Tag Archives: faith

This Little Light of Mine

It’s been a long road. I kept telling myself that over and over, and somewhere along the way I got tired of hearing myself say it — first joking about it, then realizing how true it’s been. Then I started to think about just how exhausted I was — dragging myself around with a leg that didn’t move well, even though the femoral nerve was pretty much back, and learning that the cancer in my pelvis was now debilitating my hip and it created a stress fracture. The pain was getting worse. When did it all change so quickly? So it begins again…………..

I looked to God for the answers. I talked to him everyday, all the time, like he was with me, like I always did — but where was he, I couldn’t hear him anymore? I felt… hopeless. Whoa, what is going on? I completely trust God. I focused on that, but somehow, I don’t know I believed it anymore. He wasn’t answering my prayers. Okay, so his plan and mine aren’t meshing right now — I get all of that, but it was making me very sad. I prayed for God to send me light.

I knew that somewhere along this long road, I had to recharge the light inside of me. I was always so full of positive light in everything I did — always living large. That light got me through some of the darkest moments without ever losing faith or hope over the past 15 years. As disappointing as it is that I have to deal with this again, it had to still be inside of me.

Green trees with the glorious sunshine.

Green trees with the glorious sunshine.

When I was a kid, I would love to lay on my back and look up through the trees, at the stars shining like diamonds in the sky, under the Christmas tree with all it’s twinkling lights, or at the clouds on a blue-sky kind of day. Debbie and I used play a game — who could find the best shape in the clouds. There was always a dog. A face. The mane of a wild stallion. Maybe a cross. Or a streak of light breaking through the clouds. I used to pretend that streak of light would break out of the sky and shine directly on us from the Heavens. Hmmm. It had been a long time, but I decided to meditate and take myself back to our grassy front yard on a puffy cloudy, warm and sunny day to imagine this exact scenario. Only now Debbie and I are adults, but we still see some of the same things. I focused on the streak of light and imagined the light coming from Heaven into my body. I would send some to Debbie too, because she was fighting her own battle. Then I prayed, “God send us light.”

The plan came sometime in late February that we would genetically test my tumor cells. You’ve probably heard about that kind of stuff, but do you really know anyone who’s been through that? So regardless of my condition, it gave me something to be excited about! Well, the process was delayed by three weeks with an administrative error, but I eventually got the testing and the results, and there was a new drug — a targeted bio-agent that would kill my cancer cells. There were actually four, which I hear is fantastic, but only two had been approved by the FDA and my doctor sent both to my insurance company for approval. In the meantime, one of my other doctors did a cryoablation to help get rid of some of the pain I was having. About the same time, I got the news that the bio-drug was approved by my insurance company. We finally had a treatment plan!!! I thanked God for he was unveiling his plan, while continuing to pray. I had to wait three more weeks to start the treatments. This new drug would only “target” my cancer cells and not touch many of my normal ones, therefore there would be very little side effects and no hair loss. I was starting to shine.

One morning I woke up and the sun was coming in from the window in the bathroom on the back of the house. We have these nifty dual view honeycomb shades — you can pull them down from the top and a more sheer fabric appears, while still blacking out the bottom. We keep all the blinds in the bedroom and bathroom about 12″ from the top so we get a lot of natural light into the rooms. Well, that morning the sun was so intense, it shone through the sheer fabric and directly hit the large statue I have of Mother Mary that sits on my dresser — she stands about 22″ tall, looking down with her hands outward. And that light shone across her tiny hands and belly. I couldn’t believe it. I imagined the light was coming from Mary’s hands to me and I prayed, “Mother Mary, send me light.” Things were getting better. This was a sign. I was shining brighter!

All it really takes is a little morsel of some happy news in the right direction to put me on top of the world. If that happens, you can’t bring me down. I had my worst and best day this past Tuesday, in that order, and ever since then, this little light of mine, shines once again. I had gone to the hospital to have my blood work done — something I have to do every week during treatment. I had planned to take myself, but for some reason, the pain in my hip and leg was greater than it ever had been. This had me worried, but it didn’t matter at that very moment, I had an appointment at 9 am, so my sister took me. After my blood was drawn, my nurse took my temperature and blood pressure, and said, “Pam, do you have a fever?” It was reading 100.3°. I was like, huh? Yes, I mean, I’ve been having low-grade fevers all weekend, I’m not surprised. I promised her if it reached 100.5°, I would call my doctor.

Well, I got home later than planned, and my digital manager,  Jen and I had a call at 10:30. So I rushed in and up the stairs  — it’s like being in slow motion with my crutches and the pain! — Jen and I wrapped up in 15 minutes, because I could barely stay awake for the call. My eyes were so heavy — I could not stop it — something was pulling me to sleep. Pulling me… I woke up with a jump, completely soaked from head to toe, like I had taken a shower. Wow, it was so strange. So, so, so strange. I stood up, I had no pain. No fever. What had just happened to me? It was a sign. And today, my tears were happy ones.

