MIRACULOUS MRS. MAISEL

“Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” season 4 poster | Amazon Prime Video

Some experts say that occasionally it’s necessary to “take a break” from grief. I learned this firsthand during a frigid December 2020 Christmas day, 36 days after I lost my beloved 26-year-old son who died by suicide. My then 24-year-old daughter, Alexandra, returned home during this time, and we mourned together. Lounging in the living room in shabby sweatpants and tops, noshing on a conveyor-belt assortment of Trader Joe’s chips and other salty and sweet snacks that my dear childhood friend Anna supplied, we insulated ourselves, cranked up the heat indoors as the temperatures dipped to below freezing outdoors. Alexandra’s soft, furry slippers with funny smiling sloth faces, the ones that arrived a month prior in a condolence gift box from her former college roommate, Suzanna, felt like they were out of sync with the preceding extreme 36 days, oozing with despair, agony, regret, remorse and anger. We symbolized the walking wounded. Drained and hollow as if we were toilet plungers.

Who would believe that only a year prior, we were in New York City’s West Side in a beautiful church singing Christmas carols as if we were Carnegie Hall performers? Three hundred and sixty-five days later, half eaten tubs of white paper take-out food containers brimming with Chinese dumplings, noodles, fried rice and legions of lo mein lined the coffee table, our designated sanctuary, the view outside obstructed by the drapes drawn closed.

My daughter and I spent about twenty minutes scanning for TV channels to watch, searching for something to numb the pain. I finally surrendered to Alexandra’s request to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, especially since she had never seen it before. Before the tragedy, I was The-Marvelous-Mrs.-Maisel loyalist since its premiere in 2017. If you are unfamiliar with the series, it opens in 1958 and ends in the early 1960s and centers around Miriam “Midge” Maisel. Although her role that begins as a happily married woman with two children changes, chasing her stand-up comedy dreams and adhering to her affluent New York City lifestyle remain constant.

After the tragedy, I was reluctant to watch The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel because I felt it was something that aligned with a “happy-people’s” existence. Not only did we end up watching the episodes of the new third season that Christmas, but we watched the previous two seasons as well!

There are so many things in the show that resonate with me. For starters, a lot of the show is filmed in New York City’s Greenwich Village, a hotbed of stand-up comedy. “The epicenter of the city’s 1960s counterculture movement” is by far my favorite place in the world. Even now, whenever I go there, the young heartbeat I feel in the village lifts my old, worn-out spirits. To me, this is the epitome of America, for the most part, at its best. The village is more than a melting pot. It is a pot of gold, laden with people from all walks of life. The important thing is that the village really is a village because it encourages free expression. If you are bullied anywhere else in the world for any reason, the best therapy is to spend a little time here. Although you may appear outwardly very different from others around you, the sense of belonging is inherent; there tends to be a feeling of recognition in the air. In fact, the village is where I enrolled and participated in stand-up comedy workshops in the 1980s and experienced my own marvelous, albeit short-lived, show biz stint.

Anyway, watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, f-bombs and all, saved our souls that fragile holiday season of 2020 and gave me faith knowing that although my laugh had lost a lot of its carefree boom, its flame had not faded.

So, this brings me to a very important date, February 18, 2022: season four of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. From the minute I heard about the new upcoming season, I was eager for its long-awaited arrival, like a kid getting his or her braces removed after walking around for two years with the metal invasion in their mouths.

At last! Friday night and I sat back, full throttle ahead, no one or nothing was going to vie for my time. My fellow blogger, Alec, would surely be pleased since quite ironically, he reminded me last week about the importance of fun.

As is, the new, season four, series rolls out two one-hour long episodes at a time. I planned to watch one hour of the show on Friday and the other hour on Saturday. Initially, I was timid to hit “play” because the minute I saw the old, familiar characters, my heart tumbled as I recalled the unbearable swords of circumstances that transpired in November 2019 and how the show helped me cope. Nonetheless, I hit the forward button, and one hour led to two. I was hooked from the beginning to the end of both episodes.

