amo.says

my life in my words


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This Is Living

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It’s a known fact that there is a magazine called EASY LIVING. Personally, I believe they should have called it Easier Living. While life should be loved, and lived to the fullest, I don’t necessarily think ‘easy’ means better. Sometimes easy means careless and aimless. I don’t believe that life should be careless or aimless, rather it should be filled with purpose and adventure! Helen Keller once wrote:

‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’

And oh how I totally get what she’s saying. This past week, my world has definitely turned upside down, but I’ve felt incredible peace in the midst of the chaos. My mother has been in the hospital with some serious medical struggles and it’s not easy to be miles and miles away, unable to really “DO” anything about it but pray and encourage her to keep fighting. Even as I’ve offered to fly home, relatives and doctors have assured me that there is no need and that things are getting better. She’s not 100% free of medical problems, but the red flags are definitely lowering. I give all the credit to God and the many prayers of friends/family members. One of the things that I have noticed a change in during the course of this ‘peaceful’ chaos is that my tendency to give up and expect only the worst has subsided.

Growing up was tough and left me with a mindset that “things can only get worse.” Yet through this trying season I find myself ever hopeful and believing for the best. There are definitely moments when my mind starts to get overcrowded with anxious thoughts but I pause, breathe deep, and then (honestly) repeat to myself:

 

 

Then I start recounting all of the moments that God redeemed the tough situations and proved faithful. I think back to the time I was in the hospital due to a UTI after contracting E.Coli from Guatemala. I was in a dark place, near the end of my rope—lifeless and hopeless. Then God broke through my darkness and gave me the strength and courage to reach out. He redeemed the time then and He continues to do it now.

I think back to the time I was near-death after a routine wisdom tooth extraction with an outrageous outcome. I remembered the people and the prayers that surrounded me. And I remind myself that the very same God that carried me through that season can carry me and my family through this one. He’s actually REALLY good at that. Whether we choose to allow Him to diminish the demons that ransack our hearts and minds, He is constantly making Himself available to us . . . until that moment where we throw in the towel and allow Him to show up.

I realize that not every situation has a happy ending, but I’ve been able to see some pretty significant fingerprints of God in these current circumstances. Whether things get brighter or darker, my song will be the same of Daniel 3:18. There will be no snuggling with my demons during this ‘peaceful’ chaos!


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Something From Nothing

“Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life.
It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow.”

Melody Beattie

 

Breakfast this morning was catered by Bauhaus, a neighborhood coffee house. My traditional calls home were made to catch up with my parents and wish them a Happy Thanksgiving. Quiet time was spent thanking God for all of the things I have and all of the things I don’t have. And as I began cleaning my living space to get a fresh start to the long weekend, I reflected on a sweet morning interaction.

On my walk back home from Bauhaus, I crossed paths with a stranger—a man with a beaming smile beneath his bundled body. We locked eyes and smiled at each other. As we were about to pass by one another, he voiced a HAPPY THANKSGIVING greeting to me. I quickly replied, “Hi, and a Happy Thanksgiving to you, too!” He then stopped walking, turned around, and wished me a day of happiness and fun. Then he asked who I was rooting for to win the big game. Not knowing what in the world he was talking about, I mentioned that I didn’t even know who was playing. He excitedly mentioned the Seahawks through a laugh and as we each turned to walk away, I shouted back, “GO SEAHAWKS! WOO!” He smiled and raised his fist in the air.

Thinking about that reminded me to take advantage of the little moments of gratitude. It was also a nudge to consider others amid the daily TO-DO list. It was needed and it was encouraging. As I continue to work two full-time jobs on a part-time basis, my life can tend to be a blur. I continually remind myself to make eye contact with others between tasks because I tend to get hyper-focused on projects and it’s easy to overlook the deeper interactions in the moment. As I carried on through my morning, I thought about all the buried treasure in my life—the things that are there but are not always noted right away.

