Showing posts with label Struggles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Struggles. Show all posts

8 Nov 2017

Carrying Our Crosses Can Be a Struggle

If it was easy to carry our crosses, we would all do it willingly. Instead, it can be a struggle at times. We are all given something to bear in life that we wish we did not have to endure. For me, God gave me clubbed feet. My cross is a visible sign of what I must endure in this life. For others, the cross is invisible to the eye. One might think that a visible cross is tougher to bear, because everyone can see it; but I say, not necessarily so. An invisible cross can be just as crippling as my clubbed feet. A good example of an invisible cross would be mental illness; running the gamut from mild anxiety to schizophrenia.

Carrying Our Crosses for Christ

Whatever your cross may be, know that God is with you always. At the most difficult of times, when life seems so unbearable, He helps you carry your cross. God will never give you more than you can bear. Trust Him. We all have crosses to bear. Yet, by carrying our crosses, Jesus wants us to... Read more...

2 May 2016

Do You Struggle Being Christ-LIke? God Comes to the Rescue!

Jesus is the epitome of virtue; the exemplar of how we are to live. We are all good at some virtues but, unlike Jesus, we are unable to master all of them. It seems that no matter how hard we try, we seem to continue to struggle mastering some of them.

With what virtues do you excel? With what virtues do you struggle? In the areas where you excel, do you find the virtues come easy to you? In the areas where you struggle, do you have any idea why you experience such difficulty in mastering said virtues?

Let’s do a very quick analysis: On a scale of one to ten, with ten being outstanding, how virtuous do you think you are in each of the following categories? Read more...

19 Apr 2016

Resistance - Is There Hope to Ever Change

So ... Where Are We in this Process

I thought I would take this week to share where Kevin (my hubby of 26 years) and I are mentally in this process. As I begin my Weight Watchers journey this month, I realized the similarity of the discipline the Lord is trying to create in my heart.  This mind shift from spending as we wish on what we wish, much like my eating what I want and when I want, is a process.  IT is not overnight.  As we say in the weight loss world - YOU did not get 20 lbs over weight overnight, you will NOT shed it overnight.

It has been literally 32 years of mistakes and missteps; along with some serious emotional and mental baggage that has brought us to be this over our heads with debt.  Add to that my desire to serve God in the ever lucrative (read only for Joel Osteen) ministry world - and this is not going to be a quick fix.  The Navigating Your Finances God's Way  study has truly been a God Send - but it has not been the miraculous fix all I had hoped.  IT WILL bring us to where we need to be, of that I HAVE no doubt, but this week during our small group meeting I become VERY aware of my resistance to these much needed and necessary changes.   This was made EVEN more evident, when  ... read more.All Rights Reserved, Allison Gingras 2016

4 Jan 2015

Small Victories: A Good Way to Celebrate Epiphany

I began reading essayist Anne Lamott's new book, Small Victories,  after  hearing her speak in November  at the Free Library of Philadelphia. My friend Shannon, an author and a  jail chaplain in Tacoma, suggested this would be a great book to read for Advent.

Well, even though it's under 300 pages, I just completed it today. Lamott's  is an authentic voice, one that does not sugar coat reality but which helps me find God in the smallest moments. Finishing the book is a good way to celebrate the Epiphany, that time when Jesus revealed himself to the world beyond his circumstances.

Lamott is a writer  we writers are supposed to love and one whose work I have not taken the time to read fully. While I have read bits and pieces of her illuminating work, this is the first full book of hers I have read from start to finish. She labels herself a "left wing" Christian and I suppose she is, but the label, as any political label does, reduces the value of her insights.

Keep Reading...

