Tag Archive | Family

A Poem: The Children

This poem feels like drowning, gasping for breath from the raw agony. And then suddenly the light catches your submerged eye…and you can see it…a strong hand has reached down to lift you out of the blackness. You tightly grasp it, and the brilliance grabs you…sunshine, hope, love, peace. You are saved. You are free…

I see my would have been older sister,Leslie,waiting along with these children in the poem. She died before I was born…at only 8 1/2 months in utero. I often wonder what she will look like…if she has my laugh or same color eyes…

I also see, the millions and millions of children who were aborted in our country…who await to be reunited with the ones they love…when they ever come…

The reading of the poem by the author at the end is amazing.

The Children

Somewhere safe from all the dangers,
Somewhere safe from Crack and AIDS,
Safe from lust and lurking strangers,
Safe from war and bombing raids.

Somewhere safe from malnutrition,
Safe from daddy’s damning voice,
Safe from mommy’s cool ambition,
Safe from deadly goddess, Choice.

Do you hear the children crying?
I can hear them every day,
Crying, sighing, dying, flying
Somewhere safe where they can play.

* * * *

Do you see the children meeting?
I can see them in the sky,
Meeting, seating, eating, greeting
Jesus with the answer why.
Why the milk no longer nourished,
Why the water made them sick,
Why the crops no longer flourished,
Why the belly got so thick.

Why they never knew the reason
Friends had vanished out of sight,
Why some suffered for a season,
Others never saw the light.

Do you see the children meeting?
I can see them in the sky,
Meeting, seating, eating, greeting
Jesus with the answer why.

* * * *

Do you hear the children singing?
I can hear them high above,
Singing, springing, ringing, bringing
Glory to the God of love.

Glory for the gift of living,
Glory for the end of pain,
Glory for the gift of giving,
Glory for eternal gain.

Glory from the ones forsaken,
Glory from the lost and lone,
Glory when the infants waken,
Orphans on the Father’s throne

Do you hear the children singing?
I can hear them high above,
Singing, springing, ringing, bringing
Glory to the God of love.

* * * *

Do you see the children coming?
I can see them on the clouds,
Coming, strumming, drumming, humming
Songs with heaven’s happy crowds.

Songs with lots of happy clapping,
Songs that set the heart on fire,
Songs that make your foot start tapping,
Songs that make a merry choir.

Songs so loud the mountains tremble,
Songs so pure the canyons ring,
When the children all assemble
Millions, millions, round the King.

Do you see the children coming?
I can see them on the clouds,
Coming, strumming, drumming, humming
Songs with heaven’s happy crowds.

* * * *

Do you see the children waiting?
I can see them all aglow
Waiting, waiting, waiting, waiting,
Who of us will rise and go?

Will we turn and fly to meet them
In the light of candle two?
I intend to rise and greet them.
Come and go with me, would you?

By John Piper

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Easier Than Love

I feel like I need to apologize, because this post has nothing to do with caregiving. Or, maybe it does, in a way. As a parent, I am responsible for raising morally just human beings. And there is a great deal of care and giving that goes into that tough job (that lasts a lifetime).

Raising young kids is sometimes disheartening, in this culture, which worships so-called “reproductive freedom”. I wonder, how much has this so-called “freedom” cost us? We tell ourselves that we are in control, and that we can do whatever we want with our bodies, and that no one owns us. Really? You can say this as your government is requiring you to buy products whose purposes are not to actually save any lives, say like cancer or heart healing drugs, but drugs that destroy and prevent life instead. If that’s not control, than I don’t know what is. This kind of control and influence tells our youth that anything goes and that you never really need to commit to anything, because your choices are reversible and discardable.

Sex has become just a fun past time, a commodity, and a currency…a means to buy and sell tv shows, movies, music, and exciting products. We can trade a future of potential lasting love, meaning, and hope, for the seemingly more important intense needs of the moment. These “choices” prevent us from authentically believing in ourselves and in our capacity for being more fully alive, deeply loved, and understood. When we invest most of our time and money on things and strategies that tear down instead of build up doesn’t there need to be any moral consequences?

