We made it ONE MONTH

By Tami

Version Español

If my memory serves me correctly, one month ago today is when schools were closed down in Michigan. ONE MONTH people!! We have survived and we will continue to survive, undoubtedly utilizing just about every single coping mechanism known to man. Chocolate, alcohol, meditation, exercise, dance parties, you name it! Some have done brave and heroic things to reach out while others have resorted to posting random videos online (guilty). 

I have read every gamut of sentiments, from sadness to disbelief, from venting to lamenting, from thanksgiving to positivity. Some choose to challenge the systems and our leaders, some choose to accept them, others choose to disobey them. 

I admit that I have been trying to keep positive throughout this whole ordeal. I do not claim to be some Mary Poppins where life is all peaches and cream. I have had some VERY tough moments. My kids quite frequently drive me bonkers. My husband and I quite frequently lose our patience. I even broke down because I made a huge effort to put all the kids to bed early so I could run out for groceries and when I got there the store was closed. 

But instead of focusing on these moments, instead of joining the ranks of complaints, I have decided not to post about these things. Venting may make us feel better for approximately 30 seconds but it does little to help anyone else.

So I would like to resurrect the old adage, the well-known cliche, that “Life is what you make of it.” Our psyche, our attitude is SOOOO powerful, and remaining positive during this time is essential to our own well-being and that of all our loved ones.

After a whole month, most of us are getting stir crazy, bored, restless, lazy, desperate for this to be over. I’m right there with ya. But I would like to extend a challenge: 

  1. Get up at the same time every morning just as you would if you were getting the kids to school or going to work. GET DRESSED. I don’t care if you put on yoga pants, but get dressed. Brush your teeth and your hair. Take a shower every day. 
  2. Instead of pondering whether or not this is the new normal or if we will ever return to normal, we must create for ourselves some kind of normalcy. We are still human beings with worth and dignity. 
  3. Set goals for yourself each day. Sure, the goal may be to fold 3 baskets of laundry, clean the kitchen or get through one day without your kids biting each others’ heads off, but these are good and worthy goals right now. 
  4. Do one special thing each day that you will look forward to. Make yourself a homemade triple mocha latte. Go for a run. Get groceries (if you enjoy shopping). Take turns giving back rubs. Watch something that will make you laugh (or cry if you’d like). Do a creative art project or craft. If you’re a neat freak like I am, organize one small area of your house each day. Get rid of excess stuff. Make your own list of things you love to do and DO THEM.

And most of all, rely totally and completely on God. I will in no way attempt to over-spiritualize this stark reality, but truth is truth. The only ONE that has gotten you through ONE MONTH is God and He is the only One who will get us through the next one, two or three months (or years).

So gather all the gumption you have within you and make a deliberate choice to remain positive, using all the tools at your disposal to do so. 

We have God and we have each other. WE CAN DO THIS!!

Unexpected Blessings

by Tami

Version Español

Everyone is on edge, nervous, even frantic. Everyone is concerned about what is going to happen next. Everyone is wondering what will be canceled next or what place will close next. There are no sporting events to watch and no restaurants to go to. As a coworker put it, “What’s there to talk about?” 

Please, please don’t talk about THAT. I am so tired of hearing about it, reading about it and watching it. It’s enough to worry about whether or not my family of six will have food to eat for the next month. 

So instead of buying into the hysteria and the panic, I am on a mission to share positivity. What can our current situation teach us? What opportunities does it allow us? What things can we do that we normally wouldn’t be able to? What do we now have time for that we otherwise wouldn’t? What HASN’T changed?

First and foremost, our great God has not changed. “For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?” (Deuteronomy 4:7) Our God is ALWAYS with us and we can ALWAYS call upon Him. He can grant us peace of mind when no one and nothing else can. 

That is what we can learn from this. We can learn that when it comes down to it, the ONLY thing that matters is our relationship with God, because we are never assured of a tomorrow. 

But in the midst of this, while we still have breath within us, we have been given a great gift: the opportunity to spend more quality time with our families. Let’s bust out those board games, dust off those books we’ve been wanting to read for years now, pump up those bicycle tires and get some good old vitamin D. 

Let’s have deep and heartfelt conversations with loved ones. Let’s laugh like we never have before. Let’s do our spring cleaning together this year. Let’s watch the televised Mass and pray the rosary as a family. Let’s not forget that what will carry us through this is prayer. 

