Reluctant charismatic

Lately, so many things have been reaching out to me and leading me to a new understanding.  I have always loved adoration and have been feeling called to go to adoration again on a regular basis.  I’ve been missing that time I used to spend weekly Lately, so many things have been reaching out to me and leading me to a new understanding.  I have always loved adoration and have been feeling called to go to adoration again on a regular basis.  I’ve been missing that time I used to spend weekly with our Lord before we moved.  But, my schedule and my own hesitation has kept me from committing again to take that time with our Lord on a regular committed schedule.  So, the Lord has been reaching out to me in so many other ways.

At our parish, Ray and I attended and helped to lead a program to help us find our spiritual gifts or charisms.  We did the program and in many ways, it answered some internal questions, but it still left me a bit befuddled.  What does it mean and what am I supposed to be doing with these charisms: hospitality, helps, faith, encouragement, intercessory prayer, and teaching.  I recognize that they are gifts and I  can see how some have played out in my life to date, but I was still quite a bit lost as to what God was asking me to do with them NOW.  I then followed up the Called and Gifted program with their suggested interview with someone trained in the charisms, it was suggested to me that I needed to explore another charism that didn’t even rank very high for me – that of evangelism.  So, now I was really confused.

To explain a bit more, I wasn’t comfortable AT ALL with the charismatic movement and avoided it as much as possible.  I had no issues with learning about the different charisms that individuals are gifted with from the Holy Spirit, but as far as being ‘charismatic’, my understanding of being charismatic did not equal anything positive — especially for my own identity. So, looking at what I was learning, I was approaching it completely from the perspective of “how does God want me to move forward in my own faithful service of God within my daily life.  Was I supposed to go back into active youth ministry and teaching?  Was I supposed to be doing more for committees like funeral luncheons or adult education programming?  How did God want me to serve my faith community in the coming months? I never saw it as being what I understood as ‘charismatic’.

Then, the following August, during a presentation at our parish, I had an experience that is hard to explain.  During the presentation, a friend who had been in the hospital and battling fluid on her heart and lungs started coughing during the talk.  I recognized the cough and immediately thought of my mom who used to cough like that.  So, I dropped my head and started praying for her.  As I did, I began to tremble and realized that I was trembling from an overwhelming sense of fear.  I remember feeling as if I couldn’t take a breath and remember thinking that this must be what my friend was feeling.  During this period, I was pretty engrossed in the prayer and feelings with my head down, but still knew that others helped my friend out of the seats in the Church to the back.  I remember that I was still trembling with fear and was so sad that she wasn’t going to be able to stay and hear the presentation.  And then, all of the fear was gone and I sat there stunned. Around me, it was if nothing had happened.  The presentation continued as if it hadn’t stopped.

I was left wondering what had just happened?  I knew I had the charism of intercessory prayer, but this was NOT what I had experienced before.  I had just felt an urge to pray for someone and when the urge hit, I did.  This experiencing and feeling within myself someone else’s feelings in such a surreal way was totally new.  When I talked to my friend, she said that she was definitely afraid when she couldn’t stop coughing, but then, the intensity of her fear lifted and she knew she was going to be okay.

To this day, I cannot explain why I felt her emotions so clearly or why I felt as if I had entered a trance myself while this was happening.  But, I reasoned that it all was good if it helped her to stay calm until the spell passed.

Then, in December, I attended a Cenacle at our parish.  I had never attended anything quite like that and had no idea that it was a ‘charismatic’ prayer gathering.  Everything started normally with exposition, adoration, and praise music.  So, I really wasn’t sure what to think when they started calling people to come to the front and be prayed over.  So, instead of watching and being skeptical, I put my head down to continue to pray in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament exposed on the altar.  Soft music was playing in the background and I just remember allowing myself to drift with the chanting of the music and focusing my thoughts on our Lord.  Then, I had an experience I will never forget!

I left that room and was in a space that was so beautiful with deep hues of blue, violet, purple and bright shining stars glimmering like diamonds in the light.  And it was SO peaceful and beautiful and then I saw someone come into that space and be greeted by Jesus and they came together and embraced and began spinning/dancing in circles similar to the Viennese waltz.  Pure joy filled me and the entire space as I realized that what I was seeing, experiencing was someone being welcomed into heaven.  I knew this place was indeed heaven and I was being given a great gift to be witnessing what I saw.

During this time, I was aware constantly of where I was physically and would occasionally come back in my spirit to the church and the service.  I was aware that someone was standing over me and watching over me while I was in prayer and I assumed it was one of the students that the Sisters had brought from ISU to be ‘catchers’ of those falling into the arms of God when they prayed over them.  But, I wasn’t concerned about earth, I just wanted to go back to that peace and beauty I found in prayer.  So, I went back again.  Sadly, I became aware that I couldn’t stay there and needed to come back.  And so, very reluctantly, I allowed myself to become aware of my true surroundings again and fully ‘wake’ from the prayer trance I was in.

