Reflections on loving God, being Catholic, being a woman, being ill, loving life and anything else that comes to mind.

Friday, September 24, 2010

Omnipotent, Omniscient, Loving & Good - Pt. 1

I 've made it to Houston, TX; my move actually occurred on Sunday the 26th of July so I've been here several weeks now. Unpacking has been slow and interspersed with a marathon of medical tests and visits to doctors as I set up a cadre of professionals to replace those I left in NYC. Thus far, I am rather impressed. The doctors here are thorough and work together. Even the hospitals all seem to be together. I've seen branches of certain hospitals in other locations but the main facilities are right next door to each other in a two-three mile strip. My doctors are all super specialists! The fellows, who are MDs but have chosen (and been chosen) to train under my doctors, are at the level of most of the doctors I saw in NYC. The fellows see me first and give me the same answers I received in NYC then the specialists come in and show the fellows how to do their jobs better -- that there are other treatment alternatives, or tests (often simple tests) that might give important information, even that the test results before their eyes are providing information that has been overlooked or underestimated. It's an education and also hard work just being a patient. I realize more and more that my job is to be ill and if I refuse to do it, I won't get better.

What I mean by that is if I don't take this seriously, I won't do what is necessary to get healthier. I won't get the rest I need or the exercise. I won't take my meds on time or eat properly or do the 101 odd things I ought to do; this will only matter to me if I accept the reality of being ill. For example, I've been diagnosed with mild sleep apnea (I stop breathing about seven times each hour) and must use a retainer-like device to keep my airway open while I sleep. It's not as intrusive as the machine many use, it's not surgery, but it is easy to forget to put the device in my mouth - which is a no no - breathing is extremely, fundamentally even, important. So I'll have to work it into my already crowded bedtime prep. But since the alternative is, at least, being sicker and, at worst, death, making certain I insert my breathing retainer is effort well spent.

This morning, I read in Vol. 3 Charity of Luigi Giussani's Is It Possible to Live This Way?:

"If ...the circumstances of life ...make us ...participants in the death of Christ, then sacrifice becomes the keystone of all life -- life's value is in the sacrifice that one lives -- but also the keystone for understanding the history of man. The entire history of man depends on that man dead on the cross, and I can influence the history of man ...if I accept the sacrifice that this moment imposes."

I was originally drawn to Giussani's work because he was the first real intellectual I encountered who got it, who understood that Christ, and Him crucified, must be the foundation of our lives if who we are and what we do is to be reality. This past summer, I became acquainted with a man who asked me for a rational argument for my belief that God is loving and good particularly with all the suffering and pain in the world. After a lengthy correspondence, I told him I was not only ill but in the midst of moving cross country and that I could not continue our conversations until I had settled into my new home. Since arriving in Houston, I've encountered others, some Catholics, who are struggling with God's goodness, who are ratcheting up emphasis on God's love and mercy and downplaying God's power: Omnipotence could not see children suffering and not interfere.

Though I've got some work left to get settled, beginning with this post, I plan to respond to my acquaintance as well as to those others who are struggling with God's loving and good omniscience and omnipotence. It has to begin with reality, like the reality of my illness. This illness is real. That I stop breathing seven times per hour is real. All those I've encountered accept that God is real. They do not accept that God is good. Is that possible? Can God be real and yet not be good? Before my next post (which hopefully will be sooner than the time since my previous one) I'm interested in your responses.

Friday, June 18, 2010

The Reality God Has Given Us

I'm still around but I've been ill a lot & busy - I really am moving to TX and though I'm doing very little packing, those who are helping need to ask me lots of questions. The nice thing about being ill is that I can usually make the call about whether something goes or stays without worrying about emotional attachments - I'm too tired to be emotional about much.

There are of course many things that take precedence over my health or moving. Some of those things involve our nation. This is one of them and if completed, will affect every user of the internet: conversation about our Catholic faith is just as much a target as the right to exercise freedom of speech on political matters.

We must respond to these continued attacks on our liberties. We must stand up and be counted as citizens of the country where God has placed us. Many might long for another time and place and I so understand that. But we must also accept that God has placed here in this place, at this time. The question then becomes, what are we called to do in the reality God has given us? Each of us must ask and answer that question.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

May Day 2010

[I]f my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land. (2 Chronicles: 7:14)

Next Saturday, May 1, 2010, an ecumenical gathering before the Lincoln Memorial will occur. It will be a time of repentance and prayer asking God to forgive us, heal us and help us. I won't be able to make it to DC for this event, but if you can go, please do. Click the button on the right for more information or go here.

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Where Did Things Change?

I've been thinking a lot about where we went wrong. At what point did this country change? You can see it in the difference between the family comedies of the '50s, '60s and early '70s and those of the mid '70s and later. Even within the same program, where once children saying their prayers at bedtime was normal, suddenly it disappeared. In Nanny and the Professor, Phoebe Phigalilly nonchalantly told us her aunt was an evangelist and her work was love. Nanny and the Professor ended in 1972 and with it ended the casual nonchalance of Love as an actual force. We were reminded once again in Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel but in those two series, the nonchalance belonged mostly to the angels. I never watched Joan of Arcadia so I can't say anything about how God was presented as an intimate party in her life. I can say the program only lasted for two seasons and God as the unseen player, who creates miracles everyday in each of our lives doesn't make much of an appearance on TV or in our culture any longer.

Michael Moriarity has written an amazing piece, George Orwell's Biblical Prophecy that was published on Andrew Breitbart's, Big Government. He argues that Roe v. Wade was the turning point. Certainly much had occurred before that Supreme Court decision but it just may be that that case, which codified the slaughter of our own children, dealt our souls a mortal blow. We know Who can bring us back to life. The question is, are our hearts too fat, our ears too heavy, our eyes closed; so that we cannot see with our eyes, hear with our ears, and understand with our hearts, and be converted , and be healed? (cf. Isaiah 6:10)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Much Needed Break Day

Part three of Catholic Witness coming tomorrow or the next day. Today was a dr's appt kind of day. Yesterday afternoon, as I was writing part two, I received a call from the last dr who hadn't sent info to the insurance co. He was faxing my records as we spoke. Please, please pray that this whole waiting to receive insurance payments issue will be finally resolved very soon.

In the meantime, I found this compelling.

"For ourselves, we shall resist [slavery] by speech and vote, and with all the abilities which God has given us. Even if overcome in the impending struggle, we shall not submit. We shall go home to our constituents, erect anew the standard of freedom, and call on the people to come to the rescue of the country from the domination of slavery. We will not despair; for the cause of human freedom is the cause of God.”

Monday, March 22, 2010

Catholic Witness & Those Who Bear The Imprint of Hell

”…my body flesh is learning Christ's mercy.”

Fallen Sparrow and I often discuss that people don't know how bad it is out there. Most people don't. And with the exception of two with whom I’m particularly close, most of my friends don't know how bad it was for me. If they have read this blog, they know some of it - just as all my readers do. Conversations with me reveal more. But there are things I share with no one. And then a time comes when they must be shared. This is one of those times.

