Tag Archives: christian

How do we ACTS?

It’s almost a week after our President’s inauguration.  There has been non stop coverage on his every move which has included executive orders.

I can’t remember past Presidents in their first week implement so much change.

Social media is flooded with people’s opinions. Most I’ve seen are those opposing him being President. I can see popular celebrity news spots helping the cause. In addition, sources who are not legit news sources, spreading fake information.

It’s crazy to me that some can’t tell the difference and so they share and pass on the wrong information.

I’ve been tempted to want to point out or say something but I come to the conclusion they’re just going to believe what they want to.  What a mess our news media is in!!

In these times we must be smart! Pay attention to what is happening around us to know how to combat the enemy which is the Deceiver himself. The joy of chaos it’s embracing seeing division and destruction.

I just wish more would search accurate facts of the issues and not just what a popular group wants you to believe. It’s quick to believe and judge.

I find myself watching multiple news sources just to get a balanced opinion. The news is moving so fast!!!

So what about the changes?

I try to keep a level head with friends and family when we don’t meet eye to eye. I want them to see it too that we are not always going to agree but I’m still worthy to have my viewpoint.

It is soul wrenching when you find in your relative or friend an issue you view concluded by your faith and they don’t! For example, they might be pro life but want to stop the flow of refugees. Again, unless you’re attending Mass weekly and feeding your soul, these two issues may look different but in faith we understand they go hand and hand.

I read this quote and thought back at the time of the organization of the Apostles after Jesus ascended into Heaven:

Read Acts of the Apostles. It was a beautiful time. All cared for each other and wanted all to succeed whether it was family, health, financial security.  What a world we would have if we followed Christianity the way it was intended to be.

Acts of the Apostles

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.

Cradle Catholic, not really.

My parents did not share the same faith.  My mom received the sacraments in the Catholic church and my Dad was a son of a Free Methodist Pastor.  My mom wanted me to have the sacraments too and my Dad supported it.

My Godparents as I grew up were not faith nurturing but despite that I had an abundance of love from them.  Our family was not "church going".  I can't recall us going to Mass as a family unless it was for a reason like someone getting married.  In fact, I don't remember ever praying with my parents or spending time learning what faith was about.

During my time as a child, my maternal grandmother took care of me while my parents were at work.  In her humble house she had an altar.  It had a pastel painted Virgin Mary and other smaller sized saints made out of plaster which in my Mexican culture are called "Santitos".  I remember when it was nap time, she would have me lay in the bed that was right near her altar of Saints.  I would often play with them like they were barbie dolls. I wondered who they were and why she had them in a corner in her room that had candles and flowers. I can remember the smell of burning wax from her prayer candles and the reflections of the Saint figures on the walls.  I remember feeling all this but I can't recall why she had this in her home and why it was important to her.  My grandmother passed away when I was eleven.

For my First Holy Communion, I remember loving the idea that I would be wearing a mini wedding dress including a veil. I remember the excitement about the party that was coming to celebrate it. Oh it was a big party too! Tons of family brought me gifts like rosaries and prayer books. I had a sugared cake with white frosting and a plastic communion girl on top. But soon after the party, all that I was taught in catechism was lost.  I had no more nurturing from the teachers nor did what I learn come from my parents. 

Around this same time, my Dad's drug addiction started. Our family life became more about drinking.  There was no spiritual direction in our home. No compass.

communion

When my only sister got married, I was in 6th grade, I would attend Church with her and her new little family.  We went to the neighborhood Church.  I remember feeling peace and happy she would always include me.

My high school years were not filled with guidance from my faith.  In fact, all that a teenager can do without someone being there to protect or set straight, I did. Drugs, sex, suicidal tendencies, etc.  I didn't know my value.

After high school and a bad breakup with a high school boyfriend, I started back up and attended Church with my sister and her family.  And even though I had a foot in the door (so to speak) I still was living a sinful life.  Doing what most young 20 year olds do – going to clubs, drinking, and being promiscuous. Not grasping what I was hearing in Church or realizing it was to be my life.

In fact outside of going to Church with my sister and her family, not much about Jesus was spoken of.  Don't recall family talking much about Him either. If anyone was showing me any path it was my sister, who was receiving some guidance through her in-laws.

However, now looking back I know that those "seeds" that were planted by my mom and sister throughout my young life were there to help me where I am now.  I can look back and see the Hand of God despite the child life I was given or the choices I made.  

