To All the Men Out There

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For decades radical feminism has beaten men into submission.  This is extremely prevalent within the abortion sphere.  Men are told that the baby is not theirs, but is only the woman’s.  After all, only wanted babies belong to the mothers AND the fathers.  Men are told that they should support a woman in murdering their child, because he should be enlightened and show women the respect they supposedly did not get pre-1960.  That’s right, the respectful thing to do is to knock a girl up and then drive her to the abortion clinic.  Do I think that this is how most women, who are scared and do not know what to do, feel when they decide to go visit the local abortion clinic?  No.  Rather this is the face of big abortion and radical feminism.  It is not the face of the young college student who is terrified from the positive pregnancy test, or the teenage girl who is forced by her parents to get an abortion, or the older man who takes his underage girlfriend to get rid of the evidence,  the couple who is terrified of having a child, the woman who is in an abusive relationship, or the poor woman who is just trying to make ends meet.  In fact, I would guess that a lot of these women want the men in their lives to stand up for them, tell them they will support them and their child, and that everything is going to work out.  And for the women who are victims, what they need is someone to help them, not kill their child.

 
Men, we need you to speak out.  We need you to take care of the women you are in a relationship with.  We need you to man up.  We also need you to take your place on the side of life.  We need ALL men to stand up, whether you have been personally touched by abortion or not.  We have all be touched by abortion, 1/6th of our country is missing and has been killed since 1973. This is not just a “women’s rights” issue, this is a human rights issue.  Over a billion men worldwide have lost fatherhood thanks to abortion.  55 million and counting have lost fatherhood in this country alone.  You have a right to stand up and say”no”.  More than that, you should witness to these women and show them what it looks like to be a real man: a provider, brave, strong, a man of God.
 
We need you to be praying with us outside of abortion clinics during 40 Days for Life.  We need young men (including teenagers and children), middle aged, and older.  We need all of you to show the world that fatherhood should not be tossed aside.  That murdering children and future generations is not acceptable in the false name of equality. That God created male and female in the image and likeness of God, each with a unique dignity.
 
Today, my daughter and I went out to join our parish Knights of Columbus in praying a living Rosary.  It was a powerful witness to Divine Love, mercy, and the Culture of Life.  We had men, women, teenagers, and a toddler asking Our Lady and Our Lord to convert souls and to bring healing and strength to these families who are torn apart by the scourge and lie of abortion.  I have met the courageous men who pray with me outside of our local Planned Parenthood.  I greatly admire them.  They have not bought the lie of the secular culture.  Instead they stand in front of the world and declare that they have a voice.  They pray for these women, men, and babies who are hurt and destroyed each day.  These are the real men of our age.  Please come join us!  Be courageous!  Be for LIFE!

Persevering in Prayer

Yesterday I had my monthly Lay Dominican meeting.  During Mass, the Homily focused on prayer.  Father talked about how we can underestimate the power of prayer and that it is essential to the Christian life.  It is the focus, along with the Sacraments, of the Christian path.  It was then that I felt like God was smacking me over the head with a hammer.  All week, I have heard the Spirit and my Guardian Angel, whispering to me to pray.  When I get stressed out, pray.  When the world is too much to take, pray.  When someone I love is struggling, pray.  While doing the dishes, pray.  Folding laundry, pray.  Scheduling my day, pray.  Better yet, schedule my day around prayer.  So that is why St. Paul said to “pray without ceasing”.  I can be a little slow on the uptake sometimes.

 
 Working my way to being received in the Lay Order of Preachers, means that prayer is what my day centers upon.  I start the morning with Lauds, go to Mass when possible, which is not quite as easy with a 2 year old, spend time in Scripture, pray a Rosary (I also like to add in Divine Mercy when I can), and then the evening with Vespers.  There is a natural rhythm to living this way, and yes, it is even possible with a toddler and a husband to take care of.  It just means that certain activities that I enjoy, or that control me, get less time.  For instance, the more I focus on prayer and study, the more I become disinterested in television.  After all, reading a book about Church history or Jesus Christ is way more interesting and enjoyable than the trash that is on TV these days.  Yes, I am a nerd and proud of it!
 
