Going to the Top of the Mountain

One of the highlights of my year is going to our church’s bible conference. Asi es, we make that long 6 hour drive, ending with a winding mountain top, all for us to hear 17 seminars/sermons, aimed to keep us on the straight and narrow. Pero es más que eso

It is a mountaintop retreat for me. A week away from the hustle and bustle at home, a time for just Ben and I. I’m not that girly girl that likes to dress up, I don’t care for all the hard work of  primping, but I do like the end results when I stand in front of the mirror, que guapa! I drink up all the nuggets of truth and inspiration that fill my mind, heart and notebook when I sit and listen to each seminar. The Donut break and afternoon break gives me that wonderful opportunity to reconnect with old friends and when I’m feeling bold and confident, I step out and make a new friend. Sabes que? Conference time makes my flaco such a social butterfly, this man of few words, goes around getting to know his brethren! It makes me kinda sorta jealous of him and for him. Then there’s the updates, I love them! The missionaries we send and support all around the world, come home and share their experiences. They pass the mantle to men of those nations; nationals, who carry on the vision. I’m not a world traveler, but hearing the various accents, seeing the cultural attire while listening to glimpses of all those supernatural things that God is doing around the world helps me see the incredible thing I’m a part of. 

My fellowship ( Asi es. Zepedas, maybe Mexicans across the board, tend to appropriate everything they are attached to. Something very personal happens and we must declare it with “my” well because, it’s mine) CFM Ministries; Christian Fellowship Ministries- a Pentecostal movement born during the Jesus People revival. One small struggling church in Prescott Az. grew to a network of thousands of churches worldwide with a mission to preach the gospel. Bible conferences bring our churches together for a time of refreshment and renewed vision. 

 The highlight of the conference at the end of the week is to hear the announcements of new churches going domestically and internationally. Ves, for me it is so very personal, because in 1983 a couple rose to the challenge and came to San Diego to start a church. Just the couple and their kids, we call it “pioneering”. I was ‘born again’ in 1984 after hearing the message of salvation and because they went there, into my city, I’ve had this anchor all of my adult life.

Almost 40 years later, besides my church, our fellowship is over 20 churches strong in San Diego. This January conference, 7 international works were announced and several domestic works around the U.S. Gloria a Dios! Me atrevo a decir, God is advancing his gospel message around the world. Announcements were made for Samoa, Sudan y por supuesto, I was excited to hear 2 announcements of churches into the heart of Mexico.

Y sabes otra cosa? Besides all the excitement of new churches and new christians, I have my own personal turning points. Milestones that happened while I absorbed the full conference experience. 

  • It was at one of my first conferences on a nice Arizona warm desert day that I broke up with my Flaco, because in this Jesus People culture, dating is intended to lead to Gods institution of marriage! Hijole! I felt that marriage wasn’t for me, at least not until I was very old, like 30. Pero, as soon as our relationship ended, I began to wonder if  marriage could be blessed? Indeed! I know now, after 33 years with my Benjamin, that in Christ, a marriage covenant could be prosperous, even when our traditional culture and color was so opposite. Gracias a Dios for my patient cold blooded Englishman from the East Coast, he learned how to roll with this feisty latina woman from the West Coast. Y yo? Well learned how to be still…. mas o menos 😏 
  • It was at a conference that Ben was approached about his little girl and this time he wouldn’t say “she’s too young”. In a twinkling of an eye she had entered that grown up stage of life. Dating, whirlwind and marriage. Is it ok if I tell you that nobody warned me about that part of parenting, you know when you must release your child. Hijole, it was hard, you lose a part of you for a season.
  • Pero! Then came the conference that another turning point came. El gran dia that I turned the corner and became an abuela. It was a bittersweet day, Maricella was supposed to wait until I got back from the conference. I would be ready to receive my reward. Pero, instead she arrived early we welcomed her into the world via facetime and she welcomed us home! Ahora, We, Apa and Ama have 8 little gems. I have forgotten the days I thought I lost my children, my hands are full again.
  • It was at a conference during the exciting time of announcements that we heard a very personal announcement. “Out of San Diego Ca. into Bonita Ca. (also a community of San Diego) Jon & Denise Greene.” My heart swelled with delight at the very idea that my hijo and his beautiful helpmeet would be pioneering a church. In my heart I’ve always held a special place for the pioneer pastor who willingly leaves behind his steady grounded life to go to regions beyond. Y para que? To preach the message of the gospel to individuals like me, some broken, some empty, trying to find their way in life. Y ahora, my son is out preaching and teaching. Mi hijo, el pastor. Hijole! Maybe he’s gonna get a “Rosie” in his church?
Pastor Greene and his proud Mexican-American Mama

Sometimes, especially in these 2 years with the Covid invasion, my faith has been challenged and I’ve had to stand when I’m too tired. It’s a  spiritual connection with a supernatural God who loves me, us, who graciously refills our vessel through his word. Por supuesto that this connection also happens at home alone during my devotions, or when I go to church. O ya sabes, God is with us always, pero, at conferences I am stirred when I see what God is doing all around the world for any willing and open heart. It’s catching a vision of hope for the lost, and for me. Lost men and women who are restored and go back into all the world to rescue a soul.  CFM Bible Conferences, quizas they sound dull or boring, but they are a lifeline to me. I love what God does through them.

