Monday, January 25, 2016

MISSION TO LIBERIA


I felt vulnerable and weak. It was an uncomfortable feeling because I generally feel in control and strong. However, in late October I tripped on a hidden vine at the top of a small hill and the next thing I knew, the full weight of my body slammed down onto my left arm and the side of my face. One moment I was standing, and the next moment I lay on the ground in searing pain. “Please don’t be broken,” I whispered. It was.

The x-rays showed not one but two breaks in my upper arm. “I don’t think you’ll need surgery,” the doctor said. Thank you Jesus I thought. However, the doctor told me he couldn’t cast the upper arm, so I would just have to wear a sling and be very careful. “How long will it take to heal?” I asked worried. “I’m going to Liberia West Africa in December to be with my son.” “You won’t be fully healed,” he replied “But you should be able to travel.” I was worried.

Here I had waited six and a half years to do an experience with my son who is in Comunita Cenacolo, and now I was broken and feeling weak. Later that same day my 93 year old friend died. 2015 was ending with quite a bang. I prayed for strength.

Pushing ahead, finishing work projects and securing an airline ticket for my departure I maneuvered through the days with one mobile arm refusing to give in to the despair and throbbing pain that always comes before the healing. At night I could barely sleep and so I cried out to God asking him to help me carry this heavy cross which had certainly cast a glaring light on my own personal poverties.

“What day did you say you are leaving?” my son Johnny asked during a rare phone conversation from Liberia. “December 3rd,” I repeated. “Mom, that’s the exact date I left two years ago, the feast of St. Francis Xavier!” He exclaimed! “Wow, that’s amazing,” I replied in awe, “Especially since St. Francis Xavier Parish is the Catholic parish where you were raised!” God’s guiding hand never ceases to amaze me!

Departure day I arrived at the airport with five suitcases bulging with medical supplies and other donations and two pieces of carry-on luggage one of which contained a very heavy centrifuge that would help diagnose diseases like yellow fever. I knew I couldn’t lift the suitcase into the overhead bin and so I’d have to ask for help which is not my best attribute.

Much to my surprise the airline clerk announced that I had been rerouted and would fly from New Orleans to Washington instead of to New Jersey. “The plane is overbooked,” he said. “Well I’m sorry about that, but you cannot change my ticket,” I stammered. “I am meeting three other people in New Jersey who will be flying with me to Africa.”

Obviously embarrassed, the ticket agent apologized and scrambled to get me back on my original flight. However, when I landed in New Jersey I discovered my ticket to Brussels had been canceled along with my ticket from Brussels to Liberia. Mother Mary…this is going to be a powerful spiritual trip I thought to myself.

The New Jersey airline agent also apologized for the mess up and said the best she could do was to get me back on the plane to Brussels. “But the flight to Liberia is now full, so you may get stuck in Belgium,” she warned. “Just get me to Brussels,” I responded holding my emotions in check.

Last year the Ebola epidemic thwarted my travel plans and now human error was the culprit. My mind wandered to my son who would be so disappointed if I didn’t show up. As you can imagine, I prayed my way across the ocean, surrendering all the obstacles and the mind games to God and knowing full well that I would arrive in Liberia at the anointed time.

Why should my missionary voyage be any different than anyone elses?! St. Francis Xavier faced tremendous obstacles but he never lost his missionary zeal and as a result he performed amazing miracles while inspiring vast numbers of lost souls who were eventually converted to Catholicism.

In Brussels I stood before an unhappy airline agent who could not believe he had to juggle the mess someone else had made. After a lot of head shaking, complaining and phone calls he issued me a new ticket and away I went on the final leg of a long anticipated journey of the soul.

That’s exactly what I experienced during my nearly month long visit; an inward journey up and over the often perilous terrain of my humanity through the sacred space of the soul where the holy spirit illuminates God’s will for our lives.

The spiritual journey like my physical journey to Liberia was at times painfully challenging, scattered with thorns and roadblocks; and exhaustingly unnerving. I kept pushing myself anyway and with an open heart I asked the Lord to place his sovereign hand at my back.

I am pleased to tell you this, through my cooperation and his guidance I arrived at a beautiful, anointed destination that has forever changed my life. Thank you God!

---Stay Tuned ---

Sunday, October 4, 2015

ZACHARY'S MIRACLE MOMENT! GO JESUIT BLUE JAYS!

The crowd roared as my son Zachary dove through the air, caught the football and clutched it tightly to his chest before his 200 pound body hit the ground! As you can imagine, I flew out of my seat, jumping with excitement and shouting for joy as the surprise and the gratitude poured through me and my eyes welled with tears! I was exhilaratingly happy for my youngest child because I knew in my heart that this hard earned miracle moment would make all the hours of practice and pain worthwhile!

A natural born athlete, Zack has been playing sports from the moment he could walk and his steely determination and resiliency has gotten him through some grueling training sessions in the punishing Louisiana humidity and scorching heat. However, there's much more at play because Zack does not stand alone.

He is part of a team of young leaders many of whom have become his closest friends and strongest allies. Through football he’s developed a consistent camaraderie and brotherhood that is soulfully supportive, life giving and deeply satisfying. Kids need that kind of human connection, especially during the challenging years of adolescence. My youngest son Zachary really benefits since he has been raised for the last ten years by a single mom.

I was thinking this football season how very much I have enjoyed the game and the gifted moms and dads who are behind the scenes supporting their own kids while supplying everyone’s children with unconditional love and lots of delicious treats! This kind of human bonding dilates the human heart and inspires a generous pride that pushes our young people to excel beyond their own expectations.

Yes, I am well aware of the dangers of football because there are inevitable injuries to heads and limbs and sometimes those injuries have long term consequences. For years I’ve had mixed feelings about the game. My dad sat glued to the TV during football season while my German mom clearly did not approve. “Those crazy American men pushing each other down for a football!”

What’s a mom to do but pray...and believe me-I spend countless hours storming the heavens imploring God to protect Zack and his teammates!

Today however, I am simply grateful for Zachary’s victory and I continue to marvel at his desire to honor his teammates and his coaches by placing his human will into their guiding hands so they can mold him into a winner who is willing to sacrifice a piece of himself so others may triumph.

That's the makings of a great leader and as we all witnessed Friday night, that kind of self sacrifice and surrender also stretches us so that every once in a while we "catch" a rare glimpse of our exceptional abilities and the level of success we can achieve!

AWESOME JOB ZACHARY!
I LOVE YOU!
MOM
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Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Sunday, July 5, 2015

A HEAVENLY HUG!

The Holy Spirit speaks to me at the oddest times.

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

"MEDICAL" MARIJUANA: AN OXYMORON!

The term “medical marijuana” is an oxymoron.

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!