My brother in law Tony helping the poor

Monday, November 16, 2009

"Thanks in Giving"

In case you haven't noticed, my blog site is titled "Live to Give," which I think is an oppropriate title for the upcoming holiday.  Why live to give?  Because I believe the only way a person truly experiences life is though giving.  When we give, our spirit is awakened and our soul truly comes alive, because in some strange way humans are not really human without giving. 

The holiday Thanksgiving is usually associated with giving thanks, but I ask you to study this word more carefully, it's spelled, "thanks" "giving".  I don't think it is written that way by accident either.  Yes, it is a time to be thankful.  Yes, it is also a time for giving thanks.  But just as import, it is a time to be giving!  We always emphasize the thankfulness of the day and rarely remember the giving significance.  This year I ask each of you to remember that the word Thanksgiving is a combination word where both parts are equal. 

How many times do we really give?  I mean, giving until it hurts?  Probably not too often.  A few weeks ago I made a personal decision to start giving more to others, more money to the poor, more money to church collections, more to those who ask, etc.  Then today I got home and opened my mail and saw a hugr bill for $1,1000.00 for the mileage overage on my last leased vehicle!  "Best laid plans" I said to myself.  How am I going to pay this bill, buy Christmas presents for my kids and family, AND give more?  I have no idea.  But I made a promise and I have to trust.  I will not cut anything out.  I will give more to the church and to the poor, buy my kids gifts, AND trust that there will be enough to pay this enormous bill which I was not counting on this time of the year.  I'll let you know how I do.

The reality is, there is always some crazy expense (oh did I mention my refrigerator broke last week too?), bills piled up, and holidays to contend with but if I give only when I have a little extra money in my wallet, am I really giving?  Nope, this time I will give until it hurts then I will watch my spirit awaken and my soul become lighter, because "it is in giving which we receive..."  I can't wait to see what great thing God will send me this Christmas!  I hope you all do the same.  HAPPY "THANKS FOR GIVING!"

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Serving the Poor?

Today I am writing about something a little closer to home for me, but farther in distance, poverty.  For years I have been in love with the idea of helping God's children who are financially less fortunate than I.  My journey has taken me to many different places.  I starting my ministry several years ago when I began helping a priest build a transitional home for orphans who were too old to live in the children's orphanage in Bolivia.  I sent him money to support these older students and in turn the students gave back by helping at the children's orphanage.  He would send me letters (hand written via regular mail) and update me on how the kids were adjusting. 

When my own parish priest went to El Salvador to serve the poor there I was privileged to participate in his ministry by at first sending women to college and then later in many other ways.  When God asks me to do something I certainly don't want to let Him down so I gave that ministry all that I could!  My husband and I started our own 501 (c) 3 charity to help raise money and awareness in and around our community.  But soon we were met with many challenges.  There were people who tried to prevent us from continuing our work, those who were jealous, and even friends who disowned us because they did not want to be asked for anything.  Still, we forged on. 

One of the things I thought was very important was the formation of individuals.  People needed to be educated in many ways on how to effectively help the poor.  I taught programs in schools and visited church groups and even began taking people to El Salvador to visit.  In the beginning, I have to say that each of those visits was especially rewarding for me.  Many of the people who accompanied me on those trips came home with a new perspective on poverty and devoutly supported the cause.  But recently I have been disheartened.  Unfortunately I am seeing a bigger interest in supporting the priests who are called to serve than in supporting the poor.  With all the riches we have in this country why can we not see how even our spare change can feed a family or educate a child?  In the past week there was a terrible hurricane in El Salvador and 140 people died and countless others are without homes, food and water.  I ask myself, what are we doing as a rich people to help ease the burden of these painful times for those who were victums of this tragedy? 

Are we rallying together to send supplies and money, or are we focusing on the wrong things?  When you make a decision to help the poor (even if those you try to support do not welcome or support you) you are making a decision to live out the gospel.  I have found other ways to help the poor in other countries and even in my own neighborhood, but I am heartbroken at the direction I see so many people taking in the name of "giving to the poor."  Who are the poor?  Who are we really trying to impress?  Are you truly living the gospel?  Serving your own ego is not equal to serving Christ.  Please remember that what is done in secret your Father in heaven sees.  What is done for others to see is your reward already.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Everyday Miracles

Dear Readers,

I have many friends who struggle to see God working within their life.  They ask, even beg for signs, run from one prayer group to another seeking the miraculous.  Sometimes I sit back and just watch the frustration.  Still, for me I see miracles...actual miracles everyday right before my eyes!  I know these miracles are not for me alone and that others can see them too if they just stopped to look. 

I would like to share one that happened to me a few years ago and then another that happened just the other day.  About 5 years ago a good friend of mine yelled at me enough to convince me to go and get an annual mammogram (I had never had one before that).  So a few days after my 40th birthday I went in for a routine exam, exept it wasn't routine.  They asked me to wait a while and then they took more intense x-rays and asked me to sit and wait again.  I started to get suspicious when they told me to get dressed and that the doctor wanted to speak to me.  So I did.  She called me into her office and showed me the x-ray.  Sure enough there was a large solid black mass, about the size of a tennis ball on the film.   They told me to go home and that my regular OBGYN would call me in a few hours.  I was petrified!  So instead of going straight home I stopped by the chapel at St. Rita and prayed.  I spoke to our Mother and told her that I could not believe she would want me to have cancer but I did not ask her to remove it either.  I simply said that if Jesus wanted my boys to have a Mother who has to battle cancer that I would exept it but that I would be very sad to see them so sad. 

My procedure was scheduled for the day after New Year's Day to remove the lump.  I asked why they just didn't do a biopsy and my doctor told me that she can tell when a lump is invasive and when it is questionable so she told me it had to be removed.  Period.  The day I went in, they prepared me for surgery and began to do another ultrasound to determine exactly where the lump was located.  The new doctor looked and looked.  Finally she said to the nurse, "where is this woman's lump?"  The nurse went back to the office and pulled the x-ray from the few weeks earlier and put it up under the lamp.  As big as day you can see this large mass.  Then the doctor then put another slide up that she had just taken moment before my scheduled surgery, and nothing!  It was completely gone!  The doctor seemed a little mad at me and shouted, "well go and get dressed, I've never sent a woman home who lying on the table!"  She almost sounded disappointed! 

Anyhow, my regular doctor, who is originally from India called me the next day and I asked her, "how do you explain this?"  She simply said, "I can not explain it.  All I know is that yesterday you had cancer and today you do not."  I knew what happened but I wanted to hear her explanation.  Our Mother spared my life for a while, but I felt ever more compelled to do all that I could for God and our Church.  I was so grateful and so on fire at the same time! 

Recently, I met a friend who I have not seen in 35 years.  We met for coffee and to talk about our business but we never quite got on that subject.  We spent the whole time talking about our faith.  I realized that he was passionate and destined to God's work, and after he went on about everything he thought was wrong with the church I just told him, "You have to be the change you want to see.  If you cant do it, no one can."  I think he finally got it!  A few weeks later he sent me an email about a job available in the Catholic Church.  That very day I was having lunch with the man who was hiring for that job!  I told him about my friend and he asked me to have him send him his resume.  Two days later my friend sent in his resume and received a call.  He is now waiting for an interview for a job I'm sure he is destined to have.  Coincidence?  I think not.  Miracles!  I'm sure if you truly believed, you'd see these same miracles in your own life.  Stop looking in the wrong places.  You dont have to be in any particular place for God to find you.