Our kids watch “Reality” shows that display woman after woman dating men in an assembly line of pleasure and anticipation, desperately searching for “The One”. There is competition, jealously, back stabbing, and heartbreak all on display for our joyous entertainment. And everyone so-called “wins”, as they get a chance at the painted prize and get to have their 15 minutes of fulfilling fame.And then, they are always wondering why they are unsatisfied and left wanting more.

In this “reality show” age, how much reality are our children really getting? Show after show tells them what they need to do to become thinner, sexier, funnier, and less of who they really are, and more of what others think they should be. Go here, and you’ll lose 100 pounds, and get that dream job and finally be HAPPY! Date this guy, and you’ll see a new world open up for you…you will go to far off exotic places and travel by helicopters and hot air balloons with some super hot guy you barely know (but who you THINK you know after going on 5 dates), and who recently went on 20 or so other dates with 20 or so other women. Just think of how truly “special” you will feel!

Yeah, now that’s some sad reality for you.

Because utlitmiatley; when sex, love, and life cease being sacred, precious, and real…than nothing can be

“Easier Than Love”

Ah La La La La La La,
Ah La La La La La La

Sex is currency
She sells cars,
She sells magazines
Addictive bittersweet, clap your hands,
with the hopeless nicotines

Everyone’s a lost romantic,
Since our love became a kissing show
Everyone’s a Casanova,
Come and pass me the mistletoe

Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone

She is easier than love
Is easier than life
It’s easier to fake and smile and bribe

It’s easier to leave
It’s easier to lie
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul?

Numb

Sex is industry,
The CEO, of corporate policy
Skin-deep ministry,
Suburban youth, hail your so-called liberty

Every advertising antic,
Our banner waves with a neon glow
War and love become pedantic,
We wage love with a mistletoe

Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone

She is easier than love
Is easier than life
It’s easier to fake and smile and bribe

It’s easier to leave
It’s easier to lie
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul?

Ah, la, la, la, la,
(Yeah!)
La la la la la la la,

La, la, la, la, oh,
(Yeah!)
La, la, la, la, no!

It’s easier to love,
It’s easier to love

It’s easier to love,
It’s easier to love

She is easier than love,
It’s easier to love

Everyone’s been scared to death of,
Everyone’s been scared to death of,
Everyone’s been scared to death of dying here alone,
alone

[Sing]
Sex is easier than love,
It’s easier than love,
It’s easier to fake and smile and brag

It’s easier to leave,
It’s easier to lie,
It’s harder to face ourselves at night
Feeling alone,
What have we done?
What is the monster we’ve become?

Where is my soul? (Where is my?)
Where is my soul?

How Much is To Much?

Harrods department store, Brompton Road, Knigh...

Harrods department store, Brompton Road, Knightsbridge, London. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last summer, while I was in London, I visited Harrods’s Department Store. Harrods is one of the largest and most luxurious department stores in the world. It’s a place you really need to “see to believe”. The opulence and extravagance are unlike anything I have ever seen. The ceilings are decked out with intricate colorful hand paintings, gilded sculptures, and brilliant fixtures.

The opulent clothing department at Harrods, London

Harrods only sells the very top designer brands or “couture” brands, like Yves Saint Laurent, Burberry, and Marc Jacobs. They have an amazing shellfish bar, and they sell any kind of food in the world that you could possibly dream of.

At one point, we were browsing in the “discount” room looking at woman’s clothes, where the least expensive clothing item I found was a DKNY sequenced shirt going for 50 pounds ($80 or so). Just down the rack from that shirt there was a intricately embroidered suede leather jacket “on sale” for $3500, reduced from the price of $15,000. I joke you not. The first thought I had was “Um, shouldn’t they have this locked up or something?” And then I thought, “How much do they actually mark this stuff up, if they decreased the price by that much?” It probably cost a couple hundred to make it. It was total madness to me.

There were people from all over the world shopping. I noticed a lot of Middle 

Eastern women with beautiful brightly colored luxurious silk scarves wrapped

around  them, which probably cost more than my Grand Caravan minivan. Many

had their “maids” trailing behind them carrying their plethora of stuffed, heavy

packages. The women’s husbands or boyfriends wore expensive looking Italian

 leather shoes, silk shoes, and linen slacks. I got to thinking about what these

these people do for a living that they can come here for a shopping spree. Are

they wives of dignitaries or diplomats or important oil sheiks from

Due Bai or Empire Eu?

