Commemorating Christopher Columbus in Spanish Style, Part 2

What would it be like to celebrate a national holiday in a foreign country? I wondered that myself when I found out that I would be in Spain on October 12 for Fiesta Nacional de España, otherwise known as National Day, or Columbus Day in America.

In my last post about National Day in Spain, I shared some of the historic monuments to Christopher Columbus in Andalucia, the region of Southern Spain. This post is dedicated to the monuments and festivities in the nation’s capital, Madrid. (Neither of these posts take a stand on the controversy with replacing Columbus Day with Indigenous People’s Day. So please vent elsewhere.)

Spaniards proudly display their flag at Columbus Square in Madrid, October 12, 2014.

Spaniards proudly display their flag at Columbus Square in Madrid, October 12, 2014.

National Day Festivities in Madrid

National Day is a public holiday throughout Spain marked by celebrations and a day off work for employees. In Madrid, a military parade has been held every year since 2000, when this day was also recognized as Spain’s Day of the Armed Forces.  Most families stay at home and watch the parade on television.  For me, it seemed like a once in a lifetime experience—sort of like being in Washington DC for a historic parade.  If at all possible, I wanted to attend and experience this for myself.

We woke up on Sunday morning, October 12, 2014, to a rather dismal forecast of rain for the day. Our original plans were to go to El Escorial, a royal palace about 30 miles north of Madrid.  My host family was not in favor of going due to the rain in the forecast.  It also put a damper on my hopes to attend the military parade.

However, much to my surprise, Rosa volunteered to escort me to the parade. Umbrellas in hand, we took the underground metro to the center of Madrid in search of the best place to watch the parade.  By the time we arrived at Plaza de Cibeles, an iconic symbol of Madrid, the clouds had parted and blue skies were glistening above.

The streets were closed and the crowds were swarming the area in search of a location to view the parade.  Rosa knew her way around and led us directly across from the Cybele Palace, a large cathedral-like building that is one of several landmarks in Madrid.

Plaza de Cibeles, blocked off for the parade, Madrid, October 12, 2014.

Plaza de Cibeles, blocked off for the parade, Madrid, October 12, 2014.

National Day Parade

There wasn’t much time to waste. I wiggled my way into the standing-room-only crowd of people, settling into a spot about 10-people deep in front of me.  Rosa had seen the parade numerous times in her years of living in Madrid and waited further back behind the throngs of people.

The parade was ushered in with a rumble of military aircraft soaring overhead. The planes released plumes of red and yellow smoke trailing behind in a formation that represented the colors emblazoned on the Spanish flag.

Spanish pride on display from the air.

Spanish pride on display from the air.

As the parade started I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. My only other knowledge of a military parade was seeing tanks and other military vehicles on TV, like seen in old time movies or documentaries in school.  This wasn’t like that.  No tanks.  No large armored vehicles to speak of.

The parade was presided over by the recently inaugurated King of Spain, Felipe VI. The crowds cheered as his limousine passed by with the Royal Family inside.

The parade was primarily a display of various regiments of the military each dressed in their unique uniforms.  They were mostly marching on foot.  Some were prominently carrying their rifles in upright positions pointing straight into the air.  Others traveled the parade route on horseback. Their uniforms were varied as well—bright colors and some with Arabian type robes draped over them.  I didn’t know what branch of the military each was from or understand the differences (and couldn’t ask anyone due to the language barrier).  Military sounding music, maybe the national anthem, was being played on portable speakers scattered around the area.

IMG_0988

I’m rather tall, but didn’t get much of a glimpse of the parade. I raised my cell phone above the crowds to get some pictures and video.  It was the first time I realized how helpful owning a selfie stick would be.  For a feel of the parade, watch the short video clip I recorded below.

Columbus Square

The parade was over in less than an hour, and Rosa and I headed on foot to our next destination, Sunday Mass at a local church, Parroquia Concepcion de Nuestra Señora. We followed that by meeting Pedro and Rafa (Pedro’s father) for lunch at a nearby German restaurant, La Fábrica Biermuseum.  Even in Spain, they get tired of eating Spanish food, but not drinking good beer.

Twice on our walks to these other destinations, we passed by Madrid’s monument site to Christopher Columbus, Plaza de Colón, or Columbus Square.  Prior to the military parade, the Spanish flag was raised at this site by the King of Spain, Felipe VI. We missed that ceremony, but thousands of people were still surrounding the site, only a few blocks from where the parade was held.

Location of the flag raising ceremony.

The first time I saw this monument and the flag was my second day in Spain in the summer of 2013. My host family took me on a walking tour into the heart of the city, past Columbus Square and Plaza de Cibeles and several other historic landmarks.  (Oh my aching feet!)

Jet-lagged and somewhat still in shock that I was actually in Spain, I was impressed by the beauty of the Spanish flag towering over the majestic concrete sculptures at the monument site.  It is the largest flag in Spain measuring 46 feet high x 69 feet long.

The largest flag in Spain.

The largest flag in Spain.

The Square is made up of three parts. The first is a statue of Christopher Columbus perched on top of a large column in the center of a traffic circle on the Paseo de la Castellana (the Castilian’s Mall), one of the longest and widest avenues in Madrid.  The statue of Christopher Columbus is pointing west toward America.  The sculpture was created by Spanish sculptor Jeronimo Suñon in 1885 and is surrounded by a fountain at the base of the column.

Next to the statue of Columbus is an entire city block that commemorates this Spanish hero. It is made up of the Gardens of Discovery, where the Spanish flag is located, and another monument to Columbus.  The large monument along Calle de Serrano (Serrano Street) is made up of three large concrete structures that represent the three ships in the voyage to the New World in 1492. The monument was sculpted by Joaquín Vaquero Turcios.  The three sculptures bear texts and figures related to the history of Columbus.

Monument commemorating Columbus' voyage in 1492.

Monument commemorating Columbus’ voyage in 1492.

History Comes Alive

In writing these posts about National Day in Spain, I had to rely somewhat on the internet. Sadly that is because my time at many of these monuments was so limited and because of the language barrier.  (For example on both of my trips to Madrid, I walked through Columbus Square, but never got up close to any of the monuments.)

It is one reason why I take so many pictures and keep a journal when I travel. When I’m back home scrapbooking or just looking at my photographs, it brings my travels, even the minutest details, back to life.  And I can research and translate things more at my leisure, like I did for these posts.