When I sat back up, I was stiff from sitting as I was for so long, but mostly I was confused.  What did I really see?  Why did God want me to see that?  Who was it that was welcomed into heaven?  What was I supposed to do with this now?  What was God asking me to do with this?  Who could I even talk to about this who wouldn’t think I was totally and completely off my rocker?  And probably, the most confusing question — Why me???

This whole experience left me in a state of shock.  I wanted answers!  After the service, I talked with a couple of friends and told them what I had experienced.  Neither of them had seen the person standing over me watching over me and actually said that no one was over my way standing during the service.  Did I imagine it?  They weren’t sure what to say, so they took me over to introduce me to one of the Sisters who led the Cenacle to talk to her, but she was busy.  Instead, our pastor, Fr. Steve came walking over.  So, Linda had me tell Fr. Steve what I had experienced.  When I finished, I asked him what it all meant and what I was supposed to do with it.  He said that I had experienced what is known as ecstasy in prayer and that I should just enjoy it.

His answer calmed me somewhat, but it still didn’t answer the underlying question I was feeling deep in my soul, why me???  First, the experience of taking on another’s fear and now this vision of someone being welcomed into heaven.  Why Lord?  What are you asking of me?

Then, as I was struggling with my own internal questions, Ray and I entered into the diaconate inquiry stage as Ray was discerning whether he was being called to the holy order of the diaconate.  So, much of what I was asking took a back seat as I knew my current calling was to be by his side and support him.  During the sessions of inquiry, we were asked to do an exercise to identify our strengths.  This to me just seemed to be a different way to look for the charisms God has gifted us with and so I eagerly took the test.  Maybe this would help me answer some of the lingering questions I had after taking the Called and Gifted Spiritual Gifts Inventory!

Once again, while the results rang true, they still left me befuddled.  What am I to do with this information Lord?  Once again, I see and know that what it is saying is truth, but it still isn’t telling me what You want from me and what You want me to do with now! (Need I say that I am constantly battling the sin of impatience?)  In some ways, it was pulling me into a deeper quandary as I tried to understand how Ray and I  with such total opposite strengths could possibly work together.  Instead, I began questioning whether I was uncovering why there were issues within our marriage and wondering what we could do with this information to strengthen our marriage before it caused more harm than good.

Then, one day while driving down the road, this song by Plumb, “God Help Me” popped up on the radio and immediately captivated me.  The song just seemed to put all of the turmoil I had been struggling with into words!

There is a wrestling in my heart and my mind
A disturbance and a tension I cannot seem to drive
And if I’m honest, there’s quite a bit of fear
To sit here in this silence and really hear You

What will You ask of me?
Will I listen to Your voice when You speak?

What will You ask of me Lord?  What ARE You asking of me Lord?

Why am I experiencing these things?

Will I listen to what You are telling me?  AM I listening to what You are telling me?

Are you already telling me the answers but I am just not willing or able to listen?

Do I really want to know?

That fear!  Why is it so strong?

Why me??  I’m not someone special.  I’m not anyone important, and who will even listen to me?  I’m a nobody!

Sometimes things, they are black and white
Sometimes they are not and that leaves us torn inside
And in the middle, we are left to wonder
Who we are, what You want and where we’re going

Oh such a mystery
I don’t always understand
But I believe!

Life!  Life is mystery: constantly changing and constantly challenging us.  After going through the inquiry of the diaconate, we suddenly found ourselves once again questioning.  What are you calling us to Lord?  As the line in the song says perfectly – who are we?  What do You want?  Where are we going?  Life is such a mystery and yet through it all, I believe!  I believe that You are guiding us.  We question and want to know the path you’ve set for us and yet we also know without a shadow of doubt that You are guiding us to where You need us to be.  You’ve drawn us through these shadows and we know that we will come out on the other side stronger and better.  You’ve shown us this time and time again throughout our lives.  But, it is NEVER a ‘fun’ journey.

I don’t know the future, it’s one day at a time
But I know I’ll be okay with Your hand holding mine
So take all my resistance
Oh God I need Your grace
One step and then the other
Show me the way!

I’m learning, albeit pretty slowly, that it’s best to take this all one day, one moment, and one step at a time.  I can’t seem to find my own way as I am learning that I am spiritually blind, but if I take Your hand Lord, I can pick my way through this new path You are showing me one step at a time.

Minute by minute, You guide me!  Gradually, You are helping me to lower walls that I have built around my heart and to open myself to new experiences.  You, Lord, are helping me to trust again completely and to surrender myself to You and Your messages.

Your words, Your messages, and Your images are coming to me so often now!  I am no longer as afraid as I was, even when I don’t understand.  I am learning to trust and speak to others about these images.  And the more I trust and speak of them, the more You are giving me!

