Tuesday, January 29, 2013

beginnings. they matter. part 1 of a series.

I am going to begin a series today telling you about some of my history and my depression. I pray it will be some small encouragement, especially to anyone dealing with depression.

I believe we experience things while we are still in our mother's womb.  We are told, whole we are carrying our babies, to avoid stressful situations, to play music for them, to talk and read to them. Keeping that in mind, I am going to tell you a story about something that happened when I was in my 30s.

Here is the setting-- I was still married to my ex--having many and sundry problems, many stemming from his unaddressed, unresolved anger and abuse issues. That said, I was driving one night to worship band practice for church. Something that afforded me a much needed night out on my own  among those I considered friends. Our church was about an hour's ride. When I arrived there that evening, however, I found a different group of people working on something else, and found out the band rehearsal was cancelled for the evening. I felt kind of embarrassed, but also kind of sad that nobody thought to tell me about the cancellation, especially given the distance I traveled.

My next thought was to pop in on a friend, since I was near her house already. When I pulled up in the driveway, I could see they were in the kitchen, so I went up and knocked. What I saw when the door opened could have knocked me over with a feather. Both husband and wife were covered with food that they had apparently just thrown at one another during an argument. They explained that this was not a good time for a visit (no kidding), and I hastened on out of there.

Now, most people would chalk all this up to "just one of those things," and go on to say, "you'll never guess what happened to me tonight!"---or something like that.

But I found myself strangely upset, even distraught over it. I couldn't understand why, so on my hour-long ride home, I asked God. I just asked. "What is going on here? Why am I so upset?"
(hint--be careful when you ask God questions. He just might answer them). And so He did. Not out loud, but by in an inner voice-- or even more precisely--an inner impression, I got this message.

"When your mother was pregnant with you, she was not ready for it. It was late in life, and she and your dad had some problems. So she really did not welcome the idea of having another baby. At least not right away. ( I never experienced any traces of not being "wanted" by my parents).
But, you felt those feelings she had, and absorbed that rejection, that feeling of not being wanted or welcome. Now, when you are in certain situations, these feelings are stirred up. Whether they have anything to do with you or not. You feel like an outsider, someone to just be tolerated. But not really wanted. Not welcome.

Well, I had to pull over and bawl my eyes out for a few minutes. that information really made a lot of things make sense to me. Why I always felt like I had to apologize, why I felt on the outside of everything. My parents had both passed away by the time I was 23, but even while they were alive I felt really alone in the world and was always trying to remedy that.

I am telling you this part because it is good to know what sort of things drive your emotions and actions. What is underneath that you might not recognize. It took me a good many years after that time, and not a little anguish, but I can say that that night was one of many turning points.

I think God really does want to answer our questions. If we can come to Him with a truly open, humble heart, ready to accept His answer, whatever it may be.

My parents. may they rest in peace. and below, me at about 6 or so, with my best friend, at her birthday party. I am on the left.

Friday, January 25, 2013

go dark 4 life


I just heard about this, so I am going to join in now.

Jesus, have mercy on us, and on the whole world.


Tuesday, January 22, 2013

January 22 --blog for life

Today I have an oh-so-rare day all alone at home. Of course, I don't mind when everyone is home, but being here alone occasionally gives me a little breathing room to think, (and usually, clean), uninterrupted. This morning, I also went to mass. The Church made it a special day--

In all the Dioceses of the United States of America, January 22 (or January 23, when January 22 falls on a Sunday) shall be observed as a particular day of prayer for the full restoration of the legal guarantee of the right to life and of penance for violations to the dignity of the human person committed through acts of abortion. - USCC

 It doesn't look like I will be able to attend the March for Life this year, sadly. But I hope to pray and do some small sacrifice.

