lola guerrero

50-something empty-nest-search-for-God-and-happiness with more than a dash of humor


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You Are Not Here To Take Up Space, Part 2

With my boys gone I have time to find what interests and delights me. 

What gives me confidence.

I was open to possibilities of what that might be and hungry to find it. A nagging feeling was inside me.

I asked for God’s guidance. Two things happened.

One day, I’m at Starbucks sitting with my latte when I hear
someone next to me tutoring an elderly lady on how to text her grandson.

With the technical world changing so fast I feel inept. I’m not computer smart, so I fear the big box in front of me when I write. I might hit a button and it’ll explode. I get the same feeling with my cell. 

Bruce, the instructor, must have sensed all this from how I looked over and took an interest in what he was saying to his student. He handed me his card.

Last Tuesday, I had my computer class with him. We covered the iOS8 and the iPhone6s. OS means stands for Operating Systems, Bruce explained. The OS is like the engine of a car. Aha. Yes, I get it now.

I got out of the class smarter and more confident than when
I walked in. I know I’m meant to take this class. It excites me.
It lifts me up out of the dark and that feeling left out and frustrated. I can’t wait for next week.

There is a church by my home. I go there for quiet time. I say, “OK God, I know there’s more for me to do. Where do you want me?”

A friend of mine, Elena, calls me up. She mentioned joining her bible class once again.
“Come check it out.”
“Sure, I’ll join you. After that, let’s have lunch with wine. What are you studying this year?”
“The life of Moses.”

Interesting. Ha, wasn’t I thinking about Moses the other day?
It’s a sign.
The decision was made. I’m taking bible class for one year.

From The Alchemist:
“He still had some doubts about the decision he had made. But he was able to understand one thing: making a decision was only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision, he is really driving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision.”

In bible study fellowship, we all meet in the sanctuary. There are about 100 of us singing praises to the Lord. After that we branch off into a smaller groups to discuss Moses.

Looking around, I’m thinking there’s room for growth here.
Where does God want me? In what capacity can God use me?

I’m part of a group now. One day, I can lead one.

Each time I leave my class, I’m filled with excitement. I can’t wait for
next week. That’s a great feeling! When you have excitement
all over your body that means you are meant to be there.

Christopher , my son who lives in Manila, plays basketball
for a living. I asked him two months ago when I saw him
during a visit, “You still enjoy playing?  You’ve been
playing basket ball for 15 years.”
“Mom, I like it. I get to perform.”
When he said that, I realized his stage is the basketball court. That is where God wants him to be. He is  using all the gifts God gave him.

God desires that for all of his children.

You never know where a path will lead.
Our job is to remain open. The path we are on will lead us to our best self. Trust the God of the universe knows what he is doing.

We are here for a purpose.
What were you meant to do on this planet?
Then, do it.

What feeds your soul?
Find it.
What is your desire?
Live it.

Dear God,

When we see arrows pointing in all directions on our path, we get so confused. Help us clearly see what direction you want us to go. We want to hear your voice say, “This is the way.”

Thank you for listening to our prayers and requests.
Thank you for our answered prayers.

Amen.

Lola


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You Are Not Here To Take Up Space, Part 1

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Have you read The Alchemist? Yes, you. I’m asking you.
NO?
Oh, well, you have to read it.

This book has been around for so long. Finally, I bought myself a copy. Certain books and people come into my life when I am open to receiving their message.

In this book, the message is about finding your personal calling. Our mission to search for this calling like its a lost gold coin.

So, what were you meant to do here on Earth?

I know you were not here to take up space. I believe each of us is here to fulfill this calling and God is there to guide that fulfillment.

I also believe that we have more than one purpose in life. One of my purposes has been to raise two boys as a stay-at-home mom. When the boys were 4 and 5 years old, I felt certain that I had to have a career outside the home.

I wanted to join the 30 million tired and frazzled moms of America who strive to have it all–career and family–and do a great job at it all, too. A lot of moms can pull this off. It depends on the individual.
I was not one of them.

It wasn’t till after my youngest son, my baby, went off to college that I began to better appreciate raising my two boys as one of my callings and my career.

But, one moment showed me that I was meant to stay home with the boys.

I was getting my boys ready for school. As I was taking Eggos out of the freezer to toast, my inner voice said, “You are meant to stay home.”

A feeling of calm came over me. I didn’t fight it  this time. Usually, I would.

