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 Vivie😚🤗🍁🍂

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

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 🍁🍂🍄

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

A Fun Surprise

I had to share with you all the neatest thing that came from the UPS man today via my friend Kim….

Okay, let me backtrack here a bit. I am required to swallow several supplements daily to keep me going and help heal my central nervous system. Unfortunately, my swallow muscles aren’t quite right and so I have to crush up everything I take and stir into applesauce just to get it down. Otherwise, I just can’t do it.

So, for years I’ve taken a heavy ice cream scooper and an old rag, beaten the pills into a fine dust before stirring into my applesauce. I know I look as stupid as it sounds…😂

Well, not anymore folks! Kim lovingly sent to me an Ezy Crush Pill Crusher from Amazon. I’m literally so excited right now because taking my supplements will be so much easier and I won’t conveniently forget anymore due to the hassle.

Whoo Hooooo!! Looky here folks, I’m moving up in the world. No more waking the hubby and neighbors because I have to beat up pills!! I’m so thrilled and excited to get this and humbled too. She also generously sent a yummy flavored pre-biotic powder to help aid in digestion. I’m overwhelmed by such love!😍

God knows how bummed I’ve been lately but He continues to send loving kisses from friends like Kim because He knows, cares, and uses people to lift us up and urge us forward. We’re not ever alone in any of our troubles. In response to others who haven’t been nice, I find myself wanting to pop my turtle’s head back into my shell for protection but that’s not what God wants! He knows we need each other, community, and fellowship, and that’s why we are to reach out, to share, to pray and to never ever give up hope!

Much love,

Viv

Dearly Beloved

I wanted to share a bit of happiness today: Last Saturday, August 3rd, my nephew and now brand new niece got married. Hooray!!👰🤵 The ceremony took place outside and everything was absolutely gorgeous. The event went well except for the fact that the minister got the times mixed up (they are so busy and rightly so) and was late so we sat there wondering what the hold up was. The viola and violin players did a great job continuing to play as if nothing was askew. I saw one muscian mouth to the other “again” and they just kept on playing. At last, much to our relief, the minister finally arrived and the wedding went on smoothly.

As we entered the ceremony there were fans with our program printed on them and bug repellant. So very smart and helpful as it was very humid! It was wonderful being able to attend and take part in the celebration.

My niece has Celiac Disease so the reception was catered by Zoe’s Kitchen which made almost all the food gluten free. I tried falafel for the first time……it was ok. 😁 (A bit of beans and a tad awful.) 😂 The gluten free ravioli was delectable. (My oldest daughter and I are still talking about how good it tasted.)

We had family fly in from California our native state. My parents are originally from San Francisco and had my brother there before my dad decided to move to Philadelphia and attend Seminary.

Here I am with my handsome nephew and darling new niece! Love, love, love them!!

They had popsicles at the reception provided by a vendor because of the heat which was an excellent idea!! My kids and my hubby and I sat inside where it was a bit cooler.

Here I am with my big brother! Love him tons, obviously.😍

My precious niece eating the yummy gluten free carrot cake she and her mom made. Can you see the sweetness in her angelic face? 🤗😍

Here are my four all cleaned up and polished. My heart nearly breaks as I look at my oldest two (on the right) because they’ve had to make up for all the times I’ve been unwell by running the household together. God is good though because they can cook and clean doing everything I do yet, I think even better! Xoxo

On the far left is my beautiful and cherished Mama. My beautiful Californian aunt “Auntie Jo” is on the right.

All the desserts were gluten free. I was naughty and had a chocolate chip cookie and four bites of cake. (I don’t eat much sugar because of blood sugar issues.) It was well worth it and I have no regrets. 🍰🥂

This picture turned out so well! I was so busy capturing it so I forgot to throw the flowers but isn’t this just great?!

I’m so very thankful we could be a part of the happy couple’s wonderful day! They are truly a blessing in my life and in many others lives too. Both are the sweetest, kindest, and most compassionate souls ever and I’m oh so thankful for my adorable family.🤗😄

Much love,

Viv 😃

Fun and Frugal

What does a person with limited funds, and energy do to get both her and her family ready for her beloved nephew’s wedding?

I’ve been scratching my head as to how to get a dress for my daughter and myself along with pants and a dress shirt for my growing 13.75 year old man-child. My hubby and youngest two were all set but as the wedding gets closer, I have been stressing over what to wear.

I’ve gained a bit of weight since I can’t exercise anymore the way I used to (Turbo Jam videos) but, when I tried on the only suitable dress I had for a wedding, it made me look as a marshmallow…….toasted marshmallow since the dress is brown. 😭

So, my family and I set out to our local thrift store with so much HOPE to find what we need and fast.