I am all out of words about abortion right now, so I am going to borrow some.
 Father Kelly gave a wonderful homily today, and since the 1st and 2nd graders were in attendance (and preciously did the readings--oh my goodness, so. cute),  he tailored his explanation of the sanctity of life to be appropriate  for their ears and understanding. It was in some ways, better to hear it framed this way than some of the very graphic and violent descriptions one can sometimes hear. Though  necessary at times as well. 

Here are a few of his points.

1. When you see a pregnant woman, boys and girls, what is she going to have? A zebra? An elephant?

2. Who here started out as a baby? That's right, everybody. When my mother was pregnant with me, what were the two possibilities? Yes, there are only two. Right, a boy or a girl! Never a parakeet, or a lump. Well, I was a lump for a short time as a teenager...

3. Have you ever heard the story, The Emporer's New Clothes? No? Oh, you should get the book and read it. -- (here he tells the story) --so, boys and girls, don't ever do what you know in your heart is wrong, no matter what crazy stuff you may see or hear. You have been taught what the Church, the Bible and the Catechism say, by our great teachers here at St. Monica's. You are not "dumb" if you go against what everybody else is doing because you know right from wrong.*

*Fr. Kelley's words are paraphrased.

How simple, profound, and how full of truth. I have been saying Number One for years, only I like to go further, and say dumptruck.
The Gospel this morning was about having to receive Jesus' teachings like a child. When something is clear and simple, such as a woman bearing a human life, there are those that would like to try to make it into a complicated thing. 

Boys and girls, don't let the world get into your head and remove your common sense, and call it "thinking for yourself, " or, the ubiquitous, "choice." 

Here are a few favorite reasons I am prolife. You know a lot of these, too. They are called people.

~Pray for the unborn~


Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Seeking God. And perhaps a hairdresser.

I am writing to you from my sick bed today. Ooh doesn't that conjure up images like this?

In reality it is much closer to this. 

With hair thus.  

Right! Now that you have the setting in mind. 

While reading the Magnificat this morning, the meditation for the day was this poem by St. Teresa of Avila (Jesus).

Seeking God 

Soul, you must seek yourself in Me
And in yourself seek Me

With Such skill, soul,
Love could portray you in Me
That a painter well gifted
Could never show
So finely that image.

For love you were fashioned
Deep within me
Painted so beautiful, so fair;
If, my beloved, I should lose you,
Soul, in yourself see Me.

Well I know that you will discover
Yourself portrayed in my heart
So lifelike drawn
It will be delight to behold
Yourself so well painted.

And should by chance you do not know
Where to find Me,
Do not go here and there;
But if you wish to find Me,
In yourself seek Me.

Soul, since you are My room,
My house and dwelling,
If at any time,
Though your distracted ways
I find the door tightly closed,
Outside Yourself seek Me not,
To find Me it will be
Enough only to call Me,
Then quickly will I come,
And in yourself seek Me.

It's no wonder why she is a Doctor of the Church.  What good medicine!

Stay healthy people! If not physically, at least spiritually!



Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Humility and being changed

Bob and I were blessed this past weekend to be able to attend The Jesus Retreat. We spent most of our time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, or in praise and worship before Him, at Mass, confession -- and quite a bit of eating and a little sleeping. It was like Extreme Exposure to Jesus in a beautiful setting (Black Rock Retreat Center) and our one and only time away together since our now infamous honeymoon at the Bates Motel, er, I mean, the Globe Inn.

This is one of the songs sung during worship.

 This recording is the International House of Worship, (IHOP, I kid you not) in Kansas City, Missouri. They are not Catholic, but they do an awesome job with what they have! The Prayer Room offers prayer, praise and worship around the clock. What a beautiful, dedicated group of young people. There is a desire among the Jesus-retreatants to see a Catholic version of IHOP emerge.

Come and let Your presence fill our praise, fill our praise,
Come and let Your presence fill this place.
We have come to give You highest praise, highest praise,
We have come to love You in this place.
It’s all for You, here we are, here we are
For You are the One we want to meet
Jesus shine through all the praises that we sing

Here is what our group actually looked like:

The worship band at the retreat was every bit as good, and with good Catholic teaching and leadership, not to mention the Blessed Sacrament, you can imagine the power flowing from this place during our time there. I can honestly say that I came away changed.

