NOTE: Commentary is made as a private citizen and not as Regional Coordinator for Silent No More or Leader of Rachel's Hope, unless otherwise stated.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Reflection on Reconciliation

With Lent approaching, we should be preparing for Lenten Penance Services. The Sacrament of Reconciliation can be frightening and daunting, especially if it has been awhile since you have attended. However, this sacrament is absolutely necessary in order to continue your spiritual and emotional growth. Be comforted knowing Jesus is in that confessional as He told Saint Faustina, "When you go to Confession, know this, that I Myself am waiting for you in the confessional; I am only hidden by the priest, but I Myself act in the soul. Here the misery of the soul meets the God of Mercy."


Have a Blessed Day!

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

A Time of Healing

Rachel's Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats recently expanded to a neighboring county.   Leslie (Director of Rachel's Hope-Escondido) and  I were honored to be asked to assist in the inaugural retreat this weekend. 

My thoughts today are of the courageous women who have taken their first step towards healing and of the retreat leader, Alicia ,who has selflessly taken on this mission of love. My thoughts too are of my mom, as she was so supportive of my involvement in this ministry. This will be my first retreat since her passing and again God's timing is perfect.  I can set aside my own grief, if only for a weekend, and focus on comforting others as they work through the emotional and spiritual pain that developed as a result of abortion.

As a co-leader, I will be sharing my journey of healing and redemption, but now I will share something new ...  something I realized the day my mother passed:  Waiting for her at the gates of Heaven were my babies.  

As I do whenever I have an epiphany, I wrote:

Please pray the women attending the retreat will be freed from their pain and feel the love, forgiveness and mercy of God.  




Sunday, February 23, 2014

Advice for Novice Writers

The Blog Hop question for this week is:
 "What Advice Would You Give to Beginning Writers"?''

I'm having an identity crisis!  I have been writing all my life; however, it was this past year I decided to pursue getting published.  So, am I seasoned or beginning?  For the sake of the Blog Hop, I'll assume the seasoned identity.  (How about "lightly seasoned"?)

Based on my experience this past year, the best advice I can give a beginning writer is this: Focus first on the genre you are comfortable with but don't be afraid to expand your horizons. I found that after being accepted for publication, I stayed with a specific genre. It was safe. Although I love writing devotionals and spreading the message of God, it got to the point where I was doing it out of habit absent the joy I experienced earlier. My heart was no longer in it.  

Recently I was asked to participate in a fiction series with several other authors.  I had never considered fiction before and was hesitant; however, I committed to the project. It was the best move I could have made.  Comfort causes complacency which is dangerous for a writer. The series took me out of my comfort zone. I was challenged and forced to stretch my imagination muscles.  Because of that my joy returned!  I'm up to date with the series and have some down time so I returned to my unfinished devotionals. When I pulled them up, it was sadly obvious my heart had not been there.  Taking a genre' break was just what I needed to refresh my mind and renew my spirit.  Instead of feeling dread at finishing up my works in progress, I feel like I'm reuniting with my best friend.  

God Knows

My husband, dad and I attended Mass last night. Dad isn't Catholic, but he likes going and we love having him join us.  The readings and Father Fernando's homily were exactly what my dad and I needed to hear. In fact, my dad turned to me several times and winked. It was one of those "AHA!" moments.

Each and every one of us of has experienced pain and suffering through another's words or actions which result in harboring a great deal of pain, anger and resentment, as well as a strong desire for retaliation.  The only way to heal is through forgiveness and the only way to forgive is not by just saying, "I forgive", but including our offenders in prayer.  We should first ask God to give us the love, compassion and humility to forgive then ask that He be merciful to our offenders and bring light to their darkened hearts. This was all addressed in my devotional, "A Mended Heart".

The "AHA!" moment came in Father Fernando's homily, something I will definitely add if I ever revise "A Mended Heart". He said we might not necessarily understand the reason our offenders choose to hurt us, but God does.  He knows them as well as He knows us.  Just as we should not waste our time plotting a way to get even, we should not waste our time trying to figure out the why's. All He wants us to do is follow His word and "forgive thine enemy" and let Him take care of the rest.

