Thursday, February 26, 2015

Thursday thoughts

I've found it rather refreshing to be away from the facebook thing over the past week.  Though it wasn't specifically asked of me by Fr. Eric, I decided that a fast from something I spent a lot of time looking at was a good idea.  I do miss the interaction with my friends.  Facebook connects Mamas like me, who are home all day to school and raise up our families, with the outside world.  The added factor of living a fair distance from the main action means that I frequently feel isolated and lonesome.  I know there are other Mamas out there who will know just what I mean.  Although I am surrounded by my babies, I long for the conversation and company of other adult people, mostly other women.  I need the connection of hearts and souls that comes with the bond between women.

It's more challenging than one might think.  Trading child-minding with other Mamas is a good idea, but it falls more difficult for me.  My anxiety sometimes makes it difficult for me to prepare to leave the house, even for things I ought to look forward to.  And if it's a flare day for my fibro pain or my back, leaving the house can sometimes prove nearly impossible.  Sounds like a lame couple of excuses, I know, but it's what's put before me.

I continue to pray for so many friends.  I also continue to pray about just how much I can truly write here.  There are things which have happened that need to be thought out carefully and processed fully in my heart, but they are things which affect other people.  It's not always up to me what I can put down in my little space here.  Please pray for me in this.

Monday, February 23, 2015

To ask for suffering

Over the past couple of years, I've been praying for the grace to suffer well, as Fr. Eric says.  The spiritual work of mercy calls it "bearing wrongs patiently."  In addition to humility and patience, forbearance is what I struggle with most.

There's been plenty of opportunity, some of which I'll write about here, and some of which I just need to allow to rest in my heart.

I've found myself praying to ask for more opportunities to bear gracefully the challenges of life.

It seems that those around me are being placed in my life so that I have someone other than myself to pray for though.

I have a classmate who's fighting breast cancer.  She's one of the sweetest, most selfless people I know.  She has a beautiful family and a love for Jesus which inspires everyone around her.  Please pray for Jill.

I have another friend who so recently buried her husband.  He was diagnosed with cancer and died not even a month later.  He fought every second with amazing strength and grace and faith, always with a smile and a laugh, always with a word of encouragement for everyone around him.  His name was Paul.  Please pray for the peaceful repose of Paul's soul.  His beautiful wife is due any day now with their sixth child.  Sadly, babies four and five, twins, were lost to miscarriage last spring.  The joy of learning they were expecting again was radiant in both of them, along with their three little ones.  Now, this Mama and her babies are beginning to find ground beneath their feet again.  Please pray for Annie and their children.

My Darling has such a big family: his mom was one of fourteen children.  This year on Ash Wednesday, one of his uncles died very suddenly.  He was only 57 years old.  He leaves behind a lovely family--his beautiful wife, four children, and a passel of grandchildren.  Today we will attend his funeral.  Please pray for the peaceful repose of Ray's soul.  Please pray for his family.

We were told some very upsetting news at Mass yesterday: the mother of one of our dear priests was kidnapped.  Virginia lives in Nigeria.  The note left behind says that a ransom will be demanded for her release.  Please pray for Virginia.

There is so much to pray for, so many souls to love.  I thank you for joining me in prayer for those in my life.


There are joyful things in life, too!  Since Wednesday was Squash's birthday, and since GinGin's birthday falls at the very tail end of January (but we've been busybusybusy), we had a double birthday party yesterday.  And My Darling treated me specially: since we have so many big parties for birthdays, with many family and friends celebrating with us, he bought me a big double cake pan.  So yesterday's cake was lemon (requested by GinGin), and strawberry (requested by Squash)--two cakes, one pan, batters swirled together to make a delicious strawberry-lemonade cake.  We had six cousins, three uncles, three aunts, two Grandmas, and a Grandpa here to party with us.  It was great!

This is our Birthday Season.  It kind of tickles my Catholic funny bone a little bit that we have so many Lenten birthdays in our family.  Squash's doesn't always fall during Lent, but this year of course it was on Ash Wednesday.  Frog's is almost always during Lent, though usually closer to the beginning.  My Darling's is next, just 11 days after the Frog.  And Pickle will have his second Holy Week birthday this year.  I guess God has quite a sense of humor!


The book I'm reading, The Face of God, is absolutely beautiful.  I've always longed to visit holy Rome, but even moreso now, the more I learn especially, I find my desire shifting more toward Manoppello. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Three Years Hence? Indeed it has been.

