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Down But Not Out

Yesterday I got the flu. I tried to ignore it, but like a thunderstorm, flus do not go away just because you ignore them, they actually pick up intensity. Last night I could no longer hold that storm at bay so I crashed in the way of taking to my bed.

Thunderous sounds emitting from my nose and mouth made sleep nearly impossible. Drugs, where are the drugs? I popped two green nighttime capsules and hoped they would calm the storm. They only took the edge off.

This morning, I looked and felt like something the cat dragged in, but somehow realized that there really was something to be grateful for in all this. Living in a first world country we often take much for granted; clean bed, private bathroom, easily accessible over the counter drugs, and wonderful fresh water to name a few. I can’t imagine living in Africa or some distant island as I tried to deal with this flu and its annoying symptoms. Would my option be to lay in the shade of some distant tree, hoping the wild animals would just leave me alone rather than making short work of me in the way of a meal? Clean abundant water would be scarce, sewer systems, over the counter relief maybe miles away in the big city.

In my home I can crawl into my bed and in the cool darkness rest in relative safety. I could fetch fresh cool water at any time, adjust the air conditioner as needed, and get some relief either by access to a local doctor or the many clinics that surround our home.

We are blessed in more ways than we can possibly imagine. It would serve us well to recognize our many, many blessings and thank God along the way.

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Oh Holy Night

Oh light from on high, for us You came,

Shattering the darkness, our ignorance, and shame.

You came as Innocence, a babe in Virgin’s womb,

In poverty You entered, no place for humble child to room.

Angel choirs filled the night sky,

Mountains, valleys, with all creation sighed.

That we may approach Oh Divine, Majestic One,

Unafraid, filthy, and in need of Your love.

May I, on bended knee, beside hay-laden throne,

in hushed and awestruck tone,

Captivated, mesmerized, all alone,

Beg You, one day, take me home.

Stuffing the Pie

Thanksgiving-the National Vigil of Black Friday?

What? Wait. NO!!

Yes, I’m afraid we seem to have lost our way. This day, I thought was to stop, sit still, remember and be grateful. To surround ourselves with family and friends, you know those people that we are most grateful for in life. To celebrate the bountiful goodness that each one has brought into our life. To look to heaven and pray a blessing of gratitude to the One who holds all things in his hands.

When do we stop and contemplate the many, many ways that we have been blessed? Do we search each day for God’s abundant grace and blessings?

When we deliberately seek the blessings in everything, including the difficult and challenging, a wonderful thing happens, we change our outlook. More joy, more grace, and more wonder become a part of our everyday.

“Praise him for the unexpected and the unlikely, for the daily and the difficult, and the graces in disguise. The more you count, the more gifts you will see. Do not disdain the small. The moments add up, and we might come to believe it- the whole world is full of his glory!…” (Ann Voscamp, One Thousand Gifts)

Start NOW, don’t hesitate. Add your Blessing Comment, then pass this along for others to add theirs and together we will see that there really is more GOOD than bad in the world. Let our lights shine brighter together, so all can see that it really is not as gloomy as the media makes it to be.

Happy Thanksgiving!!!!

Vulcan Death Grip

As I proceed with my recovery I am currently seeking relief through therapeutic massage. Don’t be confused with the massage word meaning I am in bliss, and total relaxation. That I am not.

No, therapeutic massage is something quite different indeed. If you have experienced it, I need not explain further. If you however require a bit more clarification, read on.

In my naivety, I envisioned pleasant pressure, mellow music and pure relaxation as muscles were gently encouraged into their proper place. Unfortunately,  while that might feel incredible, it does little to realign stubborn, tight, balled up, injured muscles. Something in the way of direct and deep tissue pressure that hurts like a red hot poker being pressed into the offending knot is what is needed. It takes your breath away- and not in a good way. Although I will admit that passing out might be preferable at times.

What has this to do with anything of importance?

I believe that in everything, the good, bad, pleasure and pain, there is something of importance to remember. Life is short, and we are dead a very long time. So how will we use every moment to prepare for eternity?

I think about these things in the throws of my painful recovery. Key word being “recovery.” I am alive. I can walk and function mostly close to normal. At times I have glimpses of what normal used to feel like. Glimpses.

I am grateful that I wasn’t hurt worse. Bicycles and cars aren’t meant to collide.

I am encouraged by these words of St. Catherine of Siena, “But just when we want to be healthy we are sick; just when we want to be alive we die; just when we want to be rich we are poor; just when we want to be in power we are made servants. And all this because these things are not ours, and we can keep them only as much and as long as it pleases the one who lent them to us.”

God places all things in our life as a means to grow us in love, and detach us from unhealthy attachments that hold us pinned to the earth.

They will be there as long as we need to learn the lesson and for some of us, that may be a really long time.

