Category Archives: grace

Patience and Prayer

There are things I do a bit different now that my mom lives with us. I find myself not participating in things as much which is somewhat a IMG_5900setback.

There were years after I was diagnosed with Lupus, where I didn’t want to commit to anything. One, it would cause paranoia, the thought of being around social scenes or people made me overwhelmed. Two, my lifestyle changed which meant I no longer was socializing the way I used to. I became more reserved. Mainly because I could no longer physically enjoy a “party” outing. Bars / dance clubs were no longer my thing.  My husband , thanks to his commitment to me, did what I wanted to do, so he too stayed away from people and events to stay with me.

However, in the past recent years, I was grooming myself to step out and stop being fearful. Making commitments whether taking classes, volunteer, simple friend dates, etc. I was feeling some confidence.

Lately, it feels like I’m not keeping that up and it’s starting to set me back to the old ways.

But today it hit me. Patience.

Life may have opportunities for me come June. In the meantime, I’ll do my best to get mom active. Use time to create. Just spend the time with her while my husband is working during the day. I need to redirect my focus and be joyful in my day. Not feel burden or weight of what I can’t change but look at what I can control.

Lately, I’ve been praying for the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

Praying for change in me. I know that by praying for this my Lord will use me for purpose. Sometimes I think, I’m not around many people how can I be useful. But you never know what His design is if you keep thinking of it in your terms.

This blog for one. I pray that it is a useful tool to get others to relate as a first step closer to hopefully reaching out to Jesus.

Pray too for the gifts of the Holy Spirit! You’ll become salt of the earth if you try! Sometimes we want to get from point A to point B so badly, but it might just take a bit longer. There’s a reason my life is where it’s at. I’m truly grateful I am able to do what I am able to do. Keeping myself purposeful in the capacity that I can.

Lupus Flares…Blessing reminders!

Fifteen years ago, I was diagnosed with Lupus (SLE).  In the beginning, I was often sick. I was prescribed heavy medication that for the most part, didn’t make me feel any better. I remember the sense of trying to find control and how I was going to live with this new life. Even though, I tried to hold onto my job, the stress of being reliable for my employer grew to be too much, so I quit. As I explained in my other blog posts, since then I did take other employment and volunteered which helped me grow as a person with an illness.

After 5 years of taking the same formula of medication, I dropped two of the heavy prescribed and stayed on one. Most lupus patients, may find it surprising, but I was on a steady dose of prednisone for 11 years.  I had always did well with my doctor visits and health that taking prednisone was easy for me. If a flare came up, I would just increase my dosage and like magic it would work instantly. However, due to doctor pressure, he told me it was no longer good for me to be reliant on and asked me to consider changing to plaquenil.  I hesitated. Two years I hesitated until finally I prayed to Our Lord and asked Him to please help my fear.  In 2012, I began taking plaquenil and since then, thanks be to God, I’ve done really good.

I mean, I still get flares and I noticed that when I get sick…I’m sick! Whether cold or flu…it hits hard but all in all, I think I’m handling them fine.   I can’t increase the plaquenil when I do get a flare and now…I just “suffer” through it.  The flares are mostly the same. Headaches, hot face/fevers, joint pain achy, fatigued, low energy, sometimes nausea.

But I have to say…now when I do get flares, I find myself in an emotional spin.

It makes me think of those with lupus who suffer far greater than me. Who are hospitalized. Who have to take chemotherapy. Who cannot get out of bed. Who have no one to help them. Who do not have the luxury of having to maintain a job.

I know I am blessed beyond my way to attempt try and explain. I know I have everything in my environment to deal with the case of the flare ups. But at times, I wonder if I am not doing enough to battle them! Do I give in too easily when the flares happen?  Do I not work through them by pushing myself? Am I not training my spirit enough to be more of a fighter when they come?

There is also the mental battle determining if this the “big one”?

I can’t help at times think that my lupus could get worse. Here I am going on fifteen years of SLE and all of it, in my view, has been such a blessing compared to other’s experiences.  Yet, every time I get blood work, the rheum always communicates that my markers are clear. The type of lupus I have is the terminally ill form. For years, I’ve worked with my Lord in pushing that out of mind. To demonstrate my life with the graces He gave me to show others, I accept His will and do my best for others.  To share with others, what He has taught me.

In these last three days, I’ve been going through a flare. I know it probably came on due to stress. Yet, my approach is the same. Decline all events. Find myself less sociable. Rest. But this time, I feel like I need to do more. So this time, I write.

