom was shunned and frowned upon.

When my mama was a little over one year old she suffered a high fever that left her with a rare case of cerebral palsy. So, my grandmother had four small girls to bring up by herself with a handicap to try to figure out and understand which road of proper care was best.

Doctors assured my grandmother they knew what was best and convinced her to put my mama in an institution. (In those days, group homes and in-home care didn’t exist.)

While at the institution my mama was put into a padded room with no books or toys and left alone in seclusion. When grandma discovered this tragedy she wanted to pull Mama out of that dreadful facility but it wasn’t so easy to be done. Amazingly she ended up kidnapping my mama out of that horrible place and never looked back!! How she did this, I don’t know, but I do know she had help orchestrating and carrying out this desperate plan of getting back her precious little girl.

My mama (left) and her sister in the mid-1950s.

My mama was a few years old by now and had to relearn talking since the months of seclusion ripped away her ability to verbally communicate. She did very well and went on to becoming a well educated student and staple in her family of five. Her mom and sisters loved their “Mel” and she enjoyed a happy adolescence and many fun memories growing up.

Fast forward to her college years where at San Francisco State University she met my dad, the handsome, funny, Hispanic guy who won her heart and led her to Christ. In the late 60s they married and in the 70s had my brother, a rainbow baby, which is a baby after a miscarriage. Four years after suffering another miscarriage, they had me, another rainbow baby.

Mama at the Philadelphia zoo, feeding the animals.

Mama told me I was always a fighter since 4 months into her pregnancy with me she started bleeding. Her doctor told her, “If you want to keep this pregnancy then you need to rest!” So rest she did! “You hung in there” she later told me…..lol, I still am!

Mama would stay on the sofa all day and then fix dinner for my dad when he got home. How she managed with a four year old boy is beyond me but I see God’s hand in every part of her life as I still do now.

Mama is a trooper and a fighter and one tough cookie!! She is such a powerful example of what it means to persevere in trials. She never complains and is always more interested in others’ lives than she is in going on about herself. She lives in a lot of pain due to over 70 years of cerebral palsy and presently is battling adrenal fatigue otherwise known as chronic fatigue syndrome. Yet, she continues to minister to me and other ladies while enduring these crosses and faithfully speaks the truth in love from God’s word.

Nine years ago. My parents with me holding my youngest.

For years my mama led the women’s bible study at her church and was a prayer partner to the pastor’s wife. She knows how to pray and I believe it’s her prayers that have kept me alive to this day. Her example of godliness has had a powerful impact on everyone she meets and she is loved by many.

I’m so thankful and blessed to have you in my life dear Mama and I love you beyond what these feeble words can express. Happy birthday to you and thank you for your love and for being the amazing woman and mother that you are!

Much love,

Your VivieπŸ˜šπŸ€—πŸπŸ‚

The gang taken in 2018. Mama is in front with her two sisters behind her, then me and my four kids.

Outcasts

Do you ever feel like an outcast? An outcast in your family? In your community, or church? For me, I can say……yes. (Not in my blogging community though, y’all are great!)

Sadly, when most people are brain injured it causes a standoffish reaction from their community of people. Their closest friends slowly back away….and the other not so close ones vanish like soap bubbles. I had no idea in 2016 this was the all too common reaction from the majority of well bodied people. I naively thought I would be loved and supported but instead, I was cast aside.

Although this response shocked me then, I’ve come to see past this and seek answers beyond. Jesus has taught me this: He loves and came for all of us outcasts, misfits, losers, and those labeled as abnormal by worldly standards. He didn’t really have much to do with those who had it all together…..instead, he hung out with the out crowd.

My security comes from Him. He is my everything, not people’s reactions to me. He loves me just like I am. Physically broken……yes, but spiritually I am whole, healed!! He sees past my TBI to a woman bought, redeemed, and justified. He is my everything because He is perfect in every way and lives inside of me.

Knowing my security doesn’t come from anyone other than Jesus comforts the sting of being an outcast because this world is not my home. I’m just here on a temporary basis because my real home is in Heaven with Jesus my Lord.

Much love,

Viv 🌷🌺🌻

Good News! We Found Work!

