miércoles, 25 de diciembre de 2013

Christmas 2013

Nobody wants to read a Christmas post where the author struggles with her own faith - or so I think. You can still look at the photos, though.

The truth is that for a little over a month now, I've been questioning my beliefs about God, Jesus, and Heaven. Help me figure this out. I believe my beliefs are true, but my question has been, "How do I know they are true for sure?"

Putting it together
Taking the tree out of the box

All this nonsense about whether or not Jesus is who He says He is came to happen because we are moving to India. I'll explain. In my efforts to know more about their culture and cuisine, I checked out many, MANY books about Hinduism, Buddhism and Islam from the library. I just wanted to know what people ate, how they dressed, how they behaved, but most importantly, what they believed. I don't know about you, but I don't wanna live in a place for a year or more without having basic information about the things they do, and why. Not that I will agree with those things, or will do them myself, but just to... know. Am I making sense?

Emerson says we will be there only a year, but then he thinks that his project will be so interesting that if he succeeds in everything he has in mind, a year won't be enough. Honestly, I'm like, "Whatever, what difference does it make? If we moved already, let's just stay longer...". It doesn't cause any conflict in my head to live in India longer than a year. Ha! At least not for now. But if you are moving ALL the way there, it would be nice to stay longer. You really get to know the culture that way. A year would not have been enough for us to know the American culture. We have been here for six years now, and a big change won't be bad for me. I'm waaay Americanized (read spoiled).

The ornament that changed our lives

On December 2011, we filled an ornament with a wish for 2012. We never revealed our wishes to each other... until I got pregnant in January. That's when we opened the little pieces of paper, and saw that we both wanted to have a baby :)

Enzo likes the lights

Ready for the topper
At night

Anyways... Case in point with knowing the culture you are moving to:  A month ago we went to this Indian restaurant, I think I wrote that in a post. The owner asked us something about Libby, and he referred to her as a boy. I could understand that when Libby was a baby, but now you can clearly tell she is a girl, right? Long hair, that sweet smile, the earrings... but he was very clear when he addressed her several times as a boy. Had I not read about this ritual of them, I could have been upset. They do some kind of haircut ceremony. It's something they do because they associate the hair you are born with with things from past lives (they believe in reincarnation). So if you do not cut the child's hair by age one, you wait until age three (for boys). Not that we are Indian, but I don't know,  sometimes I think in my own terms when I'm talking to people. This man might have thought Libby was a boy because of how her hair looked. Specially after he asked me how old she was.

Letting them play with my nativity set
Everybody is taking a nap

Another example. People have told us that Indian people are really friendly. They (I don't know if all of them, but some) may try to make you feel at home. I know this for a fact because I used to tutor some Indian children. The moms were very friendly (not in an American friendly way, if that makes sense at all. It's something I can't explain right now). And they were also very respectful. Their homes looked different, and smelled different. Both of these families had a whole room dedicated to worship in their houses. Several times I saw altars, and things on the altar. At that time I had no idea what I was looking at. Now I know -thanks to the books- that they bathe their idols/gods with honey, milk, and yogurt to keep them as clean and neat as possible.

Years ago I would've humpfed like a sour kangaroo at this picture. But now, I don't wanna go to somebody's house if invited, and have a look on my face of What the heck is going on?? if suddenly they bring the figurines and begin cleansing them. I do want to show respect for what they believe in. Whether or not I acknowledge that as true has no importance at that moment. I want to win the people. Love them. Get to know them. I really do. I've been asking God to give me a heart for them. 

Ok, so... after all this reading about their culture, I came across this story about their god Ganesh. They have many gods, but one that I had seen before is the elephant-headed one. I began reading the story. I won't give you a lot of details, but basically, okay... I'll tell you the story as short as I can.

Making cookie dough
My daughter's cookies
Decorating cookies
VERY focused

*How Ganesh got his elephant head**

Shiva, the god of destruction, married the goddess Parvati. He was kind of a rebel, and she loved him just the way he was. The only time she really got mad at him was when he interrupted her bath without warning. She wanted to relax, and this wasn't possible when Shiva acted this way. So she made a figure boy from sandalwood paste to protect her door. Then, she took a breath, and blew life into it. 

