What Is the Connection that Defines You?

I have been toggling a few ideas to write about this week. Perhaps it would be good to write about my new blogging friends. God certainly has led me to some pretty awesome folks and a wealth of encouragement and inspiration. Isn’t it funny how you can meet someone and have an immediate connection with them?

Then there are other considerations:

  1. Memories of my youth and heritage in an Italian-American family and sharing the process of making homemade gnocchi with my daughter and friends this past Sunday.
  2. Or, this week’s intensive development of my career graphic resume.
  3. But then it would be great to share the pride I have in my daughter’s achievements and introduce her blog to my little circle of readers.

I could not settle on a direction. This morning I realized there was a connecting message in the stories. What defines who we are?

As a young girl and teen in a circle of mostly Italian family and friends, I found I largely defined myself as an Italian-American. There was tremendous joy in visiting my DeStefano grandparents on a Sunday and having the family together. Grandpop was the hub and what he said was to be respected. When he spoke, we listened. My grandmother would make homemade spaghetti for a noon dinner and the pasta would dry over the vinyl padded kitchen chairs in the small, South Philadelphia row home on Clarion Street. The tables would extend from the dining room into the living room filled with my aunts, uncles and cousins. Even with the seating fully occupied, I can recall neighbors and others stopping in and finding a spot on the stairway leading upstairs with a plate of food balanced on their lap.

The food was not sparse in my own home. My mother, Adeline Trovarelli DeStefano, would grate the potatoes, combined with flour and egg and hand-rolled pasta pillows (gnocchi), turn them on a fork or board and pour gravy over top till they swam in the rich delight! Meals were a source of coming together, laughter and community. After all, I am an Italian-American.


Sunday, 14 Oct 2012, gnocchi production; bottom left, Lindsay and my daughter

This past Sunday I shared the skill of making gnocchi with my daughter and ‘Italian-for-the-day”, Lindsay Gallagher.

graphic resume in progress

My graphic resume in progress

My interest and skills in art also are a large part of me. My creative abilities were evident as a young girl and I followed the natural path to attend art college and lead a career centered in creative occupations, i.e., graphic designer, art director, illustrator, adjunct associate professor, elementary art teacher. This past week I have been working intensively to develop a graphic resume and summarize a bio for business opportunities. I am a visual artist.

Motherhood has been the joy of my life hands-down! I love my family and others in my life—but my daughter reaches a part of me that no one else has. She has encouraged a drive in me to establish the best for and in her. Having the groundwork of an exceptional education is core of what I want to instill in her. My motivation is that she will be educated and have a desire to continue learning and enjoy life far after I am gone. Her father was blessed to receive a private school education where she now attends. I recall the words he shared with me, “Did you know that freedom exists in a schoolbook?” by Jim Morrison. My daughter excels in school and has her own blog of tween and teen book reviews, http://cecereviews.wordpress.com. (I proudly boast she received an ‘A’ report today from John Hopkins University Center for Talented Youth in a math course she took over the summer!) I am an educator. I am a mother.

Recently, I have ventured into creative writing. Writing papers in college, journaling prayers, business and personal promotion of my visual work is not new to me but I have never thought of myself as a writer nor would I market myself as a professional writer. Even so, I began to write to make sense in response to changes in my life. Initially, I journaled in a private blog except for sharing with my daughter. I wrote to clarify direction, define and work through the present and as a reach to find the strength to continue through some challenging circumstances. I am discovering others who also are vulnerable enough to struggle publicly and many share the source of strength we have in common, Jesus Christ. The links to some follow:

Reflections of God
Armoured Up

We connect in the whom and why in my writing. I am a writer. I am a Christian

Mark 3:31-35: And his mother and his brothers came, and standing outside they sent to him and called him. And a crowd was sitting around him, and they said to him, “Your mother and your brothers are outside, seeking you.” And he answered them, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” And looking about at those who sat around him, he said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! For whoever does the will of God, he is my brother and sister and mother.”

My spirit and my soul connect to those that cherish and seek to obey the will of God. These words are not to slight my biological family and my Italian-American ties. It does not lessen the value and respect I have for the gifts of creativity He works in me. It does encourage me to share with my daughter that all the education in the world will not save her eternal soul and put into perspective the Creator of all she is and can achieve. It explains the relationship and familiarity I have with the family of God who allow the Holy Spirit to lead, guide and empower them to serve.

Not Ashamed

Illustration: Denise Cotter

As I grow in knowledge and years, I recognize that Christ defines who I am and my purpose in life. I am here on earth to glorify God. Isaiah 43:7 says that we were created for His glory¹. In 1 Corinthians 10:31 we read, “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”

What is the connection that defines you? Is there a common thread that connects you to others? I would like to hear.

¹Even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him. -Isaiah 43:7 KJB

4 thoughts on “What Is the Connection that Defines You?

  1. You bless me, Denise….thank you for including me with my other brothers and sisters. Thank you…the common thread for me that connects me to others is joy and pain…forgiveness and mercy and a great love for Jesus! How exciting to have family all over the world!! God bless you for blessing me and sending me to sleep with a smile! xo

  2. Hi Denise! Thanks for visiting my blog today, so I could ‘meet’ you!

    This post is so wonderful! I loved reading about the Italian-American home you grew up in but what really stood out to me was your mention of how you can connect with people you meet online. It has amazed me in the 4 months I’ve been blogging at how many wonderful people I’ve met and the connections out there.

    God has an amazing way of drawing His people together no matter where we are; and for helping us reach others who might not know Him otherwise.

    Hugs to you!

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