If you can get past the f-bombs and a few select scenes that some viewers may find inappropriate (nudity, profanity, alcohol, drugs and smoking, adult themes), the first two episodes are one big ode to the meaning of opposites. Free expression and individual voice versus repression and suppression. The importance of a financial framework versus the desire to pursue art as your true calling in life. And so many other things that call to mind the breadth of Greenwich Village, and its ability to tug hard at your heart strings and awaken your soul that was likely lost about the time your identity was wiped out when you understood and accepted the untruth behind the social conditioning of, “Big girls or big boys (especially) don’t cry.”

The first two episodes of season four of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel touched upon nearly every tenet of existentialism and so much more. Miriam, the main character, is ballsy and brash and bold and is going to be heard, damn it, no matter what, and turn over convention. Subsequently, though, she’s not about to part with her hoity-toity upper west side New York City tastes either. All the while, she’s trying to rise up again from a rubble of failures and secure her share of the American Dream.

What’s happening in the show at its core, synonymous with the Greenwich Village vibe, is that so much that is not talked about and kept taboo unhinges and revolts. It can no longer shut up. It cannot be shutdown. It needs to be spoken, heard, not judged or erased.

It needs the human seal of “I see you” approval that we are all desperate for. My once alive son was a good example of wanting to be seen, heard, appreciated, in spite of how his differences made him feel separate from the rest of the world.

It’s as simple as that.

What fits in with this overall “fitting in” theme is a book that I’ve just finished reading Wintering, the power of rest and retreat in difficult times by Katherine May (2020).

The author writes about her mental breakdown at 17-years-old and, after the experience, she talked about it and talked and talked. She continues the story as she writes:

I am aware that I fly in the face of polite convention in doing this. The times when we fall out of sync with everyday life remain taboo. We’re not raised to recognize wintering or to acknowledge its inevitability. Instead, we tend to see it as a humiliation, something that should be hidden from view lest we shock the world too greatly. We put on a brave public face and grieve privately; we pretend not to see other people’s pain. We treat each wintering as an embarrassing anomaly that should be hidden or ignored. This means we’ve made a secret of an entirely normal process and have thereby given those who endure a pariah status, forcing them to drop out of ordinary life in order to conceal their failure. Yet we do this at great cost. Wintering brings about some of the most profound and insightful moments of our human experience, and wisdom resides in those who have wintered.

Okay, so what I’ve realized about myself now is that, as opposed to Miriam, I became a “good girl” and discarded the rebel status that I initially strived toward. This outcome, I found out 35 years later, can be a consequence of living a so-called sober, so-called adult life. It’s not a bad thing that I’m no longer the firecracker Miriam is and, quite simply, the fight in me now is, for the most part, exhausted.

But the thing about grief is that it has forced me to make a place for it. It is locked in me, next to my memories and my hopes and dreams. In the process, grief has peeled me to the core. So now I am left with my core and me. I don’t have the strength nor burning desire to be a rebel anymore, but my inner voice says that I don’t want to keep hiding anymore either. I’m done with listening to all the blood-hungry critics in the world that managed to seize my brain and ferment it. I keep hearing the song, “Kill the voices” on the radio.

My son had lost his ability to “kill” those voices that erased him. So he did it the best way he knew how, impulsively and brutally, leaving us spewed like squashed roaches in the aftermath.

All the more reason that I’m not keen on too many opinions and certainly those that come from pulpits, real and imagined. I’m not keen too much on my own opinions either, because I found out the hard way, how many times I am more wrong than right.

One thing that I am keen on is hearing Midge’s voice, f-bombs and all. At the end of the day, the story really is about an outspoken woman who knows her worth. And it is clear in the show that women have to work twice as hard to succeed. In turn, if others give her a chance to tell her truth, maybe it will spread beyond places like the village where she performs stand-up comedy. Maybe, too, we can all start learning the impossible art of listening for the sake of hearing, not changing, ignoring or stifling; for the sake of an “I see you” universal nod.

So, after watching the first two episodes of season four last Friday night, I laid down in my bed in a flood of tears that was as surprising as a drain that bursts in the bathroom in the middle of the night. I realized how Mrs. Maisel lends her voice to me right now, because I’ve fallen so far inside myself, I don’t know if I can muscle my way out unscathed. I don’t know if I have the courage. I don’t know if I can kill the voices, or if they have killed me, metaphorically instead.

