Friday, September 26, 2014

Catching up

Though my intention was to continue to update our blog on a regular basis, I am embarrassed to see that it has been close to a year since I have posted. So much has happened in the past year that I'm not entirely sure where to start.

Raul had the opportunity to go to Mexico last January to visit his grandfather and the rest of  his friends and family in Santa Monica, Puebla. When he arrived home, his restricted driving permit for work was ready and waiting for him. So, he has been driving to and from work as well as driving to and from different work sites since last winter. He will soon be eligible to apply for full reinstatement of his license. We can't wait!

While Raul was in Mexico, I found out that I was pregnant. My original plan was to wait to tell him until he came home, but I couldn't wait that long, so I had the pleasure of telling Raul that he was going to be a daddy over the phone. I was expecting a small freak out, but Raul was nothing but excited. We began calling the baby baby Joey since Raul was counting on it being a boy. He was under the impression that he was to name the boys and I would name the girls (assuming that we have more than one child, of course). No matter how hard I tried to convince him that a child could not just be named Joey and that he needed a proper longer name like Joseph or Jose, Raul insisted the baby was to be Joey.  However, months later the ultrasound confirmed that baby Joey was a girl. Then Raul  asked the question, "What are we going to name her?" So much for me picking out the girl names! :)

Spring semester was a memorable one for me since I was working full-time, completing my internship, and very pregnant. Thankfully, I had an easy pregnancy (compared to many other women) with no complications. I completed my internship hours on May 15th and graduated with my Masters in Mental Health Counseling on May 17th. It is so strange to think that my days of internship, homework, and test taking are over!

In May, we became home-owners. Raul's wish list for a home included a fireplace and a garage big enough for him to make into a work-shop.  My main requirement was that it was in a nice, safe neighborhood. God provided more than we could ask or imagine. Our home is not only in a nice neighborhood, but it has a fireplace, a 2 car garage, and many other "bonus" features such as a sun-room and a fenced in back yard. The location is perfect. We are only 7 minutes away from my sister and her family and 5 minutes away from Raul's parents.

Raul was busy all summer with home-improvement projects. He did a lot of work in the kitchen, giving me extra counter space and new counter tops. I was busy trying to catch up on baby preparations since I didn't have time to do anything while I was still completing my internship.

We finished the baby room just in time to welcome our daughter, Joie Faith Mozo (her daddy was very persuasive with the name). Joie came on her due date, September 3rd. My contractions started around 4:00 a.m. We got to the hospital at 6:00 a.m. and she was born at 1:46 p.m. Everything went smoothly and we brought our daughter home on September 5th. My mom was able to spend the first two weeks of Joie's life here with us in our home. It was so nice to have a mommy to help me get used to being a mommy while Raul was away at work during the day. What a blessing it is to have our own home with enough room for Grandma Gibbs to come and stay with us.

As I write the blog Raul and our daughter are taking a nap on the couch together. Parenthood is harder than I could ever have imagined, but I can now understand that indescribable love that a mother has for her child. I have also fallen deeper in love with Joie's daddy. There is nothing more sexy than watching a father care for his child! :) we are in our next chapter of life. Lots more adventures to come, I'm sure.

Saturday, November 9, 2013


Sorry it has been so long since I have updated you all on the life of the Gizzos. It seems hard to believe that it has almost been a year since we got the letter from Homeland Security telling us that our waiting would soon be over and the Gizzos would be reunited on this side of the border. We continue to praise the Lord for the miracle that he performed in parting the Rio Grande, so to speak, to let my husband come home to us.

We received another exciting letter in the mail this week. About a month and a half ago, Raul had his hearing to see if his driver's license could be reinstated. Raul has not had a license since his accident when he was 18 and has had to rely on public transportation or family or friends to get to and from work or anywhere else he needs to be. This Wednesday we learned that he was approved for a restricted driving permit that allows him to drive to and from work and on the job as well. After 9 months, he is able to apply for full reinstatement. Since he will soon be able to drive on the job, Raul's boss has told him that he will be able to offer him full-time hours on a regular basis. This is also big news for us since the hours he has been able to work has varied from week to week. More money coming in means the faster we will be able to save for a place of our own!

