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.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

"Neither snow nor rain nor dark of night . . ." Part V - Get Us to the March on Time

March Day had arrived.  Sharon and I didn’t need to set the alarm, we were jarred from sleep by the sound of drilling and hammering.  For some reason, construction workers doing the HOTel renovations scheduled an early start.  (Trip Advisor will have to dedicate several pages to my growing list of comments.)  We were so glad it was our last morning at the HOTel from hell. After the March we would be traveling to the comfort of her and her husband's (Jeff) home in Virginia.

We donned layers of clothing, readied our gloves, headgear, boots and signs.  I voiced my disdain upon check-out but did so in a manner that would save me from discussing it in the confessional.  Keep in mind, I hadn't had my coffee yet ... quite an accomplishment.
Inside Union Station
In preparation for the impending storm, streets were already being blocked from parking.  The closest we could get to the Supreme Court was Union Station, a half-mile away.  Although the rally and March started on the grounds of the Washington Monument, Sharon and I both have hip and leg issues.  Instead of marching the estimated two hours, we volunteered to help others secure the area reserved at the Supreme Court for the post-march rally and Silent No More testimonies.  In previous years, pro-choice activists attempted to take over the space and remove signs, equipment, etc.

We were way ahead of schedule which allowed us to check out the eateries at Union Station for breakfast and of course, coffee.  The station was beautiful and buzzing with activity.  We were pleased to see an abundance of others carrying pro-life signs.  After a leisurely meal, we browsed the shops for a while then proceeded to the taxi stand, agreeing to take a cab to and from the Supreme Court in order to save our energy and stay warm as long as possible. 

During the budgeting process for the trip I had factored in taxi fares.  What I didn’t factor in was that because of the storm, a $15.00 each way emergency surcharge was in effect.   The calculator in my head churned out an estimated $55  for a one-mile round trip ride .... with tip.  Once again I avoided a trip to the confessional by biting my tongue.  But you know what?  In all honesty, $55 was a small price to pay, knowing we would arrive ready, willing and able to do our part for LIFE.

Stay tuned for the MAIN EVENT.
I warn you in advance …
That post will be lengthy … but well worth the read

Saturday, January 30, 2016

"Neither snow nor rain nor dark of night . . ." Part IV - Suite Moments

After gathering as much information as possible from the expo, it was time for the meet and greet in the Silent No More suite. Janet Morana (Co-founder of Silent No More and Executive Director of Priests for Life) and others from the group displayed their exemplary hosting talents by putting together a wonderful spread of snacks and beverages.  The suite itself was huge with a magnificent view and expansive, snow-covered balcony (which was quite useful --- right Leslie Blackwell?  LOL).  Seeing the accommodations resulted in another mental Gibb’s slap, for my penny-pinching ways.

It was nice to be able to see Father Frank Pavone (National Director of Priests for Life) again as well as finally see in the flesh, some Silent No More Regional Coordinators and staff I’d connected with on Facebook as well as through our monthly conference calls and Google Groups conversations.  These people have been such an inspiration to me and a guiding force in my desire to do more not only in the Silent No More arena but also in my parish, diocese, and community. 

We Regional Coordinators spirited away to another room for a round (actually, it was oblong) table discussion on those who have come to us as post-abortive but are resistant when it comes to attending a healing program.  Some feel that just admitting the abortion is enough, having convinced themselves they have come to terms with it. This denial is quite common but dangerous.  Suppressing the guilt and shame can result in a variety of self-destructive behaviors and affect every aspect of their lives, including but not limited to faith/spiritual life, personal relationships, (parents, spouses, born children, friends, etc.), and careers. The behaviors can present subtly at first, but eventually, become pronounced and damaging.  

There are no magic words to convince those in denial to attend healing.  However, we will not be discouraged.  We can plant the seed by sharing our personal experiences, pointing out the types of behavior that follow an abortion (even years later) providing the many resources available if they change their minds, pray and maintaining contact. 

