Friday, August 28, 2009

The Dark Night of the Soul

hmmm...I think i'm getting me this book. I'm due to read a good book like this. I know I have gone through several dark nights of my soul where you doubt and I have forced myself to keep believing that God is ready to help if I just call on him. Dark nights indeed. -Sandra.

What Makes Faith Real
By Chuck Colson

Perhaps you remember the media frenzy over Mother Teresa’s letters, which were published after her death. Because those letters revealed depression, doubts, and spiritual darkness, many argued that Mother Teresa’s Christian faith could not possibly have been real. Atheist Christopher Hitchens, for instance, insisted that she must have realized that “religion is a human fabrication.” Well, nonsense.

Hitchens had no way of understanding Mother Teresa and her faith, but there’s another author who would have understood perfectly. In fact, this man might have said that Mother Teresa’s struggles actually showed just how real her faith was.

John of the Cross, who lived in the 1500s, is the writer, friar, and priest featured in Ken Boa’s latest Great Books Audio CD Series. Ken tells us that this man’s “spiritual development was forged in a life of pain, conflict, and passion for God.” The title of John’s most famous work, The Dark Night of the Soul, is familiar to all of us because we’ve all experienced this, as Christians have through the centuries, the “seasons of darkness and dryness in the spiritual journey.”
Too frequently, our modern attitude about prayer is to make it all about ourselves instead of about Christ. We focus on a “technique or set of steps” that’s supposed to bring sure results. But this approach can leave us unprepared to deal with the doubts and darkness that can overwhelm even the most faithful Christian.

John of the Cross contended that the dry seasons teach us about our own powerlessness and our own need for complete reliance on Christ. He talked about not one, but several different kinds of “nights” that we may go through.

There’s the night that we experience in our senses. But then there’s the far darker kind that we experience in our soul, which leads to terrible feelings of “desolation” and “abandonment.” We may experience these nights in “active” ways, when we must work to reach out to God, and “passive” ways, when we must be still and allow God to act upon us.

Of the dark night of the senses, Ken says this: When “the senses are stripped of all pleasure and joy in prayer,” our attention can be drawn toward God, who purifies us and takes us “through dread to eventual joy, not despair.” But we can only experience this kind of growth if we willingly submit to God even when all our feelings seem to be pulling us away from Him.
As for the dark night of the soul, John of the Cross explained that it may be used to teach the soul “renunciation and deprivation,” “faith,” and finally, “the ultimate rapture of union with Christ.”

As you can imagine, this teaching has been tough for many to take. Even one translator acknowledged that it can be “repelling.” But, as Ken says, it nonetheless has something important to teach us about “the cost of discipleship”—even those of us who will never experience a night as dark as the one Mother Teresa knew.Inspired by The Dark Night of the Soul, we can respond to Christopher Hitchens and others like him that they’ve got it exactly backwards. It’s the shallow faith, the kind that focuses only on our own happiness, that can’t last.
The times of darkness, the dark nights of the soul, ultimately serve to make our faith stronger and deeper.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Meet the Teacher Night at Little Saints

John and I were both excited about attending our very first meet the teacher night at Little Saints School. John is extremely excited about all the things Sofia will do two days out of the week. I was excited up until the teacher said their nap time will be at 1pm. I’m like, “but her nap isn’t until 3:30pm!”

I am excited that she will go outside and play because right now she doesn’t, unless we cover her up in mosquito repellent. But I do feel very anxious. Some days, I feel that she’s not ready to go. Other days, I feel glad she will be able to do things she hasn’t had an opportunity to do just yet like being around kids her own age (all her cousins are so much older than her). Last night, I felt overwhelmed by mixed emotions and John couldn't have felt better about the program. What that heck is going on with me!? I’m sure this is normal. I’m sure this is what every first time mom goes through.

I woke up at 3am this morning questioning myself about this decision and couldn’t get back to sleep. I’m already crying at the thought of leaving her there with strangers! UGH!!! John is very supportive but at the same time he understands that mommies just feel different about these situations. He says “I’ll get over it” and that’s exactly what he told me the day I got back to work and left Sofia behind at home with my mom. I still feel pain leaving her every morning. This process sucks. Who knew becoming a mommy hurt so much and to think this is only the beginning. –Sandra.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Health Care and Religious Freedom

I have never supported abortion. I have only taken the pill about two months of my entire life and that was only due to an issue I had and the pill was "supposed" to help me with it but thankfully, instead of helping me it caused me to have side effects and I was done with it. I'm not going to tie my tubes after my second baby. I am going to let nature take its natural course and wait for menopouse instead of polluting my body with unwanted chemicals. I will not make my husband do any tying whatsoever. We will of course do the Catholic Rythm method. It works! Many people are just lazy about it. But again, it is only my opinion and my body, right!? -Sandra.

