A Family Tradition: Quinceañera

I remember turning 14 and my mom asking me if I wanted to have a quinceanera. (These extravagant birthday parties take about a whole year in advance of planning.) “No thank you,” I replied. I was a really shy kid. A crowd of people watching me attempt a dance. Nope.

 One of my cousin’s recently had her Quinceanera in our family’s hometown of D’Hanis, Texas. Emily has grown into a beautiful lovely young lady. I remember there was quite a big scare when she was born. Her mother is my second cousin. (It’s weird cause she looks much like my mom but she’s family so that makes sense.) Anyway, my cousin Donna went into labor at just a mere 25 weeks of pregnancy. I remember Emily was so tiny. There was neonatal experts taking care of her.

 She made it through and now she’s 15 years old! I’m not really close with her but a birthday celebration is a huge milestone and it was amazing to see who she has become.

 She was surrounded by her parents, and school friends. She still seems kind of quiet and shy, just like I was.   Quinceaneras usually have a Mass at church, then a dinner followed by a waltz and then a dance for everyone to join in. While the finally set ups for the dinner were taking place we were entertained by some mariachis and a little dancing. I had to leave before the dance to get back up to Austin but again. I love getting celebrate and see how lovely of a little lady Emily has grown into. 

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Music Ministry Monday: Pray for those that hurt us

Today’s already January 19th! For me, it seems, everything has changed just as fast as time is passing this year. Of course, somethings don’t turn out the way we want them to. Some choice words were said to me, in avoidance of another subject. These words, man oh man, they sure like to linger in my thoughts. They suggest I compromise my morals. Every now and then, resurfacing, my sight blurring as emotional feelings start to take over, and the tears start building. I want to break, yell and scream, “what is wrong with you? I am a person, I have feelings, I am someone’s sister, someone’s daughter, someone’s granddaughter, someone’s cousin, someone’s relative! How about put one of your relatives in my shoes. My shoes that feel heavy from the weight of disrespect and disappointment.” Instead, I sigh, hold back on those water works and let out a prayer.

This prayer is not for me, it starts for the person that said those words, then grows to everyone that intentionally inflict a negative emotion or mannerism to another person. First, for forgiveness, then for peace to their hearts. Fitting, that today we, honor and remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. On my drive to work this morning, I heard an excerpt of a speech he gave on why not to be violent. He said

“pray for your enemies, pray for those that hurt you […] rather a scarred body than a scarred soul.”

Other quotes I’ve seen today,

“the ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy,” and “let no man pull you low enough to hate him,” and “I have decided to stick with love. Hate is too great a burden to bear.”

Unfortunately, in my disappointment and heat of the moment I did utter the word hate. So I apologize and pray for my own peace.

Going into my third week of the K-Love 30 day challenge, “Broken Together” by Casting Crowns, is a somber song with an insightful message of truth. It’s lyrics unfold a story of understanding your own and another’s brokenness and then moving forward with faith.

Also, “Words,” by Hawk Nelson reiterates that message to speak with the love and grace of God.

“Words can build you up words can break you down. Start a fire in your heart or put it out. Let my words be life let my words be truth. I don’t wanna say a word unless it points the world back to You.”

I joke with my friends, and call it “Regina George” syndrome. Yep, “Regina George,” from the movie “Mean Girls.” It’s a terrible thing, that I really don’t understands , how cruel and unpleasant some people can be. While people like, In this older article I wrote , and some these random ones I found online,

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taunt others, I pray for them. Whatever has them so broken or hurt, whether intentionally or medically the can’t help it, I sincerely pray they find peace. And I ask everyone reading to join me in this not so typical prayer.

I strive to be as much of a disciple of Christ, as possible, but I am not perfect. I have flaws, and sins, I am human. When those emotions and words start to cloudy my thought, I throw my hands up to God. As a Catholic, a Christian, a follower of Christ, we are supposed to live, not by feelings but, by faith.

 “The Lord gives his people strength. The Lord blesses them with peace. Psalm 29:11

Forgiveness and Peace

Lately, I have been feeling disappointed by a lot of people. (Yes, I’m writing about feelings. Hold on, it gets better) I keep finding myself saying this person, and that person is flakey. I’ve never been great with expressing my emotions, especially disappointment. I was raised to just busy myself with something else and keep quiet.

I remember back in college breaking up with my ex-boyfriend, of 4 years, and talking to my Dad. His advice to me, “just go back to the library and focus on your studies!” Oh Asian parents.

Well, as I was listening to a Christian radio station, I heard an amazing reminder. The preacher asked “how should we start every prayer?” He reminded me that each prayer should start with forgiveness. That we start each prayer with forgiveness of another, so we can also be forgiven by God. I thought to myself, I pray all the time, but I can’t even remember the last time I started a prayer with forgiveness.

Immediately, it struck me! I grabbed the first piece of paper I could find (tissue paper) and a pink crayon. I started writing a list with the first and last name of everyone the that I had felt disappointed by or some type of resentment. Next to each name I wrote a little reason why. When I finished, I took a moment to reflect, I knew there had to be something similar, something connecting with the “reason why.”

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Reflecting, I remembered two post I recently saw on Instagram. Yep, Instagram! The first one, “When you discover your self-worth you will lose interest in anyone who doesn’t see it.” The second one is a bit long, “Don’t ever feel bad for making a decision about your own life that upsets other people. You are not responsible for their happiness. You’re responsible for your own happiness. Anyone who wants you to live in misery for their happiness should not be in your life to begin with.” The second is kind of harsh.

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These quotes and the “reasons why” started turning wheels in my head. I realized I honestly, truly, and genuinely care about most people, more than others. Taking this revelation, I cried out to God in prayer, this time starting with forgiveness. It was a long conversation, but when I was done I felt peace in my heart.

I am who I am, and with every fiber of my being I will always genuinely care about people, probably more than most. That’s okay. I can breathe easy. I can’t change others just like I can’t change the way I care, but I am okay that. So I took the list I wrote, tore it in pieces, and threw it away.

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It’s crazy, or in better terms, amazing how God’s wonders work when you have faith. The next day one of my best friends post this “keep calm, life is hard, but God is Good” link that had biblical references that affirmed the revelations from the day before.

“For I know the thoughts that I think over you, says The Lord, thoughts of peace, not of affliction, so that I may give you patience and and an end” -Jeremiah 29.11