In today’s second reading from James, the following passage truly spoke to me:

Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you
and is able to save your souls.

 

This is exactly what it feels like when an image comes to me!  When I am praying, an image, a picture, or a word comes to me and it feels like it has been planted within me.  And I feel a compulsion to let it grow and then share its life with others.  It isn’t a comfortable feeling.  In fact, for someone who considers herself a pretty conservative, traditional Catholic who really isn’t comfortable with the charismatic movement within the Church, this is definitely NOT in my comfort zone.  And yet, as uncomfortable as I am, I recognize that this is NOT my choice, but God’s.  I am not worthy of His trust, and yet I can’t seem to deny anymore that He seems to trust me more than I trust myself.  I really don’t know what He has in store for all of this which is REALLY challenging my control issues, but do I have an option?

I don’t think so.  So, I surrender, Lord.  Do with me what You need, but first — Lord, all I ask is….

Help me to move, help me to see
Help me to do whatever You would ask of me
Help me to go, God help me to stay
I’m feeling so alone here
And I know that You’re faithful
But I can barely breathe
God help me!

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Switchbacks on the journey

switchback

[swich-bak]
  1. a highway, as in a mountainous area, having many hairpin curves.
  2. Railroadsa zigzag track arrangement for climbing a steep grade.
  3. British. roller coaster

Most roads aren’t straight or level.  Many roads have steep inclines or sharp turns on them.  There are those stretches where everything goes along smoothly with few bumps, turns or challenges in the road.  But, those sections of journeys are usually of short duration especially in the spring after a hard winter!  Winter’s cold and ice definitely take a toll!

When my husband and I got married, we went to Hawaii for our honeymoon.  When we stayed on the island of Maui, we decided to take a day to travel the ‘road to Hana’.  This is a beautiful stretch of road around one end of the island of Maui with breathtaking views and waterfalls at the end of the road.  BUT, the road itself was treacherous!  It was full of switchbacks as it traversed around the side of the mountain/volcano.  One side of the road was sheer rock wall while the other was a sheer drop to the ocean.  The road itself was only wide enough for two regular cars with room for a sneeze between the cars.  That would have been fine except that as we were driving it, there weren’t just cars coming from the other direction, but trucks too!  Needless to say, MANY prayers were prayed that we would complete the drive in one piece!

When I think of the passages from Luke 24:13-35 about the Road to Emmaus, I tend to picture in my mind a path just like the artist Zund painted in 1877:  smooth, fairly level, slightly dusty, but wide, safe and easy to travel.  But, the reality is that Jerusalem is actually in a hilly region of the low mountain range known as the Judean Mountains or sometimes known as the Hebron Hills.  So, the path was probably not level, smooth or easy to travel.

I like to remind myself of these facts as I walk my path to Emmaus, learning and talking with Him, I shouldn’t anticipate the journey to be easy.  Walking with Jesus is anything but easy!!  So many times, I find myself walking along with confidence when all of a sudden, the path just seems to disappear among rocks and rubble and we have to pick our way slowly and carefully searching for signs and clues to make sure we are going the right direction.  Or we are traveling along and see a wall of stone in front of us and we have to detour around it while trying to not lose our way.  There are also times where we are climbing uphill with the climb getting harder each hour, but then we start downhill and if we aren’t careful, we can get ahead of ourselves and get lost on the path.

Lord, we ask that You continue to have patience with us as we walk this path.  We are clumsy at following you and keep stumbling over pebbles in our path and getting confused when the path meets a stone wall or seems to disappear altogether.  Please continue to be our guide and our companion as we walk!  We ask for no other companion but You!

 

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Mary, Mother of Sorrows

Lent.  A time to quiet ourselves and repent allowing us to come closer to Christ.  As I have entered into Lent this year, I am emotionally at an all time low.  Life is hard.  There is no other way to look at it or to understand it.  It is so easy to just go with the flow and not stop to look at the small details of our lives.  But sometimes, life forces us to just stop.

As a mother of five beautiful daughters, I have always accepted that they are each wonderful blessings and that God has invited us to share with Him the wonders of watching life through their eyes as we guide them to their ultimate purpose on earth as well as our own purposes – to be ONE with God.  As a woman, I remember kneeling before Mary at our wedding ceremony and asking her to guide me in my role as wife and eventually mother.  I knew Mary.  Or thought I did.  I knew her to be a calm, loving, always supportive woman who was the epitome of what God wanted and needed in His Son’s mother.  That’s what I wanted to be.  I thought.