Forced to Choose?
By Chuck Colson

Yet again, a religious institution may be forced to choose between obeying the government or staying true to its beliefs.

What word comes to your mind when we talk about a Catholic college that won’t allow abortion, sterilization, and contraception to be covered by its employees’ health care plan?
Is “conservative” a good word? How about “faithful”? After all, the church teaches that abortion, sterilization, and contraception are immoral. So it makes sense that a conservative Catholic college would make sure that its health plan doesn’t cover such practices.
Well, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has a different word for Belmont Abbey College: “sexist.”

Using reasoning that could only be concocted by a consummate bureaucrat, the director of the agency’s Charlotte office has said that denying contraception is sexist “because only females take oral prescription contraceptives. By denying coverage, men are not affected, only women.”
The EEOC stepped in because eight college employees complained about the lack of coverage. The EEOC has now ordered the college to find a resolution. Even though North Carolina law protects religious institutions from having to cover contraception, abortion, and voluntary sterilization, the case could end up in the federal courts.

But as the president of the college, William Thierfelder, stated, “Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church.”

In fact, Thierfelder has said that he would “close the school rather than give in.” Good for him.
We’ve seen this before. In Boston, Catholic Charities was forced out of the adoption business because it would not place children with homosexual couples. Christian fertility doctors have been sued because they refused artificial insemination to a lesbian—even though they referred her to another doctor. Christian pharmacists have lost their jobs for not distributing morning-after pills.

When will this end? The more serious question is, however, when does the next round of government regulation against religious freedom begin? We’ll see soon enough in the current health care debate, and we need to be ready to do as William Thierfelder has done.
Congress, after all, has rejected every attempt to include language to protect the consciences of medical professionals in the health care debate. Pro-life groups have warned about the very real possibility of religiously based hospitals shutting down before being forced to provide services that violate their religious principles.

And back to insurance, current legislation being considered could also hand over to a “Health Choices Commissioner” the ability to regulate “basically all health insurance in America.”
Now, imagine a bureaucracy—completely unaccountable to voters—deciding what medical procedures must be covered by the insurance plans of a small Baptist day care center or a Christian high school. Frankly, I don’t even want to imagine it.

That’s why Christians need to insist that any health care system must protect religious freedom.
It’s sad to me that we have reached a state where we must insist on laws that specifically protect religious freedom and freedom of conscience from government bureaucracy.

Silly me, that’s what I thought the Constitution was for.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Xavien's Birthday Party

This past Sunday, we were invited to celebrate Xavien's 2nd Birthday party. The theme, you guessed it, POOL PARTY! We have been going plenty of times to the pool this summer. When I had Sofia's bathing suit in my hand, she got so excited, she knew we were going to a pool.

Here's Zarah, Phillip and little Xavien, the birthday boy! Oh and did I mention Zarah is expecting TWINS!! IDENTICAL TWINS! We are so excited for her. She's due next February.

Sofia: What cake!? I don't know what you're talking about!

Here's Sofia showing her swimming skills!

Little Saints Welcome New Families Playdate!

This weekend, we went to Sofia's school welcome playdate for the new families. I have to say that I was hesitant but open about it. It is so strange that many moons ago, I used to go to my nephews events at this same school. Never in a hundred years did I ever think I was going to be there with my daughter. God is great!

Here's Sofia with Auntie Vanessa!

Vanessa found this little corner where there was still some shade where Sofia could play with the sand.

The lady in red is Sofia's teacher. Her name is Teresa and she's from Poland. John liked her alot. I'm going to reserve my opinion until I see more of her throughout the year.

Group Picture! We need more of these! And yes, right behind Sofia sits my very big belly!

After the Little Saints event, we went to L&L's for some good Hawaiin food. Hence the word Mahalo in the back.

Sofia's Room Makeover

Now it was time to get rid of the carpet on Sofia's room. As you see, John's little "helper" once again decided to lend a hand. I think she was more of an inspector than a helper.

Here's Sofia pondering on what that heck is going on in her room. For her afternnon nap, I had to take her into my room and sleep with her, I had no problems with that, and we slept about an hour and half while John was hard at work.

Here she is again lending a hand.

Again, I'm so proud John knows how to do all these stuff. It saves us so much money.
Here's Sofia with our dog Lenny.

