I Love My Kitchen But Hate To Cook

Maddie, Sonja, Russ, me, Mike, Jacob, Lucas, Wil, Jenny, and Mikos

Psalms 37:4 NKJV

Delight yourself also in the LORD, And He shall give you the desires of your heart.

Ten years ago Mike finally agreed to have our kitchen remodeled. We have been living in the same home for 37 years. This house was built in 1974. It is a solid lath and plaster home, which means that no drywall was used in the original building.

We did a small kitchen remodel shortly after we moved in. I made the worst decorating mistake in the world by installing a white tile floor and white tile counter tops. I became a slave to the floors, having to mop them every time we used the kitchen.

Me, my beautiful Mom, and sister Norma, in the flower kitchen
The puke green walls of the gutted kitchen

To add character to the old kitchen, it went through many metamorphic experiences. It was wallpapered, painted a hideous green, and we had two electric stove tops replaced. When Mike took over the cooking, we switched to gas. Gas made all the difference in our meals and Mike’s meals taste like we hired a personal chef.

I had a great desire in my heart to redesign the kitchen,  I started a campaign by nagging; when that   didn’t work, I prayed. It took a long time before I could convince Mike, but he finally agreed. We had a lot of expenses that took precedence over this huge undertaking. Both Mikos and Sonja were attending private colleges, and I decided that it was time for me to finish my education. So I applied and was accepted to Biola University. Mike was overwhelmed with paying part of three tuitions. After a little breathing room, we seized the opportunity and started the project.

We researched and got several estimates, but I wanted was a dream kitchen. Originally I wanted to expand the kitchen, but that idea quickly ended when the estimates came in at over $90,000.00, and that was without the kitchen remodel or new appliances! I prayed again on how to expand without breaking walls.

Our wonderful designer and friend Jonathan

When we were about to make our decision between two contractors, I received a dream from the Lord. In the dream, two bay windows were added to make room for seating. The following morning Jonathan, one of the designers, called me. Jonathan  shared with me his idea on how to expand the kitchen. He told me that we should add two bay windows for seating. This was exactly what I dreamt! It was a clear confirmation for us to go with his company, Le Gourmet Kitchens. This is how God takes care of those who trust and believe in prayer.

My custom kitchen was a project of love, which took over 3 months to complete. I wanted Jerusalem stone for my countertop, but it was too porous, so I went with Caesar stone, which is also from Jerusalem. It was important for me to have products from the Holy Land. I brought back decorative tile from the Old City in Jerusalem. Jonathan is Jewish, so he really understood what I wanted. He ordered Jerusalem crosses from Israel to complement the tiles that I purchased.

My cabinets were made in Salina, Kansas, because there are too many E.P.A stipulations in California on how wood is treated. Also it does not compare to the quality of the wood from this part of the country. My cabinets have a lifetime guarantee.

Tile from the the Old City in Jerusalem, and gold Jerusalem crosses for each corner
Mint Julep stove

I wanted the stove to make a statement, so we picked a Viking mint julep stove. It was perfect!

If you are wondering why am I writing about my kitchen, it’s because this is where families gather, where bonding takes place, where heartfelt stories are shared. The kitchen is the heart of a home, and it should be  filled with love.

All of my cooking is done without a recipe. If I do use a recipe, for some strange reason it always comes out different. I have accepted that cooking is not my gift, and I’m perfectly fine with that. Sometimes I cook the worst meals; at other times I surprise everyone with a tasty meal. Such is life.

I thought for sure that the beautiful kitchen would improve my cooking, but it didn’t. Once I tried a quinoa recipe and it kept growing so much that I had to change pots twice. Nowhere in the recipe did it warn that it was going to keep expanding. Dinner that night went down as another adventure that finally had us eating at 8:30 p.m. Never take the advice from a well-meaning friend who told me to cook the corned beef in a crock pot. That was a disaster that lasted until the following day, when we were finally able to enjoy the meal.

I am currently creating videos to give cooking tutorials for others who share my dilemma. Just recently I ruined a pot of rice; even the dog turned his nose up at it.

Mornings in my kitchen are my favorite. You can find me sitting in my breakfast nook every day around 7:30 a.m. I eat the same breakfast every day: a cup of coffee with Ezekiel toast. My cat Prudie usually joins me. I use this room to pray; sometimes when I’m overcome with uncertainties and unanswered prayer, I sit and cry in that same spot.

