Wednesday, January 26, 2011

A Rosary VS. My Panic Attack: Rosary 1 - Panic Attack 0!!!


I got a call I had been dreading!

I panicked!

I got all hot and bothered.

I got jittery and weepy.

I flew to the car… I must have looked like a mad woman.

I tried to breathe, I tried to calm myself.

Vague, rational thoughts struggled to take control.

Panic is so strong... adrenaline drives it.

Yet the rational, calming thoughts struggled against it.

I tried to concentrate on my driving…

My fingers flying on the radio dial.

Searching for distraction, anything would do.

Nothing worked.

Panic… I allowed myself to be its prisoner.

I was so weak… so human.

In desperation, I prayed

Dear God, I prayed… please help me.

I stopped at a light… frustrated, needing to get home.

I glanced out my window at the car next to me.

And as my eyes focused on the rosary hanging from the rearview mirror,

It stopped.

The panic weakened.

I remembered my faith.

I remembered to turn to Jesus, and lay my worries at His cross.

I breathed.

Calm replaced panic…

God was with me.

It was going to be alright.

It was alright!

Of course it was!

Thank you God, for your loving grace and for your loving mercy.


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

On my Bookshelf

Or rather, on my Kindle! LOL I've been reading, and mind you, it's not just my usual "dime store fluff"! And as you know, and as I've blogged before, I like fluff. I like reading to escape... to be entertained, to be charmed. I've long admired my friends for their reading lists. Major Titles, educational, historical, significant. I once asked my cousin Virginia "what are you reading" Her reply knocked my socks off. She was in the process of reading "The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich", by William L. Shirer. "Why?" I asked. "Just cause" she said. She asked me what I was reading and somewhat embarassed, I told her the name of some romantic fluff filled pocket novel that I was reading at the time! We had a good laugh. This past Christmas, when she was home, she shared that she had just completed a book about Pope John Paul II. I'm not sure why she shared this... perhaps she shared because she knew I was Catholic, and she thought I would be interested. Or, maybe she was "just saying"!

Happily, I told her about reading "Secular Sabotage in America" by Bill Donahue along with some other things I had on my Kindle. She had just gotten her Kindle, and we were gleefully discussing how awesome they are. And yes, my reading tastes have broadened quite a bit! Which brings me to the reason for this blog. Since the beginning of the New Year, I have completed two books, neither of which could be considered as romantic fluff. I am going to share my thoughts about both of these books in this blog.

The first of these two is the book titled "Unplanned" by Abby Johnson and Cindy Lambert. This book is non fiction and tells the tale of Abby Johnson's career with Planned Parenthood and subsequent conversion from being pro-choice to pro-life.

I heard about this book an a variety of blogs and from several "tweets" on Twitter. I felt called to read it. So within minutes, it was downloaded onto my Kindle. I say that I was 'called' to ready this book, and I believe that to be true... because of my faith journey, my passionate belief that Abortion is murder, I had to read this book. It was awesome. Normally, I don't just jump into a book, but I did with this one. And it grabbed hold of me and didn't let go. It didn't take more than a sentence until I was fully engaged in the book... it's so well written, that it draws you in. This book gripped my heart, and I'm sure will grip the hearts of all who read it. Abby's story is compelling and one of immense love and bravery. This book clearly shows that Abby's path was one that God set before her. It demonstrates the power of prayer and faithi. It's an awesome read, and I highly recommend it! I pray that people on "both sides of the fence" will read this book, particularly those who still believe in Choice... and in reading this book, that their hearts lead them to crossing over to the Life side of the fence.

After reading an exceptionally good book, I always seem to mourn... and am eager to find another book to read. And so I jumped in to the next book, which from all revies, seemed to be right up my alley! A book about Dogs, and Racing... who could ask for anything more? Perhaps romance? Well there is romance in this book as well. And so I dove in to "The Art of Racing in the Rain" by Garth Stein.