Dear readers, my husband secured a job this week at a company close to our home. We praise God for this blessing and for easily opening up this door for our family. We only went without income for seven weeks and yet, so many of you loved on us tangibly which warmed my heart, and helped greatly. I’m blessed beyond words to have such a supportive community here on WordPress……who are my family of brothers and sisters in the Lord.

The last seven weeks have had spiritual ups and downs for sure. While I remained hopeful, I do admit at times I pretended to be okay when I wasn’t. I didn’t want to depress my dear readers or show the community a lack of stability. Maybe I should have been more real as I’ve always been when writing of my brain injury but I felt myself closing up and going into survival mode once again. It’s a bad habit of mine……pretending to be okay while probably obvious to others that I am not. God’s working on me here. I want to be a blessing to this blogging community and not scare anyone away with my messy existence. Yet, I’m learning that showing our weakness always reflects how strong Jesus is and ultimately brings glory unto His name. He is teaching me daily through His word how to remain faithful to Him through not just what I say or do but also in how I think. Our thoughts are important because they reflect what’s in our hearts and consequently directs our actions. I’m learning to seek His face first when troubles hit me and lay my burdens down at His feet. Running to Him when the negative thought processes slam me and drag me down has been such a beautiful comfort and spares others from the domino effects of my venting.

Thank you for prayers on behalf of my family and for the beautiful ones who donated to my blog. You know who you are and I praise God for your love.

Much love,

Viv πŸ’ž

With All Your Heart

God’s timing…….why am I always amazed at how the Lord gives my soul comfort at precisely the moment I need it? Sitting in the van today, TBI symptoms flaring and tears starting, the Lord directed me to my favorite bible verse via brother Ryan’s post, ‘In All Your Ways.

Proverbs 3:5-6 King James Version (KJV)

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.

6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.

I was instantly quieted and comforted as I struggled to fight the intense nausea due to an overloaded brain. I went back over twenty years to my grocery store job at Winn Dixie. I remember cutting out of construction paper a red heart and writing out that verse (Proverbs 3:5) on it then taping it up on the glass partition separating me from my customers. My eyes often fell on those words over the long hours while I iced and decorated cakes. I used it to comfort myself in the early days of marriage, growing up in the marriage, and learning the ropes of life. But then, God used my red heart bible verse to encourage others…….others came and told me how it blessed them and gave them hope.

And that verse came back to me again today! Today God whispered to my heart lean not on your OWN understanding. How freeing is this? So completely freeing since I really don’t understand what’s going on in my life or why. I’m free to just trust that God knows and understands not me. His guidance and knowledge is the light that lights my path ahead. I can rest fully in His sovereign care while I have no answers.

He also whispered to my heart in ALL your ways. Not 50%, 75% or even 99%…….ALL of my heart given to the Lord in full surrender and trust. Trusting in His guidance and direction. Trusting in His provision and timing. Trusting that He will guide and direct me as I cry out to Him in a posture of full submission.

These verses from Proverbs are so very uplifting! I praise God for the blessing and gift of His word as He uses it to quiet my heart.

Much love,

Viv ❀

He Knows

The Holy Spirit is always so faithful in comforting my soul when I am struggling against unchecked thoughts that rear their ugly heads from time to time. He reminds me to look upward to my heavenly Father and faithfully gives these two words to quiet my mind; “He Knows.”

He knows what it feels like to be alone (Luke 4:2).

He knows what it feels to be unwanted (1 Peter 2:4).

He knows what it feels like to be forsaken (Psalm 22:11) (Mark 14:50).

He knows what it feels like to be rejected and dispised (Isaiah 53:3).

He knows what it feels like to be misunderstood (Luke 2:50).

He knows what it feels like to be tempted (Luke 4:2).

He knows what it feels like to be hungry and thirsty (Matt. 4:2, John 19:28).

He knows what it feels like to be broken (Luke 23:33).

He knows what it feels like to be betrayed (Luke 22:47-48).

He knows what it feels like when people closest to you go away (Mark 14:50).

He knows what it feels like to endure physical pain (Matt. 26-50).

He knows what it’s like to have others try to hurt you (Matt. 12:14).

He knows what it feels like to be poor (Matt. 8:20).

In all my struggles and sorrows my comfort is in knowing Jesus, our sympathizing High Priest, understands and feels for me when I am at my lowest.