I closed the book. "This is freaking crazy, you cannot do that!". But then the sour kangaroo in my pouch said, "Really? What about your own beliefs? You believe that God created Adam from the dust of the ground, and He breathed into this man the breath of life." (Genesis 2:7)  

Remember this is all me, having conversations with myself :)

- Well... yeah... but this is God we are talking about here. God did create Adam like that. 
- How do you know? How do you know Parvati did not create this chubby boy as well?
- Well, I don't believe this happened. This is just a story for children. The book looks like stories for children about the elephant god.
- Libby has a book that looks exactly the same, with pictures of Adam and God creating him.
- Fuuuuuuuuudge...

Final product
Cookies for Jesus

I continued reading the book, but after I finished I just felt weird. And I've felt weird until about two weeks ago when something happened. I'll tell you later, of course. 

During the time between me reading the book and reading about Hinduism, and Islam, and all that, Emerson and I had a conversation about all this. It wasn't too long, of course. He said those are their beliefs, and we should respect them. They worship a boy with an elephant head, but for all they know, we, as Christians, follow a zombie. Think about it.

Jesus is the Son of God. Jesus is God, then. I do believe so. Human Jesus died, and he rose from the dead three days later ---> Jesus is a zombie. A nice zombie, but still a zombie in their eyes. I am just speculating. I am not implying people actually believe this. But it makes sense. 

Tea set from The Gonzales'
Enzo being mean to his sister :(

By the way, they also believe that gods sometimes came down to earth in different forms which they call avatars. Some Hindus might actually see Jesus as an avatar of Brahma, their god of creation. Whaaaat the heeeck is going on people? When did Jesus become an avatar?!

You see my point? The more I read, the more confused I was getting. I believe what I believe becasue I believe is true. Libby sings about God creating the heavens and the earth because I am raising her to believe that. A Hindu girl will grow up worshiping Vishnu and other many gods, and bathing them, because that what she sees everyday. 

And I can argue with you all my blog long, trying to show you that the power of the Holy Sprit was what make Jesus come back to life, and that he defeated Satan in hell. And I put my hands on fire, because I do believe so. But if you are as skeptical of my faith, as I am of other faiths, then all you hear is blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah....

You don't believe me about Jesus. You don't believe me because you already made up your mind that it isn't true. I totally understand that. You don't believe me as I don't believe in Ganesh, the elphant-headed god. The same with Allah. Some might argue Mohumadd is the last prophet of God, and that the angel Gabriel appeared to him, and then he wrote the Quran. I've been reading it, too. It's a really interesting book, and we (followers of Jesus) might seem to share many things with them. But I don't give the Quran any authority over the Bible.

I guess my point is everybody chooses to believe in something. It is a matter of choice.

Libby's crafts for Daddy
Christmas hand-made ornaments

Big Christmas card for Daddy

But let me continue with the story because I did finished reading it...

So the boy (later called Ganesh) guarded his mother's door so she could have a nice bath. He didn't let Shiva in, nor Nandi. The boy was growing more and more powerful because no one was able to get in to see Parvati. Even the other gods began being concerned about his behavior. They felt afraid of losing their god status because of this boy. So Shiva decided that the boy had to be gone. 

Pretty much all hell broke loose in heaven. Parvati was furious saying this was an injustice. She turned into the fierce Nav Durga -a frightening goddess who could multiply her body over and over again- and she helped her son. Now the gods were really concerned; they were fighting against each other because of this boy. They wanted to kill him. And Shiva finally killed him, he chopped his head off. 

Parvati watched in horror. The boy she had created and loved was dead. Her son had acted with unquestioning devotion, defying the most powerful gods to protect her privacy. He had only done as she wished. Parvati's anguish was equaled by an implacable anger. The terrifying form of the goddess Kali sprang from her forehead. She showed no mercy. She began destroying everything out of anger since her boy was killed. The other gods tried to calm her down, but she wanted her son back, otherwise heaven would be ripped to pieces. 

While all this was happening, the people on earth had lots of trouble of their own. The gods and goddesses were too busy fighting Parvati. They had no time to help mere mortals with day-to-day questions and problems. So Vishnu had to bring the boy back to life, and long story short, he chose an elephant. The boy came back to life with an elephant head. And so they named the boy Ganesh, and made him the god to help people in trouble or in need.   


** How Ganesh got his elephant head. Johari, Harish. 2003.

Tea Party

I'll address my children from now on...

Enzo and Libby,

You don't have much to choose from right now. You choose grapes over strawberries at breakfast. Well, you actually choose to obey or disobey, with costly consequences sometimes over your bottoms. Enzo, you are very mean to Sissy sometimes. My boy, I've been teaching you this is unacceptable from a man. You are to treat your sister and me with respect. I need to train you to be an honorable man, and a good husband. No real man will ever hit a woman. Trust me: Your wife will love me FOREVER. But right now, your bottom is suffering :(

Children, as you grow up, you'll soon discover that this world has many, many things to offer. Some are beneficial, others are not. 

