Sunday, July 5, 2015
Here I am, laid back in a dental chair for an oral examination, when suddenly an overwhelming sense of compassionate, caring love pours through me. I felt like I was receiving a huge hug from heaven as my longtime friend Dr. Kristi Soileau prodded and probed my gums. No kidding!
There were no words yet I experienced an intimately intense feeling of being cared for, much like the feeling a child gets from their loving parent. It was very emotional because I had an interior understanding that Kristi had been placed in my path for protection and support in a weak area of my life that needed her particular skills. Believe me when I say this, my mouth had been like a minefield from years of inconsistent and poor dental care as a child of the military and Kristi has helped repair the damage.
I felt immense gratitude.
Sometimes the Lord sends us a heavenly embrace when we are feeling anxious and vulnerable to remind us that we are not alone; that he is present in all things. It was a grace-filled moment that I really needed to experience.
Much of my life's energy has been poured into people and jobs and for the last ten years as a single mom into raising my children alone. Consequently I am sometimes feeling empty and yes-alone.
Who knew that while lying flat on my back, the Lord would show me he’s got my back; that he is consistently laboring on my behalf and this time through my very talented friend!
Of course Kristi has no idea the power of her actions or that she has brought God’s comfort to me and my sons while pleasing him. She’s too busy doing the next right thing which includes being the best in her field.
Kristi is a New Orleans Peridontist which means she’s in the business of saving teeth by cultivating healthy gums. Well, she can add cultivating suffering souls to her resume, because here’s the thing.
Stepping out in service, using our skills to help others without judgment or condemnation, can trigger a spiritual shift inside a person that is motivating, mind-altering and often-life changing. By rendering service to others we crack open wide the floodgates of healing hope and unlock the indwelling of the holy spirit which then pours through our veins revitalizing our weary hearts and rebooting the best of intentions!
God is with us, he is in us and each and every one of us has the power to unlock the divine mysteries that will transform this weary and broken world, one human being at a time!
This one’s for you Kristi!
“Thus says the Lord; Keep your voice from weeping, and your eyes from tears; for there is a reward for your work, says the Lord: they shall come back from the land of the enemy; there is hope for your future, says the Lord: your children shall come back to their own country.” Jeremiah 31:16-17
Friday, June 12, 2015
Marijuana is not medicine. Let me say that again. Marijuana is not medicine. Marijuana is a DEA schedule 1 drug because of its potential for abuse and the associated health risks that include brain damage, birth defects, mental illness, cancer and addiction. Other schedule 1 drugs include LSD, quaaludes, heroin, ecstasy and bath salts.
In order for marijuana to be considered medicine it would have to go through the same strict FDA approval process that every prescription drug goes through and that hasn't happened.
With all the hype and misinformation marketed to our youth-and yes to parents-by pro marijuana advocacy groups and the millionaires backing them there is a growing perception that marijuana is safe. After all marijuana is “natural” because it grows in the earth. Well, so does arsenic and I don’t see that being marketed and smoked. Marijuana contains carcinogens. In other words poisons. People are smoking poison and innocent little kids who are accidentally eating brownies, or cookies or candy laced with marijuana are being poisoned.
The age of initiation among youth in our nation is declining while the THC levels which determine the drugs strength are 3 to 5 times more powerful than ever before. So adolescents who begin smoking marijuana at 14 or younger are 6 times more likely to become addicted.
Consequently, one in 6 weed smoking youth have slipped into addiction because the marijuana successfully rewires the brain by hi-jacking the communication network that is responsible for normal brain development and function. The drug interferes with the brain’s pleasure center triggering an unnatural dependency on this brain poison and the fuzzy feelings fueled by the THC.
Inevitably, the brain begins craving a stronger high and so addiction to marijuana opens the door to other illicit drugs like heroin, crystal meth, cocaine and Oxycontin. I can tell you from personal experience that’s when a parent’s worst nightmare begins.
Marijuana is dumbing down America. The National Institute on Drug Abuse, NIDA says one study shows early persistent marijuana users who had an ongoing cannabis use disorder lost an average of 8 IQ points between 13 and 38. That’s a big hit since the average IQ is around 100. In addition getting stoned impairs cognitive functions which makes learning more difficult. It also messes up motor skills which dilutes an athlete’s performance.
