Welcome to Our Blog
Grab a cup of coffee and dive in. We pray that you find hope and truth in these posts. This blog is written from three perspectives.
His. Hers. Theirs.
His. Hers. Theirs.
e As you may have seen, this blog has gone silent for a few months. That wasn't our goal, we launched this blog with every intention of sharing the continuation of our story. However, as with most of us - life, parenting, marriage, work demands, and many health issues got in the way.
Health issues for both Adam and I (Raquel) have continued. Some are small victories and others have continued to shine in our life as miracles. Life issues have continued (parenting, marriage, finance, life balance) in our life during the last year. God continues to work on molding Adam and I into the children he wants us to be. We are forever in the potter's hands; sometimes reluctantly molded (usually me) and sometimes eager servants ready to pursue God's heart (usually Adam).
During the last few years, I have decided to implement a Word of the Year. Our Blended Family ministry (who's been such a force in our life as you already know) introduced this to us over 4 years ago. At the start of 2019, I felt a pull in my heart to focus on Self-Care as my word. Boy was I underestimating what this meant for me.
Let me tell you a bit about my relationship with the word self-care. For years, I was a single momma - so I learned to put myself and my needs on the back burner while I sacrificed everything I needed to in order to give my child (now one of 3) the basics that she needed. At the time, it may have been a necessary sacrifice. However, it was never meant to be a life-long lifestyle. Why would I not deserve doctor's appointments, haircuts, skincare, self-time, and general self-care? I have no idea where in my heart I decided to feel guilty about this. Small thoughts like "we can use this for the kids or for Adam" crept into my heart and created such a lack in my self-care that it's created a snowball of health issues. Nothing life threatening, just mostly decreased quality of life. My hurdles have never been close to what Adam has overcome (through God's help). Furthermore, as the primary bread winner (financially, not spiritually because we know it all comes from God) - I've put so much pressure on myself for work performance. I want to be trusted and respected an an leader who strives for excellence. I give plenty of grace to my employees, allowing them to balance work and life. Encouraging them to put their families and personal life first yet failing to do so as their leader. Failing to walk the walk and leading by example. Many of these times, I decided to take on extra work in an effort to protect them during an extremely busy season. Good for team morale, bad for the leader.
I felt prompted again this summer to keep focusing on my health. During mid June I made the decision, in the spirit of following through with my self-care focus this year, to take care an ongoing sinus problem with surgery. Midyear was the most beneficial time for me due to two reasons a) it would be the "slowest" time during my company's calendar year and b) my deductible had been met so it would be the cheapest time to our pocketbook. Ever the saver, I jumped in. The surgery recovery time was provided to me and I thought that surely within a week (as the doc mentioned) I would feel a bit better. That, was not the case. You see, I decided to work during my time off for surgery recovery - thinking of what was best for the team and my company (not about me). And so, I hit a wall after week one - when my body just couldn't recover fast enough. How could it? I was sleeping 2-4 hours a night and restless during the day. I have NO IDEA how to rest. I've been running for 38 yrs (okay, exaggeration - maybe more like 30 :).
A quick search of the word "rest" in bible.com garners over 30 results. Why, would God mention this if it wasn't important.
"28 Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” - Matthew 11:28-30
As an immigrant child - I was running/striving and performing to prove myself to others starting at the tender age of 7, to learn English, outperform my peers in class, and please my teacher. I set my mind on these things and ultimately - I accomplished all three. I learned that hard work can yield excellence. However, I didn't not yield to the lessons of my grandma and mother - "All good and perfect things come from God" - they would say (paraphrasing James 1:17). God gifted me with the ability to learn new languages, cultures, and assimilate quickly. That wasn't due to my own works - it was a gift from Above. And so, I continued on with this mindset for many years.
While I now understand the scripture well, my heart and mind wrestle (as Lysa Terkeurst explains in her book) about my faith. My mind understands that I need to rest; and that everything good and perfect is from God. I need not try to orchestrate it on my own but my stubborn heart is attempts to organize, forecast, and orchestrate regardless.
Yet God is a good Father, and let allows me to learn the lessons that I need to. Through this delayed surgery recovery, I've learned a new lessons:
So I returned to work about a week later than I expected. My first week back was chaotic for me. Though I worked with better boundaries, the tugs from all too many priorities were exhausting that first week back. I had a fabulous team retreat that I will never forget; I saw God's grace all day then and am still excited about all the good things he's doing with my team. But by day 4 of a four-tens work week, I was done. Still anxious and frustrated at so much of what's going on in my immediate world.
