Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Not to sound bipolar...

"On those days I feel like a failure...on those days I feel I've been failed...I need a savior..."

Tired and hyped up at the same time.  I was called from our main department at the end of a 12 hour shift to overtime at our satellite department for 2 more hours and now I am home and just plain hyped up.  This morning I ran 45min on my normal route and at the end of it found my left ankle HURT.  Another overuse injury I guess.  Getting new shoes tomorrow.  Sigh...hope this heals as quickly as my overuse knee injury!  Ice, ice and more ice. Limp...limp...limp!

So I need to get back to God.  So grateful for his mercy and grace.  So relieved that He knows exactly what I am...and who I am...and where I am going...and why I struggle so much to get there!  My rosary has been half-way completed way too often lately!  Time to really pray...

Tuesday, July 29, 2014


Finally feeling myself again after camp!  Wow that took it out of me...we went to bed at midnight and I was up at 6am every the stress of who knows what that seemed to compound as the week wore on...finally after several full nights sleep, a day on the couch and back to exercising: I am smiling!

This is good because while I was stressed, sleep deprived and emotionally unstable I decided to start looking into mission work...not like my regular mission sets (a week or two at a time) but more long for a year...or two.  Not that I'm impulsive or anything but I went online and shot out some emails and applications to several Catholic Mission Sites...the night I decided I wanted to look into it.  So now I guess I will wait and see if anything comes of this.  If it is God's will all work out smoothly and easily.  If not...then something else will surface.  And if nothing else surfaces...then I will be content because obviously...this is God's Will.  :o)

*Pic is from trip to Rio for WYD last year

Saturday, July 26, 2014

World Youth Day...revisited

I started this blog in October and hence never did a full post on World Youth Day Brazil (although I do talk about it in this blog I wrote in January) from the summer before.  My experience in Rio de Janeiro was beautiful, life-affecting and over way-too-quickly.  

I went as a young adult, not to chaperone but rather to spread a message to the youth for an apostolate based out of Dallas.  I honestly did not do more than have a desire to go, take the opportunity when it came my way a few months later, and trust God that it was his will.

Our last morning with Pope Francis I can remember kneeling on the beach with a sea of young people, strangers yet not, stretching as far as the eye can see.  Most had been up all night, trying to sleep on the beach in preparation for the next morning.  As Mass progressed, silence covered the beach, 4 million teenagers engrossed in the Mass.  I particularly remember sensing the reverence and attention of the young people as we watched Pope Francis lift the Host for consecration.  At that moment I looked around and thought: this is a foretaste of heaven.

A year later and I feel like I have experienced another, smaller World Youth Day: definitely the fruit of St John Paul II's beautiful hands.  I spent this past week working in a Catholic youth summer camp where we celebrated Mass daily, said the rosary, participated in exposition, benediction and Eucharistic processions and went to confession.  The rest of the time was spent hiking, swimming, playing sports, listening to live Christian music bands, and regular camp activities.  Honestly, it appeared to me that for the children who were unable to go to Rio for World Youth Day, somehow God had worked it out that World Youth Day was able to come to them.

The more the week went on the more I could see (sometimes miraculous) changes in these kids...their love and interest in God and the sacraments grew, their ability to comprehend God's magnificent love and mercy even in the midst of some pretty difficult life situations increased and their thoughtfulness towards those around them became more apparent.

Its important to note that these kids were not only immersed in the sacraments ("sitting at the foot of the cross all week" as one person put it), they were totally immersed in the culture of love.  So many religious - young and joyful priests, brothers and sisters - spent the week talking, playing, witnessing to and accepting the young people present: reaching out and peeling back layer after layer of stinky onion to find the person, made in the likeness and image of God, who lay beneath.

As the week progressed the impression I initially received of seeing a reflection of World Youth Day grew to the point that at the Eucharistic Procession as I knelt behind row after row of praying teenagers I had a flashback to the beach in Rio where so many young people went down on their knees before God.  And I thought, "How much God loves these souls."

In conclusion I want to share that the theme of the camp was "There is a God, and I'm not Him."  When I heard the kids yelling this slogan out and saw their response to the challenge to be Christ to the world, to live the gospel message, and to go and make disciples in every nation...I felt for a moment that I was seeing in them what St John Paul II must have seen: the exponential potential for great good, great holiness, and great love for the world.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Even on the days I freak out...

