Mothers

Motherhood is such a gift!

It is the gift of all gifts given to a soul, female soul. The ability to conceive, give birth, nurture. That’s the task. The main reason why she was put on the earth to have a child, children.

God is the Creator. Nothing else gives life unless He wills it. To gift a woman to conceive, is an extension of His divinity. It’s an act of great favor.

All that signifies safety, home, and a love special comes from a Mother. She is the shelter and light when all seems chaotic. She’s the peace pushed forth from Father God to distribute kindness and gentleness.

The gifts designed for the Mother were intentional to shape the world. No other being can fully share that love like a Mother. It is when she lives with a faith and belief in God that it becomes truly perfect.

On this Mother’s Day, I am grateful for my Mom Barbara and the special love she allowed to breathe through her from the Holy Spirit. I cannot describe in words how blessed I am that she was my Mom. To my sister Denise for commitment of being my help and shield, my Godmother Diana for stepping up when I needed support, and all aunts and cousins, who have shown me unconditional care and concern.

“Women are more capable than men of paying attention to another person, and that motherhood develops this predisposition even more.” – St. Pope John Paul, Mulieris Dignitatem, The Dignity of a Woman

“Thank you, women who are mothers! You have sheltered human beings within yourselves in a unique experience of joy and travail. This experience makes you become God’s own smile upon the newborn child, the one who guides your child’s first steps, who helps it to grow, and who is the anchor as the child makes its way along the journey of life.” – St. John Paul, Letter to Women

Letter to Women by Pope John Paul

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.

Will the Light

Today, was the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception. I went to my parish 8:30a Mass. I’ve been dealing with restlessness and anxiety for weeks due to mourning my Mom.

She passed away in April, but as the grieving process goes, and the holidays upon us, it feels like she passed away yesterday.

My days have been fidgety, but no matter how I busy myself, I keep to The Bible in a Year study even though I’m about 3 months behind. Life took some turns these last months and so I couldn’t keep up. Even if I did have time, I couldn’t focus.

But it’s been a saving grace for me. Listening, thinking, has given me the fuel to get through the day. I always feel peace and a bit stronger after I do my study. Most times, it does feel like I’m reaching for Our Lord’s garment.

During Advent, I admit I’ve been sluggish in what I wanted to do which was to attend weekday Mass twice a week. Because today was a holy day, I for sure did not want to miss.

Fr. Augustine, a new priest to our parish, was the celebrant. He’s known to give powerful homilies. You know when he wants you to get a point because his voice changes to a loud, deeper tone.

In his homily, he spoke about letting go of things that weigh us down. In contrast, the easy response from Mary, when she said yes to do God’s will. He also spoke about how disobedience is not only in the actions that lead to sin, but the inactions as well. For some divine reason as Fr. was speaking, it touched my soul how there has still been regrets. Much having to do in the inactions in how I dealt with the caretaking for my Mom. Holy Spirit prompted me to give it all to God – thoughts, sorrow, heartache, remorse, regret, the actions/inactions, doubts, etc. Intermixed with grieving of my mom’s absence, my soul is wrecked each day with what I wished I could’ve done or corrected. Because I’m not ever going to get that chance again, I feel as though I live in this odd, incomplete life.

That morning, Jesus made me see I can no longer do that.

Now even when thoughts try to stick in my mind, I quickly give it to God. Recognize what’s happening and pray.

This Christmas season feels numb. Days are moving, but I feel like it’s not really here, which makes Advent more difficult. I know the Lord sees me and knows my heart. I try to keep a grip and thank Him for everyday for the joys that did come.

Mama’s Day

Mom passed away on April 12th.  I feel like my whole being is frozen. Living, moving, but frozen. I feel a sense of me is no longer. 

It was not that we did not know she was not well.  It was not because there were lack of signs making it evident that her end was near.

But the speed in which it came is something I am still coping with.

I’ve often written about my childhood and my parents’ selfishness in my upbringing. How the effects of their decisions impacted my sinful choices.

I have also written about the dynamics of how taking care of my mom in her elderly years, reverse roles, was designed by God’s providence to teach us both area of our lives that needed healing.

But there was a lesson given right after Mom died that I had no idea would exist.  I’m pushing through and learning from it.

It is something I feel as though I need to make known to other daughters who care for their mom or don’t even know they too will be put into a situation to care for them.  Sometimes the pace of caregiving can make you lose sight of many things. If I knew those last months, days were my mom’s last, I would have changed how I did things. Some families are blessed where they know their loved one is at the end of their life. Much of my mom’s end felt quick and out of control. I know I can’t beat myself up, but wish I had paid less attention to the tasks and more of the sacred time with her.