Sitting in Mass yesterday, I asked my Lord for His will be done onto me.  Each and every time a flare happens.  It is a purging in some sense. Because it stops me and makes me think of my mortality.  What matters. What I need to let go. How much I want to be ready for Heaven.

Flares make you feel like life is passing by and you only have energy to look at it go by.

They are reminders when you are feeling great the other 98.9% of the time to do something with it. From the smallest gesture in a day to something grand.  I ask my Lord to help me with that! To help me with the battle of when it feels like I’m not fighting hard enough and instead of dragging that Cross He’s given you, to carry it up high, like an army soldier raising a victory flag! 🙂

Remember, suffering is part of your Christian transformation. Respond to it! When you do, Jesus will fill your life in ways you didn’t have before. +++

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Jesus fix us

On Tuesday, November 8th, our country voted Donald Trump to be our 45th President of the United States. 

I was already feeling some stress before the election like the majority but after Tuesday it feels like our country has shifted dramatically. There has been many protests. Some demonstrating their anger, fear, worry of racial divide, LGBTQ, and pro choice rights.And like always, others join the bandwagon and add mayhem clogging the message the protesters want to convey.

Even though I don’t have a clear allegiance to either political party, I did vote!  It has been this way for years. But  this election was different for me and for many. The campaigns were hostile and the candidates used insults on each other at a new level.

My problem with both sides is that neither platform upholds everything under the Light to which our faith instructs. I know it never has. However, I’m seeing many believe their party holds a majority of Light.  Unfortunately it tends to be those who are picking and choosing what party supports the issues they want to push in a way that leaves other important issues out. And when you go to them to try and admonish, they will say “that’s your interpretation”. But is it really? 

I’m not a perfect Catholic. I falter each day. I ask for clarity and examine my conscience.  I attend Mass weekly, receive the Eucharist, go to confession, and follow the daily readings, as well as, listen to voices of the Church for additional guidance. So I feel some confidence when I make this assertion.

So what is my point?! 

If all Christians, followed a form of obedience, most would be able to recognize what it is our Lord wants of us. They would know our moral compass will not be found in our new President or any political figure. That our beliefs are not held under one political party. I see good in both parties.  

As we’ve been hearing in the Mass readings these last weeks about end of times, is that Jesus will be coming “soon”. Soon as I was taught could really mean now or 100 years from now. Scriptures tell us what we will see and experience. This passage was covered recently and speaks to me especially now.

“Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves…

When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you. Brother will hand over brother to death, and the father his child; children will rise up against parents and have them put to death.

You will be hated by all because of my name, but whoever endures to the end will be saved.”

If one points out misdirection to a fellow Christian they get offended instead of seeing you’re doing it for their good. They rather defend the candidate than to see what you are doing is from love and points to faith.

I believe much of the chaos around us has to do with people not understanding their faith or they have no belief at all. So division among family, friends, strangers is at a high point right now.

Let’s go over the Old and New Testament commandments and review again and again!  I find many defending pro life but then don’t round up the rest of the life issues such as the poor, the refugee, the marginalized. How is it one can argue pro life and picket but not stand up for all life issues? Isn’t that choosing what you want from your faith? Is that not then idolatry because you’re creating your own faith/religion?

There’s so much incomplete news out there or lies being spread that it would do our nation great service if we just turned to God than to man. We’ll lose ourselves to anger,bitterness, rage. 

I know I may be accounting much of what is going on right now on the shoulders of Christians. I fully recognize Christians are not the only contributors but what I’m trying to convey is our accountability and how we as Christians should be speaking out when our brothers/sisters block out or limit teaching. 

This election has really shown me faith put into action. Good and bad. It saddens me that some lose sight of the corporal works of mercy and fruits of the Spirit. 

I pray there will be more love ahead and leaders who will unite and preach tolerance. 

God bless America and Pray for our President!

St. Catherine of Siena

As I was learning more about my faith, I heard many share with me who they chose as their patron saint.  I kept thinking how does one choose that?  I vaguely remember at confirmation it being a requirement to choose a Saint but if I did, I don’t remember who I chose.

Once I started to read more books and learn about my faith, there was always a Saint that would flutter my heart.  St. Catherine of Siena was the Saint for me.  My interest in her started about the same time the Catholic Church was being exposed for the awful sexual abuses.  I remember our parish had a sense of divide. Some left  since they could not separate the men who did harm from the Church, then there were those that followed the excommunicated priest to their own made up church, and others like me who stayed put.