I’m grateful to be alive—That I’ve faced near-death experiences multiple times in my life is not lost on me. Every day that I wake up is a miracle . . . A GIFT.

I’m grateful for my family—They love me from a distance. They trust that I’ll be taken care of. They don’t get to watch me grow every day . . . unless I post something online. No matter how wild & crazy things get in our lives, they are my strongest connections.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to live in my dream—Each day that I spend in Seattle is a bright star on top of God’s everlasting Christmas tree to me. To be able to mentor young people is like opening a present every day of the week.

I’m grateful for a roof over my head—It’s a true blessing to have a home I love and housemates who make me a better person.

I’m grateful for my jobs—To be able to be a part of two incredible teams of colleagues, mentors, and caring friends is a gift that keeps on giving.

I’m grateful for you—Having others joining me in the journey of my life is an honor I don’t take lightly. You who give me hope; You who give me insight; You who give me encouragement; You who give me life and love . . . THANK YOU!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING, Y’ALL!


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Love Alone Is Worth The Fight

Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning.
[Psalm 30:5]

— feeling discouraged.

 

That was my Facebook status a couple of days ago. It was a rough day. It was a rough couple of days. From feeling inadequate at both jobs, to family concerns, to doubts of self-worth, to feeling unneeded, to having nobody show up for my ministry team meeting . . . I went to bed  with my pity party hat on, crying (yes, big girls DO cry), and wondering if what I was doing even mattered. I wondered why I was trying when it didn’t seem like I was actually making a difference. I poured my heart into my work, my passions, my family, and over those couple of days, it seemed as though I had taken 2 steps forward and 15 back—I was failing big time and bringing the people I cared about down with me. I posted the above statement on Facebook, partially wanting to just “leave it behind,” partially wanting to show my weakness, and partially as a landmark frozen in social networking time. So I posted it and traveled from FB Land to my Pillow Palace. The only thing I could do in that moment to calm the mind games was ask God to be with me. No really, I simply whispered as I lay in bed, “God, be with me. Please.” Then, I turned on this song and fell asleep, unmotivated, discouraged, and defeated.

 

 

Then I woke up to a brighter day. The thoughts of inadequacy were still hiding out in the corners of my mind, even as I looked in the mirror and said, “Today will be better. It’s a new day.” The feelings lingered and I kept pressing on. I knew they would—I’ve served in ministry long enough to recognize the mind games and the trying seasons post-victory. I just wish they would get easier to deal with as time goes by. Sadly, they get trickier and hit harder the further in you go. I played some of my favorite praise & worship songs as I got dressed and headed downtown to the waterfront for a special quiet time. The water is where I connect with God the most. The boundless wonder of the fluid mass reminds me that every particle that makes up that large body of water was handcrafted by the same Creator that made me. The the same God that orchestrates the tides also orchestrates my life. The stretch of water that spills over the horizon is as boundless as the Father’s love for me. As I sat by the water, meditating on 1 Kings 19:11-12, I asked for that whisper. I asked for the peace that passes understanding. I asked for the courage to face the earthquake and the fire, and to be able to walk away like guys do when walking away from an explosion . . . in confidence, without looking back. (Look, not all my prayers are PC.)

 

 

After that quiet time, I did what any normal human being would do when they realize they are the solo kid hanging out on a pier by the cold water—I checked my text messages and I checked my Facebook. What I got was that whisper. A very loud whisper. Friends had commented and texted some of the most ENcouraging things and it combated my discouragement like a rookie in a prize-fighting ring. Though the thoughts still clung to me for dear life, they were weakened, primed for a TKO. Part of that TKO came when I showed up to work at Westside. Our associate pastor’s mother noticed me walk in, but my headphones were in (as per my usual bad habit), so I didn’t hear her calling to me. Instead, she followed me into my office and I turned in shock that someone had followed me into my office, and stumbled to my desk as I belted out a terrified scream. Once I calmed down, she asked how I was doing and knowing she hadn’t seen my Facebook post, I broke down in her arms and let it all out. I’m not sure how much of those tears were induced by the circumstances and how much was induced by having the bejeebus scared outta me, but it felt great to cling to her and just cry it out. My co-workers at the other job would be so proud of me (it’s a Counseling Resource Center and they LOVE when you show emotion). After drying my eyes a bit, I went upstairs to see my G-Mama (our Office Admin), who invited me to come talk to her about what was going on, since she had seen the post on Facebook. I talked it over with her and was left even more encouraged and finally began to feel a strong peace about things. My heart had endured some good healing that morning.