At my house this past weekend we pulled out a large pad of MadLibs. (Remember those?) My 7-year-old and I were laughing out loud (for real), enjoying the silliness of sentences that made no sense. We imagined what a giraffe’s long “armpit” looked like (instead of neck), and what it would be like to come home to a “smelly” house (instead of a cozy one). We played soccer outside and built castles with magnet toys inside. We made homemade lemonade and chocolate cake. We finally had time to work on potty-training my 3-year-old and saved numerous diapers. 

There is always a positive side to the coin if only we look for it. No matter how our situation may change or how much our world appears to turn upside down, may we never cease to exclaim: “Praise the Lord, Jerusalem!” (insert here USA).

An Encounter with my Best Friend

By Felix

Version Español

It all started at 10 am one day in September of 1996 with an extremely strong stomach ache. I thought it was a simple pain like any other, while I was getting ready to go to school at the university. I put up with the pain until 2 pm, when I met up with my friend “The Chiss”, who I had graduated from high school with. He had asked me to come over and play foosball and I told him that I didn’t feel well at all, so he told me to go on home.  When I arrived at my house, I told my mom how much pain I was in and she thought it was just a stomach ache, but when I ate anything I vomited profusely. At 6 pm they took me to the emergency room because what was happening was not normal. When we arrived at the hospital they told me that my health insurance did not correspond to that location and I had to go to another one. All the while, my pain level continued to get worse and worse. We finally arrived at the correct hospital, where I was examined and diagnosed with appendicitis, and told I needed surgery. I thought it would be quick, but they told me they were going to prepare me for surgery but I would have to wait for one of the operating rooms to be vacated before they could do the procedure. At that time it was already 9 pm. I laid on a cot for several hours, waiting for them to take me back. Finally, they wheeled me into the operating room and administered anesthesia through an epidural.

The doctors started to work on me while they chatted. I listened to them until my eyes began to slowly close. Suddenly, the most beautiful memories of my life flashed before me in rapid succession, like scenes of a movie, and I felt no pain. I reached a dark path and at the end there was a bright light, such as none seen on this earth. When I reached it, I saw that it was Jesus, and felt a peace and tranquility that does not exist in this world. As I was standing in front of him, I was suddenly back in the operating room, listening to everyone speak very tensely. I also saw a doctor holding my head and asking me questions. I was tied down to the bed and had many wires on my chest until I finished the operation. When I was able to ask my parents what happened, one of them told me “a nurse ran out asking for a defibrillator,” so they could only imagine what was happening inside the operating room.

After 23 years I finally sat down to write everything that happened to me in the operating room that day. As a child, up to that day, I had a very close relationship with God, where I felt the presence of “mi Amigo Jesus” (My friend Jesus) in a palpable way. While praying, I would feel the Holy Spirit’s presence very strongly, in the form of a warmth coursing through my head. I would smell flowers, when there were none, or incense when there wasn’t any, all while I prayed. I even considered being a priest. But after the operation, after my near-death experience, I went through a period of spiritual dryness for the next 20 years. Even so, I still believed in him, always trusted him and continued going to Mass. I have endured many difficult situations in my life but I never stopped believing nor did I distanced myself from him, and I didn’t blame him for the things that happened. 

I began to feel his presence again when, after receiving spiritual direction, I realized why I was still alive. He allowed me to live so that I could choose which path to follow. The floodgates opened and I began to cry. I felt so much peace during my visit to heaven and would have rather stayed right there, but God has a plan for each and every person. I will always continue to trust him, and walk hand in hand with him to do his will. Heaven is Real and God is Real.

 

Christmas is for Fans

By Felix
Version en Español

Ever since I was a little boy I have always watched and played soccer. The fans of each team are full of blind emotions that make them follow and support their teams whether they lose, tie or win. We should follow God with the same passion. We should be that dedicated whether life is going well, badly or mediocre. We must follow God’s path, although it is always difficult. Just like all soccer teams want to win a tournament, for us Christians to win the tournament is to make it to heaven. We should trust in God with the same enthusiasm as a football fan, and just like they watch their team every weekend, we go to church every Sunday.

We should prepare for the birth of Jesus with all the fervor and passion we feel when our team runs out on the field. We cannot fall asleep, but rather rejoice because the Savior is born, which is the best gift we can receive in our spiritual life, because material things break, run out, or we get used to them and they no longer excited us. But if Jesus is the principal reason we celebrate Christmas we can live every day of the year celebrating his birth and opening our hearts to receive him, because he is always waiting for us just like that fan who has unconditional love for his team. Be a fan of Jesus all your life, and you will rejoice victoriously in heaven.