My mom’s decline started to happen in December 2020. Out of nowhere she started to experience extreme pain in her upper arms. Thanks to God, mom never had debilitating pain ever in her life. This was new to her which caused her to stay in bed. And with Covid still lingering above our heads, a heavier cross was given to her overall mental health. Since she was already working at being patient in what her frail mind allowed her. Through January we were seeking answers to her pain. Then her blood pressure became an issue and even though her liver issue had seemed to be normal, at the start of March evident physical signs emerged.

I have always done good by mom when it came to her care. If I saw something, I would contact her doctor or research for a home remedy. When I noticed her repeating things, I had her see her neurologist. He said it was Alzheimer’s, but I felt there was something more to it. In the days after, her physical ability started to change. Sleeping more, eating less. I could not get her in with her hepatologist because he was booked, he instructed I take her to his hospital ER to evaluate her. That sequence of events turned out to be her final days.

During the last six months, I was so caught up in the tasks, I would lose the preciousness of the moments.  But there were times we discussed our faith and readiness for death. How on one afternoon I pushed myself to have the discussion with mom on what to pray for in those conversations with Our Lord. Her convicted response was she does pray for a “happy death” and how she prays “for God’s mercy on her sins”. Other times, we talked about memories of her childhood, her love for her grandchildren, and her two marriages.

But there is something more that I am reconciling with Our Lord about “time” at the end of my mom’s life despite all these conversations. Something I feel was missed. And this is what I feel I must make known in some cautionary way.

So often in our relationships with our mom’s we don’t take hold of the sacred time. We don’t ever think of life without her. I have known many women including my mom who lost their mother at a young age. I have seen their tears.  I have counseled and expressed my prayers to them. But there is something I missed or did not understand from them in their mourning. No fault of their own.  Not easy to express what it feels like to lose your mother.  Even now, me trying to put into words how much life drastically changes when your mom’s life is taken, isn’t fully explaining it.

This “feeling” of your mother’s soul not existing on earth is like a deep hole in your heart that extends to the clouds. It’s a hard, anxious exhale. A deep wound looking to be comforted from the one who no longer physically can. It is not like any other deceased loved one in your life. I can’t say I have experienced losing my husband or sister.  But I have lost my father, family, and friend.

Your mother brought you in the world. God’s great gifts are bestowed in a Mother. The fruits of the spirit are the definition of a mother – charity, generosity, joy, gentleness, peace, faithfulness, patience, kindness, self-control, goodness…

In God’s great design, all that I felt I didn’t have in my Mom in my adolescence, she took on His will to allow her to live these great fruits in her later life once she became a grandmother.  Her focus, time, and attention were elevated in what she always had possessed, but didn’t let shine until God helped her recognize.

There are moments I think, did mom know how much I appreciated her? Did she know how much I loved her as she loved me? Did I communicate to her these same fruits she showed me?  All these thoughts are normal in the grieving process.  To question but not stay asking.

When you’re living your life you don’t often think of the moment. We can get caught up in the family gatherings, holidays, etc., but not necessarily pay attention to the person.

I can say my family and I had many great memories.  Mom lived for 78 years.  Birthday celebrations, mother’s days, trips to California.  Shopping sprees at Walmart, her favorite place. Driving down to Tucson, visiting family. Learning her recipes – creole chicken, salsas, chile con carne. Her teaching the grandchildren how to play poker where she learned from Camp Pendleton marines in the early 1960s.  We also had many conversations on her life.  Her childhood. Father dying at age two.  Mother dying at age 38. Never having a father figure. No male ever to show her how she should be valued. Her marriage to my Dad. How much she loved him and the shatter of her dreams when he chose addiction over their marriage. Later, how strong a blessing it was to her that in dad’s recovery, he asked her for forgiveness. Her seeking to find value and love after but never finding it. I value every time we spoke and thank God for all those random discussions that helped me to see her.

I often say to family and friends that God had us come together under the same roof again for healing. Even though mom’s move in with my husband and I was due to her health.  For almost seven years, we learned things about each other.  I learned there was still pent-up anger towards her for not giving me the attention I needed as a child. There were often challenges with that in that moments would hit me where I’m splitting time of my married life to care for her. How I would often have to decline invites because I was caring for my mom. Canceling trips, events, etc. because I couldn’t leave my mom alone. Battling with these reminders on how easily I sacrificed, at times, crippled me because I would remember how mom would set herself first.

Then God did what He could only do.  He flourished in her soul so that I, my sister, family, those in her life, could feel her love in the way He always meant it to be.