All this time I have stressed over and over and over that you don't have to follow Jesus. Libby, you are the one talking right now. You get upset when I say you don't have to follow Jesus. You always say, "I follooooooow, Jesuuuuuuus!!". But there will be a point in your life when both of you will question who you are following. You might as well ask yourselves if that person is worth following. 

Enzo at The Rodriguez's Christmas Party

I've been wondering about God and Jesus. You know, my beliefs came stronger after I wondered for a while. You'll have to go through those kind of moments, too. Moments when you have to choose if you are going to live your live based on what you believe to be the truth, or if you are going to live it based on what other people say is good, or what other people do. You know, if you are going to do X, because everybody is doing X. 

My whole life has been reorganized based on my beliefs about God and Jesus. My kindness towards people, my passion in being a mother to you.  

According to your Daddy...

I was unreasonably jealous and immature about my jealousy, which was annoying. I'm still selfish like any human being, but before, I was all like, 'What's in it for me?' Now, I don't think about myself at all, which is also sick, but Daddy thinks it's better. I'm also more rational because I don't burst into anger. And nothing to do with Jesus, but guess what, guys? I CAN COOK!!  This is MY biggest accomplishment, according to your Daddy :)

My patience, controlling my tongue when I'm mad at you. My behavior toward the opposite sex, my outlook at life troubles. My love for myself, and my love for your dad. Everything has changed based on the belief that Jesus is the Son of God. I live my life based on the belief that there is only one true God. The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The Father of Jesus.   

Libby's new doll
Thanks for introducing her to Barbies, Gloria and Bella ;)

I cried at church the other day because I try to live my faith in a world who makes fun of me. I actually know that that's the way it is supposed to be. Jesus warned us (John 15). But it is not fair. What is all this political correctness in the US you hear about all day long? So they can make fun of me, a Christian, but if someone makes fun of a Muslim, then everybody gets offended? That's not fair. But life is not fair, my boy and my girl. In this life, shit happens...

My point is this: As you grow up, you'll be offered many options. Options you will choose based on what you believe to be true. There are choices that will not impact your life in a drastic way, you know?, like, "Should I wear jeans or shorts?" But others options will, like, "Should I have sex with this guy/girl just because we want to?" 

In the logical, objective sense, religion is man made. That is why there are so many. You may want to choose one. You might not.  At some point in your life I expect you to question my faith. I've been raising you to believe in a guy named Jesus, who came to be your Savior.  Is He really your Savior?  You tell me. I expect you to do it because you both are very, very smart. I want you to question it, and have an answer of your own because I don't want you to follow my faith only because I say it's true. Use your God-given brains, please. 

Not a good start for the family picture :S

Religions out there are like a nice buffet. You can pick and choose. There are many. You question Christianity, well, then go ahead and look what's on the menu. I've read enough about some of the ones available to know that Christianity makes the most sense to me. With all this reading about India, Hinduism, Islam, etc., I just thought that I want to be offered REAL HOPE.

HOPE. HOPE. HOPE. Not wishful thinking. REAL HOPE.

I want to be loved, to be cherished, to be forgiven for the things I know I do wrong. I don't want to reincarnate. This earthly life is such a drag to be lived over, and over, and over. I want to serve a God who loves me, who deeply cares about me, and who is not too busy doing god-things that He has no time for me. At the same time, I want to serve a God who is like a father to me. Someone who can forgive me, and help me. Someone that I know will have my back no matter how bad I mess up in my earthly life. 

I want to know that I will go to heaven when I die.  I cannot live a perfect life. I know it. So I want assurance that no matter what I do, I can be forgiven, and promised eternal life. I want to be happy forever one day. I don't want to be second guessing if the god I serve will be merciful enough to forgive me. I don't want to do rituals many times a day towards a building, and feel guilty about not doing them. I don't want that god changing his mind at the very last minute and sending me to hell. 

Enzo throwing a tantrum
Everything will be okay...

I don't want to change my behavior in hopes it will help me, but never knowing for sure if the scale will tilt in my favor. Heck... I cannot even remember day-to-day things, how will I track my good versus my bad deeds? I want to change my behavior because changing it is a direct result of the love I feel for my God. I want to obey out of love, not out of obligation. I want to follow someone because I want to, not because I have to. I want to be inspired, not forced. When I do things out of obligation, they don't last for a long time. They feel like a burden, and when I stop doing them, guilt is all that remains.