God is still pretty good to me.

It's funny how some days are just super stressful...even when rationally...they really aren't.  It's the emotional equivalent of a bad hair day...everything is just harder and doesn't sit right.

Yesterday morning I woke up late but really early as I had stayed up til 4am the night before in order to prepare my body to work a night shift.  This backfired as I ended up waking up before ten and getting less than a normal night of sleep.  I also woke up stressed as I hadn't heard back from the friends who had promised to help me remove my old living room furniture and pick up my new stuff (this happened to be one of only 6 days of the month the dump is open in our town to drop off furniture) with their truck.

I got out of bed, found my phone, and saw a text message from them canceling.  I called the furniture place and found out it would cost upwards of $200 to have my old stuff removed and the new stuff delivered...and also that I wouldn't be home for their available delivery dates until August 29th!  Already tired and in a weird-freak out over every little thing-stressed out mood I texted my (mother of 8 children under the age of 9) sister, trying not to sound like I was in a tired and weird-freak out over every little thing-stressed out mood...asking if she could come over and meet the delivery people if I had them come on a day I was working (but much sooner than the 29th).  I received a VERY hesitant yes...which is completely understandable because who wants to hang with 8 little kids in someone else's not kid friendly house for a couple hours on their Friday afternoon?

I think I forgot to mention at this point that I was pretty annoyed with God.  My weird-freak out over every little thing-stressed out mood didn't help and I found myself calling out to him, "Well if you're not going to send me a husband to help me with these things, you could at least provide a friend or two to help..." because in my weird-freak out over every little thing-stressed out mood I immediately jumped to the conclusion that since one friend had cancelled on me at the last minute I now had ABSOLUTELY NO ONE IN THE WORLD TO HELP ME.  And then I decided, if I had nothing nice to say to Him, then I probably shouldn't say anything at all...recognizing that with my bad attitude...if I couldn't ask God nicely for help I should just shut up.

Then my sister suggested I call my godson's family and see if he and his brothers could help.  Great idea!  So I called and his mom answered her cell, "Who?  Hi!  I'm in the hospital, on my way to surgery!"  "What?!"   I quickly hung up and then thought about it some more.  Would it be INCREDIBLY selfish of me to ask to borrow the boys, while she was in surgery?  I mean, technically, they were just sitting at home...doing nothing, right?

Sheepishly, with lots of "I hope your surgery goes well" (which I did!!), I texted my friend, asking if I could take the boys.  She was fine with it.  I called the house, asked if they wanted to help, and ran out to my car.  As soon as I shut the door, huge drops of water began pouring out of a black cloud, I swear riding directly over my head.  From my their Home Depot where we rented a pick-up for an my the dump with my old the store where we loaded up the new stuff.  As I pulled into my drive, the rain miraculously stopped (okay maybe not miraculously) and we brought everything in and dumped it in the middle of my living room.

Finally, at this point my weird-freak out over every little thing-stressed out mood abated and I was able to get over myself and be thankful to the God who provides...even on the days I freak out over every dumb little thing.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Yeah we love him...


Hmmmmm, wonder who the Popes will be rooting for?

   After attending World Youth Day in Rio with Pope Francis...this seems even more special!  Also making me think of St John Paul II and his writings on the love of sports.  Love the interconnectedness of living and loving my faith! Y claro: siendo Cathólica!

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

"I am not a man & this is not my city."

Vancouver, Canada

Stanley Park, Lion's Gate Bridge, Yaletown, Gastown, Granville Island...these names all have meaning for me now.  Queen Elizabeth Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden, Butchart Gardens in Victoria...I can now say I've been there.  Whistler, Black Comb, Deep Cove, the Grouse...I can say I've hiked (and proudly say I hiked the Grind!).  Ferries, buses, trains, gondolas, bicycles, kayaks, taxis and name it, I rode it (even ski lifts!).  Bears, sea otters, orcas, parrots and butterflies...we saw them.  Ramen, sinigang, sushi, gyros, fresh seafood and homemade chili...we ate it.  When ever it was meal time and we saw a line outside a restaurant, we got into it and NEVER were we disappointed.