My beautiful daughter found a gorgeous pink A line dress with flowers that suits her well while my son found black Jockers slacks (do people still say that?) and a nice white button down dress shirt with a vibrant blue tie.

Thankfully, after trying on a handful of dresses and feeling a bit discouraged, I found a dark indigo blue sleeveless dress with some shimmery bling on the front from Kohls with the tags still on. The tag read $50 but I got it for $5! Ta da!! God provided as always and now I can feel less panicked about the fast approaching wedding and good about the clothes we were able to find.

As for a much much needed hair cut, I watched a few YouTube videos and taught myself how to cut and layer my own hair. I have cut my hair in the past and cut my entire family’s hair out of necessity. It saves a ton. Sometimes we get poor results but I think we are managing and it’s one less task on my over-worked (and underpaid) hubby.

The wedding is August 3rd and thankfully only about half an hour from my house. We are really excited about it…..my niece-to-be is darling and I loved her the minute we met. She and I also share the same birthday which I’m so delighted about and makes her even more special to me.

I’m so thankful God gave me the energy to clothing shop with my kids! It was the first time shopping together in years and felt so wonderful to be able to handle and enjoy it.

I’m getting stronger friends!! Praise God for today and also praise Him for the bad days because without them, the good days wouldn’t be so marvelous!

Much love,

Viv 🥂💗

A Birthday Poem To My Dad

You were born in the 40’s after WW2

A “Baby Boomer” yes, that’s what they call you

My dad you’re amazing a trooper I say

You served in the Marine Corp

Back in the day

Your education was extensive and strenuous as can be

Yet you pushed through to achieve

Your Master’s Of Divinity

You never shrink back to take on a challenge

Motivated, determined, and a man of deep knowledge

Your provision consistently steady and good

A secure roof over our heads and plenty of food

Daily family devotions you never lost sight

Pointing us to God and teaching what’s right

Married to mama over fifty years golden

Strong committment to love, honor and cherish you’ve proven

A fond memory I hold of you in years past

Your grand fireworks display

Giving the neighboorhood a loud blast

It was the best fourth of July hot summer night

How you treated all us kids to a spectacular delight

Smoking a cigar your lighter too

Then we all stood and watched

Breathtaking sparkles of red, pink, white, green, blue

Another favorite memory I cherish of you and me

Was riding around on your snazzy Harley

Then you rigged your bike up with loud banana pipes

It was fun riding with my dad, the cool biker type

You go to the gym

Staying fit, trim, and spiffy

I promise you look not a day over fifty!

It touches my heart to watch you care for your wife

Your devotional love is an example of Christ

A godly picture of what a Father really means

I’m honored to be your daughter and proud to share your genes

My dear “Papa” at this particular time

I write words that say “I love you”

In this little rhyme

You’re a father so loyal, so faithful and true

I’m penning this poem saying “HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU

Written by Vivian Joy

July, 2019.

“WE ALL UNDERSTAND”

For several years, I have felt like I have given myself an emotional brain injury, by constantly trying to answer questions regarding my infirmities to people, begging them to understand, offering blog posts to read, and health articles, and striving to gain acceptance in a very unaccepting world. At times it’s figuratively felt like beating my head against a brick wall of judgement, ignorance and unsupport. Hence, I have felt defeated and almost like giving up because my rare case has left me in a constant state of being on the defense and exhausted.

So, last week after my Good Eyes, Bad Brain post, a dear blogging friend Renee said three of the most powerfully supportive words I had been hoping to hear.

She said, ” We all understand”

Renee used her insights specifically to encourage my heart by saying that my loving blogging family all understand and I don’t need to worry about keeping up if having a tough time of it. I felt sincerely understood and isn’t that what we all hope to gain? There is such comfort and peace when the body of Christ says that they understand. It’s a genuinely priceless gift!!

If you are not following her awesome Blog, “Heart Tokens”, I strongly encourage you to do so immediately! She has a very unique perception on life and people and uses her wisdom while she writes beautiful posts from the heart.

What a wonderful encouragement three little words brought to my heart!! They were actually three very big words and dearest Renee, I am so blessed and thankful for you. God used YOU to encourage me last week and I thank you from the bottom of my heart for your beautiful, thoughtful, heart tokens!!

Has someone’s words comforted or encouraged you lately? A fellow blogger? A family member or friend? I’d love to hear about it.

Much love,

Viv 💚

For prayer requests please visit my new page Come Pray With Me.