I am almost half-way done with my internship at Nicasa. So far, I have really been enjoying this experience. My time there is spent doing DUI evaluations, co-leading substance abuse treatment groups and doing lots and lots of paperwork (case management). I have recently been given the opportunity to do some one-on-one counseling with a couple of clients who are in my high risk group for those who have been diagnosed as dependent (addicted) on alcohol or drugs. I am hoping to get more one on one opportunities in the semester to come. Graduation date is set for May 17, 2014 (assuming I passed my comprehensive exam that I took today).

Though a year ago I was counting down the days to my next trip to Mexico, Raul is now the one who is counting. Raul will be traveling to Mexico to visit his family and friends at the end of December. I did laugh when he turned to me the other day and said, "It's November. Next month I go to Mexico!" Now where have I heard something like that before....? He is excited to go "back home" and I'm glad he has the opportunity to go. I'm hoping to use the time while he's gone to pack in some extra internship hours.

There is hardly a day that goes by when I do not thank God for the life that he has blessed us with. What a story he has given us, and we are excited (though at times a little anxious) to see his plan for our lives unfolding. Though I have said this time and time again, I still marvel at the fact that "God can do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to his work within us. (Ephesians 3:20)" God is good and we are blessed.

Monday, May 27, 2013


This update blog is quite a few months later than I had originally anticipated. It is  hard to believe that Raul has been home for almost 4 months now. In many ways, it seems like we picked up right where we left off. We moved back in with Raul's parents until we can get our own place. Raul was able to return to his old job. Even though the amount of hours per week are not guaranteed, he has been averaging at least 3 or 4 days of work per week. Some weeks, he even gets over 40 hours. Much of our free time is spent with his side of the family or mine. Just like the good old days...

Yet, things are different this time as well. Before Raul left, we were in somewhat of a holding pattern. We could not make many plans for the future because we did not know where our future would be. Now that we are fairly certain that we will grow old together in the U.S.A., we are praying much about what God will have for us to do here. Where and when shall we buy a house? What will happen after I finish my internship next May? Should Raul go back to school and for what? There are many, many plans yet to unfold in the lives of the Gizzos. Though I must admit that I do still worry about the decisions ahead, I am mostly excited that we are finally able to move forward together, trusting that the Lord will provide and lead just as he has the past two years.

The Gizzos and the Warrens
It's been fun to see how excited people are for us. We have enjoyed going home to Iowa to visit my mom and family there. Raul is usually the center of attention as he has many stories from his Mexico days to share. No matter how many times I hear them, I always enjoy his tales of being a comandante (police officer). Last month, while we were in Iowa, we were able to have dinner with Jim and Peggy Warren, the couple who hosted Raul while he was in Juarez. They were visiting one of their supporting churches. It was fun for me to meet them in person, and they enjoyed catching up with Raul.

Next week, I will begin my internship for my master's program. I am happy that I am finally to this last stage of my program, but I am not looking forward to arriving home later in the evening. Though the internship is around 20 hours per week, I am glad that I have practically no travel time since it is literally 5 minutes or less from where we live. Though the clientele could be challenging because most are court mandated, I am excited for the hands on experience that I will gain in substance abuse treatment and prevention programs.

Well, I guess that's the quick update on our lives. I don't want to bore you with any more details! And for those of you who are, we do not have plans for the arrival of any little Gizzos until after my internship is complete. ;)

Sunday, March 3, 2013

A New Chapter

I am sorry it has taken so long for me to finally sit down and write this blog post. It is THE POST that I waited almost a year and a half to write. I had the privilege of picking up Mr. Gizzo from O'Hare Airport on Saturday, Feb. 9. It is hard to believe that he has been back home in Waukegan for almost a month.

