Evenings at Grandma’s

Grandma’s house lovingly comes to mind now that the beginning of the spring/summer change is here.

The air is mild at sunset with a subtle breeze. The air and soon darkness of these evenings remind me of many memories I had at my Grandma Rosa’s house in Tucson, Arizona.

Family or friends who would visit, joined my Grandma who loved to sit in the front yard under her huge eucalyptus tree. Hours and hours of conversation over drinks of beer and laughter. I was too young to know what they were talking about since I would go off and play, because I knew this always meant I could be outside until possibly midnight.

Other times, Grandma would hose down her plants around the perimeter of her house, which wasn’t very big. The smell of wet dirt , even in my home backyard, reminds me of times with her during these desert nights. It’s a fragrance that stirs up home, safekeeping, peace.

I’m often thankful for memories that come with multiple senses. Now in my fifties, I choose to spend time in them, not letting them slip away so fast. Allows me to still feel the life of the moment and thank God for the remembrance.

Paul sets the example

Today is the feast day of the Conversion of St Paul, the Apostle.

Recently, I noticed an Instagram account I follow that for the most part exhibits the universal Church message. They push more on the side of the Church Militant which we are, but in a way that explains the evil forces we fight against addictions, pornography, etc.

However, they posted a clip from a ‘speaker’ who I defiantly don’t follow or give any of my time. I have heard a couple of this speakers’ talks and my heart shut off once I started to hear him point out things that get others angered or rage about either the Pope, “weak priests”, certain Church teachings. It scares me the following he has because he gets many to settle in on what he thinks should be the focus. Intertwined with some uplifting faith remarks to make him look like a good and faithful servant.

What dumbfounds me is that the same group of people will listen to Bishop Barron, Fr. Mike Schmitz, and then ‘this guy’ who at this time I don’t want to make known his name.  How they don’t see how vastly different ‘this guy’ is to others who are being disciples of the Church by preaching/teaching words of salvation. Do they ever hear our great evangelizers share out the same message as ‘this guy’?  Isn’t it strange there are not more like him in the spotlight?  Don’t get me wrong, he does have a spotlight because more and more follow his message.  And the message is attack and divide. Comes at a time, when so much is this focus. Good timing.

That may sound too strong of an opinion on this person, but when it comes to pointing out things to stir up negative emotions, that’s a red flag for me. And it saddens me how the faithful fall in it. Why are some giving ‘this guy’ any time?

Which brings me back to St. Paul.

St. Paul was zealous for God in his mind. Yes, God did choose past Old Testament individuals to fight against opposition who did not want to follow the Law nor count God as God. He did use them to fight and conquer even to the point of bloodshed. In the New Testament, Saul, who later was named Paul by the Lord, was much like those characters from the past but no longer needed. He thought it was his duty and right, to fight against those who he and the group he followed, to separate those who didn’t worship God in the way they thought was accurate. He admitted he had been following human invention. Persecuting areas he thought were his right to do and getting others to join in with him. Those that joined in with him could no longer recognize the tone Saul had because he made them believe he was a true believer of God.

Tone.

Once St. Paul had his conversion what struck me the most was his tone. His tone was full of strength but abundant with great love and humility. First thing was recognizing what he had done, the great remorse, and then opening himself up to learn what God wanted him to gain. St. Paul’s message that we are greatly blessed to have in his writings, teach us the main purpose of our call to discipleship – leading others to Christ. Period. That’s it!

Not to be overcome by the world. Not to give others the power to dictate to us what is darkness and how we are to go after it. The power to guide us comes from the Word of God, Church teachings, and prayer. Anyone can manipulate anything to make it seem right. You see it every day. Fear causes us to want to jump on something that is going to protect our right, our future. But we are not to live in that manner. But we are to test it asking the Holy Spirit to help us discern and place in our souls His wisdom.

Wisdom from Above

13 Who among you is wise and understanding? Let him show by his good behavior his deeds in the gentleness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. 15 This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, reasonable, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial, free of hypocrisy. 18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

James 3:13-18

When St. Peter was with Christ at Gethsemane, when the soldier guards came to take him away, St. Peter thought on his own to strike Malchus. What did Christ tell St. Peter?

Jesus said to Peter, “Put your sword into its scabbard. Shall I not drink the cup that the Father gave me?”

John 18:11

St. Peter did not consult Jesus before striking. He did it in what he thought was zeal for the Lord. He did it out of his flesh in thinking he was standing up for something. Never in any teaching does Jesus asks us to assemble and fight against things that stir up agitation, rage against other human beings. Never.  He asks us to live in a manner worthy of the gospel.

