“A Few Bite Size Morsels”

I would like to think that beneath my everyday sweatshirt, hoodie and t-shirt my supermom cape always soaked up the perspiration from the commotion of the daily grind. Under the façade of calm and collectedness, lay a thin membrane of “I-have-no-idea-what-I’m-doing.” And like a hidden camisole that smoothed out the imperfections below the outer surface, I prayed that my children would not see me frazzled beyond the usual level of frazzle. They trusted me with all they had and I was not about to let them down.

But let’s face it, mama, 99.9% of the time we were riding on a prayer.

I remember bringing our first born home from the hospital, with her in my arms I sat on the sofa and looked at my husband and said something like, “Now what?” He gave me the shrugged shoulders and turned up palms response.

The inquisitive minds of these tiny brains made me wonder how much they really knew without letting on. They say that as adults we only use about 2% of our brain. So, is that to say we are regressing, and that as young, uninhibited children we use far more because we just don’t have the same fear blocking our thought processes? We learn to fear as a result of our environment and the people we encounter. Negativity and poor experiences pave the way for us to formulate conclusions about things that might happen if we say, behave or respond in certain ways. We “do adult” and refrain and hold back from speaking up when maybe we should use our voices. Some of us miss the chapter on appropriate behavior and tact and the outcome is a spewing out of words and actions that cause many to go running or putting on boxing gloves and entering a ring ready to meet Rocky.

Such a balancing we do in the presence of our children for the sake of teaching them well without making it look like we’re formally teaching. And I know you know what all that meant. Those teachable moments are critical and last a lifetime and go way into the next generation.

I remember asking my mom how to do something over the phone. She very gently said, "Honey, GOD gave you a brain ... use it and you can figure it out." She lovingly allowed me the space to embrace challenges with the confidence to rely on what GOD had already given me. That's the legacy my children have grown to receive. ~ Linda R. Johnson

Just as fashion styles and trends dictate what is hip and acceptable, parenting styles have also experienced the thumbs up and down from one generation to the next. What we valued and prioritized during a specific era may not have the heavily guarded emphasis today. That’s not discounting or negating the way anyone views what they consider priority. The complex demands on young parents in today’s society are far more convoluted and weighty.

Grace and more grace — we must allow space for grace.

Linda R. Johnson

Perhaps, with each passing generation there is an awakening to things previously overlooked. Life experiences, family cultural values, traditions also tend to weigh in heavily on the final collection of current treasures to hand down to the next cluster of GOD’s Image bearers.

"Words From My Mom"
My Mom always tried to keep me looking forward. She never wanted me to get stuck in the difficult or the strained present situation but kept reminding me that, "This too shall pass." Her life experiences proved that things change.
Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9
Today, I would encourage Moms to remember the same. Give it a minute (or a month and watch it change). Look forward, but also look up to your Heavenly Father for guidance. Do your best, and let God do the rest, because He sees your hurt and heartache, your tears and your worries.
This too shall pass ... ~ Debbie Johnson

Legacy … contained within some of the collectibles that we pass down through the generations, in the form of unspoken responses: raised eyebrows, wagging fingers, side-eye glares, arms waving resembling eagles’ wings, eye squints, tapping toes, head tilts, shaking and nodding head gestures, face palming … add yours to the list here. We have them in a sweet treasure chest, but they’re not buried deep enough because we can retrieve them and hurl them out for you to see a nanosecond after we’ve witnessed what we would consider startling behavior.

It is said that people will forget what you said but they will forever remember how you made them feel. I know from personal experience that my tendencies as a people pleaser led me down a trail of running in circles trying to make everyone happy at my own expense — simply because of an off-cuff comment that I allowed to penetrate my thoughts. I had to make a conscious effort and vow to myself to stop that cycle and yank it out of my legacy.

Gracious words are like a honeycomb,

    sweetness to the soul and health to the body. Proverbs 16:24 ESV

We do have the choice to alter that legacy by replacing some of the not-so-pleasant eye-popping reactions with savory words of encouragement and praise so that the hearer can move forward with grace and love for herself and those around her. After all, you cannot give what you do not have.