You see - while I've been fighting my wee little surgery recovery and workaholic battle - there was another one in parallel, yet larger. My husband had just begun to get over shingles, which spiked his blood pressure to the point that his already retinopathy-suffering eyes required emergency blood pressure. HIs recovery is still happening. However, he faces his challenge with a much bigger doze of patience, grace, poise and joy than I do mine. God uses my husband's suffering to remind me of how much I still need to grow. Adam is a beautiful example of an awesome faith.
And so, on day 4 - I park my car in my work parking lot. Exhausted from the battle. After praying about my day, I decide to text the one soul who knows me almost as much as Adam. I'm going on to my BFF about the unfairness of it all (my insomnia, recovery, work stress, my poor husband, our ongoing challenges). And I pause to think about how in heaven, I'll be able to sit with Jesus, maybe have some tea. So I reply to my BFF's kind, encouraging note by telling her about this daydream of tea with Jesus. In her response, she replies:
"When I was a little girl, for some reason, I was really QUITE concerned about whether God would let me have bologna and cheese sandwiches in Heaven. Although I don't eat bologna anymore, I'm still curious to find out if bologna sandwiches will exist in Heaven."
My heart felt so filled with joy that I began to laugh out loud uncontrollably; a hearty laughter that came from my gut, my soul. God definitely sent my BFF with a deep purpose of a lifelong friendship. It's been nearly 16 years now, and I can say she's had the most impact on my life of any other non-relative relationship. Her sweet memory was all I needed to reset all that anxiety into joy. Once again, God used this powerful friendship to bring me Joy - and most importantly peace.
" 6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. 8 Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. 9 Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you." - Philippians 4: 6 - 9
I would much rather wonder and dream about bologna sandwiches in heaven than waste any time being anxious about today. The jury is still out about the sandwiches. I'm so looking forward to our discovery when I see Lindy in heaven. Because I know, this friendship is eternal.
So grateful to the Megyn Kelly Today team for their hospitality and kindness during our interview this week. We were touched by how genuine and kind Megyn is off camera. We’ll be lifelong fans.
We are excited about the continued speaking opportunities presented to spread hope through sharing of the role God has played in our Love Story.
Click here to watch the full clip.
During our time in the Storm (as I call the season that began in September 28, 2016), I learned some valuable lessons. Now, I'll be very honest with you - I'm a stubborn woman with many flaws. As a result, these lessons weren't learned willingly or easily. :)
Every now and then, I need a reminder for these lessons, because I'm all too human. So I pull this list out and remind myself of truths I can not deny. I hope they help you as you're facing your own giants.
I praise God and I thank Him for these lessons. Better to learn them at 37 when I have the rest of my life to enjoy and serve Him, praise HIm, and enjoy my time on earth with my Husband and family.
1. God will always have the best plans for my life (even if current circumstances appear to demonstrate the contrary).
2. Aligning my plans to his Will reaps many benefits.
3. Don’t fool myself thinking that I can control my circumstance - surrender my circumstances to God.
4. God doesn’t need me to worry about protecting my children. He takes better care of them than I ever will.
5. Don’t worry about pleasing everyone. Instead, focus on pleasing our Father in Heaven and seeking his Favor on your life.
6. The priority of your relationships should be: 1. God, 2. Your Marriage, 3. Your Children, 4. All Others. Allow God to lead your husband and for your husband to lead your Home.
7. Rather than worrying about the future of my family, pause those thoughts and go to God first. He will carry all those burdens for me.
8. Love is kind and yes, it’s sweet. But love is also about perseverance. Showing up, fighting for each other when things aren’t so sweet. Knowing that this relationship is eternal empowers you to persevere.
During May 2018, we sat down with the lovely crew of BBC Outlook. The local partner station in Phoenix, located at the Rio Salado campus, was so wonderful to us.
Click here or the image below to listen.
We recently sat down with Manny Mello, Singles Ministry Pastor at Cornerstone Christian Fellowship. He asked and we answered . . .
"If I had met you sooner, I could have loved you longer." These are words I've stolen from some great love song when I coo into Adam's ear, reminiscing about how we could have started this journey sooner. Adam typically reminds me that there are three amazing reasons why that would not work - we wouldn't have our children. And that - is just too big of a sacrifice for either of us to make. We adore our kids - heartbreaks, headaches, love, laughter, and all.
But I still remember that piece of paper I carry around in my current prayer journal. The one that reminds me to always write down my prayers and to never forget the power of the best conversation of all. The one with my maker, my God.
