Tag Archive | faith

Mile 7

141090-185-008hI am more than halfway through Lent. It has been a very different Lent than the last few years.  I embarked on less challenges.One of the dangers of seeing Lent as a time of challenge is that I begin to see it as if it were a fitness challenge or half marathon training. That misses the purpose of Lent. Lent is meant to be a season for growth.  I’ve been trying too hard to make it a goal to attain.

I have focused too much on being successful at Lent. Lent is my time to be thankful, prayerful, and mindful.  Lent has been fruitful. I may not be writing or exercising everyday but I am praying every day. I’m even praying for those that I’ve written about. That is growth.

I am done competing with others. I have pulled away from activities in which I felt that others wanted to compare themselves with me or in which I felt a spirit of competition and tension arose. I know that I am competing with my old self. I will resume that and soon. But I’m done competing with the rest of the world. I will keep living my life the way I want and in keeping with my values.

My social media break always reminds me of what really matters. I remain close to those who are truly loving, sincere, and supportive. I continue to enjoy doing what I love. While I miss the social connections, I don’t miss the drama or the annoyance I sometimes feel at what people may say or do. I feel like social media sometimes brings out the worst in me. I prefer being the best version of myself. I have spent the last 25 years or more trying to be the best version of myself. I’m old enough to know what that takes.

There are 2 weeks left in Lent. I am going to enjoy this time. I will make the 40 blog challenge. But I don’t owe anyone any updates about bags of clothes that were filled or books that were read or even rosaries that were prayed. Now is my time to catch up with God.


My song of praise


St. Dymphna is not here for it.

Psalm 118: This is the Day

by Michael Joncas

(Refrain) This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.
This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad.

Give thanks to the Lord,
for he is good,
His mercy endures forever.
Let the house of Israel say,
“His mercy endures forever.”


The Lord’s right hand
has struck with pow’r;
the Lord’s right hand is exalted.
I shall not die, but live,
and declare the works of the Lord.


The stone which the builders
rejected has become the cornerstone.
By the Lord this has been done;
it is wonderful in our eyes!


It’s not every day I sing a psalm.  Over the years, I have heard, both at LA Congress and from different homilists, that to sing is to give praise to the Lord. Now my voice isn’t that of a singer. I can somewhat harmonize when I have other voices with which to combine.  But I don’t sing solos nor should I.  So I make a joyful noise.  Earlier this week, I sang one of my favorite psalms, Psalm 118, out loud in its entirety. True, it was during my morning commute, so I was in my car. I sang my heart out, con muchas ganas.  The commuters who saw me probably got a good laugh.  No matter. Yo estaba feliz.

It’s Lent, a time to reflect on the Lord’s Passion. Yet I was singing a song of joy and victory. This is a song for weddings or Easter. What happened that led me to Carpool Karaoke this particular psalm?  I learned that someone I encountered in the past was held accountable. Others recognized patterns of behavior I saw. That is cause for celebration. I know we shouldn’t take joy in others’ struggles. In my personal and professional life, I have worked to move those who are a negative force in others’ lives, particularly the lives of young people, away.  Anyone who hurts a young person’s opportunities to move forward to become the best version of herself or himself has got to go. I feel vindicated and validated. I always knew that what I and my colleagues experienced was not a figment of anyone’s imagination. Sadly, this behavior went on for years before me to many others. It is high time for this person to be held to high expectations. Por fin, se va.

“The Lord’s right hand is exalted.” I believe that things happen as they should.  Whether you credit the universe, the Lord’s right hand, karma, or however you view the world, what is right, good, and just eventually happens. Wrongs will be made right.

Every day is a day the Lord has made. But that day I felt, along with many people, that justice had been served.