 

 

On the Airwaves

It’s been awhile since I updated my blog. What a roller coaster of a year. A move in January, a wedding in March, hit by a car two days later. Months of recovery. A new granddaughter in June. Lots of doctors visits, physical therapy appointments, and work all squashed in with travel here and there.

I got behind on my blogging, What do I have to say anyway that is worth reading?

There are countless other writers with true talent, wisdom, and wit. To call myself a writer is a big stretch. I have words in my head that need an outlet. They aren’t my words, or thoughts that ultimately get put down- because they wouldn’t be worth reading. However, I like to think that I am open to being a tiny, insignificant, instrument in the hands of Divine Inspiration.

So tomorrow, I will have another chance to be an instrument, as I have been invited, quiet out of the blue, to be live on the Gus Lloyd, Seize the Day, morning radio show on Sirius XM. We’re going to talk about my latest story, Giving God Deadlines

Wish me luck and say a prayer that I don’t embarrass myself on the airwaves.

“Hang In There”

About 8 months ago, I brought a meal and spent some time visiting a friend of mine who was having another bout with cancer.

Two months ago that same friend brought dinner to me as I recovered from my accident.

Two weeks ago I stood at her bedside as she unconsciously labored barely clinging to life. I held her hand and spoke with her son. Other visitors came and I knew it was time for me to go. Leaning close to her ear the words I really wanted to say were nowhere to be found, what came out instead was simply, “hang in there.”

I cried all the way home at the sheer stupidity of what I had said to a dying woman. How completely devoid of inspiration or hope.

Normally I have lots of words in my little arsenal, and rarely am at a loss for what to say. This was one of those moments to the contrary, and it breaks my heart.

At times in our life when we are confronted by situations that hit us like a brick wall we are caught off guard and often say things we regret. We may not know what to say at all, so something trivial, or inept slips from our lips instead.

This was that time for me.

Friday,  I attend her funeral. I will lift up a prayer and my sincere apologies to her. I imagine that perhaps she will look down kindly at me smiling and say, it’s ok Barb, all is well, hang in there.

A Mother’s Heart

It’s Mother’s Day here in the USA. Why should we bother to continue this day of remembrance?

Well for one thing, we all have mothers. Mothers are indispensable, a necessity whether they are our biological, adopted, or spiritual mothers. Mother’s care, or at least they should. A mother who abandons her children, we recognize as ill, or abnormal. Why, because mother’s are supposed to be the ones, when everyone else forgets, stops caring, or loving, continues despite all odds.

They love us even when we are angry at them, spiteful, mean, hateful. Their hearts can take a licking and still keep loving. Teens in particular, know how to aim for and hit the mark of their mother’s hearts to inflict the most damage. This is usually due to hurting pretty badly themselves and testing to see if they are still lovable. Mom’s come through despite these potentially mortal wounds. A mother’s heart is nearly indestructible.

Mothers who have suffered infertility and the death of a child are some of the strongest women I know. The pain of loosing or never knowing a child is the deepest kind of pain. Even children who wonder off, are never forgotten and always prayed for and welcomed home.

God knew what He was doing when he created a mother’s heart. He had a pretty special model to create a mold from too- The Blessed Virgin Mary. Now there was heart that loved without limit, suffered the extremes humanity had to offer and Divinity required of it.

Mother Mary, pray for all mothers. Those who kill their unborn, hurt, or abandon their children. Help those whose hearts are so broken in all the suffering a mother has to undergo. Fill us with abundant grace so that we, like you, may love harder through the most extreme situations. In imitation of you, we should run to the source of Love Itself, there we can find a limitless, unfathomable love.

For women yearning to be called mom.

For the mothers of sick children.

For the mothers of starving children.

For the mothers of lost, addicted, and broken children.

For the mothers whose children have forgotten, abandoned, or ignored them.

For the mothers who can’t forgive, and won’t forgive.

For the old mothers desperate to see their children again, hold them, and unite with them.

For the tired, sick, dying mothers alone in their despair.

Mother Mary, Mother of All, Queen of Heaven and Earth- wrap your mantel around all mothers that we may always be a model of your motherhood.

Amen

 

Suffering Makes Sense

Its been a month since the accident. Each day a new beginning, challenge and opportunity. What do I do with it?

While being hit by a car was never on my bucket list, it has provided me with a way to reach out to others who have experienced and are experiencing unexpected pain and sorrow in their own lives as one who knows.

The stories are a beautiful peek into depth of the human soul. We are stronger than we think. We are able to withstand immense, long lasting pain and we are capable of growth in holiness beyond our wildest imagination through all this.

No one looks for suffering, no one wants to wake up on a burn unit or ICU with needles and tubes connected everywhere, and stop their lives while the unexpected takes priority. Yet, every moment of everyday this is what happening all over when we least expect it.

