Thursday, December 31, 2015

Words of Hope for the New Year


2016 is right around the corner.  Instead of my usual reflections on the past year or sharing my resolutions, I thought I would share some beautiful quotes from Elisabeth Elliot who passed away on June 15, 2015.  May her words bring you hope, comfort and gratitude as you enter the New Year. 


“The fact that I am a woman does not make me a different kind of Christian, but the fact that I am a Christian makes me a different kind of woman.”

 “I realized that the deepest spiritual lessons are not learned by His letting us have our way in the end, but by His making us wait, bearing with us in love and patience until we are able to honestly to pray what He taught His disciples to pray: Thy will be done.”

“Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business. If I peer anxiously into the fog of the future, I will strain my spiritual eyes so that I will not see clearly what is required of me now.”

“Where does your security lie? Is God your refuge, your hiding place, your stronghold, your shepherd, your counselor, your friend, your redeemer, your savior, your guide? If He is, you don't need to search any further for security.”

 “One reason we are so harried and hurried is that we make yesterday and tomorrow our business, when all that legitimately concerns us is today. If we really have too much to do, there are some items on the agenda which God did not put there. Let us submit the list to Him and ask Him to indicate which items we must delete. There is always time to do the will of God. If we are too busy to do that, we are too busy.”

“Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures.” 

 “But the question to precede all others, which finally determines the course of our lives is, 'What do I really want?' Was it to love what God commands, in the words of the collect, and to desire what He promises? Did I want what I wanted, or did I want what He wanted, no matter what it might cost?” 

“God has promised to supply all our needs. What we don’t have now, we don’t need now.”

“Don’t dig up in doubt what you have planted in faith.”

 “The secret is Christ in me, not me in a different set of circumstances.”

“When ours are interrupted, His are not. His plans are proceeding exactly as scheduled, moving us always (including those minutes or hours or years which seem most useless or wasted or unendurable).” 

"Leave it all in the hands that were wounded for you."



My New Year's Prayer



Thursday, December 24, 2015

A Christmas Prayer



Heavenly Father, our hearts are filled
With endless hope and joy,
As we celebrate the birth
Of a wondrous baby boy.
We also honor Mary,
Who faithfully agreed
To bear Your gift of Jesus,
So we sinners can be freed.
On bended knee we thank You,
Though words seem not enough
To express the praise that’s in our hearts,
For Your mercy, grace and love.
Amen
Patti J. Smith
12/24/15



Tuesday, December 22, 2015

I Said "No" - A Message of Healing



I wrote a post a few days ago about Mary saying “Yes” to God and the blessings we all receive because of her steadfast faith. In contrast to that post, I want to address those of us who unfortunately said “No” when we found ourselves with an unexpected pregnancy. 

Many women who have had an abortion experience difficulties around the anniversaries of their abortions and/or when their babies were due.  I used to experience depression during those anniversaries but also around Christmastime because it was the biggest reminder of how I failed God, my children as well as myself.  I thought of my babies every time I saw baby Jesus in the manger or in the arms of the Blessed Mother and the regret was paralyzing.

If it hadn’t been for an after-abortion healing program, I would still not only find myself saddened when viewing a nativity scene or images of the Blessed Mother with Baby Jesus but still consider myself a failure in God's eyes.  I now fully embrace Christmastime, in fact, I have a collection of nativity scenes and have a statue of the Blessed Mother with Baby Jesus on my fireplace. 

Through healing, I came to understand that because of Mary’s “Yes”, redemption for what I considered an unforgiveable act, was there for the asking.  And because of His loving mercy, and Mary’s inspiration of faith and courage, I am able to speak out in an attempt to prevent others from saying, “No”. 

 “…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified as a gift by His grace through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus” …
Romans 3:23-24

If you are struggling with your decision to abort, please visit the Silent No More Awareness Campaign website for healing resources.  You are not alone. 

Saturday, December 19, 2015

The Gift: A Christmas Memory



My writing time spans from around midnight to five o’clock in the morning.  Some nights either I just don’t have the right words or the drive (shame on me) but stay up anyway watching television or reading.  Last night was like that.  While reading and listening to the television (multi-tasking?), I glanced up at the cross we decorated instead of a Christmas tree.  The red foliage attached to the wood sparkled under the colored lights and the white wall behind the cross glowed.   
My thoughts drifted to my mom.  I wondered what she would think of it.  Growing up we always had Christmas trees, and she was the foreman of the decorating team.  She knew exactly where each and every ornament would hang, how much tinsel on each bough, and insisted same colored lights were not close to each other.  Needless to say, thanks to her “eye,” we had a masterpiece every year.  (Except for the one year we tried an aluminum one – never again!)