Technically, this is an awesome book. It's so well written that there's no sense of "getting to know you" or "slugging your way through the first few chapters to get attached." It got me right way. The book, about a man and his dog, is told from the Dog's perspective. And what a Dog Enzo is. And despite the fact that the book hooks you from the very first sentence, I had to force my self to hang in there, to continue on... hoping and praying for redemption and a happy ending. I once attempted to read "The Guardian" by Nicholas Sparks.... my sister swore to me that I would love it. And I did, until I figured out that the dog would die, and my heart would be crushed. I never even attemped to read "Marley and Me" by John Grogan for the obvious reason: I don't do SAD! And yes, I realize that's silly and childish, but I read to escape the daily grind. I read to relax, and to enjoy. I love happy endings and books that leave me feeling warm and fuzzy.

This book jerked my heart out, stomped on it a gazillion times, and then slammed it back each time leaving me hurting and bruised. I cried more when reading this book than I have any other book since I read "The Shack" but those tears were happy tears. Did I like it? I have no clue. I laughed as well, quite alot, actually. I loved the characters in this book, specially Denny and Enzo, the Man and his dog. But dammit, I didn't like the gut wrenching emotions it made me feel. Maybe it's because I have 3 dogs who are old. And that is the best thing about this book. Whether I like it or not, my dogs are going to die, sooner than later. And the book gifted me with that knowledge... as painful as it is. It has reminded me, that each day counts, and that I need to slow down and take the time, to just BE WITH THEM, one on one.. to honor them, and to love them... to cherish them and to be as devoted to them, as they have always, unfailingly, been to me. So if you love dogs, and/or racing, perhaps it's worth your time. Just have at least one box of Kleenex handy.

I'd love to hear other's thoughts on either of these books.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Sour Grapes

Oh my goodness, it seems as though the world is filled with nothing but sour grapes! Everywhere I turn on the internet; it seems that there is so much anger, rage, resentment, and just plain whining. Most of this is about politics and/or religion. Yet there is a cynicism about most everything else. The left is attacking the right, the right is attacking back. The middle is erupting in between. People are writing and speaking things that used to be unspeakable. Manners and human decency seem to have gone by the wayside. Vulgarity and profanity seems to be the flavor of the day. I’m not even going to begin to try and figure out why. I have my thoughts about that, but that’s not what I want to write about.

What I want to write about is what I believe. Rather than ramping up the ever popular blame game, I believe that it would have been better had everyone blogging, tweeting, facebook-ing, texting and instant-messaging had taken a deep breath and simply stopped to pray for all effected by the shootings in Arizona last Saturday.

Society is so quick to hate… to hate one another and in turn hate ourselves. Diversity is such a big word these days… yet to me, if someone is different, if someone thinks different, believes different, it’s easier to hate them. Even the people promoting diversity are guilty of this. The just don’t see it. This raging anger that seems to be exploding everywhere is frightening. People seem to love to hate… to find it thrilling. How can that be? Don’t they get that it’s toxic, and that in reveling in it, they are merely destroying themselves?

Jesus called on us to love one another, not to hate! We’re supposed to lift each other up, not tear each other down.

  • John 13:34
    I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.

  • 1John 2:9
    He who says he is in the light and hates his brother, is in the darkness even until now.

  • Matthew 5:43-48
    “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate
    your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same?

  • Luke 6:27
    “But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you"

  • Leviticus 19:18
    You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against the sons of your own people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the Lord.

  • Romans 12:20-21
    To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good

  • Luke 6:35
    But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for he is kind to the ungrateful and the evil.

  • Matthew 5:44
    But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you

Of course, I’m not a total Pollyanna, and I can get just as snarky as the next guy. But if we could all just stop the venom; if we could just look at each other with some empathy and compassion, if we could love one another like Jesus taught, and if we could just stop the blame game, the world would be a bit more decent. Don’t you think?