The books I read about St. Catherine of Siena came at the right time.  Her history is based on recognizing what the Church is and what it is not.  Her determination to set things right and to share the intensity of following Christ.  She was a Dominican and is a Doctor of the Church. Her main caveat was her effort and success in reforming the papacy during the 14th century when she convinced Pope Gregory XI to move back to Rome from Avignon.IMG_6228 (2)

My husband and I were blessed in 2006 to go on a Catholic pilgrimage to Italy.  We really went into it blind not knowing what to expect. As a gift for our travels, a close friend of mine gave me a card she had wrote with a quote from St. Catherine.  I thought…wow…it’s a sign. There’s a reason why I keep connecting to this Saint.

On our trip, we made a stop in Siena. What a gorgeous place! Picturesque walkways that would lead to the piazza/main square.  Restaurants, bakeries, shops all set in medieval architecture.   The end of our day, our hosts guided us to visit the Chapel of Saint Catherine, Basilica of San Domenico.  Here only her incorruptible head entombed is shown. At first I was a bit freaked. Why was it that we only had her head and why was it shown?  On the tour, our great host priests clarified that back in the day, ma-il-campoany towns all over the world where the Saints walked had bits or pieces of their bodies for reverence purposes like bone fragments, clothing, “relics”.  Also, many had miracles tied to them so the thought was spread them around for the chance of increased faith to grow.

This trip gave me a boost! A boost in love of faith. I felt like a warrior ready to get back home and go deeper! To get a grip and better understanding of the Church with guidance from St. Catherine.  It’s amazing how much we can take for granted on what the Saints did for the Church, for us. If we took the time out and read up on  a Saint, we would see how relevant their examples are to our day today.  Most of the popular TV evangelists are not saying anything new.  And the Saints that did speak about similar life issues, most likely did it with their life in the balance.

Another inspiring tidbit about St. Catherine…she’s the Patron Saint of Italy!!!! Of course!! Of course she would be.  I have loved Italy for so long starting with pizza as a child,  which led to Italian food, and then developed into it’s beauty, food, art, lifestyle. Of course she would include that for me too.

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Hopefully, this will get you to thinking who would you like to read about? Google it! I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed.

Thank God for the Saints and thank you St. Catherine for always punching those words into my heart and  set fire!+++

 

Mid Life Crisis Awareness Month

Actually, this might just be on my calendar.

Lately,  it seems some of my sisters (not literally, I mean friends) are battling emotional struggles all at the same time.

It feels weighty on my relationship with them and I can see some headed down a damaging road.

With my own life changes, I always try to do my best and stay in touch with my girl friends or my female cousins who I refer all as “Sisters”.  My friendships have not always kept up and I know I am part to blame, but I still care for them and if there was ever a chance to meet up, I would do it.

At times, I don’t know if it’s just my life but I don’t have many gal pals. I think it has to do with not having children, not staying in the workforce, or other entities to cause some to dismantle.  In any case, I haven’t really worried about it but I noticed some relationships appear to be ending.

I feel some around me are going through emotional changes.  Mid life crisis maybe?  I don’t know.  I don’t know why all of a sudden a shift has occurred in our relationships. Am I focusing too much on my life that maybe these individuals were always this way and I’m barely now taking notice?? I truly care about them and do wish our friendship’s would stay strong.

I try to be patient and let them know I’m here for them. I do my best in understanding all factors to a situation.  We don’t always know everything going on in one’s life.

In any case, I realize we all have trials and tribulations. I’ve had times where I’ve felt unaccomplished and know those closest could see it in me. It can be hard to break out of that ‘spell’ of feeling down and depressed.  The evil one can certainly make you start believing things that are untrue about yourself and about those around you.

What I have learned in practicing my faith is to ask myself questions.  Identifiers.  Like whatever it is I’m feeling, is this a thought from God or the evil one?  If the feeling is causing me to be down, then it’s not from God. If it is to cause harm on anyone, then it’s not from God. If it’s something that doesn’t keep me on the side of virtue, then it’s not from God. You know what I mean?

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Is it okay to do something once and a while that is foot loose and fancy free? Sure.  At least I think so. The issue is whether you start believing this is all your life needs.  Ways to give you short term, empty joy.

I’ve seen some who end their marriages because they found “true happiness” in other outlets. They start to believe this is what they need and end up ridding their life of important people. Most of the time, it relates to the idea of feeling young again.  I’ve seen this false sense cause damage and havoc in many lives.