Though I was envisioning a reunion made for the movies, somehow I missed seeing him at his baggage claim where I had been waiting since before his plane landed. I eventually got a call from him from outside where he was waiting for me. I have no idea how we missed each other, but I was relieved to hear his voice on the phone because I was starting to get worried something had gone wrong in Houston where he went through immigration and caught his connecting flight.

After we finally found each other, we made our way to Raul's parent's house. Though we had told them that he would be home soon, we did not tell them the exact date because Raul wanted to surprise them. And, surprise them we did. When we pulled up to the house, we saw the cars of his sisters and their families as well. They were at his parents' house celebrating the birthday of his brother in-law. Raul walked into the kitchen and everyone turned silent. They looked at him, then each other, then back at him, and one by one the women in the family began screaming. It was priceless.  We spent the rest of the evening at his family's house before we headed back to my roommate Jen's place where we spent the night.

The next day, Sunday, we headed to church where Raul again was able to surprise more than a few people. It was fun to see everyone's smiles when they saw him, especially the youth at the church. I was busy the week before organizing a welcome back party for him. We had an "All-American" menu --fried chicken, mac and cheese, potato salad, and apple pie. If anyone needs a recipe for mac and cheese that feeds 100 people, I have a good one!

We're now settling into this new chapter of our marriage where we actually get to live together. For now, we are living with Raul's parents. The plan is that when Raul gets some steady income, we'll be able to save some money and buy a fixer-upper home. He was able to get in a week doing carpentry work with his former boss, but we are not sure if he will be able to get on full-time with him again. We should know in a few weeks.

These past few weeks have flown by. I've been busy with a modular class and lots of church meetings since our head pastor recently resigned. Raul has been busy meeting with old friends and hanging out with the family. He's also looking forward to working with the youth at our church again.

Right now, we are in Iowa celebrating Raul's return with my mom and the rest of my Iowa family. Raul has been entertaining the family with his stories about being a comandante (volunteer police officer) and his other adventures in Mexico. What a blessing it is to have him home.

Thanks again to everyone who prayed Raul home. Please continue to pray for us as we try to figure out what God wants us to do in this next chapter of our lives. Praise the Lord that we're fairly certain that this next chapter of our lives will take place in the U.S.A.!

Though I originally started the blog to update you all on everything immigration related, I hope to continue to blog from time to time to share what we Gizzos are up to. Until next time....

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Looking Back on a Year of Blessings

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will—  to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.  In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding,  he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ. 
Ephesians 1:3-10

At this time one year ago, we were in Panama on vacation. I remember looking forward to the end of 2011 because it had been a year full of hardships. The happiness of getting married had been overshadowed by my father's illness and eventual passing and by the immigration journey that we had just begun. There was no sadness in saying good-bye to 2011, that was for sure! I was hoping that 2012 would be as full of blessings as 2011 was full of heartaches. I am very blessed to say that it sure was!

As I just mentioned, we started off 2012 in Panama surrounded by family. We have many memories that will last a lifetime from that trip. It was a way for us all to get away from the worries back home for just a little bit and to enjoy God's beautiful creation and each other, not to mention that I got to spend two full weeks with Raul. Total number of pics from that trip? 6,000! For those of you who know my mother, that should not be a surprise.

Though Raul was planning on moving out of his grandpa's house after this trip to go to a bigger city to find a job, he started feeling more at home in his small pueblo of Santa Monica. Soon his days were filled with helping his grandpa doing various jobs, playing cards with "the guys", taking swims in the river, and fighting crime as a comandante. ;) The decision was made that unless something changed, he would continue to stay with his grandparents.

In March, I took vacation #2 of 2012 and flew to Mexico City to visit Raul. From there, we took a bus to the city of Puebla. Puebla is a beautiful city. I like it much better than Mexico City because it doesn't feel as crowed to me and I could walk on the sidewalks without being bumped into all of the time. We also took a 4 hour bus ride to Raul's "hometown" to visit his family and so I could see where he lived. Though it was way out of my comfort zone, I am very thankful that I had this opportunity because now I can actually picture the places and the people he speaks of when we have our daily chats on the phone.