For long, my first memory was of standing with my mouth pressed against a rusty, dusty screen door looking at adults reclining and children playing beside a creek. In the distance there was a thicket of trees. I did not know who the people were. I did not know where I was. I did not even know my name. But I knew I wasn't alone. A Presence was with me, it was almost tangible. A woman shouted at me: "go and finish your nap!" I ran back into a bedroom, climbed into the lower bunk, stared up at the rungs of the bed above and shrugged to the Presence. That Presence has been with me ever since. I came to know Him as my Friend. Through everything else that has ever happened to me, that Presence has been with me. It is important to remember that. It helps.

I've written much about the man who "raised" me and many of the horrible things he did. But there were some horrors that neither he nor his wife directly visited on me. He had children and foster-children. In particular there was his eldest daughter who used her seniority to arrange our lives as if we were in a brothel. She assumed that we all ought to be having sex with at least one of the other children in the house. It did not matter that I was not quite five and had no ability to give any sort of consent. She simply assigned boys to have sex with me and that was that. Except it wasn't. When she wanted satisfaction and none of the boys was available, or later when her boyfriend wasn't available, she used me. Imagine being eight years old and having a sixteen year old thrust her fist into your body? Imagine lying there and waiting for it to be over or hoping it hurt because that's what you deserved? That was my life. Not every day but on many occasions, whenever I was desired.

For me, it all ended one night when I was about thirteen. I had begun to worry about getting pregnant and I just didn't like it: I had a Catechism under my mattress that told me such activities were wrong. I heard sermons in my foster-father’s Church that said the same. I didn't want to be that way and I didn't want it in my life. But I didn't know what to do. When I was desired, I was supposed to remove my clothes and let it happen. But that night my foster-father came home late and the lights were out in my room and when I heard him coming up the stairs I pushed my foster-brother away, put on my nightie and turned on my television. My foster-father pounded on my door and we opened it; by then my foster-brother was dressed. We asked what he wanted, told him we were just watching TV. He gave us an odd look. I bought a lock, put it on my door and when I heard a knock and a voice asking for entry, I said, "No." And when that voice insisted, I said, "No." And I kept saying, "No" until they stopped knocking. And through it all I asked God to please help me to continue saying “No.”

I paid for saying it. They were seriously confused that I would refuse to have sex. I was beaten up, my secrets betrayed, one of my foster-brother's threatened to kill me. Even after I learned my foster-father was dead, I knew I could never return. Though I have often longed for a family and there have been those who suggested I might seek out some of my foster-siblings because they are the closest thing to family I have, I've never returned. There is much I've come to understand about the people who lived in that house and why they behaved as they did and much I will never know this side of heaven. Many children went through that house. As far as I know, they were all sexually abused – if not before then certainly while they lived there. Some introduced new experiences of abuse. One thing I do know, that was not family. That was not even a whacked out, crazy family. When you put it all together, when you realize that the children were as vindictive and destructive as the adults*, when you accept that each person's purpose was to dominate and enslave those below them, then you realize that was an image of hell "and I alone have escaped to tell you"** because of my Friend.

But He didn't exempt me from the horrors of hell. He allowed me to live there for 11 years. And when I tried to leave, tried to enter the foster-care system and get a new set of foster-parents and a new home, I learned that there was even worse out there. My foster-father wasn't poor. Add poverty and you get a whole new level of horror. So back I went to hell. And hell left an imprint in my flesh. From a very young age, I was repeatedly dehumanized. I was at the service of others rage and hatred and sexual desire and just plain boredom. I have spent many years since working to become human. It’s not an easy job. Therapy helped. More knock down, drag out fights with God than I can remember worked wonders. Coming to see that God really loves me and is the Friend who has always been with me made a huge difference. Human friends have helped enormously. And then I returned to the Church and being made human took on a whole new meaning.

I've always been a helpful, outwardly cheerful (inwardly too for a number of years now), caring person and that has helped me make friends. But in returning to the Church I found the kind of friends I never imagined. Not only do they not make it their mission not to hurt me, they make it their mission to love me. There are times when I'm like a burn victim having all the charred flesh scrubbed away, that's just how much they love me. I've awakened in a hospital bed to find a woman I hardly know has come to visit me. I've needed an escort home from the hospital and that same woman has been there - even if given just an hour or two of notice. I've needed help paying my rent these past few months and she helped me. And others have helped me. They've remembered my birthday and bought me toys and fruitcake and listened to me speak and responded as if what I was saying made sense and come to my home to feed me when I'm undergoing chemo and looked sternly at me for doing too much. I even had breakfast prepared for me in my own kitchen by a Jesuit Seminarian in his "SWAT gear" uniform and another friend even brought an upside-down doughnut cake.

Many of my friends will recount what I have done for them but they don't know what they are doing for me: they help me become human! Not fully human but just human. They help me become free to choose for myself so I needn't just remove my clothes and let it happen. This is what Christian witness does for those of us who bear hell’s imprint. It binds us back together. It gives us life. This is why Catholics need to get off their duffs and become active in the public forum because I am not unique. God how I wish I were. I am one of many, many imprinted souls. And I've known that for years. Some of the girls I knew at university, all from homes at least as "privileged" as mine, spoke of "fooling around" with their brothers. Brothers pimp their preteen sisters. Older cousins rape their younger cousins. Mothers and fathers sexually abuse their children. Sex parties are the norm for too many 13 year old kids. And all that sexual abuse, even when it's not considered abuse, does something to a child. It makes them hard. It leaves a deep imprint that poisons the rest of life unless it is healed and only Christ and we Christians letting Him use us in Christian friendship can really do the job.

You don't know how important extending an invitation to brunch is. It doesn't matter if you're shy, it's an easy thing to do. Do it. You don't know how important having a few people over for tea or a movie or a chat is. Do it. So many of us never learned to make a home, never learned to invite people, can't imagine why you'd invite us. Do it. It isn't help from the government we need. It's an invitation to lunch or dinner. Those of us who bear the imprint of hell need the friendship of those who had normal, healthy childhoods. And we need the friendship of those who are having their humanity restored too because we need to know it’s possible. We need to know that Christ comes to save us from the damnation others try to visit upon us. He comes through us. He comes through you.

Our country is in grave peril. We know that. Many traditional Catholics believe impurity is a root cause of that peril and that novenas to Our Blessed Mother are the response. Well perhaps some of those novenas got me to finally write this piece and I hope I’ve opened the can of worms that shows you don’t know what impurity is. Prayers of all sorts are certainly necessary to heal our land but they won’t replace Christian friendship. After the Annunciation, Mary visits Elizabeth. After Mass and holy hours and novenas, we need to visit one another and include those outside our regular group. Ultimately, the imprint of hell is a lie. It burns. It scars. But it needn’t destroy. If we are willing to be friends to others as Christ is to us, our people and our land would flourish.