What I took away from Mass is this (Father Fernando, if you're reading this, correct me if I'm wrong!):

The motive for those causing us harm is none of our business, it's God's.  
Passing judgement on their actions is not our job, it's God's. 
 Our business is to pray for that person, our job is to forgive  ...  and move on. 
God gave all of us a set amount of time on this earth and harboring pain, 
anger and resentment takes away precious moments that can be used for the good He created us to do.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

That's What it Feels Like

My dad and I are close to finishing the difficult process of going through my mother's things; the hardest being her clothes and purses.  Certain outfits brought back wonderful memories; however, taking them out of the closet brought back the stark realization she was gone.  On the lighter side, we had to painstakingly check each item.  Later stages of dementia resulted in her hiding jewelry and money in pockets, hems, etc...and the Kleenex!  She always feared having a runny nose with no tissue available so her purses and jacket pockets were stockpiled.  If we would have unfurled and stacked each tissue (I'm not kidding), I think we would have refilled three boxes.

Anyway, mission accomplished. Closet empty, boxes filled, her blouses, slacks and jackets hanging on the clothes rod and on a portable clothes rack.  After loading the van we headed to a local homeless shelter that housed both men and women as some of her jackets and sweatshirts could be used by either gender.  I located a volunteer and before he followed me to the van, he unlocked the closet where clothing donations were stored.  I looked in and chuckled.  I told him the closet wasn't big enough.  You see, my mom never discarded anything (remember, she had 700 beanie babies) and close to the end, she would order something that she never had a chance to use. The volunteer must have thought I was exaggerating until I opened the van doors. He went back into the shelter calling out for some of the residents to help with the unloading.

Several men jumped at the opportunity. As I began unloading some of the smaller boxes a man approached me.  He was unkempt and toothless.  At first, I hate to admit, I felt the urge the turn around and run.  He took the box I was holding and put it on one of the food carts they were using for transport.  I thanked him and with an embarrassed look on his face, said, "I wasn't always like this". While both of us continued to unload boxes, he proceeded to tell me of his many attempts to get clean and sober, each relapse causing him to lose more, until nothing was left.  Proudly he exclaimed his most recent period of sobriety was the longest yet and he truly felt the Holy Spirit. I congratulated him and said I would pray for his continued success.  I told him I too struggled with addiction and shared a little of my story. As I was sharing, I realized how blessed I was. Although we shared the same affliction, the consequences he suffered were much more severe.  All I could think of was, "There but for the Grace of God go I."
The van was empty, job done. The shelter volunteer and residents offered thanks and wheeled the carts to the storage area.  I started towards the driver's side of the van.   The man I was chatting with came back out of the storage area and asked if he could give me a hug. It wasn't a little one ... it was an extended, long bear hug.  He backed up and with a toothless smile said, "that's what the Holy Spirit feels like", and walked away. As I started the drive home I looked in the rear view mirror and saw nothing but a few stray hangers hanging from clothes rod. But instead of feeling empty and sad leaving so many reminders of my mother behind, I was enveloped in peace and fulfillment.  Yes my friend, that's what the Holy Spirit feels like.




Thursday, February 20, 2014


I'm so excited about the San Francisco Wedding Planner Series.  I've never been involved with what I call "tag team" writing but this is what happens:

Part One of the Series:  The first volume is written by all six authors. Our publisher determined the writing order then once the first author finishes a chapter, the second starts where the first left off, and so on.  
Then we each write one volume, a short story of about 10,000 words and it follows the same pattern as before.

Part Two of the Series:  We each picked a character to focus on.  We will write a short story of about 10,000 words about that particular character's backstory.  Each character's story will end where the beginning of the series starts off.

Part Three of the Series:  We each write another volume to wind down the plot and end the Series.

Volume 1, The Initial Consultation has been released and the link is on my left side-bar.  Volume 2 will be released very shortly and I just finished my draft of Volume 3.  Keep your eye out for each new release so you won't lose track and miss all the drama!

I'm working with an awesome group of talented writers and I'm confident everyone who follows the series will want more.  Don't forget to pick up Volume 1 - and follow the trials and tribulations of the San Francisco Wedding Planner.

Jen Cudmore, one of the participating authors provided this snapshot of the series

Welcome to Donovan’s Wedding Service!