9-11 God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 The Message

God is known for His second chances, but that doesn't mean it gives you license to mess up. Live a good life but know the Divine Mercy of God is yours. He loves you unconditionally, just like your parents do. So love yourself, too. ~ Amparo Baldemor

I often wonder what Mary’s mother told her. No doubt, she was a woman of faith to have passed on her legacy of living in the truth of GOD’s Word for His People. And Esther’s mom … she unfortunately left this earthly life so early in Esther’s growing up that someone else stepped up to the opportunity to be her parent. What about Ruth’s mother? Living in a country that did not embrace or worship the GOD of Israel, watching her daughter join herself to a family that did. Do you think Ruth’s mother ever heard about the lineage she became apart of?

Inesita, my mom-in-love, left Cuban in 1964, pregnant with my husband. She was trying to get away from the Communism that was taking over the country that she held so dearly to her heart. She came to a strange country, where she only knew a handful of people, BUT GOD was with her. 

She found a job in a sweatshop in Los Angeles as a seamstress, three days after she arrived, and found her church in the first couple of weeks from being here. 

An amazing and beautiful example of what it meant to serve the Lord whole-heartedly and extremely passionate about reaching lost souls, she continued to pour God’s love and His teachings into whoever the Lord put in her path right up until about two weeks before she went to be with the Lord. At 95 years young, her home was still open for a Bible study. She always said, “That just like the Lord, you must feed the body before pouring into the soul.” She would cook, teach, and pray as she led the study. 

As her health declined, my husband and I took on the cooking for the study, while another taught. It was beautiful to see the Lord working in everyone's lives, especially ours. So very blessed to be able to share in her ministry and pass down this beautiful heritage that the Lord has blessed us with to our family and friends. ~ Sharon Lopez-Hidalgo

These perplexing thoughts cause me to want to make an even greater and lasting impact in the lives of those whom the Lord has placed in my journey — with no regard to genetic association or otherwise. My mom exampled that for me as I watched her mentor and take under her wing young women in the various seasons of their lives trying to make some sense of what lay at their feet. Mom demonstrated a kind of Camp David in our dining room. And it was safe; a place of refuge.

There was that familiar invitation to have a seat with her at the dining table over some of her tasty homemade desserts and a cup of coffee. And at that table some of the biggest bags were unpacked and shoulders were unburdened from the weight of what rustled beneath the surface of tear-filled eyes.
I witnessed countless  conversations where the volume had turned down so low that I had to strain to hear the words. Mama's voice never wavered -- she seemed to have the ability to maintain the best poker face I've ever seen. Her calm tone and nonjudgemental gestures always reassuring and affirming. Because they always came back for more time with her. ~ Linda R. Johnson

In an era when superheroes were making their debut, they seemed to forget the Supermom character. Hence, they didn’t consult with a tailor for her cape. But maybe that’s all for the best. That cape comes in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors — much to the resemblance of the woman who wears it. And like her male counterparts, she, too, shows up unexpectedly and ready to save the day.

We wore the clothes that rolled out from that old beloved Singer sewing machine, a product of Simplicity patterns, long hours of stitching and pinning, hand markings and hemming, using fabric remnants from larger but unaffordable yardage pieces. By the grace of GOD, we had dresses that were one-of-a-kind and well-adorned with lace and yards of rick-rack. We were unaware of our trend-setting fashionista status (chuckle, chuckle).

Common were the woes of finding holes in our hose, we shared the bottles of clear nail polish for those quick fixes on our way to church. Armed with bobby pins and tissue, mama seemed to always have everything we needed in her well-worn purse.

Sound familiar, Sister? Strangely enough, mama’s purse was far smaller than yours and mine and yet she managed to have all those things we distressed over neatly tucked inside. I can still see her face when I showed up with the grand baby in tote at her house and unloaded a backpack, diaper bag and a whole other bag of accessories, treats, snacks and something that resembled my purse (which had reduced down to the size of a cosmetics bag to tuck into the other bag). *sigh*

We will continue this delightful conversation into the final days of May. Hopefully sharing a few more smiles as we reminisce and weave this tapestry of a legacy that we now hand down to you.

We love you all to Heaven and Back: Debbie Johnson, Amparo Baldemor, and Sharon Lopez-Hidalgo for sharing in this publication and celebration of all mamas in all seasons. We invite you back as we cook up more recipes of Bite Size Morsels of love and grace.

LindaRJohnson, TitusTwo Visionary

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