"Listen to the words that others can't speak; speak the words that others can't hear."

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Celebrate Freedom.

"What we are is God's gift to us. What we become is our gift to God." 
-Eleanor Powell-

      Celebrate Freedom and the 100 degree weather was the recipe for a steamy love affair between me and my Maker. 

Scratch that.... Praise and worship always leaves me speechless. I don't know how to describe the love that goes through me, in me, in my soul when I hear myself along with others (whether it's a group of five or 500) sing a love song to our Savior. Here are some pictures and videos of our evening, I had a blast! 

Waiting in line for Chris Tomlin...
The group...
-Antonio, Isabella (me), Alex, Robert-

Chris Tomlin...

     I was going to take pictures of Switchfoot but while we were waiting in line we were told that we were the cut off point for people that would "for sure" get autographs. They said that two of us would get through and that the other two might so it was our call if we wanted to stay in line. Well, Switchfoot wasn't going to disappoint fans and decided that they would come to us. I took a video and yes, I was awestruck with most of them. :P 

Here's Chad, Jon, Tim, Jerome and Drew (not necessarily in that order):

     I have so many videos of the concert, but it would be pointless to post each one. I have to apologize ahead of time on the quality because they were all taken from my cellphone; as it happens most of the time, I left my camera at home on the day that I most needed it. Here are some of the concert videos. 

"Our God (Is Greater)" 
Chris Tomlin

I like this one because of the sheer joy on my brothers face, the camera catching was a total accident...

"Sing, sing, sing"
Chris Tomlin

   Chris Tomlin                                                             

Last Chris Tomlin video... Best one:

Chris Tomlin

While we were getting everyone's autograph, we met a cowboy named Cailen (sp?) that goes to Happy Trails Cowboy Church. He wrestles Steer before service and everyone that goes to his church is a cowboy/cowgirl that wears a hat and boots. He looks like he's our age but no... he's 14. 

Yes, we were sweaty. It was hot. 

I don't know why it looks like I'm clenching my teeth and forcing a smile... I didn't think I was...

Okay, Switchfoot... Switchfoot was loud, amazing and umm. LOUD. :)

"Unity is a struggle... a fight of me looking out for me.. and you looking out for you."

Switchfoot played their new song, "Restless", but Blogger is not letting me upload it. Jon moved into the crowd to sing it which made it increasingly harder for me to record. It didn't take long for a boy that was quite a bit closer to him to ask me if I wanted him to record it for me. He held my phone up for seven minutes and I could tell his arms were tired. He doesn't know how much I appreciate it. Thank you, stranger. I will attempt to upload it again tomorrow. IF it works you will find it here, if not check out YouTube...

We will show the world our love for Him... I just loved seeing everyone with their phones up! 

This is one of their most popular songs... Umm. Also, can YOU play your guitar with your TONGUE?!

"This is Your Life"

And finally the 'encore' (of course after they did the encore we wanted another one!).... Also, surprise and beautiful ending! 

"Dare You to Move"

All in all, even with the heat, the bugs, and me wearing SKINNY JEANS to an outdoor concert in the middle of Summer in Texas, it was a fantastic night. Here's the pictures of the fireworks as well as our goodbyes! 



Wednesday, June 22, 2011

I had the chance.

"You can't sing if you don't open your mouth." 

     I moved here in second grade, but other than moving here and learning the language that is about all I did for two years. After that I became more of a tomboy, hung out with the guys and played with tools and bikes instead of make-up and dolls. I attended public school for the first time when we moved to the U.S. (solely because private school was not necessary) and stopped going to church (according to the parents, solely because they did not understand mass in English). In sixth grade my mom decided that it was time for me to reconcile, get First Communion, and be Confirmed; mind you, the school I went to in Puerto Rico did those all at a young age and at the same time. 

     We drove up to the church that we went to on 'special occasions' (i.e. Easter and Christmas) and found the youth office, which back then it seemed like it was the size of a large closet hidden like a needle in a haystack. I was signed up for classes within an hour and as much as I said I did not want to go, Mom said I was going. 

     I had undeniably amazing teachers and I even made friends, but something about the fact that "[I was] going" made me not want to go. I was spoon fed my faith and by the end of the year I was able to recite the Our Father, Hail Mary, Glory Be, the Nicene Creed and the Act of Contrition; I was able to receive First Communion along with all the second graders. My parents were happy, but not enough... "[I was] going to get Confirmed". For two more years I sat in class every week, answered every question with either the correct answer or with 'Eucharist' because like my sixth grade teacher taught us, "If you don't know the answer, you can never go wrong with 'Eucharist'". 

     Well, it just so happens that my eighth grade faith formation leader (notice I didn't say teacher?) would not take Eucharist as an answer. She asked things like 'Why?' and 'How?' and 'What is YOUR opinion?' and I was put in a challenging position, I was never forced to answer, but I was cornered to think. At the end of the year she organized a service project for the class where we had to learn to sign 'Silent Night' and go caroling at a nursing home. Out of all the service projects she could have come up with, she chose one that would actually take time away from me and my life, and I was not the least bit excited. 

     When the time came I had (for the most part) memorized 'Silent Night' and was prepared to go. As much as I pleaded to my parents to let me be sick, "[I was] going". We got giant Hershey bars from the teacher on that cold December morning, which made the ride to the nursing home a little more bearable (one of the chaperones was kind of crazy and made all the students on the bus recite the rosary on the way to the nursing home...twice)! 