 

I thought, “Do these people wake up in the morning and think, “You know, I

need to go pick up that Burberry scarf (regular price 550 pounds) to go with

my $15,ooo jacket. I really haven’t spent enough of my millions lately….”

No, I am guessing that prices do not even enter their brains. Perhaps money to

them, is plentiful and endless, so it is of no concern.

 

We ate lunch there, which was fun, as it is such a ridiculously “surreal” place. I

had an $8  latte and a $20 sandwich, which was the best sandwich I have ever

tasted. For me, it was a fun place to visit for a couple hours. I loved the food

departments. I could’ve stayed all day dreaming up exotic food recipes.

We didn’t even make it upstairs to the furniture and housewares department,

but I hear they have pieces worth millions of dollars. All around there were big

burly security guards carfully watching the large crowd for potential

“problems”. It was a little unnerving.

 

After walking around all of the exorbitantly priced blouses and dresses, I

began to feel claustrophobic an annoyed. It reminded me of those days when

my mom would come home from trips wearing her St. John Knit dresses, which is  a brand that Harrods carry. I always had mixed feelings of awe and confusion.

Like, “Wow, mom looks amazingly fantastic in that St. John Knit dress, and then

“Why does she spend that much money on one dress?” “Does it really make her

feel that much better about herself wearing a $5,ooo dress, verses a $50

dress?” I think it did make her feel better about herself for a while anyway.

But was it worth it?

 

I am most certainly not immune to the sinful forces of greed, just like everyone 

else. I love to shop for beautiful things, and I have been known to get “sucked

in” all of that tempting materialism, which can leave you feeling like “you just

have to have it”, in order to be a happier, more fulfilled person.But, luckily for

my husband, the frugal teacher in me still loves to mostly bargain shop. I

rarely,if ever, pay full price for anything.

 

Over time, I have come to realize that those fulfilled feelings fade. Money can

make you more comfortable and make your life run more efficiently. But alone,

it can never buy lasting happiness. And the thing about my mom was that she

could have had almost any material thing that her heart could’ve dreamed of,

but the illusion of happiness that it brought her would have never been enough.

And that is because she could never truly find that happiness within her.

 

What my mom’s illness has taught me is that all of this “stuff” that we sometimes put to

much value and importance in will all very much pass away, and should not in any way

define our true selves. I think of my mom’s St. John Knit dresses collecting dust in her

closet now, and it makes me sad. All the glitz and glam can become methods and means

for appearing worthy or special. Sometimes material wealth can cause people to hide

behind their clothes and expensive shoes…..getting farther and farther from the truth of

who they are on the inside.

 

So, I guess my Harrods experience left my asking the questions,

“What really matters in life?” “How can I live a more authentic life, focusing more

on giving, than on getting?” “How can I best balance my time and money?”

“How much is TO much?”

“Gone”

She told him she’d rather fix her makeup
Than try to fix what’s going on
But the problem keeps on calling
Even with the cellphone gone
She told him that she believes in living
Bigger than she’s living now
But her world keeps spinning backwards
And upsidedown
Don’t say so long, and throw yourself wrong
Don’t spend today away
Cuz today will soon be Gone, like yesterday is gone,
Like history is
Gone, just trying to prove me wrong
And pretend like you’re immortal She said he said live like no tomorrow
Every day we borrow
Brings us one step closer to the edge (infinity)
Where’s your treasure, where’s your hope
If you get the world and lose your soul
She pretends like she pretends like she’s immortal
Don’t say so long
You’re not that far gone
This could be your big chance to makeup
Today will soon beGone, like yeterday is gone,
Like history is gone,
The world keeps spinning on,
Your going going gone,
Like summer break is gone,
Like saturday is gone
Just try to prove me wrong
You pretend like your immortal your immortal

We are not infinite
We are not permanent
Nothing is immediate
We’re so confident
In our accomplishments
Look at our decadence

