St. Anthony to the Rescue October 2, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 7:13 pm

My Charming and Patient Husband has to carry a cell phone for his second job, driving dialysis patients to their appointments. Unfortunately, a month ago he lost the cell phone and we’ve struggled to find it, to no avail. This week, there were hints of threat from the boss regarding his finding it; it really is necessary, in case he gets a cancellation, or an extra client to drive.

Why didn’t I call on one of my favorite saints sooner? (I think sometimes it’s like I’m afraid I’m bothering him.)

I asked for his help, and then I looked in my e-mail. This seems to be a favorite way of his to give me help. Well, there was a notification that my niece had tagged me in a picture. I checked it, and it was a cartoony picture of an avatar of each of us, dancing together. Hers was wearing a Sailor-Moon-type costume.

I went to Drama Queen, and said “Do you know where there’s anything Sailor Moon related?’ “Well, Artgal has a sailor moon t-shirt in the dirty clothes,” she said.

Recently we had to clear out the laundry room to get to an electrical panel, and we had bagged up our laundry and put it on a couch that we weren’t using.  I dug through the pockets of all the pants. Then Hubbie looked in the cushions of that couch. Voila, there it was.

It could almost be a coincidence, if St. Anthony didn’t help in this same way so often. Almost.

Thank you, Dear Friend.

 
 

A Faith without Buzzwords March 20, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 5:22 am

The other evening, Hypertot and I were saying evening prayers, when he contributed this:
“God, if our whole family dies, please take our whole family to live with you.”

 
 

Daily Bread August 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 8:21 pm

A thought:
How often do I say “Give us this day our daily bread”?
How often do I go to daily Mass and receive Communion?

Hm. Maybe I need to work on that.

 
 

Thought for the day June 2, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 11:31 am

Prayer should always be an act of love.

If I pray self-righteously, I’m doing it wrong.

 
 

Thought for the day May 29, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 8:27 pm

When you feel like the gopher the cat dragged in, stop and ask yourself: is there anything in your life that is not a blessing from God? Now stop laughing as you think about that thorn in your side, that that couldn’t possibly be from God, and remember Job’s words. The Lord gives, the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.

Try to remember that each thing in your life is a gift from God, even when it doesn’t look like one. The dirty house is a roof and a shelter. The nagging child is life and the future. The exhaustion is life spent productively. God gave you this life because He loves you. Just like you might make a four year old eat his vegetables because you love him.

Blessed be the name of the Lord… in good times and challenging.

 
 

Confession April 12, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 7:19 pm

I admit, I went way too long without the sacrament. About 7 months, and for at least the last few, I needed it. You see, I was angry and lethargic, and it was hard at one point not to blame God.

But that wasn’t the really rough part. You see, I got over the anger. But I didn’t get over the knowledge that I had allowed a wedge between myself and God. So, while I continued praying, it felt rather like an awkward meeting with an estranged relative. I love Him, and I wanted things to be right between us, but I couldn’t just pretend like nothing had passed. When you love someone, and He loves you, you want to be on good terms. And it hurts like (well, pardon the language, but it’s appropriate) hell to have that distance of unrepaired bridges between you.

I won’t go into too much detail about why it took so long to get back to Him, but suffice it to say that it really was beginning to feel like someone was out to get me. Car breakdown after car breakdown. Illness. Hubbie having no choice about working weekends. And so on. But it was enough to really make me examine my motives, and to think and pray for a way to get to confession. God made me really want it. It wasn’t going to be enough to go through the motions this time.

So today, I finally got there. It was two or three minutes, without any pouring out of emotion or sage advice. It was one of those really simple (though not necessarily easy) confessions where you sit down and just lay it on the line. “I did this. I did this other thing. I did such and such.” And I received a fairly simple penance of praying before the Blessed Sacrament.

And the prayer was so simple. Simple as light filling a room. Simple as warmth flooding through your body when you come in from the snow. Simple as a few words from me, and a few words from the Lord. “See how easily I forgive?”

And for the first time in months, I feel unburdened. I can go to God without a feeling of shame, just one of overwhelming gratitude.

My friends, if you have not been to confession in a while, please go soon. Someone is waiting for you with open arms.