This 2-part series on Christopher Columbus has made my Spanish travels richer and more meaningful, and given me a greater understanding of American history as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting a glimpse of these historic places and monuments to Christopher Columbus in Spain.  I leave you with a few photos from this special day in Madrid.

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Commemorating Christopher Columbus in Spanish Style, Part 1

“In fourteen hundred ninety-two Columbus sailed the ocean blue.” The opening line of the poem “In 1492” about Christopher Columbus takes me back to my childhood when we learned about Columbus and his voyage across the Atlantic Ocean in search of a new trade route to the East Indies.

Portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

Portrait by Sebastiano del Piombo, housed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, NY.

I never thought at that time that I would someday travel to Spain or visit the historical places that led to his explorations. But I did!

When I was young, my mind was focused on remembering the dates and details so I could do well in my class. Decades later, the main thing I remember are the names of his first voyage ships—the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Maria—and the date he discovered the New World: October 12, 1492.

Christopher Columbus’ Significance in Spain

Today is not only Columbus Day in America, it is also a holiday in Spain, Fiesta Nacional de España, or National Day. When I heard that Spain commemorates the day that Columbus set foot in the Americas, it surprised me. Although Columbus claimed vast territory for Spain with his explorations, and governed areas of Hispaniola, Spain doesn’t govern in that part of the world any longer.

When I admitted my ignorance around the subject to Pedro, he explained that Christopher Columbus launched a new era of wealth and power in Spain. Christopher Columbus, known as Cristóbal Colón in Spain, is a national hero. Just like the U.S., there are monuments to Columbus in many places throughout the country.

In my travels in Spain in the summer of 2013, I was fortunate enough to visit some of those monuments and historic places where Columbus ventured on his quest for funding of his journey across the Atlantic. During a week long vacation in the region of Andalucia, in Southern Spain, with Pedro and his parents, I started to get a feel for the vast and complicated history of Spain.

In the summer of 2013, I visited Granada, Cordoba, and Seville, Spain.

In the summer of 2013, I visited Granada, Cordoba, and Seville, Spain.

Let me start out by saying, that before our travels, I had very little knowledge about these places or the history of Spain.

Christopher Columbus Monuments in Granada

My first glimpse at the intersection of American and Spanish history related to Christopher Columbus was in Granada, Spain. We walked through Plaza Isabel La Católica.

In the center of the square was a monument to Queen Isabel and Christopher Columbus. The monument was sculpted in Rome for the 4th centennial of Columbus’ journey to the New World. It depicts Queen Isabel granting permission for Columbus’ voyage.

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Columbus monument in Granada, Spain.

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After strolling through this square we headed to the Granada Cathedral and the neighboring museum, The Royal Chapel of Granada. The Royal Chapel is the final resting place of Queen Isabel I of Castile and King Ferdinand II of Aragon, known as the Catholic Monarchs. History truly came alive for me when I walked through the Royal Chapel and viewed the tomb and crypt of these people whose names I learned in school decades earlier.

The tomb of the Catholic Monarchs

The tomb of the Catholic Monarchs

The crypt of the Catholic Monarchs

The crypt of the Catholic Monarchs

The next day we toured the Alhambra, the No. 1 tourist site in Spain. While touring the Alhambra, I learned that with the conquest of Granada by the Catholic Monarchs in January 1492, all Islamic rule of the Iberian Peninsula ended. I was starting to piece together the significance of that year and how history really was shifting at that time and under the rule of the Catholic Monarchs.

Alhambra

The Alhambra, a Moorish fortress dating back to 889.

Christopher Columbus Monuments in Córdoba

The next stop on our travels through Andalucia was Córdoba. First, we visited another major tourist attraction, the Mezquita, a former mosque converted into a Catholic cathedral in the 16th century. It is a splendid display of Mudéjar (Moorish) and Renaissance architecture and religious history.

Being so slow and deliberately trying to take in all of the beauty and reverence I missed out on another Columbus monument. We walked through the stifling heat (over 100 degree Fahrenheit), to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos (the castle of the Christian monarchs). This served as one of the primary residences of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand.

Unfortunately it was closed by the time we arrived. In the summer, the site closes at 3:00 PM due to the heat and the traditional time for a Spanish siesta.

We walked along the exterior medieval walls of the castle, taking a few pictures, and marveling at the structure from the outside. Inside was another statue with Christopher Columbus. This monument commemorates the first meeting here of Queen Isabel and King Ferdinand in 1486.

Christopher Columbus Monuments in Seville

Our final destination on this vacation through Andalucia was Seville. It was there that we met Rosa’s brother Paco, and his family. He spoke English and served as my personal tour guide in Seville. He is well versed in the culture and history of Spain and particularly so in the architecture.

That was most evident when we toured the Seville Cathedral, completed in the early 16th century. This cathedral is the largest Gothic cathedral and the 3rd largest church in the world. Unbeknownst to me, it also housed the burial site of Christopher Columbus. It was sort of a surprise at the end of the tour.

At the exit doors to the cathedral, Paco pointed out the tomb of Christopher Columbus. It was a grand monument—with the tomb being carried by four kings of Spain represented by kingdoms in Columbus’ lifetime, from Aragon, Castile, Leon, and Navarre. His remains took a circuitous route from Valladolid, Spain where he died, to the present day Dominican Republic, to Cuba, and now to their final resting place in Seville in 1898.

This partly explains why Paco told me that Columbus’ remains were only rumored to be in this tomb. Depending on who you believe, it does appear that at least some of his remains are buried there. DNA testing was done in 2006 to confirm it.

Seeing this monument with Columbus’ remains towering above the royal figures of Spain gave me much more insight and understanding about the place he played in this country’s culture and history. He was a hero and represented the dawn of wealth and power for this beautiful country.

An Ambassador for Spain

The burial site of Christopher Columbus was a fitting end to my Andalucía vacation and Spanish history lessons. There are many other monuments to Columbus in Spain. Someday I hope to return to Spain and see them—most notably in Barcelona or Valladolid, where he died.

As someone once told me, my travels to Spain have turned me into an American Ambassador for Spain. I still have dozens of ideas on posts I’d love to write about my travels and the sites and history of Spain.

In 2013, I saw it through the eyes of my Spanish hosts. In 2014, I saw it more through the eyes of religious history. I’m fascinated by it and am quick to tell people about Spain whenever I get a captive audience.

Date marker on Columbus monument in Madrid.

Date marker on Columbus monument in Madrid.

In my next post, I’ll describe more about the Columbus monuments in the nation’s capital, Madrid, and my adventures there on National Day (Columbus Day) last year.