Our granddog Rosie and the Dutch door

When our grandchildren were younger, all ten of us would gather for dinner every Monday night. Now that they are in sports and have their own busy lives, we try to get together at least once or twice a month. The kitchen is my favorite room of our home because this is where the sun greets me every morning after Mass. I look out the Dutch door and thank God for my beautiful bougainvillea that Mike planted.

I thank God for my ten-year-old kitchen, and am grateful that it still brings us together as a family. Happy, sad, mad, we are family, and will always meet in the kitchen for healing and laughter.

1 Corinthians 10:31 New King James Version (NKJV)

31 Therefore, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

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Why My Catholic Roots?

Lauren, me, James, and Jane
Skid Row: Lauren, me, James, and Jane

I posted this story almost 3 years ago, and felt that it needed to shared once again. My Blog was given to me  by the Lord, I prayed for it to come to fruition. This is the story on how it was born. The Blog is finally coming out of its terrible twos, I’ve had many challenges as a novice blogger, but thanks be to God and those that He placed on the path to help me. Lauren is one of the angels that God send me, I pray that you enjoy the story.

I wanted to start a Blog but had no idea how to  attempt this venture, I prayed about it…for a very long time. In March I received a dream from the Lord and was instructed to name the Blog “My Catholic Roots are showing”.  I was also given a vision on what the logo should look like. This was a vivid dream and after journaling, I kept telling God “but I don’t really want to use the word Catholic because I minister to Protestants as well”.  I reminded The Lord that many of my relatives were non-Catholic, including my son and his family.  God knows everything, and when I stopped questioning and complaining about His direction everything fell into place.

Lauren, a family friend was in between jobs when she decided to join our weekly Bible study group. I mentioned my dream and she graciously volunteered to help me, she was an answer to prayers.  Thanks to Lauren’s hard work and  perseverance within three days my new Blog was up and running.

The only thing that’s certain is that if God gives you a vision He will see you through it. This Blog is to bring to light to non-Catholics on the root of our beliefs. I will not be pounding anyone over the head with Catholic doctrine to help you better understand the Catholic point of view, rather I will witness through my faith what God is doing in my life. I do not wavier in my beliefs, my Catholic faith has brought serving God to its fullest. It took a big trial for me to reach this balance.

My history with her majesty the Catholic Church started when my eldest brother died of cancer in 1983. There was conflict with the Catholic Church about my brother’s funeral and the church questioning the service for the lack of attendance. I pleaded with the priest that my brother was too sick to attend services but I knew that it had been many years, I was not attending Mass regularly either. In frustration and anger over my brothers death I left the church. Disappointment turned to a harden heart toward my old church.  Emotionally charged and spiritual void lead me to Valley Vineyard, there I settled and found a new love for the Word of God. This ministry was my favorite; we became good friends with the pastor and his wife, but sadly due to Mike’s job we had to move to Orange County. For 15 years I went from Anaheim Vineyard, to Calvary Church, to Calvary Chapel, any many other churches. All of these were wonderful growing experiences, but one in particular also feed into my anger against the Catholics; when I heard these negative words from the pulpit about my old church, it validated my distain for the Catholics even greater.

My husband and children were cradle Catholics, however, my new religion became theirs. The new-found faith brought me to a group that was led by a lady named Michele. I was so impressed by Michele’s knowledge and wisdom of God. I wanted so badly to introduce her to my Catholic friends with the intension of converting them. I talked to other Anaheim Vineyard members, and was taken back when informed that Michele was Catholic! My thoughts were, “How can this be? How can a Catholic have the fire of God like this?” Michele’s ecumenical gifting allows her to works alongside pastors like Benny Hinn and many other renowned movers and shakers in the Protestant faith.  From Michele’s teaching came the introduction to her mother Joanne, also Catholic. I became a member of Christ In You in 1994  (Joanne’s ministry) attending two weekly services plus daily Mass and Sunday qualified me as a holy roller. These were the stepping stones that led me back to Catholicism.

I remember the Sunday when  when I returned to Catholic Mass, it was an unusual experience. I walked in with my husband to the sound of solemn music, the praise and worship was structured;  “What was I doing here? and is this really from you Lord?”  Slowly the Mass came back naturally, the  reverence of the people and genuflecting toward the altar, the kneeling, the standing, a routine that seamed to escape my mind. These rituals were unchanged and enriching, but it was not until receiving the Eucharist that spirit of completeness came over me. It took several services before realizing that truly I was in the right place. The Eucharist is food I cannot live without.  I started attending daily Mass because this is what sustains my walk, nothing can replace the real manna, the true Body of Christ.