My mind then wandered to one of our Christmases overseas.  We were living in Casablanca, Morocco on an Air Force Base.  I was in the third grade and of course, not old enough to go Christmas shopping on my own.  Dad planned on taking my sister and me, but I was impatient.  The route home from school went through military housing.  On the way home one afternoon it was trash collection day and one of the cans along the way happened to not have a lid.  I peeked in and, lo and behold, discovered an ash tray.  If I recall correctly, it was round with green paint and gold specks. I looked around to make sure no one was watching, reached in, grabbed it and put it in my lunch box.  Mom will love this!  I thought.  When I arrived home, I hid it under my mattress until I could sneak into the bathroom and make it look new.  I washed that darned ash tray about a gazillion times until the paint shined and specks shimmered, all the while oblivious to the fact there was a crack on the unpainted bottom.  I excitedly told my dad I didn’t need to shop for mom, that I already had her gift and told him what I had done.  All he said was, “That’s a really nice gift.”

Christmas morning took forever to come.  I sat, anxiously waiting for my mom to rip through a mound of paper and tape that could have wrapped a battleship (I still use too much.)  She looked down at the ashtray, gently turned it over then turned it back.  She rubbed her hand against the sparkly green surface and smiled.  She said it was beautiful and would cherish it forever, and gave me a great big hug.  My heart jumped with joy, knowing I made her happy.  I was confident she never suspected it was used or found in a trash can.  That secret was between dad and me. 

I think that was one of my favorite Christmas memories, especially knowing she was aware of the origin of the gift shortly after she opened it.  She saw the crack on the bottom and mentioned it to my dad, who spilled the beans.  She never said anything to me until I was an adult, and proudly displayed that ashtray for years.   

Thinking about that Christmas brought me to tears, not just because this is one more Christmas without her, but the fact she loved me so much. Not only did she ignore the source of that green and gold ashtray, but she also forgave the source of her pain in later years when I took a detour to the darker side of life.  I was in a garbage can too, but God, in his mercy, pulled me out and He, along with mom and dad, helped me wash off and shine through their love and encouragement.  
 


Friday, December 18, 2015

By Mary saying, "Yes"





As Christmas approaches, my heart overflows with gratitude towards the Blessed Mother. 

When Mary was visited by the angel, she was apprehensive; however, because of her unwavering faith, she said, “Yes.”  She was willing to do the Lord's bidding and knew that nothing is impossible for God.
                      
By Her saying, "Yes", we have a Savior ~
By Her saying, "Yes",  we have direction ~
By Her saying, "Yes",  we know how to live righteously ~
By Her saying, "Yes",  we have hope ~
By Her saying, "Yes", we are loved unconditionally ~
By Her saying, "Yes", we are never alone ~
By Her saying, "Yes", we can look forward to eternal life.

Can you imagine what life would be like had she said, “No”? 


“The day of the Nativity of the Mother of God is a day of universal joy, because through the Mother of God, the entire human race was renewed, and the sorrow of the first mother, Eve, was transformed into joy.”

~Saint John Damascene

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

A Trip Down Memory Lane



My husband and I were chatting the other night about our first jobs and how things have changed – not just salary-wise, but with the equipment used. For you youngsters who follow my blog, I’m sure you will be mortified at the prehistoric methods of accomplishing tasks “in my day”, as well as how much money I made.

My very first job (in high school) was babysitting two kids during the summer.  I was overjoyed with the $100 made from June through August. 

I waitressed and made a whopping $1.65 an hour plus tips (which at the time was usually around $2.00 per table if I was lucky – in fact, I waited on Leonard Nimoy and he left $3.00).

I worked as a secretary for an insurance company while in college and made $1.80 per hour. 

Before I started my government career, I was a keypunch operator and that was the beginning of “big money”.  I didn’t know how I was going to spend the monumental wage of $3.00 per hour. 

Believe it or not, all my jobs, except babysitting, of course, were above the minimum wage for the time. 


Now for the fun part.  Here is some of the equipment: 

























And to think I used to laugh at my parents when they spoke of how hard things were in "their day"! The cycle of life (and technology) continues!







