Sunday, March 22, 2020

COVID patients are DYING ALONE!

I'm sure that this time has brought to the forefront of your minds the topic of death. Lent is the perfect time to reflect on our own mortality and the fact that death is at hand as we as Christians reflect on the ultimate sacrifice that the Lord made for us, dying on the Cross.

However, one thing I have thought of often these days in the midst of this coronavirus crisis is of the countless persons in the hundreds of hospitals around the world who lay dying in isolation without loved ones at their side.

My heart breaks.

Perhaps the most heartbreaking thought I have had since this all began is of the lonely deaths so many are suffering.

What a tragic way to die and YET we are reminded that as children of God, we are NEVER alone. 

However, the reality of this current crisis does remind us of the raw and unfortunate circumstances of those who do contract the virus and end up in critical care and on the brink of death: 

If they die, they DIE ALONE!

I think of the many harried doctors and nurses, exhausted from their endless workday. I imagine them bogged down by their own awareness of their constant vulnerability of contracting the virus each moment of each day and bringing it home to their own families. How could they possibly take the time to sit by each dying patient and care for them in their last moments? There are hundreds upon hundreds of more patients spilling out into the hallways and corridors of thousands of hospitals on the brink of collapse? 

Here is an opportunity for each of us. An opportunity to live out a spiritual work of mercy. 

Today I read, from a Facebook post, a simple project started by a certain Catholic priest in Ireland. Fr. Philip read the following article and was inspired by the Holy Spirit to set up a prayer chain across the entire globe to pray for those who are dying. Read the article here: Everyone Dies Alone.

He remembered St. Faustina who was given a gift by the Lord to help a man on his death bed.

"St. Faustina was spiritually transported by the Lord in order to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet at the bedside of a dying man she did not know."

Let us, each day, pray a Divine Mercy Chaplet with our families and ask the Lord to "transport us" in spirit to the bedside of a dying person who is all alone.

Let us adopt them spiritually and ask the Lord to have mercy on their soul; especially for those who are not prepared to die or who have no faith in Jesus Christ!

If you do not know how to pray the Divine Mercy Chaplet, it is quite simple. You can follow the prayer here or you can sing/follow along here.

It just takes about 10 minutes and the Lord can save a soul through this very powerful prayer and your intercession. 

Let us not allow any more souls to die alone!

Let us accompany them and in particular, let us say a prayer for their families who are unable to be at their side or even pay their last respects once they have died. 

Let us be united in prayer for all dying souls.

Photo by Marco Ceschi on Unsplash

Monday, January 27, 2020

Yelling, motherhood and prayer.

I originally wrote this for Aleteia online back in 2017 and lately, it's been on my heart to re-read my own words.

Motherhood comes in phases and some phases are easier than others. We all get angry. We all lose our patience and yell at our children. Don't beat yourself up for this mamas. Know that you are not alone and that, with a little bit of prayer and God's strength and grace, you will love them as they need to be loved.

"I soon learned that simple moments of prayer would be the best source of grace and much-needed strength that would get me through the toughest moments that lay ahead."

Becoming a new mom was probably one of the most magnificent experiences of my life. It was a time filled with wonder and worries, anxiety and excitement. Yet, in the midst of all these mixed emotions, I could only envision moments of tenderness and pure love with my soon-to-be newborn. Sure, motherhood would be difficult and there would be great challenges, but I was certain love would conquer all. I soon learned that simple moments of prayer would be the best source of grace and much-needed strength that would get me through the toughest moments that lay ahead.

The day finally arrived. Our first son was born. Then, less than two years later, we were blessed with another baby boy. We had our share of sleepless nights and “napping while baby napped” simply didn’t suffice. Even so, my heart was brimming with love. I reached out to friends who were veteran moms and they helped me through the rough spots. But indeed, it was prayer that always gave me a sense of peace and reassurance. During quiet nap times or while our youngest son nursed, I spoke to God. Those were my moments of great grace, and they saw me through.

Soon, my oldest son was on the threshold of toddlerhood. I was ready; I had read every book I could get my hands on about the “terrible twos.” Although I was up for the challenge, nothing could prepare me for the reality that was before me. Overnight our son morphed into a mini-tyrant. What had gone wrong? Our toddler got up “on the wrong side of the bed.” Every. Single. Morning. There was nothing we could do to please him. Nothing!