God Knows the Desires of our Heart

It was siesta time on Day 29 of my 42-day pilgrimage through Spain in 2013. This was my 5th day in Sóller, near the northwest coast of Mallorca, in the Balearic Islands of Spain. I was sitting poolside at the summer home of my gracious hosts, the parents of Pedro González Arbona, who we met in an exchange program three years prior.

The day was hot—just like the preceding days. I was still not used to the Spanish heat. Sóller was only slightly cooler than Madrid. It was in the mid-90s; and there was no air conditioning. When we left Madrid the week before, I was expecting cool island breezes and relief from the heat. There was no such luck. I adapted as best as I could, and relished the mid-day siesta to take a bite out of the heat.

The view from my bedroom window in Sóller.

The view from the writing desk in my bedroom in Sóller.

Siesta Time in Sóller

After the mid-day meal which was typically served at 2 PM, the family would turn to siesta mode. Some would take a nap, or others would read or relax by the pool. It was a deliberate time of restfulness and solitude.

Most days I would be in my room with the ceiling fan on, either typing away on my laptop trying to catch up on my writing, or sprawled out on my bed catching a few zzzzz. Traveling away from home without the benefit of an American companion, I considered both an investment in my emotional and physical health.

On this day, I relinquished my writing and my napping to another restful activity. I sat in the shade reading the script to Pedro’s most recent film. It was the script to Tempting Fate, the movie that is now showing across Africa with his music wafting through the theaters.

As I sat there reading with the sound of running water filling the pool in the background, all I kept reflecting on was how God really does know the desires of our heart. I’d love to be able to say that was because of the idyllic setting I was in, or the generosity of my family back home, or my Spanish host family. I had many of those moments in my 6 weeks of living with Pedro’s family.

A Holy Plot Twist

No, on this day it was the content of what I was reading that gave me goosebumps and lit the fire of the Holy Spirit within me. The script was ‘hot off the press’ so to speak. Pedro received it electronically and had a copy made at the print shop in town. He had already made his first pass through the script and had ideas running through his mind on the scenes and music.   I was honored to be the next to read it—mostly because I was his manager, but also because I was one of the few family members who could read English.  (His previous scripts were in Spanish and difficult for me to read.)

I knew very little about the story, and so I eagerly read it. The story opened with a bank robbery scene, lots of gun fire, and the death of a police officer. That didn’t sound like my type of movie.

Immediately following that, the story turned to a scene at a church with African worship music being sung. The sudden shift caught me off-guard and peaked my interest. As I read further and further into the script, I was enthralled with the story, and excited to read how this tale of two Nigerian brothers, one with deep faith fighting for his life against cancer, and the other steeped in a life of crime and drugs, would end.

I was not disappointed. It had a powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. Here’s one piece of great dialogue:

“God owes you no explanation, son. He looks out for you and gives you what is best for you. The important question is not why, but what happens next? And trust me, for those that trust God their next chapters are always better than the former chapters.”

Scenes from the movie Tempting Fate.

I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read some of these scenes that challenged the characters in the movie, and would certainly resonate with audiences.

At one point, when I was nearing the end of the script, Pedro asked me what I thought of it. I had a hard time containing my excitement, but told him he would have to wait until I was finished reading. “Only a few more pages,” I told him. “And then we can talk about it.”

“Are you looking for the scenes with music in it?”

“No,” I confessed.

“You are a bad manager,” he teased. I didn’t mind. I was too overwhelmed with the sudden shift in the focus of my trip.

“The first of many more scripts for you to read,” he continued jokingly. But I didn’t take his musical talent or potential success in jest.

God Knows The Desires of our Hearts

God was not only giving me the desires of my heart with this trip of a lifetime, the Lord was giving Pedro the desires of his heart. Pedro dreamed of composing film scores since he was ten years old. Now at the age of 20, he was composing for his first full-feature American film!

A few days earlier, my daily devotional was based on Psalm 37:4, “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He shall give you the desires of your heart.” After reading the script of this faith-based movie, I had a teachable moment with Pedro about that scripture and how the Lord’s favor was on his music. He wasn’t sold on the idea that God would really have any interest in his musical success. There were much more pressing things for God to have His attention on like poverty and worldwide issues.  But I begged to differ.

Psalm 37.4

I expressed to him how I believed it was not a coincidence that he had landed this contract at this very point in time. I had been praying for his music to be used by God since the day I found out he was a composer. The script pointed people to God’s love and forgiveness, so his music would do the same. I saw it as an incredible blessing and confirmation that his music really was meant for the big screen.

Since Pedro came into my life five years ago, the Lord has given me many desires of my heart: the friendship of this family across the world, being the benefactor of Pedro’s music, and giving me a mid-life career change into writing (my long lost passion from college).

It’s not because God is like a genie, or I prayed for earthly success or rewards. It is because of my faith shift that started with a deeper and truer relationship with the Lord, and as the scripture says, delighting in Him.

So what about the Movie?

The Lord’s favor is on Tempting Fate too—the movie, the cast and the crew as it plays in theaters across Nigeria and Ghana. It premiered at #3 in the Box Office last week and is getting lots of positive reviews. Nollywood is all a twitter about this Hollywood/Nollywood collaboration.

My prayers continue for this movie and its message. I applaud KevStel Group for producing this film and following their dreams and desires of their hearts to bring quality faith-based entertainment to the big screen.

What about you? Are you delighting in the Lord? Where is He giving you the desires of your heart?

What if His People Prayed, Part 2 ~ Global Prayers

Before my mother passed away three years ago, my regular prayer life was mostly made up of prayers before family meals and some daily devotional or quiet time in the morning.  I also prayed short prayers intermittently throughout the day. During one period of spiritual seeking I went so far as to venture into an overnight prayer vigil at my church.   I liked that experience, but my church stopped the practice soon after.

Inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, in Madrid.

On sacred ground, inside my first church in Spain, San Jerónimo el Real, Madrid.

Becoming a Prayer Intercessor

I had never considered myself a prayer warrior or a particularly articulate prayer person.   As I mentioned in Part 1 of this 2-part series, that radically changed in recent years. About a year after my mother passed away I took a spiritual gift assessment and sure enough, one of my gifts was intercessory prayer—not something that had scored high in the past.