As I get older, I have begun to realize that the only thing I can control in life is how I react to things.  The world has always been a bloody and Fallen place.  Pick up any history book and you will see that man is a violent thing.  As Father said in his Homily yesterday, Adam and Eve fell and left the garden.  What followed?  Violence and murder through Cain and Abel.  That is why God had to come and die for us.  He knew that our sinful and violent tendencies could not be saved by anything less than his total selfless love.  Think about it.  We killed God and He came back in forgiving love (see Fr. Barron’s Catholicism series).  That goes against everything we know as human beings because we lack forgiveness ourselves.
 
How I react to my day-to-day affairs is directly tied to my prayer life.  If my prayer life is suffering, my family, and I suffer.  In forgetting to pray, I forget to give my life to God.  When I try to be my own centering force, the whole thing unravels.  My sins and temptations get the better of me and then my shame and guilt take over.  When I persevere, and yes, it requires great perseverance, in prayer, I am strengthened and reminded of God’s goodness and love.  I also remember his mercy in my own life and in other people’s lives.  I need to work hard to listen to the promptings of the Spirit.  The sloth in me wants to be distracted by Facebook, Twitter, my chores, and everything else.  In allowing those things to take me from my true purpose, I allow my vocation to suffer because I am not paying attention to my family, and my relationship with God suffers.  It is a great struggle for me.  Sloth, or the noon-day devil, as they called it in the Middle Ages, is a constant battle.  There are so many “more” interesting things that I would rather be doing than praying.  But, the truth of the matter is that when I commit myself to prayer, the better I become.
 
How is your prayer life?  Are there things that you could do to improve it?  Does your prayer life directly impact your vocation?

Pray and Fast on Friday

The world has been a mess since the Fall.  There are always storm clouds on the horizon for human beings throughout the world, including in our own country.  The USCCB has asked Catholics to consider fasting and praying on Fridays.  My husband and I started abstaining from meat on Fridays a couple of years ago, except on Feast Days, and during Easter and Christmas.  Have you thought about answering the Bishop’s call?  There is much to pray and fast for in our world, from hunger, to violence/war, persection, homelessness, abortion, illness, accidents, grief, attacks on family/marriage, our own messed up government (think HHS mandate and all of the petty shutdown activities), and the list goes on and on.  I encourage you to give up something on Fridays.  Giving up the Internet is a sacrifice for me, so I will be fasting from the Internet tomorrow. What can you give up as a sacrifice on Fridays?

No Quick Fixes

I have gone through my first series of HCG shots.  I am getting better at giving myself the shot, which I usually choose to do in my stomach.  If I pay attention it does not hurt, but if I do it in a hurry, I bruise myself.  The first few days I was feeling a bit better mentally and physically.  It’s the pregnancy hormone and I usually feel more balanced when I am pregnant, minus the projectile vomiting. The problem is, that it has not lasted, not that I expected immediate results (that doesn’t mean that some small part of me wasn’t hoping…lol).

I am still struggling with the same severe PMS symptoms: severe anxiety, fatigue, cravings, depression.  The HCG has had no impact on these symptoms even though my progesterone levels have risen to “awesome” levels and my estrogen is rising, it just still is not at the goal.  My estrogen levels were really low.  As my husband explained it to some of our friends, “here is average, here is one step below average, and here is my wife, way down here”.

Here’s the thing, there are no quick fixes, and I was not expecting any.  So if you decide to see a NaPro doctor, keep in mind that it will take a while to figure it all out.  Body chemistry, especially hormones, are extremely complicated.  It is amazing how much they impact our bodies.  It can be discouraging, but like me, you have to remember to be patient and not lose hope.

When you have days like today, like the day that I am having, where I am anxious, tired, and depressed, listen to your Guardian Angel and pray.  I keep hearing over and over again, “pray, Constance”.  Am I doing a very good job of listening? No, but I do know that it is all that I can do and it is the right thing to do.  I have been through these kinds of days hundreds of times, so I know that in time, things get better.  I also need to learn to cling to the Cross.  The Cross is the only thing that will set me free and my Guardian Angel is trying to smack me upside the head.  Have you seen this image on Catholic Memes:

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Keep up the good fight and remember to fall on Christ.  Have a blessed day!