 
 

Time to Heal September 23, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 8:16 pm

There are some things it’s always time for. Healing and forgiveness in particular.
Today’s first reading told us this:

Hear this, you who trample upon the needy
and destroy the poor of the land!
“When will the new moon be over,” you ask,
“that we may sell our grain,
and the sabbath, that we may display the wheat?
We will diminish the ephah,
add to the shekel,
and fix our scales for cheating!
We will buy the lowly for silver,
and the poor for a pair of sandals;
even the refuse of the wheat we will sell!”
The LORD has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
Never will I forget a thing they have done!

And memories, unhappy ones, came flooding back. I’m not proud to admit that my first thought was “Oh, good. I want justice.”

It was 1997, and I was going through a divorce. I had driven 2,000 miles to get home, in a Geo Metro, with three kids and whatever possessions we could fit in the back of the car. It was a complete leap of faith, because the “home” to which I was returning wasn’t a house or an apartment; it was a state, where my family lived. But I did not have a home waiting. My sister and her husband put us up for as long as they were able, but the price of housing was higher than I’d anticipated, and I couldn’t find any apartment in the county that cost less per month than my welfare income. Child support had not yet been established, I found myself homeless with three young children. Finally, at the last possible moment, I got someone to rent me a house, and although the situation was far from optimal, at least we had a roof over our heads. The downside was that the owner of the house dropped by whenever she wanted, and always brought with her a sense of darkness and fear that I could not dispel. She would criticize me for having food out (“inviting critters”) while we were eating dinner. She judged me harshly for having clothes on the bedroom floor, although she’d neglected to make available the dresser she’d promised. All of this was worth tolerating, though, for a sense of safety for the kids, and a chance to make new beginnings.

Then, after four months, the situation got ugly. The landlord had decided she’d make more money during the summer by renting the house out as a summer cottage for tourists, and she appeared on the last day of the month to tell me I had to be out by the following day. What could I do? I started packing. By this time, we had a lot of stuff, because my ex had mailed package after package to me in an attempt to prove good will. I had also just done my monthly grocery shopping, and filled the refrigerator with the last of my month’s food stamps.

I rented a storage unit, and a friend rented a U-Haul trailer to bring my things there, but it would take two trips because we’d gotten the smallest trailer. On the way out, I ran into the landlord, and warned her that I had cancelled two of the checks that were awaiting her in her post office box: I had cancelled the check for next month’s rent, since I would not be there, and I had cancelled this month’s check which she had not yet cashed, because I had paid first, last, and deposit when I moved in, so she had already been paid for this month. Obviously, I was going to need that money to get a new place.

She accused me of “pulling a stunt” and got very angry. Evidently she had counted on having an extra two months of rent from me. When I returned to collect the rest of my things, she had changed the lock. Eventually she toted about half of my remaining things to my sister’s house and dumped them on the lawn. She kept the most expensive items, though, and literally all of the food. I was now without food for the next month, with no place to live, and with threats of legal action against me. All of this with no warning at all.

Things eventually worked out. We got a one time “homeless benefit” from the state which helped us pay for a motel and helped us with move in costs when I finally found a low cost apartment in another county. My mother and sister helped out with meals until the next food stamps arrived; and we eventually ended up in a secure and attractive apartment that, miraculously, cost an amount I could barely afford. But in these ten years I’ve still found it difficult to forgive someone who put us on the street and stole from us while we were homeless. I got over the loss of the Revereware that had been a wedding present pretty quickly, but the loss of the lifelong collection of family photos was a lot harder to forget. Greed I can understand; but stealing the food from the mouths of small children is much harder to understand. The maliciousness that inspires the destruction of someone’s childhood memories cannot even be explained by the desire for personal gain.

I hope you’ll pardon me for my relapse here. I needed to unburden myself of this story for what I hope will be the last time. These, though, are the memories that flooded back as I heard today’s first reading.

Then the choir began.
If today, if today you hear the voice of God, open up your heart and listen to his Word.
If today, if today you hear the voice of God, harden not your hearts, harden not your hearts.

And I knew. He wants us not to harden our hearts. He wants me not to harden my heart. Not just to Him, but to anyone. It is time to forgive, and to let go of the hurt and anger from all those years ago. I doubt I will ever see this person again in this world, and it is time to stop hoping not to see her in the next.

I have all I need, praise God. I have the love of an amazing man and an amazing family. What ingratitude to allow a loss ten years ago to make me think any less of this beautiful life God has given me.