 

 

 

The pinnacle of it all, and perhaps the driving force behind this post, was what happened later that evening. As our youth group game night began, one of my students asked if they could talk to me in private. We headed to my office and they began to share with me that one of their siblings had undergone tests and that it’s more than possible that their sibling has cancer. The student was overcome with fear and the tears were flowing as they asked me to pray for their sibling and their family. In that moment, I felt a fresh wind in my sails. I felt needed again—not to be their Savior, but to stand in the gap and assure them that their family wasn’t in this fight alone. My faith activated and I prayed one of the most passionate prayers I’d prayed in a while. We both walked out of that office with empty shoulders, having cast all of our fears and doubts on God, believing for the best. We spent the rest of the evening surrounded by people who share our hope, our faith, and our love for full life. Things came full circle and I had seen that not only was this a time for me to lean on others, but to be reminded that whether I’m in ministry or not, God wants me to be a refuge for those in need. In that moment, the student and I were twinsies—both broken, both hoping for greater things, and both putting our hearts in each others’ hands. I believe that’s what God intended from the beginning and it’s one of the lessons that it’s taken me what seems like forever to put into practice: To be able to surrender that image of “having it all together” and walk with others through the truth of “I have no clue what I’m doing, or why I’m doing it because nothing makes sense right now.” In the end, we were left with a hopeful future, knowing that whatever comes our way, we still have each other and we still have God. Before I went to bed last night, I thought to myself, “What you’re doing does matter. Stay the course.”

 

 

To everyone who left encouraging messages on my Facebook, THANK YOU! To Donna Stubbert, THANK YOU!! To Glenda Wright, my G-Mama, THANK YOU!!! And to my 2Twelvers, THANK YOU!!!! Thank you all for helping me stay on the right track and for reminding me of the complete greatness of God! I think I’m ready to go another 5 rounds!

 

rocky


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Hearts Go Crazy

Powerful leaders and rockin' guitars? Hmm. I MUST be in Austin! ;)

Powerful leaders and artsy rockin’ guitars? Hmm. I MUST be in Austin! 😉

My visit home to the ATX was nothing short of jam-packed, fast-paced,
FUN FUN FUN!!

Along with that fun, it was also filled with a lot of growing! I was finally in a place mentally/emotionally/spiritually where I was able to focus on more positive things and choose joy despite inconveniences & last-minute changes. I became more flexible and more vocal about what was really happening in my mind. I gave grace out of true love, not out of “obligation.” I sat and listened while I was dead tired because I didn’t want the speaker to think that they are invaluable—because they certainly are not! They are, in fact, some of the MOST valuable people in my life. I know that we are going to continue to grow as individuals and as a family this year in fresh new ways. The distance is INDEED making our hearts grow fonder, our ability to ask for help more frequent, and our honesty even more valued. Now that I’ve had time to grow close to my family while visiting last week, I’m looking forward to growing even closer to my family across the miles this year!

Here are some of my favorite moments from vacation:

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Being greeted by Mr. Hello Kitty at the airport and heading right over to Anabelle’s school for her big Birthday surprise!

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Anabelle was SO focused on what the teacher was saying that she didn’t even see us come in through the classroom door (off to the right front side)!

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But when she saw us, she was on CLOUD 9! It was a perfect surprise!

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And then even better because Grandpa and Aunt Mandy got to join her for lunch and playground time!