Over the years, I have strived to be like her.  I experienced an intimate mystical time with Mary and Christ while in adoration one day.  I was sitting in adoration feeling sorry for myself and crying out to God.  God answered me that day by coming and sitting next to me in a mystical way.  Beforehand, I was cold, trembling, beside myself with sadness and then, I knew peace, warmth, unconditional love from a presence I physically felt next to me.  I heard Jesus say to me that His mother, was my mother too.  And then I felt warmth, peace and love from the other side of me and knew without a doubt, that Mary, the mother of Jesus was sitting next to me and embracing me as well.  I was in a heavenly embrace between Mother and Son and nothing was ever the same!

After this experience, I felt closer yet to Mary and found that my favorite prayer in times of need is the Memorare.  She has never failed me and has always answered me.  But, now I am being challenged to learn another side of her.  That peaceful exterior comes at a great cost.  And I am learning just how great a cost it really is/was!

Image result for The seven swords Mary image

Seven weeks ago, I had two of my children sick.  Never a fun time!  The youngest had an upper respiratory bug and my 2nd oldest had an ear infection.  So, on our way we went to the doctor the next morning.  Meds for both and all will be well.  Right?  Nope.  The youngest recovered and went back to school and onward with life.  #2 daughter didn’t.  Over the next couple of weeks, new meds didn’t work and things were getting worse.  Something just wasn’t right.  Then, with her health getting worse, we ended up at the hospital where she was admitted.  The infection in her ear had moved to mastoiditis and had gone blood borne/sepsis.  They were also exploring other strange symptoms that had been popping up like edema in her legs, coughing, and back pain.  After a long few days with lots of tests, surgery on her ear, a biopsy of her kidney, we were given a diagnosis of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus which was attacking her kidneys.  She was diagnosed with Level III and Level V lupus nephritis.

When this all was happening, it wasn’t possible to really take it all in.  Our only focus?  Get her better!  Now, that life is settling down though, reality is setting in and understanding is settling in.  Understanding isn’t fun.  Especially when you are facing the realities of the disease your child is facing.  Realities that:

  • there is no cure
  • there is no prediction for how she will feel each day as each day is very different
  • the costs of the medical care and treatment is staggering
  • pain is now part of your child’s daily life – pain that includes descriptions like “someone’s trying to tear my arm off”
  • pill cases and medicine protocols are now part of daily life
  • looking to the future means a very blurry image including the realities that there may not be a future
  • Facing the fact that you may outlive your child and in the process, you will walk with them on their own road to Calvary

That last one ……  man what a doozy!  But, we aren’t promised an easy life.  Mary did it.  I’m praying and leaning on her strength as I try to do it too.  Mary trusted in her God.  So, here is my attempt….. Jesus, I trust in You!!  The more I say it, the easier it gets — right?

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In sickness and in health…

Sickness.  Busyness.  Craziness.  All of these things are tools that Satan uses against us.  Crankiness tends to follow.  And with crankiness, comes impatience, frustration and a lot of misunderstanding.  But, what do you do when the the crankiness, impatience and frustration comes out in sarcasm or harsh words?  And then, the harsh words hurt and ignite old wounds from our past?

At least, that is the pattern that happens around here.  It is so hard to ignore the hurt feelings and open yourself up to interact intimately with your spouse when their words hurt/wound us.  Especially when their words follow a pattern from your past which NEVER led to closeness or good feelings, but only pain.

Even knowing that it is the frustration and sickness talking and not the way they really feel, it is hard to convince yourself to offer the other cheek and dive back into the fray of life. But, I’ve learned that I have to be open and let my spouse know that his words have hurt me.  Not usually when the hurtful words are being said (that would just be insanity), but later at a calmer moment.  When I’ve done this, he usually doesn’t even realize what he said as he is too caught up in his own frustrations/discomfort.

So, why do I do this?  Why do I open myself day in and day out to more pain?  Why?  Because of my vow.  I stood on the altar and vowed to love him the way that God loves me.  Freely, totally, faithfully and fruitfully.  I can’t live out my vow and withhold part of myself.  I know my husband and I know that he loves me.  I also know that he is human and prone to the same errors that I am.  He has his own set of internal hurts, walls, and defense mechanisms.  And God calls me to love him in spite of them.  I wish I could say that when his words come out harsh, that I don’t tense up inside, say some pretty harsh things back and start to shut myself off from him.  I wish I could say that instead of doing that, I pray for him.  I do sometimes.  But, not nearly enough.  But, I am trying.

God grants me mercy each and every single morning.  How can I not give my spouse the same mercy?  Together – we are one.  We have been joined into one being through this powerful Sacrament of marriage.  Turning away from him would be like cutting off my own leg.

So, we each battle the voices/demons in our heads that call us to hide behind our walls and try to tell us to walk away when the going gets tough.  But, mostly — we need to remember God’s way is the only way and surrender it all to him.  No, I’m not perfect.  But, I am trying.