For all those daughters who have similar experiences, for the daughters who maybe too busy to see the preciousness of time, to the daughters who are getting fatigued with the care of their mother, for the daughter who thinks there is all this time ahead, for the daughter who doesn’t take the time to forgive – please stop and turn your heart.  The moment Our Lord takes your Mom – nothing – will ever matter so much more than to just have another moment with her.

 I’m living with thankfulness that out does any other experience I may ever have.  I will miss hugging her and kissing her every night. I will miss her sitting at her desk.  I will miss seeing her in my passenger’s seat driving around. I will miss arguing with her about going to the casino. Her telling me my dinners were “so good”.  Overhearing her conversations to my aunts on what my day consisted of instead of her own.  I will miss her asking me “what do you think” when she’s trying to decide to buy something.

Last, I came to realization that in all my time of seeking the Lord, reading countless books, attending church events, mass attendance, confession, podcasts, bible study that there is something strongly missed that could not be gained until your Mother passes away. The mother was designed to give life. Children born is to glorify God and to fulfill His will. The mother in her fiat to do God’s will passes onto the child in continuing to glorify God. Not all mothers know what their role truly is in those initial moments or years. It is faith and belief in Jesus that turns the cycle of life in what it is meant to be. No matter what time in life that becomes known. The love that pours out of the Son to the mother is the greatest source of living. Everything comes to be in right order. The understanding of heaven is ever more real to me now. Because how great the void of your mother’s love to just cease makes no sense. It’s as if to say, that’s it. You had it, now it’ s gone. You’ll never find that again. You’ll never know it again. But that’s not the case. We know a greater love and that is Jesus. That ounce of love that is your Mother’s love is a drop in the ocean compared to Jesus’ love for us. Knowing His promise, communion of saints, the chance to see our loved ones again…sustains me. Ever more real. Ever more grateful.

This way of life now with my husband at my side has forever changed. It’s awkward, strange, doesn’t seem real. But everyday, I ask God to have mercy on my wretchedness. To help me move forward with His plans. And with what I have learned may be shared and be a heart opening in their relationship with their mother so that God’s peace may be full.

I’ll never get another moment with Mom, but I know she knows how much I love her and need her prayers to grow and be ready too when it’s my time to go Home.

Happy Mother’s Day Mama! I love you.

We dare to say

Yesterday after mass, I came out knowing that I would need to stay away from social media because I cannot control what people say. In a broader spectrum, I cannot control much.

For almost the past week now, I have seen Catholics who I have been following for some time on social media, show their appearances of rigidness, judgment, divisiveness, and self righteousness, that has left me to resort to confinement of some degree.

They want to voice how their Candidate who upheld the Christian view is in a fight to keep his presidential role and that anyone who claimed they are Catholic and did not vote for him, must not be.

Maybe it’s a small portion of who I have come across. Maybe it is a sample of a larger scale of what is truly out there. But I do know, that it isn’t what I’ve known my faith to preach.

I heard recently, I think from Fr. Mike Schmitz podcast, how deep the beginning line of the Our Father at Mass is, but how many miss it.

“At the Savior’s command
and formed by divine teaching,
we dare to say:

How many times have I said the Our Father and not taken those words “we dare to say” more to heart! How many of us recite it too and missed it.

Many times, we have had a President in place who is pro choice, but have lived with the elected and worked together. We have many times entered Church and sat in the pew with others who do not approach the faith in the same way, but we’ve been told it does not make us better. How many times have we sat with others who have opposing views, and don’t even know it? The faithful are instructed what to do when our focus becomes to much about something or someone and not Jesus Christ. To be in the world, but not of the world.

As I shuffle through the verses that have been coming to my mind these days, I remembered this parable.

The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. 9He then addressed this parable to those who were convinced of their own righteousness and despised everyone else.c 10“Two people went up to the temple area to pray; one was a Pharisee and the other was a tax collector. 11The Pharisee took up his position and spoke this prayer to himself, ‘O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector. 12I fast twice a week, and I pay tithes on my whole income.’d 13But the tax collector stood off at a distance and would not even raise his eyes to heaven but beat his breast and prayed, ‘O God, be merciful to me a sinner.’e 14I tell you, the latter went home justified, not the former; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”

Our job as Catholics is not to add to chaos, but to refer to the Fruits of the Spirit. Why? God is spirit! God dwells in us. God has given us what to cling onto, to rally in when times get tough or trials hit. If the voices you are listening to do not grow your soul, provoke it to rattle , give off dissension and anger, then you have fallen for someone’s agenda.