On July 4th, I left for vacation #3 of 2012. It was pretty much a repeat of vacation #2. We stayed in the same hotel as before because it was very affordable, yet very clean. I don't need luxury, but cleanliness is a must! The presidential election in Mexico had just taken place and we participated in  a protest because, apparently, we did not agree with the way the election was handled. In reality, marching was the only way to get down the block and across the street, but...

In August, I started my counseling practicum with an organization called Teen Mother Choices (TMC). I was given the opportunity to have three clients of my own and to participate in  the life skills workshops that are held weekly. This opportunity has been a gift from God. Working with these young mothers has truly been a blessing to me, and I was excited to see their personal growth in just one semester. In addition to the the girls, I was able to connect with the mentor moms that work with them. I have learned a lot from them. I really clicked with one of the mentor moms, Lauren, and we have built a friendship outside of just our weekly meetings. I love new friends! Though I will not get any type of school credit, I have decided to volunteer at TMC for the Spring semester. I will be able to do a little budget counseling and will be pitching in wherever else I'm needed.

On November 21, one day before I left on vacation #4 of 2012, we received one of the biggest blessings of the year. Raul's waiver was approved and he will be coming home (we still don't know when)! In the airport of Cancun, I was able to show him the letter. Cancun was beautiful and the good-bye at the end of that trip was more like a, "I'll see you in a couple months!".

Looking back on the year, I am overwhelmed and humbled by God's outpouring of blessings on us. In addition to all of my vacations and Raul's waiver approval, he blessed us in many other ways. He provided for us financially. How in the world was I able to afford all of those vacations?! (Thank you to all of you who have given us gifts toward those extras by the way!) I don't know what I would have done without my friend Jen. She not only provided a place for me to live but she has also been a great support for me through all of this. We have had some great roommate bonding experiences!  I am grateful for my sister Vonya and brother-in-law Oscar and all of the support they have given us this past year. I am so thankful that I will not have to move far away from them and their crazy (yet very lovable) kids.  The list of blessings could go on and on...

I'm finishing up 2012 in Iowa with my mom and family here. What a blessing it has been to have my whole family here to support me through this year of waiting. I cannot express how much it meant to us that everyone was so excited for us (and for themselves) when they heard the news that Raul is coming home. We Gizzos are excited (and a little bit nervous, I must admit) to see what God has in store for us in 2013. It will be a year of transitions and decisions about the future. Raul will be readjusting to the pace of life in the U.S. and I will be, hopefully, starting my internship. We are eagerly anticipating the day when we will be able to purchase a home and will finally be able to use all of the wedding presents that we received over a year ago. Praise God that house will be in the U.S.! Happy New Year to you all with much love from the Gizzos!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

No More Mexican Vacations...Praise the Lord!

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen. Ephesians 3:16-21

This is the blog post that I have been waiting to write ever since I first started this blog. I believe that this is the post that many of you have been eagerly anticipating as well. So...without beating around the bush, I am overjoyed to say RAUL IS COMING HOME TO THE U.S.! Though I have known the news now for almost 2 weeks, it still seems unreal. God certainly did do even more than I had even dared to imagine. He timed the letter to come the day before I left to Cancun to spend Thanksgiving with Raul. Instead of telling him over the phone, I was able to show him the letter in person. 

I must say that this moment was nothing like I had expected it to be. The letter was supposed to come to my house so that Raul and I could be the only ones to know for a while. Instead, the letter went to my sister's house and she broke the news to me over the phone while I was at the salon in Wal-Mart waiting for my pedicure (high class, I know!). Though I wanted her to wait and to let me come home and open it, she convinced me to let her open it since she was "90% sure the letter said approved". How did she know this you may ask? She and my mom held the letter up to the light! I gathered from the screaming on the other end of the line after she opened it that she was 100% sure. Though my roommie, who happened to be with me at the time, teared up at the news (bless her heart), I was pretty much in shock! 

