Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas! I know the last couple of years have been hard. A global pandemic, sometimes isolation from the people we care about, and so much instability in the world. It’s hard to see the good things, at times – especially when that’s what fills our Facebook “newsfeeds,” social media, and what we see on the news.

But the Good News is, there is hope. This has been a hard few years for me. I’ve lost a child I believed I would raise, I lost in love, and I faced a toxic situation that has now contributed to my health facing new challenges. But there is hope. There is always hope. No season lasts. No trial endures forever. The Good News for me is in the form of Emmanuel – God With Us – Jesus.

I don’t care much for religion and the ways in which we’ve perverted His message and the reason He came. But I do know with complete certainty that I’d be lost without Jesus. And so, that is where, in spite of all of the ugliness, where my hope lies.

I wish you & yours a beautiful holiday season. And I hope your day today is filled with peace, joy, and all the good things.

Coffee In Bed

When I was a little girl, my Grandpa Avalos doted on my Grandma. It hadn’t always been that way. He’d admitted to many mistakes in the type of husband & father he was when he was younger. At some point in his life, he made many changes. His faith became his foundation. He made up for lost time. He was so sweet to her. Even though he still had his Mexican way of being rough – he was a man that loved God, his church, and his wife and family.

While he did things for her before he retired, after he retired – every weekend, he went to mass on Saturday and Sunday – early – long before anyone was awake. Ever the social butterfly, he’d talk to friends after mass and then go to McDonald’s. Why? Because my Grandma had a thing for McDonald’s pancakes and coffee. He would bring in the food as we were waking. He’d get out her coffee, doctor it just right, get her food (pancakes with butter – no syrup), and the Orange County Register, and take it to her. Only after she was situated, did he get us up and settled with breakfast (when we were little and needed more help). She always came first.

She was a night owl. I take after her in that and in many other ways. She didn’t like getting up early. But she really milked it (as she should have – haha) after Grandpa retired. He did this, without fail – over and over and over again. It was decades of his life that he kept this tradition. It’s not the only sweet thing he did for her. He did other things – chocolates and flowers and trips to her favorite places (like Borrego Springs in the desert). He would cut gardenias (and sometimes roses) from their garden and make tiny bouquets for me. He was a special man.

I’ve known love. I have loved. But I’ve never quite found the man who would bring me my form of coffee in bed. I guessed those relationships lacked in many ways – including maturity. It doesn’t matter anymore. I do know that I will always hope this is possible, even if I end up alone. Every woman has her things. We all have our love languages. For me, as a words person, words of affirmation are my numero uno. A letter – a note that I find before my day begins – are a gift that would follow me all day. These, like thoughtful things my grandpa did for my grandma, are little gifts that fill you up – giving you confidence in your love as you also seek to love him in the way he best receives and understands love.

I was thinking about my grandparents recently while I re-read my novel, A Thousand Years. Though very different than my grandparents, there are personality traits of Birdie’s grandparents that are similar to mine. My grandma could be a real stinker. And even though she worried and stressed and did crazy things*, he adored her. And she knew it. Everyone knew it. What a gift it was to witness this as a child.

I may still end up alone. Who really knows what the future holds? But I do know that because of men like my grandpa and a couple other special people to come across my path, I know what I’m looking for. And if I’m so blessed to have this man show up on my doorstep, I can’t wait to spoil him. But no matter what lies ahead, I treasure the gift that seeing this kind of love, in my grandparents, was to me.

*like flipping off her grandchildren when we pissed her off & teaching us how to cuss without our parent/aunt knowing we were cussing (our own words).

If you’re the one she lets in…

“Kiss her with passion
As much as you can
Run your hands through her hair
Whenever she’s sad
And when she doesn’t notice
How pretty she is
Tell her over and over
So she never forgets

Take it
If she gives you her heart
Don’t you break it
Let your arms be a place
She feels safe in
She’s the best thing that you’ll ever have”

Written by: Meghan Trainor / Steven Solomon / Forest Blakk

I’ve Never Been More Homesick Than Now

“I’ve never been more homesick than now

Help me Lord cause I don’t understand your ways…”

Homesick by MercyMe
Photo by U.S. Central Command Public Affairs

This has been a rough few weeks in my world – for people I care about and for me as I struggle to wrap my brain around this world we live in. This has become a sunset at North Topsail Beach, kind of Saturday evening. I desperately need it.

As the world situation has grown worse and as those who would torture women, girls, Christians, and anyone else that lives & fights for freedom – have begun to run rampant again, it hurts. It’s painful in a way that’s hard to explain. For those in my world who have known firsthand what it was like there, for those who died there or left parts of their youth and peace of mind there, to the incredible man that died there – that changed the course of my life in many ways, to the families who lived through constant deployments and worry and stress – I hurt for them – for us. I know it wasn’t in vain. But it feels like it was sometimes. And now, the worst pain imaginable has come to the doorstep of 13 more families. The worst part, although there are numerous awful things about this moment in history, is that they were there on a humanitarian mission. They stood at the “ECCs” trying to protect and control access so our citizens and those who supported us all these years, could get out. They had an impossible mission there – the sea of humanity fleeing such evil is too much. My god when I think of those men and women and children trying to get out, it makes me so sick at the evil in the world. These 13 were among those that escorted refugees onto C-17s, held babies, and cut up cardboard for children who stood shoeless on the hot ground. This evil that refugees and our citizens were fleeing, this evil that took the life of 13 more of our people, is the evil that motivated me to support the people around me in the only way I knew how, for all these years. Suddenly I question how I could leave, though it has been my goal for the last couple of years.

This is one of those times when nothing makes sense. The evil in the world is too much sometimes. It’s too much. I went to a Christian University. I took Bible classes. I grew up in church (we were there every time the doors were open practically). I know my Theology. I know Truth. I love Jesus. He’s my kind of radical. But, I don’t understand God in any way. I never will. I never will.

“I’ve never been more homesick than now.” So this evening, I will go seek solace in the vastness of the ocean and in listening to the constancy of the waves as they reach the shoreline – over and over again. The waves and the vastness of the Atlantic will remind me that I love (though I don’t understand) an unfathomable God.

The last couple of days have been an important reminder to not waste time or let stupid, meaningless shit get in the way of your relationships.

“Teach us to realize the brevity of life, so that we may grow in wisdom.” – Psalm 90:12 (NLT)