For myself, my guard against these realms need attention.  Don’t take the bait! Combat with prayer! I pray with and over my husband, our home, our life.  Asking Jesus to consecrate our marriage! It’s true!  You spend less time with Jesus, you leave an door open for weakness to come in.

John 4:10-14

Jesus answered and said to her, “If you knew the gift of God and who is saying to you, ‘Give me a drink,’ you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”
[The woman] said to him, “Sir, you do not even have a bucket and the well is deep; where then can you get this living water? Are you greater than our father Jacob, who gave us this well and drank from it himself with his children and his flocks?”
Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again; but whoever drinks the water I shall give will never thirst; the water I shall give will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

 

 

 

 

How I learned grace from Cdiff!

When I got really sick with C-Diff in 2008, my stomach, digestion, and lifestyle changed.  I had caught a bad cold and made the mistake by going to an urgent care center.  Having Lupus, I should have waited to see my doctor.  So the urgent care center, gave me a general prescription to treat cold with a 14 day antibiotic.

I took it and immediately after stopping, I got sick. It depleted all the good bacteria in my intestines.  C-diff kicked in my already low immune and I was sent to the ER. I had severe pain in my stomach. I couldn’t stop going to the bathroom.  I was feverish. They admitted me and placed me on powerful antibiotics and morphine. I was weak and miserable. The hospital doctor said that I could’ve died.  I still can’t believe that!

I was mad that I couldn’t go home by the second night and was released on the fifth day. At this time, my emotional demeanor took a bad turn.

The first night home was awful.  I cried in panic over what I was feeling physically. I couldn’t sleep at all. So for days after, the routine was the same.  I sweat through t-shirts at night, didn’t eat much throughout day,  always woke up with anxiety, stayed in our room for the most part, and cried.  When I left the hospital, they continued me on a high antibiotic.  During the day, my mom or sister would take care of me. Mom made cream of wheat cereal, which was the only thing that would satisfy my hunger and go well in my stomach.  I ate it for dinner too.

After a week or so, I remember having an urge to just be by myself. So I asked my mom and sister to go out for a bit. As soon as they left,  I dropped down and cried. I felt suffocated. I cried in fear asking God once again to help me out of this misery.

Days ahead, I tried to start eating again. From the time I was in the hospital to about a week out, I had lost much weight. When I had a follow-up visit with the doctor I weighed in at 98 pounds.   I tried to reintroduce food into my system again.  But everything I ate hurt to digest.  It wasn’t worth it.  So then I started becoming accustomed to a new diet. A friend of mine introduced me to JuicePlus supplements and alkaline foods.   I couldn’t eat any fried foods, any rich sauces, any dairy, any treats/baked goods, etc.  Couldn’t drink coffee like I used to.  I also started taking a daily probiotic supplement that helped with good bacteria.  All started to give me some life again.

But this was only one side of the struggle.

Even though I could start eating again, my emotional battle was something else.  I felt many days as if I was trying to run away from myself. Still had anxiety and panic attacks. I spent much time with my aunt who lived near the ocean.  The ocean gave me relief. Some peace. For about six months, I still had been living this same way.  In the midst of it all, I was prayerful, attending Church, and keeping up with life.  I know that my prayer had to stay strong.  I knew Our Lord was helping me even if I couldn’t see the results right away. I remember getting myself to weekday Mass not feeling good and fighting with the thoughts of just going home, staying in bed.  Kneeling in the pew, feeling dizzy and weak, but always feeling better after.

It took about two years, before I could have coffee the way I liked  – cappuccinos, lattes.  I also started eating some fried foods and enjoying my favorite food – Italian.  Much time after that, I was able to drink wine, eat rich cheeses, ice cream, salad dreOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAssing, chili/salsa which is where I am now.

I have a new profound respect for food.  I also have this defense in that if a sick person wants to eat something that no one should stand in their way.  Obviously, I don’t mean a diabetic.  My Dad during his battle with cancer still had an appetite and I loved watching him eat. Food gives so much comfort!  Now I recognize that when I do get sick if I can still eat and taste the food, I’m good!  What is also strong to my senses is human suffering.  My body reacts different when I find what pain and suffering someone maybe going through. A sense I didn’t have before.

