Tag Archives: journey

Shake the dust

During these days as I’m dealing with a lupus flare triggered on by what is referred to as “overdoing it”, it has me reviewing my life as these occurrences often do.

For one, “overdoing it”. For someone else doing same task, may cause some minor fatigue. Nothing that a good nights rest won’t heal. For me, it puts me out of commission where I have no energy, get exerted easily, body aches (pangs in bones), and fever like spells. Thanks to God, mild, compared to others who suffer flares.

This week I thought I would have open to catch up with some friends and family. With Thanksgiving being next week and the busy holiday season beginning, I thought I could get to some undivided visits but this will have to wait.

With the flares and change in plans, it makes me revisit a repeated life encounter. A situation that for 17 years I’ve had to deal with multiple times and still find people who do not understand – the I’m sorry I have to cancel – or – I’m sorry I cannot attend. Either because I’m not feeling well or to pace myself for events that I had to prioritize.

When these situations come the most exchange that may happen is simply a decline to an invitation or cancel out to a casual meet up. If it permits, person asks, I will give more detail why, which helps me relieve stress. If it doesn’t happen, then I can most likely assume they don’t understand or don’t care. That may be harsh, but at this time in my life, I can basically read it.

So what does this mean? It means I no longer worry for the other person’s reception. For years, it would concern me. Worry me. Make me feel like I would have to make it up to them. Even if I felt I proved I truly cared about them or demonstrated that my relationship to them was important to me in multiple ways. But there are some who count things against you and just like that, nothing you did or who you are is enough to show you mercy.

This passage in Matthew 10 comes to mind when I struggle with letting go of the situation.

MATTHEW 10:12-14
As you enter a house, wish it peace.
If the house is worthy, let your peace come upon it; if not, let your peace return to you.
Whoever will not receive you or listen to your words—go outside that house or town and shake the dust from your feet.

In my bible study, it was taught this means to move on, let go. If you did what you can and they still don’t receive it, it’s not your problem, it is theirs!

Does it mean you don’t forgive them? No! Don’t remove yourself from them with a hardened heart. Give over the situation to the Lord, let Him take control. It just means you cannot waste your energy on something you no longer have peace with.

It has taken me a while to get to this point in my life. But as I get older with lupus, the challenges are tougher and at times I just go for what is easiest. Some will understand and some will not.

Thank God for those in my life who do understand.

Time

Lately, I’ve been in some kind of mode of embracing the present.  It’s not that I have never had these moments before like when at a family gathering, or a trip, or an outing.  I have had many that I’m thankful Our Lord push that button in me to recognize so that I can grab onto it.  But lately, it seems to be more prevalent.

As I mentioned before, my Mom lives with us.  It’s now going on 3 years.  However, these last months, she’s been staying with my sister in Tucson. My sister and I both knew this is how it would probably work out with my sister now living in Tucson. It gives Mom the flexibility of having both of our homes to live. Tucson is her hometown and we both want her where she’ll have most peace.

So in this time, Mom not being home with me, I have the time to work on things or be a part of things that I have held off. That’s mainly my issue since I tend to give my attention fully to her when she’s with me.  I have not mastered to balance my life and responsibility of her very well.

These days, in whatever it is I’m doing, I find myself stopping to a moment or fixate on what I’m doing more often. It can be anything from a physical ability or the wind hitting my skin. A memory from childhood or a book I’m reading that will make me stop and center on it.

When I recently saw my Mom who I hadn’t seen for three weeks, I just held onto her. Recognizing how I really have missed her. Thanking God to have the time shared.

I’m not sure I fully understand why it’s happening.  Part of it, I admit, could be the world news.  Random shootings, natural disasters, family suffering…I also think about where my husband and I are in our lives.  I’m 46 yrs and he’s 51. The clarity is there that we are letting go of that youthful time and entering the next season.  We have lived in our first home for 19 years. And with some recent home projects we have done, I have remembered the memories we have had or our marriage has had living here.  Also being aware of some blessed wisdom we have received and awareness of faith in our lives has added to that present moment thought process.  In no way am I saying that we are a well oiled machine and got it all right, we are learning each day. But to know and use that basic toolbox of faith and apply it to our lives, means so much at this stage in our lives.