 
 

Blessed Be the Name of the Lord September 1, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 7:00 pm

Which is easier to say when He helps. And He has. And things are finally looking like we’re going to climb out of this hole. We’re going to be able to save the house, for which I am more grateful than I can express… but I’ll try.

For the sake of privacy, I am not naming names, but if you helped out, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart. I’m taking down my “appeal” in the sidebar, and removing the red text. The next few months will be tight still, but now we have reason to believe we’re going to make it.

Now I want to say a few words about the spiritual journey that has accompanied this roller coaster ride. Maybe it’s too personal, I don’t know; but I’m going to post before I have a chance to second-guess whether it’s airing laundry or giving testimony.

For the past few months, I’ve struggled. Really, really struggled. God has helped me so many times in the past that at first I didn’t worry too much; but when it began to feel like quicksand and He still wasn’t stepping in, or even giving any signs at all of having heard my prayers, I began to struggle with my faith itself. I even said a few words at one point, to God Himself, that I had to go to confession over. You see, I kept reading the scriptures about God coming to our assistance, if we pray. What father would give his son a stone? But that’s what it seemed we were getting. It was looking inevitable that we would lose our house, and by now our credit has gone so far downhill that even the possibility of finding someone to rent us a place seemed unlikely. I cried and I shouted at the Lord: Why do You promise help and then not give it?

But then something happened. We reached the end of the line. And at the last minute, God came through. After months of not knowing God’s ways — and the worst part was not understanding why He was allowing us to go through this — we have finally found some long term solutions that should keep us from being in such a bad situation again. And I think maybe, just maybe, I finally understand His why.

When you work hard to fix it, and it gets fixed, you gain self confidence with a sense that you did for yourself. But if you pray and pray and pray, and then at the very last possible moment through almost miraculous means, things fall into place that you never could have foreseen let alone arranged yourself, something important happens in your soul. You know, without any doubt, that it was God Himself that stepped in, and that all of the circumstances and people that made a difference were acting on His behalf. You can’t give yourself the credit, and you can’t be proud.

It is very humbling.

Some other good has come out of all this. I’ve started praying the psalms with a new vigor. And I’ve been startled to hear my pastor listen to the Holy Spirit in ways that cannot be explained in any other way. You see, last week he said something during Mass that boggled my mind. He stopped in the middle of what he was saying to tell us that we must put ourselves into God’s hands because He puts Himself into our hands in the Holy Eucharist.

If you recall, this was what I had posted a week or so earlier on my blog. And my pastor does not read my blog. In fact, I checked my statistics, and nobody local outside my household had looked at my blog in over a week. The Holy Spirit is truly amazing. And so are those who listen to Him. So let me add Fr. Felipe to my list of thanks. And everyone who prayed. Obviously, though it wasn’t obvious to me for a long time, our Savior was listening. God bless you and keep you in peace and grace.

 
 

Divorce August 25, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 5:00 am

No, not mine. My Charming and Patient Husband continues to sweep me off my feet. What I want to ask is for prayers for people who are going through divorce.

I know that divorce is a lamentable and destructive thing. I know that it hurts families and that many people view it far too lightly; but I don’t want to talk about that right now. I want to discuss what people going through it experience.

Regardless of fault or blame, divorce is an extremely painful experience. Debilitating, even. It shakes the core of one’s faith, hurts the soul like a bruise that won’t heal, and rattles even the very self image. Anyone who is going through this trial, regardless of the reasons, needs prayer.

Divorce also frequently tempts the person — even the person of strong convictions — to do things he or she normally would not do. The combination of ache, loneliness, and sudden self doubt leaves a hole, one that many people try to fill with activity, pain relief, and new love. The unhealed soul is not ready for new love, and it can be far too easy to substitute physical intimacy for spiritual intimacy. Especially when feeling completely undesirable. Six months of raw pain and irresponsible behavior can lead to lifetime repercussions.

I know a couple who are going through a divorce. I won’t go into details; those belong to the people involved. But I will say that they are both good people. And I know that they are about to be shocked by reactions they never could have anticipated. Please pray for them.

I am sure you know someone going through a divorce, too. Who doesn’t, anymore? Pray for them, too. They need a special protection right now.

 
 

Thought for the Day August 24, 2007

Filed under: Uncategorized — Christina M @ 2:27 pm

Today, say a prayer for someone who already has strong faith. You never know what struggles they may not be telling.