In the interim, I am trudging through this week, waiting for Friday to hear the voices and the antics that not only give me comic relief and, if I am lucky, grief relief, but also a channel where I imagine I am in my twenties again. It was during a time when I orchestrated my world so easily in a leopard top and black rimmed glasses, my voice booming into the microphone loud and clear, laughter rolling through like a seamless tide rolling in to cleanse the sediment on the crusty shoreline.

Faith Muscle

Community Strong

This week’s post is dedicated to all those who have lost loved ones and pets, homes, businesses and other possessions after powerful tornadoes left paths of destruction in Arkansas, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi and Tennessee.”

Through the media, I have witnessed community resilience, response and recovery efforts during the dire situation this past weekend. For instance, one of the tornados ripped through and destroyed the Mayfield (KY) First United Methodist Church property. The pastor, Reverend Joey Reed and his wife, took shelter in the church basement and survived the catastrophic event.

During a TV broadcast interview, his gratitude for the safety of his wife and children prevailed. He said that things are replaceable; people are not.

In fact, the reverend further explained that the topic of “joy” was the theme he had planned for last Sunday’s sermon. Fortunately, he was still able to present the sermon during a service at another local church that the tornado bypassed. Interestingly, the only bulletin from Reverend Reed’s church that survived the calamity includes a synopsis of his sermon.

The sermon defines joy as something that is internal and thereby it is a permanent fixture for as long as we live. Happiness, on the other hand, is external and is fleeting.

“Joy is often mistaken for happiness, but happiness can change by a turn of events. Joy is something that abides. That’s what we’re holding onto,” Reverend Reed said.

In the same spirit of joy, although the parish has lost the sanctuary, he also stated, “That building was the repository of our memories. We have to remember that those memories still belong to us. They cannot be taken from us even by something as devastating as this tornado.”

I only hope that Clayton Cope’s parents, whose son would have turned 30 at the end of December, and all the other parents who lost young adult children at the Amazon warehouse in Edwardsville, Illinois, and children of all ages throughout the six effected states will manage to cherish their “repository of memories” as they now undertake the most unbearable journeys imaginable.

To these bereaved parents and to all the other survivors who are swallowed by grief in so many forms from this tragedy, I stand with you. I salute your bravery as you endure your faith walk. Always remember, the power of faith lies in the acceptance of our powerlessness.

Faith Muscle

Holiday🎃Season Kick-Start

When my children were young, the first sharp breeze, autumn’s precursor, stirred my enthusiasm. It signaled for me to uncover a special jewelry box and open the top drawer gathering dust from the year before. Inside was a treasure of assorted inexpensive trinkets that I spent seasons past unearthing at flea markets and tag sales. To me, though, the pieces were priceless because they helped me amplify the excitement of holiday time. Halloween kicked off the tradition. Two weeks before October 31st, I reached for my favorite troll pumpkin earrings and cottony ghost pin.

Earrings dangling and pin attached to my top, I performed the annual traipse up the attic stairs and started to pull out the jack-o’-lantern and fall leaf wreath. Christmas carols played in the background simply because I lacked a repertoire of Halloween music.

As a first-generation American child, my parents, both Eastern European immigrants, were not accustomed to Halloween. When I trick-or-treated around the neighborhood, I either went alone or joined a family a few blocks away. Each holiday, I wore the same old sheet I had worn the year before. My favorite part was at the end of the night when I came home and uncovered the scarcely distributed Hershey Bars among the bag of loot. An hour later, the juicy crunch of a fresh apple lessened the overly sweetening taste in my mouth from my consuming endless tootsie rolls and candy corn pieces.

I’ll never forget the Halloween when the TV news broadcast warned about evildoers hiding razors in apples. Learning about the deplorable act marked my innocence with its first blemish and elicited a spooky creaking door effect on my world, my first experience in adult boot camp.