** disclaimer — this is not to say that if a person is in a marriage and is being emotionally or physically harmed that they should stay.  Those are different circumstances from what I am discussing.  In harmful situations, please seek help through any of the Domestic Violence programs in your area.

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Super “me” is feeling the effects of my own personal Kryptonite!

When I’m feeling stressed and overwhelmed (which has been pretty much life lately), I count on others around me to pick up the slack while I work through whatever is being thrown at me.  Lately, that has been the audit.  Meetings started this week with the auditor and I now have a face to put on the nameless terror of my nightmare.  She seems very nice.  The reality is that she can really hurt our family and I’m remembering how the previous auditor in 2008 seemed very nice until she swept the floor with us for trusting our accountant.  When she laid down the verdict in the final meeting, she wasn’t nice, warm or fuzzy.  Instead, we walked into the meeting stone faced and stone faced she remained throughout the sentence pronouncement.  She acknowledged that she understood that we had followed the advice of our accountant and then looked at me sarcastically and asked if I really thought anyone in their right mind would think that was legal.  *sigh*  So, in essence, she saw us as stupid which we obviously were as we didn’t even see it coming.

Fast forward to now…..  After the drilling of thousands of questions regarding how we handle money of any kind for our business and personal uses which lasted over 3 hours, this new auditor asked me if I had any questions.  I simply asked one thing… “How long will this last so that I can plan my time for the business and our home life around this?”

Her reply was cautious saying, “I’m not sure how long this will take to work through.  Do you have something important coming up that we might have to work around?”

Thinking quickly and thinking that this was still a ways off and expecting  a response along the lines of — oh, it won’t take that long, I said, “Well, my daughter is getting married in early January and it would be nice if this was done before then.”

Her response?  She said while shaking her head in doubt, “I’m not sure that will be possible, but I will try.”

Seriously?!?!?!?!  There went my holidays.  My nightmare will not be going away anytime soon.  It will continue to haunt me into the coming year.

So, in the midst of my working with the auditor for 2 full days, life at the clinic went chaotic.  With dh planning on being away at the end of the week for the state convention, appointments for the week had been condensed into 4 days versus 5.  Add to that, a colleague’s wife passing away and needing us to cover their appointments as well, and our appointment schedule blew up.  Dh is great and I love him so much, but he doesn’t handle being overwhelmed well.  His melancholic personality tends to take him into the dumps and everyone around him feels the effects.  So, when I got back to the office after 2 days with the auditor (which within one hour, she found something that the accountant obviously didn’t see and didn’t count in the return and which was from dh’s side job which just added more stress to him) and most of the day on Wednesday at a seminar and webinar, attitudes were tense and very stressed.  It took much of the morning, listening to, caring for, and cajoling attitudes to a more positive mood.  As I said to dh, we are stressed.  That much is obvious.  BUT, our employees and customers are counting on us to be upbeat and positive to help them through the stresses they are experiencing as well.  That as the manager/leader, we needed to set the tone.  So, thankfully, that helped him and pulled all of us into a better working frame of mind.

Reality??  Due to dh’s temperament, I realized for the hundredth time that this is all on me in so many ways.  I need him to stay positive and to stay strong so that our business continues to run smoothly through this tough stressful time.  I need his strength and support to help me get through this and in order for that to happen, I need to stay positive to keep him positive.  I can’t let on to him how stressed I am as the more stressed I feel, the worse he feels.  So, staying positive in everything is the goal.

But, my own personal Kryptonite brought me down!  What is you might ask?  My own personal Kryptonite is chaos in my home.  When my life is going nuts around me, I need the order of my home to counter the rest of life’s chaos.  Order at home allows home to be my sanctuary and stronghold.  So, when I came home from work on Friday, tired and drained after a day of trying to catch up and do the work I normally would accomplish in five days in the 2 and 1/2 I had, I was looking forward to going to a fun evening watching a comedy play at the high school #3 dd goes to with the kids.  But, when I called en route to make sure they were eating and to give them an ETA on my return, I found that they hadn’t even made dinner yet.  Then, when I walked in, I found 1 child playing in the middle of the living room with toys EVERYWHERE, another sitting reading a book, another messing with her hair and the other running around trying to do all that she should have done all day in 10 minutes before we had to leave.  My house was NOT in order.  It too, was chaos.  So, the mean mom in me came out as I started to ask a few questions.  I quickly found out that no one had washed any dishes all day and my kitchen was trashed.  My living room was trashed with toys that the youngest had pulled out to play with all day since there was no school.  I found that the one who was rushing around trying to do everything quickly, had not done any homework for school (she was off all day too) even though she has homework due on Monday, has 8 missing assignments, and is flunking a class which is required for her to graduate in May.  And to top it all off, the oldest one at home had slept in until she had to get up and go to work at 10 am and then had been playing with hairstyles vs doing any of her household duties even though that was her only time to do anything since she worked all day today AND even though she had not done any of said chores which were supposed to be done weekly for the previous 4 weeks.