I take this current situation in my life as a gift. I’m sure many of us have it.  I’m going to try record about it more.  With time passing by fast it seems, I at times get a little anxious because I physically can’t see all I would like. I truly love each one who I know on the most part understand. I can’t get to everyone in the sit down way I would like. Most of the time, I have to compromise how I use my energy. But I can for sure say, I have remembered a life event or given a prayer for each one in present moments each day as I think of them.

I just found this article.  I’m sure I’ve learned about this before, but lost its significance.  I’m linking it to share so that it may guide you too.

It’s from Catholic News Agency titled ‘Are you missing the gift of the present?’

https://www.catholicnewsagency.com/cw/post.php?id=67

Thank you Lord for giving me this gift I didn’t first recognize as one. Now I will be sure to embrace it even more.

Mexico

Breaking

Hearts around the world unite with yours

Each day

Sadness pours

Cries

Anguish

Prayers are sent

In all your beauty it does not fade

For through your people

His glory remains

Who am I?

A while back I wrote a post that I very much wanted to get off my chest.  However, because I was rushing and not paying attention, I deleted it by accident.  I still had the subject line “Who am I?” But since then, this post content has changed.

It also has been a while since I’ve written.  Lately, my mind has been busy and I just can’t get myself to settle to write.

Whether it’s making sure home life is right and somewhat in order for my Husband and my Mom or tending to opportunities I want to be a part of.  For example, I want to do this formation or that formation, listen to this podcast, or read this book. But also, because my mind has been overloaded with news.

For whatever reason, I’ve been home alone these past two days to just “think”.  I used to have this quite a bit before my mom moved in with us. I now appreciate it so much more, but I wouldn’t give up taking care of my mom to have it all again.  These opportunities that come from time to time are embraced.

So what is it?  Why do I feel a bit anxious, a bit emotionally weak?  Pretty sure I am not the only one.  Social media has so many thoughts about the current world.  Sometimes you see one breaking down in tears and another is baking a cake.

But, with the  news continually showing what is happening in one country recovering from natural disaster – hurricanes, floods, earthquakes, there is also added threat to this all from a dictator who is pushing his agenda to cause more suffering.

I don’t work, so I don’t have an 8 hour part of my day where I could invest my thoughts into something.  So these last two days, I have been praying while doing whatever needs to be taken care of.  Praying for those who died, who are waiting to be rescued, who are suffering, grieving, worrying, fearing.

It’s so strange the paradox that is going on.  Here in Arizona, these days have been beautiful.  Such ease – being able to drink my morning coffee in comfort. Grocery shop with many options.  Take a shower. Lay comfortably in my bed at night.  Read a book. It feels both guilty and very grateful at the same time.

How are we to keep joy when so much around seems grim?

You know what came to mind?  I think of Saint Paul singing in prison.

ACTS 16:17-25

She began to follow Paul and us, shouting, “These people are slaves of the Most High God, who proclaim to you a way of salvation.”She did this for many days. Paul became annoyed, turned, and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” Then it came out at that moment.

When her owners saw that their hope of profit was gone, they seized Paul and Silas and dragged them to the public square before the local authorities. They brought them before the magistrates and said, “These people are Jews and are disturbing our city and are advocating customs that are not lawful for us Romans to adopt or practice.” The crowd joined in the attack on them, and the magistrates had them stripped and ordered them to be beaten with rods. After inflicting many blows on them, they threw them into prison and instructed the jailer to guard them securely. When he received these instructions, he put them in the innermost cell and secured their feet to a stake.
Deliverance from Prison. About midnight, while Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God as the prisoners listened…

This passage always blows my mind.  Paul didn’t fear what was about to happen to him.  He continued to stand up for belief in Jesus and even after they tortured him, he still carried on giving thanks and glorifying God.  Making sure all around him witnessed his true example.