Embracing this gift has helped me to continue on my spiritual walk across denominations and into the Catholic Church for my weekly appointment with God. This prayer practice has awakened my faith in new ways and eventually led me to Spain last summer where I finally met Rosa, Pedro’s mother. That trip was the trip of a lifetime for me—6-weeks in Spain, immersed in the culture, the food, the language and the faith. My visits to the Catholic Church here gave me a longing to worship in the grand Cathedrals and churches of Spain.

Praying in Spain

While I was in Spain, I attended mass and toured several Catholic cathedrals—13 in all, from central to southern Spain and to the island of Mallorca.  It was like being on sacred ground to visit these massive, centuries-old buildings with intricate stone carved exterior figures and laden with golden altars and statues inside.

My prayers in Spain were much different than in America. Back home, I had lots of private time to thoughtfully pray for people by name. While I was in Spain, God led me to meditate on a passage of scripture in Ezekiel. This resulted in my  praying for unity between Catholics and Protestants, and for revival in the Church of Spain. I had no preconceived notions how God was going to do that. I just knew that He was calling me to pray into this country for a spiritual awakening.

Praying Globally

People pray for global causes all the time. This takes me back (as referenced in my last post) to the words of the Casting Crowns song, “What if His People Prayed”:

“And what would happen if we prayed
For those raised up to lead the way
Then maybe kids in school could pray
And unborn children see light of day”

We pray for government officials and against laws that we believe are unjust. We pray for victims of crime and victims of natural disasters. We pray for the poor and for the hungry.

So why not pray for the people of Spain? They live in a time of economic distress and dramatically high unemployment. According to the Evangelical Covenant Church, although historically considered a Catholic country, church attendance has declined dramatically over the years and a very small percentage have a relationship with Christ.

After six weeks in Spain, I truly have a heart for the people. It started with a heart for Pedro, then his mother Rosa, and on to the remaining 24 members of his family that I met. But more than that, God got a hold of me there and showed me how different the spiritual climate was and the need for people to return to Him. They need His Hope—the kind of hope that does not disappoint. (Isaiah 49:23)

Prayer Works

Earlier this week, and nine months to the day I started my prayers on Spanish soil, I got physical confirmation of what I knew to be true in the spiritual realm. That was when a Spanish pastor and missionary visited the Celebrate Recovery meeting where I gave my testimony. It was his first time at this kind of meeting. We are now exploring ways to bring this healing ministry to Spain.

Is this the start of a spiritual revival in Spain? Is this what God was planning when he directed me to pray? It would probably sound pretty presumptuous for me to declare that (although I am pretty bold with my faith). All I know is that I did my part—and I continue to do so.  All it takes is one person, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed. (Matthew 17:20)

Do you have a desire to go to Spain and pray for the nation and its people?  I invite you to come on a 10-day prayer journey this fall and explore Spain for yourself. And maybe I’ll be there too, if those prayers are answered.  Click on this link, Prayer journey 2014, for more information.

Update 7/23/2014: The Prayer Journey was cancelled for 2014, but tickets are purchased for a Celebrate Recovery mission to France and Spain in the fall of 2014. Prayer appreciated for this mission of hope.

This post is listed on Christian Mommy Blogger/Fellowship Fridays and Missional Women/Faith Filled Friday.

A 6-Week Tour of Spain

I can sum up 2013 in one little word, S-P-A-I-N!  It changed me.  It’s a part of me—past, present and future.  So with that in mind, I end my year of blogging, with one final Spanish post.  It is sort of a trip in review, with videos and photos that I haven’t previously shared on my blog. So I’m inviting you to join me, and a few of my friends, on a private tour of Spain.

Tourists (guests) on a private tour of Spain.

Tourists (guests) on a private tour of Spain.

¡Bienvenido a España!  (Welcome to Spain!)

Five months to the day I left America headed for Spain, I embarked on another Spanish adventure.  This time I was joined by a small group of friends who were eager to experience Spain for themselves.  We didn’t physically travel to Spain, but we did all have a Spanish adventure.

Last summer I spent 42 days in Spain living with Pedro’s family—a reverse exchange program, so to speak.  It was a journey three years in the making, after first hosting Pedro in our home in Seattle.  Since my published story in Journeys to Mother Love included this family, my trip to Spain was avidly supported by my friends and family.  So naturally I wanted to personally share my experience with them.

A table full of Spanish souvenirs.

A table full of Spanish souvenirs.

I called this four-hour extravaganza “My Spanish Fiesta.” It was partially in celebration of my birthday, but mostly it was geared at immersing my friends and family in Spain.  Together we explored the sights, sounds, and tastes of Spain.

The Sights of Spain

After the traditional European cheek kiss at the front door, and Spanish greetings, my guests turned their attention to the big screen TV.  Thankfully I didn’t subject them to all 5,000 photos of Spain.  I consolidated it down to a mere 1,000 photos, made into seven videos that related to the various segments of my trip. (Video of the main country of Spain is below.)

We traveled to Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville and several locations on the island of Mallorca.  It was a whirlwind of cathedrals, palaces, historic monuments, and tourist attractions.  They also got to meet some of my Spanish family, see where I lived, and get a feel for what it was like to live in Spain and vacation on the Mediterranean.  (Video of the island of Mallorca is below.)

Other notable Spanish sights for the evening were the Spanish flag hanging on the wall and a table full of souvenirs from my trip.  I collected books, jewelry, clothing, hand-painted fans, ceramic pottery, religious statues and mementos, a leather purse, and much, much more.

I was good for the economy of Spain.  “The economic crisis is over,” Pedro declared after seeing everything I bought.

Demonstrating the use of castanets, a familiar sound with traditional Flamenco dancing.

Demonstrating the use of castanets, a familiar sound with traditional Flamenco dancing.

The Sounds of Spain

Most of the videos included Spanish guitar music by Narciso Yepes and Paco De Lucia, from CDs that were gifts given to me by my Spanish family a few years earlier.  Two of the videos were accompanied by Pedro’s original compositions, one of which was composed while I was in Spain.  When the videos weren’t playing, Spanish music was still filling our senses.

And what kind of music manager would I be if I didn’t also treat my guests to an exclusive video clip from Pedro’s first movie soundtrack, Sed de Amor (Thirst for Love).  When the song “The Last Tear” played, it brought a tear to my eye, just like it did the first time I saw it at my private viewing with Pedro’s family.

The Tastes of Spain

Shopping for culinary treats at The Spanish Table in Seattle.

Shopping for culinary treats at The Spanish Table in Seattle.

