Friday, November 15, 2013
I remember when my first-born was 9 months old my mom wanted to take her to JCPenney to take photos. My Meilani was mobile at this point and we had no idea what kind of adventure we were in for.
The photographer set up a cute little chair and backdrop. Meilani was all decked out in a blue polka dot dress. I had wrestled her to put a tiny flower clip in her hair.
The photographer coaxed her to sit down nicely in the chair. My little girl would have none of that prim and proper stuff. She ran squealing into the corner. Her nana tried to chase her out and she ran for my arms. The photographer started in with some crazy noises and shaking a little stuffed animal. Meilani was not amused. She screamed and ran the other direction. By the end, Mom and I were worn out. We wondered if there were any cute pictures to be salvaged from the romping photo shoot.
I secretly vowed I would never bring my daughter back to a studio like this. Ever. Again. What was the point?
When we finally got to review the pictures, we found some where she was looking at the camera. A select few even made it look like she was sitting pretty and posing. Of course, I knew all about that mischievous glint in my little girl's eye.
That whole experience got me thinking about family photos and how hard mamas work to get our kiddos to sit and smile. We desire to create these "picture-perfect moments" that are so far from real life.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, we are sweating and yelling for everyone to get into place, coaxing their hair to stay down with spit on fingers, bribing and threatening our kids so we can muster up something for the Christmas card.
For the record, I had two more baby girls who were just as beautiful and rambunctious as my oldest. What a relief it was for our family when we found a friend-photographer who was willing to chase our girls through fields of leaves and up trees to capture their natural laughter. I am grateful we don't have to be the picture-perfect family in the studio anymore.
I am also grateful I serve a God who loves me even when I'm not-so-picture-perfect. I'm a recovering perfectionist. It's only been in recent years that I have learned to embrace the "beautiful mess" that is my life. I have discovered that the more I release my desire for things to be smiley-picture-perfect, the deeper joy I have with my family. I have traded my independent nature for the surprising gift of living in community. I have tasted the freedom that comes in following God's lead instead of composing my own not-so-picture-perfect life.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator of the Bridge MOPS. She would much rather strike a crazy pose in a photo booth than force her family to smile in a photo studio. She is married to Ericlee and has three not-so-picture-perfect daughters: Meilani, 7, Giada, 4 and Zayla, 2
Sunday, October 27, 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
I grew up in the kitchen with my mama and grandmas and aunties. When I was a little girl my mama let me draw pictures in the flour. As I got older, I got to do more grown-up jobs. She taught me how to read recipes, measure ingredients and decipher spices.
Next to the great samples of the food, I loved being in the kitchen because that’s where the best stories were cooking.
When I sat at the table with my grandma rolling lumpia, she would tell me about her childhood growing up in the Philippines and Hawaii. Grandma would giggle about the days when my grandpa would dedicate songs to her on the radio. She would share techniques for Filipino cooking.
When I would pull up a stool to the counter, my mama would tell me about her adventures in the kitchen with her dad. I learned about our Italian-American heritage. I discovered the secret pasta sauce recipe. My mama unraveled the stories of her failures and roots of her faith.
We bonded right there in the kitchen.
When my first daughter was born, I invited her into the kitchen the way the women in my family had invited me. We made batches of peanut butter granola together. Meilani would help me mix and pour and create. We would tell stories about when I was a little girl her age.
I named my second daughter after my favorite Italian chef, Giada. My Giada has always been my sidekick. She loves to get her hand in the mix. She loves to roll. And most of all she loves to taste. She's famous for saying, "When does the licking begin?"
I believe the kitchen is a place to test out a lot more than just recipes. It’s a place where we can embrace our stories. It’s a place where we can laugh and cry together. This may sound old-fashioned, but it’s a place where we as women and mamas can find a kind of therapy.
Whenever I get to making a meal, I hear that familiar scrape across the tile. These days it’s my almost-two-year-old pulling up a stool to help mama. It’s easy to brush her aside, to want to do it myself – the faster, easier, less messy way. Yet I know it’s time to invite her in too.