Following the discussion, we rejoined the group to celebrate Mass.  Afterward, Sharon and I picked up signs to carry at the March, our treasures from the expo, said our good-byes and set out to our next destination - Fogo de Chão Brazilian Steakhouse. Sharon lives in Virginia but she had not done much driving in downtown D.C.  Although we had a navigating system, we were busy catching up on our lives and talking about the expo and get-together and missed a few turns, ending up in Southwest rather than Northwest D.C.  An hour later, a few more wrong turns (including one down a one-way street the wrong way – YIKES), we arrived.  The meal was fantabulous (I know … it’s not in Webster’s dictionary).  We enjoyed a variety of salads, sides and meats and definitely needed the three block walk to the parking garage. 

We both commented on what a great day it had been which made dealing with our substandard lodging a little easier.  At least Sharon was smart enough to bring silk pajamas….they were much cooler than my flannels.  She fared much better in the oven room.  I swear, from now on, when referring to out of town accommodations, I’ll be typing HOTel.   


Friday, January 29, 2016

"Neither snow nor rain nor dark of night ..." Part III - And So It Begins

Thankfully sleep didn’t escape me, but waking up with NO COFFEE at the ready was excruciating.  I settled for a warm Coke ordered with the prior night’s pizza, praying the caffeine would, at least, be enough to kick start the day. 
Sadly, I must have forgotten to hit the “save” button on my Ipad alarm and slept through the morning vigil at the D.C. Planned Parenthood.   I had so wanted to stand alongside Father Frank Pavone and others dedicated to exposing the barbaric and inhumane practices of this heinous organization. 
I rolled myself out of bed and showered, praying there would be hot water and that water would be able to rinse away the disappointment of missing the vigil.  Some good news …   the hotel room did have a blow dryer.  I was thinking maybe things were looking up. 
Deciding what to wear was next on the agenda….over-packing might have prevented me from running out of something, but again, it also gave me too many options (am I ever satisfied???).   I settled on something warm (duh) and ventured down to the lobby.  Still upset about the restaurant not operating as advertised, I thought a fitting penalty would to not bless them with my presence.  Fortunately, there was a McDonald’s across the street … My favorite fast food breakfast (Bacon McGriddle) beckoned along with a strong cup of COFFEE!  Once I took a sip of that sweet nectar, I knew the world would be safe from my wrath for one more day. 
A few hours later, I saw my “sis” Sharon through the hotel room window drive by.  Tears welled in my eyes – it had been too long since our last visit.  During a long overdue hug and an apology for the substandard accommodations, we were off to the March for Life Expo and Silent No More get-together.
Upon entering the official event hotel, I mentally gave myself a “Gibbs Slap” for being so frugal … resulting in banishment to a tent when for $30 more per night I could have had the Taj Mahal.

The Expo was incredible.  A huge hall bearing rows and rows of exhibitor booths.  Neither of us had seen so many pro-life groups represented in one place before.  We were like kids in a candy shop … chatting it up with vendors, gathering books, brochures, and DVDs.  (Heck, I even freed a few moths from my wallet and splurged on a beautiful rosary.)  The mood of attendees can be best described as electric … sparked by the love for our pre-born and mission to protect them. 

Silent No More Friends at the Expo
 Mary Kominski,  Leslie Blackwell, Jacqui Stalnaker, 
Yohanka Reyes, Mary Eisman
Silent No More, Priests for Life and Rachel's Vineyard Booth

Thursday, January 28, 2016

"Neither snow nor rain nor dark of night . . ." Part II - The Drama Continues

After miraculously surviving the van ride, I said a prayer of thanks even though I was disappointed it was too late to meet up with some of my Silent No More sisters and brothers staying at a different hotel.  Along with being disappointed, I was a tad bit stressed and starving but figured after I checked in, I would take my luggage to the room then have dinner at the hotel’s restaurant. WRONG     Contrary to the website’s claim of dinner service, the restaurant was only open for breakfast.  The desk agent handed me a few fliers of local places that “might” deliver under the current weather conditions and sent me on my way.  I made a mental note to mention that in my review on Trip Advisor. 