You’ll experience a little fun and light romance as Heather Donovan struggles to keep all her clients, and business associates, happy. She’s so busy helping others plan the most magical wedding, she doesn’t have time for a romance of her own. But is she truly happy being alone?

Other Main Characters

Gloria Donovan – Heather’s mother who spends half her time chasing men of all ages and the other half trying to find a man to catch her busy daughter’s eye.
Raul Tate – The administrative assistant whose Metro ways sometimes cause trouble for those at the office - and for his brother.
Bryan Tate MD – Raul’s brother, a tall/dark/handsome orthopedic surgeon, who recently moved back to town to be closer to his family.
Indigo D. Crane – The eccentric photographer Heather prefers to deal with who is still waiting to be discovered as a true artist.
Mario –Playboy extraordinaire, Mario is a chef by day and often caters weddings for Heather’s clients.
Skye Jansen – Heather’s best friend since high school and biggest cheerleader- when she’s not busy with her children or trying to save the planet from PCBs, MSG, and all things chemical or artificial.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Source of Comfort

I'm still smack dab in the middle of the grieving process and it stinks.  (Very poetic isn't it?)   We're all trying to get back on a regular routine and I have returned to writing, which helps considerably. There are days I think I've shed my last tear and another dam breaks. Throughout this emotional roller coaster I need a special source of comfort.

My mom had a cylinder shaped pillow she used for her back the past ten or so years...for some reason she called it her NuNu.  In her final days my dad and I used it to make her arms comfortable whenever she was repositioned on her side. In fact, she was in that position when she passed.  When hospice left and my mom was gone from our house, her NuNu was on the recliner in their living room. I instinctively picked it up and carry it around with me whenever I'm home; in fact I'm leaning on it right now. Even when I go to bed I hold on to it like a child with a stuffed animal.

Jesus said, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you" (John 14:18).  Maybe that raggedy old NuNu was left out for me to find because I needed a physical way cling to Him for awhile.  For nothing is impossible with God (Luke 1:37).

Have a Blessed Day!

Monday, February 17, 2014

Be a Light in Someone's Life

Marie Wikle one said, "Be a light in someone's life today, no matter how small - you'll still light up their world"!  That's exactly what my dad did the other day and, if possible, made me love him even more.

He and my mom, who would have celebrated their 63rd wedding anniversary in March, used to love the beach and would grab a milkshake, sit in their van watching people surf and children play in the sand. It was a cherished and special time for them. As you have read from my prior posts, my mother recently passed.  A few days ago my dad told me he was going to drive to the beach. Knowing he probably wanted some private time to grieve, I didn't offer to go with him. Two hours later, I began to worry a little so I called his cell.  He answered with such a sound of joy in voice it took me by surprise.  I asked him if he was okay and he said, "I'm doing great, just listen".

You see, my mom was a collector of many things but favored her beanie baby collection.  She had over 700, all neatly packed in bins and inventoried.  When they relocated here they were stored in our garage until we could make room in our house. For a variety of reasons we somehow never got around to making space for them.   

The sound I heard on the other end of the phone that day were the voices of children. My dad, in his grief, had taken one of the bins of beanie babies to the beach, giving them to little ones. He asked each parent if it was okay, all agreed and most of them offered to pay, but my dad refused.  He told them seeing the smiles was payment enough.  

Sharing what was so special to my mom gave my dad a great deal of comfort.  When he walked in the door, I could see it in his face, knowing my mother will still continue to be a light in someone's life.


Saturday, February 15, 2014

Pulling up the Big Girl Panties

      The day I lost my mom and the days following have been the most difficult I've ever experienced. I didn't think I would be able to survive the pain and emptiness that pulsed through my soul.  I've shed many tears, and when I thought I had nothing left, more came. With the tears came isolation, sleeplessness and contemplation.  (Yes, my brain is in overdrive).  Early this morning while hugging her pillow that I've been carrying around with me, I realized how blessed I am to experience this much grief. It shows the true depth of love I have for her. I know each tear drop is an "I Love You" being sent to Heaven.   

      I know she would not want me to wallow.  She was the epitome of strength and perseverance and I am determined to follow her example.  I will forever miss her physical presence, but the pain will eventually be replaced with the joy of knowing she's watching over me, that I can still talk to her, and she is at peace with our loving Savior.  
      So now it's time to pull up my big girl panties and get back to doing what made her proud - my writing.  I not only have the Holy Spirit guiding my fingers on the keyboard, my mom is there as well. Praise God!
          Psalm 30:5 – Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning. 