* My foster-father was investigated for rape. His eldest daughter made the charge. The results were inconclusive.
** Job 1:15

He Always Intended To Vote For The Bill

I and many others read Bart Stupak's comments from the article in the National Review Online (which was unavailable as I wrote this piece) or in LifeSite News:

"If you pass the Stupak amendment, more children will be born, and therefore it will cost us millions more. That’s one of the arguments I’ve been hearing [from Democrat leaders],” Stupak said in a phone interview published Friday. “Money is their hang-up. Is this how we now value life in America? If money is the issue — come on, we can find room in the budget. This is life we’re talking about.”

But this video from over a year ago tells a radically different story:

We must repeal this bill! And we must get them out of our house! We have no time to waste, no time to lose.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Catholic Witness and the Healthcare Bill

Fallen Sparrow sent me the link to this First Things article. It is well worth a read as are many of the comments both to enhance our catechesis and to learn the dismal state of many in the Church today. We need to do some work cleaning our own house.

I strongly ecommend Grace McLoughlin's comments at 3.20.2010/12.00 p.m. and Matt Beck's at 3.20.2010/10.19 p.m. My comment, which hadn't appeared as of the time of this post, is below:

Obebedience to the teaching Magisterium is central to what it means to be a faithful Catholic. We may like it or hate it but that's the choice.

In most of the world, people are subject to the state. In the United States, the state is subject to the people. And that puts American Catholics in an odd position. Whereas we are accustomed to being subject to the Church and to the state, here we are subject to the Church and we are each sovereign. We owe obedience to the Church, the government is our servant. We must get that through our head. This is what it means to be an American Catholic.

I am so grateful that Bishop Chaput has made it clear that the nuns who have come out in support of the health care bill are causing confusion amongst the faithful. I am also grateful to God that abortion, conscience protection or any other issues cause the bishops to oppose this bill because whereas abortion is an absolute deal breaker (the blood of 50 million babies is already on our hands) I don't think the bishops have gone far enough.

As Grace commented, subsidiarity is also central to Church teaching. In simple terms, we are to govern our own selves and love our neighbours as locally as possible. We cannot get away with sending a cheque to DC in the form of taxes and have DC love our neighbour for us. We must do it ourselves because the goal of this whole thing is holiness and we only get that by loving one another as Christ loves us.

Charity is a good thing. Church charity, local charity, personal charity are all good things. The Church teaches that health care is a right but how we provide it is left to us. The Church (both Catholics and other Christian denominations) provides an enormous amount of charity health care. We need to support them with our money. We need to provide for our brothers and sisters who are in need, which many do. It's our job. The state can't do it.

Accepting charity is tough. I know this personally. As I write this, I am disabled and in pain (in 15 min I can take my pain meds). I am in one of the many doughnut holes waiting for my disability insurance company to begin making payments to me. Disability has always been part of my salary package and I have paid for it for many years. I never intended to get sick and am hoping to either get better or figure out something I can do to earn a living while being sick. But right now, I'm too sick to work and don't have any savings left and I must wait. But in my wallet are a number of cheques from friends and friends of friends that will pay for meds and utility bills and food. Friends have paid my bills over the past three months. Of course, I can't buy clothes but then I don't need any clothes. I've been fine. I've had what I need. I've had to give up my pride. It hurts. Being homeless and without food and medicine would hurt more. My pride isn't worth keeping. I've been afraid and then I've asked for help and the community in which I live my life has helped me and I am beginning to be less afraid of being in need, in general - my body flesh is learning Christ's mercy.

Charity is a good thing. And it is available to those who want it. It's easier if one is part of a community but it is available to those who want it. We need to do a better job of letting that be known. And we need the Church to stop making negative statements about picking up the pieces of a flawed healthcare system. That is the Church's job and it's a good thing. (It would be even better if we could get rid of the flawed healthcare system but that's another post.)

We have a nation of people who are badly catechised, have poorly formed consciences and are poorly educated as citizens. The Church must do a better job of catechising us. We need the bishops and our parish priests, to remind us regularly of Church teaching on the sanctity of life AND of social teaching including subsidiarity (which many have never heard of before). We need homilies and teaching on pride and all the other deadly sins. We need modern references for humility and love. We need the Church to be more specific and proclaim Church teaching rather than the general homilies about how special we are and how much God loves us.

I pray this bill doesn't pass because I am sick and though I have private health insurance, I will be one of the many who are given pain meds and sent off to die because it is too expensive to pay for my healthcare. I pray it doesn't pass because I know babies will continue to be slaughtered on the altar of convenience. I pray it doesn't pass because the elderly will die of treatable illnesses because some central bureaucracy decides it's too expensive. I pray it doesn't pass because suicide will be recommended. If this bill is passed and actually enacted, death and misery will spread throughout the country but we will have paid our taxes so it won't be our fault.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Nation of Prayer: Something We Can All Do

The National Prayer Caucus is a great place to begin. Commit to pray five minutes per week and participate in a 24/7/365 wall of prayer surrounding our nation.

Dems Tell Us What They Think About The Healthcare Bill

Because the blood of 50 million dead babies cries out to God for justice, because I am one of those who will be given pain meds and allowed to slowly die since my healthcare is too expensive (even though I pay for my own insurance), because I love my country, I say, "Wake up! Get your heads out of the sand! Understand that if we don't get involved, our lives, the lives of our familiy members born and unborn, and, in fact, our very souls are on the line here!"

It's a simple question, will we live the life God has given us in the place He has put us? He has given us neither a king nor a parliment but rather has entrusted each of us with sovreignity. That means each one of us is in charge. We don't have the luxury of saying it's the fault of our elected officials because they're simply our servants whom we hired to do a job. If they're not doing the job, we must replace them with servants who will follow our instructions. We've been given something unique here and the question is, what will we do with it?

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, `Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you did not winnow; so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.' But his master answered him, `You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sowed, and gather where I have not winnowed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him, and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to every one who has will more be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness; there men will weep and gnash their teeth.' (Matthew 25:24-30)

Time To Take Our Heads Out Of The Sand!

Are we scared enough yet? Do we understand the evil that we face. It comes down to abortion. It comes down to death. We must fast and pray and sacrifice and suffer and then do it all over again. We must sign petitions and go to our district offices and march on DC and do anything else we can lawfully do to get their attention. And to do that, we must take our heads out of the sand and stop pretending that the party of death is doing anything other than genuinely seeking more and more death. Moral is, we don't get the government to pay for our healthcare unless we allow government to kill our children.

Is that really what we want?

Friday, March 12, 2010

I'd Like To Learn To Follow

"Let not your hearts be troubled; believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you?

I have begun dating again, which doesn't mean I've gone out on any actual dates but only that I have registered on a couple of Catholic dating sites and am talking with one man. Needless to say, I feel better than I did a few weeks ago even though I've now completed chemo infusions and am actually more physically tired than before and am still undergoing the experience of insurance companies and doctors not providing the requested information. But things have calmed down in my home and while registering on a dating site I remembered, I love life. I really, really love life. It's all banquet and I'm happy to be here.