I took the elevator to my 6th floor room and when I opened the door, I was greeted with a blast of heat and the smell of paint.  The hotel was under renovation which was also not mentioned when I booked the room.  At first, the heat didn’t bother me … I was still chilled, but after a few minutes, sweat started to bead on my forehead.  I wanted to cool the room down so tried to lower the thermostat.  Nothing happened.  I looked for the air conditioning setting … there wasn’t one.  No problem, I’ll just open the window.  WRONG   The windows could not be opened.  All I could do was turn the system off completely.  As far as the paint fumes....I just tried not to take any deep breaths. Two more items for Trip Advisor. 

My growling stomach reminded me I needed to eat.  I called a local Pizzeria and praise God, they were close enough to deliver.  I placed my order, which would take an hour to deliver then started to unpack.  Glancing around the room, I realized something was missing……A COFFEE POT.  Noooooo!  I wasn’t aware of that either.  For those of you that follow me on Facebook, you know I cannot function as a stable, pleasant person without coffee.  My review on Trip Advisor was getting longer. 

Trying to ignore the anticipated havoc that will be unleashed on the public sans coffee the next morning, I finished unpacking, put on my flannel jammies and settled in ... waiting patiently for the pizza delivery guy to knock on my door.  WRONG   The front desk called and said my delivery was in the lobby.  Lobby?  I asked the desk agent why it can’t be delivered to my room and he said it was the restaurant’s policy not to go to the rooms.  My first thought was, am I in a hotel that wasn’t safe for room delivery? 
I was too tired and hungry to plead my case.  Not caring about my appearance, I threw on my jacket over my jammies and picked up my pizza.  Regardless of how angry I was, I did tip the delivery driver generously … it wasn’t his fault for the lousy policy…but again, made a mental note for Trip Advisor. I don’t know if the pizza was good or not.  In fact, at that point, even if they had made the pizza wrong and added much-hated mushrooms and onions, I would have eaten it.  
Stomach full, I was able to calm down and get ready for some much-needed sleep.  By now the room temperature had dropped a little and in time, I was sure it would reach the level of coolness I prefer for slumber. WRONG   Remember when I said I was on the 6th floor?  Well, heat rises…..enough said.  I finally fell asleep, on top of the covers, reminding myself not to breath too deeply, while mentally outlining my expanding Trip Advisor review and convincing myself the next day had to be better (after I find some coffee).  My friend (I call her sis) would be coming from Stafford, Virginia to join me for the March for Life exhibition and a pre-march gathering of some of the Silent No More Group.

At least I had a room with a view! 

Coming up … Part III – Getting to know you.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

"Neither snow nor rain nor dark of night . . ." Part One

The March for Life in Washington, D.C. is the largest pro-life rally held on or around the anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing abortion in the case Roe v Wade.  After getting involved with Silent No More, I dreamed of joining my fellow SNM sisters and brothers at the event, along with thousands of others speaking out for the sanctity of life.

2016 was the year my dream came true.  Not only would I be attending, but I would also be giving my testimony … frosting on the cake.  After months of planning, I was ready to go. 

A Story Within the Story

Before leaving the comforts of home, I had a decision to make.  I had designed a jacket with an “I Regret My Abortion” applique. With the current political climate, I didn’t know what kind of reaction I would get if I wore it through the airport and on the plane.  The Holy Spirit made it clear to me.  “Wear it with pride.  Sharing your regret is one of the reasons you’re going to D.C. to begin with.” 

Throughout the trip (to and from) I got frowns, a few smiles but mostly raised eyebrows.  While standing in line to check my baggage on the way to D.C., the girl in front of me turned around, saw the applique and asked what it meant.  I gave her a brief introduction to Silent No More and told her where I was headed. She said, “You know, I had an abortion years ago and I still wonder what I would have had, what he/she would have looked like.”  The look on her face said it all.  I asked her if she had ever attended healing and she didn’t know such a program existed.  Needless to say, I referred her to the Silent No More website for resources in her area (she was visiting San Diego and heading home). Had I not had my jacket on, she may have continued to struggle. 


