Yet Another Milestone

As I type this, I’m thinking forward to tomorrow – the first day of the 2017-2018 school year.

We did our practice run in the Zuniga household, as we do every year. After a whole summer of getting to bed late and waking up the next day by noon, sometimes later, Zechariah got in bed by 10 PM last night for a wake up at 7 AM. He’ll actually have to wake up an hour earlier starting tomorrow.

When I went to check on him last night and told him he needed to get to sleep, he said it was still early. I reminded him that he needed to get used to the school schedule. But I so much wanted to let him stay up one more night, his last night of summer vacation.

Morning came very quickly today. I went to wake up my sleeping child. He greeted me with a smile. As planned, I made him his healthy breakfast and let him eat in bed, our day-before-school tradition for the past 3-4 years.

After getting him settled, I sat down for my morning devotion. Then it hit me. Hit me hard.

Zechariah will be starting high school tomorrow.

High School. It sounds so grown up. I got used to his being fourteen. But I’m not ready for my son to become a high schooler. I’m not ready to see him staying up late to finish his homework and stressing over tests and projects. I remember my school years, and I’m not ready to have my son go through the hardships of the rigorous program he will face.

The stress of the last year of middle school broke Zechariah down. It hurt him. And, as a result, it hardened him. The restful, unstructured days of summer brought healing and restoration. But not just to Zechariah. To me. To my relationship with my son.

The struggle Zechariah went through in school was compounded by my desire for him to excel. I pushed him to work harder – to “reach his potential.” I was looking to the future and college. But in looking too far forward, I missed what was going on in the present. I missed the fact that I had placed a heavy burden on my son’s shoulders.

This past summer, Yahweh made a schedule for Zechariah. It involved time with family and friends. Those special people in Zechariah’s life brought back the joy he was missing. And while Yahweh healed Zechariah, He changed me. Yahweh showed me how to encourage and support my son without tearing him down. Yahweh taught me how to SHOW my love to Zechariah – through the words I spoke, through the time I gave, through the willingness to just sit and listen.

These last two weeks of summer have been filled with a peace in our home that we haven’t experienced in a long time. Our family vacation was conflict-free and filled with enjoyment and fun. That’s probably why I’m not ready for summer to end. But end it must.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens” (Ecclesiastes 3:1 NIV).

This school year is another milestone year for the youngest of Mom and Dad’s grandkids. Kristin moved into her first apartment away from home, in Georgetown. Julie is in her senior year at William & Mary. Lindsey starts her senior year at Princess Anne High school. And Zechariah starts ninth grade at Bayside High School.

Perhaps it’s just me, but sometimes I just want time to stand still. Or maybe go back to where the only thing on the children’s minds were what game to play next. But time goes on. And it’s time for a new year to start, filled with new knowledge and new experiences.

Yesterday, Zechariah told me that he was actually looking forward to school. He said he always liked learning. He is ready. He’s ready for school and ready to grow up. I hope I’m ready – to help him grow up.

Tomorrow I release my son into a new world. He has left the burden of middle school behind him and is ready for a fresh start. And he will have the love and re-vamped support from his dad and me.

To my precious Zechariah, my lovely Rodil nieces, and to all my family and friends, I pray over you the promise from Psalm 121:7-8 (NIV):

Yahweh will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life. Yahweh will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.”


At Last…Happily Ever After

Sunday evening, May 28, 2017 – the much-anticipated wedding.

The setting: the Chrysler Museum of Art.

Tall pillars align the sides of the grand room. At the far end of the room, angled stairwells, artfully decorated with floral arrangements and draping white fabric, frame a beautiful wall of flowers. The scene is reminiscent of the ballroom in the Disney animated movie “Beauty and the Beast.”

The string ensemble begins to play. The grandmothers are escorted to their seats of honor.

Then the groom enters with his mother – he, tall and handsome in his tuxedo and she, radiant and beautiful in her pink gown.

Next to enter – the mother of the bride, regal and matronly, escorted by the bride’s stalwart brother.