About seven or eight years ago, I made a conscious decision to stop having sex unless I get married. I didn't stop going out with men, but deciding not to sleep with them meant I was going out with them less and less. For many of us here in New York (and I suspect elsewhere too), sex is simply part of dating, occurs on the first, second or third date and continues indeffinitely. Often, men and women will pair off for a few weeks or months but not always. It's not unusual for young New Yorkers to be "dating" several different "partners." It has become almost like shaking hands or kissing a friend on the cheek. Sex is expected, normal, not that big of a deal. And that was always my problem. I've always wanted it to be that big of a deal, always thought it should be one of the biggest deals in my life. Long before I made that conscious decision, I'd already stopped having sex with most of the men I dated.

Getting most (but by no means all) men to stop expecting that I'd sleep with them was easy. Many people know that God and I are "side-by-side," we hang together (in reality, He chooses to hang w/ me but language is so difficult to express these things). I decided to bring God into the conversation and fewer men expected me to be available. And then there was my wounded bird attitude, in which I presented myself as fragile because of being sexually abused as a child, and I really wanted sex but I also wanted a whole lot of other things that would assure me that the man I was with wasn't another abuser. I thought that was the truth - that I just wanted a man to take things slowly and "get to know me." I didn't realize that the truth was that just as I didn't blame God for killing my family or for the abuse I suffered, I didn't see every man as an abuser. I really like men. Enjoy flirting with them and wearing pretty clothes that please them and just being in their company. And I love sex which is why it ought to be a very big deal.

The real truth is that I was living out what I'd been taught: that all men are the enemy just waiting to abuse me, that I am better alone, that sex is for recreation because my body needs to be appeased from time to time. I was taught and kept insisting, I don't need you to take care of me without ever realizing that the corollary is, no one needs me to take care of him.

Illness changes things. When my body no longer does as I command (and for a dancer, that is bigger than big), my ability to control life is gone. Add a bunch of meds that make focus and concentration difficult and one is left with oneself. This past year, lying on my bed, watching old family comedies from the 50s and 60s because TV has become too loud and harsh, I've come to realize that loving and being loved are the best gifts God has given us. All the deep intellectual and spiritual conversations and research and writing and building a career are only so much crap if they take us into separate little worlds where we are walled off from one another. Making a home for a husband who cherishes me and protects me would be worth so much more than anything I've ever done in my life. No one ever taught me that when I was a girl. No one taught me that maybe it's enough to cook a delicious dinner, put on a pretty dress and make my husband happy.

The statistics are not in my favour and there are those who'd diagnose me as profoundly disturbed for venturing out into the fray. I'm not in the 25 - 35 age range that most men on the sites seem to want and without Divine intervention, can't have a child. I'm not a virgin and won't pretend to be. Sex is a big deal to me and I want it to be a big deal to the man I marry. (I think that makes me really scary to a lot of older men who are divorced-and-annulled or widowers or never marrieds.) Plus my health is bad and wind surfing along w/ sports of that sort are certainly not in my near future. It doesn't look good for me in the world of Catholic dating.

But I don't believe in statistics. I believe in God. And I believe that in this banquet, He has created a room for me and for the man who is willing to take the risk and love me exactly as I am, willing to risk that I will love him exactly as he is. I no longer have much else on my list of what he has to be - I'll leave it up to God to surprise me. (It would be lovely if he could teach me to dance the women's part. I was always one of the tallest girls in class and so learned to dance the man's role. I'd like to learn to follow.) And so I re-enter the fray, stroll around at the banquet and trust that God is bringing us both to that room. I've always loved parties and this is one I intend to enjoy to the fullest.

PS - Thank you dear, dear readers for all your prayers.

Thursday, March 04, 2010

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Stretching My Heels

For me, giving up would be easy, just taking to my bed and not getting out of it unless absolutely necessary. I'd quickly become weaker and weaker and then I'd never leave my bed. And it would be understandable: I am on so much medication for so many different parts of this illness and now, with this second round of chemo, am so additionally knocked out and in so much more pain, getting out of bed is a chore. My chore.

Entering my bathroom requires a small step up - about two to two and one-half inches, it's an old apartment and the small strip of flooring at the doorway is the original marble so there must have always been a step up. It's the perfect place to stretch my heels.

I stand facing into the bathroom, my toes at the edge of the marble riser, my instep and heels hanging over the hallway flooring and, balancing myself by gently laying my palms on either side of the door frame, I lower my heels until they brush the floor, hold it for eight slow counts and then rise into relevé which I also hold for eight slow counts. Then I repeat the entire sequence another four times, take a break to take my Advair, and do a second set. My first trip to the bathroom becomes an opportunity to keep my heels and calves stretched and my feet strong.

Thus far, it doesn't ease the pain but it prevents the pain tight muscles and tendons would cause. And, it prevents me walking on my toes like a chicken - the chicken walk is most unattractive. It also breaks the pattern of getting out of bed only when absolutely necessary; it even seems to help me make my bed and treat the day as something I must live, in which I act, rather than something I must get through until it's time to take my night meds. It's a little piece of building a new life even when I don't have the strength or energy to think of what that life might be.

Thank God for all that dancing. It's now time for breakfast and I have not only said my prayers (just an Our Father and my usual talking to God but I'll writie about that later), I've stretched my heels and written a post. Not bad for an early morning's work.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Nothing More Than I Can Imagine

When I was just a bit older than four and one-half my nanny abandoned me. She drove to a garage, took me inside, set me upon an old chair, removed the crucifix I wore around my neck, patted me on the head, told me to be ‘a brave little poppet’ and then left me there. I sat there letting my feet swing, the strong smell of gasoline in the air. Finally a man asked whose child I was. Another man answered that I belonged to the red-haired woman. But the red-haired woman was gone. I sat there letting my feet swing. The men talked. Finally, a man spoke to me, probably asked me something, I don’t know. All I recall are hot, salty tears and begging to go home. The man took me to his home; I lived there for just over eleven years.

Recently, a friend of mine mentioned to me his struggle with wild fantasies, told me that such are often feelings of self-loathing. I responded, “I know” in a non-committal, I hear what you are saying sort of way. I wanted to shout: “I know!” Because I do. Extremely well. I know wild, self-destructive fantasies that ooze self-loathing except in them, I’m perfectly happy to be hurt, to be abused. I even participate in my own abuse until my abuser loves me and abuses me happily ever after. The smell of gasoline haunts me these days.

Right now, I cannot see much of anything except what I can imagine for myself and that is ugly and full of self-loathing. It is a story that might have happened, has parts which came very close to happening, contains elements that actually have happened but is, in total, simply not reality. Regardless of how I have felt about myself, I know God has never abandoned me to the horrors of my imagination. This is a dark time for me. Most of my friends know it is a difficult time but very few understand that I simply want to give up. It isn’t one thing. It’s everything. It’s being ill. It’s chemo. It’s being entangled in the insane bureaucracy of a firm and an insurance company that stand between me and my own money. It’s the excruciating pain of having to ask friends to help. It’s a roommate who became a friend and then revealed herself to be a monster and left me responsible for over $3000 of her unpaid rent. It’s being unable to read for more than a few minutes. It’s being alone so much. It’s also being overwhelmed by the love and care my very dear friends shower upon me. I thought I would be stronger but I’m absolutely exhausted. I simply want to escape. But where would I go? To a place where there are no horrible fantasies? Where the whiff of gasoline doesn’t haunt me?