I’m writing this blog because my beloved adopted state of Louisiana has just passed a “medical” marijuana bill that ignores the science, side steps medical safeguards and places the patient and the public at risk. For me, the scariest part is that the lawmakers I spoke with really didn’t understand the science, the long term consequences-and they didn’t seem to care.
In states where medical marijuana is now legal there’s been an increase in marijuana use across the board and less than 3 % of people using “medical” marijuana have the diseases marijuana is being touted for. Data from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health shows that the number of teens who smoked pot increased by 33 percent in “medical” marijuana states vs 6 percent in the rest of the country.
Colorado is just one state where “medical” marijuana is being diverted to youth use and now 74% of kids in treatment in Denver admitted they used someone else’s “medical” marijuana card. In California there are now more “medical” marijuana dispensaries than Starbucks.
The American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Society of Addiction Medicine are both against “medical” marijuana laws as is the American Medical Association. The American Cancer Society isn’t demanding the passage of these laws and the Glaucoma Foundation warns against using so called “medical” marijuana.
Addiction psychiatrist Dr. Ed Gogek is quoted in the Philadelphia Inquirer. “Not only are these laws harmful, but they're completely unnecessary. While some seriously ill patients are helped by marijuana, there are four prescription cannabinoid medications that are just as helpful. So there's no reason to use marijuana itself as medicine.”
He explained, “Two of these medicines, Marinol and Cesamet, are available by prescription in the United States. A third, Epidiolex, or pure cannabidiol, is available for children with seizures through a special Food and Drug Administration program. The fourth, Sativex, is in the last stages of approval.
Dr. Gogek says, “Some of these medicines have fewer side effects than marijuana and are longer-acting, which means they are better for genuine patients who don't want to be stoned all the time. However, the biggest advantage of prescription cannabinoids is that they're much less likely to be abused or diverted to teenage use than medical marijuana is.”
So what’s really going on? Follow the dollar! Marijuana is lucrative and lots of people are cashing in on other people’s misery. And believe me when I say this, legalization will trigger more misery-in families, businesses, hospitals and jail cells.
So on this Feast Day of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, please pray that the dark veil covering the eyes of lawmakers, governors and the public will be lifted!
Sacred Heart of Jesus I trust in you!
Wednesday, May 6, 2015
There is nothing I would like more than to see these beautiful kids escape the painful ravages of this terrible disease and the ugly consequences that follow.
Through the non-profit, Action Against Addiction, I’ve taught grades k-8th evidence based programs which provide youth with the science and the skills that will help them make healthy life choices that do not include using or abusing legal and/or illegal drugs.
The science tells us that addiction is a preventable brain disease, and it’s critical that children learn early how to protect their growing brain because it is not fully developed until they are at least 21 years old.
The lessons emphasize that children should wear a bicycle helmet to protect their brain in case they fall off their bike and hit their head. They learn why the law requires them to sit in the back seat of a car with their seatbelts fastened. Airbags in the steering wheel and dashboard of a car deploy at 60 miles an hour and that kind of force could kill a young child.
The age of first use of alcohol, which is a gateway drug, is 11 years old in New Orleans and across Louisiana so we teach kids that young people who start drinking alcohol at 15 or younger are four to five times more likely to become addicted than if they wait until the legal drinking age of 21. The alcohol literally hi-jacks their brain.
Empowering children with the knowledge and the confidence to make the tough choices despite peer pressure, problem parents and perilous poverty can be challenging. During a writing assignment one child shared a painful personal tragedy.
“I was sitting at my mother’s funeral and I kicked my brother because I was mad that my dad was in prison for killing our mom.” As this child began sobbing my heart ached because this kind of unresolved trauma can lead a person to drinking, drugging and other risky behaviors.
In the public school setting I can’t tell the children they’re not alone and to place their trust and their hope in the almighty God. However, I can certainly bring his light to school by modeling his joy, his compassion and his unrestricted love as I inspire excitement about their unique talents and gifts and their greatest asset, their brain!
When I’m asked, I share my knowledge, my experience and yes-my hope with parents, community leaders, the media and even seminarians at Notre Dame Seminary.