God heals in unexpected ways — maybe it’s just some relief from the pain for a few days while I go through the process, or less anxiety as God speaks to my mind to tell me it’s going to be okay. While this journey is way too long in my opinion, I am following his plan for me.  Today I send light to all of you, my friends and family who have prayed tirelessly for me over the past few months. This too shall end, and nobody looks forward to that day more than me.

This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Ohhh, this little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine. Let it shine.

Always B E L I E V E !

Serve God joyfully. Let there be no sadness in your life: the only true sorrow is sin.
— Thirsting for God by Mother Teresa

Thinking of Dad with Laughter

Memorial Day — one of my favorite holidays when we remember those who served and those who gave their lives so that we can be free. In Pennsylvania, it’s the official kickoff to summer with a long weekend, usually warmer weather and family cookouts.

Friday, the 22nd was the funeral mass of a friend’s wife. I had never met her, but I knew about her illness as I talked about it with him. She had an aggressive form of cancer and he had asked me about mine. I prayed for her often and for peace for her family. I lit a candle for her when I heard about her cancer and then again when I heard she had passed away. I had no idea until I attended the mass just how much faith they had.

Thursday evening I was apprehensive about attending, because she was only five years older than me, and I was worried that I might be pensive the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t have been more wrong about that. In fact, I was inspired. I know that is an odd thing to say after leaving a funeral mass. I felt the same way when my Dad passed away and we left his funeral mass. It’s because I believed! I remember belting out “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left the church, and I knew in that moment that my Dad was with God!

Their family believed. During the eulogy, he told us their story — that they put all their faith and trust in God that he would make her well — but they knew if he didn’t that it was his Will. And either way it was a win-win situation for her. His faith was simple and beautiful. And he believed that everything came with a lesson and was teaching them something. He smiled and laughed — and he had peace, as did the rest of their family. As we sang “On Eagle’s Wings” as we left church, I thought of my Dad. Saturday was the anniversary of his death — May 23, 2002. It’s been 13 years.

I thought about my Dad all day on Saturday. Tom was servicing the jet ski, because we were taking it out to Shenango Lake on Sunday, even though the water was only 68°. If you’re careful, only your legs get wet — I figured we’d be okay as long as we didn’t fall in. We were going to church at 5 pm at St. Gregory, going out to dinner at the Waterhole after church, and then watching the fireworks show at Cooper’s Lake.

I talk to my Dad all the time, even though he’s not here. I pray for him everyday and then I talk to him. I’d just love to see him smile at me one more time. When I think of him, I remember a very fond memory of him where he is sitting on his bed watching TV and I go into the room and his face lights up — he grins and exclaims, “Pam! What are you up to?” And I jump on the bed next to him and give him a hug. I can recall his face so clearly and the sound of voice. I think of this all the time, because I never want to forget him.

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake

Pyrotechnics at Coopers Lake.

As we waited for the fireworks to start, I was thinking of how appropriate to watch fireworks on this day, because Dad loved a good fireworks show. We couldn’t hear the music during the fireworks, but I imagined something patriotic — in memory of Dad.

Sunday we headed out to the lake. Tom got up early and waxed the jet ski, because it was looking a little dirty and sun-faded from last year. That turned out to be a big mistake!!!

We met up with my brother Tommy and his fiancé, Gretchen and her son Sam who were already on the boat. After cruising around a bit, Tom and I went out on the jet ski for a couples ride. We didn’t do that often, because it’s not as fun with the extra weight on the jet ski. When we went back to the boat so Tom could get off, Tommy wanted to take the jet ski out with Gretchen. So we both decided to get off. And that’s when it happened.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Memorial Day on Shenango Lake.

Somehow Tom leaned the wrong way when I was supposed to get off and the jet ski started to tip, but as I tried to counter balance, my foot slipped on the side of the jet ski and boom — I was in the water before I knew what hit me. I twisted my bad leg and I’m not sure what I’ve done to it (I can’t put any weight on it when I go up the stairs). Tom also fell in — we were lucky that neither of us hit our head or were injured any worse. Tom’s leg was also stuck sideways in the jet ski.

Well after this fiasco, Gretchen and Sam no longer wanted to go on the jet ski. I told them that I have never fallen in — because that has never happened to me! Thanks Tom for waxing it and creating a super slippery surface. In the shock of what happened, I never even felt the 68° water temperature. So, after talking Gretchen and Sam into going, Gretchen starts to climb on the jet ski as Tommy is already seated on it and she slips on the super slippery surface and before you know it — she’s in the water too.

We got the biggest laugh about it on the way home. It was hysterical, and I wish we could have been on one of the boats around us. I’m sure they got a good laugh at our expense. These are the kinds of things that happened when we used to go boating with Dad. Despite my new injury, it was a great day. And I hope my Dad got a good laugh with us.