When I started this piece I thought I’d come to some great conclusion. But I also can’t write for very long these days. And I’ve spent some time scanning through some of my earlier posts on suffering so I know, whatever I feel about it, God has placed me here too weak even to wish I were stronger. I desperately want Him to come and get me. I have no idea what that means. So I’ll just stay here being a not so brave little poppet, just letting my feet swing. He has always come for me in the past. He won’t be stopped by even the most horrible fantasies of my limited imagination.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Basic Education In Freedom

Judge Andrew Napolitano, faithful Catholic, jurist, Fox News commentator and teacher about the Constitution of the United States offers the basics of freedom in this short video.

For more, see his interview in Reason Magazine. (I've included two appropos excerpts here):

Scholars and lawyers and jurists and people interested in this have always debated what is the source of our rights. There are many, many schools of thought, but they basically fall into two categories. One says that our rights come by virtue of our humanity because we are created in God's image and likeness. Because God is perfectly free, he has instilled in us all the yearnings for freedom that we have: freedom of thought, freedom to develop one's personality, freedom to express oneself, freedom of movement, freedom of religion, freedom of association, etc. That school of thought is known as the natural law. Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration; James Madison, who wrote the Constitution; and virtually all the Founding Fathers, even though some were deists and some were atheists, they were to a person believers in the natural law.


The Catholic Church teaches that every human life is of potentially infinite value, that it can be saved up to the moment of death, and that each soul could present everlasting and eternal glory to God, no matter how evil the person appears. That's about as strong a statement of the primacy of the individual over the state as you could imagine.


Democrats and Republicans tell us what the state of the union is but we live here and work here and worship here. We fight so that our children will be taught the truth and not subjected to various kinds of indoctrination that offends their souls. We fight and pray for the souls of America. The Union of the United States is our home and it's about time we spoke up about the state it is in. On 02.02.2010, we speak. Register now at tvTownhall.

(And check out how your own five minute video could be chosen to be the feature video of the day on tvTownhall.)

Friday, January 15, 2010

Dawn Eden Pens a Lovely Piece On Suffering and Joy

Fulton J. Sheen observed in Calvary and the Mass:

This does not mean our Lord on the Cross did not suffer all He could. It means rather that the physical, historical Christ suffered all He could in His own human nature, but that the Mystical Christ, which is Christ and us, has not suffered to our fullness. All the other good thieves in the history of the world have not yet admitted their wrong and pleaded for remembrances. Our Lord is now in heaven. He therefore can suffer no more in His human nature but He can suffer more in our human natures.

So He reaches out to other human natures, to yours and mine, and asks us to do as the thief did, namely, to incorporate ourselves to Him on the Cross, that sharing in His Crucifixion we might also share in His Resurrection, and that made partakers of His Cross we might also be made partakers of His glory in heaven.

Read the entire piece at Headline Bistro

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Reason Why I've Become Political

Their ultimate goal is to leave us so discouraged, demoralized, and exhausted that we throw our hands up in defeat. As Barney Frank said, "the middle class will be too distracted to fight."

Read the entire piece.

As Christians, we know that this is despair and that despair is sin. We must not despair.

As I've Said Before, I Like This Woman

Sarah Palin: my life with a Down's syndrome child
In her memoir, US vice-presidential candidate tells of the problems and the joy of living with her special needs son

Sarah Palin

A couple of years ago I began to notice some peculiar yet familiar physical symptoms, like the smell of cigarettes making me feel more nauseated than usual. For a few weeks, I brushed these aside. Then I began to suspect something.

There was no way I could buy a home pregnancy test in Alaska. I was the state governor. The supermarket cashiers would know, the people in the queue would know, and the next thing I’d see would be a headline. There were still a few things that I thought were not for public consumption, at least not at first.

My chance came when I flew to New Orleans to speak at an oil and gas conference. I asked my security guy to drop me off at a pharmacy. Back at the hotel, before my speech, I followed the instructions on the pregnancy test box. Slowly a pink image materialised on the stick. Holy geez!

Todd and I had always dreamt of a big family, and he, especially, dreamt of having another boy — bookends for his three daughters.

I quickly prayed about this surreal situation. First, that I’d even be able to fathom it. I was happy but I could hear the critics:

“She’ll be distracted from state business.”

“She won’t be physically up to the job.”

“That’s what we get for electing the first woman governor.”

I sighed and stared at the ceiling. These are really less-than-ideal circumstances. And for a split second it hit me: I’m out of town. No one knows I’m pregnant. No one would ever have to know.

It was a fleeting thought, a sudden understanding of why many women feel pressured to make the “problem” go away. Sad, I thought, that our society has elevated things like education and career above the gift of bringing new life into the world. Yes, the timing of this pregnancy wasn’t ideal. But that wasn’t the baby’s fault. I knew, though, what goes through a woman’s mind when she finds herself in a difficult situation. At that moment, I was thankful for right-to-life groups that affirm the value of the child.

I didn’t want to tell Todd on the phone, and when I arrived home after the conference he was away. Between my job and his we kept missing each other, so it was a few weeks before we were in the same room and I told him about the baby. He was ecstatic. For him, it’s always been: the more, the merrier.

We kept our news to ourselves. We had always been private about our pregnancies. Our lives were an open book in virtually every other way, so for us this was just a special, sacred time, the one thing it seemed that just we two could know and enjoy together.

At 12 weeks, I saw my doctor, Cathy Baldwin-Johnson, or CBJ, as we called her. She looked at me kindly.

“Well, you’re 43, so there’s a higher chance of certain abnormalities.”

Then she showed me some statistics, one of which said I had about a one in 80 chance of having a child with Down’s syndrome.

I wasn’t worried. I was healthy as a horse, with four perfectly healthy children. Besides, my sister Heather already had a special-needs son, Karcher, who had autism. He was our family’s angel boy. In our family, we always said God knew what he was doing when he gave Heather the child with special needs. She was the one with the tender spirit who could not only handle but even thrive with a child with “challenges”.

CBJ said she’d like me to have an ultrasound scan, so I walked into the office across the hall. The technician was a sweet, funny older lady who’d been doing the procedure for decades. She prepped me, and we joked about a lot of things while she pressed the wand across my belly.

Then she got a little quieter. Suddenly I flashed back to a grim ultrasound I’d had years before, when a stoic doctor had said: “There’s nothing alive in there” — a miscarriage.

Then the technician smiled. “I see boy parts ... would that be good?”

“Yes, that would be perfect!” God is so good, I thought. He knows what’s best.