After Halloween passed, my parents were big on church during Christmas, but, apart from that, they both worked tirelessly and viewed Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays as a burden. Looking back, my mother was completely bereft of organizational strategies, and her cooked meals turned out to be so late that my much older brothers had typically disappeared by dinnertime. She was exhausted and couldn’t eat. My father rushed through his meal, famished. I ended up eating my holiday meals in solitude.

It made sense that when I celebrated the holidays with my own family, I compensated for what lacked in the holiday memories of my youth. It all started with cracking open the dusty jewelry box and then pulling out the big decorations from the attic. A lot of the household décor I purchased the day after Christmas, long before frugal consumers understood the extent of the meaning behind “After-Holiday Sale!” savings. Christmas, in fact, got to a point where all the household décor was switched out for holiday ornamentation. Instead of one tree, we had two. We started with one fresh green pine and one white artificial that later transitioned into another artificial tree.

My then husband was not as keen on Thanksgiving and Christmas as I was. I feared I had recreated a familiar pattern, but I did appreciate how he loved escorting our kids trick-or-treating. Looking back, his crafted jack-o’-lantern  had to be the spiffiest looking one in our neighborhood.

There wasn’t a moment that I did not burst with gratitude during any of the holidays, always feeling as if I were given a second chance to experience the magical component in them, and it started with flipping the lid open on the one dusty jewelry box. Even when some of the mostly China-made jewelry broke, I kept the pieces. To dispose of them was like discarding joy.

Some women might, rightly so, feel privileged by wearing mega-sized diamonds. For me, nothing could replace the delight I felt from the colorful plastic holiday turkeys on my jacket’s lapel and Christmas light bulb earrings catching on the collars of my clothes.

I am sure, if tragedy had not struck, I would continue to keep the jewelry box in my over-protective hands while woolgathering about myself dressed as a real-life ornament, a walking signal of joy among my future tribe of grandchildren. Instead, my hands are robbed by grief. The first sign was last year when I discarded the broken jewelry, only to slam the box shut, unable do anything else.

This year, I sorted through the rest of my holiday jewelry and then cleaned and polished the box before donating everything to Goodwill. As I did, I pictured the young children out there and moms who are cozy and busy with their lives, so much the way I had been. I know someone will uncover the stash at Goodwill with new eyes and hope for the future. Someone, I anticipate, who felt the same blissful way at Goodwill when they unearthed my freshly cleaned wedding gown that finally I was able to part with three years ago.

Like seasons, holidays are the ebb and flow of life. I read recently something I never knew. “Ebb and flow” means that sometimes our life flows toward our hopes and dreams, and sometimes it flows away. I see it as the rising and falling ocean, a harmony that can only continue if we hold tight while learning to surf, because the raw truth is, at one point or another, we realize we are all novices and there is no mastery at life, especially when it shocks us into knowing how true this is, and we are left grappling with abstract ideas like the meaning of faith.

Faith Muscle

Christmas Fireflies

Photo by Elly Fairytale on Pexels.com

The excerpt below is from a post by Liza Smith* in Austin, Texas. She is one of the members in my FB group that is a dedicated space for moms of children who committed suicide. She also lost her child about a year ago, and every word of it echoes how I feel during this 2020 holiday season:

“….Since last Christmas, I vowed to try harder. I picked up some new (to me) outdoor decorations at yard sales and clearance sales. Inside our home is still vacant of holiday spirit. This year actually feels harder than the first year. The exterior shows a normal family, and the interior shows our fragile hearts…..”

At the end of 2019, after the tragic blow of losing my son, with the exception of a wreath on the door, our house remained unmarked of holiday spirit. This year, however, along with my sole surviving child, this sweet mom’s post inspired me to make the dreaded trip up to the attic. Trying not to stare too hard at Christmas’s past, I located and pulled out our Christmas village.

Backtracking, for about five Christmases in a row, we made a pilgrimage to the Ronald McDonald house to deliver holiday pies and desserts. Nearly 28 years ago, my then husband and I lodged at the house when my son was born with a heart defect and underwent open heart surgery at the nearby hospital. The staff had a beautiful Christmas village display, and that was the model we used in our home during the holidays.