Always B E L I E V E !

Goodbye to St. Rose

So Saturday we went to my Mom’s house for Tommy’s birthday. I’m glad we did, because we planned to go to church with her at St. Rose and sadly, we realized that it’s one of the last few masses at that worship site. First they changed the name of the parish to St. Monica and now they’re doing away with masses at St. Rose. I guess change is never easy.

Let’s look at the facts. There’s nothing wrong with St. Rose. It’s a large church. It has ample parking. It sits on acres of land so there’s ample room for expansion. The church in Chippewa is jammed in among neighborhood houses. From what I understand, they’re going to buy those houses, tear them down and expand the church on that property. What happens if someone doesn’t want to sell?

I’m not going to blog what I really think, because it would be downright disrespectful. Plus, I told my husband on the way home that I’m upset because St. Rose has meant so much to me in my life. But even he agreed that the decision seemed ridiculous, because there is nothing wrong with the church. Not only isn’t there anything wrong with it, but it’s the nicer and the most comfortable of all the churches.

Again, I wish I could say what I really think about this subject. But I’ll hold my tongue, because I am no longer a parishioner there. But I will say that I can’t believe they’re going to ask the people that have held this worship site as sacred for their entire lives for the millions of dollars to build the new site. It’s so beyond ridiculous. Good luck with that.

I held back the tears as I sat in the pew at St. Rose. I was glad to have the chance to say goodbye. And as I listened to Father Schwartz give the homily, I realized it’s not about a worship site as much as it is about my relationship with God. But even as I left the church with those thoughts in my mind, I felt my heart harden just a bit — for it was too bad I wouldn’t be going to my hometown church ever again. I feel like so many things are slipping away with my faith. Would I become one of those people that didn’t have a connection with the church anymore? I pray not.

I’ll never forget St. Rose — so many memories. And yes, it will always be St. Rose to me. They may as well close it than to call it something else.

If today your hear his voice, harden not your hearts. Psalm 95:6-8.
Today I need to the strength to just have a little faith.

Prayer to Saint Rose of Lima
O Saint Rose,
you were filled with
the love of God
who enabled you
to leave the world
and be free for
Him through the austerity
of penance.
Please help me to follow
in your footsteps on earth
so to enjoy the torrent
of God’s delights
in heaven with you.
Amen.

What’s Tradition Anymore?

My morning radio station has been asking listeners to call in and let them know what kind of wedding they had and why. Was it a big wedding? A small wedding? In a church? On a beach? Why did you do what you did, and if you could do it all over again, what would you do differently? All kinds of crazy listeners called in. I think they probably aired the most outrageous.

“Yep, I had my baby at 17 and as soon as we could, we got married by Justice of the Peace. My daughter’s wedding will be big, since I didn’t get that,” one woman called in. Another caller was a guy who said that he got married in 15 minutes by the Justice of the Peace and then had lunch at McDonalds. Wow, I have no words for that one. Another girl called in and said planning was so stressful, she and her fiancé eloped. Another girl got married on the beach with 64 of her closest family and friends. She said it was three weeks of the most fantastic vacationing. Three days of these callers, all different, yet all the same. There was a major key missing with them all.

Megan and Aunt Pam

My niece Megan was so excited on my wedding day.

Not a single listener mentioned tradition. If you look at the history of weddings, they were rooted deep in faith and religion. Being married in a church, under God and witnessed by all those who love you is an important part of the marriage ceremony. If you’re from Pittsburgh, the city has all kinds of ethnical backgrounds, including Italians, Hungarians, Slovaks, Germans, Irish and Polish, among others in the wonderful melting pot of the 19th and 20th centuries — you’re familiar with tradition. The city celebrates St. Patrick’s Day with the second largest parade in the country. Pittsburgh is also home to Polish Hill, Little Italy, Troy Hill, Deutschtown and celebrations are held throughout the year, such as Oktoberfest, Little Italy Days, numerous religious parish festivals and so many more. And all these wonderful ethnicities celebrate the sacrament of marriage in all its grandeur through their religion.

My Mom and Dad’s wedding was held at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Beaver Falls, PA. Sadly, it’s no longer there. It was a magnificent church and a beautiful setting for the ceremony. I will sit and watch the 7 mm film, now translated to DVD, sometimes with my Mom. We try to identify as many relatives and friends as we can. I’m so sentimental and I cherish this video, knowing I’m lucky to have it. It’s such a period piece as well — from the 60’s — with the wonderful chic summer dresses the women wore to the shined up black sedans of the time. That was 51 years ago and it speaks of the same traditions I had at my own wedding just 13 years ago.

