So many of my friends have been posting articles about a couple who lost their 2nd child because they believe medical science is unnecessary. I support their feelings of frustration, confusion and heartbreak that two children are needlessly dead because their parents have not taken every available avenue to ensure the care and survival of innocent children.
However, these same friends who have posted vitriol about how disgusted they are with this couple... how this couple should burn in hell for their neglect... how folks like this should be sterilized / mutilated, etc...
Not a one of them has said two words about the gruesome infanticide that has been committed by Dr. Kermit Gosnell. The same infanticide that occurs daily all around the country at the hands of Planned Parenthood and abortion mills just like it...
Forgive me, but if you're gonna go ahead and condemn the neglect of two parents in the deaths of two children, you'd better damn right well condemn abortionists and supposed nurses / staff who allow millions of children to routinely die in painful, scary and terrible ways ON PURPOSE.
If you're gonna get preachy because two innocent children are dead due to neglect, you'd better go Billy freakin' Graham due to the neglect of an entire nation that refuses to acknowledge the snuffed out lives of millions upon millions of innocent babies on a daily basis.
If you cannot or will not, you are a hypocrite of a most vile degree.
Okay, so the picture to the right isn't exactly of a prom. It's me checking out the homemade boutonniere he had for his wedding last December.
It's prom-ish, though, so give me a break.
Anyway, this story comes from a friend of mine who witnessed a sparkle of awesome in her home parish Saturday night at her vigil mass.
As folks made their way up for Communion, she noticed that many in line were decked out in prom attire.
Gowns, tuxes, suits with the jazzy colored vests - senior prom students were attending the vigil!!!
That's right, folks - these wonderful young men and women were witnessing their faith on the very night that most teens throw common sense to the wind. How awesome is that?
Apparently the priest closed the Mass by saying, "God bless your evening, and don't do anything against the teachings of the Church."
When my friend heard these things after witnessing the prom-goers in their pews, she got teary-eyed. Why wouldn't she? My heart swelled by three sizes as I thanked the Lord for their steadfast faith. May their parents be blessed for instilling their children with such reverence. May the entire community be blessed for supporting them in their walk of faith! Well done!
I wanted to share that with you folks. I really hope my son is still holding fast to his faith when he's prom-going age. God-willing, he doesn't shy away from inviting his date to Mass as a pre-game to the prom! Ha ha ha!
Working in my particular branch of the Archdiocese means I typically handle calls from cranky people.
This past week I had felt incredibly bogged down with an overload of work and a litany of agitated callers. I would love to say I responded charitably and patiently with each person, but I'd be lying.
God forgive me, but Friday morning found me in an awfully foul mood. My very first caller of the day (before I'd even sat down at my desk!) was an angry person demanding to know why we were such evil, evil people. Le sigh.
I handled the call as politely as possible, but I could feel my entire mindset shift from "Good morning, world!" to "Gah, let me survive today without stabbing anyone with my letter opener."
As the day dragged on with more of the same, I actually looked up at the ceiling and said outloud, "Alright, God, what did I do? Not really sure where You're going with all of this, but You need to do something about these folks [calling in]."
No sooner did I mouth that frustration than did the Archbishop's secretary come down and request my boss. Since he was in a meeting, I asked if I could help with anything.
Turns out there was a very unhappy couple downstairs making a scene and demanding an audience with the Archbishop. Security was refusing to let them up and his secretary had no idea what else to do with them. I contemplated passing the baton to one of three directors in my office, but honestly, I knew they were all super busy and just didn't have the time to spend soothing the ire out of anyone. So, I bit the bullet and followed the Archbishop's secretary to the security desk.
It wasn't pretty when I went downstairs. They weren't just angry... they were livid. Security didn't want to let them into the building, but shoving them into the street wasn't going to help. Since our office was relatively quiet that afternoon, I agreed to have them voice their complaints upstairs and away from the gawkers who had gathered to see the spat.
The Archbishop's secretary gratefully bid us farewell as I led the couple upstairs and into our conference room. I braced myself for the onslaught of ire that had obviously welled up inside of them. I'd endured an entire week of super-charged anger. I viewed them as my last epic hurdle until my weekend which would be free from folks like this. So on the surface I treated them with careful respect and a soothing, caring manner. On the inside, though, I was recoiling from the wave of vitriol I had accepted from the Archbishop's secretary.
Oh, how I cringe at my callous heart!