Although our Christmas village was nowhere near as intricate as Ronald McDonald’s setup, before the tragedy, it took me days to decorate our home for Christmas. In fact, we didn’t just have one tree, we had two lavish artificial trees, one white and one green!

Now, please read another excerpt from the same FB post by Liza. Again, everything she writes mirrors my feelings.

“….So I picked out the biggest most lavish artificial tree at the store. It was ridiculous; but I imagined the laughter of future Christmas around that tree and had to have it. We only put it up twice. Now it mocks me with its size, and cheerful, colorful lighting.

I tried dragging it out this year and only got the base layer done before melting down. My husband tried to comfort me and said “I thought this was the tree you wanted, it should make you happy” and he was half right. It was the tree I wanted, but only because it matched the life I wanted. Without that life, the tree lost its joy. We packed it back up and offered it to my sister who is starting an exciting new chapter in her life. Her and her partner just moved in together. It’s new and fresh and although she misses her nephew, she has joy again in her life. Her life matches the tree….”

Liza also explained in her FB post that she ended up getting a “pencil” style tree this year—and so did I. I couldn’t bare revisiting the old decorations–my young children’s handmade ornaments, ceramic baby shoes imprinted with birth dates, and so on. I ended up buying plain old NEW globe ornaments. The ornaments resemble this new normal: paired down, slim and simple.

My roomie said my son is happy that I decorated and resurrected the Christmas village. I stopped reading minds, especially ones that no longer emit brainwaves. But I can say, the glow of the village’s white lights are warm and invite me to “participate in life’s calendar of events.” This was another idea from Liza’s FB post. Sweet mom wrote, “I’m no where near ready to celebrate again, but participation I can handle.”

Liza’s FB post also inspired me to dedicate my blog post in honor of my fellow bloggers and all those who are not looking forward to Christmas this week. Perhaps this is your first Christmas without a particular loved one, or maybe your tenth or fiftieth year without that someone special. Or, maybe you are far from home in the military. Or, perhaps, you are at home without any family at all. Certainly, during these challenging pandemic times, some of you may be going through things like job loses. financial upsets, health issues and isolation.

The point is, I invite each of you to participate in life’s holiday calendar of events, whether it is connecting on zoom with a friend or family member or listening to a holiday concert on the internet. What about baking butter cookies? Or driving around the neighborhood to enjoy the array of holiday lights?

Photo by Lina Kivaka on Pexels.com

Sometimes you have to force yourself to have faith and plan activities that will help you achieve it. On the up side, this is the time of year, even during a pandemic, where holiday lights are the fireflies of winter’s backyard. Grab an imaginary jar and catch the glow.

*Thank you, Liza for your permission to use your encouraging words. I hope they help others as much as they helped me.

Faith Muscle

Travels with Lucy

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

Last year, my brilliant, beautiful 26-year-old son, who could light up a room with his smile, took his own life eight days before Thanksgiving. Subsequently, eight days before Christmas, my then 25-year-old daughter and I boarded a flight to Nashville, Tennessee. He had lived an hour away in Kentucky. Our plan was to fly in and drive his car, along with some of his belongings, back home to Connecticut.

During our stay on December 18th, which happened to be my children’s Nana’s birthday, who basically disappeared from our lives in 2010, we were scheduled to present a commemorative plaque that included his photo “Living Waters” at a memorial luncheon at his workplace.

Pre-pandemic days, a sea of travelers wearing ugly Christmas sweaters surrounded us on the plane. We wore the faces of shock, disguising them the best we could. We wanted to blend in with the crowd and not alter the holiday spirit.

Everything felt surreal and in slow motion. The plane ride ushered in another remembrance, not nearly as unbearable, that occurred about eight years ago, when we took the train to my daughter’s new university campus where she was enrolled to live and study for four years.

On the train, the two of us sat on our rock hard seats like misplaced weeds in a bouquet of happy students and their families, brimming with dads galore. (My daughter’s dad had experienced emotional breakdown and for the most part abandoned the family the day after her sixteenth birthday.)

How we managed to get through those tumultuous university years is nothing short of a miracle, sprinkled with a fairy dusting of faith I am sure.