It’s sad to me that this tradition is no longer important to many people. Well, why would it be? Attending mass on Sundays is rarely practiced. We miss mass from time to time, but we always go the next week. My Catholic faith was always an important part of my life growing up. It reinforced our values and made us think about what we can improve in ourselves. It shows me the way every day and leads me in this life. Many people are leaving their religions to go to churches that are more secular. We are losing the traditions, so now weddings are quick and cheap, or crazy outrageous. Spending $10,000 on a wedding gown is almost as much as our whole wedding cost! It’s just ridiculous, materialistic and consumerism at its best. One show I watched on television had the mother of the bride replace all the carpeting in the reception hall, because “it didn’t match their colors and the style was sub-par to them.” Who are these people?

I do have an open mind, and try not to judge. I know people’s dreams are not the same as mine — one of my close friends was married on the beach in Aruba, and it was beautiful and a wonderful week of celebration. Other friends were married in Las Vegas with close friends and family. All true believers and faithful Christians. But, I am elated when I receive a wedding invitation to a Catholic ceremony in a Catholic church with a full Catholic mass. I am impressed when I hear about someone else’s wedding in the church — of any religion. I’m even more impressed when an employee tells me a story about going to mass twice at St. Paul’s Cathedral, because she and her husband had the time wrong, so they had to go back later. That’s dedication. And yes, it’s extra credit with me if all these are important to you too — that’s just who I am.

I believe in tradition and sacred vows! So for me, if I were to call in the radio station, I would tell them that my wedding had just under 200 guests. And the church was the center of our day, follow up with a giant celebration at the Holiday Inn. It wasn’t overly elaborate by any means. We made sure we spent money where it was most important — like making the church beautiful with lovely floral arrangements. Our reception had all the traditional elements — from the Pittsburgh cookie table to the money dance. I imagined that day my whole life and listened to all the wedding stories from my relatives. They say every little girl dreams about her wedding, and my dreams were rooted in the faith passed down to me — with little nuggets and sentimental gifts that I carried with me. But I am guessing the radio station would find my story mundane. What’s tradition anymore?

So as Tom and I celebrate our 13th wedding anniversary this week, I’m going to pray that people find their way in this life through faith. And the key to that faith can be found in all those fantastic stories that our great grandparents, grandparents, parents and relatives tell us about the traditions in their lives. When you realize those traditions, you may just find a little faith along the way.

Always  B E L I E V E !

Pope Francis Consecrates Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

Immaculate Heart of Mary

So today, October 13th, the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, Pope Francis consecrated the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary, as part of the celebration of the Year of Faith. Thousands of faithful Christians made the pilgrimage to the Vatican for this event. The statue of Our Lady of Fatima arrived in Rome yesterday and an all-night vigil watched over her. Today, Pope Francis consecrated the Immaculate Heart of Mary to the world.

Pope Francis offered prayers for peace and let the entire world know of Mary, the Mother of Jesus, who we all should emulate to be.

I’ve joined in this online novena prayers group — PrayMoreNovenas.com. I really like this devotional as everyday I get a prayer emailed to me. It only takes a few minutes, I shut my door at work and pray with more than 63,000 other Believers. Today, we just finished a nine-day novena, leading up to the Marian consecration as a way to celebrate this event with the Pope. It was our goal to join in unity with the Holy Father in preparation.

We look to Mary, the Mother of our Lord, as the first Christian and the model of holiness. The novena we prayed and the Pope’s consecration presented profound opportunities for us to pray that Jesus may give us the Grace to be more and more like His mother and thus come closer to Him. And I truly believe that anytime we unite together in faith, good things happen in the world. I believe there is nothing that happens by coincidence. God has a plan, and he’s masterfully aligning all of us as his faithful followers to reaffirm, reinvigorate and renew our faith in Catholicism.

Here is the consecration prayer recited by Pope Francis in consecrating the world to the Immaculate Heart of Mary (from www.thecalltofatima.wordpress.com):

Holy Mary Virgin of Fatima,
with renewed gratitude for your maternal presence
we join our voice to that of all the generations
who call you blessed.

We celebrate in you the works of God,
who never tires of looking down with mercy
upon humanity, afflicted with the wound of sin,
to heal it and save it.

Accept with the benevolence of a Mother
the act of consecration that we perform today with confidence,
before this image of you that is so dear to us.

We are certain that each of us is precious in your eyes
and that nothing of all that lives in our hearts is unknown to you.
We let ourselves be touched by your most sweet regard
and we welcome the consoling caress of your smile.

Hold our life in your arms:
bless and strengthen every desire for good;
revive and nourish faith;
sustain and enlighten hope;
awaken and animate charity;
guide all of us along the path of holiness

Teach us your own preferential love
for the little and the poor,
for the excluded and the suffering,
for sinners and the downhearted:
bring everyone under your protection
and entrust everyone to your beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus.

Amen.