She kept passing the transducer across my abdomen, more slowly now. It seemed to be taking a long time. “Oops, sorry. Not sure on the boy parts after all. Your baby might be a girl.”

By then she was taking so long that I didn’t care whether it was a boy or a girl. A healthy fourth daughter would be great. Yep, just fine. Please tell me all is fine.

Then the technician said: “The baby’s neck is a little bit thicker than what we would normally see . . .”

My first thought was, 12 weeks along and you can already measure the baby’s neck? Amazing! Then, a bit more sombrely, I remembered that somewhere along the line I had heard that that was a sign of Down’s syndrome. A whisper of fear tugged at my heart, but I brushed it away with a thought: God would never give me anything I can’t handle. And I don’t think I could handle that.

God knew me: I was busy. Got to go-go-go. I’d always yapped about how lucky I was that my kids were all healthy over-achievers, self-sufficient. Now, I thought, I’ve got a tough job and other kids who need me. I just couldn’t imagine how I could add a baby with special needs and make it all work.

Unless He knows me better than I know myself, I thought a bit dismissively, God won’t give me a special-needs child.

CBJ called the next day. Combined with my age, she said, the ultrasound pictures meant there was now a one in 12 chance the baby had Down’s syndrome. “So?” I thought. That still means about a 90% chance everything’s fine.

“There’s a doctor in Anchorage I want you to go see, a geneticist,” she added. “I’m also offering you an amniocentesis” — the common prenatal test for genetic abnormalities.

I had always flippantly declined the amnios before, thinking they didn’t matter, since I confidently asserted I would never abort anyway. But this time I said yes. This time I wanted information. If there was something wrong, I wanted to be prepared.

Todd was out of town on the day of the appointment, so I visited the geneticist alone — through a back door, under my maiden name. I felt a bit of fear. Three days later, I was in my Anchorage office when CBJ called from her office in Wasilla, my home town. I still remember what time it was: 2:22pm.

“I have the amnio results,” she said. “I think you should come to my office ... Can you come now?”

“No, no, just give me the results over the phone,” I said, indulging in a little denial. If I just steeled myself, I thought on some wishful level, if I just took the medicine straight, maybe God would reward my guts with good news.

CBJ hesitated, then said, “No ... I really think you need to come out here.”

“Cathy, I’ve got so much to do here today. It’s okay ... whatever it is, it’s fine, just go ahead and tell me now.”

“Okay,” she said softly. “This child will be born with Down’s syndrome — ” “I’m coming to Wasilla,” I interrupted and hung up the phone.

I was shocked beyond words. Shocked that this was happening. How could God have done this? Obviously He knew Heather had a special-needs child. Didn’t He think that was enough challenge for one family? I drove the 45 minutes to Wasilla gritting my teeth. I’m not going to cry. I’m not going to cry.

My stoicism in difficult times had always bugged and puzzled my friends and family. Bristol, my eldest daughter, once asked: “Mom, why don’t you ever cry? The rest of us are watching some movie, crying our eyes out, and you’re just sitting there.”

Though I didn’t tell Bristol this, I choke up all the time — at The Star-Spangled Banner, at any military event, seeing newborn babies — but secretly, where no one can see. Maybe it was because I’d grown up hunting and fishing with the guys, throwing elbows on the basketball court. Even when my heart was breaking on the inside, I just never wanted to seem weak. Now, as I pressed the accelerator past the speed limit towards Wasilla, my eyes stayed dry and my mind raced.

Maybe the test is wrong. Maybe my results are switched with somebody else. Maybe it’s a mistake. God ... are you listening?

But when I got to CBJ’s office, she showed me the pictures. There was an extra copy of chromosome 21.

“It’s a boy,” she said.

“A boy? You’re sure? Thank you, God.” For me, that was a glimmer of light, and I let it warm me as CBJ walked out of her office and returned with a book for expecting parents of babies with Down’s syndrome. I thanked her and laid it in my lap, unopened.

I just wasn’t ready; my sisters were the ones who could handle this, not me. Did I have enough love and compassion in me to do this? Don’t you have to be wired a little differently to be gifted with the ability to raise a special-needs child, a child who isn’t “perfect” in the eyes of society? I didn’t know if I should be ashamed of myself for even thinking these things.

I read that almost 90% of Down’s syndrome babies are aborted — so wasn’t that a message that this is not only a less-than-ideal circumstance but also one that it is virtually impossible to deal with? Now, just a couple of hours into this new world, I could not get my arms or heart around it. That fleeting thought descended on me again, not a consideration so much as a sudden understanding of why people would grasp at a quick “solution”, a way to make the “problem” just go away. But again, I had to hold on to that seed of faith.

Todd finally returned a few days later. He plopped down on the bed, still in his winter coat. I handed him the ultrasound pictures, and that’s when the dam broke. I could let my guard down.

“It’s a boy,” I said between the tears. “It’s definitely a boy.”

He looked up at me, and his eyes filled with tears. “See, Sarah? God knows what He’s doing! This is great.”

I stood beside the bed. I didn’t know how to say it any other way but straight. “The baby has Down’s syndrome.”

Todd didn’t speak. I remember him lying back on the bed, holding the ultrasound pictures and flipping through them. He’d look at one, put it in the back of the stack, look at the next. Over and over, silently, as though looking for answers.

Finally I sat down next to him. In his subdued way, he did not offer a reaction. So I had to ask. “Well ... what do you think?”

“How can they tell?” he asked quietly. “Are they sure?”

“Yes. There’s an extra chromosome.”

He set the pictures aside and turned his face towards mine. “I’m happy, and I’m sad,” he said.

I thought it was pretty perfect the way he said that, because that’s the way it was. That’s the way I felt, too.

Todd said, “It’s going to be okay.”

I asked if he had the same question I had: “Why us?”

He looked genuinely surprised by my question and responded calmly: “Why not us?”

From that moment, Todd never seemed to worry about it. Instead, he’d think out loud, wondering what the baby’s gifts would be. “What will he want to do?” he wondered. “Will he want to tinker with me in the garage? Will he want to ride on the four-wheeler and drive the skiff? I bet he’ll love to fly with me.”

He started asking other people with special-needs children a lot of questions: what does your kid do? Does he play any sports? From the start, my husband was much more accepting and optimistic than I was. His attitude was kind of like, “Well, okay ... here we go!” But I was still having a hard time wrapping my head and heart around it. So we didn’t share the pregnancy with anyone else, even our children, Track, Bristol, Willow and Piper.

It was such a tough thing to explain, and I just wasn’t ready to grapple with it yet or answer any questions. I had always faced life head-on, but here was something that had humbled me into silence.

I began writing a letter about the baby to our family and closest friends. In my research on Down’s syndrome, I learnt that these special kids most often bring joy into their family’s lives. While they had developmental challenges, they were also affectionate, generous and cheerful. Rather than focus on what could be perceived as negative, I wanted our loved ones to focus on the fact that this baby, every baby, has purpose, and that not only would he learn from us, but we would learn from him.