3 Mar 2014

My Frozen Soul and My Lenten Journey

This whole winter it feels as if I have been stalled. In our small town, there is a seemingly never series of water main breaks, which means we can't use our tap water. A pipe burst under the river, which meant the air was filled with the smell of gas. There have been blackout after blackout in many neighborhoods because of our ailing electrical system. And despite all the efforts of so many, our public schools appear to be breaking and our elected officials indifferent. One of our sons is struggling in school. And the older child is still waiting to hear back from the many colleges to which he has applied. No word from any of them yet. Oh and then there is the snow, inch after inch of snow, day after day, delaying the start of so many school days. It feels as if my family will never unfreeze, never move forward from our permafrosted positions.

26 Oct 2013

The Value of Road Bumps

I'm not sure where I got the idea that if my husband and I did all the "right" things parenting, our boys would glide through childhood and adolescence and smoothly into adulthood. I'm not sure where that idea came from, or how it is I came to believe that watching them glide is preferably to the reality of watching them experiences the ups and downs of growing up and learning, often the hard way, how to make mistakes.

16 Jul 2013

Becoming a Saint One Day at a Time

God calls us each to holiness, to sainthood.

Every day, each experience we have helps us grow in our faith and in our purpose: To achieve holiness; to become saints; to fully become the person God intends us to be.

Each experience, then, has the potential to be “purgative.” Purgation is a process that gets us ready for God. Just as God’s grace was given to the martyrs, so it is given to us to grow in holiness and towards sainthood.

In this process, it is imperative to see God as the Potter and know that we are the clay. Each experience, then, is given over to God for His guidance and our growth. Sainthood means allowing God to mold us just as a Potter molds clay. (Isaiah 64:7)

Everything we experience is an opportunity to grow in our holiness. God can “make us worthy and powerfully bring to fulfillment every good purpose” by giving us circumstances that cause us to depend on Him, to trust in Him, and to respond according to His will

In other words, through our circumstances we allow God to mold us into a loving, forgiving, humble person versus a bitter, frustrated, angry person. (2 Thessalonians 2:11-12)

During this process, our passions can take us places that we may not have ever dreamed of and thus do things that are completely unique to each of us. In these places we cannot be lukewarm Catholics—we are expected to be on fire for our faith so that God can use us to build up the kingdom! In this the Year of Faith, it is important to ask God to ignite our passions so that you can serve Him. It is time to pray that God saves us from a lukewarm existence where we neither serve Him nor grow in our holiness.(Revelation 3:15-16)

We each have received different blessings from God. Maybe we have good health or we have a rewarding career. Is intelligence or a great marriage our blessing? God’s blessings are another way that we can grow in holiness towards our sainthood. For God to mold us into sainthood with our blessings, we have to actively offer them back to God. We have to honor God with them. They aren’t meant to stockpile but to serve.(Proverbs 3:5-10)

For many of us, the most profound way that God is able to mold us is through our sufferings and our struggles. In our weakest, most vulnerable moments, when there seems to be no hope nor any other solution, we crawl to the foot of the cross and lay our cares upon Christ who died for us. Oftentimes, before we make that journey to the cross, we mistakenly think we are able to take care of ourselves and thus miss the opportunities to grow in holiness and towards sainthood. (2 Corinthians 12:10)

When we are pleading for God to reach down from heaven and touch us—and give us “signs”—it is probably time to take a step back and look at the people with whom our paths have crossed. God uses all the people—family and friends and critics and adversaries alike—to mold us. Each person has been placed in our life for a reason: to grow in holiness and become a saint. Whether the person has put a stone in our path making it more difficult, or has removed one, each person can help us each reach our goal of sainthood! (Mark 16:2-6)

In all things, through all circumstances, and throughout each day, God desires each of us to grow in holiness towards sainthood. This can only happen when we allow Him to be the Potter and recognize that we are the clay.
Cheryl Dickow

22 Aug 2012

My Name Is Cheryl...And I Am A Weakling

My name is Cheryl.

And I am a weakling.

That’s the kind of group I want to be in: the kind of group where we each take the stand and own up to who we are—who we really are. Not the avatars we put out in the world through our blogs and our tweets; but who we are at the core.

After all, that’s where we will all ultimately connect, where we will all see one another as Christ sees us: as humanity steeped in the dignity of our creation but as a weak humanity in need of strength found in him who has offered us salvation.