Who am I these days? It’s been somewhat challenging with family and friends around me these past weeks, where I suited up the Armor of God to help them in their weaknesses even though I too have felt challenged.  Reminding them to pray, not to lose hope, keep reading the scriptures, get to Church.

Who do you say that I AM?  Simon Peter said in reply, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Whether time is near for Jesus to return, whether there will be much more suffering ahead, I hope our faith becomes stronger and love pours out from our souls. To know Jesus has conquered the world. To continue living each day directing our lives to Him.

Lord God, I want only for the appearance of my face and the depth of my soul to show your presence in my life.   Make me an instrument of your peace and use me for your will during these trying days and for what’s ahead so that you find us ready. +++

How the great pearl and Lit found me

I just finished ‘Lit’ by Mary Karr.  I had been pin surfing  Pinterest searching for books to read and came across this suggestion.  The summary made me interested.  Two things stood out, addiction and God.

When I choose a book, it depends on timing in my life.  Books centered on food  such as aspiring chefs, chef stories, restaurant owners, and as a bonus most books contain recipes always amuse me.  Of course, I like to read about the faith, but haven’t tapped into one lately where a story is told on how faith became real in their life.  And I underline bold face REAL.  Memoir faith based books I have read are well, too vanilla.

Another book along the lines of ‘Lit’ titled, ‘Drunks and Monks’ by John Carmichael, gave me something some faith books just don’t.  And that’s concrete, hard core (at times) experiences detailed and how each segment of their life shaped them into the strong faith they have now.  Not just information on if you are experiencing a struggle, pray to God or learn these exercises and you’ll find peace.  But down right, gritty stories that make me grab onto the faith in a deeper way. I get  it because in my journey, I can relate.

So, back to ‘Lit’. ‘Lit’ is a memoir written by Mary Karr.   Tells her struggles as an adolescent, her parents who are dealing with their selfishness, her addiction, marriage, birth of son, experiences of becoming a writer, and finding Jesus.  All this in language that engaged me into a rich, twisted, swirl of captivating literature.

As I began writing for this blog, I noticed that many female, Catholic blog writers carry a certain tone.  I know it works for many, but for me, it wasn’t calling my attention.  I don’t know if it has to do with age so much as it has to do with upbringing.

I feel as though there are many Catholic women who are being left out of this sphere of unity/belonging.   Some may feel they need to shy away from their past in order to get on board. It’s not that the messages these certain point blogs cannot be applied in anyone’s life, it’s the content of the person’s life, to me, is what helps to relate to it.  So many different paths go untouched.

Karr shares deep struggles with addiction, not up to par with other students, parents, coworkers. She talks about seeking God and allowing the first step towards prayer which is a few words mentioning God.  All this develops into daily exercises and references her prayer life,  baptism,  and the Catholic Church.

Her writing takes you on a journey of sights, smells, and feelings.  It made me think of my own childhood.  Many points in the book, I would stop and recall a memory which either brought me joy or pain.  There were moments I had forgotten.

What’s even more crazy is the timing of when I finished this book.  On Sunday, July 30th mass reading, the gospel was about:

Matthew 13:44-52

Jesus said to his disciples:
"The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. 
Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. 
When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. 
Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth. 
"Do you understand all these things?" 
They answered, "Yes." 
And he replied, "Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old." 

It’s about truly letting go of one self’s bonds, walls, crutches, addiction, sadness, brokenness, pain, unfulfilled, struggles, unaccomplished.