So if you're feeling angry and resentful, perhaps this prayer will help. I found it online at this site:

Lord Jesus, there is anger in my heart and I cannot root it out.I know that I should calm down and offer the hurt and disappointment to Youbut my emotion is running away with me. Help me to overcome this weakness and give me peace of heart as well as mind.Let me learn from this experience and grow into a better human being. Amen

Sunday, January 09, 2011

Faces In Our Midst

Like snowflakes, faces are individual and unique... but we don't always "get that". I remember as a young child, riding home at night in the backseat of the family station wagon. We had been at friends for dinner, or my Grandmothers' or out to eat. I would look at cars as they passed or as we passed them, and wonder about the people inside? People who's faces were shadowed in the evening darkness, vaguely illuminated by the lights from their car's dashboard. Who were they? What were they talking about? Were they happy? I never really bothered to delve further into my imagination because soon they were gone from my sight... out of sight, out of mind... their faces fading from memory so quickly. And there was usually another car following in their wake.... and of course, the same questions about the new faces in the current car crossed my mind.

Growing up, and exploring new horizons, I met all sorts of people... people from all over the world, from various backgrounds, ethnicities, faith beliefs and philosophies- people with different faces. And yet despite our differences, the thing that strikes me when we came right down to it, there were more similarities than I had originally realized, and these are the faces that once so very different to me were faces that I grew to cherish.

As I continued to grow and become an adult, I became vaguely aware of the faces that much of society doesn't notice or want to notice. And like society, I didn't really want to see them either- because it was unpleasant and not pretty. Over time, I've come to realize that these faces, are people just like me, and just like the people I comfortably know. One particular face haunts me to this day.

Earlier this summer, I was riding in my sisters car, and we had gone to look at a used car that my nephew was interested in buying. We were in a part of town that we normally would have avoided. And we were comfortable, and eager to get back to our regular stomping ground. My sister was accelerating up the on-ramp onto the interstage, and I was looking out the window. And suddenly, I saw a man, sitting on the ground in some brush.... and we made eye contact and his face is one that I will never forget. The day was blistering hot. He was clearly hungry and thirsty. I wanted to help, but we couldn't stop... and even if we could have, would we have? Because, after all, we were uncomfortable.

In sharing this with some friends, I shared my remorse and my sadness. I shared that my heart ached for him... that somehow I wanted to help him. And I shared my guilt that I had felt fear and unease, and the shame that had we been able to stop, would we. My friends understood... they said they would have wondered the same thing. Not a proud moment. And I said, you know... that could have been Jesus sitting there. And they agreed. We then talked about, what we could have done. Someone shared that they carried water bottles and apples, and that when they encountered someone in need, they gave them one of each. Someone else carries gift cards to fast food restaurants, and gives them out when she comes across someone in need. And we agreed that we could and would always pray for homeless and/or hungry people that we encountered. All good ideas, all things to do. It just takes time, and thought. And in caring for these vague, lost and needy faces.... we could be caring for Jesus.

Today, I encountered a new face in my midst. I was visiting my Mother, and an aide came in to see my Mom. There are many aides working at the nursing home where Mother lives. Many faces, yet I only know a few of their first names. We chit chat about this and that and I know that they take great care of . But we only know that they work there. We know nothing about who they are, what their joys and sorrows are, what their dreams are. Yet it's all vague... their faces blend all together

The aide handed my Mom a booklet, and said "See, I remembered! I promised to bring you one as soon as I had it!" My Mom smiled... and was very pleased. My sister and I had no clue what this was all about, and the aide explained that she writes poetry, and that she had "self published" a book of her poems. I was surprised and impressed. My Mom looked through it, and set it aside so that she could visit with us. My sister glanced through it, and put it down in order to get something for my Mom. I picked it up and thumbed through it, vaguely interested to see what it was about.

As I read, my vague interest evaporated and I was quite taken with the words I was reading. They had depth and heart... amazing emotion and insight. The vague face of the aide came into focus... this face was individual and unique, and in my opinion, quite talented. I'm not a good judge of poetry, but when someone's written words can have such an incredible impact on another "face", this time my own, it loses any anonymity it may have had.

So I have to wonder, about all the other faces that are in our midst. Hundreds and thousands... many I'll never really see, many that I will never know. Yet they are not to be written off. And in not really seeing each of these faces for who they really are, I have to wonder what each of us is missing.

Monday, January 03, 2011

Churches I have visted: St. Mary Catholic Church - Dayton, Ohio

Celebrating 153 years as a Catholic presence in East Dayton, St. Mary's Catholic Church is spectaculary beautiful.  I took these pictures when the Daughter's of Isabella toured the church during the Christmas season in 2010. 