I love being weak.

It means I’m “needy” which seems, to many people I am sure, to be an unpleasant state of being. And I’ve been trampled on more than a few times in my weakened state. I don’t always fight back when society would say that I should. I’ve been hurt and I’ve been wounded.

For years I tried to fight being weak. A bit ironic, right?

I wanted to be able to pick myself up by my bootstraps. I wanted to be able to say with confidence and pride that I was able to overcome life’s obstacles. However, at 54 years old, it occurs to me that being weak can be worn as a badge of honor (humbly, of course). In my weakness I have put aside my agenda and my goals—not in a defeated way but in the understanding that they can easily overcome me, they can quickly replace discernment of spirit, they can negate my need to find strength through Christ.

In admitting my weakness, I have become strong.

God has given me incredible strength through women who have become friends in the deepest sense of the word. They have surrounded me with love and have moved me forward, past pain and into God’s arms and his grace.

They’ve lowered me, in my weakened state, on the mat through the roof to Christ; and to them I owe everything. They have given me life and hope. Christ did not abandon me in my weakness but strengthened me through these women, these friends.

My name is Cheryl.

And I am a weakling. 

Cheryl Dickow can be found at

24 Jul 2012

A Priest's Prayer Opens the Door to A Conversation about Merc

As you might know, my husband is a trauma survivor who faces post-traumatic stress disorder. Greg somehow survived the Sept. 11 terror attacks and he also lost dozens of colleagues. He and I continue to consider what it all means.

We both have what we call "trauma fatigue" meaning we are not able to immerse ourselves in the details of other acts of inhumanity, such as the deadly violence that occurred in an Aurora, Colorado movie theater last week. We haven't watched the nonstop cable news reports, or read any of the extensive newspaper coverage.

Keep Reading...

18 Jun 2012

On Being Fatherless and Planting Mustard Seeds

Reality has a way of intervening into my own little bubble of bliss. In our small family of four, our Father's Day was fine. And yet, over the past few days I have encountered no fewer than 10 children of our acquaintance who are essentially fatherless.

Read more here...

7 Jun 2012

The Season of Proms, High School Graduations, Drunk Driving and Prayers

Hundreds of teenagers sat in hushed silence this morning as the high school football coach shared  about how 20 years ago his brother, then 29, was airlifted to a trauma center after being hit by a drunken driver one Friday night. The brother had not been out drinking; he was returning home with friends after time spent at a batting cage. 

5 Mar 2012

On Forgetting About Prayer

Today was one of those days where nothing, from start to finish, went as I planned. Nothing went badly wrong, it's just that nothing went really well. At work, my laptop gave me all sorts of trouble, refusing to link me to the school's server. Then, an important, comprehensive evaluation of me, which I had been prepping for and anticipating for days, was postponed. 

By the time I got to the after-school faculty meeting, I was a knot of anxiety.  My girlfriend K, my best friend at work, eight months pregnant with her first child, sat down beside me in the school auditorium. Turns out her laptop too is being disobedient. I told her how terribly, terribly stressed I was feeling.

7 Jan 2012

How Reading the Psalms and Seed Catalogs Sustains Me in the Dark of Winter

By Allison Salerno

On winter workdays, I rise at the time Shakespeare says when night is "almost at odds with morning," and you can't tell "which is which." I leave home before the rest of my family has risen, driving north in darkness to my job and arriving just as the sun begins to rise. Sometimes, I don't return home until after sunset. And so I find myself in these days struggling with a kind of sadness, a desire to retreat from a world which feels fully of darkness.

O God, come to my aid.
O Lord, make haste to help me.
Glory be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit,
as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be,
world without end.
Amen. Alleluia.