Steadfastness in Faith.

27Only, conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that, whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear news of you, that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind struggling together for the faith of the gospel, not intimidated in any way by your opponents. This is proof to them of destruction, but of your salvation. And this is God’s doing.

Philippians 1

These ‘Catholic speakers/podcast/Youtubers/Influencers’ who like to preach with false authority, arrogance, are the ones to watch out and pray others stop taking the bait. Recognize what Church organizers, leaders, evangelizers are to possess. If it carries disrespect, strikes fear towards your fellow brothers/sisters, pretty sure, that’s not the one to follow. Listen less to their gospel and literally pick up the Gospel.  That will stamp out the noise.

1. “Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality.”

Romans 12:9-13

St. Paul, the Apostle, pray for us!+++ Help us to know who we are fighting!

A Thank You to my Aunts and Uncles

Recently, I’ve been thinking more on the lives of my aunts and uncles. I am blessed in that I share wonderful relationships with my remaining family. At this time, they are all in their late 70s or early 80s. Unfortunately, dealing with physical challenges, which for most of them did not have for the majority of their lives. And because of Covid, the ability to visit has not been possible. But our phone conversations have carried us along.

When recalling each of them, it takes me to times spent and how great those memories are because of how they were and are.

My sister and I were blessed with large families on both sides of our family.  My Mom came from a family of twelve.  My Dad came from a family of seven.  Both of my parents were raised in close knit families.  Family occasions were bountiful and there was always something to look forward to.

From a young age, my Mom always made sure I had a birthday party. There could never be a small party because our family wouldn’t allow that.  The size of your house didn’t matter either.  You gathered because you were family and that was the only concern.  Aunts and Uncles would always show up with their big families.  It was a given that everyone would attend.  It wasn’t a question because then life wasn’t so complicated with other schedules affecting decisions.

My Dad would take my Mom, sister, and I to California every Thanksgiving. Dad’s side of the family lived in different parts of the State allowing us to see many sites such as the beach, Disneyland, etc.  Those family trips opened up my awareness on how both sides of the family were equally important. It was always something I would look forward to.  To see my cousins who I would only get to have fun with at this time of year. The playful times running around, sweet treats, game playing, and laughing.  The sharing and the spoiling I would receive from my aunts and uncles topped off with a gift. 

As I speak to my aunts and uncles more so these days, I can’t help recall who they were in their younger age. Memories pop up. The vibrancy they all had. Being at this stage in their elderly lives, their bodies can no longer keep up with their minds. But even so, knowing their physical challenges, most don’t “sound” like they’re suffering. Their minds are as sharp as can be. Just how I’ve always known them. It always amazes me after each call.

Each of them inspired me with a personality trait that I think I’ve adapted into my own way of thinking. Ways about them that made me take notice and love them for being that person in my upbringing.  I have not always noticed that all these years, but playfully at times, my sister points out to me that I have them. Good or bad, I accept.

Majority of them were and still are quick witted. Some were highly educated. Some never worked. Some traveled the world. Some went through difficult marriages, some never married, or had kids. Some endured illness, some reaped financial success, and some lived in humble ways. Some were not always present when I was young, but have completely been present as an adult.

My Mom always stressed to me the importance of family, but regretfully as a young teen and young adult, I did not always feel this way. For a period of time, the celebrations in our family took a different direction that caused a stain in how I viewed the gatherings, specifically at the time my parents divorced. I was too immature to separate the love for them from their actions. This wasn’t the overall case, but some instances drew me to distance myself some. Thankfully, now in my marriage, importance of family developed by God’s design in numerous ways He gave us, has strengthened it in a way fitting now.

Now after losing both of my parents and observing their relationships with their siblings, I have a new profound respect and appreciation for my aunts and uncles.

Both of my parents loved their families greatly. They truly treasured each of them in their hearts and you could feel that in them in their final days.

In closing, I know I am fortunately blessed that I had aunts and uncles who I had strong relationships with. Their impact in how they were there for me in the troubled times throughout my life is something I now pass on and show to my nephews and niece. Dignity and honor, fortitude, unconditional love, are all seeds they showed that I want to carry on.

Thank you Tios for the treasured presence you brought to the family, memories, the legacy of your representation, I will always keep close in my heart and soul.