Why?

Something about suffering makes sense. We can see it tangibly on a human level, how those that survive and surmount great pain and suffering are somehow stronger, wiser, transformed. Something changes in us on a profound level. Those who suffer long term disabilities, near death experiences and the like are wise beyond their years.

So this little thing I am going through I have to look at as a gift as crazy as that sounds. Good can come from bad things- that is a fact. The good I have witnessed so far is the effect this has had on others. They pay attention more when they drive, they bought helmets and promote their use, they pray harder and more regularly, they reach out with meals and cards and visits in their busy days. I am blessed beyond measure by the outpouring of love and generosity.

On a spiritual level I can only imagine what changes are taking place and how the Lord applies my pain and suffering to the One Body of Christ as a means of healing and reparation.

So I accept this, give it over to Jesus, and pray that one day I will get the privilege of seeing some of the good that came from this small moment in my life.

A Second Chance

It’s been almost three weeks since I was hit by a car riding to work. That’s the day my life took a radical step backwards, and now consists of baby steps forward. On one hand it is kind of surreal, on the other hand, it is very real.

Each day is a new beginning. I’m learning to ask for help instead of doing everything myself. I am a little more attentive to when I need to sit and rest when I have done too much. Even though “too much” is really nothing at all. It’s weird going from independent to dependent.

The thing is people want to help, they really do. People who are hurt just don’t always like asking. I’m guilty of that. I think I am bothering someone, interrupting something important, being too needy. It takes humility to ask, to depend, to let someone do for us what we cannot do for ourselves.

Funny how God is helping me work on my pride through all this. I did ask for more humility after all. I don’t think I knew what that meant, or how God might make that happen. God knows exactly what is necessary to  bring about our holiness.

This Easter I really thanked God for my life, for this second chance life. I could be very buried by now. Almost forgotten about, a distant memory on the minds of those that once knew me, a life once lived and then cruelly, unexpectedly taken away.

Instead, I am here. Broken, scarred and bruised, a little worse for the wear; but alive.

Let me not waste this day, this moment, this second chance.

The God of the universe has given me a chance to continue to serve Him even in my messed up state.  Perhaps to spread joy instead of misery, to see life through wiser eyes and a grateful heart.

And if I might just give one little piece of advice to my fellow bikers out there; wear a helmet. Don’t assume cars can see you, don’t cross in the middle of a busy road in the dark just cause you think it is clear.  Be careful out there, or you will end up like me or worse. Motorists are distracted and likely do not see you. If you want to live another day be extra cautious, and anticipate the unexpected.

Alleluia! I’m alive!

Spiritual But Not Religious, Really?

I meet so many young adults who are “spiritual but not religious.” What does that mean? It is like saying I love coffee but I don’t drink it. I love to experience nature but I don’t leave my house. I love God….but I can’t imagine actually going to church and worshiping him.

What we keep in our heads ONLY, what we keep in our hearts ONLY, what we keep private and between me and Jesus ONLY; is NOT faith at all. It is laziness. Sound harsh? It may be.  But let me put something out there for you to think about.

Faith requires action!

God is faithful. God is always at work in his creation and with his children. ALWAYS! What’s our problem? If God kept his faith to himself, it would be a very bleak and dark world.

Faith requires action!

“What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? If a brother or sister is naked and destitute of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit? Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.” (James 2:14-18)

Spiritual but not religious is a cop out.

Our world is degrading morally at an increasing rate. Imagine if those who claim to be Christian actually lived their faith out loud, fed the poor, clothed the naked, spoke openly with love about Jesus Christ, shared how God works in their lives AND worshiped together weekly.

Imagine!

Listening to Christian songs, getting a big tattoo of a cross on your body, claiming Christianity without actually living Christianity is one thing. Doing Christianity is quite another. Its messy. It requires an integrity of word and deed, it requires courage in the face of a world that screams “keep it to yourself!”

The world will change for the better when we Christians are authentically following Christ. When we are not hypocrites and privately hiding Jesus from the world. Nine out of ten couples I meet do not even pray together. They don’t talk about their faith to each other, they don’t practice their faith.

Lent is a great time to practice that faith you have forgotten about, ignored or hidden away. If you only know a little bit ABOUT Jesus, but you don’t KNOW Jesus it may be more difficult. Prayer is a great place to begin.

God is always listening, always reaching out to us, always waiting to have a relationship with each of us. Simply say, “God, I want you to come and wrap your love around me. I want you to show me who you are, what your plans are for me, and the wonderful relationship we can have together.” That’s all. Say it everyday. Heck, say it a hundred times a day!

Your life will begin to change in a wonderfully surprising way. I promise. Be diligent, hopeful, expectant! This great little clip speaks more about prayer in context of the mass and how you can begin to live that faith out loud with others.