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Why Can’t I Make it All Better?

On this day in 2001, we all grieved as a nation. We grieved for thousands of people that we didn’t even know. I keep this panoramic shot on my fridge, because I know it is important to remember September 11th. This morning I snapped a shot of it on my phone, ready to share it on social media as a token of remembrance and sympathy, but I wanted to change it. I wanted to punch it up visually and to make it stand out, because it was an old memory. It was a photo taken from a digital camera by my teenage self in the year 1999. It has started to become dingy and faded. As I scrolled through my photo editing choices, the filter entitled “memory” seemed appropriate. The gray and cracked skyline seems to be disappearing, just like our memories. In an effort to digitally accentuate an old picture, it looks even older, but hauntingly beautiful. What an interesting window into our reality. We are starting to forget. 9/11 is becoming just as the filter says. A memory. Yet people are still grieving, with no hope of their grief ever fading away.

Anytime I have loved ones struggling with grief, I want to make it all better. I want the right words of comfort and hope to pour out of me like a fountain. Rarely does it happen. I hesitate to offer condolences, because I don’t know what to say or how to say it. Will they be bitter with me if I text instead of call? Sometimes I offer to cook meals for them, even though I have no idea if my bank account agrees that I can. Sometimes I rack my brain for days and days about how stupid I was to say whatever it was I said and that I probably made matters worse. I want to punch up the picture. A picture of tears and wailing and despair. I want to bring light to a clouded soul. Some days I can see it as an exercise in futility. There isn’t anything I can do. People are suffering and nothing I say or do will change the past. We can post all of these heartfelt messages and promise to never forget, and it is beautiful that we can come together, but what happens tomorrow? Political squabbles continue, people will lose jobs and crimes will be committed Divorce, poverty, pettiness, abortion, suicide, still remain. Grief is still all around us. Honestly, I hate the world right now. I hate that I don’t have millions of dollars to feed the hungry. I hate that I can’t speak comfort to everyone who is hurting. I hate that this world is a picture of darkness and evil. But what emphasizes this, is sadly, social media. We wouldn’t be as exposed to it if we didn’t check it multiple times a day. Social media digs us deep into despair. It also digs into our anxiety while we compare our lives to other people’s “filtered happiness” which hides the same grief and helplessness everyone feels. We want our lives to look beautiful. We want to stand out, but it will fade. In time it will just be another memory.

The Bible says to be still. I don’t want to be still while there is so much pain. It was comforting to read the letter that Paul wrote to the Corinthians. It seemed he didn’t even know what to say when others were hurting either. He struggled to sympathize and comfort as well, but the point is, he expressed his love the best way he could.

I wrote that letter in great anguish, with a troubled heart and many tears. I didn’t want to grieve you, but I wanted to let you know how much love I have for you.
2 Corinthians 2:1‭-‬4 NLT

Jesus has great love for us and even he wept. In our suffering, we can imagine he weeps with us as our comforting Abba Father. Our Jehovah Rafa, our healer. I know the power of prayer and I know that it certainly isn’t futile. We have to have the faith, because with prayer, mountains are moved, enemies are defeated and our grief turns to joy.

I cried by reason of my affliction unto the Lord and He heard me. Jonah 2:2

So you have sorrow now, but I will see you again; then you will rejoice, and no one can rob you of that joy.
John 16:22 NLT

“Sorrow may come in the darkest night, but the Cross has the final word.”-Cody Carnes

A Mother’s Sound of Silence

Alternative lyrics to the popular song by Simon & Garfunkel and Disturbed.

Hello, laundry my old friend. I’ve come to not fold you again. You see it’s been almost eleven weeks. And the children’s room already reeks. And I’ve forgotten which ones are dirty and which ones are clean….I need caffeine…is that the sound…of fighting?

I quickly tell the kids time out. They won’t tell me what it’s about. While they push and shove they cry and shriek. Bloody noses and a blue bruised cheek, and then they punch… my favorite coffee cup out of my hand…and there I stand…frozen in…the silence.

And so I quickly run away. I just can’t do it all today. I slam the bathroom door and hide myself. Grab my chocolate stash on that high shelf. The kids come knocking, scream “Mommy mommy! Let me in!…so I begin…to say a prayer…then silence.

Bedtime finally has come. The daily mom work is all done. My baby cuddles into my right cheek. His snoring sounds like little mousy squeaks. And I smile, because I’ll gladly do it all again. Keep momming, friends…this is a rare…sweet silence.