Let me give you a little back story ...
During the time of Adam's Traumatic Brain Injury, I was in an unhealthy relationship - fighting my own battles. The relationship ended with my exiting the unfaithful home and starting a new life. I didn't think about how this was an amazing blessing in disguise. I took time to dive into healing myself and starting a new life as a single mom. Focused on raising my daughter Lulu.
In July 2011, I wasn't ready to be the wife that Adam needed. God wasn't done working on me yet. I had clung to an unhealthy idea of a relationship out of wedlock. I settled for something God never intended for me. He was working on a masterpiece for me - one that would have to shatter in a million pieces to become worthy of me. And he was doing the same to me - breaking me to mold me back into a whole Raquel. One that decided to love herself despite past mistakes and physical flaws. One that could wake up every morning and say, "I'm gorgeous" (sometimes after a little blush and a whole lotta coffee).
So on my journey - I decided on January 2012, that I needed to be VERY specific about the kind of man I wanted God to bring to my life. I asked him for something in my intro - a soulmate! I was bold, wasn't I? I didn't even know it. You see, back then my relationship with God was all about convenience and quiet. When convenient, I would be bold about my faith and otherwise it would remain quite. I was and have always been a Believer, a Christian. But I wasn't always walking the walk. It took a lot of shaky ground for this girl to become closer to her God. I certainly wish I'd been less stubborn, but God knows me better than I know myself. He knew I was way to independent and my own free will was going to help me learn some tough lessons. The biggest one: God is always in control, and he doesn't need your help, Raquel. The second biggest: Start being a Mary in a Martha world, Raquel. Busy isn't always productive and chasing after a career won't fill that void.
And so, you see, for me to be this bold was a big step. Unknowingly so (because I wasn't quite that deliberate), I was surrendering my wishes, hopes, and dreams about my love story to God. I was asking him and finally putting a specific list together about the kind of man I knew I deserved. I had 14 wish list items and God fulfilled 13 of them (the least important one was left out). When I met Adam, he had just moved from Texas to Arizona and was rooming with his Cousin Nick. He didn't have his own home. You'll find more about his journey in Adam's upcoming chapters.
I believe leaving Adam being a little less than perfect was to humble me. Because I too was a little less than perfect, let's be honest. But in my eyes, Adam was the sun, the moon, and the stars. :) He was the answer to a dream I once thought was gone.
God used two broken lives to mend two broken hearts. He created beauty from ashes. How he did this, you'll soon find out.
And so I continue to coo in Adam's ear, "But never forget Adam, that I prayed for You. I still do."
In the midst of my comma, I had powerful experiences with my Maker. The following account is one of several moments in Heaven. Many who read the below testimony will be touched - others will reject it in disbelief.
Where am I? Have I died? How am I moving? Where’s my body? Am I a thought? Am I a mind? Am I a Soul?
Suddenly there’s this calmness all around me. Through me. Before me. This is where I now call The Heart Room when I retell this experience. I hear His voice and know…..I bow down. He is my Lord. All I can say is “Hallelujah.” Suddenly, this word means All I ever need to say and want to say. “Arise,” My Lord says. His beauty is un-imaginable. His presence gives me life. The sound of His voice is my heart beat. Our soul in one. Patiently, and out of obedience, I humbly stand before My King. Out of reverence, I don’t speak. The anointing is everywhere. I feel it. I’m rejoicing inside. This is ‘That Moment’…… Christ says “Dad’s not through with you yet. There’s much greater responsibility that hasn't been revealed to you……..” I was so captivated by His presence, I didn’t want to go back. I respond, “I don’t understand?” Christ says, “You have read and heard of great parables of Miracles. Greater Miracles than these you will do. You are God’s Son and I will be with you.”
Suddenly, Christ and I are standing in the midst of a spiritual battle. There is screaming, fighting, and the loud roars of battle. I see demonic beasts, demons, and creatures your mind can’t fathom all around us. I see mighty Angels, mighty Warriors, and heavenly beings at war with the enemy. The battle is violent, forcefully relentless at both ends; back and forth. There is no hesitation on both parts. I stand in the midst of war on our Kingdom. But I am not afraid, because Christ is with me. There are sounds of trumpets and battle cries. I see the demons and they see me. There’s a deep stare, as if we both know we will meet, but I see fear in their eyes. They know and see the power I’ve been given. As Christ and I walk through the battle, they shake and tremble.