From the side enter the pastor-father, the groom and the best man. As the strings fill the grand room with the music of the ages, the groom is overcome with emotion. Could this really be what he has pictured in his mind and rehearsed day after day, year after year, waiting for the perfect moment – the perfect girl?

Pair by pair the wedding party enter. The groom’s men looking sharp in their tailor-made tuxedos. The bride’s maids lovely in their individually-chosen pink gowns. Then, as if to remind everyone of the joy and wonderment of the occasion, the flower girls and Bible bearers make their way to the waiting groom.

Finally, the moment has arrived – the bride enters with the protective hands of her brothers on each of her arms. The maiden, whose quiet and gentle spirit stole the Prince’s heart and the hearts of his family. Elegant and beautiful in her wedding gown, she is met by her Prince.

The marriage is sealed. The Prince and his Princess are married – Jeremiah and Corazon are ONE.

Those of us who were blessed to witness the wonderful wedding ceremony and celebrate at the reception that followed felt like the guests at Cinderella’s ball. We had the opportunity to dress up and walk through the halls of the Chrysler – the venue that meant so much to Jeremy and Cora during their courtship. The couple allowed us into their world and let us participate in their dream.

The beautiful flowers and decorations, imagined and designed by Sally, were lovingly assembled by loyal family and friends as a show of appreciation for the tireless efforts of Sally to make everything beautiful for the weddings of others. The well-planned and executed programs for the wedding ceremony and reception were orchestrated by the loving efforts of Jayna and co-coordinator Aiden.

To those who devoted many months of their time in preparation for the grand event, you transformed the grand room into a palace. And for those of us who were able to play even a small role, what an honor to be part of that day.

I remember when Jeremy was younger he used to like the movie “Ever After,” a reimagining of the classic Cinderella. Like Prince Charming, he searched. But as I watched my nephew and listened to his vows, I realized what he had been searching for. And it appeared that he found what he was looking for – certainty within himself that he could provide for and love and respect and protect and remain devoted to the love of his life. That there is a Creator, and that his Creator had smiled on him that day. Jeremy has always wanted everything to be just right. And from where I sat, I could see that he found within his heart a readiness to receive the treasure from Heaven and be the husband Cora truly deserved.

The authors of fairytales create splendor, elegance, happy endings. But those stories aren’t really true to life. Not the case for Jeremy and Cora.

Yahweh is the Creator of true grace and generosity and a beautiful spirit. All these wonderful qualities in Cora that Jeremy adores and treasures are from Yahweh alone. The gentleness, integrity, and devotion that fills Jeremy’s heart are also from Yahweh. Yahweh chose Jeremy for Cora and Cora for Jeremy before the beginning of time. And since He wrote their story, everything about their lives is true and real.

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, and coming down from the Father….” James 1:17 NIV.

To Jayna:     It was so good to hear the gratitude and admiration Jeremy expressed when he and Cora thanked you for all you did for them. You are truly gifted. And Stephen – your love and support for Jayna is always appreciated because you play a big role in the success of all her ventures.

Louie and Sally:     You both have such open and generous hearts. So many of us have been blessed by your willing and giving spirits. It was a grand celebration of the love that flows from your marriage to your children. Because of you, your son’s dream has come true.

To the entire Mesia family:     I know that I speak for the entire Asercion family when I say “Welcome!” We are so happy to be a part of your family and you ours.

To Cora and Jeremy:     Thank you for allowing us to be part of your fairytale wedding. What a wonderful day! And thank you for honoring Mama by requesting that her Bible be part of the ceremony. I visited Mama and Papa’s resting place the day after your wedding.  They would have been so proud of both of you. As I looked at the picture of their smiling faces, I couldn’t help but say, “It was a good day.”

My prayer for you:    “May the grace of [Sovereign Yeshua Messiah], and the love of [Yahweh], and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you….” 2 Corinthians 13:14 NIV

With Yahweh as the Author and Center of your marriage, you will live “Happily Ever After.”

Grand Opening

Allegra’s Gallery had its grand opening yesterday. Aiden and Andrew’s Bridal and Formal Wear salon has been open for business since last month, but yesterday was a celebration of the birth of their new venture.