On Gossip

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I am not proud of this fact, but I have fallen into gossip lately.  It is one of those things that most of us fall into at one point or another. For me it usually involves orthodoxy, or rather, a lack there of.  Father Barron, in his series Seven Deadly Sins Seven Lively Virtues, discusses gossip under the sin of envy.  He talks about how we, as sinners, can become envious, or, even happy, at another person’s failure.  This is absolutely true.  Think about the last time you fell into gossip.  Was it because you heard some bad or juicy news about someone else?  I think that frustration can drive gossip, as well.

I am a revert to the Faith.  I spent my Twenties living in the somewhat Catholic category, before I fully entered cafeteria Catholic for a few years.  During that time, I had a lot of my fellow Catholics ignoring my behavior because they themselves ignored Church teaching in various areas.  Yes, relativism.  How can I be brought to the fullness of Truth when the people around me are not living out Church teaching?  That is how I felt.  And in living as I was living, I hurt others too by my example, to my utter shame.  When I finally found my way fully back to Christ’s Church, I realized just how much damage had done to me and to others.  Loving someone is not leaving them in their sin.  Loving someone is showing them God’s mercy and love and then showing them that in choosing to love, we must abandon our sin.  Do we fail?  Absolutely!  But, we cannot say to someone either in the Church or who is contemplating coming into the Church, that it is ok to ignore certain aspects of Church teaching because the Pope needs to “get with the times”.  Rather, we need to get with Jesus Christ.  Church dogma and doctrine, is God’s dogma and doctrine, revealed through Revelation and the Holy Spirit.  Because of my own dalliances in mortal sin, I am deeply passionate about protecting others from the same state.  It truly kills the soul and cuts us off from God.  Love shows us that we must help each other away from serious sin, as well as help each other with habitual sin.

That being said, sometimes my own passion can get the better of me.  It can start of as righteous anger in the face of ignorance or disobedience and turn to sinful anger.  I think that I have reached that point.  I realized it when my husband asked me if I had stayed late at the church last night “complaining” about what had happened this past weekend?  Whoops!  I have crossed into sin territory.  He is absolutely right.  I either need to take action or let it go, but stop harping on it.  I think that I may let it go for now and trust that our Bishop is working things out slowly.  There is a lot of clean up to do.  I need to pray for him and our Diocese.

Since we all do it from time-to-time here are a few ways to avoid gossiping about others:

1.  Say something positive about the person during the conversation.  Speaking in a complimentary and charitable way, reminds us that there are good traits in everyone and that we too are in need of mercy.

2. Talk directly to the person you have an issue with, instead of about them.  You may need advice from your spouse or a trusted friend beforehand, but always plan to confront the person, or forgive them, and move on.

3. Change the subject.  Try to veer the conversation into a new direction.

4.  Take action.  If it is a situation that you need to deal with, then get the information to the person it needs to go to.  Once it is handed off, then you need to move on and trust that it will be dealt with in an appropriate manner.

5.  Pray for the person.  When frustrated or angry at someone, be sure to pray for them.  It can be an inner struggle, but try to focus for a few minutes and ask Our Lord to bless them.

6.  Go to Confession.  After gossiping, go to Confession.  Gossip wounds us and it wounds others.  Go and seek forgiveness and be wiped clean.  It reminds us that we are all sinful and make mistakes, and it also sets us free from our anger and resentment.

I hope that this helps you to avoid gossip.  I know that it is something that I must work on now and in the future.  God bless!

Praying for those Who Persecute Us-Government Edition

 

 

 

 

 

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One of the hardest things that we are asked to do as Christians, is to love our enemies.  For many of us those enemies can be in our family or in our community.  For a lot of Americans these days, it is our government.  The response that we are called to in this situation is prayer.  Sure we can call and write our Representatives and vote, and we should, but after that we must pray.

 
The government shutdown has been maddening.  It has revealed a thuggish, petty, and downright evil government that is bent on making people miserable.  I personally was livid that World War II Veterans were being denied access to their own memorial.  My grandfathers, may they rest in peace, fought against tyranny and thuggery at great sacrifice to themselves and others.   It reminded me that our current President is a toddler and a bully.  But, it also reminded me that he is depraved and in need of saving from Our Lord, just like the rest of us.  Without Christ, this is who we become, empty shells who are only concerned with power and hurting people who do not uphold our self worship.
 