Our Cord of Three Strands – 33 Years of Destiny

A marriage contract can sound so serious, verdad? How about a wedding vow, a heartfelt promise, a covenant, I remember using all these to consider the weight of marriage.

I just got back from a sweet country wedding in the beautiful state if Oregon. My bestie’s son was married. Oh how I appreciated the “Cord of Three Strands” tradition, a beautiful picture of marriage with God in the mix.  As it always happens when I am at a wedding, I am pulled back into the  memories of my own love story. 

Watching the young couple, I caught my breath, as I remembered the butterflies that  grabbed me on my own wedding day. Today marks 33 years of marriage with my Benjamin, my flaco, my orejónel amor de mi vida. For Ben, I wanted to shine and I did. It was a simple wedding, no embellishments, no glitter except what comes from pure and genuine love.

The Truest Love

I come from the 80s, and I come from dysfunction. Marriage wasn’t something I wanted or cared for. Having a boyfriend was cool, but I saw too much heartbreak in marriage to hope for any good to come from it. My 18 year old self felt a strong conviction that marriage was for the blind.

Pero una noche, on a clear hot dessert night, the truest love came. I gave myself completely to the only one who could heal my heart. Imaginate! I was a new girl and I began to view marriage differently.  In His hands my broken heart would be mended and one day I would marry the right one, at the right time. 

Then came Ben. Otra vez me enamore, I fell in love again, but we came from different worlds. It’s true, opposites do attract. He liked me, I liked him, he was cute, but he was too quiet. I couldn’t figure him out.

I wish I could say it was a lovely transition, a beautiful dance of courting. It wasn’t, neither of us can dance. Ya se, how can a Mexican have no rhythm? My desire was there, I liked that foreigner from the East coast; un gringo! My heart fluttered whenever I looked at Ben.  He couldn’t be the one. White wasn’t on my radar, I wasn’t trying to choose him. Ben had chosen me and when his gaze lingered on me, I could not deny what was unfolding. I needed time, I needed assurance, and I needed God in the mix of it all. We took our time. Have I told you that Ben is a patient man?

Marriage was a serious matter for me, I was apprehensive about the “embellishments” of a mixed marriage. As usual, I sorted out my thoughts, worries, and emotions and I clung to my terapista (my journal)!  I laid everything out, all the intricate parts of my thoughts, what I considered pros and cons, and ALL the differences… It helped me come to a good conclusion and move forward. I’ve never played with legos, pero, if you have kids then you have seen and felt the intricate pieces of a “lego work” when it’s laid out. Ouch!  That’s how writing can be, words thrown onto the pages of my journal or notebook, for later use. Saco todo, I just kind of unpack everything in my journals, eventually I circle around to it again. (37 years of journaling books do take up space pero ni modo, I’m old school, I’ve got to have the hard copy!)

When the time came to say those precious vows, my whole heart was ready.

I, Rosalba Zepeda, take thee Benjamin Walter Greene, to be my wedded husband from this day forward…. Oh what sweet love….

I wrote this poem a few years ago about that journey to the altar, remembering those promises I made as a starry eyed young bride. Here’s a glimpse of that walk down the aisle to my Benjamin. 

Destined

He wasn’t my first love, or even my choice

As I walked in my new life, I happened upon him

Two different worlds, the East and the West

A cold-blooded Englishman was calling on me?

As I walked in my new life, I happened upon him

He seemed not to notice my very brown skin.

A cold-blooded Englishman was calling on me?

He weathered the time and my chaos within

His strong white hand covered my young brown skin

As I poised for the battle, he watched with few words

He weathered the time and my chaos within

 God lighted the path that I carefully took

As I poised for the battle, he watched with few words

An array of bright colors our differences made

Our God lighted path we joyfully walked

He wasn’t my first love but with time he was my choice

Our Cord of Three Strands

More than three decades might not seem that long, but it is most of my adult life, more than half my lifetime. Mira nomas!  God’s hand has been on our marriage covenant. 

I don’t want to discourage anyone, especially my two bachelor sons but, some of those 12,045 days of the last 33 years were lived in reverse and the only one who could push us forward was the third person in our marriage cord, Christ. Through Him, with Him I can confidently say “I do” again and a again. I’ve seen the blessing of him holding us together.

The echoes of laughter resound in my mind as I remember our moped drive around the city of Mazatlan Mexico. Young, inexperienced and without credit cards, Mr. and Mrs. Greene moved along the busy streets to see what we could see, enjoying each other more than the beautiful beaches surrounding us. Life came hard and fast. As a young wife, I felt the gape of loss when my ama passed into eternity, who would guide through the early years in my kitchen? Y mi amor, my quiet Benjamin never left my side. I still hear Ben’s calm voice  saying, soothing my fearful cries, “It’s ok, it’s gonna be ok,” when the doctor told us he would have to do a C-section to deliver our first baby. Then I was there again on that operating table, ready to receive our second boy. Imaginate el gozo! When our little bundle was a wee little girl!

Oh how I felt the chasm of east to the west when Ben had to leave me to be with his mother as she finished her days here on earth. I had to be strong, I couldn’t be needy, Bens mama was dying. Pero que feo sentí esa separación. Separations were and are hard for me.  Again I say, hats off to the Navy wife. A heartfelt appreciation and salute for our military families

These are only a few recuerdos, highlights  from the first decade of our life together. God has given us an abundant life together. It wasn’t perfect or painless, but it was beautiful. A marriage covenant with Jesus in it, is the way to go.