We all have journeys and not everyone takes the same path to finding a relationship to Jesus. This is why I find it important for me to share with others who might have a similar past or are living this now.  To make aware how our Father God is truly real, is always by our side, and never gives up on us. Ask, seek, and knock! In the end it's about when you desire Jesus in your life! +++

Vocation and God’s gifts

Here I am Lord, help me to find purpose in this life!

Have you ever prayed and prayed and are so willing for it but don’t know what it is? Yes, that’s me.

After being employed with a great company from the start of my marriage until having to quit due to my lupus (2003), I have always tried to keep busy in some way. So after receiving the desire to learn more about my Catholic faith, helped me become aware of the needs of the Church. So I sought out volunteer work.

I remember I started with prison pen pals.  A ministry where you were given names, age, of women to whom you could write to for spiritual guidance. I took this very seriously and really wanted to make the young women know I was praying for them.  I also had volunteered for a ministry where I would send aid and letters to a young girl in Pakistan.  I would receive pictures of her as years would go by and letters letting me know how she was doing.

At our Church, they had an ad in the bulletin about a need for crisis pregnancy center volunteers to help young women receive pregnancy tests and guidance to choose life for their unborn child. I signed up! I knew right away this is what I wanted to do.  I loved it and truly felt the Holy Spirit. I volunteered at Crisis Pregnancy for a few years.

I then volunteered at a food pantry called Paz de Cristo.  I loved the service they provided and volunteered part-time but then later took on a paid part-time position.  I was there two years assisting in all areas food stock, data entry, odds and ends.  At this time, I felt my health was getting a bit better where I could gauge how I would feel, so felt the courage to apply at the Diocese of Phoenix. I applied in the Human Resources department and God once again allowed me the desires of my heart.  I was working full-time and felt like I was back on track in the workforce.  I was doing well but knew I wanted to be closer to the faith and it’s education. That’s when I was offered a position in Family Catechesis.  This position paid less but the rewards were there!  I loved the group of people I worked with and learned so much about the faith. I was happy going to work and never complained what it asked of me.IMG_9384[1]At this time it was 2008. Once again, all of it changed. I caught C-Diff. A bacterial infection that cleans out your intestines of good bacteria and because of my lupus did so in quick fashion.  My system antibodies do not know how to fight and so they attack the good causing my system to shut down.  I was hospitalized for five days. Hospital doctor told my husband I could have died. I was given a strong antibiotic that to this day I pray I never have to take again because I am educated now on what I can do if needed. Even though I had a supportive boss, the setup for me to work from home or have any flexibility to hold onto my position was becoming a problem. I then quit and turned my attention to bettering my health.  For two years after the infection, I was still dealing with physical and emotional effects.  I was told by a friend who is a psychologist that I had PTSD – post traumatic stress disorder.  I had many restless and anxious nights. The fear of what it did to me caused my faith to grow in a new way – once again.

Back to vocation, since I no longer worked a desk job or received a check from an employer I have found ways to participate in this world with skills I have learned. So after a career in human resources and different work within the Diocese (administrative clerk work), I used some of the talent I gained and opened up a print design business from my home.

I received small jobs from time to time assisting in invitations, programs, business cards, flyers, posters, procedural manuals, etc.  Most of the work I did came from organizations within the Diocese – ministries, conferences, pro-life groups, youth education. It allowed me to do the work from any place at any time. Even with that flexibility, Our Lord always knew when I could take on work. Great thing is that when life challenges came, I wouldn’t have any work and then when life had time to focus on something, I would get work. It “worked” like that for three years.  It was great!!

But after a go at running this small business for these few years and I no longer had the passion for it, I knew it had reached its end.

Not that I no longer help out others like the Diocese, friends and/or family with print needs.  From time to time they come in and I’m just grateful to help.  However, because I didn’t find myself being aggressive enough and/or life events would take precedence, I decided it’s run was over.  I was happy in what I did produce but knew it was time for change.

I went through prayer asking the Lord to put in me something new.  So on one night I was watching TV and found a program speaking about atrocities done to the elderly in adult assisted living homes, a desire started to brew in my heart.

I knew I did not have the education or experience to become a caretaker but wasn’t sure that was where I wanted to be.  Then one day I saw a need for prayer aides for hospice facilities.  I knew this was it.  I took the training and began this volunteer need.  Right away I was taken by the reality of speaking to someone who was near death. Literally meeting them and then knowing next time I would come back to the hospice they would no longer be alive.  I’ll never forget the faces I looked at or the small conversations I had. I always prayed before I entered the building and prayed when I found them sleeping.  And I would always leave with more strength in my faith then when I arrived.

