Category Archives: catholic

Unplanned

In light of the release of the film “Unplanned” which tells the story of Abby Johnson who was once a director for Planned Parenthood, who goes through a conversion to becoming one of the most leading voices in the Pro Life movement, I wanted to share a time in my life that I became a part of the Pro Life cause.

After a tough two years from being diagnosed with Lupus, I was seeking ways to use my energies and my renewed Catholic faith.

In the Church bulletin, was a post “volunteer crisis pregnancy counselors needed”. I thought ‘that sounds like something I want to be a part of. I have the time and I love babies, how difficult could this be?’ How clueless I was to soon find the raw and vulnerable situations I would be involved in.

Crisis Pregnancy Centers, CPC for short, had a two week training course for all volunteers. The training was designed to also inform them if the volunteer who completed it, could really take on the role.

The training had videos, speakers, manuals, and role play. The training included videos of actual abortion procedures, interviews, that left your mind spinning, and many tears. What I thought I knew about abortion was a completely sheltered world than from its true reality.

But I knew it in my heart, I wanted to continue and felt like the courage I was experiencing was not from me. I felt purpose!

When I served in this ministry, the women who came in for assistance, were of many backgrounds and nationalities. The women who worked or volunteered were from different Christian backgrounds. Out of these group of women, I would say out of the 40, maybe 5 were Catholic. CPC was not a Catholic agency.

I think if it wasn’t for some boisterous women who would like to voice their opinion of the Catholic Church, I would’ve stayed longer. It’s too bad such an important cause would have to have some bitter helpers.

But in either case, the women I counseled will always be a big piece to my heart.

There was a set of go to resources we would give the woman once we did their pregnancy test and if it showed positive. Like next steps, medical care, resources for food/nutrition, etc. We were given the freedom to pray with them and most of the time I did.

I’ll never forget one gal in particular. She came in appearing confused. She was young (like most) possibly 20. By her appearance, her clothes did not look fresh nor her hygiene. When I walked her into a counsel room, I then noticed her arms. They were riddled with heroin track marks. I didn’t want her to think I paid attention. And what came next was complete guidance by the Holy Spirit. By her approval we prayed waiting for results. Being a complete germaphobe, I lost myself in the fact, that I could’ve harmed myself since I was holding her bare arms. But it didn’t stay my focus.

Here I thought I was helping her in the beginning, yet I felt strength from her at the end. She seemed tired, scared, and needed someone to give her time.

Honestly, my memory doesn’t recall if her test was positive. All I remember, is how she touched me and know my Lord used me to meet her.

The women who came to CPC received love, direction, and support. Many are in need of hope. Most do not have money. But centers like CPC, are there for women to know they are respected and their unborn child will be cared for by the many resources who support CPC.

One of my biggest questions I have for the Pro Choice movement, is if they have really taken the time to see what an abortion does? To see what a “fetus” (BABY) shows in form and what it brutally does to a woman. If Planned Parenthood cares so much for the woman, I would like to see testimonies from the women who had abortions and what follow up care (emotional especially) they were given. Because I’ll tell you what, I never seen it. Where are the YouTube videos, website, Twitter, or feminist groups highlighting the post abortion care? I mean if it’s such a liberating action to have an abortion, why not film women explaining how valuable the process was? Where are these testimonies?

Kudos to Abby Johnson and the team who put this film together. Hopefully, there will be many who are not Pro Life, who will see this film.

If we practice our faith – Catholic or Christian, than our life decisions are based on that first. Not a political party, celebrity, or our opinion. If we place ourselves in all of God’s creation, we will take honor to His design.

Psalm 139

You formed my inmost being;

you knit me in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, because I am wonderfully made;

wonderful are your works!

My very self you know.

My bones are not hidden from you,

When I was being made in secret,

fashioned in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw me unformed;

in your book all are written down;

my days were shaped, before one came to be.

False Witness

In order to write this post, I have to reveal an area of sacrifice I’m working on this Lent.  A part of self control, for me, is the sin of gossip.

Throughout my life, I have wrestled with this sin. Before I began practicing my faith, I never knew gossiping was a bad thing.  It was all around me.  Family and friends always used gossip in conversations. It was and still is a way to either vent or share things because we feel we can in either making fun of someone or puffing up our chests to make ourselves look better.

Over time, for me, I realized my confessions continued to cough up this sin and yet, no real self reflection struck me on why this was repeated.

At this stage in my life, I do find myself gossiping, but it’s like I told myself in a certain way…well, I’ll only go this far in sharing, or I won’t say too much as to not fall into the trap. But regardless, I would find myself reflecting on discussions I’ve had with others after that fact and see that no matter how  I wanted to classify it, it was still gossip.

There is a fine line I want to say when it comes to being concerned  over an individual when sharing things for the sake of helping them without their knowledge.  Speaking about their decision making or ways that could hurt them spiritually, those incidents may cause for others to discuss and plan out what could be done to get them back on track.  But to just have a  field day about someone’s lifestyle or continued same actions that cause pain to others, does nothing to keep talking about how awful this person is to everyone.