Speaking of fairies and faith, I don’t know if it was coincidence, pure luck or a miraculous moment, but sitting next to me in the plane was a young woman about my son’s age. She was blonde with a smile that could light up any room and cowboy boots that could stomp rocks into dust. We started to chat, and she ended up showing me her tattoos. She had one of her handsome grandfather, rendered from his younger years, on one arm and one of Lucille Ball on the other.

In high school, one of my nicknames was “Lucy,” because I emulated Ms. Ball. Growing up, she helped me believe that laughter could solve the world’s problems. The comedienne certainly inspired me with enough smiles and delight to help me endure my difficult childhood.

Out of all the idols to select in her day and age and here this young woman loved Lucy in the exact way I had generations ago. Of course, in the 70s, tattoos were mostly reserved for sailors, and certainly taboo for woman, so I missed a Lucy face imprint opportunity.

During the plane ride, the Lucy fan revealed how she had battled depression for years and finally pulled through and was making a fresh start of it, but not alone. She had her beaming mom, dressed in an ugly Christmas sweater, on the plane next to her and her two other most favorite people in the world, one tattooed on each of her arms. I’m not sure about her dad, but like the famous Rolling Stones’ song goes, “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometime you’ll find you get what you need.”

Pained, I thought about how my son could have easily identified with this woman as I watched her hair roll, bounce and loop into fun circles that you had to resist from poking your finger inside. Who couldn’t love her? Except, ironically, she revealed, she had to fight hard to win her own love. Finally, she won the battle to endure life in spite of it all. My son ceased trying. My daughter and I were on route to pick up the pieces.

The “Lucy woman” had no idea about our mission. We had no idea about her mission either. But I did have a sense that maybe in the chapters of life riddled with nemeses, one wasn’t forced to feel like they were delivered the book in error, because somewhere before the ending a hero materialized.

In my daze, confusion, shock and looking from the outside in, I remember when I touched that young woman’s Lucy tattoo, I felt like I had somehow landed while the plane was still flying thousands of miles above ground. In some bizarre way, I perceived that imaginary wings of equilibrium enveloped me, and I had a sense that I would walk tall and fake brave from that moment on. Maybe, by some slim chance, laugh again in the future watching an old Lucy flick.

Faith Muscle

Brick and Mortar 2019

I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.                                                           Angel4 Psalm 34:1

Brick Wall

During this past season’s midnight Mass, I found Christmas, but it wasn’t solely in the Mass. I found Christmas in a young father who sat in the pew in front of us. His eyes glowed in adoration of his special needs toddler. Despite the fact that the child squirmed, gurgled and occasionally jolted, for over two hours, the father cradled her with undivided attention and devotion. In the face of challenge, his face exuded peace, contentment and joy. His one-word response to his child: Christmas!

This upcoming New Year, when I am faced with challenges, I hope to respond in the same spirit of Christmas, no matter if it is in the dead of winter or heat of summer. In other words, no matter how my faith is tested, I have memorized my response that is so apparent in the father’s life that I encountered at church. “I will bless the Lord at all times; his praise shall be always in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

Brick Wall2

Funny, how my relationship with God is sometimes one-sided, and I think He should ONLY bless me. Blessing the Lord at all times and praising him always is like laying a foundation of brick-like faith while the Lord spreads his love in the form of mortar.

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

 

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Faith Muscle

 

Christmas Greetings

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But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear. Matthew 13:16

Thank you to my blog family of readers for allowing me to bring you “a blog of comfort during unpredictable times.”  In exchange, my cup runneth over from you and the kind words, encouragement, prayers, love and friendship that I’ve received this past year.

In fact, I can’t tell you how many times I feel  I am wasting my time writing a blog post that no one reads. But each time I feel this way and then I receive a new follower, a comment or a “like,” God speaks through you.

“Here I am,” he whispers. “Here I am.”

And, though I don’t write my posts often enough, my faith, through you, grows. This coming year, I hope to devote additional time and produce more frequent blog posts, and I hope to work on my own faith. If “WTF, Where’s the faith” helps only one person, my mission is a success. Of course, the only way you can keep faith is to give it away.