This couple is middle-aged and closing in fast on retirement. The wife was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2011 and her husband had been out of work due to a severe injury. They've been struggling for several years due to the mounting medical bills and lack of work. They had looked for help everywhere and found nothing. The husband pulled stacks of business cards and letters from his bag to show me regarding his efforts in securing a livelihood and subsequent help for he and his wife. The desperation and frustration were evident.
What was more evident, however, was their love and faith.
As both of them spoke over one another in their attempt to tell me why they were so frustrated and upset, I noticed how very caring they were of one another. Their body language was endearing. She kept grasping his arm and he kept patting her hand. She would sometimes hug him close when she fumbled for words and he would quickly pick up for her and explain the feelings for which she had no words.
It was a beautiful thing to witness.
And on top of that, this struggling couple did not express anger at me or at the Archdiocese. They weren't cursing God for allowing them to be in the situation they found themselves. In fact, the wife said "My breast cancer is God's will and I accept that. If He wishes to heal me, He'll heal me. If not, then I shall go with Him and that is that."
Instead, their frustration came from a simple miscommunication that served to bring them to our very doorstep. They acknowledged that had it not been for our mailing, they wouldn't have come to us and learned that we do, in fact, offer the very services they need to get back on their feet again. God used their anger and frustration as the bait to lead them into the trap of His Love. Doesn't that sound silly? But it's true. God knows what motivates us, and sometimes it's as basic as our human frustration.
Anyway, this couple vented all of their issues to me... personal, private matters that they just longed to share with another human person. They'd been kicked around so many systems, taken advantage of by so many groups that are supposed to help... they just didn't know where else to turn. So, God led them to the Archdiocesan center... specifically to me.
And I think I got more from their visit more than they did.
Seeing how much they loved each other... how willing they were to sacrifice for the other's benefit... it was almost too much for me!
In order to survive on the $16 welfare food stipend they receive, they will eat every other day. So the wife will eat one day, the husband will eat the next, etc, etc, etc. They acknowledged this as if it were perfectly normal - that anyone would do this if faced with a similar situation. The husband kept saying, "But she is my wife. Of course I will do this."
I must've had the most stupified look on my face. It was all I could do to keep from crying. How shameful I must be in the Eyes of the Lord. I'm going about my day frustrated with the very people I work to serve. To put me in my place... to show me how arrogant and thoughtless I'd become, He brought two of these very people to look me in the eye and express to me the depth of their pain.
It was like a challenge from God.
Can you dare to open your mouth against these children of Mine? To whine, complain and roll your eyes when tasked with answering their call? I put you into this position specifically so you could help my people, and what do I get from you in return? Scorn? Disdain? Arrogance? You act shameful and thus shame that which I have done for you!
Ugh - my heart must have broken into a thousand pieces. I felt so inadequate... so unworthy... so terrible. God had answered my prayer, but He had answered in a way that far exceeded what my original intention had anticipated. Forgive me my folly, Lord. Oh, forgive me my folly...
My coworkers, by this time, were growing agitated that this couple had spent so much of my time in the conference room. After all, phones needed to be answered, envelopes stuffed, and paperwork filed. The longer I was away from my desk, the less work was getting done. Thus, I guided the conversation to a close as quickly as possible with the promise of engaging all the proper channels to help them get situated.
After I escorted them out of the building, security apologized up and down for handing over what they assumed (what I had assumed!) were a couple of nut jobs. I assured them that everything was fine and the couple was actually a great gift to me. I tried to explain that to my coworkers, too. They, though, had about a thousand jokes at the ready aimed at me and my bleeding heart for allowing them to torment my patience for the better part of an hour.
I don't care, though. I recognized what that couple was. They were my stark reprimand as well as my chance for mercy. God made it so that I'd have the proper avenues at the ready to answer their needs. So not only was I reminded of the blessing it was to serve these people, God granted me the satisfaction of actually being able to do it.
It was a much needed reminder that I'm shamed to say I needed. So I hope you guys take heart in this as well. Sometimes in life there are going to be lots of angry people who want to vent at you. The best you can do is accept that God placed you there to return their anger and frustration with love and kindness as best you can, because even these folks (maybe even especially these folks) are in need of God's mercy. Be that mercy for them.