Despite the cold and wind, the ribbon-cutting ceremony was the start of a warm invitation for family and friends to experience the excitement of the day.

When customers walked through the doors, they were greeted by, well, “Bright and Happy.”

Newly arrived gowns sparkled under the light cascading down from the chandeliers. Upbeat music flowed from DJ Raymond’s sound system. The open floor plan welcomed exploration.

But most importantly, each newcomer was greeted with hospitality and a smile. Even window-shoppers couldn’t help but get caught up in the happy, energetic atmosphere.

Let’s face it. Most women, regardless of our age, love to play dress-up. A beautiful gown and glittering shoes let us become princesses for even a moment. So, it was extra fun to watch the ladies step onto the platform and view themselves for the first time in the mirror.

A little girl, the daughter of a bride-to-be, jumped up and clapped her hands when she saw herself in her junior bridesmaid dress. A young lady shimmied to the music in the blue prom dress. A wife paraded and posed in her gown as her appreciative husband became her paparazzi.

The most touching moment for me was when a young lady, who serves our country, finally found her wedding dress. She had tried five dresses the day before. But when she put on her first pick in Allegra’s, a new arrival, that was it. The dress was perfect. No alterations needed. Her excitement was so contagious! She twirled and danced as her mother snapped picture after picture.

At one point, there were two to three customers waiting to check out with their purchases. Over the course of a couple of hours, several gowns and shoes were sold. It obviously was a successful Grand Opening.

As a doting Aunt, I couldn’t have been more excited for Andrew and Aiden. But I also couldn’t have been more proud. They used the launching of their store to help advertise other small businesses as well. Makeup specialists, custom decorators, a photographer and a videographer were all able to showcase their talents and receive inquiries that hopefully will lead to clients. They wanted to spread the “wealth” with those vendors and not keep the blessings just to themselves. And Andrew and Aiden wanted to make sure to include those who matter most to them – their family and friends.

Just before they cut the ribbon, Andrew offered a prayer and asked Yahweh to oversee their new business. Even with all their preparation – networking, advertising, purchasing – he and Aiden placed their hopes and dreams in Yahweh’s hands.

In his Sabbath message, Uncle Louie shared a message about Joshua. In Joshua 1:7-8 (NIV), Yahweh encourages the new leader of His chosen people: “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law My servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.”

Louie then pointed out that “success” in Yahweh’s eyes is very different from the world’s view. Doing the will of Yahweh, walking in His path, glorying His Name, and finding and doing what Yahweh has purposed for our lives – these are what make us successful.

We all want Aiden and Andrew and Allegra’s Gallery to succeed. If the Grand Opening Day is an indication of the days, months, and years to come—a day filled with bringing happiness to people, helping others with their own business dreams, including family and loved ones in the blessings, honoring Yahweh and keeping Him the focus of every thought and decision—then Andrew and Aiden have already succeeded.

Psalms 90:17 (Jerusalem Bible): May the sweetness of Yahweh be on us! Make all we do succeed.

To Aiden and Andrew – May the sweetness of Yahweh be with you on your new journey.


Changes aren’t among my favorite things. Let me qualify that. Changes I can’t control tie my stomach in knots. And my stomach was in a wretched mess for pretty much of August.

Andrew and Aiden’s wedding was the first change and, thankfully, a quite happy one. The timing was definitely a blessing. Their festivities helped me not dwell on the fact that Zechariah became a teenager that day.

Teenager. It sounds so much older than middle-schooler. But so did kindergartner, first-grader, and fifth-grader. I look at Zechariah’s 3rd grade first-day-of-school picture on our refrigerator and compare his little face to the face of the young man I sent off to school today. So many changes.

Thanks to A & A’s wedding again, I only had moments to contemplate other major changes and, thus, avoided a major meltdown: the brand new pathways to be traveled by the Rodil sisters.

Kristin left for Georgetown and is no longer “just down the road.” She’s in her first apartment, cooking for herself, and experiencing life in a big city. And she’s officially crossed over from “big girl” to “young adult” as she pursues her studies in law school.

Julie is, for the first time, just “Julie.” She has always been her own person, but this year she will experience life on her own. Julie is flying solo doing “big girl” stuff at William & Mary.

