Posts Tagged 'faith'

Long time, no blog

Well, what can I say? Life happens. After a long time of neglecting the blogs I even read, I stumbled across one of my favorite blogs The Glamorous Life Association and was inspired – for the first time in a long time – to write a post myself.

Imagine my shock when I went to my own blog and saw a huge blinking snowman wishing me Christmas hugs. Has it really been that long since I posted? And truthfully, this is not a “real” post, is it? It’s merely an image I submitted in a post weeks before, with a planned date of Christmas for the reading pleasure of all my zillion blog followers.

Truth is, I haven’t felt much like posting on the blog. I haven’t really had a lot of positive things to say, and my urge to write just hasn’t been there – which is quite unusual for me.

Those of you who are close might know some of the things I’ve been through. For the others….

My in-laws were on their way here only a few days before Christmas. Their intent was to move into a house in a retirement community and spend the rest of their days here in sunny and warm Arizona rather than snowy and frigid Western New York. Unfortunately somewhere along the way my father-in-law had a heart attack.

My mother-in-law Suzy (who has Alzheimer’s) continued driving, guided by my FIL’s keen sense of direction, even in his poor state of health. His heart attack was not too apparent actually, and once they got here on the 23rd we knew he was sick, but did not realize how badly.

On Christmas Eve, it became apparent he was in need of professional medical help and Terry brought him to the Emergency room. Despite the best efforts of the medical staff, Ray’s vital organs failed him one by one – first his heart, then his liver, his kidneys, and finally his lungs. On December 28th the family made the difficult decision to remove him from artificial life support. That evening he quietly passed away at hospice with Suzy, his first and fifth sons (Terry and Ted respectively) and myself closely by his side.

The next few weeks were spent in the frozen tundra that was Rochester, NY (remember those horrible storms in the northeast over New Year’s?) dominated by funeral home and memorial service arrangements, learning about the process of cremation, dealing with differing family opinions and personalities, and taking care of logistics like bills, mail, figuring out the financial situation, legal issues, etc., all throughout the mourning process.

Our saving grace was being able to stay at the home of a true angel, Bunny Mannix. No matter how difficult our day was, she made sure that we were always comfortable and cared for, and had somewhere safe and warm to sleep after an exhausting day.

Once all that died down and we were back in Arizona, there was still the issue of what to do with Terry’s mom Suzy. Although she is not yet at the “serious” stage of Alzheimer’s, it was apparent she was not able to care for herself. Lord knows how she got by over the past couple of months in New York. Ted stayed with Sue in the home she and Ray had leased for January and February, while the two of them and Terry searched for assisted living facilities for her. After weeks and weeks, visits to countless places, they finally found a suitable place that would work for her financially and she moved in last week.

And of course while all this is going on, life does not stop. We exchanged presents but never really had a “Christmas”. I had three business trips including two conferences I had to run, my assistant quit, Justin broke his wrist, the dog had two different ailments (one causing me to take him to doggie urgent care) and various degrees of colds have passed through our home. We just kept thinking, when will this all stop?

Fortunately things are better. Now that Terry’s mom is in a safe and truly nice place, it will be easier to tie up the loose ends. But it’s still not easy, and for that I ask for your prayers.

It has been a difficult time for us, but we’ve gotten through it. The support of our friends was immensely helpful and I am personally forever grateful to my sister Danielle who was there for me when I had to be there for everyone else.

I normally don’t like to post on the blog about things that might bring the mood down, but I did think it was important to put the information here for those who might not already know. It was also somewhat therapeutic to write as well.

My prayers to God to give us strength and clarity to get through this situation have been answered and for that I am forever thankful. It’s going to be okay.

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Blessed be dog forever

Justin, Duke and Fr. Greg Schlarb

View more photos by clicking here

Justin and I took Duke to church today for the Blessing of the Pets – a tradition some Catholic churches observe in conjunction with the Feast of St. Francis of Assisi. I think this might have been the first time St. Anne’s had it, but years back we took Lady to our old church’s ceremony.

We’ve seen lots of dogs, cats, mice, lizards, birds, guinea pigs, snakes, tarantulas and all sorts of creatures in the past. This year someone brought a sheep, which got spooked by some dogs (just doing what they find to be natural) then broke its leash and ran away! Fortunately a couple dozen people were able to help round it up before it got out into traffic.

Duke made a lot of new friends, but I think he kind of expected it to be like the dog park where he can run, jump and play. It was hard to keep him restrained but overall he was a good boy. He even laid down a couple of times, surprisingly enough.

It was a beautiful morning, and a lovely ceremony.

A prayer for our pets

O God, you have redeemed all creation
through the incarnation of your eternal Word;
Protect our pets, your creatures,
who provide us with joy
and nonjudgmental companionship;
Give us respect
for all of your Word-redeemed creation,
that we may care for creation
as just and humble stewards;
We pray this in the name of the same Word, Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever.
~David Bennett

An epiphany

Have you ever had one? I did recently and would love to share it with you.

First I’d like to start with a snippet from the motion picture Evan Almighty. Do you remember when Evan’s wife was in the restaurant and God appeared as her waiter? He helped her to understand that prayers aren’t always answered directly, and when she prayed for more family togetherness what God gave her was the opportunity for her family to be together more.

What a powerful message.

I pray for many things, and probably like most people, I have a few long-standing prayer requests dotted with different ones that fade in and out depending on what’s going on with my life at the time. One of these would be a recent prayer to do better at my job. I really love my job, and one of the things I love best about it is its unique challenges. If you have ever worked in a position with a multitude of challenges then you know that one day you can shine and the next day you’re knocked down into the dirt. Sometimes you go through days, weeks or even months when it seems all you’re doing is shuffling your feet in the dust.

Recently I experienced a time like this and it was getting hard. Really hard. So I prayed. I prayed that I could do better at my job. That I could not just meet my goals, but exceed them, impress my boss and rise within the company. And still all I did for a long time was just play catch-up. I would look at the clock at 5 and realize that I couldn’t pinpoint what I’d done all day, but I was sure busy! Why couldn’t I look back on my workday and immediately know the goals I’d accomplished?

So I prayed more. And more, and more. And it seemed like my prayers weren’t being answered. In fact, things were getting worse. The challenges were getting harder and I seemed to have less and less time to accomplish my tasks.

Then the epiphany.

God was indeed answering my prayers – how did I not see it? He was sending me challenges. These challenges were in fact opportunities to shine. So as I prayed harder and harder, he gave me more to do, more difficult tasks and less time to do them in! What better way to excel at my job than to take advantage of these opportunities!

As soon as I realized this (insert V-8 slap-on-the-forehead) I let go and I put my faith in God. I continued to work hard, but didn’t worry about things as much. I continued to do the best I could at my job and trusted that the critical items that needed to be completed would be. And I’ve gotten a lot done – miraculously more than I had during my previous “stressful time” noted above.

Now I don’t have a “happy ending” like how my boss recognized my superhuman project management ability and gave me a huge raise (I wish!). Actually I haven’t had the chance to review all I’ve done with him yet. But you know, just knowing that the Lord is answering me, that He is giving me these wonderful opportunities – that’s enough. And I am thankful.

Litany of Humility

Written by Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930), Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …

That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.

That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may, increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…