It’s everywhere I think I am in my life.  It made me realize due to some things going in my life right now, how much I still have not let go from my childhood.  Karr’s book resonated with me in my own life with similar experiences.  Being diagnosed with Lupus gave me the push to learning about my faith, walk with Christ, but over the years til now, it kind of stalled.  Life became what it did and I lost a bit of listening.   When you running the daily rat race, you don’t!   You don’t realize how much more needs to be pulled out of you so that our Lord can rework you.  My upbringing and the loss of nurturing a child needs can still rear up its ugly head as an adult.

By working on this with Our Lord, helps me to open up to the next stage in my life.  Where does He have me going next?

I hope and pray this is the beginning of that to whomever is reading this post. I’m ready to let go!

May our Dear Lord grant you the awareness you need to see what other areas of your life you need to give up for the pearl of great price to buy that life only Christ can give. Keep praying you want Jesus to take areas of you life still holding you down. +++

Poem X

In this time
I find I
Though numbing as flight in the air
My mind goes
My body foes
God is always near
No drug I took
Just the humdrum of this thing
That comes over me
Stalled like someone who has tripped
Pulling, crawling
Coming to
‘Til a song breaks through
My dependence is new

Ground control to Major Worry

Control.

The battle of ourselves and understanding Our Father who is in control.

Repeatedly throughout my adult life, I have dealt with self control.  I had life experiences that only made me teach myself to depend on my responding emotions.

Mechanisms to guard my heart from hurt, pain, confidence, courage.

As I explained in my blogs of transformation from my lupus diagnosis, is where the self control changed.

However, even after years of growing deeper into my Catholic faith, being attentive and obedient, I find myself cave in at times and throw myself back to the pits of self control.

Mostly, when it comes to family issues that grab me with anxiety or worry. Things I wish I could help, but know I physically have no power.

Why is that?

At times, I want to blame it on the lupus. Stress is a factor of what causes lupus flares.  I figure, my body does not have any tolerance for worry so as soon as I respond to it in my body, I shut down.

Then, I think, it's my age.  Yes, my age.  I'm older so any ounce of worry, I shrivel up.  That's got to be it too… right?

What I do know is that when I find myself in worry over something, I do feel the Holy Spirit taking hold of me.  I will remember to turn it over to Jesus and ask Him to take it.  It may not always be that immediate moment, but it does happen.

What I want to attain, is that I don't cause 'me' to happen at any situation in life.  I desire my soul to respond by His holy will and just issue a sense of peace to whatever comes my way.  I mean, I imagine that's what Pope Francis does and our religious priests and nuns…right?  They always look so at peace.

Is this anxious/worry thing a Cross? I wonder, but don't put too much thinking into it since I'm convicted to not focus on it.

In my family, there are many plagued by worry. To the point where it transforms into high blood pressure.  Thankfully, I do not have that. But I know my family is prayerful. And whenever something strikes us, I am the one to say to pray.  We all do to each other at times. Thanks be to God!!

At this stage in my life, I'm thankful Our Lord helps me to recognize it. I'm thankful my prayer is always asking God to help and take the issue/situation.  That I know I'm not stranded in the desert.

And that's just it!

That we live this life continually knowing we are not god.  Life will always give us stress.  I am not perfect. Will I ever be? That's not my concern either.  But that I get stronger in what I know Jesus wants from me.

"Be thou my Wisdom" +++

"I have told you this so that you might have peace in me. In the world you will have trouble, but take courage, I have conquered the world.” – John 16:33

Indelible Mark +

It was in a bible study class from my parish, where I first learned about the indelible mark.

Catechism of the Catholic Church 1121 : The three sacraments of Baptism, Confirmation, and Holy Orders confer, in addition to grace, a sacramental character or "seal" by which the Christian shares in Christ's priesthood and is made a member of the Church according to different states and functions. This configuration to Christ and to the Church, brought about by the Spirit, is indelible, it remains for ever in the Christian as a positive disposition for grace, a promise and guarantee of divine protection, and as a vocation to divine worship and to the service of the Church. Therefore these sacraments can never be repeated.

The clarity of this mark became known to me in my early 40s.  The whole time before that I had no idea what it meant.