That became the straw that broke this camel’s back.  I can go a LONG time without water, but I am not invincible.  My Kryptonite exposure was walking into my home yesterday to find a bunch of hooligans had taken over our house and had disguised themselves as my children.  So, now I have to stay positive and upbeat for my dh and I have no stronghold/sanctuary to come home to.  Instead I have to stay strong and focused as all of the years of training I have already done for my children falls apart if I am not the constantly vigilant parent guiding/disciplining my children.

The reality is that I’m not Supermom, Supermanager, Superwife or anything super.  I just feel as if I have to be so everyone else can be super in who God is calling them to be.  Days and weeks like this last one makes me wonder where I can just be myself when I don’t have to be someone or something for everyone else.

Oh yea — my second sanctuary — God and retreat!  Only 5 more days, and I get to be me.  Finally!  Now that it is one hands’ worth of days, I need to start counting down hours…..  as of right now, that would be 122 hours (of which 40 of them should be sleep, so only 82 hours of being alive/aware before I get to leave. 😀

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running back to Jerusalem

This evening I had a previously scheduled meeting with my spiritual director.  I almost cancelled it due to the piles of papers burying me as I prep for the meeting with the auditor on Monday.  But, I knew that I seriously needed a break as I was having trouble focusing on the simplest of tasks.  So, I went.  I vented.  I whined.  I vented some more about how unfair this was.  I whined again.

Then, my SD (saint that he was to have listened so far and just smiled at me with a patience that I never would have been able to have) started to ask questions.  Questions that made me think.  Questions that made me realize just how far I had let myself get off track.  Questions that I knew the answers to, but was refusing to even consider.  Instead, I turned my back on even asking them so that I didn’t want the truth of my selfishness staring me in the face.

See, the more I focus on myself, the more I can justify how lousy the hand I’ve been dealt is.  The more I focus only on my problems and issues, the larger those problems and issues can be.  The more I focus inwardly on silly ol’ me, the less I have to look outward.  Instead of focusing on the graces God has bestowed on me, the more I let myself whine about what I don’t have.

When I had the nightmare last week, I experienced fear like I haven’t known before.  In the light of day (and especially in the light of God’s abundant Grace), I can see that instead of looking to Him, I looked inward and was afraid.  I am not capable of much, if anything, on my own.  But, with God, I can handle anything.

As we finished our discussion tonight, my SD asked me one final question.  “What is the difference between the apostles walking on the road to Emmaus before they met Jesus and after?”   I thought about it and wondered if it was because at first they were afraid but then after they saw Jesus so clearly in the breaking of the bread, they didn’t need to fear because they had seen the reality for themselves.  But, it goes deeper than that.  If you really think about it, on the first part of the journey, they were walking away from Jerusalem.  When their eyes were opened to the risen Christ, they RAN back.  So, initially, they were moving away from God and then when they experienced the risen Christ, they RAN back.

So, when we are afraid and are so caught up in our fear that we can’t ‘feel’ God with us (as I was after the nightmare), we are like the disciples on the road to Emmaus.  But, like the disciples, our ultimate destination isn’t to remain in that fear, but to turn around and RUN home to our God who is waiting for us with open arms.

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hope vs. darkness

The nightmare continues as I prep for this audit.  The information request document is 18 pages long.  One item listed ALL bank statements, cancelled checks and deposit slips for all passbook, checking, savings and investment accounts for you, your spouse and all of your dependents.  That is just one item out of 112 items we have to prepare/gather.  An understatement would be that I am overwhelmed.

I have had to take time away from my office to work on this.  Time away for anyone who has a job where they are the only one doing said job is just going to mean being even more overwhelmed when I do get back to my desk.  All of this just feels like such a weight on my shoulders!  I am finding myself vacillating between hope and sheer blackness.  It is easiest to just ignore it and go on with life as if it isn’t there.  But, I have never been described as an ostrich before and really don’t know how to act like one.  Instead, I tend to stick my foot in the middle of the melee and then wonder why I can’t walk when my foot gets crushed.

Today, my accountant crashed my dreams of ignorance by telling me that this won’t be done at 5 pm on Nov 12th after the IRS gets to tour our business.  Instead, he told me that this will take months.  So, after I blacked out and regained consciousness, I find myself battling the darkness/nightmare again as I try to comprehend how anyone can survive the weight of this process for that long of a period, let alone through the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.  And then of course, for one of the events mothers wait for and when the last thing I want to be doing is worrying — my oldest daughter’s wedding.  The first in our family to be married.  My first daughter starting her own family and life the way God has intended for her.  I want this to be a time of joy and celebration for the wonderful gift she is to us as well as to celebrate the wonder and hope that God has in store for her within her new family and the next generation of ours.   Instead, I will still be battling this monster?