I can’t sing but this young woman can. This is her version of my song

Bearing weight


Ash Wednesday was a dark day.  I had hoped to attend morning mass but as with many weekday mornings, we ran late and I scolded my daughter.  I dropped her off at my parents’ house, her face troubled, and her eyes downcast.  My workday was a blur of marijuana smoke, distraught parents, frayed nerves and nagging self-doubt. As the day wound down, we learned that across the nation, a fellow high school experienced a terrible tragedy.  I went to church in hopes of getting out from what the day had been. When I walked stiffly and silently into evening mass, I felt weak.

My dance teacher recently noticed that I carry tension between my shoulders. She noted that my heart is open but that I’m carrying so much.   As an educator, as a mother, and as a friend, I have worked on carrying less, to work on carrying myself. The weight that can be overwhelming sometimes. I do it all. I take care of others and myself.  There are days like Ash Wednesday when I feel I have to take care of many people and those days wear on me. Those are the days I wish someone would take care of me. I stopped wishing for that when I didn’t find it; I’m glad I learned to rely on myself. It also deepened my faith.  I know that God takes care of me. He gives me the strength to get through rough days, to stand tall and strong.

I tell myself better a strong back than a weak spine. But that stiff back makes it hard to truly dance.

Marching with saints


We celebrate All Saints’ Day. All Saints’ Day is a Catholic holiday. In the past, it rivaled and even overshadowed Halloween with parades of children dressed as patron saints or their saintly namesakes. When I was a little girl, my parish celebrated the saints’ parade. I only remember taking part once. I was St. Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. My mom made my costume.  I felt a connection to St. Elizabeth for years so much that I chose her as my confirmation saint and alluded to her story in my fiction writing in later years.  When I became a mother, I reflected on this holiday and how I might celebrate it with my daughter.

Our neighborhood parish still celebrates a saints’ parade. The nuns at my parish organize the parade every year and often commission seamstresses to make various costumes.  You can, however, create your own costumes and that is what we have done. I had always wanted M to participate when she got older. We talked about it for a few years and did not follow through. Then we finally decided she would do it. The first year she participated, she paid tribute to our heritage. M was St Rose of Lima. She dressed as a Dominican nun wearing a crown of roses instead of the traditional (and gorier) crown of thorns.

12027202_10153862934977784_2746629336698459820_oLast year, she asked to be the Virgen of Guadalupe, again paying homage to our culture and her Mexican roots.

20161106_085010This year, we wanted to continue honoring our culture.  We chose St. Kateri.


In creating her saints’ costumes, I do have to make time to research and also set aside money for expenses. I have spent between $50 and $60 for a few years. The first year, I purchased the nun’s habit. She already had the floral headband. Last year, I ordered a royal blue cape and ironed on the stars. It was difficult to find a plain pink nightgown.  I also purchased some black ribbon for the maternity sash.  This year, I wanted to keep the costume simple. We chose a soft brown shift dress with black leggings, gold sandals, and a bead necklace, all from M’s closet. Grandma did her braids. I already have a beautiful tree branch crucifix that hangs in our living room. The one thing we purchased was the silk tiger lily. This year, I only spent $10 since she had everything else.

All Saints has become a special holiday in our home. It’s a beautiful tradition celebrating our faith. It allows us to take joy in who we are.



Alleluia! It is Easter Sunday 2017. I am very happy to have experienced the Triduum and Lent. I had a wonderful journey, full of challenges that ultimately helped me grow as an individual and better understand my mission in being a servant to others. Today’s Gospel from John describes the different reactions of the disciples to Jesus being gone from the tomb.  Jesus’s rising teaches us how to live our lives. His rising helps us understand that hope prevails through the losses and challenges. God does not abandon us.  He will strengthen us.

My secretary and my mother in law both wanted to know if M had an Easter basket. I got some strange looks when I admitted I didn’t make her an Easter basket.(I haven’t done so since she was in diapers.)  In bringing up M, I want her to understand how important my faith is in my life.  We are the only Catholics in our small household so we share our faith. We are in Mass weekly.  We take part in Reconciliation.  We took part in the Triduum. We’re not holiday-only Catholics who only go to church on Easter, Christmas, Ash Wednesday, and Mother’s Day. We are there every week; I like to attend daily Mass when time permits. I take part in rosaries, the Liturgy of the Hours, Adoration when I can. Church is important to me and therefore the focus of Easter.  I asked M about the meaning of Easter. She said it celebrates Jesus’s rising. She doesn’t ask to color eggs or request candy but it’s not a priority.  I liken Easter to New Year’s.  At midnight, as we came home from the Carnaval royalty competition, M announced Alleluia. I want her to know Easter is the big holiday in the church.