***And please, please, please keep this couple in your prayers. They deserve to be lifted to the Lord in a very special way given their overwhelming needs. Truly these folks need as many prayers as possible. Thanks!***
I currently use Earthlink as my internet provider. As you can no doubt tell by my lack of posts, this provider hasn’t been providing anything aside from agita for the last month. I’m lucky to have internet for 3 minute stretches. Most days I’m simply without. Extremely frustrating, but not exactly the worst thing ever.
Anyway, I wanted to share a fun story of Divine Providence with you.
A few months ago, I ordered a few copies of my favorite St. Joseph book. These last few months they’ve sat in a closet because I kept forgetting to bring them to their intended recipients (my mother and a priest friend… we’ll call him Fr. Happy Meal).
Every time I’d go to my mother’s house, I’d think to myself, “Darn it, not again! I left the books at home!”
Seriously… it was SO frustrating! I felt so foolish every time I’d show up without the books that were sitting pointlessly on a shelf.
Anyway, fast forward to last week. I had a last minute meeting spring up and was unable to find a sitter. I called my sister in Philly to see if she’d be able to swing by last minute to help out. She could, so she came by to sit for Vince.
While she was there, I gave her the books because I was NOT going to forget them again!
She took them home and gave them to my mother. I let my mom know that one was for her and one was for Fr. Happy Meal. She assured me she’d pass along the book to him when she saw him next.
A few days later, I got a phone call from Fr. Happy Meal. He was really happy to have received the book because he’d recently been looking for a new book to read. His bookshelf is full of theology / spirituality books, but he was craving one on a saint – any saint. He didn’t have any, though, and no real time to purchase any, so when the book on St. Joseph fell into his lap, it was a happy answer to his desire for such specific reading material.
I love stories like that. God obviously knew St. Joseph would come knocking on Fr. Happy Meal’s heart in Lent, so He made sure to plant the idea of purchasing that book into my head. He also made sure I forgot the book repeatedly until the timing was just right. Then, when things were in order and Fr. Happy Meal felt the yearning for saintly reading material, He lined things up to make certain my sister would pick up the book from me (since He couldn’t trust I’d ever remember to bring it, myself – sorry, God!). How cool is that?
Things like that are nice little reminders that God’s always thinking of us and laying down the path for us to follow. Some people might chalk all this up to a crazy set of coincidences. I feel lucky to be one of the “crazies” who not only sees, but feels, the Hand of God in these happy occurrences.
My internet is still down at home so I chose the winner thru Rafflecopter AND am posting this in the parking lot of Domino's Pizza.
Anyway, congratulations to Dom, our winner of the $50 gift card to Origami Owl. Yay!!!
In appreciation for the outpouring of love you fine folks offered for Michael's 1st Communion, his mom sent us some awesome photos of him decked out for his special day!
She also had this to say about how each of you worked together to create a beautiful spiritual hug for her and her family:
I absolutely can not put words to how I felt when I received your package on the DAY of Michael's First Communion... I called James over, handed him the envelope, and promptly started bawling my eyes out.
(Tears, in my mind, are a triumphant sign of victory. We did good, people. We did good.)
Generally speaking, I'm fairly stoic in matters of the heart. You and I have discussed various times about how the best way to avoid heartache of any kind is to be stony-hearted in all things. Well, the "trouble" with our Faith is that we must allow God to take our hearts of stone and replace them with living hearts; which are totally unable to remain stoic when faced with the onslaught of love and joy that was delivered last Saturday :-)
Michael was THRILLED to look at all of the photos of well-wishers...we were all incredibly touched. [I realize] this is a paltry and insignificant means of saying "THANK YOU!!" [but wow]... It's a wonderful thing to be a member of The Body. Countless, countless thanks!
And then she attached this sweet photo of Michael sending out a big thank-you to everyone in cyber-space. :)
Just as an add-on, I love that she said "It's a wonderful thing to be a member of the Body." It really is. This special project pulled together folks from all over the country (and several from overseas!). We came together as one to rally and support one of our own. I dunno about the rest of you, but I certainly felt the Spirit. <3 Bless you all again!
To everyone who participated in the Super Secret Surprise of two weeks ago - THANK YOU!!!
What FUN I had collecting the photos, notes and cards from those of you who were trusting enough to take the bait and spread some smiles to a young boy and his family.