You can see a video here of Pope Francis’ Prayer to Our Lady of Fatima with a variation on the translation of the prayer.

Frozen in Time

I had one of those “magic moments” last weekend when Tom and I went boating at Shenango Lake with my family. We truly had one of the most enjoyable and memorable days to kick off summer! There were a few minutes during the day that I stopped to take it all in — and it literally took my breath away.

It was the Saturday before Father’s Day, and I was already feeling a bit of melancholy without Dad here. We had planned to take our new wave runner out for the first time of the season — and our first time ever — it’s a 1996 Seadoo — we purchased from good friends of ours. We couldn’t take it out the weekend we bought it, because it was too cold. I had gotten a kidney infection on Wednesday night and missed two days of work from the fevers and pain — I was miserable. We figured our chances of going out over the weekend were pretty much not happening. But Saturday I got up with no pain, no fevers, feeling on top of the world before 7 am — which is a miracle in itself for me on the weekend! I made Tom a big breakfast — pancakes and bacon, and we sat down to watch the morning news — and learned that this day was going to be 83° — and quite possibly the most perfect day of the summer for us. We decided to take it out.

We met up with my brother, Tommy, my sister Debbie and her girls, Megan and Tara. Debbie’s husband, Scott came as well, but he didn’t join us on the water — he fished from the shore. Tommy has a pretty big recreational boat that he wake boards with or pulls someone on a tube. Not my thing to ride the tube, because it’s so jarring — nor something my doctors would probably ever approve, so I go along for the ride and enjoy the day under the sun. And as I think about it, I’m not sure what my doctors would think about me on a wave runner either — but I think they would approve of me enjoying life to the fullest — and being as active as I’m comfortable, while knowing my limits.

My brother Tommy testing the limits of the jet ski.

My brother Tommy testing the limits of the jet ski.

Before lunch, everyone managed to ride the jet ski either by themselves or in a duo. Tommy was the crazy one, driving it at top speed and then turning sharply 360°, causing the nose of the wave runner to plummet down into the water, kicking the back-end up with water gushing all around him. I knew that was something I would never even attempt — even on my bravest day! My husband took it out the most, taking each of my nieces on it. Everyone in my family, except for me, had their boating license already, so even my nieces were allowed to drive it alone. I had to get mine before we took it out.

So, I had managed to pass my boaters safety course earlier in the week. It took me over six hours online, and I kept getting confused on the same things — the night time lights — it was like one of those old math problems, “if a train is traveling from Seattle to Pittsburgh at a speed of 72 miles per hour…” This test had questions like, “If you see one white light on a boat at night with a red light is it: a) a sailboat; b) a sailboat with a motor c) the back of a motorized boat or d) did you actually study for the test?” That’s how it felt anyways, I would seriously get confused. Not to mention when I studied online, I kept skimming over the areas that weren’t super relevant to me — after all, my “PWC or “personal water craft” doesn’t have any lights as it’s put away well before dark. So I don’t really care what color the lights are! Anyways, I passed and Tommy kept asking me things like, “Ok, so you know what to do if you flip it over…?” and I was like, “that is NEVER going to happen.” LOL. I guess you never know, but for me, it’s highly unlikely.

Tommy’s boat has these big speakers mounted to his wake boarding tower. It’s a major set up that was pretty foreign to me as he kept describing it all winter on Facebook. He managed to rig up the sound system to stream music live from the internet through his phone using some bluetooth device he found online. And, that’s when the moment happened…

Left to right: Tom, Debbie, Tommy, Tara and Megan.

Left to right: Tom, Debbie, Tommy, Tara and Megan.

Tommy and Tom had tied the jet ski to the boat and we were going to have lunch together. Nothing fancy, but Debbie pulled cold cuts out of the cooler and everyone was chattering about as they fixed their sandwiches, trying to get a seat in the shade under the canopy. The song “Highway Don’t Care,” by Tim McGraw, Taylor Swift and Keith Urban was blaring out of his speakers, and I was sitting in the back seat so I could get the full affect. The moment just reminded me of us sitting in my Dad’s fishing boat as kids as my Mom pulled out cold cut sandwiches, cookies and soda. I took a picture of everyone and in that moment, my eyes welled up with tears — it made me so happy — it doesn’t get any better than this — these are the magic moments in life! These are those fractions, those seconds, those moments in time that if you’re not paying attention, will just pass you by — a missed opportunity. Tom had to ask me twice if I wanted ketchup or mayonnaise — and the word, “ketchup,” caught in my throat, but I quickly recovered — thankful that I had my sunglasses on so that everyone wouldn’t wonder why the tears. It’s been over a week since this moment happened, yet I remember it like it just happened seconds ago — frozen in time.