When I  heard that Catholic priests could be threatened with imprisonment if they ignored an order not to perform the Sacraments, if they were contract employees for the government, I felt physically ill.  I felt this way because many of us have noticed the increased attacks on the Church (HHS mandate anyone) and her priests (GWU). A lot of us, especially priests of my generation, know that things are going to get a lot worse.  Once a government or people start to attack the Sacraments things are in full on persecution mode.  To deny Catholics the very center of their Faith is to deny them the right to practice their God given right to religious liberty.
 
It can sound trite, but we must learn to pray for our enemies.  Why?  Because prayer changes us, as C.S. Lewis would say, and it can bring about conversion.  Yes, prayer can be petitions to God for the sake of others, but it also frees us from hatred.  It is very difficult to hate someone if you are truly praying for their salvation.  Prayers helps us to keep our own humanity intact in the face of barbarism or evil.  That does not mean that we are not righteously angry.  It does not mean that we do not fight and defend the Faith.  It just means that we cannot allow sinful anger to destroy our hearts.  We must fall on Christ.
 
We are all sinful and in need of a Savior.  Looking at the people in charge of our government, we can see a greatly depraved and craven generation of people.  They have turned in so much on themselves that they are blocking out the good and only serving their own interests and their own egos.  They have forgotten their place in life.  They have forgotten their place in the Mystical Body of Christ, especially for those who claim to be Catholic but work hard against her teachings and God’s moral law.
 
The call to prayer is absolutely necessary for the future of our country and the purification of our own souls.  It teaches about pruning away irrational anger.  When we are justifiably angry about what is going on in this country, we must also pray for the conversion of sinners.  We are all capable of great evil, and it is those who have chosen good, who must help others to turn away from the Enemy.  Christ calls us to go out to the people and bring them to Him.  We are all lost without Him.  So, even though it is difficult, pray for those who persecute and hate us.  It has been this way since the Fall.  If it is hard to utter words,  I would suggest a Divine Mercy Chaplet.  It is short, done on a Rosary, and full of the power of the Cross.
 

Blessed are you when they insult you and persecute you

and utter every kind of evil against you falsely because of me.

Rejoice and be glad,

for your reward will be great in heaven.

Thus they persecuted the prophets who were before you.”

 

St. Matthew 5:10-12

What is Pope Francis Really Saying About Sin?

 

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Given how Pope Francis’ public interviews have been so distorted  by the media, I think we really need to have an honest discussion about sin.  Since “the Spirit of Vatican II” came rushing into the Church in the 1960s and 1970s with its felt banners and feel good about yourself rhetoric, there has been a major de-emphasis on sin.  This is a huge reason why the majority of the faithful in the West do not attend Confession regularly, if at all.  Never-mind the correlation between a surge in “shrinks” and decrease in Confession attendance.

 
A lot of people are taking what they perceive Pope Francis is saying and running with it.  Many of the “liberal” (I hate that term.  You are either Catholic or you aren’t) folks are pointing and saying major changes in social teaching are on the horizon.  I am no expert on the Church, but I know enough to know that the Church does not make quick changes.  In fact, of any institution worldwide, she moves at a glacial pace, and for good reason.
 
This past weekend, I attend a catechesis certification course in my Diocese.  A Diocese that has had decades of issues that are only starting to be cleaned up by our current Bishop.  That means that “the Spirt of Vatican II”  is alive and well in some high reaching places in these parts.  During one of the sessions, an argument started about  the nuances of infallibility, and yes, it was me who started it.  The teacher said that Catholic social teaching was on the same plane as Marian apparitions, I have to interject.  My inner Dominican comes out.  Marian apparitions are a matter of personal choice, much of Catholic social teaching, which encompasses moral teaching, is not.
 
Some people were arguing that we should just teach the basics in RCIA and let people come into the Church and then make their own judgments.  What?!  So we should let people perjure themselves when they profess the Faith during Confirmation?  Our first obligation is to bring people to Christ.  That is where we begin, but sin has to come up sometime BEFORE they choose to enter the Church.  Following Christ is deeply difficult.  It takes endurance and sacrifice.  Christ did not say that the path to holiness would be easy.  Instead, he showed us the Cross.
 
So, when should we talk about sin?  Pope Francis is merely saying that we should introduce people to the person of Jesus Christ.  Once they fall in love with Him, it is much easier to address the issues of sin and moral teaching.  Some of the Church’s moral teaching is deeply difficult, especially in the face of a culture like our own.  But, when we truly love Jesus Christ, we want to give him our all, even give up the Pill.
 