My husband has not had a whole lot of exposure to Charismatic worship, but he did well, and was also blessed. We had a conversation with another retreat-goer over one of the many delicious and hearty meals (the retreat was held in Quarryville, which is just into Amish country, and the food reflected that :). this man was a convert , as I am, and also like me, familiar with Charismatic praise and worship. He had a spot-on observation; that the foundation of being able to raise your hands in praise or speak in tongues requires humility. Being willing to look foolish, to speak in a language that sounds like baby talk to others. Being willing to open ourselves up to God in the presence of others.

We were taught that worshiping publicly was something God blessed, and indeed , that was our experience. Not just an experience for experience's sake, but one that we knew was an encounter with God, which, once you have, makes an indelible mark. How could it not?

I am intensely grateful to Jesus for making a way for us to get there. I pray we will be able to go again next year, and anyone else who may want/need this, I recommend it.

So what has changed, you may ask?

 I'm going to tell you, even if you weren't going to ask.

1. Peace. It's just there. I am not worried about all the many things I usually worry about. We were prayed over by a few wonderful people, and the words they said to us were like laser-beamingly what we needed to hear. We came away knowing that the Lord cares about the things we are struggling with and the people we worry about. Did we know that before? Yes. Did we benefit from hearing the words tenderly spoken by total strangers right to the core of our hearts? You betcha.

2.  Renewed love and desire to be in the Lord's presence at Mass and Adoration. I wanted it before, but lots of things would tend to interfere. Now, I NEED it and, with His help, little will stop me. I just realize more now, how much I need Him to live, and to have any possibility of doing His will.

3. The lifting of the Perpetual Guilt Voice that ran on loop in my mind, keeping me from saying or doing things that the Lord might have wanted. One of the words spoken over me directly identified this and virtually freed me from this way of thinking. Also in confession I was given beautiful direction about this. It is like having Holy Roto-Rooter done to my spirit. The bricks were removed from my shoulders.

4. Hope. I just have higher expectations about my family, my life and future. Not expecting the Red Carpet from here on out, but just knowing how much Jesus is involved has heightened my trust that our lives are in His hands, and He has plans to prosper us, not to harm us.

Jeremiah 29:11

New International Version (NIV)
11 For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

I am confident that He did more than I could have asked or thought, and that the fruit of this time has yet to be fully realized.

Your presence is all I am longing for
Here in the secret place
Your nearness is all I am waiting for
Here in the quiet place,
Here in the secret place
My soul waits for You alone
Like the watchmen wait for dawn
Here I’ve finally found the place
Where we’ll meet, Lord, face to face

I’ve finally found where I belong,
I’ve finally found where I belong in Your presence
I’ve finally found where I belong,
To be with You, to be with You

I am my Beloved’s and He is mine,
So come into Your garden and take delight in me
Take delight in me

Delight in me, delight in me
Delight in me, delight in me

Here in Your presence, God, I find my rest
Here in Your presence, God

Thursday, January 3, 2013

I must be getting older

Goodness, I have been wanting to get to this post for weeks!

Oh, and Happy New Year! Already, I'm behind!

I'll tell you, the whole thing started with me thinking abut death. Don't go away yet! It's not all that bad.

Some months ago, we were attending a church that had some carving of saints waaay up high, embedded in the front wall. I would find myself trying to identify them. One was holding something that I finally recognized as a skull! I looked it up later only to find it was St. Francis.

The reason he is depicted with the skull is because he wanted to remember his mortality. Why, you may ask, would he want to do that?

Well, for the same reason a person who has survived some life threatening thing; in short, to live this life on earth with the fervor of knowing how impermanent it is. With more appreciation. With the proper perspective.