And then there’s Lindsey. A junior in high school this year. When I let my mind wander too much I start thinking how she’ll be a senior all too soon. Then she goes and gets her driving permit.

There were many times last month that the pit in my stomach was so full of those knots that I didn’t think I could breath. The changes meant that our little ones are growing up. And for me, for some reason, that thought has been tearing (pronounced either or both ways) me up.

Then it came. One of those “breakthrough moments.”

Zechariah reminded me of our day-before-the-first-day-of-school tradition.

When Zechariah was starting kindergarten, we woke him up early Labor Day and took him out to Cracker Barrel. We wanted to get him used to his school schedule. We did that Labor Day ritual for about 2 more years. Then he decided he wanted breakfast in bed the day before school started so he could watch TV early in the morning.

So yesterday morning, we woke Zechariah up early and gave him the traditional breakfast-in-bed. Then in the evening, after family devotion and preparations for bed, we had our little Mommy-Son bedtime conversation, Mommy’s prayer after his silent prayer, and the turning on of the alarm clock.

The tradition of reading to Zechariah before bedtime had long passed. I told him I missed it. He agreed it was nice but said it didn’t interest him anymore. Then, perhaps for my benefit more than his, he asked me to stay with him to help him sleep. As his lullaby music gently filled his room, he held my hand to his chest and drifted off to sleep.

Not too long ago, my thirteen-year-old smiled and announced that he was excited to become an adult. During one of our precious family outings he had seen a convertible. He remembered how Mama had promised to buy him one when he was old enough to drive. So when he announced how he couldn’t wait to grow up, it was in hopeful anticipation of getting a job and owning a convertible of his own.

Zechariah’s statement jabbed at my heart for a moment. I wasn’t ready for him to grow up—to be a teenager, to be in eighth grade. But he was looking forward to adulthood. And as he told us his plans, I realized that he was including us in them. He wasn’t anxious to grow up to get away from us. He was anticipating the wonder of his future life, and we were still very much a part of it.

Changes can’t be stopped. Neither can the growing up of our kids. And rightly so.

Yahweh has blessed us with healthy children who are able to grow—body, mind, and spirit. It’s our job as parents to prepare them for life so that they meet the changes successfully and make the right choices.

But thank Yahweh for traditions—those moments, whether they stay the same or change with time, that will keep us connected to our children no matter how grown up they get.

Those traditions help make changes…well…exciting.

One Plus One…Becomes One

On a warm Sunday morning in July of 2015, a whirlwind started.

Backtrack some more. To Mother’s Day 2014. That was when Andrew introduced us to his “+ 1” and Aiden officially became his girlfriend. Now back, again, to that July Sunday—when Andrew’s “girlfriend” became his fiancée. When “One Plus One” became an engaged Couple.

A flurry of planning, events and preparations followed – flowers, shopping for gowns, looking for venues, flowers, invitations, shopping for suits, flowers, Washington DC bachelor/bachelorette weekend, flowers and flowers.

August 14, 2016 – Wedding Day.

It could have been a set for a Disney princess-movie wedding scene. Flowers by Sally, inspired by the bride’s imagination, created a magical, fairytale garden. The groom stood straight and tall beside his best man and Pastor Uncle Louie. The bride’s-maids’ gowns glittered in the light in contrast to the crisp groom’s-men’s suits. The Bible and ring bearers and flower girls, all under the age of two (rather fitting for a pediatrician groom) were carried/escorted by their parents.

Enter the bride. She floated down the aisle, lovely in her princess-gown, on the arm of her father. The Prince approached to claim his Princess.

After their pledge of love and commitment to each other, before Yahweh and family and friends, Andrew and Aiden became One.

The beauty of the wedding involved many people. The tireless floral team led by Sally, Jayna and her assistant coordinators, Ray and John Mark for the video and slideshow presentations – all their efforts were for one goal. To make Aiden and Andrew’s dream wedding become reality. And they succeeded. The bride and groom showed their appreciation in a major way by throwing a magnificent party. Those of us who weren’t part of the behind-the-scenes production were privileged to take part in the festivities.