    Have a Blessed Day!

    Sunday, February 9, 2014

    My Hero - Update

    Step three on the Blog Hop calls for us to provide a character sketch of our hero, be it real or one from a novel we've written.

    I've not written a novel yet, in fact, I'm just now venturing into fiction, but even if I had, I would still select my true life hero...whose bed I'm sitting next to right now, waiting for Jesus to call her home... my mom.

    Update:  My mom passed away peacefully yesterday, 2/12/14 with my dad and me at her side.  I Love You Mom, I miss you so very much but know I now have a special guardian angel to watch over me.  

    This incredible woman is the epitome of selflessness and unconditional love.  She reached out to many people in need during her life, and sacrificed a great deal to make sure her family was happy and healthy. She stood by my dad throughout his military career, making a home wherever we were living, be it England, North Africa or stateside.

    What truly makes her my hero is her steadfast faith in God and ability to forgive.  You see, she ended up with me.  In my late teens I turned away from God and ventured into a life of promiscuity and alcoholism for twenty-five years.  She suffered a great deal, having to deal with my antics and the cruel (albeit true) gossip of a small town.  Being a Christian woman with high morals and values, my actions devastated her but not once did she close the door, even when I demeaned and maligned her.

    It took many years before I reconnected with God, sobered up and became the woman I am today and I credit God and my mom for that.  He never left me, nor did she.

    As I sit here watching her, hours on end, I see a woman who not only gave me life, but saved it as well through her endless love and forgiveness.  She has definitely earned a special place in Heaven and all I can say is, " Mom, you fought the hard fight and were victorious.  Rest well - and know I love you more than words can express."

    Tuesday, February 4, 2014

    Writer's Block

    I've been staring at the last sentence of my most recent project.  A nice sentence, clear - concise - descriptive. In fact, I'm pretty darned proud of it.   "So, what's the problem?" you say. Well, the problem is  ...  no sentence follows, THAT'S WHAT!  Two whole days and nothing. It's now day three -- I bunch up my face, beads of sweat forming on my forehead, hands poised and ... nada, zilch, diddly-squat.

    Granted, I have a lot on my plate right now but writing has always taken me to a place of tranquility and distraction. The Holy Spirit usually sends down inspiration and my fingers fly across the keyboard.  Until a few minutes ago this phenomena had me baffled and frustrated so I decided to Google "writer's block quotes" for encouragement and enlightenment.  This is what I found:

    It made sense ... like Peyton Manning forcing a pass into double coverage....nothing good comes from it (unless you're a Seahawks fan!).

    I closed my writing file and as soon as I post this I'm turning off my laptop.  I'm putting the Holy Spirit back in control.


    Monday, February 3, 2014

    Everlasting Love

    This weekend has been one of mixed emotions.  Being the daughter of Seahawks fans, yesterday's win brought high-fives with my dad as we watched the game together in the family room, a few steps away from Mom who started failing significantly on Friday.  Every few minutes one of us would sit next to her on the edge of the bed and describe what was going on.  Her eyes, closed most of the time, made it appear as if she was sleeping but we knew she would want to know how her "Hawks were doing.  With every update she responded with a weak smile and nod.

    Mentally I've been preparing for my mom's passing but I constructed a wall around my heart, suppressing my emotions. A brick came loose yesterday and the wall collapsed.  I've never experienced this much pain before, but I was reminded of the Passion.  Jesus demonstrated his unconditional and everlasting love for us through enduring insufferable pain.  Having that wall crumble allowed me to finally feel the pain that shows the depth of love I have towards my mom, and for that I am truly grateful.


    Sunday, February 2, 2014

    The Prize

    The Superbowl is finally here. Two teams walk on the field today. Following the game plan, listening to the words of their coach, a determined offense and a strong defense made it possible to come this far. Regardless of roadblocks along the way, they remained steadfast and focused on the prize.

    And so it is in our daily faith life, except our prize won't be a trip to the Superbowl …  

     And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God. (Ecclesiastes 3:13)

    Have a Blessed Day
    Go Seahawks!