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We even made a special pit-stop by Grandma’s work, where the nice soldiers gave Anabelle some sweet Birthday moolah!

Trivia

Trivial Pursuit at breakfast with my mom & sis was priceless!

Nate

We got to celebrate family with quality time at my Mamo’s (Grandma’s) house and I got to watch my little cuzzo cub, Nate, walking around!! Precious moments to the max!

Pops

Quality time with this dude was always a win! 🙂 I just forever love my pops!

We were SO loud in the restaurant and it was quite possibly one of the happiest moments we’ve shared as siblings in a VERY long time! 🙂

Grandma

I *rarely* get to see my Grandma Martinez when I go home to visit, so it was super special to spend time with her before I flew home.

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Vanessa got to show off her science project + got to share some treasured time together discussing/planning her visit to Seattle next summer! 😉

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Vanessa and I also got a chance to compare heart tattoos and talk about life/school stuff. I love quality time with that little Miss!

I got to treat my mom to her 1st EVER pedicure! She said, “You made me feel like a Queen!” That’s good, because she TOTALLY is! ♥

Even though I had a short amount of time to spend with everyone, I took any opportunity I could to squeeze in time . . . even if it meant staying out late at the restaurant with my dad and keeping myself occupied with work projects while waiting for his breaks. TOTALLY worth it! :)

Even though I had a short amount of time to spend with everyone, I took any opportunity I could to squeeze in time . . . even if it meant staying out late at the restaurant with my dad and keeping myself occupied with work projects while waiting for his breaks. TOTALLY worth it! 🙂

 

Thinking back to those treasured times with my family brings me peace, knowing that there is healing and maturation in store for this divided heart of mine. Yes, you read that right—divided . . . but not divided for long, I’m sure. You see, currently on one side of my heart is my family back home, and on the other side is my family here in Seattle. These two pieces of my heart are miles apart from each other. Yet I have high hopes and firm beliefs that as I grow this year, they can find a healthy way to come together to make up one WHOLEHEARTED Amo. In pursuit of that merger, I’m reminded of a conversation I had with my Pastor a few weeks ago. We were discussing something in one of our staff meetings and I kept referring to GT Austin (the church I used to attend in Austin) as “My Home Church.”  While I kept saying, “My Home Church,” he stopped me for a second and said, “This is your home church.” In that instance I realized just how right he was and just how much I’d been living with my feet on Seattle soil and my mind on Texas life. I wanted the best of both worlds (don’t we all) but now it was time to settle the roots down into something solid. He meant no ill-will by correcting my phrasing, he simply wanted me to focus on the present and embrace the church family that consistently embraces me. I truly appreciate that wake-up call and refocusing that has me set on a forward path. It’s not wrong to keep my family and their well-being in my heart, however, it is wrong to allow the long-distance concerns to keep me from pursuing my goals and dreams for my life and for my future family. As I continue to travel through this year of WHOLEHEARTED living, I’m learning to change the inner-voice that helps to guide my mindsets. By shifting that inner-voice, I am hoping that I will be able to take full inventory of the life around me and truly embrace all that God has for me here in Seattle!


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I Heard The Bells

There are many things I love about God, but one of those things that I’m most thankful for is that He is all about 2nd chances. This Christmas, I was given a 2nd chance to experience a solo Christmas in Seattle. Last year was supposed to be my first go-at-it, but as you may or may not know, those plans were pushed aside by a long hospital stay. Having this 2nd chance to fully participate in some old/new Christmas traditions has ignited hope, love, joy, and wonder into my heart and mind.

Living thousands of miles from home and not being able to be home for the holidays can be just as emotionally draining as being home for the holidays. For instance, I had called each of my parents on Christmas Eve to schedule Skype video chat dates with them on Christmas Day so that I could at least “see” them in some way. My goal was to unwrap my gifts in front of them so that it would seem we were in the same room, enjoying some Christmas joy. I carefully planned my events around their schedules and then on Christmas Day, each of them had a change of plans and were both unavailable for visual communication. I was SO bummed. I still kind of am. Living so far from home is tough when you can’t “see” your family.