Epilogue: Just for Fun

The Blame Game (to the tune of The Name Game) His fault his fault, no her fault nyah nyah nyah nyah nyah your fault nuh- uh his fault! Her fault! The Blaaaaaaame Gaaaaaame.

Because I Said So (to the tune of I Love Rock N Roll) Because I said so, now go clean your room, don’t you argue baby! Because I said so, and don’t you even roll your eyes at me!

Momercise: Goals

I went to check the mail. I was only outside for two minutes, yet the hot desert sun made me crave a shower. A buff woman in pink spandex jogged by. “Is she crazy?!” I thought to myself. How on earth can anyone exercise in 106 degree weather without melting into a puddle of sweaty goo?” After many days like this, which kept me inside and ignoring my fitness goals, it finally happened: The kids and I stepped off our doorstep and felt the coolness of an overcast day. I was determined not to waste it. After dropping the kids off, I quickly rushed home, had a small breakfast and went for a walk. It felt wonderful. I felt so accomplished, and then another overcast morning followed and I did it again. My body quickly told me, “Whoa! Whoa! Whoa! This isn’t what you do. Here, notice your shortness of breath and your arches are tingling. You should stop. Enjoy being at home on your own. Netflixsssssssss and chiiiillllll” This voice was familiar.

It was the same voice that will occasionally tell me to give up on my blog. The same voice that points out that I have no business offering advice. The same voice that tells me to not even bother taking the time to write, because nobody cares. It is time to shut up that voice and replace it with a voice of encouragement and positivity. Exercise goals and writing goals are not too different. Each goal I can compare based on approach, technique, and fulfilment.

Approach: Consistency vs. Distraction

Many times I’ve had my pen and journal in hand, ready to write like the wind, but I pass by the playroom and my skin itches to remedy the clutter instead. Sometimes I have had a healthy breakfast and a healthy lunch, but then a migraine strikes and the only thing that helps every time is an aspirin and a Coke. #Goalruined.

Technique: Moving is Moving/Writing is Writing

The two days I walked with my kids last week was a slow start, but it was a start. Yesterday, I met my exercise goal for the day. I let my ballroom knowledge take over while I did the dishes and worked up a good sweat. Dancing the Charleston in the middle of Janet Jackson’s Rythm Nation and busting out the samba feels great, even to a Weird Al song. Quick FYI: Just don’t be dumb and think that you’ve worked up enough momentum to pick up a jump rope, especially if, like me, the last time you jumped rope was probably 5th grade. It was a good reminder that I am still slowly setting goals. On the writing front, the keyboard that came with our tablet has not been working, so even now I am all thumbs, typing away to publish on my phone. The fact that I couldn’t use a keyboard kept me from writing for days. Lame excuse, I know, and of course #firstworldproblems. As I’m writing now, I am reminded that writing takes time and even if I slowly express my ideas, it is better than staying silent. And even if technology can delay me from publishing, a writer needs to write SOMETHING every day.

Fulfilment: Choosing Opportunity over Convenience

As I mentioned, I had a good workout the other day. It was enough for me to feel accomplished, so I already decided that today would be exclusively for writing. With car keys in hand, my daughter asked if we could walk to school this morning. My hesitation was evident to her. I could see the please in her eyes before she said it. I had already made a plan and it is hard for me to deviate, but I am so grateful that she asked, because not only did it get me more exercise, but it was perfect quality time with my happy kiddos. What’s funny, is that walking actually can be more convenient on the days I don’t have to drag my kids out of bed or fight school zone traffic. Every day is an opportunity for me to write. It is more convenient for me to play games on my phone or read a book. At least that way I won’t have to second-guess the words I write or risk negative reception from readers. But in the words of Stephen Sondheim: “Opportunity is not a lengthy visitor.”

New Goals: It hasn’t been hard to meet my step goal these past few weeks. My new goal is to not ever waste my housework by slowly folding laundry or spacing out filling the dishwasher. I want to dance every time! I hope to eventually meet my step goal in the middle of my workout, without using the rest of my daily activities to fill it up. Writing goal: To never skip a week of posting again. Below you will find pictures of my latest workout progress. Still slowly starting, but this app is helping me stay positive.

It has been a very long time since I was active for a full 60 minutes. 🙂

Feel the need to join my life soundtrack? Wondering which songs get me up and dancing? Follow me on Spotify. Emily Q Hernandez Be warned: My music taste is incredibly random. You may feel the need to either shake your body in joy or shake your head in judgment.