I may need to take lessons on being an ostrich.  If only I could find one that can give me lessons before I hyperventilate. Sooner rather than later preferably!

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Nightmare

I had a nightmare the other night that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind since. When I woke up in the middle of the dream, I had that ‘otherworldly’ feeling and had to convince myself that it was just a dream and not real. I didn’t sleep the rest of the night as my mind kept wanting to go back and have it end happily instead of with a feeling of impending doom. When I let myself drift off again, I went back into the dream, but instead of it ending happily (no matter how I tried to convince myself to think that way), it stayed in that level of fear that comes with all music changes in horror movies.

In my dream, I dreamed that there was a figure, probably a man, that would come in and out of people’s lives and kill. I had worked with this man before.  I knew him.  I knew how easily he could hurt people and not have any remorse.  He had tried to hurt me earlier and had caused me a lot of anguish and financial strain from which I was just beginning to recover.  When I heard he was back, I knew that he was after me to finish the job he had started years earlier.  In the dream, I remember hearing a gunshot and screams. There was a feeling of chaos and utter fear as we didn’t know where the killer was. We all tried to hide and went into a closet to hunker down to wait until the good guys came and stopped him. The good guys came and searched. They looked everywhere but the man was like a ghost and disappeared easily without getting caught. Then, after everyone else stepped out of the closet and I went to stand up, I felt a wisp of a breath on my neck and quickly realized that the man was right there behind me. I couldn’t avoid him anymore and I was next.  I wasn’t going to get away this time.

That was when I woke up.

As I woke up and realized I was in my own bed, in my own bedroom and it was all a dream, I tried to put the dream into perspective.  So, I tried to think of what was happening in my life that would take my mind along this path.  I immediately knew who the man was in the dream. The ‘man’ in my dream was/is the IRS. Since receiving the letter in the mail about being audited again, I have been feeling a heavy weight of fear and impending doom. I am battling feelings of stress and fear like I’ve never known before. I just want to cry out and let everyone know that I am sorry — that any mistakes I made were because I’m a fraud! I don’t know what I am doing most of the time. I always feel totally incompetent whether it is in the financial matters, as a manager of the business, as a wife, as a mother, when I was a homeschooling mother. All of it seems to overwhelm me, and so I’ve learned to wear a mask and smile so that no one knows that what they see is just a fake shell and that the real me is an ugly, stupid, whimpering, whining mess of a person who is clueless.

This audit is the killer. It is the piece that will totally and utterly show everyone the real me. It will show that I really don’t know what I’m doing and that instead of speaking up sooner and finding someone competent, I have pulled my whole family down into financial ruin.

As I feel the wisp of the breath of the auditor right behind me, I feel complete fear. I am struggling to break away from the lure of the fear to turn to God. I have tried praying the St. Michael’s prayer to rid me of this feeling of evil trying to take over my life. I have prayed the Memorare but have found myself fumbling with the words as my focus is so hypnotically drawn back to the fear.  I have never felt so alone and scared.  Others are reaching out, but I know that ultimately, it comes down to me.  I am the one who has kept track of the books and the finances.  I am the one who is clueless but is just trying to do what is in front of me as it comes.  I am the one who just does what she is told when she is told…. if I remember.  I am the one who is ultimately responsible for the bill that will come from the IRS.  And I have no doubt that there will be a bill.  Our first experience with an audit 6 years ago showed me that.  They will find something and that something will then be multipled exponentially due to time and finance charges/interest and it will lead to the demise of life as we know it.  When we were audited before, it was with our first business and involved just the two of us.  Now, it involves everyone who works for us.  Their lives, our lives, our clients lives, the life of the business  —-  all of them are dependent on me not screwing up.  That is where they will learn that I am really just a fraud and have no idea what I am doing.

The fear continues.  The fear grows.  The fear is with me every second breathing down my neck.  Right now, as the darkness threatens to overtake me during this time of preparation, I am clinging to the thought that there may be a light somewhere at the end.  I can’t see it now and the fear makes me think it isn’t really going to be there, but I need to cling to that hope.

The only glimpse of solace I have found recently that holds the fear at bay for a few minutes is the Prayer for Courage from St. Joan of Arc:

Dear God, give me courage for perhaps, I lack it more than anything else!

I need courage before men against their threats and their seductions.

I need courage to bear unkindness, mockery and contradictions.

I need courage to fight against the devil, against terrors, troubles, temptations, attractions, darkness and false lights,

against tears, depression and above all, fear.

I need Thy help, dear God! Strengthen me with Thy Love and Thy Grace!

Console me with Thy blessed Presence and grant me the courage to persevere until I am with Thee, forever, in Heaven!

Amen.