For those of you who have no idea what I'm talking about, you missed a bit of a party! To recap, a wonderful friend of mine, Catherine, moved out of state and was a little sad that the celebration of her son, Michael's, 1st Holy Communion wouldn't be the big family affair she'd always envisioned. In order to wrap her, her son and her family in prayers, love and joy, I solicited you wonderful folks to send out your well-wishes and novenas for the cause.
In the end, the outpouring of joy, warmth and love absolutely astounded me, touched Catherine, and brought incredible delight to Michael. I really felt a part of the Church each time I received another piece of the collage.
Here are some photos of what you wonderful folks sent in. I've even got some updated photos to include the 3rd batch that mailed out on Friday. In total, I think we sent something like 50 messages and photos down their way. Kudos, everyone. May you all be blessed immensely for your spiritual generosity. Thank you so much for being a part of suh a special outpouring of love and support. <3
Really, folks, THANK YOU. Thank you for going above and beyond. Thank you for showing a little love to a stranger when you could easily have done any other number of things. You're all getting remembered in a very special way not only by me, but I'm certain by Catherine and her family, too. <3
Ridiculous shot of me.
First of all, thanks once again for all your messages everyone! I appreciate the love and prayers so much!
I'm back. I apologize that I spent the last week or so to myself. I've been reading all of the personal anecdotes and well-wishes... I haven't responded to everyone, but please be assured that I have read and appreciated ALL of it. I've also kept you all in my prayers. I'm so incredibly grateful to all of you for propping me up spiritually since I felt the world come out from under me physically.
My deepest, sincerest gratitude to each of you. If I could hug you all through the computer screen, I would. Since I can't, I figured another contest was in order. *Grin* Those are always fun and tend to make everyone happy. Win-win, right?
Anyway, I did go in for my test on Tuesday. I'm feeling much better physically, but I still don't really know what the prognosis is. I go in for another appointment this week (I have to schedule it on Monday morning). All in all, though, when I spoke to the doctor last, she held a positive outlook.
Optimism abounds. It seems that the general consensus is that I do, in fact, have cancerous cells. However, the consensus also seems to be that it's fairly simply to remove these puppies from where they've made themselves at home with minimal damage to the surrounding tissue.
Yay on all counts, right?
So I'm finally going to let off a little steam now that I've been reassured of some pretty positive news. Woo!
Thanks again for the prayers, everyone. I'll keep you updated a little better now that I don't feel I'm on pins and needles 24/7.
And if you haven't had your annual exam - GO SCHEDULE IT RIGHT NOW!!!
A couple charms / lockets / baubles
So I just learned about a really cool company called Origami Owl. I'm actually super excited about it
Origami Owl is a cute online shop that allows you to create your own jewelry. They've got lockets that you can design into personalized momentos similar to those Pandora charm bracelets you see on TV.
The lockets are actually like little frames into which you can enclose charms or plates that showcase symbols that mean something to you.
My friend, Mary, for instance, could get a silver locket and fill it with a kitten charm, an emerald stone (she loves emeralds), a plate that said "Nana" ('cause who doesn't love her Nanny?), and a key dangle so she could tease Vince telling him it was the key to the North Pole (she'd do that... she really would).
Mine, on the other hand, would be silver, contain Vincent's birthstone, a big plate saying "Mom" with a little one for "love." I'd definitely have a cross charm along with an angel one. My dangle would probably be the owl (just because it's so cool looking!).
Everyone's is different, and if your hobbies change, your interests change, or you wanna add more birthstones as babies arrive into your lives, you can do that! You can also change the colors of the lockets to go along with your outfits, etc.
I think the entire concept is BRILLIANT.
Since I love sharing super cool things with you guys, I'm giving away a $50 gift card to Origami Owl to one of you lucky ducks at the end of the week. How awesome is that?!
Plus, the best part about this give-away is that it benefits a stay-at-home-mom who is currently raising two beautiful children all on her own! Her name is Heather, and I'd like nothing more than to send all of you her way to see all the incredible things she offers through Origami Owl. Just think of all the charms and dangles $50.00 can get you!
I'm using Rafflecopter again. Info is below. Contest is only running for this week. Best of wishes to everyone! :)
Special thanks to my buddy, Catherine, for seeding this awesomeness to Facebook.
LOVE, LOVE, LOVE Joe Castillo! He's incredible!
Do you have five minutes?
If so, and you'd like to be part of something amazing, either e-mail me, comment (include your e-mail) or send me a carrier pigeon.
I am going to respond with a super-secret link that explains a really amazing project that will bring smiles that ripple through the Church.