I don't want to live with guilt. 

I don't want to be God's salesman, either. I want to live my faith in such a way that people will be drawn, not coerced. I want to offer tangibility to my faith. People need to know that my God is real, and personal. Long story short... If I am going to follow a god, and go full blast, I want that god to be worth changing my life for. 

Christmas 2013

Then I heard this song. I listened to it in the car, just when I was wondering all these things, over, and over... Just read it, and listen to it on YouTube. The link might not be there when you are 20, but there will always be a new YouTube page with the song, you know?


Follow the star to a place unexpected

Would you believe, after all we've projected,
A child in a manger?
Lowly and small, the weakest of all
Unlikeliest hero, wrapped in his mother's shawl -
Just a child -
Is this who we've waited for? 'cause...

How many kings step down from their thrones?
How many lords have abandoned their homes?
How many greats have become the least for me?
And how many gods have poured out their hearts
To romance a world that is torn all apart
How many fathers gave up their sons for me?

[    This is what won me over   ~     Mom   ]

Bringing our gifts for the newborn Savior
All that we have, whether costly or meek
Because we believe.
Gold for his honor, and frankincense for his pleasure
And myrrh for the cross he will suffer
Do you believe?
Is this who we've waited for?

All for me...
All for you...

I want THIS kind of God. A God who loves the world so much that He was willing to give up His own Son for me. He gave it all up for me. For me, and for you, guys!! 


Looking somewhere...

Fixing her dress

So happy ;)

A God who had it all, and gave it all up for me. I am not perfect, Libby and Enzo . I raise my voice at you almost every day because you drive me crazy most of the time, but I would give my life for you if someone wanted to harm you. 

I want a God who would do the same for me. Hands down. God became one of us. He gave. His love is so wide and long, high and deep... He is able to do more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power in Christ Jesus (Ephesians 3:18)...

Look, guys, it is a choice. A choice that will impact your life forever. Even if at the end of my life, everything I believed about Jesus was a joke, I would still follow Jesus now, because following Jesus is the best choice in the available menu. I follow Him. I adore Him. 

But you are the one eating. So YOU choose.

Getting upset 
Enzo is still...

Love this picture ;)

So now that I took everything out of my system... Yes, I do believe what I believe, and I'm thankful for Jesus and celebrating His birthday. YAY!!

We spent Christmas' Eve at The Rodriguez's house with their family, after going to church. Libby got a movie, and a Barbie: Princess Belle. Enzo got some stacking blocks. We ate tamales, stuffing, turkey, glazed ham, bread, soda, salad, pecan pie, raspberry pie, apple pie...

After dinner (around 9 pm) Enzo took a nap until 10:30 pm. when we left. We had a great time celebrating with them. Libby had so much fun, she read her books, and she was super polite ALL the time. Everybody was saying how good children they are, and I felt really thankful for my husband and my children.

We came back and we spent the night together in their room. Emerson put up the smaller tent, we prayed, and then camped with Libby. I slept on a cot, or at least I tried. Libby and Enzo didn't go to sleep until 12 am... that's when I left the room and came to sleep on the couch. I got back in their room at 5 am, and Libby woke up at 8 am. She woke us all up ;)

Drinking tea

After we woke up I made tea, and actually used my China set. I told Libby we were going to make real tea, and she would drink some. I made lemon tea for her and Enzo. We sang Happy Birthday to Jesus, and we finally ate the cookies!! They hadn't had a cookie in two days, because I kept on telling them those were for Jesus first. Then we opened all the presents. 

They got presents from my parents, Emerson's parents, and us. Libby got a farm, a US puzzle, spelling cards and a science kit. Enzo got books from Dr. Seuss, legos, musical instruments. Daddy got a book, a craft and the movie The Elf. I got a sweeeeeet running watch that I can't wait to use because I'm training for a race!!!

So many toys

Libby shared her farm

The Farm

Opening her present

Enzo shared his toys, too

El Niño del Tambor

Treasures in heaven, by The Nunez's Band

Enzo has been taking a nap since 12 pm, and Libby just fell asleep. Emerson and I watched The Elf. That movie is awesome! It just makes me laugh so much. I'm very happy I bought it for Emerson. So we are just chilling right now, and enjoying each other. 

Merry Christmas, everyone! 

My Favorite part from The Elf

2 comentarios:

  1. Love it :) Sounds like the Lord is deepening your faith and preparing you for India! Beautiful family.