     At the home, 'Silent Night' went as planned, I had it all memorized and we sounded (or didn't sound?) great. By the time we actually had to carol, I was ready to go home. One of the chaperones on the trip also happened to be the same girl that got me registered for faith formation to begin with, I can't remember her name or even what she looked like (sometimes I wonder if it was Jessica and I don't even know it) but she softly put her arm around me and whispered, "You can't sing if you don't open your mouth." 

     Those were the only words she spoke to me; she swayed with me the rest of the song, stepped back and let me be me. 

     As far as I know, nothing changed for me that year, but when it came time to say our goodbye's my leader pulled me aside and told me that she saw something in me that I needed to let grow. That was it. She didn't tell me how, or why, or what my opinion was, she just gave me a hug and left me wondering. 

     My first retreat was during the last half of ninth grade and when I left for it I was as depressed as a person can get. "[I was] going" still, but inside I was dead. During the retreat things happened inside that I'm not sure I will ever feel again, but I think I'm okay with that because that one experience changed me so much, that I'm not sure it would necessarily be for the better if it happened again (although, the Big Guy has a tendency to surprise me!). 

     I was still depressed when I got back from retreat, but this time I was more depressed because I felt like I was back to a reality that I did not want to be in anymore. I was back in a lie and I didn't want to be. That weekend was the first time that I didn't feel the need to hurt myself, I didn't feel the need to hide the tears, I felt the need to talk to God, to honestly connect with him. When I got back, all that was gone, and I felt alone again. 

     I stopped talking to my family and I think that out of all the things I had said to my parents all those years, the rejection hurt my mom the worst. So one day, less than a week after retreat, Mom said, " I talked to your grandmother (referring to my dad's mom, a very devout Catholic) and she told me that when you come back and don't feel like telling us what happened at retreat it means you had a good time.... I hope you had a good time, but if you don't want to go to your classes anymore you don't have to." She never asked me if I wanted to go or not, but if there was ever a time when I asked to stay home (which turned out to be maybe twice in the next year and a half) she didn't ask questions and let me be. 

     I got Confirmed at the end of tenth grade not because "[I was] going to" but because I wanted to. I had been given the Truth and later the freedom to make my own reality, to do what I chose with the Truth. I had the chance and I took it; I realized that you really cannot sing unless you open your mouth.

"For as the body without Spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also."
James 2:26 

Thursday, June 9, 2011

It is easier to be angry than sad.

I find it interesting that most people have that one story to tell about the first time they learned about the birds and the bees. For most girls it’s an uncomfortable yet intimate conversation with their mom, while guys tend to learn things through their fathers’ use of inanimate objects (i.e. Sticking a plug in an electrical outlet, putting one lego inside the other, etc). I never really experienced that; instead I got a crying mother in my grandparents spare bedroom telling me that “it wasn’t okay” and “this can’t be happening”. Although it may sound like it, I am not drowning in self-pity rather expressing anger in the form of regret. 
Holding back is not going to help my situation, so I am going to come right out and say it: 
When I was very little a neighborhood boy basically tricked me into giving him oral sex by saying that we should play house... “the way the grown ups do it”. 
I wish I could place full blame on this guy, but I cannot bring myself to doing that considering that I never did say ‘no’ to him. I cannot blame myself either because... well, I honestly didn’t know it was wrong. Instead of placing a blame, I get angry. I am angry at myself for being so naive, angry at the guy for hurting me, and angry at the way I dealt with what was happening. My entire life everyone told me that it wasn’t a big deal, it was ‘just a game’... Well, guess what? It was a big deal and no, it was not just a game. No, I did not just forget about it. 
It did and does affect me and I am broken. 
Everything happens for a reason and God does not put anything in our path that we cannot handle. I feel that if this is true then I should not regret anything, but unfortunately I do. I regret a lot, and when I breakdown everything that I regret it all stems back to one thing, sex.
My attitude towards sex was completely misshaped from the very beginning. It is wrong, it is bad, it shouldn’t be done. I was fed lies before even knowing what sex was. I am angry at that fact that I never developed healthy coping mechanisms and am having to teach myself after so many years. I am angry that I destroyed myself in order to realize that what happened was not my fault; the only way to fill the void that I carry within my heart is not through others, but through God and through myself. 
Sex is perhaps the most feared word in the common vocabulary. It is not uncommon for people to avoid sex at all costs. We avoid the subject in schools, at work, with friends and most commonly with our children and families. But why? 
Sex is a part of everything that we do. From feeling a strange a attraction to that ‘mean and gross’ boy in fourth grade gym class to sex ed in high school and shopping with friends. Sex is within us from the moment we are conceived, but for some reason or other it is presented to us negatively from the moment we are born.  
Such a skewed view on the topic leads one to think that sex and God are opposites when in reality they go hand in hand. It can bring two people closer to Him than they have ever been before or tear someone’s soul to shreds. 
I am angry because I am broken. I was hurt before I knew what hurt was and I continued to bring myself down and away from Him. Now that I feel as if I can make the right decisions, that I am clear headed enough to deal with what may come, I feel angry because I don’t have the choice to give myself fully to someone, I made that choice at the wrong time and I can never take that back. 
I am angry because it is easier to be angry than sad. 
I will continue to regret my past and beat myself up for the mistakes that I made and the mistakes that others made for me... I’m just not sure if I will ever feel clean again, pure.  But I know God put someone out there for me that will accept my past and see me through my mistakes. There is someone that will love me and see me everyday as beautiful and clean; someone who will fight for me as hard as I will fight for them to earn our spot in Heaven.