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the swiftly changing tides

Oh how time flies!  The thoughts of doing regular reflections/blog posts again has been on my mind for a bit.  So, tonight, when I couldn’t sleep, I decided to pull it up and begin anew.  As I did, I couldn’t help but look back and realize how much and how little has changed since my last blog post.  I’m still a wife and a mother.  But, I am no longer a homeschooling mom.  I am now a mother with 3 children in private Catholic schools and working a full-time job as the Practice Manager at my husband’s practice.  Life has changed dramatically in the last 2 months.  I’m not sure I have caught up with all of the changes yet.  We are all still working out how this all comes together.  This is almost as big of a paradigm shift as it was when we left the school system and started homeschooling.

Along with work/home life changing, life is taking another change in that we will be moving into the next season of parenting soon — that of parents of a married child and soon to be mother/father-in-laws.  I’m not sure yet which part is scarier.  That I have a daughter old enough to be getting married, or that my soon to be son-in-law might consider me to be a pain as so many sons-in-law feel about their MIL.  I guess time will tell whether I will be a witch or a friend like my MIL is for me.  I pray that it is more of a friend.

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My name is Kelly and I’m a sinner

Hello, my name is Kelly and I’m a sinner.  I seem to be in a mood for a bit of self-revelation tonight.  See, others seem to think I don’t know my own foibles, weaknesses, and sins.  They seem to think I just want them to look at me and tell me, “You’re an angel.”  Well, if they did that, I would look at them and ask, “Now, who is lying?”

I have made a big error in judgement.  I assumed that those I spend a huge chunk of time with each day and who smile and nod and act like they care about me, really don’t.  In fact, not only do they not care about me, they call me names behind my back.  They say one thing to my face and say the exact opposite when I’m not there.  When I thought we were each working toward the same basic goal, I found out that we had two totally different goals.  Mine is to run an honest, hardworking business where every person we work with is part of our larger extended clinic family.  Theirs is to get a paycheck and do whatever they deem necessary to keep getting that check.

My second error in judgement?  To expose my kids to these false relationships as well.  Because of my time being needed by my kids through homeschooling and my time/presence being needed at the business, I had combined both so that I could pop between duties on a regular basis.  I loved the experience of having my kids with me and yet still being able to help my husband as well.  But, instead of them getting an education about how business works and how to serve others through your work, I have exposed them to the same hurt that I have experienced — feeling betrayed by those who seemed to be care about us.  The biggest problem with this?  I can deal with the feeling of betrayal.  I’ve experienced it before and will more times through my life.  My brain can process the realities and can help my heart along with knowledge.  But, my kids don’t have that ability to process what happened. And so, I hurt even more at their confusion and pain especially because ultimately, I know I was the cause of their pain.  If I hadn’t exposed them to that experience, they wouldn’t have been hurt.

For a while there, I felt a level of pride.  That I was actually following God’s will and still providing for the needs of the girls and providing the support for my husband.  I felt like I had actually figured out how to balance and keep spinning all of these plates.  In fact, the last post I made was about a vision that instead of having all of these different plates to keep spinning, I really only had one plate.  That plate had different items with different weights, but that it would be possible for me to balance out those different weights and keep the plate spinning evenly.

Well, that was the hope.  That was the dream.  That was actually the illusion.  I find it interesting that as soon as I thought it was humanly possible to do such a thing, life as I knew it crashed and became a huge mess.

So, why do I say I’m a sinner?  Because, I am.  I can see now looking at my recent thoughts and patterns that I was letting Satan into my thinking.  I can’t do anything on my own, especially what I thought I was doing.  I am the weakest and most fragile being on my own.  On my own, I can do nothing.  I was praying and I was telling God what I needed to do.  I wasn’t asking.  I was telling.  I did at one time ask God to help me do it and to guide me in doing it.  But, doing it wasn’t an option in my mind.  In fact, when a priest questioned me on whether I really should be doing what I was trying to do, I felt angry.  How could he question me on that?  He didn’t know my life.  He didn’t know my options.  He didn’t know me and couldn’t judge me.  So, instead of hearing his question and examining it, I closed my mind and heart to the question and in so doing, closed my heart to God and set off on my own path.

So, whether I have done the sins I was accused of the other day or not, I know without a doubt one sin I have done.  I re-played the role of Eve from Genesis that we heard about in the readings at Mass today.  Just like Eve, I thought I could be as wise as God and that I could do this on my own.  Instead of realizing that I am a creature born with original sin, a sin which continues to challenge and tempt me every day to not need God, I thought I was God and could control my own life.  How much worse can it get? All other sin pales in comparison to this one.

Overall, reflecting on the past few days, I want to thank God for the pain and hurt I have been feeling.  This open wound humiliates me and cleanses me.  This pain is truly a gift of mercy.  Thank you Lord for this gift of pain!  Your gift Lord is my salvation!

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