God’s aim is not about us and them. They are this and we are that. Politics change. Jesus doesn’t.

Yesterday’s Gospel reading told us what each of us should be concerned about:

MT 25:1-13

Jesus told his disciples this parable:
“The kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins
who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 
Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 
The foolish ones, when taking their lamps,
brought no oil with them,
but the wise brought flasks of oil with their lamps. 
Since the bridegroom was long delayed,
they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
At midnight, there was a cry,
‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
Then all those virgins got up and trimmed their lamps. 
The foolish ones said to the wise,
‘Give us some of your oil,
for our lamps are going out.’
But the wise ones replied,
‘No, for there may not be enough for us and you.
Go instead to the merchants and buy some for yourselves.’
While they went off to buy it,
the bridegroom came
and those who were ready went into the wedding feast with him. 
Then the door was locked.
Afterwards the other virgins came and said,
‘Lord, Lord, open the door for us!’
But he said in reply,
‘Amen, I say to you, I do not know you.’
Therefore, stay awake,
for you know neither the day nor the hour.”

Fr. Shea said the oil represents wisdom. The foolish virgins that did not have enough oil were not ready for the Bridegroom. They along the way, stopped being prepared. As in the self-righteous, that think they own the Cross and that a political party owns the Cross too. Jesus is not contained. Didn’t we hear that before? What happened?

God help us to live as servants of God. Help us to foster love and reverence for God.

.

Election

Three days after Election Tuesday and we still do not know who is our President.

Needless to say, tensions are high all over the U.S. It’s even made more visible on social media. However, as I go out to do errands and such, I do not find it to be the case, which is good.

At this time, Arizona, the state I live in, still has not cleared for officials to call the vote complete. Arizona has always voted red (Republican), but we still do not know since it appears could go blue (Democrat).

I’m feeling a bit fatigued with the President’s actions in that I feel he is only agitating and causing fear. The negative rants and worldly views get to me. Because it’s in me to truth seek. To defend truth. To feel as though it’s my duty and responsibility to stamp out the fires. And the actions keep adding another layer.

Things like watching fellow Catholics going after each other condemning some that they are not Catholic because they voted for Biden, some asking the faithful to pray that the outcome changes and goes to Trump, some showing that their fellowship and communion only applies if Trump wins. Some sharing conspiracy theories and don’t even recognize what they’re doing because they don’t see it as conspiracy.

It’s sad to see many of the faithful and other Christians, fall into manipulation instead of keeping their eyes fixed on Christ. Some very well known and prominent figures Catholic and Christian, talk show hosts, priests, pushing on their followers to see the corruption being had and the result being voter fraud. It’s not that I don’t believe there isn’t some voter fraud, but I also believe there always has been. But the agitators and schemers, do their thing to trip up the faithful and cause doubt. That’s all they have to do.

How do they not see what this creates in our country? How do they not see if the result isn’t peace, then why support it? I get it not all Christian life is only lived in peace, but when there is something to stand up and fight against, it’s because it is truly good and defense for God.

If I allow it, this whole thing can take over my emotions and cause me to be angry with my fellow brethren. Angry that they would follow the march of anyone instead of Christ and His Church. It’s as if the fervor to put their candidate in place is more important than maintaining Christian unity, any unity. Common good.

I get it. I get that the Republican party carries positions that uphold Catholic beliefs (marriage, family, anti-abortion, freedom of religion). All that I will always defend. Evangelize about. Support. But our democracy, allows the constitutional right to vote. Results may not always favor that. For me, if Biden gets into office, means I have work to do.

I have a uneasiness every time I turn on TV or go to social media, because it pains me that people will lose themselves over an election than to proclaim Christ. Who is Christ? What did he ask us to do?

The manipulator is at work. Desires chaos. Desires reckoning. Desires division. Why are my fellow brothers and sisters NOT seeing this first? What are we willing to sacrifice that could be more important than our identity in Christ?

For those who want to say to me that they have zeal for the Lord and will fight to make sure there is protection on the Right to Life, Marriage, and Religious Freedom, and continue to support the recounting and lawsuits until a final approved result is given, at what point are you going to identify your focus is misdirected? The world and outside voices will always have something to say. We can’t control them, but we can control what we can in our families, neighborhoods, legislation, and future votes. Above all, recognize the enemy.

Lord you are our Refuge and Our Strength, may your mercy be upon us and may our prayers be heard. Help our focus to be on you during this difficult time and remain in one accord with you and the Church. To remember we are your hands and feet and to be of service to others. Drawing on humility first above everything.

Leticia Ochoa Adams

Just trying to figure out this thing called life

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