The biggest hit of the evening, and hardest part to pull off, was the food.  Since I’m a novice in the kitchen, I usually defer to my good friend Stacie to make the culinary delights for my events.  Using a Spanish cookbook I purchased in Madrid, we carefully chose a varied menu of tapas (small plates) to tantalize my guest’s taste buds.

We shopped at The Spanish Table and the Paris Grocery in Seattle’s Pikes Place Market area for the specialty fare the recipes required.  At the top of my list was Iberian ham—the same kind that U.S. Customs confiscated from my luggage at JFK Airport in New York.  I savored the sight and smell of each freshly cut delicate slice of paper thin Iberian ham.*

A successful shopping trip at The Spanish Table.

My friend Stacie joined me for a successful shopping trip at The Spanish Table.

Since my husband truly is ‘el rey de la cocina’ (the king of the kitchen), especially after the recent remodel, he had a major role in the cooking as well.  He made spicy gazpacho and paella to eat, and Sangria, to whet our appetites.  Other tapas included Pan Amb Oli (ham, tomato, olive oil and bread), Mediterranean grilled vegetables, eggs stuffed with tuna, goat’s cheese and onion, and skewers of olives, sundried tomatoes and Spanish cheese.

Goat Cheese Tapa

Goat’s cheese with onion served on bread.

Paella

Seafood paella

Dessert ended with an assortment of Spanish cheeses, quince spread (similar to jelly), fruit and nut breads, grapes, and chocolate turrón.  It was just the light touch we needed to cleanse our palettes for the evening.  Magnifico!

Turron & breads

Fruit & nut breads with chocolate turrón.

Cheese & grapes

Spanish cheeses, grapes & quince spread.

A Final Note

That was my fiesta in a nutshell.  Imagine how it was to savor each morsel and be immersed in the sights and sounds of Spain—without the language barrier, of course.  It was a lot to take in, as was my 6-week journey.  There are many times that I still can’t believe I was in Spain this past summer, or that I was there for so long.  It is like a dream.

Dedicating the evening with an opening prayer.

Dedicating the evening with an opening prayer.

I owe a huge debt of gratitude to my husband for manning the fort while I was gone, and also to him and my sons who suffered through the remodel of our kitchen and two bathrooms at the same time.  Of course, I am deeply indebted to my Spanish family, to whom my fiesta was dedicated.

What happened in Spain in 2013 is behind me, but that trip laid the groundwork for what lies ahead.  God is aligning me with new Spanish connections and planting new visions and dreams for future trips.  In the meantime, I am preparing myself internally for what God wants to do through me here or abroad, and taking one day at a time.

Thanks for joining my little tour of Spain.  I hope you get the opportunity to travel there yourself someday.  If you do, by all means, let me know.  I’d love to compare notes.

Adiós, mi amigos.  See you in 2014!

Pan Amb Oli, served with Iberian ham, a Spanish delicacy.

Pan Amb Oli, served with Iberian ham, a Spanish delicacy.

*Jamón Ibérico is made with an ancient breed of pig found on the Iberian Peninsula.  These pigs, known as “Pata Negra,” are believed to descend from the prehistoric Mediterranean wild boar.  These unique pigs are capable of storing more fat, which enables Jamón Ibérico to be cured much longer than traditional ham, resulting in an intense and complex flavor with an unparalleled note of sweetness.  The nuttiness of this ‘meat butter’ comes from the pigs’ exclusive diet of acorns.

Lights, Camera, Action, Part 1 ~ Making Music in Spain

Those three simple words, “lights, camera, action” are universally associated with filmmaking. Until last summer, my only role remotely associated with the theater was a bit part I was required to play in the annual musical back in junior high school.

For Pedro, the young Spanish man whose music career I help manage, those words have been part of his vocabulary and part of his dreams since he was very young.  Now, at 20 years of age, he is living his dreams.

Pedro González Arbona, professional musician and composer (Madrid, July 2013)

Pedro González Arbona, professional musician and composer (Madrid, July 2013)

Pedro’s First Short Film

When I headed to Madrid nearly six months ago, Pedro was up to his ears putting the finishing touches on the soundtrack for his first professional short film, Sed de Amor (Thirst for Love).  The premiere was held two weeks after my arrival.  Unfortunately, Pedro’s family and I were vacationing in southern Spain and couldn’t attend.  (The soundtrack is at the bottom of this post.)

Sandwiched in between sightseeing excursions and writing, my time in Madrid was spent collaborating with Pedro on his music and promotional projects to prepare for the premiere and beyond.  Together we launched his website (pgarbona.com), developed a site for his music sales, had publicity photo shoots, and worked on a Facebook marketing campaign to build interest in the film and his music.

Launching Pedro's new website.

Launching Pedro’s new website.

The Premiere

Since Pedro couldn’t attend the Thirst for Love premiere, the director, Chani Bas, asked him to create a video to introduce himself and explain his composing and music synchronization process for the film.  “Take 1.  Take 2.  Take 3,” I said as we made light of the multiple takes he had to do to get a flawless video.

Then since I couldn’t attend the premiere, Pedro gave me my own private showing of Thirst for Love.  Knowing the story, but not understanding the actors’ Spanish dialogue made it difficult to get the full movie viewer’s experience.  That didn’t stop the tears from flowing at the end of the movie though.  My tears were perfectly timed with the closing song “The Last Tear.”   Pedro’s parents joined us for the final minutes of the film, making my joy, and my tears complete.

Celebrating the Thirst for Love premiere while on vacation in Seville.

Celebrating the Thirst for Love premiere while on vacation in Seville.

More Music Collaboration

After our return from vacation, there was still much more music work to do.  Chani had enlisted Pedro to score the soundtrack for his next short film, Always Together.  Those songs filled the family home throughout my remaining days in Madrid as Pedro composed every free moment he got.  We also worked on reviewing and cataloguing Pedro’s ever growing list of compositions—about 120 at the time.

On one of our last days in Madrid, I met Chani, Pedro’s director, face to face at a local Starbucks.  It was a great opportunity to learn a bit more about the film industry, hear firsthand about the Thirst for Love premiere, and get to know each other.  Chani was already preparing for the next film project as well.  (Always Together premiered a few days ago.)

Chani Bas, Ardis A. Nelson and Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

Chani Bas, Ardis A. Nelson and Pedro Gonzalez Arbona

First American Film Project

The biggest music news of the summer though was the contract Pedro negotiated with the KevStel Group, an American production company, for his first full-feature film, Tempting Fate.  Days before we headed off to the island of Mallorca, international calls and email negotiations were flying through cyberspace.  We were rushed to complete it because once we arrived on Mallorca, internet access was extremely limited.