In the spirit of giving, no matter where you are in life, I wish you a renewal of faith. If you are about to jump off that bridge, the exact spot I’ve stood countless times in the past, close your eyes, breathe, trust, turn around in the opposite direction of the bridge, hold your head up and lift up your arms. Allow the blessings to pour down on you. If you have faith, you are blessed. You will never be empty-handed.

Walk, stumble, crawl in faith. Fake faith if you have to, but move forward, even by an inch. Be patient. Trust the process. The fruits of your faith will be rewarded. Hold on. Have no fear. He will never drop you. You might not have a clue about your life at the moment, but I promise you, you are not abandoned. Though you must abandon yourself, your will, your thoughts. He will cradle you back to joy. He will save and renew you.

How will you know it? Someone will walk into your life or something will happen and you will hear His whisper, “Here I am.”

Listen closely. He’s there through the hardship, the agony, the brokenness, the fear and the failure. He’s always with you on your journey, but remember you must be attuned. You must listen closely to His whisper, “Here I am!”

Release all your fears and failures into God’s hands.  The world might let you down, but he will never let you down. You’ll see. Then pass it on. Allow God to work through you to help someone else. Let him whisper, “Here I am!” through you to someone in need!

Thank you for helping me to hear His whisper, “Here I am!” through you. Thank you for being such an important part of my faith-filled journey.

Happy Holidays and Best Wishes for a Happy New Year!

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

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touched by an angel

 

This Christmas: Make a gratitude list, check it twice

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds. Psalm 9:1

gratitude

Thanksgiving is long behind us. Christmas is almost here. If you are experiencing divorce, unemployment, death of a loved one or any life challenge, you might feel more depressed than cheerful this time of year.

The first thing to do is to give yourself permission to feel far from merry. Holidays can bring a lot of painful memories to the surface. You are not alone. I’m sure by now you’ve heard about about the many people who think “holiday cheer” is akin to holiday fear. According to the National Institute of Health, during this time of year people experience a high incidence of depression. Hospitals officials and police forces report high incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. The statistics are apparent.

One thing that can help while you are struggling to move forward, however, is a little dollop of gratitude.

The short prayer below is an excerpt from A Road to Healing: 365 Daily Reflections for Divorced Catholics by Lisa Duffy. You don’t need to be divorced or Catholic to appreciate her depth of gratitude.

For the gift of waking up this day, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of my sight and being able to speak and hear, I thank you, Lord..
For a roof over my head, even if it isn’t mine, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of free will and the ability to make my own choices, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of my faith, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of knowing what it is like to love, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of my friends who love me, I thank you, Lord.
For the gift of experiencing a little of what you suffered for me as I carry my cross, I
thank you, Lord.
For the gift of the good things you will bring out of my suffering, I thank you, Lord.
For the ways you will change my heart and help me become a better person because
of what’s happened, I thank you, Lord.
For the little triumphs as well as the big ones, I thank you, Lord.
For forgiving me, for saving me, and for not forgetting about me, I thank you, Lord.
For the promise of eternal life with you in heaven, I thank you, Lord. Amen.

When I started practicing the art of gratitude 33 years ago I didn’t feel much gratitude and I was skeptical, but faith kept me writing a daily gratitude list. Then in about a year’s time, right around Christmas, the lights, sounds and seasonal scents brought me to tears. Nothing had changed, but I had changed. For the first time in a very long time I was attuned to the world. From that Christmas on, my reoccurring Christmas miracle is the depth of gratitude I carry in my heart. I pray that this Christmas season, gratitude will change your life in the same manner it changed mine.

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On this year’s Christmas gratitude list: I am grateful I have discovered joy in humble, small ways instead of holding out for big achievements. Oh, in addition, I am grateful for staying cozily indoors and sipping cinnamon-y homemade cocoa with my daughter while rekindling so many fine wintertime memories.

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Now what’s on your Christmas gratitude list? Even if you don’t “feel” it, keep the faith. Soon enough, in God’s time, you will understand how gratitude changes everything!

Stay tuned!…until next time…walk by faith not by sight!

true Christian faith

touched by an angel