Still, I want them to be able to see how my day went and share some of that Christmas joy with them here. So, this post is really for them, but if you’re interested in reading about how my Christmas Eve & Day went, scroll on, mah friend!

Now, before you go thinking that this long-distance Arroyo-Martinez chick has forgotten to honor family traditions, think again! I love our family traditions and was thankful that I was able to uphold them this Christmas!

 

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I got to enjoy (and share with others) a daily sweet treat with my fun Advent calendar!

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I sent out my Christmas cards with my funny photo and was so excited to get some cards from friends near and far!

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Seattle really is lacking in delicious, authentic, Mexican fare, but I do know of this one carniceria that has fantastic tamales! They’re thicker than what I’m used to back home, but they are still just as tasty! As I walked out the door with my tamales, I noticed the case of Pan Dulce and it reminded me of all those Saturday mornings we would go to Mi Victoria for breakfast tacos. 🙂

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I was bummed I couldn’t join y’all at Aunt Sandra’s for Christmas Eve tamales, but I made sure to enjoy from a distance. PS: If the Whole Foods in Austin sells Intelligentsia coffee, be sure to pick some up! It’s great!

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This is a new tradition, adopted from my East Coast fam, the Warners—opening stockings on Christmas Eve! Oh, and obviously I had to watch one of my faves. My fave (Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer) was saved for Christmas morning. 😉

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And these are all the goodies I stuffed in my stocking: Rudolph coloring book; Maxx Robots magnets, Glow-in-the-dark skull tattoos, fun socks, Luna & Cliff bars, Candy Cane prism glasses, Razors, Tony Chachere’s, coffee scoopers, trail mix, cocoa drizzled kettle corn, Bath & Body body wash, Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark, and just like Mamo always puts in our goodie bags—an orange, an apple, a candy cane, and nuts! 😀

Christmas morning was extra special! I woke up early to watch Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer before heading off to Christmas Caroling. Of course, I had to enjoy some yummy breakfast beforehand, though. 😉

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With breakfast being my favorite meal of the day, it’s no wonder I had a little more pep in my step while making Christmas breakfast! 

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After breakfast, I headed out to the King County Juvenile Detention Center to meet up with some of my friends from Westside Church. While we were there, we sang Christmas carols to the inmates and celebrated with them as they opened their gifts. It was SO special!

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Once we were done with caroling, I headed home to open gifts!

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The majority of the gifts are things I bought for myself, but I did get some special gifts from others as well! My housemates gave me gifts, my friends at church gave me gifts, and I got a package from Aunt Olga, which had my exchange gift from Liz in it!

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Um, I MAY have gone overboard on the gifts I got for myself this year . . . but in my defense, they were all on clearance/major sales. 😉

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MY LOOT!! –> West Elm bowls from my co-worker/friend Glenda, a 200 Cal Cookbook from my housemate Kiesha, a unique painted mug and a bracelet from Glenda, clothes from Old Navy, CSI:NY + CSI: Las Vegas, Big Bang Theory ornament, 8-bit Sunglasses, Hair Chalk, POPULAR book, Salt & Pepper shakers, Christmas Vacation on DVD, The Wolverine on DVD, a keepsake Rudolph ornament, and 4 new shirts from Old Navy!

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And I LOVE my sweet Wonder Woman jammies from Liz! I hope Gabriel likes the remote control car I got him!

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After opening gifts and touching base with the folks, I headed over to Glenda’s and enjoyed a (way too short) time of board games + snacks with her and a couple of her kids.

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Then, I headed over to Kristen’s house to enjoy a nice Christmas dinner! We had fun sharing about the gifts we got and trying out her new Rip Stick! I can’t wait to see her skate all around the town! Sadly, I had to leave early because of my allergies. 😦

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When I got home, my housemate Vivian invited me to open more gifts that she got for us upstairs. We also noticed that our landlady and her hubby left us a house Christmas gift! SOOOOOO much goodies! 😀

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Vivian got me Hungarian chocolates (She’s from Budapest), a hand painted/baked mug, and shared some of her Hungarian cookies with me!