He Washed My Feet Anyway

I ran. He found me.

I cried. He soothed me.

I cursed. He corrected me.

I wept. He wept.

I sinned. He forgave me.

I tried. He sang for me.

I hurt. He hurt for me.

I was still. He spoke.

I forgot. He reminded me.

I fell. He caught me.

I lost. He loved.

I escaped. He pursued.

I fought Him. I denied Him. I rejected Him.

He washed my feet anyway.

If I ride the wings of the morning, if I dwell by the farthest oceans, even there your hand will guide me, and your strength will support me. I could ask the darkness to hide me and the light around me to become night— but even in darkness I cannot hide from you. To you the night shines as bright as day.
Psalms 139:9‭-‬12 NLT

Jesus replied, “You don’t understand now what I am doing, but someday you will.” “No,” Peter protested, “you will never ever wash my feet!” Jesus replied, “Unless I wash you, you won’t belong to me.”
John 13:7‭-‬8 NLT

Momercise: Budget, Health and Body Image

I knew that my short grocery list was not going to remain short. My husband and I work very hard to keep the grocery budget at the same amount every week. Whenever I try to look up a healthy, cheap meal on the Internet, when they label them as “budget friendly,” I question to whose budget they are referring? Usually if the recipe calls for taragon, it’s a budget breaker. Week after week I buy spaghetti, mac and cheese, and frozen nuggets, because they are affordable. There is a guilt about sticking to these meals, because without a side of veggies, it isn’t very nutritious. I am very thankful that both my kids (that’s right I said BOTH) like broccoli, so I claim that as a little victory every once in awhile. But when it comes to buying healthier food for my husband and I, it seems that we can’t have our cake and eat it to, (even the gluten-free kind). Chicken breast can go a long way, when it comes to healthy meals, but ground beef fits the budget. Lasagna has a lot of calories, but try to make it vegetarian and it racks up the dollar signs. I know a good number of my mom pals will back me up when I say, convenience will almost always win vs. healthy meals. And yes, I know there are these wonderful things called coupons and cashback apps that can change everything. Yes, salads are easy and affordable. It is no secret.

You all know, I’ve made the decision to slowly focus on a healthier lifestyle. Yes, it keeps getting slower and slower. Life happens. It is a struggle to teach the kids to be healthy, and at the same time avoid certain language so that they don’t view food in a negative way. Fat is a four-letter word in my vocabulary. I know that if I call myself fat or obsess over counting calories, my little spongy kiddos will absorb the attitude and learn from it. They are not at an the age where they should be worrying about pounds and calories. And what age is okay, while we are at it? It doesn’t matter how many years go by, we still hold on to the lie that image is everything.

The picture above is from my senior year of high school. I remember it vividly. It was 60’s Day. As the picture snapped I was sucking in my poochy belly, thinking that my little 110 lb. self was fat. That day there was a variety of tie-dyed beautifully sculpted flower power girls walking through the halls. On the outside I said things like, “They’re violating the school dress code, but whatever.” On the inside I was envious. I longed to have a body that would be worthy of hip-hugging bell bottoms and fringe lined belly shirts.

I thought all of that was behind me, but just a few weeks ago while I was getting ready for church, that high school mentality came roaring back to life. Outfit after outfit felt snug on me. Every time I looked in the mirror, my insides screamed, “Frumpy! Frumpy! Frumpy!” The clock was ticking closer to the time we had to leave and the piles of clothes on my floor grew bigger and bigger. Then the tornado of emotions spewed out. “How ungrateful am I? I have clothes while others have none. I’m made in God’s image after all. Who cares what others think? But this wasn’t snug on me last week…I’m so lazy…I’m fat. Don’t let your kids hear you cry. I will never be healthy…what time is it? AUUUUUGHHHHH!”

There is a chapter in the Bible that has comforted me since that day. In Paul’s letter to the Colossians he urges them to “Put on” things like: “tender hearted mercies, charity, forgiveness, kindness, meekness and longsuffering.” These are the clothes that matter. He goes on to say “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts…and be ye thankful.”

I want to feel healthy. I don’t need a six-pack and I don’t need to eat kale 3 times a day for this to happen. I’ve felt healthy before and I can do it again. I know I promised updates every week, and now that both kids are in school, I hope to have more time to write and get back to my healthy goals. I urge you all, don’t give into societal body image expectations. If you make a decision to be healthy, don’t make it an idol. Don’t give into the guilt because your bank balance won’t allow for nutritious food. Be fed and feed your families as best you know how.