Thanks in advance (and sorry for the cryptic nature of this message).
Bless the Lord for His Goodness!!!
Firstly – Happy Easter, everyone! I hope each and every one of you had (and continue to have) a blessed and joyous Easter season.
I have to admit being glad Holy Week is over. It really does seem like every year during Holy Week, satan and his little demons are out there doing their best to Judas up the place in an effort to draw as many people from Christ as possible.
However, we know who reigns victorious in the end, don’t we?
So here I am basking in the radiance of Easter week. I went back to work on Monday with a skip in my step. Unfortunately, the little demon had other plans and is still apparently working overtime to cloud my sunshine with doom and gloom.
Some of you may remember a few months back that I had gone in for a surprise mammogram. The results were happy and I didn’t think much else of it. I did, however, schedule the elusive GYN appointment that missed my radar for 2+ years.
Fast forward a few months and I make my way in for my annual (which is now, to my surprise, two years behind schedule). I got the routine tests done and got a deserved chiding from my doctor who made sure I understood the importance of showing up for my annual. Right on, doc!
Yesterday, I got a phone call from this wonderful doctor. I saw the number on my cell and figured I was getting the results from the annual test. Typically the nurse says “Hey Gina, your results came back clear. See you next year.” So imagine my surprise when the doctor greeted me instead of the nurse.
Immediately I felt my stomach knot. The doctor’s calling? That’s not good.
But I shoved the thought away and cheerily answered her greeting.
She informed me that she’d gotten the results back and confirmed I’d tested positive for HPV. That, in and of itself, isn’t surprising given that a good 75% or so of the population has HPV in their system. However, the fact that a doctor was telling me this and not a nurse led me to immediately ask, “Well, okay, I assume you’re calling to tell me you found something else, then?”
Her response was, “Well, I’d like to run some more tests to be sure.”
I said, “I get you don’t like to tell folks they’ve got cancer over the phone, but is that what you’re testing to be sure for? I don’t mind hearing it over the phone. It’s okay to tell me. I’m alright.”
She said, “I don’t want to tell you anything conclusively until I test you again. Can you be in tonight?”
Again, alarm bells went off. Tonight? She wants me in ASAP? Okay, it was bad enough that she called to give me the results, but now she wants to do this test TONIGHT? Obviously this isn’t good news.
I said, “Tonight is the only night I can’t do. Do you have anything tomorrow or later this week?”
She responded that she’d be away from Tues – Monday, and with her gone, her partner was backlogged with her patients. I wouldn’t be able to be seen until next Tuesday. I responded – without thinking – “Well, I waited 2 ½ years. I guess another week won’t kill me.”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth I cringed and said “Okay, that came out wrong, I’m sorry. I meant that I can wait until Tuesday because I guess it won’t make much difference.”
If I could’ve smacked my head into a wall, I would’ve - I felt like such an idiot.
Anyway, she said she’d see me first thing Tuesday morning for cervical cancer testing. She explained what she’d be doing, but I’ll be honest – I couldn’t tell you what she said from that point on. All I got was my time on Tuesday, cervical cancer testing, and the rest is blank. I’ll have to call back on Monday to see if I need to prep in any sort of way for whatever test she’s doing, but I admit I’m nervous.
I didn’t have any sort of nervous feeling when I went in for the mammogram because I just knew they wouldn’t find anything. Cervical cancer, though? I half wonder if this isn’t why God allowed me to endure the “Darkest Secret” business a year ago. Maybe He foresaw this and realized I’d need to come to terms with never having children again – or being too sick to raise toddlers – or any other number of things.
Ugh – not that this is the thought-process I wanna go with right now, but that’s exactly where my mind went to.
At this point, I am okay. Even though I’m nervous, I still know it’s in God’s Hands and whatever reasons He’s got for whatever is in store are good ones. Either this will be a total fluke and I can go on my happy little way while reminding everyone to get their yearly check-up because they’re super important, or it won’t be a total fluke and I’ll have a ready-made daily offering for my trifecta of souls (my husband, best friend and father).
Yes, Mary, you made that list. *Grin*
Anyway, I appreciate all the love, prayers and well-wishes from everyone. I REALLY appreciate those of you who have shared your experiences with me because they have given me true peace of mind. Thank you. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
I’ll be sure to keep you wonderful folks up to date when next week rolls around. Know you’re all in my prayers! <3
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