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As we were opening gifts/chatting upstairs, Kiesha came home and we all sat in the living room, chatting it up! A little ways into the convo, Kiesha noticed my grey skull jammies and excitedly ran to put on her blue skull jammies! We’re twinsies!!

All in all, it was a great second chance to experience Christmas in Seattle! I love it here in the winter and making it through this year just helped me to realize that I can definitely do this again! I kinda of wish my family were able to join me up here for the holidays because there are so many fun things to do here! Welp, today I’m off to Auburn with the Jollys to share Day-After-Christmas fun with Heather’s family! I hope you all had a very Merry Christmas and I pray you have an incredible New Year!

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Back In Time

Early morning SeaTac time

Early morning SeaTac time

 

Day one of travel to my hometown is here! Well, actually, it’s come and gone. That’s right, I’ve done some major time traveling today! This morning at 3:30 am I got a phone call from my sweet friend (and co-worker), Glenda, telling me that she was outside ready to take me to the airport. I quickly jetted out of bed to put on clothes (though judging from the ATX temps, I probably  would have been fine wearing next to nothing), grab my last-minute snacks from the fridge and head out the door!

 

Travel snacks, knitting bag, & luggage in tow, ready to board the 1st flight on my way home! Major thanks to my G-Mama, Glenda Hamlin Wright, for the early-bird ride to the errrrport!

 

We had a great conversation on the way over to the airport, exchanged hugs, and I was off to brave the gigantor lines surrounding United Airlines. When I FINALLY made it to the check-in/bag-drop kiosk, the airline’s records showed a major problem with my itinerary. Though my e-ticket showed that I was flying SEA to IAH, then IAH to AUS, their computer system was showing that I was flying SEA to IAH, and that my connecting flight was YESTERDAY, with a final destination of San Antonio. Ummm no. WRONG-O! In the course of fixing my ticket, I missed the 45 minute cut-off and they were going to need to re-book me on a new flight, getting in to Austin at 10:30p instead of my scheduled 4p. Again, ummm no.

 

Morning Joe On The Go

Frustrating moments lead to craving comfort foods . . . like drip coffee! I must say, their Kati Kati blend rules, yo!

 

I was super frustrated and near tears when I asked to speak with the manager. After getting everything sorted out, my wonderful, gracious, patient agent, Dean Edmonds, was on the phone with multiple airlines and was about to book me on a flight from Seattle to Phoenix to Denver to Austin with an arrival at 8:30p. It would definitely mess up my car rental booking and dinner plans so I wasn’t completely thrilled about it. I was still pretty flustered, but my hands were tied so I agreed to book that one. That is, until he said, “WAIT! I think I found a better workaround for you!” Yes, he saved my day! I will now be flying Seattle to Phoenix to Austin with an arrival of 4:30p!

 

You know you're in Seattle when . . .  Hmm, actually, catching a quick read in a rocking chair doesn't sound like a bad idea at all!

You know you’re in Seattle when . . . Hmm, actually, catching a quick read in a rocking chair sounds like a pretty great idea right now!

Dear Dean at the United Airlines booth in SeaTac:

THANK YOU!!

YOU HAVE SAVED MY LIFE! I AM ETERNALLY GRATEFUL!!!

 

Now that I know that time travel is possible and that I’ve safely arrived back in the present day, I’m ready to go and tackle my family with hugs!! Our first order of business once I arrive is a family Chick-Fil-A dinner date! HOLY YUM! The second order will be sleeping!!! Away I go!!

 

Sporting my Westside Softball shirt in solidarity with our team, who is playing the season tournament today without me. :'(

Sporting my Westside Softball shirt in solidarity with our team, who is playing the season tournament today without me. 😥


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Grow Up And Be Kids

Me and my pops in front of the Six Flags

 

It’s pretty common to see strained Father + Daughter relationships featured on both the big and little screen. It’s a typical story of,

“But Dad, I love him!”