Coming back to my sin of gossip during this Lent.  I’ve come to take on an action that I first saw as my own penance. And that is to correct myself with those who I gossiped with as a way to reconcile my behavior and sin. Explaining to the individual, that I did wrong and that I shouldn’t have said what I said.   Doesn’t matter if it was one word blurted out or ten.  Doesn’t matter if I didn’t mean harm in sharing, because it is harmful no matter what.  It places me in accountability.  Makes me humble myself that I sinned and want to correct myself because Jesus placed it in my heart and eyes to see what I have done.   Oh how much Our Lord wrestles my heart to show me my sin. I’m thankful.

What catches me to about gossip, is that I wish those individuals who do know it’s wrong, don’t pin it on me or correct me right on the spot. Gosh, how I wish they would. I’m not saying it’s easy to do but I’m going to start trying. Sometimes we don’t do that enough or at least in my circle I don’t see it.  I also don’t see much in asking forgiveness for daily actions that can hinder unity or cause disruption. Most of the time, we don’t want to take notice we’ve done some thing wrong or pride ourselves that we are doing all things right. Really?  There are some things to dig deep about and frankly, I would appreciate if my fellow Catholic/Christian would call me out when I sin so it’s corrected right then and there.  But I know it’s not easy.  Honestly, I know.  And I know I will slip up again, but my hope is the day it completely stops for me. That I am so rooted, it doesn’t make me budge.  And most of all, throughout this self examination, how the path through it gets me to God’s mercy.  It’s there every time.  Like the Light at the end of the tunnel. Once I’ve reflected, accounted for, asked forgiveness, His mercy is there…and I move on.

If the dialogue isn’t fruitful brothers and sisters, there is no end that points to a helpful solution, then do yourself and me a favor….don’t go there!

 8th Commandment, “You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

 

Added note: The Catholic Church has always taught there is a communal reconciliation

Strike One, Strike Two, Strike Three

I feel like such failure.

For some reason lately I am greatly battling my attitude. I feel more than ever my response can be negative and unwelcoming. Where I’m pessimistic and say things without a care whether what I’m saying is heard or not. And through it all, signs of impatience are easily given off.

Is it me? Is it hormones? Is it just Lent and because I’m walking through I’m being attacked?

All I know about this, is that I hate it! I hate that there’s that piece of me that I show others that doesn’t show Christ in my life. That I have not asked or done my part to rid myself of it. At least, that’s how it feels. Like I’m not doing enough about it.

I notice when I get high strung, stressed, impatient, this negative side of me appears. It is more so when I think I’m being provoked. But regardless of how it comes, I should not be allowing it to rear its ugly head.

I was told by a priest in the confessional in order to respond to these situations, I should stop and call our Lord in prayer. To pray and not react. But I’m not consistent. A part of me wonders will I ever change? What am I missing?

My heart is heavy right now. Because I’ve been helping others in their own area of lives, with virtue and prayer, yet I demonstrated something to them that was not an example I wanted to convey.

Now that I know damage is done, I’m struggling on how to correct it without placing to much emphasis towards me but letting the other person who I feel received my sin know my remorse. I’ve asked Our Lord for His correction. And even though I’m carrying regret from my actions, I am thankful Jesus showed me my wrong doing.

Thus, the purpose of prayer is perhaps less to obtain what we ask than to Become someone else. We should go further and say that asking something from God transforms us, little by little, into people capable of sometimes doing without what they ask for.  -Father Bernard Bro, o.p.

I want to be free of this but more importantly to gain a stronger charitable spirit, peace, and patience no matter what the situation.

Lord, help me, change me.

Instrument of Your Hands

Lord, make me an instrument of your hands with care for my mother in her now season of life.

When she’s impatient, help me to be patient.

When she’s anxious, help me to be peace.

When she worries, help me to show faithfulness.

When she is angry, help me with self control and gentleness.

Lord, help me to not be overcome by the weight of this journey you have us on. For through it, it is not only to tend to her needs but lessons in selflessness and trusting your will I am to learn.

Chocolate Breath

This post is overdue especially because I partially named my blog site chocolate.  For whatever reason, more emphasis had been geared to the other topics I wanted to share.

But let’s get back to chocolate. I have written how my love for chocolate began when I originally began to blog. My earliest memory is sitting in the back seat of my Mom’s car during a ride to pick up my Aunts from the Tucson airport.  I was eating a Hershey bar. I remember loving the flavor.  And as far as I can remember, it kept me pretty steady while we drove to pick them up.

Once my Aunts greeted me, they both realized the aroma coming from my breath and I probably still had some chocolate stuck around my mouth.  My Aunt Alicia at that point said I had chocolate breath and since I have been nicknamed.

As I grew older, my taste in chocolate has changed.  From a kid to an adult, it went from milk chocolate/very sweet to dark chocolate/less sweet.  I love the rich flavor of dark and the variety.  After years now of eating a piece of chocolate everyday, I had no idea that the medical world would see this as a good thing.  That is eating healthy high cacao rich chocolate is good for you.