Gone, like Frank Sinatra
Like Elvis and his mom
Like AL Pacino’s cash nothing lasts in this life
My highschool dreams are gone
My childhood sweets are gone
Life is a day that doesn’t last for long

Life is more than money
Time was never money
Time was never cash,
Life is still more than girls
Life is more than hundred dollar bills
And roto-tom fills
Life’s more than fame and rock and roll and thrills
All the riches of the kings
End up in wills we got information in the information age
But do we know what life is
Outside of our convenient Lexus cages

She said he said live like no tomorrow
Every moment that we borrow
Brings us closer to the God who’s not short of cash
Hey Bono i’m glad you asked
Life is still worth living, life is still worth living

“Fight” 

How cleaver is my pride, how it deceives my mind

To think I am in control when I have really lost it all
How brilliant is my greed for what it says I need
And then I’ve come to find I’m empty on the inside

Real, my heart is aching to be real
So I am coming to You

All my broken motives, all my selfish dreams
All of my foolishness now I understand where it leads
I wanna be in Your love, I wanna be so much more
I know You’re reaching out so what am I fighting You for
So what am I fighting You for

How quick is my doubt to leave my heart without
The presence of Your peace so that I scarce believe
How pardoned is my guilt to crush the life You built
And to keep me far away from any kind of shame

Real, my heart is aching to be real
So I am coming to You
All my broken motives, all my selfish dreams
All of my foolishness now I understand where it leads
I wanna be in Your love, I wanna be so much more
I know You’re reaching out so what am I fighting You for

‘Cause only You can save me
And only You can change me
And only You can love me
Here I come, here I come
So I come to You

All my broken motives, all my selfish dreams
All of my foolishness ’cause I understand where it leads
I wanna be in Your love, I wanna be so much more
I know You’re reaching out so what am I fighting You

All my broken motives, all my selfish dreams
All of my foolishness now I understand where it leads
I wanna be in Your love, I wanna be so much more
I know You’re reaching out I don’t wanna fight anymore

I don’t wanna fight anymore
I don’t wanna fight anymore
I don’t wanna fight anymore
I don’t wanna fight

Dear Tears

I wrote the poem “Dear Tears” about 15 years ago, while my grandma was suffering with vascular dementia. She had the same type of dementia that my mom has. My mom’s mom, whom we called “Nana”, had dementia for about seven years, until she passed away in 2000. My husband and I got married just a few months after she passed.  By the end of her illness, she did not recognize most of her family. Occasionally, she seemed to have fleeting glimpses of recognition. Sometimes she seemed to remember my mom, and bits and pieces from her old life.

I have vivid memories of visiting Nana at the Care Center, which was situated not far from my parents home. At the beginning of her stay, she would beg and beg me to take her home in my “red car”. It was heart wrenching to leave her there and witness her sad, forlorn, and confused eyes, with her never understanding why we were keeping her there. I would visit often with my mom, taking Nana for walks in her wheel chair around the property.

Many times Nana mistakenly believed that my mom was married to her first boyfriend, John, whom she had dated before my dad. She hadn’t seen or talked to John in over 30 years, but my grandma would often ask how he and his family were doing, and what he was up to. Mom and I would sometimes joke about that, and I would tease her for once throwing an engagement ring John had given her into the snow, when they had gotten into a fight one night. Nana also sometimes believed that her parents were still alive, and she wondered why they never visited her. It was painful explaining to her over and over again that they were in fact, dead and gone and now in heaven.

We would often go and visit the song birds down the hall from Nana’s room, where they nested and flitted about in their wall sized enclosure. Some days Nana didn’t mind going to sit with them and listen to the tiny bird’s sweet tweeting and chirping. As time went on though, she frequently rebelled at having to see those birds. On some level, I imagine that she understood that those tiny little things of beauty were stuck and trapped inside, just like she was.

Mom and I were at Nana’s bedside when she passed peacefully to her new life with God. I remember praying the Rosary, and my mom later told me that she had felt “a strong wind” blow across the room just after Nana died, even though there were no windows in the room, and the one and only door in the room was tightly closed. We both firmly believed that her angels took her, and that the gush of wind could’ve very well been them leading her on to her next life.