At this time, this is now on hold. After my Mom moving in and the many doctor appointments we had to go to, I could no longer be responsible for my shift. So I had to put it on hold.  I don’t know if I’ll be back at it again but I know for sure it had purpose!

I’m now praying for the vocation I am now in with my Mom.  People have told me that’s why I was sent for training for the hospice, because of my Mom.  I believe that and I’m still praying for His will to be done knowing … there is something else coming.

Why I share all of this is because none of these positions I held or volunteer work I did would have ever been on my radar if it wasn’t for my deeper conversion. Once I asked Jesus into my life, he took me to places where I could help and receive spiritual growth! Benefiting both the places where I helped and in turn helped me. We all have gifts and if you open your heart to the Holy Spirit, He will lead you. How I learned that lesson from the gospel and from Saint teachings!

Lord Jesus, may Your will be done!+++

Music! Can’t live without it!

Yes I’ve always had a love for music.   Those close to me know my taste in music and are always shocked what I want to share with them.  It’s actually pretty funny!!

My attention to music began around 5th grade.  I was taken by “Saturday Night Fever”, “Grease”, and all the musical films.  I even took up the clarinet for two years in elementary.  I loved my clarinet.  I loved going to the music store to buy reeds. Wow, I was a musician!

Fifth grade included the popular 80’s music of the time. Duran Duran, Howard Jones, Madonna, U2, INXS, Frankie goes to Hollywood, English Beat, WHAM….This was also the same time MTV broke out! Video watching was my past time. You not only got to see your favorites sing, their fashion, but learn dance moves too.  My room was covered with Duran Duran.  Unfortunately, I never did get to see them in concert but it didn’t stop me from being loyal.

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But as with stages in my life, when my Mom and Dad began their decline to divorce, my music became dark.  I was also influenced.  So at the turn of 6th and 7th grade, I started listening to heavy metal. I remember buying a Motley Crue t-shirt at a swap meet and being proud to wear it.  A rebel I thought I was! I started distancing myself a bit from certain friends and found myself with new ones. The t-shirt I wore had a pentagram on it.  I had no idea what it was. Just thinking it was a design. I can’t remember how I found out later or someone told me.  My mom didn’t take it from me either so in my mind I guess I thought it’s ok then! Not sure she knew what it was.

My interest in music stayed this way all through high school.

I had cassettes of The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Who, RATT, Skid Row, Pantera, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Metallica, Megadeth,…I’m sure there was more heavy metal bands I had but I can’t remember! I also attended just about every concert that would come into town. It was like a badge of honor to collect ticket stubs. Yes I still have them.

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The influence of this music was also due to the type of boyfriend I had in High School.  Unfortunately, at a time where I really needed parental/spiritual guidance, I found myself being very needy of someone’s attention at no matter the cost.

I had much freedom from the music I purchased, clothes I wore, concerts I attended, people who I associated with, time, etc.

Around my senior year, by the help of some very kind friends, I did very well my senior year in order to place myself in good college entry courses.  My maturity brought a bit of change in music too. I was interested in Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, Beastie Boys, to name a few.

In 1993 is when I met my husband to be.  He couldn’t have been more different than what I was “accustomed to”.  We had mutual friends and that’s how we met. He came from a disciplined family, attended Catholic school, and graduated from university. We often went to dance clubs with family and friends. We enjoyed our fun with the sound of Heavy D, Boyz II Men, and whoever else was being played in the clubs. Can’t say it stuck with me but I did enjoy dancing! To this day, we still are an odd music bunch!

I had a short affair with country music. I still am a fan of George Strait, Tim McGraw, and Faith Hill. And of course, Johnny Cash.

After a pilgrimage to Italy in 2006, an awareness to global music was found.  I right away found interest in European artists who sang mainly in their native tongue. I found that I could get a radio feed from here and listen music from anywhere .  With the help of iTunes, I started downloading artists such as Pino Daniele, Jamiroquai, Negramaro, Jovanotti, Laura Pausini, to name a few. It made me feel connected to other parts of the world.

In finding spiritual music, I found  chant music to the most reverent when I want to go to that prayerful place.  My playlists include Cysterian Monks, Poor Clares, and Gregorian. I am not a fan of Christian popular music that is too loud or blaring.  If you want to me to think about my relationship with Jesus it shouldn’t be like the pop music over the radio.  That’s just my opinion.

If you listen, there are many artist who give glory to God. U2 is one of my favorites!

Music will always be a way out for me to an emotional place!

St Cecilia, pray for us! +++