Here’s the thing, knowledge is power and wisdom is liberating. So if we can all learn the science behind the brain disease of addiction, if we can accept the fact that it is a preventable brain disease, then maybe, just maybe we will unite to save the children and future generations from the insidious and damaging effects caused by adolescent use and abuse of alcohol and other drugs!
The sobering truth is that it doesn't take a brain scientist to figure out that investing in the prevention of addiction is the smart choice and it is a whole lot easier than trying to help someone recover from it!
Sunday, April 26, 2015
I felt it in my soul. I had made the right choice.
“I am the shepherd. A good shepherd lays down his life for his sheep. “
This beautiful scripture and the priest’s heartfelt homily affirmed my conviction that shepherding my children to morning Mass, standing together upon the rock of Christ is infinitely more important than building my rock garden.
I hadn't planned on going to morning Mass because I had already attended Saturday evening Mass so that my youngest son Zachary and I could begin laying the foundation for our rock garden. I thought the kids and I could go to Mass in the evening.
We were about to bolt out of the door when Jacob came downstairs determined to attend 11 a.m. Mass. My conscience spoke to me. "Family Mass or the rock garden?!" It was a no brainer.
“Let’s all go to Mass together,” I urged as I ran upstairs to get dressed. “The rock garden can wait.”
We arrived just in time to hear the words that confirmed my choice and what I have always believed. We are all shepherds and we must attend to our flock.
As a mother and a daily communicant, I cannot be more firm in my conviction that attending Mass as a family can be a pivotal turning point for parents and their children. Standing together amid the community of believers provides comfort and strength, bonding and blessing.
During Mass the family enters into a sacred womb and participates in an ongoing grace filled process of evangelization that heralds the inherent dignity of the human person and of families every where.
As the shepherd of my children, family Mass has been the rock that has laid a firm foundation for the future of my five sons and the families that they may one day shepherd for themselves. And in this busy and often chaotic world it is the most important activity that I can model.
And even though today Zack and I had very little time to til the soil of our rock garden, I am so grateful that my sons and I tilled our inner soil together, because I know that someday we will bear great fruit!
Thank you Holy Spirit for reminding me of that this morning!
Friday, April 3, 2015
In 2007 the Easter season turned surprisingly personal as I experienced firsthand the process of dying to self through a very painful crucifixion.
The turning point came when members of my spiritual family betrayed me.
Their rejection and subsequent persecution seared my soul with excruciating intensity. Their bold lies and lack of compassion for my young children left me questioning everything I believed about my Catholic family.
I stopped going to church. For two weeks I couldn’t bear the thought of walking into a Catholic church, so on Easter Sunday my sons and I huddled together next to a lake reading scripture from the Bible and asking the Lord for his direction.
My heart was bleeding.
Still-I loved the Lord and he loved me...and somehow that love gave me the strength to throw myself at his mercy inside the Blessed Sacrament Chapel at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church.
“What do you want me to do now?” I cried out. My sons and I had been through the ringer, tested by fire…and now this. “What do you want me to do now?!”
“Do not let them take you from me!” I heard those words as clearly as I have ever heard anything! And in that one split second that followed, I opened my heart to Jesus and made the decision to plant both feet firmly in front of him-once and for all.
For most of my life I had split myself between God and family, work and the world and with devastating consequences. Not anymore!
I went to confession, returned to weekly Mass which turned into daily mass and daily adoration and regular healing services and prayer groups where women of great faith prayed the rosary and before I knew it, I was no longer the walking dead.
The disciplined rhythm of my prayer life began to resuscitate me as the Lord breathed a refreshing spirit of truth into my entire being. My reality had shifted.
Over time I have come to understand that I had to lose everything in my broken life that was not the will of God, in order to gain the authentic life that he had designed for me from the very beginning. There would be no place in my new world for fake friends or foolish antics or missions that are masterminded by a darkness that is waiting to destroy even the best of intentions.
As I picked up the tools of my Catholic faith with childlike abandon, Jesus picked me up and carried me along the painful, yet illuminative path of crucifixion. And with my cooperation, he gained control of my broken heart as he purged me of the poisons that had penetrated my life.
God truly raised me from the dead; he restored my confidence and trust; he sanctified my desires and intentions and he guided me ever so gently into a sanctuary of indescribable joy and unending hope!
“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”