I remember having emotional conversations with my mom, where she would plead with me saying things like, “Mary, if I ever end up this way, you can not put me in a nursing home. I’m serious Mary, your father and I have enough money to get full time nursing care and that is what I would want. Promise me that.” I am sure that I promised her. I probably said something like, “OK, OK, OK mom, geez…do we really need to be talking about this right now?” Little did I know then, that less than 10 years later, I would be needing to do the very thing that she made me promise her I would not do. No wonder I had severe anxiety attacks while searching for a suitable care center for her to move into. I have since gotten help for that, thank God.

In many ways, caring for my mom feels so similar to how it felt caring for Nana. They both have the same witty humor, inquisitive natures, and stick to it stubbornness. My children call my mom Nana, just like I called her mom Nana. Sometimes it’s uncomfortable, because I have such clear memories of being with Nana, and I get a sort of shock or “twilight zone” type of feeling when it sinks in that yep, it’s deja vu. I’m here again with dementia. Only it’s not Nana. It’s my mom. I am thankful for the kids in those moments. They are perfect for sucking me back into the now, and for helping me to appreciate the joy and innocence again, which they exude so well.

Dear Tears

Deep within,

my soul cries.

 

Tears and sadness

for the one,

who can not shed.

 

Tears for the one,

who knows not

what’s in her head.

 

Tears for the one,

who’s so alone,

in a world so

mangled and twisted.

 

Crying out my pain

for the precious and the dear,

who one day awake,

and know not

the face in the mirror.

 

These tears

which fall

will rest,

knowing that in the end,

His will

is what’s best.

 

This is a beautiful song written about the singer’s grandma, who had dementia. It is written and sung by the Dixie Chicks. (I don’t know the people in the photos)

This beautiful song, written and sung by Jon Foreman (lead singer of Swicthfoot) reminds me of my long journey of caring for my mom, and of all the years I spent trying to help her get better. It also helps me remember to unite my sufferings with Christ, who holds us close in our pain and deep fears.

 

Love is a Gift

Anna and Nana

 
Authentic love is not a vague sentiment or a blind passion. It is an inner attitude that involves the whole human being. It is looking at others, not to use them but to serve them. It is the ability to rejoice with those who are rejoicing and to suffer with those who are suffering. It is sharing what one possesses so that no one may continue to be deprived of what he needs. Love, in a word, is the gift of self.
 
~ Blessed Pope John Paul II
 
 
 
Grandparents
 
Grandparents bestow upon their grandchildren
The strength and wisdom that time
And experience have given them.
 
Grandchildren bless their grandparents
With a youthful vitality and innocence
That help them stay young at heart forever.
 
Together they create a chain of love
Linking the past with the future.
The chain may lengthen,
But it will never part….
 
 

Fall in Love
Attributed to Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ (1907–1991)

Nothing is more practical than
finding God, than
falling in Love
in a quite absolute, final way.
What you are in love with,
what seizes your imagination, will affect everything.
It will decide
what will get you out of bed in the morning,
what you do with your evenings,
how you spend your weekends,
what you read, whom you know,
what breaks your heart,
and what amazes you with joy and gratitude.
Fall in Love, stay in love,
and it will decide everything.

– See more at: http://www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/prayers-by-st-ignatius-and-others/fall-in-love/#sthash.nTKtSwvu.dpuf

 
 

Message in a Bottle

We all know someone who has struggled with the disease of addiction. Maybe it was a friend, an aunt, a brother, sister, father, or co-worker. None of these people wished to end up where the cruel disease brought them. They didn’t wake up one morning and say, “Hey, you know what? I think I’m going to drink or take pills to the point where I destroy my marriage or lose my house.” Often there is a sad story of loss or grief behind the self-destruction.

No, addiction is much more cleaver than that. It is much more deceptive and seductive. It very slowly makes you believe that you need it in order to be a better, more interesting, or happy person. You start to think everyone else is crazy to believe that you can’t “handle it”. Addiction twists the truth into appealing half-truths, or full-out lies, yet makes them look and feel like they were meant to be. There were times when I found my mom very visibly intoxicated, yet she still claimed with complete seriousness,  “I haven’t had a single drop to drink.”

