Wednesday, February 3, 2016

God's Way

God's ways are not our ways, said the psalmist.

After a difficult struggle with PTSD, Panic Disorder, and General Anxiety Disorder, my doctor decided it was time to ease off using one of my anti-anxiety meds. Unfortunately, one of the withdrawal symptoms of this particular drug is nightmares or vivid dreaming. Nightmares it was. And as much as I'd pray to not have nightmares, they continued as I decreased my medication. No supplement helped, either - Melatonin, Valerian - you name it. It was starting to get difficult for lack of sleep because I avoided going to bed to face those nightmares. As I wondered what particular saint to ask for intervention, having been praying to St. Dymphna for many years, St. Raphael, the Blessed Virgin, and St. Anthony, I was at a loss as to who to turn to for this particular problem.

Oddly, though, God sent me an unlikely saint: St. Maximilian Kolbe. Not only is he the patron saint of prisoners but of drug addicts. And as this was a drug dependency related problem, I asked for his help. He was waiting for his cue in the wings, one might say, because he intervened immediately and I have had no nightmares or alarmingly vivid dreams from the first night I asked for his help. I sometimes think we overlook the root of the problem, having got caught up in all the effects. I'm definitely going to focus more on the cause of an issue from now on before I get caught up in the overwhelming storm. Like global warming.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Wake Up Call

Well, this year hasn't gone smoothly. After leaving the call center to go back to caregiving in a home, I had to quit just after 2 months there for reporting a "valued" employee to DSHS for 2 accounts of neglect. Don't know how the investigation turned out, but I didn't stick around to be fired. Got a job a The Dollar Tree close by my old work as seasonal to finish out the rest of the year. I forgot how stressful retail seasonal was...

Still dealing with major depression, but improvement has been made. Much to the alarm of a family member, when I get overwhelmed emotionally and or physically, I'll say out loud that "I could just quit." She spoke about her concern that I was running away from any problems that came up, but I laid down the bare facts for her. It was my coping mechanism. Instead of saying "I can always take my life" (as I used to think to myself when overwhelmed), I cope with stress by merely reminding myself that there is another way out, and another job waiting somewhere. "I can always quit" is a major improvement to "I can always kill myself."

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

"Slender Man" is real!

O Lord, hear the words of my prayer – let this message reach the right audience!

Dear Readers,

Many of you have heard on the news about this Slender Man character/meme from a popular dark site called Creepy Pasta. Many people think it’s just a figment of imagination – but it’s not. It is a demon. One that I and my brother encountered about 18 years ago, before the web became a way of life. It haunted our house – in particular my brother’s room, for reasons we did not know or understand. It made its presence known by an aura of darkness and fear. We had more than one demon to deal with at times, but this one was always present, as if trying to scare us to death, sticking to the darkest corners.

We did not call it Slender Man in those days, though looking back it would have made sense to call it that. We called it the Slim One. At times, it would physically manifest itself to sight, which impressed itself strongly on my memory from the first moment. And if I had not seen it myself, I would not give credit to the “figment” of Slender Man.

We are devout Catholics; we tried prayer, house blessings, blessed salt, St. Michael statue, crosses and crucifixes but it never stayed away long, like there was a bad penny under the carpet or something. We did not play with anything that would invite a demon or evil spirit, such as an Ouija board or Dungeons and Dragons. After many years of haunting, and only after much prayer and fasting (as our Lord Jesus said) did we drive it out: with the Green Scapular. Each time, with a prayer and a push pin, I put them on every wall and corner of my brother’s room and it worked. The demon was gone, and I never knew where it had gone until I read the story of the Slender Man stabbing.

Since then, I have looked upon many a demon – all Creepy Pasta characters – and I beg you to watch out for yourselves and your loved ones. The web is an electronic portal for these malignant spirits to use; some people are exposed accidently, and some are exposed by curiosity (and you know what’s said about that!). For years people argued about the “possible” link between violence and video games. Well, as a kid who grew up with classmates who were into that, I can testify that the link exists. And if you’ve chanced to read this article, don’t dismiss the vulnerability of a careless young mind.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Many Blessings

Our family has been blessed with twin baby girls, the newest members of my sister's family. Sophia and Sarah born at 31 weeks are doing well, as is their mom. They are not the only newest members of our family. I have sponsored two children, one from Peru and one from Ethiopia: Jimena and Mesekerem. As most blessings do, more responsibilities follow. My children are adopted, 2- and 4-legged.  