“You can’t tell me what to do—you’re not the boss of me!”

“I can’t be your little girl forever. Just let me go.”

“You were never there for me.”

 

While I understand that it’s a reality that many face and can relate to, I can’t help but feel blessed when I look back on the memories I’ve shared with my own Father and find that none of those phrases were ever uttered. My dad was actually my best sidekick, growing up. I am a Daddy’s girl through and through. I don’t just mean that in the vein of always getting what I want and wrapping Daddy ‘round my little finger, though I have had plenty of those moments. I mean that in the vein that he taught me how to be a respectable young lady who fights for justice, peace, and continuously looks for the good in people. He still let me have my boy crushes—without embarrassing me in front of them, might I add—and my emotional meltdowns, but through it all, he steadily reminded me that when I’m hurting and lonely, his loving arms are there to hold me through it all.

 

Best Buddies

Best Buddies

 

My pops has been such a huge part of my growth as a fairly well-balanced person surrounded by hardships on all sides. As I faced all of the questions and complexities of adolescence, I knew I could count on my dad to point me in the right direction. Together we met face-to-face with tough life decisions, like my choice to NOT attend a traditional college, but instead to pursue an education at Master’s Commission of Austin—a hands-on ministry training program. When family members on my mother’s side of the family grew to believe that I was not interested in men because of my single lady, childless, status, my father reassured me that I didn’t have to fit that certain mold and that I didn’t have to let their completely absurd generalizations set me back or label me as “less than.” He encouraged me to live every day as if it were a new adventure, treasuring every moment as if it were my last. We debated some of my toughest non-/convictions and He graciously listened and helped me see a different perspective, yet always allowed me to make an ultimate choice for myself as to what I truly believed was the wisest thing for me. He encouraged me to keep writing, keep dreaming, and keep believing for the best!

 

We know how to party! 😉

 

In return, I kept him on his toes and kept him young with my pranks and shenanigans. I mean, c’mon, any dad that lets his grown daughter smash a cupcake on his cheek for fun is pretty awesome—just sayin’! 😉 I love that he still knows how to have fun! Even as adults, we play games together. One of my favorites to play with him is a car game. As he drives and focuses on the road ahead, I will stare him down from the side and then, just as he turns his head to see what I’m up to, I’ll snap my head away as if I wasn’t watching at all. We keep doing this until he catches my eye and says, “Gotcha!” Then we laugh and laugh and laugh, enjoying our complete silliness! I also went through a season of life where a whole lot of my friends continuously referred to him as Mr. Amanda, and he would always answer to them, not offended in the least that the focus was on my name, and not necessarily his. Instead, he laughed at it and encouraged it!

 

Our fave hangout!

 

He has also GREATLY influenced my life spiritually! My faith was not found in a church pew or a revival service. It wasn’t found in a dish of Holy Water or in a Sunday School lesson. It was found at 3 a.m. when my Father drove over to my best friend’s house to rescue me from a slumber party because I had an allergic reaction to their dog and couldn’t breathe. It was found in a hospital bed in the form of a giant teddy bear to cheer me up after having an intense kidney surgery. It was also found years before that on a cushy bed, covered in tears and cries of agony, where he changed my wound dressing after an emergency appendectomy. Through every meltdown, his unconditional love has been a rescue. Through every disappointment, his hopeful encouragement has been a healing salve. Through every shining moment of success, his pride and congratulatory spirit have carried me from one stepping stone to another. Because of the love, encouragement, discipline, and understanding of my earthly father, it’s easier for me to embrace the love of my Heavenly Father. My dad, Ramon Martinez, Jr., is my very own “Jesus with skin on.” I could not be more blessed to have him in my life!

 

Dynamic Duo

 

Happy Father’s Day, Daddy-O!