I have begun this Lent by asking my spiritual director what he would ask me to focus on this year, in hopes of deepening my faith and my interior spiritual life.  For my physical mortification, he has instructed me to refrain from the sweeter things--sweet drinks, delicious treats, that sort of thing--while not neglecting fruits (and he did say I could have a bit of honey in my tea or a sall amount of sugar in my oh-so-necessary coffee.  It's actually more difficult for me than I had thought it would be: by default I often choose chocolate milk over white, or a bottle of orange Fanta rather than water.  And I love a couple of spoonsful of hot chocolate mix in my coffee, topped off sometimes with French vanilla cream...and so now as ever, I must be deliberate in my decisions, and this can only be a good thing.  I was thinking earlier about how much I could miss the sweet things.  And considering my love for chocolate, I really could miss them terribly!  But all the better for my soul, I do hope.  I've wanted to eliminate refined sugar for a long time.  It would be so good for me in so many I guess I ought to thank Fr. E for giving me this particular work.

His second assignment for me is to read a specific book.  We had a conversation about one of the places he loves to visit in Italy, namely Manopello, where there is displayed the image of Our Lord on mollusk silk.  The book to which he referred me is called The Face of God: The Rediscovery of the True Face of Jesus by Paul Badde.  I began reading it just last night, and I'm definitely hooked.  I love the tests that are done in attempts to authenticate things like this miraculous veil and the Tilma of St. Juan Diego from Guadalupe bearing the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe.  I was tired last night, and so I am still reading through the first chapter.  I hope to explore my understandings here.


I had forgotten what a refreshment it can be to come here to write.  I've left so much of myself by the wayside in recent months, even years, and find that I need to begin peeling back the layers once again.  It's astounding to me how drastically things can change in what seems an eternity whilst among the thorns of the valley, but in the grand scope even of temporal existence is truly a mere moment.  The past two years, especially, have been for me nothing short of early Purgatory while walking the Earth.  I dare to hope that some of the suffering here has done good for some poor soul on the other side of the veil of death.  Indeed, I offer willingly my hours of purification in profound supplication for the souls of those closest to me.  Don't ever forget the poor souls in Purgatory.  Pray for them, offer sufferings for them, and remember that someday you may well be joining them and existing in the hope that after your purification is complete, you shall behold His Face.


Last year at this time, I was in hospital.  I had been taken in because of back pain so severe I had been crawling about the house for a week.  I hated to go.  My babies needed me...but they needed me whole, and I was anything but.  During my stay, I was diagnosed with degenerative disc disease and fibromyalgia--which I had suspected for years, but since the diagnosis tends to be one of exclusion and something of a collection and tidy binding of symptoms, and since I scarcely ever went to the doctor before my hospitalization, I had no official diagnosis in my chart.

Suffice it to say, this last year has found me in search of various remedies for the pains which ail me on a continuous basis.  I have many good days.  I have days where, although I have pain, it does not plague me so intensely.  I have other days where I am glad to have a walker, or a cane, and I am always thankful to have my handicapped parking tag. 

I have found a tremendous respect for physical therapists.  My therapist is a gem--she's kind, she's funny, she's very knowledgeable, and she is enthusiastic about helping me strengthen my body so that I can live like a person rather than like a lump in a chair.  So many days I feel like just a lump in a chair.

Of late, I have been reducing the dosage of Cymbalta.  I had been taking 60 mg each day; by tomorrow, I will be taking 30 mg each day.  It's a very slow process, because to wean from this medication is to create a maelstrom of withdrawal effects.  It's awful.  Honestly.  The weaning process involves opening the capsules, counting the individual, tiny beads in each one, and removing a certain amount, increasing the amount removed each day.  Those who've been studying the process recommend that for each year a person has been on the medication, it should take six months to wean off of it.  I've only been on Cymbalta for six months, so I'm one of the lucky few who can take a larger number of beads out each day.

Math: not my friend.  This process: math.  Bah.  Humbug.

I take two 30 mg. capsules each day.  There are 250 beads in each capsule.  I am removing eleven additional beads each day.  This means that the weaning process will take me roughly 8 weeks by the time I'm done.  And tomorrow is the half-way point, thanks be to God.

So far, my withdrawal effects have been minimal: I've had a couple of really overwhelming headaches, plenty of brain fog, and some tidal waves of emotion.  Not always sadness or anxiety--but just emotion.  And as ever, My Darling remains by my side, supporting me and understanding me and holding me so I don't become exhausted while treading this water.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

It's been way too long.  A couple of years, even.  I need to resurrect my blog for so many reasons, not the least of which is to process the things that have happened in the last two or three years.

I know I left things open-ended and completely unresolved.  I'll work on fixing that, too.


Yesterday was my Pickle boy's ninth birthday, and it was also Ash Wednesday.  We had his cake and candles on Tuesday night so that we could share a nice treat and still properly honor the beginning of Lent in the spirit it's meant to encourage.

Today....well, today is the seventh anniversary of my losing Gabriel.  My heart is so conflicted, as ever.  It's a blessing to be Mama to a Saint, but it's also so hard to wait until I can see my baby.  It's something I think about at every Mass.