The flight to Washington was a breeze.  I was blessed to have empty seats next to me on the long flight which allowed me to stretch out, watch continuing episodes of NCIS and munch on over-priced snacks. 

I landed at Dulles International Airport, gathered my bulging baggage and located the Super Shuttle kiosk.  As I walked to the assigned van that would promptly deliver me to the hotel, the white stuff was coming down - but just in spurts.  Being from San Diego, I was delighted.  After greeting my driver (I’ll call him Joe) and two other passengers, we were on our way.  Surprisingly, the traffic was not that bad when we merged on the freeway, being rush-hour and all … then about five minutes into the drive the white spurts turned into a continuous shower and traffic slowed to a crawl, vehicles began sliding across lanes and Joe muttered, “This isn’t good.” At that point, I began to wonder if my dream was going to end up a nightmare.  Fortunately, Joe was more concerned about our safety than making a timely delivery and took his time.  We experienced several near misses as cars, trucks and busses spun around the now-covered interstate – my guardian angel was working overtime. 

The first passenger was dropped off at his destination three hours into the normally twenty-minute drive.  We weren’t even in D.C. yet.  I made the mistake of bringing up politics and unfortunately, Joe was quite liberal-minded.  Some interesting dialog commenced for about forty-five minutes, and it started getting a little “heated”.  I knew if it continued, Joe might lose focus on the road. A rather genius idea (if I say so myself) to squelch the discussion popped into my head. I pulled out my portable DVD player and asked the remaining passenger if she would like to watch a movie to pass the time.  She smiled and said, “It would probably be a great distraction.”  Joe said it would be okay as long as we kept the volume down.  I popped in “Gravity”, even though a disaster movie like “The Day After Tomorrow” or “Avalanche” would have been more appropriate.

By the time Sandra Bullock stood on the beach with her arms outstretched, we reached my hotel.  

Normal travel time from Dulles International Airport to hotel:  39 minutes.
Patti travel time:  5 hours and 30 minutes.

Just a little sprinkle!

How it looked minutes later....



Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Finding Peace

I saw the following post on Facebook and it struck me like a bolt of lightening ~ I am that quote.  Through the grace of God, my wounds are healed and that's why I write devotionals and am involved in Rachel's Hope and Silent No More.

This doesn't just apply to post-abortive women, it applies to anyone who has experienced physical, emotional or spiritual trauma.  It is human nature to bury those memories in the deepest recesses of our soul...defense against re-experiencing them.  Reaching out for help in dealing with past traumas and trusting in the love and mercy of God removes the pain and anguish that has taken up so much valuable space in our souls, making room for indescribable peace, serenity and joy.

"He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds."
Psalm 147:3


Sunday, January 17, 2016

Do Not Be Ashamed

My bags are packed and I’m ready to go...leavin’ on a jet plane!  Now that I wrote that, I’m sure that song will linger in my head for days.  Oh well, it is one of my favorite songs so things could be worse, right? Anyway ... this coming Wednesday, me and my overpacked (as usual) bags will be whizzing through the clouds from the warmth of San Diego to a frigid Washington, D.C.  I’ll be testifying alongside some of my Silent No More sisters and brothers on the steps of the Supreme Court building at the March for  Life.

Preparing for this adventure, I was reminded of something that happened while attending the West Coast Walk for Life a few years ago.  My friend Leslie and I were interviewed on Immaculate Heart Radio. We were asked to share our stories about life before, but most importantly, after our abortions.  