We did not immediately spread the news because we wanted to make sure that his family knew before other people. Just this afternoon, I was able to be at his parents' house when he broke the news to his mom and the rest of his family over the phone. What a relief to everyone! It was like an early Christmas.

Though we know for sure he is coming home, we do not know when. He still has to be entered into the system and then he will have to travel to Juarez for another medical exam and maybe some other things. In typical Raul fashion, after he was able to speak when I showed him the letter he said, "But I want to make sure to stay until the Fiesta de Enero is over".  So, we know for sure he will not be home until the end of January or longer (even if he could be). :)

Thank you so much to all of you for your prayers! This is truly a miracle of God that The Gizzos will soon be reunited on this side of the border. I will finally be able to pick him up from the airport! God's timing is indeed perfect and we are excited to see the things he has planned for us in Waukegan (or perhaps somewhere else?). Though the journey has not always been easy, He supplied us with joy and many blessings along the way. God is GOOD. Praise be to God!

Wednesday, September 5, 2012


 "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God." Philippians 4:6

Though I was trying to hold out and make my husband do the traveling for our next rendezvous, word that what I was hoping would be a 6 month wait may be more like a 10 month wait prompted me to bite the bullet and buy another ticket to visit my love on Thanksgiving break. It just so happens that tickets to Cancun were cheaper than tickets to Mexico City, so I will be meeting Raul in Cancun on the day before Thanksgiving. I mean, what was a girl to do? :) This trip will be shorter than the others--just one day shy of a week. But, at least it gives me something to count down to.

Though, I know that the likelihood of me getting "the letter" this early is slim to none, I still can't help but eagerly check the mail everyday when I get home and then be a little disappointed when there is nothing there. I can only imagine the mix of emotions I will feel when I check and there is something there. I think I will have to work up my courage to actually open the envelope. We have been waiting for years and it seems strange to think that at some point (hopefully soon) we will have a final answer.

Though the semester at Trinity has officially started, things don't really get into full swing for me until next week when I start my Tuesday night meetings with Teen Mother Choices and my Wednesday night Vantage Point 3 class at church. I'm hoping the semester will fly by once I no longer have much of any free time. ;) I had originally thought that my practicum would be pretty low key and that I would just be sitting in on some group work with the girls and lead a few discussions. However, I am told that I will be getting one or two of my own counseling clients. The thought scares me to death, but I know it will be good experience for me and help me to be less anxious if/when I get to internship.

Raul has started a new "business" of selling boom boxes that he purchases in Puebla. So far he has only made one trip to the city to get his supply, but he was able to sell all the boom boxes that he had picked up. His form of advertisement is to walk down the street with the his music blaring. Who wouldn't want a boom box so they could be cool like him?

As always, thank you everyone for your support and encouragement. Please pray for me as I try to wait patiently for both Thanksgiving break and for the letter. I have been feeling a bit more lonely lately even though I have wonderful friends and family around me. Pray also for Raul. Though he is in good spirits, he has mentioned on a couple of occasions that he is ready for this part of the journey to be over as well. Pray also that God would provide opportunities for him to share his faith with a couple of guys that he met in Chiautla when he was there last. One of them opened up to Raul about some very deep hurts that he had and Raul was able to introduce the topic of Christ's healing, but he would love to follow up with that and build a relationship with them.

I was able to speak at our church last Sunday on the topic of God's faithfulness and was convicted afresh at how faithful God has been to us not only during this time of wandering but in all of the time leading up to this waiting period. It is obvious that God has been preparing us for whatever he has planned next for us. It is hard for me to be patient to see what that is and to learn the lessons that he has for me in the mean time. Yet, in my heart of hearts, I know God's timing has always been perfect and it will continue to be. That is one of the many promises I cling to.