Friday, December 11, 2015

Planned Parenthood is bad enough, now this......



I was alerted to a despicable and horrific Facebook group post yesterday that equaled the barbarism of Planned Parenthood selling baby parts.  I question the actual existence of this group, but sadly, in this day and age, nothing surprises me.  I checked snopes.com, and googled them and found nothing that confirms or refutes their existence.  It might be satire, or someone that just doesn't have one ounce of  empathy or compassion.  Who knows, it just might be someone from Planned Parenthood ...


Abortion is not something to be taken lightly or used to elicit laughs.  With that in mind, I want to bring the focus from levity to reality.  



The information provided next to ad says, “Even though they know they have made the correct choice, many women will feel a sense of loss after terminating a pregnancy. Luckily, there is now a way to watch that fetus grow, while also having a positive impact on the environment. Over 33% of American women will have an abortion before the age of 45, and over 1 million abortions are performed each year; imagine the effect on our carbon footprint if that resulted in 1 million new trees being planted each year! So, unless you have already earmarked your aborted fetus to be harvested for scientific research, consider making the right choice for yourself and the environment, and plant a tree today.”

What a nonsensical means to assuage the guilt.  I don’t think any woman that has entered an abortion clinic leaves thinking, “Problem solved, I’ll plant a tree and watch my baby grow,” or “At least I’m doing something to reduce our carbon footprint.”  

There were several people appalled at the concept and posted their comments on the post.  Here are some of the answers given by the page administrator:

“An unwanted pregnancy does generate waste. Is this a difficult concept for you sweetheart?”

“It's not murder; it's more like having your appendix removed, that is if your appendix had the potential to destroy your body for 40 weeks and then ruin all your future plans.”

“Fetuses are not human. They are not sentient. They are parasites on a woman's body and if a woman wants them removed they are participating in a beautiful act of liberation.”

More examples of how people are led into Satan’s lair.  The concept of choice is used as justification for taking a life so why not saving the environment?  This is the ultimate dehumanization of our most vulnerable.  

We need to do all we can to stop the misleading rhetoric of this group and others that promote abortion by countering their claims with the truth of what abortion is and does.  It takes the life of a child and damages the heart and soul of those involved in the decision.  They need to understand life is precious from the very beginning and nothing, absolutely nothing, justifies destroying it or using it as material for satire or laughs.  We also need to offer them up in prayer for a conversion of heart and mind, just as we are doing for those involved in Planned Parenthood and other abortion facilities.  

Planting a tree will not take away the guilt, pain, shame and remorse of aborting a child.
  That can only be obtained through healing and the infinite love and mercy of God. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Sheep Being Led to Slaughter?



Once again we have faced an unspeakable act of evil.  A group of friends and co-workers gathered to ring in the Christmas season, unaware of the carnage that awaited them - leaving family and friends in mourning and shock.  I commend the law enforcement community for their swift and heroic actions and even though it's evidently not politically correct, everyone affected by this tragedy will continue to be in my prayers.  

This will more than likely cause a great deal of backlash, but I'm going to say it anyway because it is my right and unfortunately true.  Acts of evil do not just originate from terrorists or other perpetrators of crime. They come from those in power and the mainstream media as well. 

The New York Daily News attacked believers with a front page statement, “God isn’t fixing this,” claiming that prayer basically consists of “empty and meaningless words”. This paper not only mocked God but also Republicans for offering their thoughts and prayers to the victims in San Bernardino (even though those same words came out of the mouths of Obama and the Attorney General with no reference to them at all - hmmmm). 

We are at risk of terrorism in our communities.  False prophets in positions of power have infected the public and mainstream media.  They tell us our country is safe, that we should open our borders to less fortunate even though the screening process is deficient.  They tell us the answer is gun control, not people control even though California has one of the most stringent gun control systems in the country.   They ask us to report suspicious activities then turn around and accuse us of being paranoid and involved in racial profiling. 

I’m sorry, but God does not want us to bury our heads in the sand and become sheep led to slaughter.  He wants us to stand up against the false prophets and fight for the protection of our family, friends and country.  I could care less what is politically correct anymore.  Our country should be uniting in the face of evil, rather than being pulled apart and it’s time those in power are held accountable for their treasonous acts against those they were sworn to protect.  