But in spite of all the beautiful, amazing experiences I had these past two weeks...that's not what this trip was about.  My good friend (from work) invited me to spend two weeks visiting with her family in Canada.  There would be a 70th birthday celebration for her mother (whom I already knew) and lots of hiking and excursions.  I excitedly accepted her invitation and we booked our flights last February.  In April her sister committed suicide, shocking and leaving her family with a load of guilt, grief and the resounding but never answered question: "Why?"  My friend immediately flew out over Easter and spent a very stressful week with her family.  

She then returned and I immediately assumed our trip would need to be canceled or at least my part of the visit.  But she insisted that she wanted me, so off we went three months later, our plans unsettled to say the least.  

The first 5 days we had a timeshare booked at a lovely hotel in the center of downtown.  After that?  Homeless? At the last minute we booked a private room and bath in someone's apartment off of a reputed website.  This turned out to be a disaster as we discovered the owner did not even live in Vancouver and the room was very dirty and unsanitary.  My friend's cousin picked us up the next morning at 7am (we slept in our clothes on top of the comforter) and brought us to the aunts' house...where we proceeded to spend the rest of our trip, crowded in on top of 8 other people!  

This turned out to be my favorite part of the trip...being so closely knit with my friend's family.  Her mother and sister were there along with an aunt and cousin from Australia.  We slept on couches and air mattresses and anywhere there was an inch of room.

Getting to the heart of why this was so special: I had wondered several times before our trip, why, in all the time I've known my friend, this is the first time she has invited me to travel with her and why it just happened to be right before this tragedy struck her family.  I didn't know if God wanted me there because of this recent occurrence, but I felt that for some reason, He did.  

So many of them had feelings of guilt or anger, and some were afraid of how it was affecting the others in their family.  I think it helped to talk about what they were thinking, individually.  And God, for whatever reason, often gave me the opportunity to listen.

My friend comes from a beautiful, close-knit family with different faith backgrounds, but strong beliefs and practices.  We shared many conversations between the two of us, about life after death and who God is (her faith does not believe in a triune God)...and in such an open way I never felt like I was uncomfortable or that she was put on the spot.  We even, for the first time in our long friendship, actually talked about the differences in our churches and she was able to honestly ask me some questions about the Catholic Church that showed she has some knowledge of its teachings, albeit incompletely understood.

On our last full day we somehow came into possession of one of the cousin's cars.  We drove out to Burnaby Mountain and hiked for three hours in the pouring rain, mountain bikers zooming past us.  A chatty 75 year old man stopped us as we climbed to tell us, "Don't you know that you are gods?  Every step you take forward is with your own energy, your own electricity."  Partly in jest but mostly in earnest I responded, "Oh I certainly hope not!  The last thing I want to find out is that I am a god."  Can you imagine?  Humans being the greatest or highest level there is?  Yikes!

After we returned to the car, we immediately took off in the wrong direction.  Since we didn't have cell phone access in Canada we were using a map we had printed off the internet.  One thing led to another and with me naviguessing we found ourselves, without intent, on the very street that my friend's sister was buried on.  

At first reluctantly but then with a certain peace, my friend led the way to her sister's fresh grave.  As I prayed by the graveside, I resisted the impulse to make even the sign of the cross.  This is hard to explain but suffice it to say that I felt I should refrain out of respect for my friend.  This moment was not about me ("Look!  I'm saying my Catholic prayers for your sister!")....rather it was something internal and between God and me, because after a suicide...our hope can only be that in the moment before death she was granted a great mercy of repentance.

It was such a blessing for me, similar to when I was the travel guide to Padre Pio's shrine with my friend's parents, that God allowed me to be a part of something He was so intimately a part of.  I spent days with a distracted friend, an impatient friend, an anxious friend and eventually a peaceful friend.  Exhausted from days of crazy was worth it in every way.  

Many times I felt the need for clarity..."Lord, why am I here?" But in the end, it is as Mother Theresa once said, "I have never had clarity, what I have always had is trust."  

Could someone else have counseled, prayed, helped or met the spiritual and emotional needs around me in a better way?  A thousand times "Yes!"  But God, for whatever reason, permitted me to be a part of this family and at such a time as this.  Grateful.

Please pray for the healing of my friend and her family.  And for God's great mercy on their deceased loved one.

*Quote in title from George Stanley, author of Vancouver: A Poem