He is our only true source of comfort because He is the God of all comfort. (2 Corinthians 1:3).

He sympathizes with us because He endured the same things we endure yet even more fully than we can ever know. He loves us so much he endured coming to earth, suffering and dying for our sins so we could be reconciled to full fellowship with God. To know He would have to face what He endured and then intentionally go through with it out of love for us is mindblowing. He manifested His love by giving us Himself and taking on the full penalty for our sins willingly. The grace He bestowed on us is undeserved yet given out of the deepest, widest, truest love we can’t even begin to wrap our minds around.

Has anyone ever loved you so much that they allowed themself to be killed in your place?

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; Who comforter us in our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort then which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewithal ourselves are comforted of God.

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

What Jesus did for you when he lived here on earth and continues to do for you in innumerable ways every day, no one else can ever do for you. He alone understands, cares, loves, feels, and sympathizes with your every woe.

Much love,

Viv πŸπŸ‚πŸ„

For prayer requests please visit my page Come Pray With Me. I’d love to pray with you. ❀

We Will Praise Him!

My heart has felt heavy lately. I’ve felt like my dog Molly’s stuffed moose “Gregory” with all the stuffing ripped out of him, one eye missing, and half of one antler gone, leaving nothing but a rag. Head injury and job loss just seem like too much.

But, after reading a chapter in Martha Peace’s book Damsels In Distress I was hit by so much conviction. Do I praise Him in the good times AND in the bad? Or just praise Him when all is well like my wayward heart was doing the last few days. She went on to mention how praising God in our trials because He is working them out for our good is something we can do as believers to glorify His name. If we go around all down in the mouth and slump shouldered that brings shame to our testimony as believers in Jesus. He deserves our praise in every storm we face no matter how hard or how scary or real they are. When we praise God, the world looks at us in wonder, and marvels at our faith in our Savior as we journey these valleys keeping our eyes on Him. They observe us steadfastly holding onto and clinging to Him while we sit at the foot of the cross in full surrender to His will. This brings glory, honor and praise to His awesome and majestic name.

Exodus 15:2 King James Version (KJV)

2 The Lord is my strength and song, and he is become my salvation: he is my God, and I will prepare him an habitation; my father’s God, and I will exalt him.

Jesus is with us in every storm. Every test or trial is from His loving hand and He carries us through them to refine us bringing forth gold. He could give us nothing but sunshine and lollipops but then we wouldn’t need Him and we wouldn’t mature. These trials give us the opportunity to showcase His grace, mercy, love, and strength.

Will you praise Him with me?

In the darkest hardest times, let us continue to praise Him with a thankful heart.

Much love,

Viv β€πŸ™Œ

Molly

Prayer Request

Beloved friends, some of you from the prayer group already know that my husband lost his job last week and I greatly appreciate the love and prayers being sent.

The company eliminated his entire team due to company cuts from low production. This news came as a shock to us and now we are dealing with job loss including the loss of medical insurance at the end of this month.

We have gone through this before in 2012. At that time, I had a few toddlers and a baby in diapers. Although my health was still good at that point (and I could just eat junk), I’m currently healing from a hard time of TBI and fatigue which requires more intentional care.

Please pray for my family as we face this new trial. Especially for wisdom and guidance which my husband needs as we seek God for His leading and direction.

God got us through seven months of unemployment before and I know He will get us through this again a second time around. (May I just say I wish we didn’t have to face this again?)😭

Nothing happens outside of God’s will and I’m trusting in His goodness, faithfulness and perfect plan for our lives. I do know that He will work all things together for our good because He promises so to those who love Him. (Romans 8:28) During the seven month interim of unemployment we never went without food and God took care of our bills. Sometimes it was a friend pitching in or neighbor bringing groceries and quietly leaving canned goods on our deck. Sometimes it was people giving us odd jobs of chopping wood or farming that got us through. God provided for us then and I’m eager to watch Him at work again.

This past week we emptied out all our change and discovered we had over $80 in quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies! And I sold a pair of sneakers on Facebook Marketplace and got $20. It was amazing! πŸ˜ƒ He is working already. Actually, He’s never not working.

I’m reminding myself of my mama’s words to me, “One day at a time, Viv, one day at a time.”

Psalm 37:25 “I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.”

Much love,

Viv β€πŸ™