2 Nov 2011

Motherhood Matters

In Motherhood Matters, Canadian author Dorothy Pilarski writes with profundity and wit about matters practical and divine. Full of anecdotes and humor, this book makes us take an honest look at the lives of women today, and helps us to focus on what matters most. Has "liberation" truly led to greater happiness for women? Are children to be viewed as commodities, to be acquired just as we acquire a house or car? Or should children be seen as the gifts from God that they are, given to our stewardship? Dorothy makes it clear that until we rectify our confusion about such basic questions then peace of heart will elude us. To quote:
We will find happiness in living out God's purpose for our lives, not our own. The culture of the early twenty-first century makes it easy to follow mistaken paths. The media bombards us with the temptation to fulfill ourselves, to find ourselves, to meet our own needs. It is a message of selfishness. And it is spread constantly. Magazines, television, radio, films, books, and the internet promote images of the 'ideal' career, body, fashion, home, car, vacation, husband, and parenting. These 'ideals"' are often reinforced by friends and family. Influenced by these 'ideals,' many of us make important life decisions without first considering our relationship with Jesus Christ and our Catholic faith...As Catholic mothers, we are called to dig deep into our hearts and pray that we are actually co-operating with God's grace...Our children are gifts from our Creator who has entrusted the souls of our children to us. (pp18-19)
Motherhood Matters is broken into many small sections which makes it easy for busy people to read, yet it is never disjointed; one paragraph flows seamlessly into another. Dorothy substantiates her claims about women and motherhood, about divorce, illegitimacy, diseases, and all the trials of modern life, with statistics of several recent studies, not only with pious beliefs. Yet the statistics uphold the piety, showing that when we depart from God and his law we pay, our children pay, and all society pays. (pp.31-32) We see that many women are often forced to set aside their childbearing years in order to make money. Even after the children are born, women must often forgo being with their children and creating a home in order to be part of the work force.

It is obvious that our culture no longer values motherhood or sees it as a goal. Instead, it is a sideline, to be pursued only when convenient. Is this fair to women? No, and it is definitely not fair to children. Women are repeatedly told that they must be breadwinners like men in order to be of value. Other than the ability to make money, women are reduced to their sexuality and have come to see themselves as worthwhile only as far as physical pleasure goes.

Can things ever be made right? Motherhood Matters explores many simple and practical ways that women can reclaim their feminine vocation. How easily we ignore the most obvious truths, which Dorothy illustrates with short stories from her personal experience. It is a book which entertains and yet it is impossible to read it without taking a good hard look at oneself. Throughout the book we are enjoined to turn to prayer as the key to finding the path we are called to take as women and as mothers. We are encouraged to watch and pray, especially when we have teenagers. As Dorothy says:
Remaining grounded in a fervent prayer life and being aware of the dangerous messages that exist in the media can better equip parents to understand the challenges that vulnerable teenage girls wrestle with. Awareness leads to conversations we might have never had. But be prepared. I guarantee that those conversations will challenge you, yet I cannot imagine a life without them. (p.99)
The choice that lies before each of us is between a life of authentic love and one of  fleeting material gratifications. No one can make the choice for us. Reading a book like Dorothy's makes it easier to choose a life of love, a life which foreshadows the eternity of endless happiness and fulfillment.

Here is an interview of Dorothy Pilarski by author Donna-Marie Cooper O'Boyle.

(*Note: This book was sent to me by the publisher in exchange for my honest opinion.)

Elena Maria Vidal is the author of the historical novels Trianon, Madame Royale, and The Night's Dark Shade. Please visit Elena at her Tea at Trianon blog and on Facebook and Twitter.

9 Oct 2011

Reflections from a Family Wedding: Church is For Sinners

Our family just pulled into the driveway from a whirlwind weekend in upstate New York, where we helped to celebrate the wedding of one of my husband's cousins, a 28-year-old nurse, to a wonderful man. The wedding took place at Our Lady of Grace Catholic Church in Ballston Lake. The bride's side of the church was filled with siblings, first cousins and second cousins who had flown in from as far as Idaho and California, a sprawling clan of Irish Americans that I was delighted to introduce our sons to. (We loved spending an hour and a half at a diner before the wedding meeting blogger Fran Rossi Szpylczyn, who lives and works nearby.)