I have a dear cousin who in turn has some dear offspring, one who is far more intelligent than people have a right to be (that is to say, sometimes I struggle to keep up in understanding his writings), but he has this post on his blog, in which he talks about just this subject. Maybe from a slightly different angle, but I truly appreciate his take.  He wasn't talking about death, but about how to latch on to what God is doing every day in our own lives.


One contributing factor to my thought process is that I have crossed the great and magic line in life some people like to refer to as one's fifties. It really isn't much different that being in your forties, except I am moving slightly slower. Not too bad. But it does kind of bring that far horizon creeping into view. And that gets one to thinking differently. Not feeling like there is all the time in the world for putting off the really important stuff. And making the not-so-important-stuff, well, not so important. 

 I guess I'm kind of slow, because it takes me a little while sometimes, for lessons to really sink in and percolate and finally reach my conscious mind and heart. That part happens all of a sudden though! I can't tell you how many epiphanies I have had that I had NO IDEA were about to happen. Some are wonderful, powerful spiritual insights. Others are quite jarring, awful, and grim. There have been times when I have woken from a fog of sorts, and realized something that was quite life-changing. These moments are such clear memories. All are gifts. Do you know the old saying, "Don't pray for patience?" Well, I might also add, don't pray for wisdom or knowledge unless you really want to see. Sometimes truth can be a hard thing to come to terms with. (I think that made the "old saying" list as well). But a simple person like myself really needs to be shown, or I may never figure anything out! So show me He does. He also gives grace to bear the weight of it, but sometimes it is still heavy. Oh, I know, all this theoretical talk. Maybe I will tell a few of the stories later. My point, though, is that we are not long here on this earth. Our lives can seem so complicated, but every once in a while, something happens and we feel God reaching through to touch us, and suddenly, there is a clarity that wasn't there before.

This picture is the cast we saw last night.
I saw Les Miserables for the fourth time last night. Not the movie, (yet), but the live musical. This story is so powerful, and every time I see it, I am given another beautiful gift.

The first time I saw it, was about 1996. I was in a marriage that was growing increasingly abusive, and little did I know, would come to and end in 1998. But we were given two tickets and so we saw it at the Walnut Street Theater. I had never known the story and was so taken with the theme of God's mercy. The main character, Jean Valjean overcomes incredible suffering and injustice, receives the gift of mercy and lives his life embracing  his redemption. I was suffering in my marriage, the kids were suffering, and I couldn't see any way to make it better. The atmosphere in the house was getting so tense that we were all walking on eggshells, afraid of what might next set him off. I won't go into all the details. But while I was at the show, tears ran from beginning to end.  I identified with some of the characters and situations, yes, but also just being in the proximity of all the beauty and powerful,  gorgeous voices, transported me to places I had not been in many years. It was like a window into real life while trapped in a dark cell.

 Aferterward, I willed the music to stay in my head, but it was the first and only time I'd heard it, so it quickly faded. Over the years I would watch for the public television fund drives,  often they would show the Les Miserables concerts. I also read the book. Difficult and long, but so worth the effort and again, the connection to that experience. And to hope.

Hope in the midst of chaos and suffering. In the midst of events that seemed to make no sense. Hope that God would see and deliver.

Those of you that know us and even a small part of our story know that He has been good and faithful to help us. How He has taken even the darkest parts of our history and brought good, Not everything, not yet. But every time I see this show, it reminds me to hope and that when life seems convoluted, and I can't see a way forward, God is still at work.

Did I know all this before? Yes, but to have it portrayed with strength, beauty and incredible passion, is another holy moment for me, as my cousin spoke of so well.

And now I am able to remember the songs, am blessed to have access and listen whenever I want. But it's seeing it live that always brings the first experience back. It is good to remember, sometimes, how it was to be broken and in dire need of God to reach in my life and deliver. And to pray for that deliverance to be completed in all my family.