Category Archives: Family

I Do NOT Accept the Terms and Conditions -4 Years Later Part 2

(On November 21, 2012 my mother, Angela Griego passed away. She had a long fought battle with breast cancer. These posts are reflections and honest emotions that I have felt over the past 4 years.)

Denial was my friend, my badge, my shield when my mom first got sick. I knew the situation was serious but accepting and knowing are two different things. In my mind there would always be “another treatment method” for her to go with. I could not imagine losing her so soon, it had to be in a far off distant future. So for me denial was the pace I lived. I would pray and I would hope that she would get better, but at the same time the reality facing her was something I refused to accept.

I still do not know how to accept this reality. I have learned to live in it, but I do not want to accept it. How does someone accept that a person they loved so much, a person that was so close to them, that they would call almost everyday was no longer there. How do you accept that your mother is going to get ravaged by a disgusting disease that will not stop and that who’s only medicine is a poison yourself to try to poison it. How do you cope with such pain, such reality?

I knew the “christian” answer, and understood, at least, the concept that God is sovereign and in control. How does one though accept the reality that this is “His will” for someone you love so much? How do you not want to yell, scream and fight against this reality?

Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane asked God to remove this cup of suffering, the pain, agony and darkness He was about to face. He did say “not my will, but yours”, and he went, he died, he knew why, he knew the outcome, and he had a resurrection. My mom prayed similarly, and she died, she will have a resurrection and we wait, but to what purpose was her death. Jesus died for sin, my mom? She died for….

Maybe the answer is not to accept, but to hope defiantly against the darkness. Maybe we are not supposed to just click the “I accept the terms and conditions” button on life’s sufferings, Perhaps we are to rage, to shout into the darkness, to yell that we do not get it, but we wait. Not because we want to know now, but because we hurt now.

I know the reality, that my mom is not here now with us. That I cannot call her and ask her so many normal everyday questions I have. I know that Angelina will not meet her here and now, and that for my other kids Nana is a memory becoming more distant by the day. I know she died and breathed her last, I was there when she did. I do not accept this though, I do not welcome this, I yell in the darkness saying , this is not how it will end, this is not how the story goes. I yell my confusion, my pain, my anguish at times, and in that yelling, there is hope. Hope that this is not the end, this is not how the story goes, that this is just intermission for her, for us, and one day we will see the ending, and it will be something not just to accept, but to embrace.

4 Years of Questions, Prayers and More Questions

On November 20th, 2012 my mother passed away after a long fight with breast cancer. This fight had been her second go around against cancer. She originally was diagnosed with it in 1999. After several rounds of chemo the cancer had gone into remission. In 2009 it had returned, only this time it spread to many areas of her body. In the summer of 2012 after many treatments along with ups and downs it was determined that the we had run out of treatment options. 5 months later my mother passed away.

4 years seems like a long time. 4 years seems like a blink of an eye. All of it depends on perspective.

I have faced darkness, depression, pain, questions, suffocating doubt and anger. I have felt joy, comfort, relief and hope. There are no stages to this type of grief, well if there are stages I have really messed them up.

So in an effort to talk about this, and maybe help someone going through anything similar, I want to share some of my journey. It will be raw, it will be honest, and a times may seem really sad, but that is what these past four years have felt like. There is also hope, but hope, I realize, only exists because pain, darkness and despair do too.

I remember about a month after my mom past away I told people “It does not get better, it is just a new normal”,  so what I will be writing this month will be a bit of a look into some of the realities of this “new normal”.

 

Time to Disengage

 

 

We are by far the most connected and social engaged generation in history. Social networking has allowed us to live open before others in ways unlike any other time in history. I dove into social networking headfirst, I have shared thoughts, pictures, quotes I have read and other trivial bits of information readily and steadily.  In many ways this has been a good thing, but in many ways I have found that it has also become a bad thing. I have found that my sin, my idolatry, with wanting to always be “in the loop” or even wanting to see who liked this or that in which I posted has become idolatry and a serious distraction from my care for my soul, my family and my church. This has happened in a few ways that I think the Bible actually speaks out against:

 

“Look at me!!”  “Look at my kids!!!”