The interview was not planned. We were not prepared and had no idea what to expect; in fact, I barely remembered anything that was said until I got the clip from the radio station weeks later. Right before my segment finished, a priest on the panel thanked us for having the courage to tell our stories in front of so many people let alone on national radio.  Others have also made that same comment, in fact, some have asked me if I get embarrassed because my past was consumed by so many ugly excesses.  And yes, it got me thinking (okay folks, here it comes) …

I'm not courageous by any means.  I'm a nervous wreck when speaking.  I've considered backing out on several occasions, but God is quite persuasive. He has called me to share because, unfortunately, there are many women out there just like me.  It's an opportunity to reach out to them and give them comfort knowing they are not alone and no matter how bad they think they are, nothing is unforgivable in God's eyes.  It's also an integral part of my healing journey.

As far as being ashamed or embarrassed … Yes, I was.  I shuddered every time another part of my past surfaced, but found t
he more I share my past, it turns into a bigger blessing.  As a caterpillar morphing into a beautiful butterfly, evil miraculously emerges as good.  God saved me from total self-destruction for a reason. He's using me as one of His messengers … a beacon of hope for those suffering in silence and a guide back to Him. I pray each and every day I don't let Him down.

“So do not be ashamed of your testimony to our Lord, nor of me, a prisoner for his sake; but bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.”
2 Timothy 1:8

The March for Life will be televised on EWTN starting at 11:30 a.m./EST, including our testimonies at approximately 2:30 p.m./EST, Friday, January 22nd.

Silent No More Music Video

Sunday, January 10, 2016

Whose Sin Is It?

The Holy Spirit provides inspiration at the most unexpected times but as always, the timing is impeccable.

Earlier in the week, I was asked to share my abortion experience with a group of sixteen to eighteen-year-old boys at their Catholic confirmation retreat.   It is so important for young people to understand the consequences of abortion and how one bad choice can have a ripple effect ... but I wasn’t quite sure if I was up to this formidable task.   Regardless of having reservations, I agreed. 

I took to my laptop and gathered notes from prior speaking engagements.  Since this was the first time presenting in front of a youth group, I also enlisted advice from my mentor as well as my Silent No More sisters and brothers.   Three days and a gazillion drafts later, mission accomplished.  I decided to not only share my abortion experience and the subsequent devastation, but the poor choices that led up to  and after that point.

I was scheduled for 6:30 on Saturday night and to calm the jitters, I focused on the NFL play-offs. (I am a football fanatic after all!)  Right in the middle of the first game, I reread what I had written and that is when the Holy Spirit nudged me to touch on the spiritual consequences of abortion and add an ending question:  Whose Sin Is It?   

That question garnered several puzzled looks from the young men, and I heard mostly “the girl’s, the boy’s.”  Then one young man hesitantly uttered, “Everybody’s?”   YES! 

There were still some puzzled looks, which provided me a perfect opportunity to clear up a serious misconception.  Granted, the girl having the abortion is committing a grave sin, but what about those who encourage her?  What about the boyfriend who threatens to leave her if she doesn’t abort?  What about the parents who threaten to disown her or withdraw support if she keeps the baby?  What about the person who drives her to the clinic for the procedure?  Their sin is no different than the girl’s.  Nor is it different from those who agree abortion is wrong but believe others have the right to choose, or those who remain silent on the issue.  And yes, let's not forget the directors, doctors, clinic staff, pro-choice politicians and judges. 

From the Bible

Jeremiah 22:3  Thus says the LORD: Do what is right and just. Rescue the victims from the hand of their oppressors. Do not wrong or oppress the resident alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place.

Proverbs 24:11-12:  Did you fail to rescue those who were being dragged off to death, those tottering, those near death, because you said, “We didn’t know about it”? Surely, the Searcher of hearts knows and will repay all according to their deeds.

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church

"Formal cooperation in an abortion constitutes a grave offense.” (2272)

 “Since it must be treated from conception as a person, the embryo must be defended in its integrity, cared for, and healed, as far as possible, like any other human being.” (2274)
 James 2:10-11 says: “For whoever keeps the whole law, but falls short in one particular, has become guilty in respect to all of it..."

But do not dismay: 

1 John 2:1 says:  "My children,  I am writing this to you so that you may not commit sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous one."

There is hope and healing for everyone involved in the abortion decision.  Click HERE for valuable resources.