Baby's Nursery

So here's John working on the baby's room. I'm so thankful he can do all of these things. Here he is getting rid of the carpet.

John got himself "some" help. Not sure if this little helper helped any.

Getting rid of old colors.

We decided to go with the same colors as in Sofia's room. Since we don't know what we are having, and we had plenty of the paint; why spend extra money.
And finally! Wood Floors! Actually, they are laminate floors. We went with this type of floor because 1. price was pretty good for our budget. 2. we like the color and 3. easier than glue down. But after John finished the room it looked so much different and everything combined gave it such a refreshing look. LOVE IT! The only things left to do in the baby's room is remodel the closet and install dimmers.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Can Divorce Make Us Sick?

John and I were talking about the benefits of being married last night. It is hard to stay married, it takes daily work and the benefits of staying married is awesome when the couple knows how to respect and communicate well, but yes, divorce can make you sick. I say divorce feels like death. I lost close to 30lbs and felt like a failure. Thankfully, God didn't let divorce happen in our marriage. -Sandra.

Two Are Better than One
By Chuck Colson

A few weeks ago, I was astonished to find Time magazine exposing how the collapse of marriage harms women, children, and the poor. No Christian could have made the prudential arguments for marriage more impressively.
Not to be outdone, the New York Times has just run a piece announcing that divorce can make you sick—sometimes for the rest of your life.
The Times described the findings of a study of more than 8,600 people in their 50s and 60s. The study sought to determine how divorce, widowhood, and remarriage affected their health. The authors’ conclusion: “The physical stress of marital loss continues long after the emotional wounds have healed.”

Among the divorced and widowed, men and women alike reported “about 20 percent more chronic health problems” including diabetes, cancer, and heart disease, than people who stayed married.

Even when people remarried, they had 12 percent more health problems than those who stayed married to their first spouse. The study revealed that “most married people who became single never fully recovered from the physical declines associated with marital loss,” the Times said.
The study was authored by University of Chicago sociology professor Linda Waite, an expert on marriage and divorce. Waite is the co-author, with Maggie Gallagher, of the book, The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially. In this book, the authors note that divorced, single, and widowed people are “far more likely to die from all causes,” including stroke, car accidents, murder, and suicide. Perhaps this is part of the reason God says in Malachi, “I hate divorce.”

The Times is quick to claim that staying in a bad marriage can lead to physical problems, too. But it’s good news that major news outlets are writing articles like this. For decades, they have trumpeted the idea that divorce harms nobody, that children do just fine without fathers, and that we should all just do whatever makes us happy, maritally speaking, that is.
But now the problems of marital breakdown—and failure to form families in the first place—have become so severe that not even news outlets hostile to Christian teachings can deny it.

Articles that reveal the damage of living outside of God’s design for us offer a great opportunity for the Church. I have long taught that only Christianity offers a reasonable system for how we are to live in the real world. Every day, it seems, we have more tragic evidence of the truth of that belief—provide by believers and non-believers alike who violate God’s design.
You and I need to reach out to neighbors who have been taken in, and harmed, by secular teachings about marriage and divorce. We should befriend them, find ways to meet their needs, and invite them to church.

Those who have suffered the consequences of false worldview teachings may well now be open to Christian teachings—and how well they match up with health and happiness. And having learned this, they may be open to learning more about, and following, the loving Maker of these rules.

The test of any worldview is, can you live with it? When it comes to marriage, we now have scientific evidence that living outside of God’s plan can literally make us sick.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Baby Seaman Numero 2 - Update

What’s new besides getting belly big? This week I’m 29 weeks, which means 10 to go and I’m up to 25lbs total gained weight. Not too shabby, but I’m not done yet! So, far I’m staying away from the Texas heat and drinking lots of fluid, my doc said that from here on out, it shall start getting cooler. I said what? That don’t happen until October, and he said, that’s good because that’s your 9th month. Ok... At any rate, in the next three weeks, I have been scheduled for my 3D Sonogram!!! Can’t wait!

John is already working on the baby’s nursery; I’ll post those pictures when he’s done as well. He has been working very hard. He’s done painting, this weekend he’s installing the wood floors on both Sofia’s room and the baby’s room. Then, John will complete the baby’s room by remodeling the closet just like Sofia’s and installing dimmers in the baby’s room and that shall cover it and drain our account. Now, I got to buy two area rugs to complete both rooms before I’m due. I’m thinking about moving Sofia’s wall décor to the baby’s room and get Sofia new wall décor. I’m thinking butterflies, I’m not sure why.