I turn to Christ. He smiles and motions for me to look to my left. To my surprise, I see an enormous cage. In it are those hurting, trapped in bondage, enslaved to sin and lies from the enemy. They’re screaming for freedom. I look back to Christ and he nods yes! So I run to them. I look at the cage and see its magnificently heavy chains melted shut to the door. As I begin to think to break those chains free and the door to open - the door opens. The demons quickly look and move closer. I say, “You’re free!!!” A great deal of those inside receive freedom. I look to the others who’ve not received this and shout “Be Free. You are free.” But they hold on to the cage and grasp it even tighter than before. I lift the cage up and I’m now attempting to shake them loose. But this does nothing, they will not let go. I say “You are free!” Once again. One cries out, “I don’t want to go. If they see me, they will come again. I'm safer in the cage.”
I return to Christ. He looks at me and says, “Remember, those that want freedom will experience Freedom. Freedom is given to those who believe and obey. The ones that saw and heard you say “be Free” experienced freedom. Those that stayed believe the lies they are enslaved to. Yes, they saw others be free, but could not believe for themselves. They will never experience the fullness of God unless they believe. Man has been given free will to accept Allthat is good or selfishness. In the two is Light and darkness. No one can come to the Father but through me. I am the Light.”
“Dad’s not through with you yet. Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you Great and Hidden things that you have not known. Brother, go be fruitful and multiply.”
Something's wrong? My neck hurts. Whats going on? Nurse, stop! stop! stop! That doesn’t feel right. What are you doing? God, please have her quit. She's sticking a tube down my throat. I feel it in my chest.
I can’t move someone. Please anyone have her Stop! The nurse stops looks at me and says “Hello. We just need to make sure no water gets in your lungs. I know it hurts. We just have to make sure we vacuum any liquid." Later, I’ll learn the reason I can’t talk is because I have a Tracheotomy. There's a hole in my throat with a tube connected it to it that is allowing me to breath.
I lay there, glad it's over. But, are they going to do this everyday? Not cool God. What happened? Why am I here?
I hear voices, the lighting in the room hurts my eyes. I see the woman whom I've just recently learned is actually my Mom. Her arms are crossed. She’s listening to the doctor. I’m trying to listen? I can’t make out all the details, but Mom looks like she’s doing some solid, intense eye contact with the Doctor. They’re moving closer to me. Good…. The Doctor says, "He’s showing signs of brain activity. This is good. His body has suffered a great deal of trauma. However, if he makes it. His life will consist of a team of people helping him for the rest of his life, living in assisted-living facility. He suffered a major traumatic injury to the brain. Your going to need to decide what to do.” Wait. Stop. Hello? Are you saying I’m not going to make it? My God. I'm on life support. I suddenly hear her voice, "My son's strong. He’s going to make it. He’s a Fighter! He’s a believer. You keep him alive. My God will deliver him. I know what my God can do!"
Yep. She named me Adam. She’s one of those Bible people. Look at her she’s hurting, she’s all alone. This is to much for her. She walks over to the corner chair, sits, and begins to pray. She crying and pleading with God. She gets up and she’s pacing back in forth in the room. She’s pointing at me and telling my body to heal. She’s massaging my legs and arms. Wait. Wait. Is she …? … Yes. She’s singing. She’s singing to God?! How can she sing at time like this?!!
God, I can’t do this. You heard the Doctor. I can’t put this sweet lady through this. Please, it's not right. It's not right. God let me die. Please let me Die let me just slipway. This is too much for any person to see or go through. God, I don’t want to be bed-ridden for the rest of my life. I’ll never marry. Never have kids or contribute to society…What life is that? Or worse yet, I'll have people aid me for the rest of my life. No Mom deserves to live and go through what she’s going through.
God help her and give her peace in knowing that its ok; to let go of her boy. I'm ok with it. Take me Lord. Please, I beg you. I know you hear my thoughts and know my heart. Just please. I can’t lay here and see this beautiful woman hurt. Please. Please. Please, God.
My Mom and Dad had me when they were only teenagers. My Mom was 14 yrs old, Dad was 16. This was obviously not socially accepted then (or ever!). My Mom’s parents were not supportive. When my grandma found out about her pregnancy. She took my mom home and shaved her head bald as a punishment. She said, “Lets see if that boy sticks around now?” Long story short, My Mom and Dad ran away together before I was born. They lived in a van and traveled around the Dallas metroplex. Because of their ages, they had extreme difficulties with job placement and home rentals. Needles to say, I was born at Parkland Hospital in Dallas, TX. After being released from the hospital, my home was a van - and that remained a reality for the first three to four years of my life.