 

But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you. Matthew 6:3–4 (ESV)

 

 

I wonder if a way we can see this today is “don’t let your left hand know what your right hand is doing because your left hand will tweet, Instagram, Facebook about it”. I know this is true for me. I have become so consumed at times with wanting to share something about my kids, my studying or my life in general. Not only share but because I am prideful and I want people to validate me through “likes” and retweets my emotions can be affected by the amount of “likes” and interaction I get with each post. I am always looking for something to share that I am in danger of not fully enjoying my kids or the sunset but thinking of what filter, how many #’s to attach or what funny status I will add to what is going on.

 

Jesus calls us to live a life on mission but that is also marked with time before God, where we share with Him more than we share with the world. I have seen the opposite in my life. Instead of meditating on God’s beauty in His creation and silently contemplating, I am quickly going to Instagram instead.

 

 

Face-to-Face Is Crucial to Community

 

24 And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, 25 not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. Hebrews 10:24–25 (ESV)

 

I am by nature more of an introvert. So the fact that I can interact with people without actually having to be physically with them is awesome. Awesome and seriously lacking in the real, in person interaction we actually need. God designed us to want community, to know and be known. This cannot truly happen online. In fact the danger is that I can present such a side of myself that is a far cry from reality that I’m not truly known. True community happens over a meal and a good conversation, not over a status or retweets. It happens over time as people watch my life and I watch others and as we speak into each other’s stories.

 

This is especially crucial with the well-being of my family. As I lead my family I must seek out the hearts of my wife and my kids, I simply cannot do that while updating a status or “liking” someone else’s status, picture, or tweet.

 

Not Sin But Not Best

 

23 “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up. 1 Corinthians 10:23 (ESV)

 

Social Networking is a distraction. It is a distraction from times of prayer, times of good conversation with my family, and talking to actual people. It is a distraction from reading for the growth of my soul and good of the church. It is a distraction from the important things in my life right now.

 

I am blessed to be pastor of a young church in Rio Rancho, and behind my walk with the Lord,  leading my wife and kids, my priority and focus must be on the good of the church. I must devote more time to studying to preach, studying to guide as well as meeting and encouraging others through prayer and fellowship. I also must spend time on mission to see lives change and honestly lives don’t change by me sharing a picture of my lunch, but it happens through my full engagement with others offline.

 

What now?

I am going to take a break for the rest of May from regular engagement in social networks. I want to spend more time engaged with people in real life, engaged in God’s word and engaged in the building up of Redemption Church. After that I am not sure but know it will look different than it has.

 

I want to share less and live more, truly live for God’s glory and I know that means stepping away from Social Networks. I want to learn about people’s lives by actually talking and being with them not just through pics and small updates.

 

I hope to write more on this blog and on Redemption’s blog, I hope to provide the people of Redemption with more of my attention, and I hope to be the husband and dad that God has called me to be, regular Social Networking doesn’t fit into this.

 

I do not in any way, by sharing this, mean to tell others that they should share my convictions about how they do Social Networking, but rather I do hope it challenges you to look at your heart, look at your time online and pray for guidance in this.

 

For the rest of May the only updates you will see from me on Facebook or Twitter will be in regards to posts I write here or at redemptionchurch.cc, I will interact with comments made about these posts too.

To learn more about what is happening at Redemption Church you should also go like the Redemption Church Facebook page here.

 

I will not be checking my FB, twitter or Instagram, in fact I am deleting them from my phone.

 

Does this freak me out? Is it going to be hard? Yes, even typing this has been hard. I have a fear of missing out on something, or not being part of some interaction. It is because I feel so nervous and stressed about disengaging from social networks that I know it is needed.

