Three weeks ago we went to Maldives. I would like to say it was very relaxing, but I don't think it was. I am not saying I am not thankful we went there, I am just saying that a place like that with my two little ones cannot be really relaxing. But it was freaking awesome!
God bless my parents for taking me to the beach every year from age 8-15 or something like that. My cousins also came with us. So all in all we were five girl cousins from age 2 to 8 when we began going to the beach. The amount of energy, and time listening to your children cry -either on the sand or at the pool - can feel eternal. BUT you will never regret it once you see your children smile, running and jumping in and out of the pool and into the ocean. You can see them enjoying their time, and it might sound cliché, but it is worth it.
I felt loved at the beach. I felt God loved me. One might argue I was in a beautiful place so all that I felt was subjective and bound to the beauty of that place. Yes, the white sand beach is amazing, I had never seen it in my life. But I also felt loved the other day at my terrace, one day before going to the beach. I was crying and panicking for some things that are happening in my personal life regarding my faith journey. And God comforted me. God comforted me while I was looking at a beach that is dirty, full of stray dogs, and in which (while running) I have actually seen men squat and start defecating. So you tell me if God is not able to love me at all times, and in all places, despite my scenery.
God loves me. He does. I am not a Muslim, but He loves me.
|My boy and I enjoying the ocean|
I haven't written in here in such a long time because I began writing this other blog regarding my faith journey. I actually thought about separating my personal life from my religious or faith-based life, while documenting almost all that we go through as a family. I think people mostly like to look at the photos. Some friends, however, have told me they are praying for me for all the things that we are going through. So people actually read what I write. I think I was just kidding myself when I said my other blog would be my "religious" blog. I cannot really do that. I would be a hypocrite if I did that. My life - my family life - and all things related to me as a person involve my faith. Even God told the Israelites,
"These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up"
- Deuteronomy 6:6-7
|On the way to our island|
I am not a Jew, but I follow the God of the Jewish People. So long story short, I have been faithful following His decrees and telling my children about God's hesed and Agape love. Check out the other blog for more info on my thoughts: dissectingjesus.com
But Libby... Oh, Libby. She is such a hard-headed, rebellious little girl. She is such a stiff-necked Israelite at heart (Ex 32:9). All of us are like that from the moment we are born, we really reject God. She is into this phase where she actually tells me she does not want to follow Jesus. She either wants to follow me, and stay with me forever, or follow her friends at preschool, but not God. Not God, not Jesus. Not anybody.
The other day we were praying that God would heal her Daddy, and she basically said I was wasting my time praying. That I could heal Daddy on my own. I should just give him some of the medicines that I give her when she is sick on her nose. And I explained how God works through doctors and medicines and stuff, right? But she looked at me straight in the eye, and said, even laughing, "No, God doesn't heal. You heal."
|Liking the beach already|
All I see in Facebook are my Christian friends' children with photos on how they accepted Jesus in their hearts and stuff, and I'm like, Am I doing something wrong? Don't get me wrong. I am so thrilled for my friends. But I am also proud of my little girl, because that is exactly what I want her to do. From the moment she was born and I held her in my arms, I promised God I would teach her to love Him. But I have also told her from Day 1, that following Jesus as Lord and Savior is a choice. He invites you to follow Him, but He will never force you. God reveals to you who He really is when you really want to know who He is. Humbling yourself and making a choice on whether to follow Him or not is up to you. I want both my children to use their God-given brains. I don't want them to follow because I follow. I want them to follow Him (out of conviction), and not ME (out of imitation).
Enzo is going through a difficult phase also. When I go back and I read what I have written for the past three years... I don't know, I think we have been in this phase all the time - with both children. Nothing is really changing. If anything is getting worse, more and more complicated. Now, they get back at you. Now, they can come and tell you you messed up their cereal, or that they didn't want your help, and it becomes chaos. We are teaching them to be respectful, and to realize how the way you say things can change or avoid an argument. And I wish I had the patience God has with His children, but I don't. So today, I spank Enzo right in the spot without a warning about how disrespectful his behavior was.
We were running late and Kannandasan was nowhere to be found, so we had to use the stroller to go to school. And they began fighting over some trains. Libby pushed Enzo, so Enzo came back at her, and hit her right on her head. And I spank him, alright? He knows it is unacceptable to hit his sister like that. That's not it, though. So when I tried to put him on the stroller, he ran towards the stairs. I was chasing him and then he was kicking while I was trying to sit him down. He kept on kicking and sliding down... you know, like remaining in a plank position so that I couldn't buckle him. And I just spanked him. No warning. I am sorry. I lost it. I gave him three spanks on his bottom, to get him out of his trance. And it worked.