And so, I stayed home for over 20 years. I was at peace making that decision.

A personal calling is from God. That calling puts you on a path that was meant just for you. On the path, you use all your gifts, talents, and personality.

A personal calling is about doing something with your life that lifts you up, grabs you, gives you energy, and enthusiasm.

It is a blessing from Him.

Today, I know that I’m like every other 50+ empty-nesters out there.
The kids are off to college and the husband is at work. My job–this career and calling–has come to an end. Now what?

Ask yourself what are my desires? Where can my talents be used for God’s glory now?

I leave you with this beautiful passage:

“And, when you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”

― Paula Coelho, The Alchemist


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Hopeless? Don’t Be

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It’s Wednesday–my first bible group meeting is in two hours.
We are studying about Moses wandering
in the wilderness for 40 years. He was adopted,
lived in a palace, saw a burning bush, murdered an Egyptian, and hid.
He complained, felt insecure, and sinful. However, he became a writer at age 80 and lived to be 120 years old.
He penned five books. He became the greatest prophet of all time.

Hopeless?
Don’t be.

I can remind myself to feel hopeful, but I still contemplate if getting out of  bed is a good idea. What is wrong with me?

I have been thinking about attending a bible group for three years.
I know it’s God nudging me. I haven’t been paying attention. Now, here I have it all scheduled, as I wanted, and now, I don’t want to show up?

I am a Moses–stubborn, directionless.
I can hear my BF’s voice
in my head.

“Nope, you’ve gotta show up.”

“You’re right, BF,” I say. “That’s why you are my BF. You know me so well. I can’t attain my dreams of being a serious actor (no reality shows for me!), best selling Christian author/blogger and lecturer, or even just an ordinary JOE (say, being a cashier at Rite-Aid) if I stay under my Ralph Lauren comforter.”

I always ask for a clear sign from God. I want to know if I’m going the right way and if what I’m doing pleases the Almighty.

There is nothing worse than going the wrong way.

Last night, I prayed for kind, funny Christian ladies in my group.

Now, here I am looking around and wondering if my prayers were answered.

I’m seated with ten ladies–so far so good.
Going around the circle, we introduced ourselves and
I get the sense we are all praying for “direction.”

My lord, are we all lost the way Moses was?

A couple of ladies are widows. Some are retired.  A very thin
and overly suntanned lady has her wig on, lopsided.  And no one
wants to tell her.

I told myself not to say too much because, when I do, I tend to take over. But, our leader said, “If someone says something, let’s all keep the conversation going around the circle. Anyone can jump in.”
I nod. I like her. She and I will get along.

One lady reminded me of Aunt Lucy. She wore a  skirt
with nylon knee high stockings and you can see the garter
so tight around her knees, you hope that blood was still able to
travel up to her brain.

Driving home, I feel giddy and lightweight. With this energy, I could have walked home. I knew the Holy Spirit was doing something in me.

I’m so glad I showed up. I think this lightweight feeling is a sign.
I’m on the right path. And if not, this bible class will
give me material to blog about for a year.

This is what I know.

God is in control in all our circumstances. While Moses was wandering around lost like many of us, God’s hand was on Moses’s shoulder. Moses was being trained to be a great leader for God’s people. Moses went from fear to being courageous.

We are all in training to do God’s work. His hand is guiding each of us to be part of his grand plan.

Dear God.
At times, we don’t pay attention
to the nudges and signs along the way.
With your rod and staff, guide us in the direction
you want us to go and work for your glory.

Amen,

Lola


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Left Behind

The iPhone 6 Plus is here! I have been waiting
for it. Oh, the design. It’s sleek, lighter,  slimmer
and has bigger frame to see the
chubby cheeks of my grandbaby, Napoleon.
Who cares that I may not be able to understand 98%
of what the iPhone can do to make my life quicker,
better, easier on this planet.

My excitement for a new phone equates to buying
a designer purse or shoes. With my hand on my heart
I say, “Lola, calm down,
it’s ridiculous to upgrade. You upgraded in June to an iPhone 5s
because the 4s was: OLD. And you are still learning how to figure out the 50+ apps that are on it.”

Change is good, change is constant, change is everything.
My son, Ralph, said to me, “Mom, you’ve got to ride the waves.”
I agree. However, can we slow it down a notch?

This is what I’m concerned about–my elderly relatives who
I shuttle each week to Rite-Aid and the dentist
to get their dentures adjusted and how they get left behind.