I decided to write the letter as though it were from his Creator, the same Creator in whom I had put my trust more than 30 years before. I hoped that even though this new baby would present challenges, we’d trust that God knew best.

Among other things, I wrote that “every child is created special, with awesome purpose and amazing potential. Children are the most precious and promising ingredient in this mixed-up world you live in down there on earth. Trig is no different, except he has one extra chromosome. Doctors call it Down’s syndrome, and Down’s kids have challenges but can bring you much delight and more love than you can ever imagine . . .”

Writing that letter was the best and most loving way I could find to share our news with the people we loved. I had no idea that a year later during the vicepresidential campaign a hostile journalist would use it to mock my family and the Christian faith, saying I was so selfabsorbed that I even wrote a letter “in the voice of God”.

Before we knew it, I was seven months along. I hadn’t put on a lot of weight and with winter clothes and a few cleverly draped scarves, no one saw my girth or suspected I was pregnant. But a blazer was getting tight enough that Willow looked at me one day and said, tactfully: “Geez, Mom, you’re porking up!”

“Oh, hush,” I said. “Now pass me the Häagen-Dazs. Chocolate, with peanut butter.”

I hadn’t quite finished writing my letter about Trig. But we shared the news with family and a few close friends that I was pregnant. The kids, of course, were overjoyed.

Shortly after that, we decided to go public, so I invited over three reporters, whom I knew well. I knew I could have just spoken candidly and said, “Hey, I’m going to have a baby . . .” Instead, I decided to have a little fun.

“Hey, guys,” I said with a grin, “I wanted to let you know that the first family is expanding.”

They all just looked at me. Dead silence.

Okay . . . let me try something else.

“Remember when I promised to ‘deliver’ for Alaska?”

Nothing. But now they took out their notepads and pens. Big scoop coming, they could feel it.

Finally, I gave up on the jokes and went direct: “Guys, I’m pregnant. I’m having a baby in two months!”

Three mouths fell open, and three pairs of eyes dropped straight to my stomach. I laughed out loud. The guys whipped out their phones as I waved goodbye. Within 10 minutes, the news was all over.

The next month, Todd and I checked into a hotel in Dallas. The following day I was scheduled to address another oil and gas conference. My pregnancy was going fine, and with five weeks to go, I felt great. But at 4am a strange sensation low in my belly woke me and I sat up straight in bed.

It can’t be, I thought. It’s way too early. Moments later, I shook Todd awake. “Something’s going on.”

He sat up in bed, instantly alert. “I’m calling CBJ.”

“No, don’t do that. It’s 1am in Alaska.”

I didn’t want to call anyone yet. I just wanted to take stock and see whether this baby was really coming. I also wanted time to pray and asked God silently but fervently to let everything be okay. Desperation for this baby overwhelmed me. Please don’t let anything happen to this baby. It occurred to me, once and for all: I’m so in love with this child, please, God, protect him! After all my doubts and fears, I had fallen in love with this precious child. The worst thing in the world would be that I would lose him. God knew what He was doing.

Over my protests, Todd called CBJ. I told her that I felt fine and absolutely did not want to cancel my speech and disappoint the folks at the conference. We agreed that I would take it easy, give my speech, then catch an earlier flight back to Alaska. I still had plenty of time.

Later that afternoon I spoke on the urgent need to tap conventional supplies and innovate on stabilising renewable sources. The audience graciously gave me a standing ovation. Then I handed the mic back to Governor Rick Perry of Texas, my co-host, and walked off the stage.

“Hey,” Rick drawled over the sound system with a chuckle, “we’re not finished with the programme!”

I turned around, smiled, waved and kept moving.

“I know you’re pregnant,” Rick said, joking into the mic. “But don’t tell me you’re going off to have the baby right now!”

The audience laughed. I smiled and waved goodbye. I thought, if you only knew!

I reached Todd at the exit, and he eyed me with a grin. “Love this state, but we can’t have a fish picker born in Texas.” It was a calm, relatively restful flight home.

Many hours and two flights later, with Todd and our daughters nearby, I delivered Trig Paxson Van Palin into the world at Mat-Su regional medical centre. When the nurse placed him in my arms, I was overwhelmed with love and with wonder. I knew God had answered my prayer so completely. He just nestled softly into me as if to say, “Aaaah ... I’m here, Mom.”

I was glad God brought him to us early. We were so anxious to meet him. I hadn’t known what to expect. I didn’t know what he would look like or how I would feel. But when I saw him, my heart was flooded with unspeakable joy. I knew that not only had God made Trig different but He had made him perfect.

The girls gently cooed and cuddled and quietly helped swaddle their new baby brother. Todd beamed. I heard him whisper to CBJ: “Hmmm, he doesn’t look Down’s.” CBJ looked up at Todd and gave him a kind, knowing smile.

When I look at my beautiful son today, I know what her smile meant. She sees it in the eyes of other parents who have a child that perhaps our world doesn’t consider precious or prized. I see photos of Trig and can recognise the physical traits that let all Down’s children look like brothers and sisters, the characteristics that may puzzle some who, just like me a few months prior, don’t yet understand. But looking at these children in real life, we see only perfection.

During the presidential election campaign in 2008 I visited Cedar Rapids, Iowa, a slice of Americana, with its quaint town square with mom-and-pop stores; red, white and blue bunting; moms and dads; kids in strollers; seniors; and people of every colour.

I was moving through the crowd, shaking hands and signing posters and hats and shirts, when I suddenly came to a stop. Standing on the other side of the rope were a woman and two teenagers whom I could not miss. The kids had Down’s syndrome. A boy and a girl.

“Hi, what’s your name?” I said to the girl, smiling.

The girl stammered for a minute and finally managed to say, “Sarah.”

“Sarah!” I said. “That’s my name, too! It’s so great to meet you, and we have the same name. Isn’t that amazing?”

Then I turned to the boy, and my heart just melted. Trig’s face flashed into my mind, and I thought: this could be my son 15 years from now.

By then, Trig was going on five months old and we were still learning the ropes of having a child with Down’s syndrome. We were so enjoying this little guy with his just-happy-to-be-here demeanour and his silly smiles, and watching him get stronger, chubbier and more fun every day, just like any other baby. Still, we were curious about what was ahead. We were managing well with him as a baby, but what about a toddler? As a teenager?

I reached over the rope and laid my hand against the boy’s face. “Let me look at you,” I said. “I want to get a good look at how beautiful my Trig is going to grow up to be.”

That was a turning point for me. At that moment, I realised in awe that these precious ones are all brothers and sisters. Before Trig was born, I didn’t know what to expect and we had a natural uncertainty about perceived “imperfection”. There, on the rope line in Cedar Rapids, I realised that my Trig is part of a large and very special community.

Look how their mother was making it work with these two precious teenagers. She cared so much to bring them out to a crowded, hectic but fun rally and give them what might be a once-in-a-lifetime experience, a presidential campaign event in their own hometown. I just knew there was no need to fear any more. At this rowdy rally in Iowa my world became a more peaceful place. Todd was right: everything was going to be all right.