Enzo has something that I personally don't like. I am terrified by it. I don't know how God imprints personality traits in people. I think one think is genetics, but maybe children inherit some traits from the parents. Is that possible? I have no idea. I know there are things that are taught, like brushing your teeth, but that doesn't make you a control freak. Libby, tough, has a very similar personality to Emerson's. Probably that's why we bump heads on a regular basis. That's exactly why Emerson has been telling me to leave her alone on the Jesus subject. She is rebellious. He is rebellious. People with that kind of personality will reject any kind of faith that you try to impose on them. If I stuff Jesus down her throat in my own effort to make her believe what I believe, she will only reject it, and throw it up even harder. Besides, I cannot really make her believe squat. Only God works in your heart.
Enzo, tough, is very sweet when it comes to Jesus. He loves singing songs to God - for now. But that is not what terrifies me about my boy. My boy shares with me something that if not learned how to deal with it, it can really get you in trouble. He does not know how to control his anger. We have told him countless time it is wrong to hit, and push and kick when he gets angry. Sometimes he can control himself, but I think he can avoid hitting because he doesn't get angry enough. But once his anger is pushed over the limit, then there is no coming back. His anger blinds him. You can be screaming at him, and he won't listen. You can be hugging him, and he won't listen. He can cry non-stop without you being able to interact with him. Talking, tough, is what calms him down most of the time.
Are you upset? That's the very first thing we ask. I know the answer is almost always yes. Sometimes he says no. But then little by little he starts calming down, and then you can actually have a conversation with him about the reason he lost it. Most of the time, the reason is so tiny that you couldn't even know it unless you could read his mind. Apologizing is difficult. Sometimes he does it, sometimes he doesn't, even when he knows what he did was wrong. Sometimes we force him to apologize, and he cooperates; other times it is useless to force him, specially when we see that his heart is far, far away from being involved in the I am sorry speech.
|I think we were singing...|
I was a very angry person. I remember hitting people in my anger. I remember hitting someone so hard one day that his nose began bleeding. And it was hard to learn to control it. I felt like screaming, like hitting the wall, like punching everybody. It's like you just lose it, and then you charge against whatever or whoever provoked you.
I am not saying it is people's fault. You are accountable for your own wrong choices, but you charge against them. When you lose it - there is no coming back. It is difficult to stop yourself. You have to stop yourself BEFORE, instead of ONCE your blood is boiling with rage. I had been so enraged, that I did not think. I am not lying to you when I say that I clearly understand why Jesus equates this kind of anger to murder. I have felt that feeling so intensely that it becomes you. Or you become it. If I had had a knife in my hands during one of those episodes, I would have used it. Do I sound like a normal person? Of course not.
Jesus changed my heart. Duh! What did you expect me to say? So when I see my boy, I have no other option but to teach him what I know. I have no choice but to talk to Enzo about the ONE who changed Enzo's potential mother into the mother he has now. And Jesus, the Savior, not the Prophet did that. Jesus, my Lord, changed my heart. Not the Jesus who looks up to God and says, "God, the Christians made me into a god. But it's not my fault. It was not me, it was them" (Quran 5:116) [My paraphrase].
|Making MY castle to Libby's dislike|
It was Jesus, the Son, who changed me. My friend told me the other day that she was thankful to God that her children were very active, but that she wouldn't want God to bless her with children like mine. She meant well. She acknowledged she couldn't raise children like mine. I agree. My mentor Jeff jokes on a regular basis about how children are God's most wonderful blessing, and at the same times His worse curse.
People often say that God will not give you more than you can handle. But why did God give me children like these? Why did God decide that it would be wise to give Emerson and me a little Emerson and a little Karla to raise? I don't know. But I tell you what. God helps you and equips you with what you DO have when you feel you cannot handle it anymore. I think sometimes God gives you more than you can actually handle so that you would need Him. Otherwise, why would you?
God is changing me. He is working in me trough those children. He is showing me how awful a person I can be. He is showing me the nasty ideas and nasty thoughts I can have, and how self-righteous I can become. He has showed me how little I have actually loved others. He is changing my heart through my children. He is showing me my own potential. He is showing me the person I could become if only I trust in Him. He is showing me to love others the way He loves them. And it hurts. It hurts to love people like that when you don't really have any leverage. It hurts to love people unconditionally.
But when you see your child running on the beach, you get on your knees and praise God's name.