Love is not a warm-fuzzy feeling.  Love is selfless and and a total emptying.  It is sacrificial and service oriented.  When bringing people into the Church, we need to be honest with them, out of love.  We need to show them the path and why it is worth living, even though it is difficult and a life long journey.  We should show them the beauty of Christ and His Church and that includes teachings on human sexuality that are hard.  Part of love is to protect people from grave sin.  Love requires honesty and vulnerability.  We cannot bring people to the fullness of truth if we lie or distort the truth.  We also put ourselves at great risk when we tell people that they may disregard moral teaching.  We will all be held accountable for the people we lead astray.  That alone should cause deep humility, as well as awe and fear.
 
It is true that we cannot go out to the current culture and yell out about their sins.  That just turns people off.  Instead we show them the person of Jesus Christ and help them to love Him.  Once they love Christ and know He is God, then the rest falls into place.  Christ always told us that we are forgiven, but he also always said to sin no more. 

Why Military Priests Being Threatened Matters

A couple of hours ago, Catholic Vote published an article detailing how federally contracted Catholic priests are barred from saying Mass during the government shutdown, or face jail time.  Yes, you read that right.  As a Catholic and a Veteran, this turned my stomach. You see, I was a Russian Linguist, which means that I know quite a bit about Soviet history and tactics.  How do you kill a frog?  You put it in cold water and then turn the heat up slowly.  This, my friends, is a test.  This is a way for the people in charge to test the waters to see how far they can go.  How far can they go in their attacks on the Church?

 
The HHS mandate the requires religious organizations who are not churches to purchase health insurance plans that cover birth control and abortifacients, was the beginning phase.  The only people who complained?  Those crazy Catholics who are backwards in their beliefs on human sexuality.  I love this charge because I know more about my body, thanks to Creighton NFP, than most women in this country.  But, to the hypersexualized “culture of me” that pervades our culture, we are an enemy.  I was blown away that this last presidential election was won on the false idea that Romney/Ryan would take away people’s birth control.  Those are the only mailings I got from the DNC, by the way.
 
The propaganda machine of this government is impressive, but more than anything, they have the apathy of the American people.  Silence means to allow evil and injustice to occur.  Catholics should have to pay for birth control, as far as the majority of Americans are concerned.  There has been little outcry from groups other than those companies who are suing the Obama Administration for 1st Amendment violations.  The press has just continued the lie that most Catholics use birth control anyway.  I am not most Catholics, nor are most of my friends, so their statistics of 99% are clearly sketchy.
 
So, very little response from the American people, as is evidenced by the most recent presidential election.  Time to up the ante.  The government shutdown is the perfect time to test the waters further, by denying military Catholics easy access to Mass.  There is a major shortage of Catholic chaplains in the  military, so the government has hired local contractor priests to offer Mass for service-members.  These contractors have been informed that if they voluntarily, without pay even, perform Mass during the shutdown they will be jailed.  That’s right, jailed.  We have stepped into full blown, overt, you cannot miss it persecution.  If the HHS mandate was not clear enough for people, then this should be a major wake up call.
 
Denying a Catholic access to Mass is to deny the very “source and summit” of the Christian life, per Vatican II.  Catholics have an obligation to attend Mass each Sunday.  It is  not a choice, it is a fundamental requirement for being a practicing Catholic.  In fact, if done knowingly, it is a mortal sin.   Now, for these military folks, if they cannot find a Mass in their area, that is not a mortal sin, especially since it is against their will.  We do have an obligation, however, to do everything in our power to get to Mass.  Cut off Mass, and you go for the jugular of the Catholic Church.
 
What is my concern?  First the lamestream media who is just a propaganda arm for this Administration, will not report this story.  Second, both Parties in Congress are so busy fighting for power that they have forgotten their job is to serve the American people.   Third, I think that a lot of Americans could not care less if Catholics cannot go to Mass.  I hope I am wrong, but we are quickly becoming a culture of “if it doesn’t affect me, then I don’t care”.The third one scares me more because it means that religious freedom is only guaranteed for a chosen few.  I pray that the American people wake up.  I pray that social media can do what our news agencies no longer do, report the news.  The threatened arrest of Catholic priests should send fear into the hearts of all of us because we could very easily be next.
 