On Mallorca we settled into vacation mode for the remaining 2 ½ weeks of my trip surrounded by Pedro’s family and friends.  But one day while in siesta mode, I sat poolside and read the script of Tempting Fate.  I couldn’t believe my eyes as I read through lines that had a spiritual message of unconditional love, betrayal, sacrifice, and redemption.

I believe it was not a coincidence that this production company or this script landed in Pedro’s lap.  Like the prayer that moved mountains and connected Rosa and I, my prayers for Pedro’s music were again answered in heavenly ways.

Projected release date, July 2014

Projected release date, July 2014

Two Years in the Making

At this season of my life, I am often in awe of all the perfectly timed coincidences that have fallen into place between my Spanish family and me: the timing of the passing of Rosa’s and my mothers, how my trip to Spain came to fruition and its timing, and now, most assuredly, the recognition of Pedro’s musical talent beyond our friends and families.

It was two years ago this week that Pedro’s CD of original compositions, Introducing Pedro González Arbona, first went online at CD Baby, iTunes and Amazon.  What started on a whim and a nudge from God launched Pedro into a professional music and film career, and stepped him into his dreams.  It’s hard to watch these music milestones from 5,300 miles across the globe, but I am very blessed to know that God has done more than I could ever have imagined (Ephesians 3:20).

~ To read about the exciting premiere of ‘Always Together’ recently held in Madrid, check out Part 2 of this series..  To experience his music for yourself, click any of the links below to hear an original composition from the ‘Thirst for Love’ soundtrack, ©2013 Pedro González Arbona, or check out Pedro’s video page of this site.

If this is your first time hearing about the music of Pedro González Arbona, check out his website at pgarbona.com, or “The Music” page on my site for more information about how his music was discovered.  You can support his music career by liking his Facebook page, Pedro Gonzalez Arbona, Composer.

Updated 2/12/2015: The Tempting Fate soundtrack with Pedro’s music released today and is available on Amazon and iTunes. The movie will be released across Nigeria on July 17, 2015.

The Reality of Culture Shock

I’ve heard it said that ignorance is bliss.  After my summer in Spain, I’d have to say that ignorance is definitely not bliss.

With all the physical, mental, and spiritual preparation I did for my trip, I never once thought to research what it was like to live in a foreign country.  I heard of culture shock, didn’t really know anything about it except for the general term, and didn’t think for a moment that it was something I needed to be aware of.

Beautiful monuments, statues, cathedrals, and architecture--constant visual reminders that I wasn't in America. (Plaza Mayor, Madrid)

Beautiful monuments, statues, cathedrals, and architecture–constant visual reminders that I wasn’t in America. (Plaza Mayor, Madrid)

What is Culture Shock?

Merriam-Webster.com defines culture shock as “a sense of confusion and uncertainty sometimes with feelings of anxiety that may affect people exposed to an alien culture or environment without adequate preparation.”

All the while I was in Spain; there were no outward signs of culture shock.  I thought I was adjusting well to all of the changes in environment (except the heat).  My host family repeatedly told me how well I fit in with the Spanish lifestyle.  But inside there was something much deeper going on.  I pushed the anxiety and the doubts about what I was going through aside.  I took each day as a new day to experience Spain, and document everything I could in any free moment I could steal away to myself.

Acting like a stereo-typical tourist, while also fitting in with the Spanish lifestyle, Madrid

Acting like a stereo-typical tourist, while also fitting in with the Spanish lifestyle, Madrid

My Quest for Answers

After I returned home, I did some research on what it is like to physically live in a foreign country.  I found out that culture shock is a real psychological phenomenon.  I stumbled upon it while doing research for some of my earlier posts about Spain.

There is a lot on the internet about culture shock, and this is not intended to a be a lesson about it.  I did find out though that there are four phases: honeymoon, negotiation, adjustment and mastery.  Clearly I never made it to a point of mastery, but was definitely trying to quickly adapt through the other three phases.  Another source listed them as stages: wonder, frustration, depression and acceptance.  Just as surprising to me was finding out about reverse culture shock.  All of this explains why I had a hard time re-entering my life in the U.S. and also explains the bouts of depression I experienced.

The psychological effects of culture shock.

The psychological effects of culture shock.

In my quest for answers to what I had gone through, I started to follow blogs of other non-natives living in Spain.  I found sites from ex-pats living in Spain, ESL teachers, pilgrims journeying on the Way of St. James, and the like.  It was a relief to be able to observe their experiences, communicate with them, and most importantly to know that I was not alone in what I was going through.

I’ve also spoken with some missionary friends.  One pointed me to an article on “trailing spouse syndrome”.  I had never heard of that either, but reading that served as another relief for my emotionally weary soul.

Brave or Naïve?

Many people have told me that I was brave to go to Spain alone like that.  Every time someone said that I thought, “but I won’t be alone.”  I was going to live with people I already knew.  Little did I know how this would affect me.

I think that since Pedro, our Spanish host son, so easily adapted to family life in America, and never said anything or showed any evidence of his own culture shock, I just took it for granted that my transition would be smooth as well.  He fit in with us so easily; I think I forgot he was Spanish.

Being brave? No, it's just a unique way of mailing a letter. (Toledo, Spain)

Being brave? No, it’s just a unique way of mailing a letter. (Toledo, Spain)

I am so grateful to my Spanish family for hosting me and opening up my eyes to life in their country.  I miss Spain.  I miss my Spanish family—all 26 of them.  I know I’ll return someday and am already planting those seeds for a trip with my husband.

So was I brave or naïve in journeying to Spain for six weeks last summer?  It was definitely brave!  I have no regrets—only gratitude to my heavenly Father for the experience, the lessons, the love, and the hope He has given me for how He wants to use it for His glory.

Showing off my bravery by eating new foods--pulpo de gallego, a Spanish favorite (Octopus Galician style)

Showing off my bravery by eating new foods–pulpo de gallego, a Spanish favorite (Octopus Galician style)

Breaking the Silence & Letting Go

Two months after my return from Spain I still haven’t been able to piece together what to write about how my trip relates to the continuation of my story in “Journeys to Mother Love”.  Over the last few years I’ve openly blogged about it and told my friends how significant this trip was for me.

I was meeting Rosa after three years of waiting, praying, emailing, Skyping and planning.  She learned English to facilitate our face to face communications.  Except for the post I wrote about my first day in Spain, I have been silent about that part of my trip, and the writing in general.