In this section of my blog dedicated to chocolate, I’ll share the brands or desserts I have come to love.  If you follow my Instagram account, you will already see I post on this.

 

Chocolate Bars

The chocolate bars I list here are eaten out of pleasure.  Yes, some carry healthy benefits while others do not.  I’m not noting all the characteristics of each bar.  Only what I receive in flavor.  Some are Non- GMO while others well, are full fledged unhealthy.  But all are dark chocolate! I do list by my own ranking.

Endangered Species 72% Dark (West Africa) – on a regular basis, I have my go to chocolate bar.  In the evening, I like to nibble on this.  It’s not sweet, but flavorful, not bitter, but smooth.

Green and Black’s Organic Dark 70% (Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Indonesia, the Dominican Republic, India and Brazil) – this is slightly sweeter than the Endangered Species and the break off squares are nice and thick.  One square usually satisfies. Rich tasting.

Lily’s Dark Chocolate with Stevia Original – I really wasn’t sure how I was going to like this one.  The Stevia was making me think it was going to have a weird aftertaste.  But it doesn’t!  I liked the flavor so much that I have used the baking chips for cookies and they come out great!

Teuscher Dark 77% (Switzerland) – Can’t find this in Arizona.  I can either order or wait until I fly to New York and take a trip to their fabulous store at Rockefeller center.  This chocolate hits all the notes.

Perugina Bitterswseet Chocolate 70% (Italy) –  This taste like chocolate cake. More sugar in it but one square does you good. Perugina makes Baci, another chocolate treat.  One that I find too sweet, so when I came across this I had reservation and yet it’s fantastic!

Nibble Organic Dark 72% (Peru) –  Two ingredients only. If you are not into bitter, this isn’t for you. But I found its deep chocolate taste yummy.  It’s not a chocolate bar you can easily find.  I found it in Old Town San Diego at a coffee bar.  It is pricy, but the break squares are chunky.

Stonegrindz Chocolate Cinnamon Cayenne 66% (unknown) –  This chocolate company is based out of Scottsdale, AZ. I found them at a Chocolate Fair.  I’m not much into these added flavored chocolates such as this, but this one changed my mind.  I couldn’t find where they source their chocolate, but appreciate their otherwise informative website.

 

 

You are not God

Each December teaches me something — I am not in control! Patience is a virtue! It’s not about you! Jesus! But this time, a lesson came to me that still has been hard for me to accept.

Before I explain, I would like to share that my husband and I took this month of December to stay home instead of going on a holiday trip and do some remodeling to our master bath. Because it is December, a week job has turned into a month. Thank God we have another working shower!! With the work being done, I’ve had to stay put. Not so bad I’d say, because I took care of things. The stress with making the decision to remodel of course isn’t easy. Did we time this right? Should we have waited??

However, coming off the shower completion, I caught a cold. And for whatever reason, no matter how I try to avoid getting sick, I can bank “losing” about 5 days. My husband looks at me with compassion, but I can see it on him that he is bummed since it impacts his Christmas cheer. He also sees how I could use some fun considering how these past weeks have been, not all having to do with the remodel.

To add, all those commitments I wanted to keep, Advent exercises, the baking, lunch/dinner dates, etc. get canceled.

With this downtime, I have had time to reflect which is the most important thing I did this whole month.

Referring back now to a lesson learned, it has to do with my response to a loved one and recognizing I am not the book of wisdom.

For years, I’ve giving my ears, heart, hands to my loved one in the same capacity and in the same way. Whenever there’s a crisis, I’m there. This past year has been the toughest and even though, I kept my response in the way I thought our Lord wanted me to, I realized this last time it felt exhausted.

Most of the time when I tried to help, I would end up feeling sick and stressed. Almost like it was flung onto me and left to harm. I don’t think my loved one wanted this to be but also never took notice of it. This time, I felt I had to step away.

Then within one week as I searched and prayed after this last incident, I received 3 confirmations. One direct in prayer, one from a person who had no idea of this issue, and one from a homily. This let me know a change had to become and that I am not God!

As much as it saddens me that even after I confronted this cycle to the loved one, a reaction of anger and bitterness ensued. No matter how I try to clarify or reason, it will be looked at as not loving or not being Christ like.

But I’m not God. My tactics, speech, countless hours, have not changed my loved one to convert their soul. It’s not that I’m saying all I tried is wasted, but that my response must change or I too will be damaged. My loved one has to change in the manner our Lord wants them to and not be satisfied only with peaceful words that come out of my mouth.

I can’t make life better. Only Jesus can. I can’t make you change. Only Jesus can. I can’t take your pain. Only Jesus can.

I trust in God and will continue on how He wants me too. That I can’t change or stop people from doing things that harm. I can only love and point to Him.

May our God who is all merciful break the chain that keeps you from seeking His knowledge.+++