Amidst of the ceremony and celebration, a theme for the wedding and marriage began to develop. It was beautifully illustrated in John Mark’s toast to his brother.

“Centi’anni!” 100 years!

John Mark spoke on how the families of the bride and groom were founded over the past one hundred years by four couples. The grandparents who had hopes and dreams for their children and grandchildren set the stage for the joining of the two families. And even though they were not able to witness the blessed event – because of distance or separation from this earthly life—their legacy of faith and love would continue through the marriage of Andrew and Aiden.

It was clear that the foresight of two grandmothers played a major role in bringing the newlyweds together. According to Adane, Nanay Linda did her matchmaking through covert activities. And, as Julie shared, Mama Fe did hers through prayer and gently advising. They chose well for their grandchildren.

One hundred years. The foundation was laid. A good and strong foundation because of Uncle Along and Auntie Bay and Mom and Dad. They passed their faith and love to David and Ruthie who built on that solid foundation. And now they have passed their legacy to Andrew so that he can build his own story with Aiden.

“Unless Yahweh builds the house the builders labor in vain….” Psalm 127: 1 (NIV).

Ruthie and David: it is evident to all that your house was built by Yahweh, and He dwells among you and your family. Your children are definitely a heritage from Yahweh. And because of your faithfulness, Yahweh has blessed you with another addition to your “quiver.” (Psalm 127:5)

Andrew: You have truly honored your heritage – in your obedience to Yahweh and in your devotion to Him and to your family. In turn, Yahweh has blessed you with a beautiful bride who will love and honor you, will love and accept your family, and most of all will walk with you as you serve Yahweh.

Aiden: Thank you for loving our Andrew and making him the happiest of men. Because of the faith of your parents and grandparents, you have been blessed with a good, Yahweh-fearing husband who will, love, honor and protect you. Our entire family welcomes you and your family with open arms.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares Yahweh, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)

To Andrew and Aiden: Live long and prosper.

And live “happily ever after” in the grace of Yahweh through our Savior Yeshua Messiah.

My Silver Lining

July 7, 1991. It was like a dream. Makeup. Hairspray. Gown. Bouquet. The princess getting ready to meet her prince. And the princess that day was me!

The drive to the church was exciting in my limo “carriage.” But as we made that last turn, I held my breath. Would he really be there? I exhaled when I saw the prince’s “white horse” – a cream Toyota pickup truck with Texas license plates. He was there.

At last it was time for Dad to walk me down the aisle. And I saw my prince standing straight and tall – handsome in his black uniform pants and white Navy dress jacket, medals and all.

Song. Reading. Message. Song. Candles. Vows. Kiss.

My dream come true.

Sounds perfect, right? Well, let me tell you….

Two days before the wedding:

Asercion family portrait – of Mom and Dad with all their children and spouses (groom wasn’t officially a member yet – so he had better show up at the church); mad rush to get the grandkids settled and everyone to the portrait studio on time.

Rehearsal – groom totally disagreed on the arrangement of the wedding party on the stage. One wedding coordinator, Ate Aida, shook her head and got out of the way to let bride and groom have at.

Tuxedo rentals – Something wrong with father of the groom’s tux; groom threatened that his dad won’t wear a tux; bride storms out of house; sister of bride, Ruthie, took bride to grocery store to buy something, anything. Junior groom’s man Jeremy’s tux pants fit way too tight; rental sales person swore skinny-stick-legs Jeremy must have gained weight; sister of bride, Sandy, had it out with sales person that they better fix it.

Wedding day: Pre-ceremony – Bible-bearer John John and ring-bearer Joey throw chalkboard erasers at each other and wrestle like in the WWF. Ceremony – bride hysterically crying as soon as she enters the sanctuary; groom crying but won’t admit it. Reception – chicken undercooked for about half the guests.

Not so dreamy, right? Makes you wonder if it was really meant to be.

A year after the wedding, the Lorenzos visited us while we were living in Delaware. Zee was being…well…Zee. Little Stephanie glared at him and asked me, “Why did you marry him anyway?” Uncle Zee replied, “Because your Papa paid me $5000.” (Now Dad never confirmed or denied Zee’s claim. But he did say to Zee at the end of our reception, “No returns.”)