Monday, November 23, 2015

BRING THE LIGHT

It happens to all of us ... we wake up with a dark cloud hovering over us. We shrug it off, crawl out of bed and begin our day.  Unfortunately, that cloud stalks us every second, minute and hour. No matter what we do, we can't seem to shake it. Pressure is building up behind the weakening dam in our eyes that is threatening to rupture, releasing torrents of tears.

I'm not a theologian by any means, but I believe days like this emerge because we've neglected our prayer life.  Jesus misses us.  Next time we wake up with that dark cloud hovering, let us pray:

Good morning most merciful Jesus,
Let your light shine through this threatening darkness.
Forgive me my neglect.
I've missed you too.

Amen!

Thursday, November 19, 2015

My Take on the Syrian Refugee Crisis



Okay, I have been trying to bite my tongue (or block my keyboard) regarding the Syrian refugee crisis, but I cannot, in good conscience, stay silent any longer.

I am a practicing Catholic. I do my best to follow my faith in all aspects of my life.  Recently, I was accused of being heartless and sinful because of my concerns allowing Syrian refugees into our country.

Well, folks, nothing could be further from the truth.  My heart breaks for the refugees and I would love nothing more than to welcome them into our country, but there are several factors that need to be considered:

        * The FBI admits they do not have the adequate resources to do the proper vetting.
        * Paris has shown us that terrorists infiltrate refugee groups to access targets.
        * Our country is already at risk with all the illegal immigration that is not being controlled.
        * Our Social Services are overburdened already with so many of our citizens (and non-citizens) on welfare, food stamps, etc.
       * Our country cannot even take care of its homeless population, including women, children and our veterans.

Yes, we need to be compassionate and our government needs to do something for the refugees. However, the government's first and foremost responsibility is to ensure the security and well-being of its citizens.  

One more thing … how hypocritical is it when our current administration intends to give safe refuge to those in danger from other countries, but allows a child in the womb to be ripped out if its safe refuge and sold to the highest bidder?  

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Book Shopping? Grab a 30% Discount Now! Plus ~~~ A New Paperback Release!


Just wanted to pass along a 30% discount from Helping Hands Press Bookstore, not just for my books (e-books, paperback, audio), but for everything in the store!  Just go to Helping Hands Press and use PattiJSmith30 at checkout!  What a great time to Christmas shop for book lovers on your gift list!!!

Also .........

My e-book, "Redeemed - Rosary Meditations for Post-Abortive Women" was just released in paperback.  Although written as a rosary, it can be used as prayerful reflection for women of all faiths.

If you are struggling with your decision to abort, these meditations will help you in your healing journey.

Thanks to all of you who support me and Helping Hands Press!!!!


Wednesday, November 11, 2015

The Puzzle - Pulling Myself Together


The psychiatrist enters the room. “They tell me you want to end your life, can you tell me why?”
I lower my head murmur, “I’m already dead inside, I just want to finish the job.”

The morning of November 8, 1997,  I was holding a bottle of prescription painkillers in my hand with a six-pack of beer in front of me to wash them down.  My world had collapsed.  I was in my second loveless marriage; one more failed attempt to fight my alcohol-fueled life of promiscuity, as well as other self-destructive behavior. I was empty inside and hopeless.  The emotional pain was excruciating and I wanted it gone.

Before I could twist off the child-resistant cap, "something" compelled me to pick up the phone. Little did I know I was in the midst of Divine Intervention. The call I made was to the AA hotline and resulted in my being taken to a psychiatric hospital.

During the admissions process, they went through my stuff, searching for items I could use to harm myself.  They confiscated my toothbrush, comb, cigarettes, and lighter but what made the most impact was the removal of shoelaces from my sneakers.  For some reason, having to walk around in loose shoes made me realize how sick I really was.  While being escorted to my room, we passed the recreation room. I observed a man putting a puzzle together and I hoped that maybe, just maybe, this commitment would do the same for me.

I was transferred to the rehab ward several days after surviving the painful process of detox. I emerged from the fog and the journey to recovery began.

After my first year of sobriety, I divorced my second husband. He had continued to drink and I knew if I stayed, I would eventually surrender to temptation and end up right back where I was before hitting bottom and I didn’t want to die.

AA not only showed me a new way of living, it reintroduced me to God.  It was at an AA meeting I met my current husband. After we had married, we continued to be active in AA but it didn’t seem to be enough. It took a while, but we finally realized we needed  AA but also a strong faith community. Since my husband was Catholic, we started attending Mass and both felt like we were finally home. I was baptized on April 15, 2006… But the blessings didn’t stop there.