Friday, August 14, 2009

The Pillow

Alright, so my pregnant belly is getting pretty big and I'm not even 7 months yet, and it is getting pretty rough to catch a good night sleep. So, I decided this time around to get or purchase help. So, I searched and searched and found it! I know of one person who purchased this pillow and was quiet satisfied with it, so I took a chance. It has been 2 weeks and I'm sleeping with no real problems. I just hope that in my final 4 weeks of this pregnancy it will still be able to help me sleep instead of sleeping in the recliner. The woman in this pic looks quiet comfortable and it is! It gives me the back support that I need. Love it! It is quiet big, and it still leaves John good enough space for him to sleep on his side of the bed.Now, when I ordered this pillow, I decided to get it in green. One of my fave colors, so, after a couple of days it was reminding me of someone...or something I had seen in the past and it hit me, Gumby!!! My pillow looks like Gumby! John thinks I'm crazy, but when you stand up the pillow it looks like Gumby. I have this imagination that doesn't failed me so, I have named my pillow, Gumby, the Green Pillow.

Vick signs deal with Eagles

Pitiful!! Now I HATE the Eagles even more!!!!! As an animal lover myself, Vick should have never been given another chance to play in the NFL. He's a criminal and does not deserve to earn millions again after he used millions of dollars to fund his dog figthing ring. I wish the Eagles a 0-16 record for this next season! I'm so glad Jerry Jones didn't give in to this guy, we had enough drama with T.O and Pacman last season! -Sandra.

Thursday, August 13, 2009
Associated Press
Michael Vick is back in the NFL, landing a job with the Philadelphia Eagles.
Vick's agent, Joel Segal, confirmed Thursday that the sides had a deal.
Vick has not played in the NFL since 2006. The former Atlanta Falcons star was convicted in August 2007 of conspiracy and running a dogfighting operation, and was sentenced to 23 months in federal prison. He also was suspended indefinitely by the NFL.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell conditionally lifted Vick's suspension on July 27, allowing him to sign with a team.

Dry and Hot

This image shows a glimpse of rain, but we the citizens of the Dallas metroplex know that the green cloud on this image brings no hope of rain. If it carried rain, it will vaporized before we even notice its raining. Two weeks with no rain can be cruel. What's worse is that our favorite Plano public outdoor pool closes on Sept. 7th.

Don't these people know that Sept its still a hot month in Dallas!!! At least the indoor pool will stay open but it's not the same. I can't wait for that day when John and I (God willing) buy a house with a pool with a Jacuzzi of course for the winter months. :( - Sandra.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Itsy-Bitsy Spider

This past Thursday when I got home from work, I noticed Sofia's left ankle looked noticeably different from her right ankle. When I took her shoe off, I notice her left ankle was swollen and I immediately sounded the red alarm. I didn't notice any bites or anything out of the ordinary, so I thought maybe she twisted her ankle. She wasn't in any pain either. So, what I did was google "swollen ankle on 18 month old babies" and of course, like her doctor said the next day, "you always get the worst things when you google."

The next morning, her ankle got worse and her skin was red. The swelling was moving further along and I also noticed two dots resembling bites in the back of her foot. I called her doc, got an early morning appointment, and the doctor said that it could be a spider bite and that she needed antibiotics. He also said, that if I would have waited one more day, Sofia would have ended up at the hospital. We were in and out of his office in 20 minutes and I said, "praise the Lord for private insurance!"

Today the swelling has gone down dramatically and I thank the Lord that her foot is beginning to look normal again and God bless her Pediatrician and private insurance!

John has been out of town this week and I took the pictures so he could see I was not being over dramatic. We still dont know how it happened. John says it must have crawl in her crib but I say it must have happened outside in the yard.

Friday, August 7, 2009

A Visit from Judy

My friend Judy came to visit us last weekend. She wanted to come see Sofia and of course me!

Judy bought Sofia a gorgeous summer dress! She's so awesome!
and of course, Sofia had to involve Judy in some reading time.

Rejecting Apathy

I should have been a political activist or something of the sort. -Sandra.
The Church and American Civilization
By Chuck Colson

As I travel around the country, I try to take the pulse of the evangelical world. And I find myself increasingly appalled at the mood I am encountering.