I imagine addiction can make you feel like you are shipwrecked on an isolated island. Suddenly, you are alone, afraid, ashamed and unable to live out the expectations of those close to you. You send out your tiny, obscure messages of repentance and reconciliation, in small weathered bottles stuffed with lame appologies…that have weakened corks….hoping your message of peace will finally last. But they never do. They just come back unread again and again…because the recipients stopped trusting and believing in you. You have caused the erosion of the thing you once most treasured in all the world.

 After awhile, your brain starts to slowly chemically alter itself in order to get more of what it desperately craves, the very thing that is slowly and viciously destroying it. A person deep in the clutches of chemical addiction often can not simply just willfully “stop” taking that next drink, because their body and brain won’t allow it to without an extreme amount of  physical and mental pain (withdrawal). It all becomes a vicious cycle of shame, guilt, self-loathing and hiding. The sad part, I feel, comes in when the addict herself and even those around her expects her to just “fix the problem” on her own. They may think they can “handle it” without doing anything much about it at all.

Honestly, the only consistent, long-term success stories I have heard of come from those who have willingly and honestly attended a chemical treatment 28 or longer stay, which includes a detox period to get your body and brain adjusted to life without those chemicals. The process of detoxification can be very dangerous, so a person needs to be monitored with meds and nursing care. During a detox period at one of her treatment stays, my mom almost went into cardiac arrest, and they needed to admit her into the hospital, and was subsequently in detox for a few days longer than normal.

Then, success can be achieved, while attending a frequent spiritual program, like AA, to help support the person and help them avoid relapsing back into their old life of chaos and deception. I have heard of people needing to attend AA or Mass, or even both, every single day in order to help them battle those relentless temptations to abuse chemicals.

I believe my mom was probably one of those who needed AA daily (and more frequent mass attendance), but what do I know? She never believed AA was for her, anyway. She thought that it was for, “those other people”. Little did she know that addiction doesn’t need to discriminate from what part of town you live in or what kind of car you drive. The town drunk is typically NOT the one who is sitting on a park bench with a bottle hidden wrapped up in a brown paper bag. But my mom never bought into that truth. If she did, maybe that truth could have set her free from those chains that kept her trapped with her sly, cruel demons.

Although mom’s sobriety came as a result of her needing 24 nursing care in a nursing home at the age of 66, I am still extremely grateful for that. God found a way to make it happen. Granted, it wasn’t the way we would have chosen, but who am I to be so picky? Besides, we all know God often takes us down roads that we most don’t want to go down, just so that we can learn the most lessons. And who am I to argue with that? I know He will always know best.

Grateful for Grace

This weekend my daughter Lauren is receiving her First Reconciliation. As one of her Catechist teachers, I am so excited and grateful to be sharing this experience with her! As Catholics, we believe that an abundance of God’s grace is received during this holy Sacrament (outward sign of God’s grace and love) . Speaking out loud our weaknesses and wrongdoings  to a representative of our Lord is a very healing and freeing experience.

There is something about hearing your sins spoken out loud to another that makes you feel so much more accountable and deeply sorry for hurting others and God. I told my students that it feels like getting a car wash for your soul.  Afterwards your heart is made clean and you feel so much joy and love from our merciful Father!  I said, “You know how you feel when you get up on Christmas morning and you are so happy you can hardly stand it? Well, receiving  God’s Grace and forgiveness after Reconciliation feels a lot like that. You feel so much lighter, and brighter, and you have a new sense of hope in your heart to try to love others, yourself, and God even better than before!

It can be painful to honestly look at our actions and motives for doing what we do in certain situations or relationships. Sometimes we see things that we don’t want to see. Sometimes we struggle with the same sins over and over, and we need to continually pray for God’s guidance. It is important for us to realize that we are not alone in our struggles, and that God’s mercy and love  is always present, no matter what. Through Reconciliation we receive the strength and courage to become who we are meant to be!

Confession is an act of honesty and courage; an act of entrusting ourselves, beyond sin, to the mercy of a loving and forgiving God. It is an act of the prodigal son who returns to his Father and is welcomed by him with the kiss of peace. 

 ~Blessed John Paul II               

The Return of the Prodigal Son by Rembrandt. Taken at the Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg, Russia