This makes me sad, more so because we are related and I see myself as a much older person when I look at them.

This week my Aunt Lucy asked if I can drive her to T-Mobile to
see what is wrong with her cell phone. She is 91 years old,
still has all her marbles, and she knows all the avenue names and
street addresses. She even knows
where all the cemeteries are located.

She tells me she can’t hear the ring tone on her cell, she can’t get to
her message box, and she lists a few more minor fixable issues. I looked at the phone, but had no success.

I soon realized my limitations when it comes to computers and
cell phones. I’m not as tech savvy as I would like to be.
I have yet to learn about DropBox, WhatsApp, I-message,
and Twitter.

Being left behind is no picnic. I notice more than anything
with the elderly is they have no one to talk to. They are isolated.
In their youth, they had a phone the size of a shoe box, could dial the number, and talk to a friend.
Now, if you want to talk to your children you touch a small phone
screen or you text, email, or Facebook them. All of these things are hard to do if you did grow up learning how to do them.

What can we do to stay connected as we grow older? What is our responsibility to our family, friends, and elders?

I do know that when I’m with my older relatives, I have to pray
first that God will shower me with patience. I really need it.
I also ask God to give me the ears to listen.

On the flip side, I realize that I also need these gifts from God when I attend my computer class every Tuesday at my local senior community center.

Seated next to me at Starbucks, I overheard the instructor, Bruce, telling a senior citizen how to navigate through her email. He noticed me eavesdropping.

Then, he handed me his card.
Would you believe he used to work
for Apple as an tutor? I took that information and his card as a SIGN for me to take his class so I WILL NOT be  left behind.

Dear God,
Change is never easy. I feel for my aunts and
mom who have a difficult time keeping up
with our technical world.

My prayer is that everyone today will be
more conscious of our senior citizens. Bless us
with compassion and patience.
Let us be first to notice them and say hi.

Let us not overlook them.

Remind us each day that it won’t be long until
we are the ones who need a ride to the grocery
store and dentist.

Amen,
Lola

Potholes

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Driving on 1st Avenue this morning,
as I make my way to the gym, I’m constantly
on the look out for potholes.                                                            photo-4
Especially the ones that are deep.

When you drive over those, you hear a loud THUMP.
I don’t like them!

They are such a nuisance. They mess up the wheel alignment and my car’s overall well being.

I want my car to purr and hum just like the day I drove it out of the showroom.

I thought of my son, Ralph, as I turn into the gym  parking garage
and begin to cry. He shared his two potholes with me the other day, his work and apartment situation. I wanted to
say, “Son,  I will send a check right now. Take two aspirin
and call me in the morning.”

The most difficult and tug-of-war feelings I have had
since the boys left home are related to the urge to take away their potholes and doing the patching up for them.

Mom is here! I’m all ready with fresh asphalt to make your road smooth. Just tell me where to put it!

As a parent I want my boys’ lives to hum along with no troubles, no potholes. I want the path in their lives to be uneventful, flat, and safe.

I don’t want my boys to be hurt or feel pain. Because when they hurt, I hurt. My stomach is in knots and my thoughts spiral.

It has taken me years to learn how to stop the spiraling and remind myself, “I want my adult sons to be strong, to use their brain, and to not quit. So, step back and give them space.”

Hardships and challenging events are teachers.
I used to shoulder all my issues and solve problems on my own.
I’d cry deep sobs and grab a pint of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream, but I found that doing this just made matters worse. And there would just be more potholes down the road.

What I DO now is gather up all my thoughts and feelings and take them to God. What I learned is I can’t live in fear and have faith at the same time. I have to stand on my faith and own it.
I have to trust that God will bring about a solution that goes beyond my expectations.

He is the Holy One.

What do YOU do when you hit life-jarring potholes?

Dear God,
Hardships and painful events in our lives shape us. I’m grateful for all the potholes I have driven through. I’m wiser, more faithful, and stronger because of them.

As parents, bless us with knowledge and understanding so that we know when to help and when to give our adult children space.

Amen,
Lola


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Dragon Lady

Today was another funeral. This is my fourth within the last
five months. I have another one next week. I have several
neatly pressed black outfits ready to go.
What’s going on in my life? One death after the other.

I wonder Who’s next? as I drive to Immaculate
Church with Aunt Lucy, who can barely see above the dashboard,
and my mother humming HALLELUJAH in the backseat.
I try to cancel the thought, but it comes back with a face and name–Dragon Lady.