At the Alcala Gate with Rosa, Madrid.

At the Alcala Gate with Rosa, Madrid.

As a writer, that silence on my blog feels deafening.  I had so much expectancy for this trip and so much riding on the outcome.  I even wrote a post on journeystomotherlove.com, A Match Made in Heaven, on my anticipation for this journey.  But now I am struggling with what and how to write about it.  Writer’s block?  Maybe, but I’m inclined to think there is more to it.

Letting go of Expectations

Early on in my trip, I realized I had to let go of the expectation that I would write about Rosa’s side of the story—what happened in Spain when prayers were sent from America in the midst of her sorrow.  While Rosa showed me places that were significant with her side of the story, like her parents’ home (which was also her childhood home) and the church where her mother’s funeral was held, God revealed to me that the story I am to tell is more about my journey.  Rosa was a conduit for my healing.  We were both blessed by our mutual encouragement and prayers. 

Taking the tram with Rosa from Soller to Palma, Mallorca, for a day of sightseeing.

Taking the tram with Rosa from Soller to Palma, Mallorca, for a day of sightseeing.

When I stepped on Spanish soil I was ready to experience the trip of a lifetime.  I was open to experiencing God in a new way.  I had already let go of so many expectations—like not professionally speaking while there and not having the Spanish translation of my story published in advance.  I decided to trust God for His purposes for this trip.

While I was in Spain, the Lord slowly stripped me of much more.  The biggest thing for me to surrender was how much my identity has been wrapped up in my writing and the publishing of my story.  I went with the expectation that people in Spain could relate to my story, like they have in America.  I was grateful for the few opportunities to give away copies of Journeys to Mother Love.  Outside of those times, I felt very invisible as a writer and in my faith.  A lot of that was also because I didn’t know the language well enough either.

One copy of my book graces the book shelves at my apartment in the Port of Soller, with the best reading view of the Mediterranean, August 2013.

One copy of my book graces the book shelves at my apartment in the Port of Soller, with the best reading view of the Mediterranean, August 2013.

Before I was a published author, I knew God wanted to use my story.  I knew He was making me bold (witness my blog name).  But being in Spain led me to question much of that and my writing.

In hindsight, I think a lot of it had to do with the cultural and spiritual differences between our countries.  They became more real and visible to me.  I know now that the only way I could see that and understand it was to be stripped of that part of me and my voice.  It was a painful process—one I’m still trying to integrate.  I know He is transforming me again.

Moving Forward

42 days is a long time to explore a country.  I had the most amazing escapades while in Spain with my host family.  I had wonderful adventures in Madrid, Toledo, Segovia, Granada, Cordoba, Seville and on the island of Mallorca.  I have 5,000 photos that bring my trip and so many special memories back to life for me.

In time some of that will show up on my blog.  I don’t doubt that God wants to use my story or this trip in some way.  He has given me new insights into my journey.  He has given me new insights into the writing process.  Meanwhile, I am clinging to my identity as a child of God and learning to let go (again).  I am grateful for the journey—the good and the bad—and what lies ahead.

Do I want to know what that is?  Am I nervous about it?  Do I want to control it?  Absolutely!  I can only take one day at a time and trust that He’ll use the story He is crafting in me to inspire others to turn healing into hope.  As He does, I know He’ll release me to break more of the silence along the way.

Farewell dinner at my apartment in the Port of Soller, Mallorca, Spain.

Farewell dinner at my apartment in the Port of Soller, Mallorca, Spain.

España Update 9 ~ Home Sweet Home

Homeward bound—Seattle, Washington.  My day of travel started over 16 hours earlier with a bittersweet farewell between me and my Spanish family.  Now I was at JFK International Airport in New York after completing two flights, surviving a bomb scare in Madrid, and avoiding an international incident on my transatlantic flight.

Re-checking my Luggage

As I departed the U.S. Customs area with my 100 pounds of luggage, minus the confiscated Iberian ham, I had a decision to make.  Do I immediately re-check my baggage for my final flight or do I follow my suspicions and search my luggage to determine if anything was stolen?

Seeing the Starbucks at JFK airport was a welcome reminder that I was almost home.

Seeing the Starbucks at JFK airport was a welcome reminder that I was almost home.

Why do I think I was robbed?  During the inspection by the U.S. Customs agent, I noticed my belongings were strewn around in my suitcase with receipts scattered amongst my clothes.  When I packed my suitcase the night before, they were wrapped up in a jewelry bag.  The thought of it gave me a sick feeling in my gut.

As I mulled over my options, I followed the crowd and queued up in the line to re-check my baggage.  The line was moving swiftly, and it was looming large behind me.  Before I knew it, I was at the head of the line.  I was so exhausted and emotionally beat up after my Customs experience, I just didn’t have it in me to re-open my suitcase and face my fear.  I plopped my suitcases on the conveyor belt and pushed any thoughts about my jewelry and personal belongings being stolen out of my mind.

The Last Leg

Thankfully the layover at JFK was void of any further airport hassles or problems.  The time passed quickly as I ate, then emailed, phoned, and texted friends and family while charging my mobile phone.  I was exhausted yet thrilled to speak in English and connect with the voices of people I hadn’t communicated with in six weeks.

My flight from JFK to Seattle was uneventful, but it seemed to last for an eternity.  The 5½ hour flight was on a Boeing 737 where I was squished like a sardine.  Compared to the Airbus A330 from Madrid, I was feeling very claustrophobic, and sleep was very haphazard.  I missed the start of the movie and my mind was done with writing after hammering out seven pages on my flights.

Seattle welcoming committee

Seattle welcoming committee

It was nighttime as the plane descended into SeaTac International Airport.  I’d been chasing the sun for the last 24 hours of travel.  And now I was watching the city lights of the beautiful Seattle skyline below.  “Almost home”, I thought as I fought the tears welling up inside of me.

A Musical Reminder of Spain

On the way to meet my family at the baggage carousel, I made a stop in the ladies room.  While in there, I was totally caught off-guard when I heard one of Pedro’s compositions playing.  “Oh my gosh,” I thought as my adrenaline spiked through the roof.  “How is it possible that his music is playing on the sound system?”

I laughed out loud when I figured out that it was really just the ringtone on my cell phone.  I hadn’t heard my phone ring in six weeks.  On top of that, I had inadvertently changed my ringtone while in Spain.  Laughter aside, it reminded me of the potential of his music and that being broadcast more publicly is just a matter of time.  After all, he signed his first contract to compose for an American full feature film while I was in Spain.