I want her to hear the stories, to see the beauty in our mess.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore is the Coordinator for The Bridge MOPS group. She loves creating new recipes and sneaking chocolate from the little cupboard over the sink. Her children’s book, CORA COOKS PANCIT, includes a secret family recipe. Find more of her recipes at www.health-full.blogspot.com.
Friday, October 11, 2013
Monday, October 7, 2013
Can you believe it's October already? That means Thanksgiving and Christmas are just around the corner. Every year our MOPS group puts on a MOPS Holiday Boutique at The Bridge Church featuring handcrafted and other unique products sold by the mamas in our group and some outside vendors. This is a great chance for mamas to share their talents with a larger group and for us to support each other.
This year we are giving first dibs to MOPS moms for the booths. Please register at this link:
Vendor sign-ups will be open to the public on Friday, October 11 so don't delay in registering. We will also be offering Crafts for Kids by Craftopia Craft Studio and special shopping deals just for MOPS moms on that day.
Wednesday, October 2, 2013
I’ve always loved the start of the school year. I love pointy pencils, folders with clean edges, fresh bottles of glue and crayons neatly lined in their box. My oldest daughter started second grade this fall, and she is much like her mama. Eager to learn. Excited about diving into new subjects. Unfortunately, our first month of school has been trying. I knew it was bad when the first day of school my eager learner came home from second grade and told us the teacher had yelled at the class all day.
My mama heart was alarmed but I wanted to give grace. After all, many of my friends and family are teachers, and I know how hard it can be to start up at a new school with new systems and administration. As the weeks slipped by my daughter started saying things like, “I don’t like school.” She was coming home tired and frustrated because she felt like kids in her class were always getting in trouble and she was missing out.
As a mama, fear and anxiety started to fester in my heart. I started talking to friends for ideas, even looking into other schools. Some suggested homeschool but I knew that was not the answer for our family right now.
We tried to encourage our first-born, rule follower that things would get better. We prayed together on the way to school for her teacher, her class. I tried to make an appointment with the teacher but it took several weeks before I got a call back and finally nailed down a date.
Last Thursday my husband and I finally had a chance to meet with the teacher. I sat down prepared to defend my daughter, but God had a very different plan. We quickly learned that the teacher had more than her hands full. She was facing several personal challenges – a mom with cancer, a dad who recently had a heart attack, her own husband dying two years ago. She also faced a class with more than half a dozen kids who had serious behavior issues and difficult home situations. As tears pooled in her eyes, we saw how overwhelmed she was.
Something pricked my heart in that moment. Maybe God had put my daughter in this class this year so our family could BE a blessing to this teacher. Maybe it was less about our needs and ideals and more about hearing her story, entering into her world. My husband asked if we could pray with her, and she breathed an audible sigh of relief. We ended our meeting with teary eyes and hugs.
It was amazing to see how much this woman seemed to transform right before my eyes once I knew her story. Do you have your own example? Someone who is difficult in your life or your child’s life? Maybe it’s a teacher, a soccer coach, another kid at school? Maybe it’s that neighbor boy who seems to live at your house or even a coworker who has a continuous chip on her shoulder. I challenge you to ask them a little more about their story. Be brave. Enter in. You might be surprised at what you discover.
I know that was true for me, for our family. Now we can be a blessing to my daughter’s teacher. We have the chance to walk alongside her and support her, to pray for her.
The Bible says, “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). As a mama, it’s my job to model that for my kids. This year my daughter is learning a more powerful lesson about granting grace and covering others with love than if she were sitting in a “perfect classroom.” Her parents are learning too.
Dorina Lazo Gilmore, Bridge MOPS Coordinator
Dorina blogs at Remember Haiti. She is a mama of 3 active girls and has been married 10 years to Ericlee. She directs The Haitian Bead Project and writes children’s books.