Attending these funeral services, I have noticed that
the people I don’t care much for
live a lot longer than the people I prefer
being with. Guess, I’ll have to enjoy their company at the cemetery.

Why is that? I have had my share of hugging
and caring for miserable relatives.
Can they just leave now?

But, time after time the lesson keeps coming back to this–
the importance of doing what it takes
to love your enemy.

Betty, a relative of mine, is a thoughtful person.
She sends birthday cards to my boys. And she is a fabulous cook.
However, she loves to bark at people.

Two weeks ago, I visited Betty at her home.

She welcomes me with
“You’re late! Why didn’t you call? The only time
you visit me and you are late. Answer me!”

I give Dragon Lady a tight hug and feel proud of myself for
resisting her dark side. I tell her, “Traffic was bad, but
we still have time to get flowers at Safeway, and then
go see your friend in the nursing home.”

“I not feeling well now,” she says getting up from her recliner.
I tread lightly, keeping my cool . . . what I really want to
do is get in my car and never return, ever.

“Lola,” she says. “Follow me. I always
have my Christmas gifts wrapped before Labor Day.
I want you to know where I keep them
just in case I will not be here. I’m dying,
you know.”

Really? And when is that, may I ask?
She’s been dying for the last 26 years!
And NO . . . she doesn’t have cancer or Parkinson’s Disease.  She is as healthy as a Kentucky Derby thoroughbred.

As I sing Amazing Grace during the church service, I think
Why doesn’t Dragon Lady go? Why did my uncle have to die?
He was a gentle-mannered man and always baked my favorite
custard during the holidays.

I know to love my enemies
I have to be bigger than myself. They are so lonely
and miserable. But, I also know my boundaries
with people like Betty.

I know deep in my heart it’s OK to love them
at arms length with no guilt attached.
I don’t have to visit them every two weeks, once
a year will do or maybe never.

Dear God,
It’s hard to always give it my all when it comes to
the Bitter Bettys of the world. I resent their
entitlement attitude, but I want to learn from them, too.

When I’m with someone
who is crazy, bitter, and unhappy, I need your guidance to stay level headed, positive, and centered.

Help me not be like them.

Amen,
Lola


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Love Is The Answer

Love is the answer.

It is a lyric from one of John Lennon’s
song. When I hear that song, I think,
If LOVE is the answer. WHAT is the question?

Here is a question I have been pondering.

How am I going to act and behave when I see my mother
this coming Thursday?

I pick up my mother once a week to take her to
to the bank and Asian grocery store. After that, we have
lunch at an Asian restaurant.

When she is in my car, it is nothing but complaints. Awww this . . . and awww that . . . is all I hear. Within five minutes of listening, I’m already drained.

The on going topic of the year is my brother Barney who is 52 years old. He can’t quite seem to keep his head above water.
He has no money. He has an ex wife and a car that breaks down
every three months. At 52 years old, he still lives with our mother.

Of course, mom actually likes the situation because she has company.

My brother’s name and my mother’s voice circulate through and fill all the empty space in the car.
My neck suddenly feels like two hands are around it and squeezing tightly. They won’t let go.

I have a difficult time loving others who deplete
my positive energy and joy for the day. With all the self-help
books about personal power and all my years of therapy, I ought to be able to teach the subject.

But every now and then, the complaints of others–unhappy, bitter complaints about life not being good enough–drain my personal power and bring me down.

And all my praying, meditating, and yoga stances
before dawn disappear into thin air.
Poof!
There it all goes.

My mantra shifts from “God give me kindness today for everyone I meet to God get me out of here.”

It would be unloving to disown family members and trade them
in for a used car or something else more useful . . .

How do WE love others who act like pits of quicksand pulling us in and burying us with sadness and disappointment?

This much I know. I will continue get up early
to pray to God and say “Help me, please.”
I will show up at my mother’s door step once a week
with a loving smile.
I will continue to show loving kindness to her
though I may not feel it at times.
I can’t change a 74-year-old woman. I
can only change me. Maybe that’s “love.”

Dear God,

When I’m with my relatives this week,
open my heart. Talk to me about them.
Tell me what to say. Tell me what to do.

They can’t drive anymore. They have a hard time
getting around. I may be the only person they see
today beside the mailman.

Don’t let them get the best of me.
Thank you for being in my life.

Amen.

Lola