Family Homecoming

I was a puddle of tears when I met my family at the baggage claim.  I clung to my 16-year old son and hugged him lovingly.  “Hola” may have been the first words out of my mouth, but I reverted back to my American hugs versus the European double cheek-kiss that I’d become accustomed to over the last six weeks.  I needed those first few lingering hugs from my son and my husband.

Although I was exhausted and more than ready to head to bed, I knew I had a big surprise awaiting me at home.  While I was gone in Spain, my home was undergoing a major renovation.  My family endured a complete remodel of the kitchen and two bathrooms.  They had been putting the finishing touches on the house in time for the big unveiling when I walked in the door.  It was a beautiful homecoming gift.

Welcomed home and back to America with a bouquet of flowers and a new kitchen.

Welcomed home and back to America with a bouquet of flowers and a new kitchen.

Facing my Worst Travel Fear

After a restless night of sleep and an early awakening by the sunlight, I knew I had to face my fear lurking inside my luggage.  Was anything stolen from my suitcase?  The quick answer to that is yes.

Almost everything was gone from that jewelry bag—nothing of great monetary value, but the pieces were from places I’d traveled in my life that had significance to me.  Thankfully I was wearing the necklace Rosa gave me while traveling (the one I reference in my published story).  I was also wearing a special charm bracelet that connects me to Rosa.  I was relieved when I found out that the thieves missed a second bag of jewelry buried in my clothes and some new jewelry pieces I bought in Spain.

My new Mallorcan pearls survived the theft.

My new Mallorcan pearls survived the theft.

It took me a few weeks of phone calls with the airlines to file a claim and find out that none of my stolen items were covered by insurance.  Going through that process was like being robbed and defiled all over again, but it gave me the closure I needed so I could put it all behind me.

Final Travel Thoughts

Returning back to America on day 42 of my travel adventure had nowhere near the excitement I had when I ended my flights in Spain on my first day.  There was no adrenaline rush to keep me going—only exhaustion, physical illness, and unpleasant travel memories.

My trip to Spain changed me internally and now it was as if these external factors—a bomb scare, my confiscated Iberian ham, and finally my stolen jewelry—were trying to rob me of my joy and leave me with an unfavorable parting impression of Spain.

These physical events have served as fodder on my blog, but they also have much deeper significance.  I hope it serves as a reminder of the choices we have to make when things don’t go the way we expect.  We can blame others, ourselves, or even God.

I know that my circumstances don’t define me.  It is my identity in Christ that does.  While the thieves physically robbed me of my jewelry, my identity in Christ remained intact.

My trip to Spain has changed me in ways I can’t even fully articulate yet—with emotional and spiritual insights and healing.  I am being made new and choosing to boldly follow him in the adventure.  I hope and pray you will too.

My final day in Spain and the view from my apartment, Port of Soller, Mallorca

My final day in Spain and the view from my apartment, Port of Soller, Mallorca

~ This completes my “España Update” blog series, but not my intermittent writing about Spain.  If this is your first time visiting my blog, you can start reading about my Spanish travels here

In the Blink of an Eye

Three months ago when I stepped on Spanish soil, I had to make many decisions about how to live in that country. I had to quickly adapt without the benefit of having my American family or friends with me. I chose to fully immerse myself in everything Spain.

I put aside my allergen sensitive diet and ate most everything I was offered. At first I didn’t notice any dramatic symptoms. I was fighting the heat, dehydration, and jet lag. I guess I was dealing with culture shock as well, but didn’t realize it at the time.

“You made it to Spain! You are experiencing the trip of your life. Don’t miss a second of it.” Those were the words that kept me going. Adapt, adapt, adapt. Push, push, push. “It’s only six weeks,” I reminded myself. All the while that I partook, my body registered everything that was happening.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

My trip of a lifetime, seeing sights like the Roman aqueduct from the 1st century, Segovia, Spain.

Now That I’m Home

I returned home from Spain in early August and was again dealing with adjustments back to my American lifestyle and diet. But after the first few weeks, I didn’t bounce back to my old normal self. I knew something was physically wrong. A trip to the naturopath confirmed what I suspected. My Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) was in relapse.

I’ve been here before. I know it is a slow process to get back up and running to a normal pace—one that includes lots of self-care, body work, and giving myself grace to not push so hard. I have no regrets. It just goes to show that you never know when or how things can suddenly change in your life.

Back in Spain

Case in point, a few weeks after I left Spain, Rafa, Pedro’s father, had a stroke. It came as a big shock to me and, of course, to their entire family. Thankfully Rafa got treatment right away. He is doing much better and a full recovery is expected.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Queen for a day, with Rafa as my escort at the Royal Palace in Madrid.

Naturally it took me back to the fears I had after my mother’s stroke. She never regained her speech or use of the right side of her body. It also felt like déjà vu to me as I lit a candle in the Catholic Church for Rafa and fervently prayed for this family. My heart ached for Rosa again, and for the burden that fell upon the family while still caretaking for Perico, Rosa’s father.

On the bright side, I was so grateful to have personally met Rafa before this happened. I was thankful for the many special times I had with this family, and Rafa in particular.

Rafa was a wonderful host and tour guide while on my travels throughout Spain. He is an avid shutterbug like me and took lots of great photos of my trip.  He was also my protector in many ways—even going so far as to escort me one Sunday morning on the subway so I could attend a Protestant Church service. I am thankful for his generosity to me and am praying for his continued recovery.

GOD-NEVER-BLINKSIn the Blink of an Eye

A few years ago, I used to have a tag line as part of my email signature block that read: Everything can change in the blink of an eye. But don’t worry; God never blinks. (Regina Brett) It was a little reminder to trust God when things didn’t go as I expected.

Nothing surprises God. He knows what lies ahead for us. It is up to us how we are going to respond to it.

As I am coming out of denial and learning to accept what I did to my body again, I am believing in God’s promises and clinging to the hope that He offers. His words to me, and others who are hurting in physical and emotional ways, are from a familiar Bible verse: “but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” (Isaiah 40:31, NIV)

I can blink without worry because my hope is in the Lord.

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    I'm an author, writer, speaker, mentor & mom. I've struggled to find my voice all my life as I lived in the shadows of a mother with mental illness. Thankfully that was not the legacy that she handed down to me. It took a lot of recovery and deep healing work to rise above it.

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