I don’t mind being questioned about my faith. Why do I believe?   Do I live what I believe? Am I truly upholding those principles and values? What do I gain from the readings and from church experiences? My faith has helped me in my mental health journey.  My faith helps me be disciplined. I am a flawed person.  My being in church consistently doesn’t make me better than others; I am open about my struggles with pettiness, resentment, and self-righteousness.  My faith has helped me move forward. Following Christ is not easy but I will continue to do so because He has given me so many gifts. He loves me. He is risen!  Alleluia!

Love as key to holiness

For Passion Sunday (Palm Sunday), my parish priest gave a homily about Christ’s Passion in the Gospel of Matthew. It was one of the shortest homilies he has ever given, approximately two minutes. He explained that Holy Week is not made holy by Jesus’s suffering but by his love and by the love we have for one another. It was poignant and important.

This Lent for me has involved my struggle with forgiveness, loving my enemies, loving myself, and fully expressing love for my child in the way she deserves. So often, dealing with other people or my own demons or as a parent, I get focused on all the sacrifices I make.  Given my self-righteous streak, I’m quick to say, “Look at all I’ve endured and done for myself, my child, and all these people.” I focus on the sacrifices.  Sacrificing for self and others is hard work; it is much more giving to sacrifice rather than be apathetic and walk away or to be angry and attack. Yet I lose sight of what motivates me to give of myself.

My best friend recently had her second child.  We were discussing how traumatic and horrific the birth experience can be. I know many women and families who were fortunate enough to have a positive birth; for the two of us, birth was painful, tiring, overwhelming, long, and difficult.  Because as mothers we love our children, we somewhat block out those bad memories.  Despite the 34 hours of labor and the two years she never slept through the night, M is my greatest love. The sacrifices involved in being her mother I would gladly do over again.

I have reflected often on the hard work it has taken to love and appreciate myself. It took years, effort, pain, and sacrifice. I want to love others in that same way.  I’m praying for more love in my heart so I can forgive my enemies. It’s easy to forgive my loved ones. I have to forgive those who have injured me. During Holy Week, I’m praying on and for love.


An anthem


For Throwback Thursday, I revisited one of my favorite gospel songs, “Looking for you” by Kirk Franklin.  “Looking for you” went all the way to #1 on the Billboard Gospel charts in 2005. It samples the great Patrice Rushen song “Haven’t You Heard” which was also remade as a house music hit. The sample is a great backdrop for an uplifting song.

“Looking for you” gives honor to God for being present in dark hours. The song takes me back to my past experiences. I have undergone intense mental, emotional, and spiritual changes that reshaped my life for which I am grateful. This song takes me back to those times and the hope I feel in working with God and depending on Him for everything.

A few days ago, I was not in an optimal situation to be taking part in a job interview. I was nervous and I thought to myself that I would fail.  (This happens every single time I have a major job interview. I have had laryngitis each time I’ve interviewed for a leadership position. This week, I had my voice but my head was not where it should have been due to personal issues.) Yet I shine in those moments. I reach within and find resilience, strength, and clarity of purpose. I had to do some positive thinking. In all honesty, I literally put my hands together and I prayed.  I prayed for strength and guidance. I put myself in God’s hands (Giving it over to God) I was successful in that I was called back for a follow-up interview.

I feel encouraged. Hearing this song again makes me realize it’s a good anthem.  As I go through changes, I take on challenges to grow into the best version of myself.   I am looking for Him.  That is the key to my success.  I hope everyone has a song to guide you and to make you strong, happy, and positive.