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Solemn Manda

Back in April, when I was worried I would lose my job, I made a manda to Our Lady of Guadalupe that not only should she save and keep my job for me but also obtain more hours for me that I would save up to make a pilgrimage to her shrine in Mexico City. By the beginning of May, 6 days after I began a 54-day rosary novena, she answered my prayer in full. My job is secure and I got more hours at work. Now I'm saving $20 a paycheck to go to Guadalupe, even if it will take 5 years to save enough money to go on a pilgrimage. To be honest, I wouldn't mind having a sponsor to get to Guadalupe. And as I don't fancy going alone, it will either be with an arranged pilgrimage party or with someone I know to go with me. At least it gives me time to brush up on my Spanish.

Monday, June 2, 2014

A Moment in Time

Hello again! Almost a year since I last posted anything! So much has happened - graduating, getting work, keeping work... Oh, so much to tell! So many journal entries!

Tonight, as I took the dogs out one last time for the night, I found myself gazing upon the mountain, highlighted with the last rays of sunset. As I gazed, I heard His voice - I heard Him calling to me. It was just a moment, but for that moment nothing else existed - nothing else around me mattered. "The mountains are calling, and I must go" was an expression used earlier this year for commercials on TV. But the mountain wasn't calling - God was. I kept going out even after sunset to hear His voice, but for naught. After everything, all this time and what has happened, I had thought we'd grown apart. But we never separated. I may have gone astray from my heart's true love, my very purpose of being like a lost sheep, but He calls to me. And nothing in this world sounds sweeter or more captivating than my Beloved's voice calling me to Him. Speak, Lord, I love to listen to Your voice. See Lord, here I am.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

I Once Was Lost But Now I've Found...

Yes, the lyrics to "Amazing Grace," with an obvious twist in the wording. You see, from June of 2005 when I made the decision to leave the convent, already suffering from PTSD, until this summer of 2013, my purpose in life seemed lost. Through those eight years of personal growth and much needed therapy, I regained focus on my vocation to serve by helping people - in general. Not being one with a lot of money, I held fundraisers of all sorts: rosaries for missions, toys for children in poverty, etc. Fortunately, with discernment and guidance through prayer, I found myself working again in the medical field. I recently received my Medical Receptionist certification and currently work with Scribes STAT implementing the new EPIC medical software at Peace Health in Bellingham, WA. But as we are all called to serve, and helping people anyway I can (even and especially when I give away my possessions to someone in need) is my life's focus, I still felt I needed a more specific purpose.

Only this year has it come to light what God made good of my brokenness. My experience at the convent wasn't for naught - in fact, it became a great insight for those still in the convent as to bringing to light serious issues that needed to be addressed, and they were (as far as I know from correspondence with several contacts, including the Mother General of the order). Then, a year or two ago, God brought to light how my pain and suffering didn't just help the sisters I left behind. My recovery and personal/spiritual growth from the pain enabled me to help a dying man with Alzheimer's disease to make peace with his past because he went through a similar experience in the seminary. As much as he talked to his family, even though it progressed to the point that he could no longer recount the exact stories, the sentences and thoughts that came to mind that he shared with me opened a door. I was able to relate to him, to what he had gone through and suffered, in a way NO OTHER PERSON COULD HAVE. To be honest, I didn't connect those dots at the time, but after he died only a month and a half after I met him, God answered my prayer by connecting those dots for me. I was concerned about employment, and I was this man's assistant home care aide (his primary HCA was his wife, a retired Hospice RN). Why did God give me all these temporary jobs when my family and I needed a steady income? It was because God was working through me - I was His tool help people in ways not many other people could.

Again, this has been made evident in the most recent happenings with a relative of mine suffering from Dissociative Identity Disorder (aka Multiple Personality Disorder). Every pain, every emotion - I could relate to her and began to help her where everyone else around her could not even understand. It's the emotional trauma I'm referring to: the despair, the suicidal thoughts, the overwhelming feeling of fear and loneliness despite being with other people... The experience from my disorders became for me a tool to help her when no one else could relate.  While others still consider mental illness a stigma, God turned my problems from stumbling blocks to stepping stones so I could make use of my suffering. "Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for His body, that is, the church." (Col. 1:24) If you would have asked me five years ago where I pictured myself, it wasn't doing this. This is God's work - it just happens. I leave myself open to the working of the Holy Spirit to help others anyway I can and this is what God is doing with me BECAUSE of all I've been through! Like any other human being, I cannot predict the future as to what will happen next, but I can testify that God DOES make good come out of evil. I never would have predicted this could've happened, the way I've been able to help other people the way I do. "I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me." (Gal. 2:20) What an awesome God we have, who takes care of us in every way to the smallest detail, even numbering the hairs on our heads! Open yourself to the Holy Spirit by giving God control of your life in everything, and watch the wonders He does for those He loves.