But Zee’s answer was why HE married ME. Stephanie asked why I married HIM.

So maybe it’s time I answered her question.

There’s a line in the movie “Gigi” where Gigi declares, “Oh Gaston! I rather be miserable with you than without you!” Well, that’s not the answer. I married Zee:

Because he made my life interesting. He took me off guard with some of the things he did and said. He added spontaneity and the element of the surprise to my routine and inflexible life.

Because he made me laugh. His humor took the intensity of my personality down a few notches. He taught me how to laugh at myself, and he was confident and humble enough to laugh at himself.

Because he took care of me. He made me feel safe and secure. He comforted me and took care of my emotional needs.

Because he encouraged me. He supported all my endeavors. He pushed me to reach my dreams and potential.

Because he was a man of integrity. He kept his word. He followed a high standard of work ethics. He met his responsibilities in his profession and personal life.

Because he accepted and loved my family. He showed concern for the welfare of every member of my family. He lent a helping hand whenever needed.

Because he accepted Yeshua as his Savior. He gave up friends and part of his way of life to honor and follow Yahweh. He obeyed Yahweh’s precepts and gave his life to Yahweh and Yeshua Messiah.

Because he loved me. And because I loved him. Unlike Gigi from the movie, I wouldn’t be miserable with him. But I would be totally miserable without him. When the cloud of loneliness and despair just about engulfed me, Yahweh provided Zee as my silver lining.

“Delight thyself also in Yahweh, and He shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” Psalm 37:4 (KJV)

Was my marrying Zee meant to be? You bet. I hoped it after he smiled at me for the first time. And I knew it when he gave his life to Yeshua and asked to be baptized.

And for 25 years I still know it. He still does and still is all of the above, and more.

Zechariah asked me if the 25th wedding anniversary is the most important one. It isn’t, really. Though we celebrate milestone anniversaries, each anniversary is as important as the next. Every year, every day, every moment we have with our husband or wife, is a blessed gift from Yahweh.

To my Prince: Happy 25th Wedding Anniversary. I am so thankful that you are Yahweh’s answer to the “desire of my heart.” Thank you for the laughter and adventure. Thank you for making me feel safe and secure. For taking care of Zechariah and me. For encouraging me to go after my dreams. For loving and protecting my family. For being the spiritual leader of our family and being a model of integrity to Zechariah. For partnering with me on our spiritual journey through life. Thank you for comforting me and lifting me up. For loving me.

I will always love you.

A Prince of a Dad

Father’s Day was spent quietly and relaxing – for me anyway. Zee got up before Zechariah and I did. By the time we got his cards and gifts together for him to open, he already had the second load of laundry running. But to our defense, he didn’t really want to do anything special. He just wanted to spend the day at home. (Lucky for us that included doing laundry.)

Even though it was nice to have a leisure time together, I have to admit that somehow the day did not seem complete. It’s been almost five years since Dad went to his final rest. But I still miss the part of Father’s Day when we meet together at 809 St. Clement Road to spend time with Dad.

I didn’t feel crying-sad yesterday. Just missing-sad.

I miss Dad. The way he sniff-kissed us. The coffee he would always prepare. His smile. His jokes (no matter how corny). His complete devotion to Mom. His heartfelt, eloquent prayers. His care and affection.

Someone once commented, rather accusingly, that Dad treated me like a princess. And he did—but not just me. He treated Mom, his daughters and granddaughters like royalty. He was the ultimate gentleman: an excellent role model for his sons and grandsons, and a tough example to follow for his sons-in-law.

Dad loved his ten children (through birth and marriage) and all of his grandchildren unconditionally. His last words to me were, “I love you.” He put those words into action throughout his service to his family and his Heavenly Father. I thank Yahweh that He gave us such a willing, selfless servant to represent His love for us in this life. Halleluyah for the blessed hope that we will see Dad – Papa – again and be with him and Mom for eternity.

Dad was a prince of a father – a man of true royalty.

Until we meet again, Dad. I love you, too.