I pray that I am able to realize one magic moment every day. Sometimes I think that I can’t experience them if I’m too busy or too stressed — or simply because I wasn’t looking. I think the formula is pretty easy:  family/friends + love + faith = magic moments. For me, maybe a little nostalgia mixed in as well. I also pray that everyone is able to take time in their busy lives to make note of all those little moments that touch their heart.

Always B E L I E V E !

God’s Blessings For All!

It’s no wonder everyone is angry about things today, because it’s so easy to get fired up every time you go online and attempt to read the news. I’ve learned to just ignore articles around specific subjects, because I’m just happier that way.

But today, I read an article on Yahoo that spoke to me directly — as a female CEO. It was the biggest piece of bullshit that I have ever read — I really don’t know why I let it upset me — it’s because this guy was so offensive to me as a woman.

So this guy named Peter Heck, some renowned “religious” public speaker and author (that I never heard of) — was speaking at a high school graduation about the balance of family and work — and turned his discussion to the females in the crowd. He said, and I quote, “I challenge you to devote yourself to your families and your children. If you choose to have a career, God’s blessings upon you. But I challenge you to recognize what the world scoffs at, that your greatest role in your life will be that of wife and mother. The greatest impact you could ever contribute to our world is a loving investment in the lives of your precious children. To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more women CEOs. We need more women as invested mothers.”

Wowwwwwza. What a male chauvinistic, egotistical jerk this guy really is. “your greatest role in your life will be that of wife and mother.” Hmmmm, let me think about that one. While that’s indeed a great role in life, it doesn’t pertain to many of us — especially those of us that cannot have a baby — didn’t think about that one, did you Peter? You assume that God blesses all women with babies. And husbands. And good marriages. And all the other things needed to fit into your perfect family. Maybe he has a different plan for some of us! Maybe you need to open your mind just a tad outside your 1950’s comfort zone.

“To solve the problems plaguing our society, we don’t need more women CEOs. We need more women as invested mothers,” Oh, so that’s it — thanks Peter! I just couldn’t figure out how we solve all the problems in this world. You’ve made it so simple in your little mind. Of course, let’s leave it up to a woman, because if anyone can actually do it, it would be a woman. So I guess what you’re really saying is that all these men who are going on crazy killing sprees in our society were neglected as little boys or something. Hmmm, yes, that must be it.

Feeling threatened Peter? Not happy as a child Peter? Living in the wrong era Peter? It’s not about defining gender roles and keeping the woman in her place as you believe. The only thing that’s going to help solve the problems in our society is faith — bringing God back into our lives and making him the center of it.

Women are proving to be very effective in companies today, because they have those intangible skills that many men don’t. They lead by their intuition and are guided by their faith. They know how to nurture and care for a group of people. I have never been a huge feminist or even close, but I believe that workplace balance is achieved by both genders contributing equally — just like a good marriage.

Women play a great role in our society. Women who have found that work-life balance are some of the happiest women I know — and I know quite a few of them! I would never want to tell my nieces that their purpose on this earth is to worship some egotistical guy, have his babies, iron his laundry and cook his meals. My nieces can do whatever they want to in this world — only limited by their imaginations! If it’s God’s plan for them to be a wife and mother, then that’s wonderful! But his plan may be something entirely different — and that’s just as wonderful!

And Peter, as someone in the public spotlight, it’s your job to inspire our younger generation! To speak of how hope, faith and love can change the world — not filling people’s minds with your prejudices. Go out and look for a family that does it well — and I know some of them! And, for all those graduating high school women out there — if you choose to have a career, be a wife and mother or none of that, God’s blessings upon you.

Always  B E L I E V E !

The Papacy

So today was the first day of the conclave to select the new Pope. There a total of 115 eligible cardinals who will make up that conclave. One that I know personally from when my brother was in the seminary — Cardinal Whuerl. He was a Catholic Priest when he mentored the seminarians, back in the late 1980’s and early 1990’s. Then he became Bishop of Pittsburgh and that’s when my husband met him when Father Bob was installed at his parish in Tarentum, PA. We were all disappointed when he was moved to Washington DC, but obviously happy that he was promoted to Cardinal.

We had our bingo appreciation dinner on Sunday night and I sat across from my brother, and we got talking about the upcoming conclave. He said that the Americans actually shook up the Italian media a bit by the way they approached the interviews — unheard of from any Cardinal from Europe. So that got everyone buzzing about the American Cardinals and that maybe change was something to be considered, now throwing the Americans into the realm of possibilities. Media began to buzz worldwide and the theory that “no American would ever be Pope” was no longer valid.

Father Bob has a couple favorites. He likes Cardinal O’Malley from Massachusetts and Cardinal Denardo from Texas. Both have past ties to Pittsburgh and he personally knows each of them. He feels they understand the issues and challenges facing the Catholicism around the world.

But anyways, I was so busy today that I only had time to find out that the smoke was still black by a news feed from The Catholic Company on my Facebook page. Okay, onto another day which we all expected! And I’m glad it didn’t happen during some long meeting today.