A year later, Divine Intervention struck again. I felt compelled to attend a Faith in the Spirit Seminar, even though I had no idea what it was.  A woman gave testimony on her abortion experience and how it affected her life.  As she spoke, my tears flowed.  It was as if she was speaking directly to me.  That was the first time I heard about Rachel’s Hope After-Abortion Healing Retreats, but I knew by the aching in my heart I needed to sign up.

Although sober and on the right spiritual path, there had always been something hovering over me like a dark cloud.  That dark cloud was the pain, regret and self-loathing I had kept buried in the deep recesses of my soul for over thirty years. I had never mourned my children, even the one I miscarried.  I never acknowledged their existence at all. My abortions propelled me into the darkness of alcoholism and the reprehensible behavior that resulted. I drank to be free of the emotional pain and slept around for what I thought was love and acceptance. Rachel’s Hope gave me the emotional and spiritual tools to forgive myself and ask forgiveness from God and my children. I had never connected my abortions to any psychological or behavioral issues. The puzzle was finally solved.

I am blessed and privileged to now be part of the Rachel’s Hope family by leading retreats. As women enter the retreat house, I see in their eyes the same unrelenting shame, remorse and self-hatred that I carried for so many years.  I also witness a miraculous transformation and watch them leave with a renewed spirit and something they haven't had in a very long time:  HOPE.



Monday, November 2, 2015

An Inspirational Guest Blog and Contest by Amber Schamel


Author of over half a dozen books, Amber Schamel writes riveting stories that bring HIStory to life. 
She has a passion for travel, history, books and her Savior. This combination results in what her readers call "historical fiction at its finest".  She lives in Colorado and spends half her time volunteering in the Ozarks. Visit her online at:  www.AmberSchamel.com/


Look Like One of Mine

And when these things begin to come to pass, then look up, and lift up your heads; for your redemption draweth nigh. ~Luke 21:28 

The time that we are living in is truly amazing. We can see Biblical prophecies being fulfilled on the left and right. Truly, our redemption is drawing nigh!  

However, as I travel in our ministry, I see an epidemic circulating in our Christian churches.  Depression runs rampant, suicidal thoughts,  anxiety and stress weighs down the people. It seems like Christians everywhere have their heads drooping toward the ground.  I admit that I have often found myself hanging my head in discouragement.  

As I prayed about this, the Lord spoke to my heart. He reminded me that in His Word it tells us to "look up" to "lift our heads", especially as the time of redemption draws nigh.  So if His children are supposed to be looking up, lifting our heads, is it any wonder that Satan would do everything in his power to make us depressed? To cause us to drop our heads in shame? 

But thou, O Lord, art a shield for me; my glory, and the lifter up of mine head. ~Ps. 3:3 

The Lord convicted me that, when I give in to depression and/or discouragement, when I let my head hang low, I don't look like one of His. That's not how a child of The King looks.  Ouch, Lord. 

In light of this thought, I searched the Bible for 'head down' and what I found is that the Scriptures only portray the bowing of the head as a good thing when it is in worship to God. We can worship in humility, heads bowed to the Most High God, but we are not to bow to circumstances and the trials of the enemy.  
"Easier said than done, Father."  I thought.   

Keeping the right attitude is a continual battle, but when we take shelter in the Lord, when we look forward to what He has in store for us, when we glimpse the promises He has left us, a joy will fill our hearts. 

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.
 ~Ps. 24:9 

I'm going to share a few words to a song that came to my mind as the Lord was working through this issue with me. I hope they will be an encouragement to you as well.  

Lift your head, my child; Why do you wear a frown? 
You can't look like one of Mine; 
When you're constantly looking down. 
Does life get so hard, you forget who you are? 
Open your eyes and see; I am everything you need. 
I send you a sunrise every morning; 
To brighten up your day. 
The longest love letter of all ages; 
Is the one I wrote to you. 
I traced it in the stars; 
And I signed in my own blood. 
I'd rather die than let you go; 
And I proved it, just so you'd know. 
With all the storms that I've brought you through,  
This is how much I love you. 

Now that I've shared my story, I'd love to hear from you! Have you battled depression or discouragement? How has the Lord helped you to overcome it?