Most importantly we need to pray.  We need to receive the Sacraments as much as possible.  We need the grace to stand up in the face of persecution.  Pray the Rosary, Divine Mercy Chaplet, Divine Office, your own prayers and devotions. GO to MASS!  Just be sure to pray.  And on this feast day of St. Francis of Assisi, I ask for his prayers and intercessions before the throne of Heaven and for prayers for our Holy Father.  Also, St. John Vianney, ora pro nobis.

7 Quick Takes-Early October Edition

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This week we started Fr. Barron and Word on Fire’s, http://www.wordonfire.org, new Catholicism series that focuses on the New Evangelization.  Just like the first Catholicism series, it is rich and beautiful.  This particular study is much shorter and has a discussion and homework element.  The aim is to get Catholics sitting in the pews involved in evangelizing the world.  That word can have a negative connotation, but it is not the same thing as proselytizing.  We have been given the Good News and the key to Eternal Life.  We should joyfully want to share this gift by the way we live and in the relationships we foster with the people who cross our path.  Most importantly, we must learn to listen.  We must open our hearts to where people are on the journey.  That does not mean sacrificing our beliefs (think “the Spirit of Vatican II”), it just means working through the path with someone without expecting them to be where we are in our path to holiness. The Church must go out into the world and meet the world.  We are not to be formed by the world, but to bring the world to Christ.  This is a wonderful series and I recommend getting it for your parish.

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 Nothing makes my blood boil like injustice, and yes, I struggle with sinful anger.  It can be large or small.  When I was in the Navy and I heard they were building a World War II memorial in Washington DC, I sent them a donation and had my two deceased grandfathers added to the registry.  My dad’s dad was in the USMC and was on the initial assault at Iwo Jima and my mom’s dad was in the Army Air Corps and fought in the European Theater.  These men remain large in my memory.  Men of courage, devotion, and great love for their families.  That is why when I heard that this Admin maliciously closed the WWII memorial, especially in the face of Veterans, I was livid.  I lived in DC for 4 years.  The memorials are wide open and have no security.  This move was purely out of small minded and spiteful motives.  To make 80 and 90 year old men who gave everything to this nation come to tears because they had traveled so far only to be turned away, was unconscionable to me.  This may seem small to some people, but it is indicative of a government that cares for no one and that has become so entrenched in the Culture of Death and the principle of “me” that they cannot even grasp small injustices.  Don’t get me wrong, I am not happy with either Party.  I just think the Left is further along in the Culture of Death than the Right.  I don’t know how long that gap will exist, though.  If you have not heard about this story, look it up.  Of course the mainstream media, which is really a propaganda arm, did not show this story and the pettiness of the people in charge in this country.  In the face of my frustration, all I can do is pray for these people.  And as time goes on, it is becoming clearer to me just how much prayer they need and how much our country needs.
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On the same day that I was fuming about Washington, my daughter reminded me that I need to focus on the small blessings in my life, because they give me great joy.  Michaela was sitting on the porch with our small Mary and Baby Jesus statue with it on her lap and carrying on a conversation with them.  I told her they can hear her in Heaven.  I had gone to do something in the kitchen, when I discovered that she had snuck the statue in and was snuggling with it on the couch.  It melted my heart.  It was so sweet.
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This week I had to start giving myself my HCG shots to see if we can get my hormones to rise.  The goal is to make it possible to carry another baby and to help with my anxiety and depression.  I had a nurse friend show me how to do it the other night.  The needle is quite small, but I chickened out.  I have had countless shots and blood draws and the needles never bother me.  It is another matter, when you have to stab yourself and watch yourself do it.  I had her do the first shot.
Last night I had to do my second shot.  I was determined, but contemplated taking a shot of vodka beforehand.   I said a Hail Mary and stabbed myself in the stomach.  I was so proud of myself.  One down, and who knows how many, but a lot to go.   The shots don’t hurt.  It is just a mental block.
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My daughter is awesome.  Earlier this week, she put on her superhero cape and then proceeded to tell me that she was going to cook Baby Jesus dinner.  After all, He is hungry, she told me.  If she is going to desire to cook a meal for anyone, I would say Jesus is the best choice.
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As I suspected would happen, we had a cool September and now we are having a hot October in Southwest Virginia.  That means the stinkbugs have decided that our house is some form of retirement home.  The problem is, they don’t pay rent and my daughter yells at me to get rid of one every time she sees one, which is about once every 10 minutes.
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We grew sunflower this past summer with the idea that we would roast the seeds.  We discovered that it is a lot of work for something that we do not eat very often.  The birds got to some of the flowers first and then when we washed and tried to dry the seeds in the sun, the squirrels got into them.  As I went to roast them last night, my husband and I looked at each other and agreed that we could grow the flowers to feed the wildlife and enjoy their happy countenance in the garden in August.  As for roasting them, nah.  The squirrels are happy and so are we.
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Thanks Be to God