On the drive home, my husband told me he was surprised to hear one of the newly married couple's friends refer to the bride as a nostalgic girl, as a girl who likes to do things the old-fashioned way, including marrying in the church. This led us to reflect on what draws people to the Church and what prompts them to leave.

Read more here...

3 Aug 2011

Why Writing and Reading Blogs Isn't a Waste of Time

I worry over how much time I spend writing and reading in the blogosphere. This morning in the mailbox came a thank-you letter that brought me to tears of joy and made me realize the time I spend is not wasted. Jamie and Kim Arpin-Ricci thanked me for standing beside them during their adoption journey and shared pictures of their new family.

I never have met any of these people face to face. I have never even spoken with them on the phone. And yet, because of this new and crazy place called the blogosphere, I have been able to pray for them.

Read more here.

13 Jul 2011

"The King's Speech" and the Power of Perseverance

By Allison Salerno
Okay, maybe the 50 or so folks at our local public library who watched "The King's Speech" tonight with my husband and me were the last people on the earth to see this Academy Award-winning film about King George VI's struggles to overcome his stammer.

But if you are among those who haven't seen this movie yet, do. Other than some foul language, spoken by the king himself as he struggles to find his voice, this movie is a great movie for families. It's an inspirational story,  a love letter to speech therapists everywhere, and its message is about how trust and perseverance can help us overcome many obstacles.

9 Jul 2011

When A Sassy Remark Shows Me a Sure Thing

 By Allison Salerno

"Mom. Stop blaring your music. I'm trying to read." 

So said our 11-year-old yesterday as he lay on the comfy blue couch, reading, and I sat in the nearby armchair, listening on my macbook to my new favorite music: Iron and Wine. His sassy comment was its own kind of music.

If you know our son in real life, you know what a triumph this comment is. You see, our son struggles with a language-based learning disability. When he was four, his speech was unintelligible, even to me, his stay-at-home mom. The only person in the world who could understand L. was his older brother, who for years served as a translator for him to the rest of the world.

24 Jun 2011

Redemptive bellyaching

It is very easy for me to enter the state of Woe Is Me. In fact, I spend so much time there, I'm sure it's an actual place with a zip code. I could have my bills and junk mail delivered there.

In my own mind, my problems seem to be much harder than anyone else's. The list of injustices and slights against me is long and repetitive enough to bore even me -- yet another unfairness, because my troubles aren't as interesting as what other people experience.

So, after a rather difficult week, and then weekend plans derailed by a cold, I woke up this morning to learn that there was no water. I took it personally and immediately packed my bags for WIM. I'm telling you, the border guards know me on sight I've been there so often.

Recounting my troubles becomes a comforting reassurance that I have every right to feel as abused/misused/refused as I want to. I settle into the woeful wallow right there in Woe Is Me and prepare myself for a good old pity party. I survey the landscape of complaints laid out before me, and count each one to make sure none have gone missing.

I exaggerate here for dramatic effect of course, but certainly there are times when I do dwell on my woes and treat them more tenderly than I should. However, sooner or later(sometimes more later than I would like) I remember that there are people enduring real trials and tribulations while I fanny about with the press releases (catch the quote?) and I offer my challenges for those people.

That's how God works. In the Divine Economy it is called redemptive suffering - the sacrifice of one person's suffering endured for the sake of another person's good. It's like a parent making sacrifices for their child to go to school, or giving up your seat to an elderly man on the bus, but with spiritual goods and services.

To joyfully and freely offer your own pain and suffering for another person's good is a heroic and difficult thing to do. Until I am fully able to do so and leave Woe Is Me behind, I offer my bellyaching - the whimpering and snivelling I do - and trust that God can use even that to help you when you stumble on the rocky path.

God, Love and Clouds

Today's Gospel, Mark 9:2 through 10 , describes the Transfiguration. I'll be talking about that. Partly. Also Peter, perceptions,...