Praise the LORD, my soul; all my inmost being, praise His holy name.
|Peace? Hmm... maybe.|
My sister told me I look so at peace with myself in this photo. It doesn't feel peaceful to be around my children on a regular basis, I'll tell you that. But Allah knows what He is doing. I wouldn't change a thing of the reasons Allah chose me to be the mother of my children. And Allah knows best, does He not?
Oh goodness... what can I tell you about Maldives? We woke up very early Monday morning, and after two flights, we made it there. Then a boat took us to the main island where our resort was. The bathroom was really nice because it had an open shower, and also a bathtub which the children really liked. They miss having a bathtub. We always had breakfast, lunch, and dinner at the resort because you cannot leave unless you swim to the main island. I don't think the main island is nice. At least that's what the workers told us.
|Looking at sea shells|
Maldives is a Muslim country and I was impressed - surprised to say the least- that you cannot import Bibles. I wonder if they would actually take away your personal Bible if they saw it in your luggage. Anyway, little did they know they let a walking Bible pass right through customs - me. LOL. Of course, I am just joking. I am not a walking Bible. But I had some spiritual conversations with people which I am glad to say I did not start this time. But these two persons opened up, and asked me questions. So I talked to them about my faith and what I believed. A Muslim man told me I shouldn't eat bacon if I was a Muslim. He saw Libby munching on lots of bacon with her pancakes. We also talked about his family. Other two women asked me about how I lived my faith as a Christian since they were Catholic.
What? They actually thought I was a Christian, but not them. So we talked about those kind of things that belong to my other blog for now. Otherwise, I will never tell you about Maldives.
|Family Photo. Maldives 2015.|
The children played a long time in the pool, and at the beach. They really liked the sand, but I think they liked the pool better. I really had a lot of fun playing with them. I became a little child with them. I became who I was when I was young with my cousins. Seriously, I am just waiting for them to be old enough so that I can push them in the water faces down. Libby is a lover of sea food to her dad's dismay. She really liked octopus. And of course, fish and chips. Enzo ate a whole 10 in. pizza on his own one afternoon. They played a lot in the water, and they really liked the hotel room.
I feel thankful. We got to see a beautiful beach, lots of sharks, and rays, and lots of raining, too. It rained a lot while we were there. One day I slipped when I was walking downstairs, and hurt my knew lightly in hopes that Enzo wouldn't touch the floor. I also rested a lot during the nights, and I felt sad when it was time to come back. But I also felt kinda relieved. I just wanted to come back to our house and rest from all our rest because vacation also takes a toll in your body. The children were cranky, and just traveling with them might be hard at times.
I miss home - Houston. I want to go back. We don't exactly know when that will happen, but I hope it happens soon. Vacation was awesome because we went places, but it was also difficult because we had little to do other than read books, and watch shows. I wish I were better at planning activities for my children. Being a teacher is not my thing, I guess. Libby is reading, tough. Enzo is actually recognizing words, or at least memorizing one book, which is how Libby started to read. But when it comes to activities and stuff, I just suck. Painting and making a mess is not really my cup pf tea, but we can do it outside the balcony - then Libby whines about how hot it is outside. Okay, then let's go ride your bike outside - nope, it's hot. Let's paint inside - nope, it is not our place. LOL!
The weather is challenging to say the least. I want to take a walk in 60 degree weather. I just want to walk without sweating like a pig just for being outside. I want to be home by Thanksgiving. Or by Christmas. I want to see Christmas decorations all around. I want to go to Hobby Lobby, and say Merry Christmas to the cashiers - or Chick-fil-A for that matter. I want to indulge in the season of hope. I want Christmas to be here. I don't know why. I literally want to say Merry Christmas to all people on the streets. Coming back to America, however, I know I will be subjected to political correctness.
You know what, tough? Screw that. Seriously.
|Washing sand off feet|
I am going to fast for Ramadan, at least a day, just to get shoulder to shoulder with my Muslims. Does that mean I actually believe the Quran was revealed in this season? I am not sure. So far, God has not showed me that to be true. If anything, He is showing me other things regarding Islam that I think are more important to think about than whether it is a sin or not for me as a Christian to celebrate Ramadan with my friends.
You know what I mean? I think it depends on how you approach the subject. The Bible is clear in regards to that. My conscience is strong for that matter (1 Corinthians 8). I want to eat haleem to celebrate Eid al-Fitr (the Festival of Fast-Breaking) when Ramadan is over. I'll tell you what. You would want to celebrate that Ramadan is over too, if you had tasted that dish cooked by your Muslim friend. Whether Islam is true or not, my friend is real, and our friendship is real. Our love for each other is real.
Why would I object fasting and celebrating with them?
"Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law). To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. To the Muslims* I became like a Muslim. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. "
|My boys getting their feet clean :)|