My dad worked at the airport as a union painter. Because the van was also his only mode of transportation, my mom would take care of me at a local, city park while he was at work. For me, this was the only reality I knew of. My version of normal was a Van as a Home, the City Park as my back yard, and my Best Friend (My Mom) playing with me all day long. We had the best of times. I used to enjoy hearing my mom sing to me and play. She was my everything. Her smile and angelic voice would heal this little boy’s hunger pains. I remember my mom giving me bird baths in the city park restrooms, feeding the ducks, and playing all kinds of made up games by Mom. We couldn't fit furniture in the van, so my bed was a bean bag. At night, she would rub my legs and pat my stomach while she sang me to sleep. My home was full of love, acceptance, and the warm embrace of a caring mother. I felt that no matter how bad the situation was, she was Mom. And a Mom loves unconditionally during the highs and lows. I would learn years later what the meaning of this unconditional love would be to my life.
I wake up and see those eyes staring back at me again. I try to speak, but I can’t. What is going on? Ask me something. Say something. I’ll blink, please!!! Adam. Adam. My Name is Adam. Say my name. She’s not saying anything? What are you doing?
She begins touching my arms and legs. But …. Oh my God, why can't I feel it? Why can't I move? Why is my name Adam? Who names their kid Adam? Think, think!Do you remember anyone saying your name? There has to be some memory. Ok, calm down. No tears. Your name is Adam. Your parents gave you a Hebrew name? Am I Hebrew? Wait, God created man in His own image and named him Adam. I wonder if I have my Dad’s name or maybe they’re just Bible people? Dad? Mom? Can you remember their faces? Can you remember any faces? Think. Think. Think!!!! I can’t!
Ok, so for right now, you'll be my Dad, God. You can be my Dad… Breathe.
God, you’re my Dad. I need you to help me here. I don't know what’s going on or why I’m here. I need you to tell me, please. Please. Can you just give me some hope here?
I take a deep breath and lay there in bed. Then, I hear people talking. It’s that lady again, but this time, there’s another woman here too. She's sees me and leans forward, “Adam do you know who I am?” I lay silent. She turns the other woman, as the other woman in the room says, “You’re a good Mom. Your son’s showing progress. This is Good.” She smiles and says, “I know. He's a fighter. He's going to make it…..” My God. You’re my Mom. You’re not a nurse. Mom. Mom. Mom. She walks to the corner of the room and begins to pray. She's pacing back and fourth, praying and singing.
Wait. Wait. Damn it, I’m Crying!!! Mom, I know that voice! You’re singing! I remember your singing. Don’t stop. It’s so beautiful. It’s so angelic. It’s sounds just like …. Home.
I close my eyes as she rubs my legs and I drift back to sleep.
Praise God! It's good to be Alive! Only those that know me can understand the value of that statement. Those of you that don't, brace yourselves. Get ready to hear and see a mighty modern day miracle from the Almighty God.
Before I dive into my first chapter, I’d like to make one thing very clear. I want to give all glory, honor and praise to my Savior Jesus Christ and my Almighty Father God in Heaven. I will gladly "play the background’ to Him any day.
I hear beeping. I can’t move. My eyes open to a life of uncertainty. I'm confused and taken back by my surroundings. I can’t move?! My brain is telling my body to move, but nothing happens!? I'm screaming for help in my mind, but my lips aren’t moving. Nothing's working.
God, What? Why? My name, My name….? I see people. Look at me.. I’m here! I can’t get their attention. I feel a tear drop down my face. What's my name? I feel depressed, physically weak, and exhausted. I’m mentally struggling to try and understand what has happened to me. I drift back to sleep.
Days, weeks, and months go by. I wake up nearly four months later. In the same room, with the same disabilities. Suddenly, I see someone. Our eyes meet. I think, Yes. Yes. Yes. Her lips open and she says “Adam?” My mind screams. Adam. Adam! My name is Adam!!! Someone knows me. My name is Adam.
I drift back to sleep.
Raquel Gonzales (Kels) - Raquel is a 38-year-old wife of an amazing man, and mother of three beautiful blended teenagers (Elijah 20, Lulu 18, Abby 16). She has thrived in a creative career for over 11 years. Her passion is to empower others by the lessons learned in her own life and challenges through transparency and honest conversations. As a creative soul, she loves to write, design, create and publish. She hopes to please God in doing his work by leveraging the talents he gave her. This blog is but one of those digital artisan crafts. She hope it pleases Him.