What’s really amazing to me is how technology is affecting this election for the new Pope. Okay, I admit, I’m utilizing it — so if I am in some meeting, I know right away that a decision has been reach so I can find the closest news feed to me at the time. I’m signed up to receive a text message and email as soon as the smoke is white. You can sign up too at PopeAlarm.com. Too crazy right? Well, don’t mistake it for PopeAlert.com or you may entering into a fantasy league of who is selected as Pope. I had to laugh out loud at that one! Or have you heard about Adopt a Cardinal? This is a site where you can choose a Cardinal or be assigned one so that you can pray for him during the conclave that he receives the Holy Spirit to select the next Pope. Interesting. And Cardinal Whuerl is featured on the homepage!

I’ve founds so many sites, blogs, tweets and articles — it’s amazing what’s out there. And I started to think about it — you know, the entire world is focused on this election! As a marketer, I can truly say — what a way to receive worldwide PR at no cost — while reinforcing your followers and their faith. People are educating themselves, following and discussing their faith throughout the day! It’s historical! And what a contrast to the recent 2012 US Presidential election which turned neighbor against neighbor. We are uniting in faith — the one major factor blatantly missing from the Presidential election.

I believe there is nothing that happens by coincidence. God has a plan, and he’s masterfully aligning all of us as his faithful followers during this time to reaffirm, reinvigorate and renew our faith in Catholicism. I feel so lucky to be alive to experience yet another Papacy conclave. And I sit here, holding my necklace — the cross that Father Bob had blest by Pope John Paul II when he was in the seminary in Rome, along with the religious medallion blest by Pope Benedict XVI that features Pope John Paul on one side and Pope Benedict on the other — I will now have to add another piece of jewelry to represent our new leader! Bring on the white smoke!

I Believe

ChristianityI started to write this post, but then I decided I shouldn’t write it. I’ve thought about it for the past two nights. But then I realized that I started this blog to share the journey of my faith and what wonderful things remind me to always believe. So here I am, sharing this post.

So it goes, I got caught up on reading my magazines that have been sitting on the counter for a couple of months. The February 11, 2013 issue of People magazine, featuring Tim McGraw on the cover, had a story, buried pretty far back in the magazine, featuring a new book called “Beyond Belief”. The title of the article was called “Escape from Scientology.”

The story is a memoir of Jenna Miscavige Hill, who grew up as a child at the Ranch, a San Jacinto, CA boarding school for children of Scientology executives. Jenna is the niece of David Miscavige, the church’s head honcho. The article goes on to describe how they were brainwashed by intimidation and fear their entire lives. They didn’t watch television or interact with anyone on the outside. As children, they were treated like they were in a military boot camp with drills and physical labor.

She met her husband, Dallas while still part of the Scientology community. Dallas had worked at the Scientology Celebrity Center in Los Angeles. So he could attest to how well celebrities were treated — with gorgeous accommodations. There was no risk from someone from the outside seeing the “child labor camps.”

As I read this article, I couldn’t believe that a cult such as this is operating right here in the United States. And the concept behind the organization is so ridiculous that it’s truly amazing that anyone with common sense would believe it. There’s nothing to substantiate it. But Jenna didn’t have the option to choose, she was born into it.

In the article, Jenna says, “I am no longer a believer. It was a huge adjustment to realize that the life I am living may be my one and only.” I lost two hours of sleep over that statement. My mind kept going over it — she was no longer a believer of Scientology — excellent — but now, she doesn’t believe in anything. And she doesn’t believe there’s anything more than this life. How disappointing and what a sad life.

How much I wanted to tell her to find Jesus and follow us that she will be healed. But can you imagine what she thinks about the Catholic Church or any organized religion of any kind? As I think about it from her perspective, how would you find that faith after all that you’ve been taught to believe? And it disturbs me that someone could easily say that my Catholic faith is really a cult. It’s not that I haven’t heard that before. I hear things all the time, even from people that are close to me, questioning their faith, asking me to justify my beliefs.

Did I have a moment of doubt? My Catholic faith is based on the Bible and years of history, as are other Christian religions. My Catholic faith teaches us love and compassion — there are no child labor camps. We teach our children to be kind to each other. We teach our children to know Jesus and to have faith in him. And to call on him when they are in trouble. Sure, we give money to the church, but the church needs money to operate. It’s not a profit center. And all are welcome, regardless of income, social status, where they live or how they dress. My Catholic faith is the foundation of my philanthropic efforts and that is good in this world.

So today as I struggled with my thoughts around this, I read today’s reflection in my Little Black Book for Lent and found my clarity:

Jesus said to the devil in reply, “It is written: ‘You shall worship the Lord, your God, and him alone shall you serve.’” Luke 4:8

The tempting of Jesus in the desert is told in three Gospels and it represents the temptations that also confront every disciple of his… it goes on to say…

Temptations come at me from things I see people do and hear people say. They come at me from what I read and watch. All temptations are not equal. Some are stronger than others, but there is an even greater difference. Some temptations deal with superficial elements of my life, while others aim at a more foundational level.