A Time for Love

These last weeks I’ve been going through my Mom’s things. Mom passed away on April 12th. My sister and I have been sifting through, deciding on who will possess her things, donate, etc. And even though we went a solid week doing this, individually we are still going through Mom’s items. Being that Mom lived with my husband and I, I keep coming across treasures that are adding more to her memory.

There is something about life as a family when you lose your parents that my sister and I are now just appreciating or maybe it’s a whole new appreciation. Not that we didn’t appreciate our parents before, but I guess with maturity comes different perspectives. In the shuffle of time as a child, speaking for myself, I did much comparing my parents to others. Looking at how my friend’s parents spent time with them, gave attention, cared for, etc. That was my gauge. I grew up with that mentality and captured it against my parents, blocking me from seeing them individually and who they were.

It had much to do with feeling abandoned, which led to insecurity. Frustrations that turned me into being angry with my parents. There was never conversation or intimate talks on what had happened or where things were going. It was living through each day only to be disappointed.

To be clear, it’s not that my parents did not provide for me or celebrate me with birthday parties or Christmas gifts, but the relationship between parent and child and the respect needed was absent. I didn’t feel valued and neither did they. They were facing their own demons that only became stronger obstacles as life went by. Seeing them crutched my soul and paralyzed my lens towards them. Mom never explained to me her life situation, what she was facing, what she was battling when she made the decision to divorce my Dad. I only viewed it as her making the mistake. All my teen years was a lash out for that decision and a heart that at times was bitter towards her. I don’t know why she never shared. Instead she just let me be. Her life too became a result of broken love.

I recently found documentation from my Mom’s annulment process. This has forever changed my view on my Mom to which I regret not knowing about her struggles or her point of view at the time of her decision to divorce my Dad. Life was very different back then. No one butt into others business. Mom pushed through decision out of fear on both sides. Dad was spiraling in his life of addiction and had no grip on reality.

I can only speak for myself, but I feel if I would’ve taken the time to know my Mom as “Barbara” and not just Mom, my relationship with her could have been richer. I say this not to beat myself up, but with an appreciation and awareness to share that with my nephews and niece so they can find that fortune.

Mom was a very reserved person. She wasn’t one to share her frustrations or make her issues your issues. There was much to her life before she was married and while she was married that I did not know. While she lived with me, I did spend time asking her questions on her life. Those conversations were informative, but still didn’t reveal what I recently found.

The point I’m getting here is how much more profound it is to me the phrase “everyone is on a journey”. Dad and Mom battled their family circumstances/upbringing in their marriage. They were equipped with the knowledge they had. It was difficult and inconsistent. Any hurt my sister and I received was the side effect. It wasn’t that they didn’t love us, but they struggled to make it our strength.

Looking back at their lives, I am even more grateful to know what they overcame from all their trials, sufferings, disappointments, battles, by the redemption from Our Lord Jesus Christ. They found Him!

For whatever was absent in my childhood, I received a hundred fold when they both gave their lives to Christ. That is why their presence is greatly missed. Because the love that Christ wanted them to pour out onto our family broke through when they gave their lives to Him. My family and I all received that token of grace. Their lives were not their own. We experienced their love in endless ways that will live in our souls forever.

A Time for Everything

There is a time for everything,
    and a season for every activity under the heavens:

    a time to be born and a time to die,
    a time to plant and a time to uproot,
    a time to kill and a time to heal,
    a time to tear down and a time to build,
    a time to weep and a time to laugh,
    a time to mourn and a time to dance,
    a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
    a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
    a time to search and a time to give up,
    a time to keep and a time to throw away,
    a time to tear and a time to mend,
    a time to be silent and a time to speak,
    a time to love and a time to hate,
    a time for war and a time for peace.

Ache

Death can be cruel.

The mourning and grieving is the soft blade that strikes your soul out of nowhere in your day .

Given reality that reminds you of heartache and shame.

Heartache that doesn’t go away.

Heartache that everyday feels like a big empty void caught up in the air which is relieved by inhaling peace.

Peace that comes after the graces and then you do it again next day.

Shame often likes to appear.

From the many thoughts of things you wished you would’ve said while she was still here.

So much pent up appreciation with no air to go.

No other chance to say what you really wanted to say.

Death can be cruel.

Because all what you realize after never gets to be.

You at times feel incomplete.

But you know you can’t keep there but to run to the Father who will help.

That this cruel thing He can only transform into love for someone else.

 

Leticia Ochoa Adams

Just trying to figure out this thing called life

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