St. Mary's Church was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1983.  Below is a photograph of the outside of the church as found on Wikipedia:

Welcome 2011 - Thoughts of New Years Resolutions, Epiphany

First and Foremost, I would like to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Some may say I'm a bit late with this, but technically I am not. The Christmas season ends with "The Epiphany of the Lord", which falls on January 6th! So again, I offer you glad tidings during this joyous Christmas season! And of course I hope that 2011 is filled with joyous blessings for each and every one of you, and for all of your friends and loved onces as well!

As a child, I always dreaded the New Year. To me, it seemed more of an end rather than a beginning. As an adult I realize that the New Year is like sitting at the top of a roller coaster, ready for a big ride; perhaps one that we will ride in the dark, not knowing what we're going to encounter. It could be a good ride, or a bad one. Or it could be a combination of both good and bad... and really, that's what life is all about, isn't it? Old habits die hard, and I find myself still thinking about New Year's in this manner. However, looking at this picture, of "The Star".. so bright, so filled with hope and promise, that I remember... that even if we experience difficulties and sorrows, that we're not in the dark, we're not alone. The Birth of the Christ Child, and His subsequent death and resurrection are the greatest gift of all... they give us hope, light and the promise of our own salvation.

With Epiphany, I think of the three wisemen, traveling from the east to see the Christ Child. The brought with them gifts- Gold, Frankincense and Myrrh. It's obvious that Gold is precious and valuable, but what are Frankincense and Myrrh? I found this great explanation from this website:

GOLD: This carries obvious significance. It's precious and worthy across all cultures and times. It's a gift fit for royalty. It says to the Christ child, You will be a King

FRANKINCENSE: The name for this resin likely comes from incense of Franks since it was reintroduced to Europe by Frankish Crusaders. Although it is better known as frankincense" to westerners the resin is also known as olibanum, which is derived from the Arabic al-lub ("the milk") a reference to the milky sap tapped from the Boswellia tree. Frankincense has been touted for its medicinal and soothing properties. Herbalists say it is calming, restorative, gently clarifying, and meditative. Frankincense oil is thought to have stimulating, toning, and warming properties. The ancient world used it for treating depression. We recognize the word incense in its name. Ancient people burned frankincense, believing it to carry their prayers to heaven. Its use as incense illustrates His role as our Priest.

MYRRH: This is perhaps the most mysterious of the Gifts. It is a resin produced by a small, tough, scraggly tree that grows in semi-desert regions of North Africa and the Red Sea. Myrrh is an Arabic word for bitter, and it is considered a wound healer because of its strong antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties. Calling it mo yao, the Chinese used it for centuries to treat wounds, bruises and bleeding and to relieve painful swelling. The Egyptians made it famous in Biblical times, having acquired myrrh about the fifteenth century B.C. from Africa where cammiphora trees were abundant. It was used in incense, perfumes and holy ointments and also medicinally as recorded in the Ebers Papyrus. But its most notable use to them was that of an embalming material, used in Egyptian mummies. As an embalming ointment it signified that He was born to Die for the world. In fact, Myrrh was one of the burial spices of Jesus (John 19:39).

During Advent, I was at a gathering where someone proposed the question, "what gifts do you bring to the Baby Jesus"? I've been pondering this question for weeks now. What gifts could I bring to the Christ child? I could bring my love, my desire to be a good and obedient child of God. I could be more prayerful... I've been wanting to pray the rosary everyday. I could do this for Jesus, and in doing so, for myself and my loved ones. I could be a better steward, a better wife, a better daughter, a better sister and a better person... I could try harder in things that where I usually am slacking!

This is quite a list! And this list seems to resemble a list of New Year's resolutions as well! Maybe that was the intent of New Year's resolotions! So I am resolving to offer these gifts to the Christ Child and to be a better Child of God! Will I succeed? Who knows? I do know that I am resolved to try my best, and that's all any of us can do. And I am reminded of the words of my father so many years ago "All I as is that you try your best"!