There may be times when I am tempted to question whether Jesus’ whole way of life makes sense, whether these basic teachings are believable, or whether this whole Christianity thing is worth it after all.

Wow! I feel like Jesus himself wrote this reflection for me to read on this day after being conflicted, because of the Scientology article. I was being tempted to question my faith and reaffirm it. But not until I read this did I have the courage to write this post.

As for Jenna Miscavige Hill, her husband and her two beautiful little boys, I hope she finds Jesus in this lifetime. And I pray that she is able to heal from what she burden she came into this life with. And I pray that she is able to teach her boys about Jesus’ love and forgiveness. For that is what will heal her.

A Time to Believe

I received this wonderful email from my neighbors Dan and Deb while in the hospital. They felt it was something I needed to read at this time. I opened it and the title “A Time to Believe” stopped me in my tracks. The entire post below is from Dr. Kevin Elko and was sent as a Christmas card.

—–Original Message—–
From: Dr. Kevin Elko
Sent: Friday, December 21, 2012 10:20 AM
Subject: December 2012 Newsletter

A Time to Believe

Print

At the Mint Museum in Charlotte, at a speaking engagement and book signing of “The Pep Talk,” I autographed a book for a woman’s infant daughter. I signed it, “To Gracie Lynn, God has a plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11.” Usually I sign books “Pay attention to your ’68’,” a story about hockey player Jaromir Jagr and his number’s being related to the Nazi occupation of his country; but this time I signed differently.

Making my way to the plane, I received a call about how this mother wanted urgently to talk to me, so I called. She was crying. She told me that earlier she had had two miscarriages, became pregnant a third time, and had had no hope of delivering. Then, she had attended a Christmas Eve service, picked up the bulletin, and read its cover: “God has a plan for you. Jeremiah 29:11.” She said instantly all doubts vanished; she knew she was having the baby and that God had ordained her child as his. When Gracie Lynn was born, the parents announced in the newspaper: “Gracie Lynn is here and God has a plan for her.” The mother commissioned an artist to paint across her nursery wall, “God has a plan for you!” The mother said, “We came to hear you speak and you wrote the same thing in her book.”

This year, a very close friend, Chuck Pagano, the Head Coach of the Indianapolis Colts, was diagnosed with leukemia. As he received treatment the night before his team’s third game, which he was to watch from his hospital bed, Chuck listened to my five-minute message about Gracie Lynn, and then I asked him to whisper over and over until he fell asleep, “God has a plan for me, Jeremiah 29:11.” He did. Most nights previously had been full of night sweats as the chemotherapy was working through his body, but that night he had none and slept. When he woke, the hospital staff checked his blood count and said, “Your blood count has changed so drastically and improved through the last 24 hours that you can go home!” He was not scheduled to go home for another two weeks.

This season, realize that God has a plan for you. He has handpicked you. And when He did, He knew exactly what He had planned for you. Understand that fact with all your being. Whisper the phrase “God has a plan for me” until it fills up your consciousness and causes changes to occur. To be conscious of this fact would be a gift you give yourself. Throughout your day, meditate on that phrase, “God has a plan for me,” allowing it to “play” over and over in your mind until you actually believe it, giving yourself this gift of God’s plan. Then, watch the real magic take place.

Pearl Bailey said that people see God all the time; they just don’t recognize him. Along these lines, one Christmas a woman saw a boy in a toy store, and she could tell by the way he was dressed that he didn’t have much. She told him to pick out a toy, took him to the register, and bought him the toy. The little boy asked, “Lady, are you God?” She laughed and said, “No, I am just one of God’s children.” The little boy said, “I knew you were related.”

During this season, people look for the Divine, for miracles, for angels, special beings doing miraculous things for others. Many people hold their breath, waiting for an angel to present itself so they can mark this time as special. Job 42:5 says at the end of Job’s struggles, “I have heard about you with my ear but now I have seen you.” I have a recommendation that will 100% guarantee you will see an angel this holiday: go be one. Be an angel to someone else, even someone you don’t know. Plan it with your family, to be an angel on purpose.

I know a family—a mother, father and two children—who wait by the cash register at WalMart on Christmas Eve; there, they find a poor, overburdened mother, who doesn’t have money, coming through the checkout with a bicycle that she has to take home for child. At that point, one of the children from the family of four observing the mother steps up to the cash register to pay for the bike. The mother cries, every time, and as if seeing a miraculous event, guess what the mother says to the child? “You must be an angel.” And, indeed, all those people there that holiday night have seen an angel.

Enjoy this season. God has a plan for you.