I love to make food and try new recipes.  I love to go out to eat, try new spots, and enjoy meals with friends and family.  I even plan trips with my husband based on the food scene in those places.  Food is my joy.  If I can enjoy it without it causing my health to go bad, then I’m going to enjoy it and not feel bad if a pound or two latch on.  I can’t only do healthy eating. We do well during the week, we balance and then on the weekends we feast!

And never once do I take my eating for granted.  I give thanks to God we have the food to eat and enjoy all its flavor.

So the point is even though I had already experienced much with my faith at this time, my response to this trial was different. I had never known fear this way. I had never experienced panic attacks.  My faith in action was completely new and the battle for my soul was on! But I never took the bait even after months of having to fight it! And that’s it!  Your prayer is always heard. Never stop praying or speaking to Our Lord always offering up your suffering for His peace in your heart. You keep on and He will make all things new! +++

2 Corinthians 12:8-10

Three times I begged the Lord about this, that it might leave me, but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness.” I will rather boast most gladly of my weaknesses, in order that the power of Christ may dwell with me.Therefore, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and constraints, for the sake of Christ; for when I am weak, then I am strong.

Lupus…thank you God!

From the time of diagnosis (SLE) through now, my faith has carried me through. I have not always responded in the best way, but I learned much and it has given me a deeper relationship with Jesus.

So much of my life after my lupus diagnosis took different directions that I soon realized my life wasn’t mine but Our Lord’s.

When I was diagnosed, I had been going to Church but I was not yet knowing the whole picture.  My husband hadn’t been going and we were married for 4 years at this time.

There were many signs and symptoms I was having that led up to this, but even once learning what it was, I had some denial. I was even more shocked to learn the lupus I was diagnosed (and there are 3 forms), is the terminally ill one.

Even though I thought I would have some time to wrap my head around this new reality, turned out not to be the case for me.  My physical pain took over. I was given some heavy duty drugs to cope. I started losing hair and gaining weight because of the prednisone.  My stomach was always making me uncomfortable or in pain.  I had less energy and started to find myself less outgoing. To top it off, the sun became an enemy and of all places to live, Arizona, was hard to avoid.

At one point after having to call into work sick every week, I remember crying and just wanted things to go back to the way they were.  I was home alone, got out of bed, and looked out of our bathroom window just asking God to help me.

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My work had become more difficult to do and I took this hard. I had worked myself into a promising career and then had to let it go, at least for a while I thought. So I had to resign.

I wanted to be a part of something so I signed up to go to a bible study and attended a women’s fellowship at our Church. I met some great people and felt very comfortable.  Eventually, I went on a retreat with my husband that was life changing for the both of us. My husband’s oldest brother had passed away and his heart too was seeking answers to what was going on with his life and connection to those who were suffering.

For the both of us, we started to take our faith more seriously. I remember having a huge desire to learn more about the faith even during the hard hit news abuses of the Church and the number of people leaving.  I felt a clear distinction that my faith was real and could not be broken.  There was too much I didn’t know about it to leave it and the atrocity, the evil, that wanted to ruin it wasn’t going to include me as a collaborator to break its foundation. As it’s said in Mass, “Look not on our sins, but on the faith of your Church”.

Sure enough to this day, I find myself defending Church teaching to untruths. Getting stronger cleared my eyes to see I am a part in the Body of Christ.

My fervor grew and I tried things I didn’t think I would do like public speaking, host bible studies at our home, and volunteer.

When my Dad got diagnosed with stage 4 sarcoma,  I felt as though I had been prepared.  It gave me new insight to suffering as I saw my Dad go through it. Dad and Stef (dancing)He too found Jesus after he spent most of his adult life to drug and alcohol addiction. He became a born again Christian and restarted his life. So when we got news of his cancer, our family life was about helping him. My Dad passed away 6 months later.

A few months after, my husband and I were blessed to go on a pilgrimage to Rome.  The timing was perfect! It swept us off our feet! All the rich Church history, meeting other Catholics who were in different points in their journey, and answers to areas of the Church we thought we knew.  This experience placed love in our hearts and protection for our faith to not just see our faith as a building and good advise but living, breathing, as clear as Christ is the Church! Can’t separate.

There was a conversation I had with a friend close to this time. She asked me if I was angry at God for allowing my lupus to be.  It hit me and said to her it was a blessing.  From it, my life has forever changed in my deeper faith to Him and continues too.  Thanks be to God! +++

“What is born of flesh is flesh and what is born of spirit is spirit. Do not be amazed that I told you, ‘You must be born from above.’ The wind blows where it wills, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” – John 3:6-8