As it turned out, the number of special-needs kids and adults who began showing up at events along the trail was spectacular. It was one of the absolute best parts of the campaign. I heard from experienced staffers that organisers would typically need maybe a sign-language interpreter and a handicapped area large enough to accommodate a few dozen wheelchairs. But it seemed that at all our stops, the number of wheelchairs multiplied, as did the number of kids and adults with various challenges.

On rope lines across the country, I remember making eye contact with special-needs families and carers. This connection was a kind of mutual acknowledgment that said, yes, their lives are precious. They’re worthy. And now we’re going to let America know that there’s no need to be afraid or hesitant. Instead, let’s work together to make this world a more welcoming place for everyone with special needs.

I remember another rally down in Pensacola, Florida. Up in the stands, I spotted a group of 15 kids with Down’s syndrome wearing shirts that said, “We love Trig!” and, “Trig in the White House!”

It was after meeting all these amazing people that Todd and I proudly displayed the bumper sticker a very cool group from Arizona sent us. It read, “My kid has more chromosomes than your kid!”

© Sarah Palin 2009 Extracted from Going Rogue: An American Life, by Sarah Palin, HarperCollins; 1st edition (November 17, 2009). Extract taken from The Sunday Times of London BooksFirst on 0845 271 2135

Via Texas for Sarah Palin - The Greater Reality

Ben Shapiro - God to Palin: 'You Go, Girl'

Here are some choice morsels from Ben Shapiro's Wednesday column:

Over the weekend, former John McCain campaign strategist Steve Schmidt told "60 Minutes" something shocking about McCain's former running mate, Sarah Palin. It seems that when Schmidt met Palin after McCain selected her, he was surprised that she was so calm. Schmidt apparently asked her how she could remain so tranquil in the face of such a monumental life change. She responded, "It's God's plan." read more

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

My Friend Randy Beeler On The "Real" Church

I am striving for sanctity, because in this way I shall be useful to the Church. I make constant efforts in practicing virtue. I try faithfully to follow Jesus. And I deposit this whole series of daily virtues—silent, hidden, almost imperceptible, but made with great love—in the treasury of God's Church for the common benefit of souls. I feel interiorly as if I were responsible for all souls. I know very well that I do not live for myself alone, but for the entire Church … (from the Diary of Saint Faustina Kowalska, ¶1505)read more

Monday, January 11, 2010

"I Don't Want Friends"

I have just been through one of the most difficult times of my life. That’s not really true – there were no guns involved and no one died and I was not left hungry and alone. So perhaps it wasn’t one of the most difficult times but it was a very, very hard time. A time of facing fear. A time when I found myself in a place I had been before and wanted to run except my running days are in the past, and perhaps in the future (certainly, I shall run and dance in heaven – but for now, I’m only talking about earth) – running in the present isn’t an option. I can’t breathe well enough and haven’t the energy – and it would hurt, a lot. So instead of running, I remained still and did what I knew I must do, I asked for help. And my friends came. And they helped. They lifted me up and carried me to a place where I could rest my head (and that’s very important because I am recovering from a nasty bout of the flu).

Help came from friends I’ve known for years and from those I’ve only known through the internet but have not yet met face to face. People came to my home and refused to let me work, made me sit in my comfy leather chair and rest while they danced about me and made my annual Epiphany party a joy, an occasion of laughter and fun. And when I was too tired to sit up any longer, they sent me to bed and cleaned and left a huge amount of cake in my refrigerator and even took out the garbage. Friends ensured that I would be able to pay my rent and utility bills and buy medicine and eat and have a cushion while I wait for my long term disability cheques to begin. Friends did not leave me alone but came to be with me and my suffering wasn’t worth a moment’s attention because I was too busy being grateful and delighted and having my stony heart broken into a million glittering pieces; I think they made it a more the kind of heart that pumps love into the Body of Christ because friends have been pumping so much love into me. I have no family but I am very, very fortunate because I have such dear, dear friends.

My roommate is moving out at the end of this month. I’ve only known her since November but in that time she too has become very, very dear to me. She has been my friend, become part of the dance that has woven it’s way around and through my life and cared for me when I was unable to care for myself. She has laughed at me and my love of butter, laughed when I knew she was giving me a mushroom sautéed in margarine, laughed at the funny expressions on my face and the childish delight I have been unable to hide. We’ve shared secrets and discoveries and she bakes a mean apple pie. Already I miss her and I will miss her more than any other roommate I’ve ever had. She is a younger sister I never knew I needed or wanted. She is like my friends’ two month old baby son, they can’t imagine life without him. She has come into my life and my home, into the lives of my friends, and I and they are richer because of her. We all desire to welcome her into our lives, to create space for her and her friends, to throw our arms around her and love her.

But she does not want friends. She has actually told me that. She is very young and her youth is evidenced by that one fact: she does not want friends. She tells me I have wonderful friends, amazing friends, she has befriended me herself, but she does not want friends. She desires to make a separate place for herself where she will be alone with the painful secrets of her life and no one will know her. So while telling herself that we will still be friends, she engages in a headlong rush to double her rent and deprive herself of friendship at a time when she cannot afford to spend so much money, to lose any love.

And all I can do is weep for her, let my heart ache because friendship is more valuable than she knows and I haven’t the words to convince her of that. My loss is immense, made larger by knowing how huge a loss she is imposing upon herself. I have not always valued friendship as I should, though I have been granted the grace, thus far, of not walking away from what I knew at the time to be the gift of friendship. I want more for her. My friends want more for her. We know she was made for more. She wants less. Please keep her in your prayers. Lord, please heal her.

* Please keep me in your prayers too. I will be undergoing another round of chemo once I recover from the flu. And though I had planned to move to TX at the end of February, I will have to delay the move until this summer. Oh, and of course I’m searching for a new roommate. But it's still a glorious time and God is so good.

Saturday, January 09, 2010

Please Keep CA & Prop 8 In Your Intentions

And please consider fasting: "Who knows, God may yet repent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we perish not?" (Jonah 3:9)

Thursday, January 07, 2010

I've Removed The Ads

I'm at home in bed a lot, worrying about money too much, trying to do everything I've been given to do to care for myself and it's just not enough. Two people have helped me: one gift through this site and a loan from a friend and I am very grateful. But there's a big difference between a reguar paycheck and waiting for disability payments to begin or to be given permission to use money that belongs to you but isn't yet available due to some technical rules that make absolutely no sense and boil down to, we must be certain to cover our derrieres. It's rather maddening particularly when one is sick. But advertisements aren't the way to go.

I do ask your prayers, particularly for my financial situation. And I wish all the silly people making rules and more rules and more rules would just sit down and talk to people like me so that they'd know, what we need and how horrid it is to make things so much more difficult for people already facing so much.

If you have any say in the matter, don't get sick. Of course if that's what God brings, then I pray for the love and care, including practical care, you need to make it through. Sometimes I wish I was a sister or a nun in an infimary - it would be good to rest.