 

If you do want to DM me on Twitter or send me a private message on Facebook I will respond, but for a quicker response you can reach me through email at carlos (at) redemptionchurch (dot) cc

 

Otherwise, see ya, hopefully in person, around!

 

One more thing, I hesitated to press publish on this post today, I saved it and then looked at Facebook, it was there I saw the video below. After watching it I decided, nerves and all, to hit publish.

 

 

 

 

That Time Your Daughter Declares She Has A Boyfriend

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“Your daughter was telling her class that she has a boyfriend” were the words that I heard from my daughter’s teacher. With those words I realized I have entered into another level of parenthood. Oh, and did I mention this was in Sunday school class and I am a pastor, yeah.  I had known for a while that there was a boy in her class who liked her, who would come over to our house to ask if she could play. I knew that sooner or later this would come up, although I figured she would be 14 not 8 when it did. So what is a father to do? Here are a few things that I have, as her dad, thought about and learned from this.

I am sure there will be plenty more and some of these may be wrong, but I figured I am wanting to be more honest and vulnerable so here ya go.

Jokes are fun, and parenting is hard.

I was one who did the who “dad with a shotgun” type of jokes when she was younger. That was before there was a chance of her having a boyfriend, now that’s all changed. My first thought was not “I need a gun”, but was “How do I talk about this with her”. I could just slam down the law of “no boys”, for some reason that just seemed simplistic and would in the long run do more damage.

 Words have meaning.

I realized that my little girl had feelings that she was trying to attach words to. Words like “boyfriend”, “crush” and “love”. In her declaring a boyfriend she was expressing new feelings. As I talked with her and worked through what she meant I understood that my little girl is entering a new part of growing up and working through what it all means.

 Slow to dismiss.

Knowing that she was trying to describe all this new dynamics of boy/girl relationships I also knew that dismissing her feelings was unwise and unloving. My daughter had real feelings and talking to mom and dad about these feelings and letting us in is something that I need to encourage.

 Make it safe to share.

The biggest concern I had was not that she had a boyfriend, or who this boy was but why she told her friends and not us, her parents. What was she worried about, what did she fear? She also knew that we had told her that she was not yet allowed to have a boyfriend so it could have been just disobedience, but I believe there is more under the surface. I strive to make our home a safe place for honest discussion and open-mindedness. In other words I never want my kids to fear coming to me with questions and doubts about life, faith or anything else. I am still working through this one and have been praying for wisdom in this too.

In the end we did have her tell this boy that we feel she is not ready to have a boyfriend yet, as in the actual title boyfriend. We did not ban him from the house or say she cannot hang with him, because again I want her to work through all this, not hide or be afraid of it. Other parents who are wiser would probably do something different but this is what we have decided to do and this is who we are, messy parents trying to figure this whole parenthood thing out.

My Daughter’s Slumber Party: Lessons from the Frontlines

This past weekend we celebrated Jordyn’s birthday by welcoming 10 girls over for a slumber party. This was the first slumber party we have hosted, I am sure not the last. While I knew it would be crazy, I really had no idea what to expect. Below are a few lessons I learned.

 

1. Girl Drama Is Something That Scares Me.

I mean like really scares me. There was not much drama, but a there were a couple of minor instances that I came across, and honestly I had no idea what to do. When my daughter cries I feel I can handle it well, discuss and help her, but when a few girls cry about various things I felt like a deer in headlights. It just made me thankful for my wife who can handle such situations, and for having an office where I could go and hide at those moments.

 

2. Girls Know Pop Songs.

We decided to have a dance party. Which meant me throwing on the “Kidz Bop” Pandora station. This station consisted of pop hits that are fun to dance to. Without reading the song and artist title I am pretty sure I was unable to name any of them. The girls however, that is a different stories, they were able to sing the lines, talk about versions on YouTube and give brief bios on the artist. It was impressive, and made me feel old, like “I’m like my dad” old.