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It is easy for me to get worked up about the evil going on in the world, or about how I fail often at being the mother and wife God wants me to be.  By becoming distracted by all of the darkness, or by allowing a self-loathing dialogue to run rampant in my mind, I am allowing the Enemy to win in my heart.  He wants me to despair.  He wants me to think that he has won and that there is no point in fighting back, in serving others, or focusing on my family.  That is his creed: despair.  But, the truth is that Jesus Christ won the battle for us all by dying for our sins and showing us the hope of Eternal life.  That does not mean that this life is easy, but it does mean that love and hope always will conquer over evil.  It just may be that we will not fully understand until we are with Him.

When my husband I were dating he would tell me to write down 10 things that i am grateful for that day.  Our engagement was full of stress, family medical issues, and change.  When I would allow my job, family, or the world to get to me, he would tell me to focus on what I am thankful for in each moment.  I have had gratitude journals off and on for about five years, but I have not done a great job of keeping up with it.  Then, when I was sick as a dog while pregnant with my daughter, I discovered the blog, A Holy Experience, http://www.aholyexperience.com, through my friend Dana’s Facebook posts.
Her blog is beautiful.  Her words are like poetry and speak deep truth that bring me peace and reminds me that I am not alone.  Sometimes I read her writing and think we were separated at birth.  Like me, she has struggled through periods of loss and anxiety.  She knows what it is to live on auto-pilot.  One day she woke up from a nightmare and realized that she truly wanted to live and she discovered that gratitude was the way to accomplish living a Christ-centered life.  Even though we differ theologically, her message is one that all of us need to take in. It is the same message that my husband has been trying to get across to me.
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What happens to me when I start being grateful for all I have and truly pay attention to what is going on in my life?  I start to notice the way the sunlight falls across the room early in the morning.  I can see the way the breeze rustles my daughter’s golden hair.  I see her long eyelashes and her beautiful, radiant eyes.  I see my husband’s smile.  I am touched by the joy he brings Michaela when he gets home from work.  I savor the smell of soup cooking in the Crockpot.  I laugh at the squirrels trying to steal our sunflower seeds.  I start to see Christ in the people around me.  I have more strength when bad news comes, as it will in this life.  I pray more because I know that joy and pain are joined together.  I am more generous.  A full heart wants to share its blessings.
A lot of us are frustrated, or downright disgusted, with our government right now.  Many of us worry about the state of the world: poverty, hunger, disease, terrorism, worldwide Christian persecution, abortion, attacks on marriage, attacks on the Church, the hurt our children experience, the suffering of the ones we love.  The truth of the matter is that suffering is a part of life here.  It is how God refines us in the Divine Furnace, as our recently retired priest told me in Confession, as I cried about my most recent miscarriage.  We are guaranteed to suffer in this lifetime, but we also experience tremendous glimpses of joy.  I never realized how blown away I could be by the golden sunlight illuminating my daughter’s face.  I only had to pay attention and offer my thanks to God.
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When I close my heart off to Him.  When I focus on the darkness, then I cannot find my way.  If I focus on what God is doing in my life and throughout the world, then all I see is Him.  He is who I must focus on if I am going to keep up the good fight.  He is who is going to guide my husband and me in protecting our daughter and bringing her up in the Faith.  He will be the one who will show us the way through health problems and grief.  Sometimes he has to carry us for a while before we realize He has been there all along.  As human beings, we get lost in ourselves.  Instead we must step outside of our own inner dialogue, our own pain, even our own families, and listen for the sweet whisper of Our Lord.
Have you tried writing down things that make you thankful each day?  I have a journal that I use to write down my gratitude.  Even just taking five minutes to write down a couple of things can change the course of my entire day.  Give it a try.  Offer up your thanksgiving and see how the abundant blessings flow.