Many Christians, once motivated by protecting the sanctity of life, religious freedom, and traditional marriage, seem inconsolable—as if the fight is over and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But embracing this attitude is a certain prescription for disaster.
I received last month a newsletter by Don Reeverts of the Denver Leadership Foundation. In it he gives the following quote, often attributed to an 18th-century Scottish writer:

The average age of the world’s great civilizations has been two hundred years. These nations have progressed through the following sequence...from bondage to spiritual faith...from spiritual faith to courage...from courage to liberty...from liberty to abundance...from abundance to selfishness...from selfishness to complacency…from complacency to apathy...from apathy to dependency...from dependency back to bondage.

These are sobering words. This question of where America is in the cycle should be extremely important for Christians. That’s because I firmly believe that culture is nothing but religion incarnate—that when we see a culture losing its moral footing, it’s because believers have failed to bring Christian truth to bear in society. We haven’t been, as Calvin put it, making the invisible kingdom visible.

So what stage are we in? Reeverts thinks we are entering the stage of apathy. And I hate to say it, but I agree. I am finding growing apathy among believers.
Apathy manifests itself in how people dress, how they talk, how they care for each other—and how concerned they are about the great issues of the day. It resembles what the Greeks called acedia, a languidness, a torpor, in which we stop caring about anything.

Apathy inevitably leads to dependency. And once we become dependent on Big Brother, we are back in bondage. Can anybody really watch the dramatic growth of governmental power and not be alarmed? For the fact of the matter is that the more government acts as God, the less people depend on the one true God.

Your congressmen and senators are home now for summer recess. Have you contacted them? Are you angry about what’s happening in this country today? Things like the elimination of the conscience clause for medical professionals, or embryonic stem cell research, or the advance of gay “marriage,” or threats to religious liberties, or government making life-and-death decisions in health care? If you’re not upset about those things, you’ve succumbed to apathy already.

I can’t imagine anybody sitting at home, comfortably watching us slip into a state of dependency without getting outraged, and then without expressing that outrage.

If we value our liberties, if we believe in the most fundamental principles upon which our civilization is based, then we owe it to our God and to future generations to speak out.
Institutions aren’t going to change the course of America; but great movements have changed the course of the nation and will again. And what better network to fuel a movement than the Church? Rejecting apathy and trusting in God, firm in our belief in human dignity and our God-given liberties, the Church can ignite a fire in this country.
Do we get it? I pray that we do.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Brazilian Environmentalists

Another Liberal crock-pot idea. But this one is not so insane like the home stay mom that I read awhile ago that instead of using toilet paper she uses "green" cloth to wipe her butt and her families. She stated it was green friendly and saved her family alot of money by using cloth to wipe the crud. DISGUSTING! -Sandra.
If you've got to go, go green - by going in the shower

RIO DE JANEIRO — New TV ads are encouraging Brazilians to save water - by urinating in the shower.
Brazilian environmental group SOS Mata Atlantica says the campaign, running on several television stations, uses humour to persuade people to reduce flushes.
The group says if a household avoids one flush a day, it can save up to 4,380 litres (1,157 gallons) of water annually.
SOS spokeswoman Adriana Kfouri said Tuesday that the ad is "a way to be playful about a serious subject."
The spot features cartoon drawings of people from all walks of life - a trapeze artist, a basketball player, even an alien - urinating in the shower.
Narrated by children's voices, the ad ends with: "Pee in the shower! Save the Atlantic rainforest!"
Ad on YouTube:

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Glucose Test

So, I went for my check up today and this time I had to take that nasty orange sugary liquid thing call Glucose test to see if I have or coming down with gestational diabetes, they took out blood and sent me out on my way. I tested negative last time around so, God willing, this will be negative as well. Oh, and they also weighted me. yuck. I freaking hate it. I have gained 21 lbs!!!! yikes! HOWEVER!!!! I'm still beating my first pregnancy weight by 20 lbs!!!! yep, I gained serious weight my first time around. This time, I owe it to Sofia for keeping me on my feet and off the couch.

I will have to cut off ice cream. There is no reason why I should be eating ice cream so much. I just don't feel guilty when I eat something that is so bad and deliciously good for you, because once I deliver it will be all business for me again. Once I commit to losing weight, there is no going back and I guess now, I have the freedom to enjoy myself on whatever bad is out there. I still can't get into junk food at all. I don't get it and it doesn't make sense to me.

So, while my Doc was checking the baby out, I asked him about this nationalized health care the Democrats are pushing and he said that he's not for it. He agrees that some problems need to be fixed but the crap they are trying to push just will not work. So, it is nice to see that at least my Doc has a good head on his shoulders. Next appointment will be in two weeks. This time, I hope not to have gained 7 lbs like this time. -Sandra