 

3. Boys Wanna Have Fun.

My boys who are 5 and 4 had a blast. They loved dancing, in fact Cody seemed to find his calling as a future raver, and playing the games with the girls. It was a sweet fun of just playing with their sister’s friends. It did occur to me that eventually they will be excited for Jordyn’s slumber parties for entirely different reasons, and for that I need to be prepared and ready to have some dad-son talks. For now though it is all about the rave, at least for Glowstick Cody.

 

4. Technology and Kids

One of the older girls brought her smart phone and was pulling up games and videos. Another girl asked her if she had an instagram account. This made me realize that part of parenting today is interacting and guiding use of technology. Our kids will need to be proficient in technology if they want to succeed, but the danger lies in being proficient and being addicted. My kids are just wading into these waters, we limit the use of apps and games quite a bit, maybe too much, but I know that as time goes this will be something we will have to think long and hard about.

 

5. Little Kids are Crazy and Awesome.

It was a tiring, crazy and noisy experience. Girls were still awake past midnight talking and giggling. There was lots of running around and craziness. Seeing parents arrive to pick up their girls was somewhat like Christmas morning. However in the midst of it all, it also was something to enjoy and savor. My little girl is 8, yeah 8! I know soon I will be saying 18, and so for the time being I am going to enjoy the crazy, messy and noisy life of having a 8-year-old girl and 5 and 4-year-old boys, oh and one little girl on the way. Time moves too fast to not just sit in the loud, crazy mess and just smile sometimes.

 

Vacation With The In-Laws

I once heard someone say that the top 3 issues that can cause strife in a marriage are sex, money and in-laws. I think the first 2 seem obvious in that they can cause strife, but it is the 3rd one, in-laws, that we joke about but can really cause pain and hardships in marriage. In fact even when I joked about this post on Twitter I received advice to be cautious in how I word it. Last week I took a vacation with my wife’s family, brothers and all, and I learned some valuable lessons when it comes to a relationship with your in-laws.

 

Before I do, let me just say, I am blessed to have a great relationship with my amazing in-laws. They are generous, patient and loving, never once has there been a time when I felt real tension as I know many do. For this I am thankful and truly blessed.

 

Ok here are 3 lessons I learned by spending 5 days with my in-laws:

 

1. Pride is Deadly

Ok we all know that to be true, but it is really true when it comes to being with the family you married into for 5 days. I found myself at times being overly sensitive in how I perceived I was being listened to. Instead of giving others the benefit of the doubt I found myself getting frustrated quicker. This also came out when I felt that my wife would side with her family over me. These were not big issues, most the time they were small little things, like where to eat for lunch, but what it revealed in me is a deep pride and lingering idol of control that I still must fight.

 

2. 2 Become 1 is a Tapestry not a Hostile Takeover

Marriage involves 2 families blending together into a new creation really, a new family. What this means is that characteristics, personalities and traditions from both families coming together and this can get messy. My family was always active, on the go, or when home we were watching TV, usually sports, my wife’s family like to just sit and talk. This past week was a lot of sitting and talking, something at first I was really uncomfortable with. However as the week went I learned to enjoy those moments more and more. It was when I started to let go of “my way” and appreciating new ways of just being. There are still quirks and differences that at times can cause conflict but I am learning that I need to learn to compromise just as much, if not more so, as my wife in those moments.

 

3. My Family

This was huge this week. Yes I have been married for over 8 years and should have had this already figured out and in theory I did, but it took on flesh this past week. I still had lived viewing my in-laws as “her family”, but after spending a concentrated amount of time I realized and embraced that this was “my family”. These were not just my wife’s family, this was my family, I loved them, they loved me and that realization changed everything. I am more willing to forgive, speak up, love, enjoy being with my family than with “her family”. Seeing them as my family allowed me to feel more comfortable being me and adding my voice to the family.

 

In the end I believe that working, fighting for and cultivating a healthy and joyful relationship with your in-laws is crucial. It is crucial not just for a happy marriage, but for your own sake as well.