Once I learned of this love that deciphers us from the world, it made my heart grow in a sense that the family, the Church, widen up to a bigger picture.

At times, when I walk around my city, or in the Church pews, or when I’m traveling, I often receive an emotion of peace and a strength because even though I can’t see that others are also marked I know among them they are around me.


For me, it’s a badge of honor, coat of arms,  military colors, a wedding band.  It helps me remember who I am to be.

In my family, I don’t recall anyone ever mentioning the significance of this mark and how very important I should keep myself reminded of it.  I can’t fully blame my immediate family because my parents carried their faith into our lives on how they received it.  No one dug deep into the faith.

I feel because of what God has given me, the knowledge I have to this point, the fire/zeal to learn about the faith, makes me responsible for sharing it. We all are called to.

What a precious gift we’ve been given in these sacraments where the ‘mark’ is given.  How even when we do the Sign of the Cross, it’s a pronounced action of what is already transfixed in us.

I recall a bible study that explains when the end of time comes, Our Lord will identify us by this indelible mark.

Revelation 7:4 I heard the number of those who had been marked with the seal, one hundred and forty-four thousand marked* from every tribe of the Israel.

The work from those with this mark have much to do.  Until the very end, our lives need to keep proclaiming for God’s will to be done.  Often at times in my life, I feel like I could be doing more.  But I recognize I have allowed fear to halt the work and all I can do is ask God to get me where He wants me to be and remove whatever barrier(s) are preventing me from living out my purpose.

I value more the fact that when I rise in the morning, the first thing I do is the Sign of the Cross.  This is how I begin my day and end it.

Lord God, this day, and everyday, may we live out the indelible mark. +

 

Ocean heals

Since I was about 9 years old, I spent my summer vacations in a simple town known as San Clemente.  It has grown much since I was 9.  Now it’s a vacation destination, many tourists, and pricy living. I was fortunate to have family who lived there so staying for months was no expense problem for my mom and dad. My aunt and uncle lived minutes away from the beach. I was blessed to experience the ocean air and mild summers. The thing is I didn’t know I was blessed. 

I always thought when I got to college age, that I would reside in Orange County and attend USC.  That all ended when a 6.2 earthquake happened and my foundation shook. Scared me to the core. But even after the earthquake, I would still go visit my family each summer. I just decided I could not live there anymore.

I always felt so comfortable being there. That had a lot to do with my aunt and cousin who treated me like I was a part of their family.   During my junior high years this became even more important to me.  My mom and dad divorced and all that I thought was secure was broken. My time there healed me. Going to the beach with my cousin, driving around to quaint little shops, eating ice cream at the parlors. My aunt would also make these wonderful dinners that during one summer, let’s just say I grew.  Their home and this beach town were refuge for me. When things were rough in my life, the San Clemente beach and my family helped me.

Fast forward, my bout with CDiff also received recompense from the beach.  In 2008, thanks to my dear husband, I spent many months with my San Clemente family trying to find peace. I went there either with my mom or on my own.  I had terrible anxiety and fear. I remember waking up at times and feeling the urge to take a drink of alcohol at 9 am. That had never happened to me before. I would also have panic attacks and need to take deep breaths to know I was OK.  It was horrible.

So there would be many moments where I would just drive by myself and just sit there at the beach or walk on the pier trying to recover. Crying and pleading and asking the Lord to free me. 

Then this is when I would begin to envision myself alone in the ocean completely immersed and feeling as though the water was Jesus’ mercy.  Letting go of all that I was holding onto and just floating in His care.   The image would give me comfort and allow me to breathe again.

That is why I believe today I have such a deep love for the ocean. I don’t just view it as water or a place to vacation to but I correlate it to God and how vast and wide His love is for us and how powerful He is over any pain.

Hand over your worry, fear, anxiety to Jesus and in replace ask Him to give you His peace, patience, and trust. Fall into His mercy and relax yourself in His protection. +++ 

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!+++