The Body of Christ
Father Leonard  presenting The Body of Christ, Patmos outdoor service

During this entire journey my dear Friend Susanna was praying for me to return to the Catholic Church, her gentle stern approached was steadfast because she was well catechized and knew how to defend her faith. My best friend Helen, also Catholic, listened to all my preachings  but never wavered from her beliefs either. Flanked by these two strong Catholic women gave my ambiguous mind rest.

The vision the Lord gave me was of my face with the extensions of my hair being roots . When Lauren designed the logo she added my face (round) as the “O” in Catholic. I pray that my Blog will enlighten, make you laugh and most of all to seek His Face.



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My Father

My father, Bob Cruz

Not all of us are blessed with good fathers. My father was a great man to many; he was handsome and charming with a charismatic personality.  He was a professional boxer in his twenties, a successful building contractor, a wonderful friend and had a gift to make others laugh. I did not know this side of him.

What I remember of my childhood was not normal and we were rarely happy when he was around. Our mother suffered greatly because of his misogynistic behavior. I was 8 years-old when my father decided to pack up and leave. In my heart I could not have been happier. I could hear our mother crying in the privacy of her bedroom, and all I could think was, “Why is she crying? We should be having a party instead.” I never asked my mom why she cried, but as an 8 year-old I understood a lot for my age.

I do have some pleasant memories of our dad. He built us a home with his bare hands. The boys had the best room with built-in desks, and all of us girls shared a room. He also built us a cement swimming pool that we used durning the summer.  He would load us up in the back of his red pick-up, and we would go to the Brawley Drive-in theater to watch a movie.

He struggled having a relationship with us girls, but I do recall one of the times he talked to me. We were sitting on the steps near our front door. He told me that we were going to move, and that the new place was going to have water that came from the ground to water the grass. Sprinkler systems were not around, so this conversation really intrigued my young imagination.  Other than that he scared me, because his voice was always angry and loud.

Our father was good to his sons and taught them his trade in construction; two of my brothers worked alongside him. Several other relatives and friends benefited from his trade as a lathing/plaster contractor, and several cousins and uncles worked in this industry because of him.  One of my brothers remembers all the great humor our dad shared on job sites, because he was so entertaining. My father had a talent for jumping rope like Sugar Ray Leonard. He loved watching boxing matches. He was loved by everyone he worked with.

My father had a heart to be good. It was not until I was an adult that his sister, my aunt, shared the story of his upbringing. I do not know why, but he was raised by his grandmother. She was old-school strict so came across as mean. This was his first interaction with a matriarch, and the reason for his great distrust of women and believing that they were all the same. He had moved up in the ranks of boxing, winning 92 amateur bouts representing the local contractors’s union. He fought in New York, Chicago and Florida, but mostly at the Olympic Auditorum in Los Angeles. He only had 4 professional bouts, when his grandmother persuaded him to stop. This may have been another reason, why he did not like women, because he held her accountable for this decision.

I never had any resentment towards my father. Our mother had great cause to badmouth him, but she never once spoke ill about him. All of us kids knew the real story, but it was our mother who taught us to honor him. I am so grateful for her strong belief in protecting us from the toxic behavior of a woman scorned. She handled this matter with God’s grace. And thanks to our mother, we all turned out God-fearing.

Years later, when my father was in the hospital, I went to visit him. He was vulnerable and weak and had developed a softer side, but our conversation was still strained. In a strange way I recognized that he was attempting to atone for our past.

My father may not have been very religious, but my brother recalled that whenever he worked on a project for a church he would tithe 10% of his earnings.

Have you ever wondered why the same sin follows the next generation? If someone is angry or holding on to hurts from the past, it can easily warp the next generation. Forgiveness and prayer severs this from your bloodline.

Exodus 34:7 New King James Version (NKJV)

keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”

I thank God for my father because he did give me life and a great sense of humor.

We are to honor our fathers always, but especially on Father’s Day. If you are not speaking to your father, today would be a good day to forgive him. God Bless!

My Prayer: Dear Lord, I pray for all fathers, that they may learn to love You as their Father. We sever all generational curses off the bloodline, (name the curses here). Heal their brokenness and allow them to become the fathers that they were meant to be. Strengthen your families, Lord, so that we can all love one another. Let fathers take the role of becoming the spiritual leaders of their families to bring balance to Your Kingdom. Amen.


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