Day-to-day life continued just the same. I refused to allow my son’s tantrums to rule my life and rob me of my peace. I was in control as I ran my errands as usual. I acted as if all was well despite carrying a flailing, screaming toddler under one arm and an awkward car seat in the other. Don’t get me wrong, it was onerous. At times, it felt like I had been coerced into signing up for a full-on military boot camp; only, the drill sergeant happened to be a snot-nosed, three-foot toddler that I had birthed just two years earlier. My days of quiet conversations with God were long gone.

It was during one of these harried afternoons that it happened. We had just gotten home after a chaotic day. I was trying to pin my son down for the umpteenth time so that I could strip him of his winter garb. Then, it was as if time stood still. I entered another dimension. I was transported straight into a scene from the old Incredible Hulk series. I began to mutate. My eyes started bulging; my body began to tremor and my voice lowered an entire octave as strange sounds arose from my throat. It was like an out-of-body experience.

Soon I had turned into a roaring, screaming, lunatic. I became unhinged as I started yelling “Stop! Stop! Stop!” With each “stop” I progressively yelled louder. I finally pinned my son down with one hand and angrily yanked off his jacket, hat, and gloves with the other. I was exasperated! I continued on, and yelled again, “Would! You! Stay! Still! That is enough already!” My son was transfixed as he watched my face contort in anger. Then, I was done. I let him flee as I slumped over, exhausted, defeated and ashamed.

Patience was never my virtue. Somehow, I had assured myself that the sweet, tender moments would surely tame the hulk inside. I was dead wrong. I had gone so far as to give up my precious grace-filled moments of prayer when I needed them most. Everyone knows the toddler years are some of the toughest. If nothing else, I should have made time to pray precisely because it was rough. Yet, now I found myself yelling often and I was hurting my children in my anger.

I had convinced myself that there just wasn’t enough time to pray. Of course, there is never enough time. Some days, just brushing my teeth was like a small miracle. I knew in my heart I had to recommit to prayer once again; for my children’s sake and for my sanity. I decided to get up 15 minutes early every day. I arose every morning in the midst of the silence, while the darkness still blanketed the early morning sky. I was exhausted and sometimes fought to stay awake but soon it became something I looked forward to. I needed the quiet time to recharge for the new day. I turned back to my simple conversations with God.

Every morning I began by praising God for being, well, God. I thanked Him for being present in my life and for loving me. Next, I asked Him for forgiveness for what I struggled with; essentially, my sins. Then, I thanked God for all of my blessings. I would, one by one, count all the blessings I could think of and simply thank Him. I would then pull out my long laundry list of needs (for myself and for others in my life), especially for my children. I specifically asked Him to be patient for me and to be tender and loving in the most turbulent moments, for me. It assured me that He would be my strength. I knew I didn’t have it myself. Finally, I would end my prayer by offering up my entire day to Him. In essence, I surrendered; I recognized that I could not do it without Him. 

Praying doesn’t come naturally to all of us. It wasn’t always easy for me. For some of us, it may not even be something we have attempted before. Yet, the great thing about prayer is that it’s just like a conversation with a friend. It can start with a simple exclamation in your most desperate mommy moment: “I need your help, God!” Or it can be a simple thank you for getting through yet another day with your little ones: “Thank you for seeing me through, Lord.” It can be audible or kept internally, between you and God. No matter what you say or how you say it, what is most important is that you begin that dialogue. Soon, enough you will find yourself in a continuous exchange with God. Oh. And, yes. He will reply. Just take the time to listen.

As the weeks flew by I began to notice an internal peace that I hadn’t sensed in a long time. I began to take time to really listen to my children. I paused before reacting and I heavily relied on that quick prayer in moments of distress. However, it was on one particular occasion that I realized that God had achieved a significant change in me. As my screaming, thrashing, hysterical 2-year-old went into one of his typical fits, I met him not with my anger or frustration, but with a long, comforting hug. I held him tight as I shushed in his ear. I gently rocked him back and forth as his screaming slowly subdued into whimpering. I lovingly whispered again and again, “It’s okay. I love you. I love you.” At long last, the fruit of my prayer was tangible. I was able to meet this storm with calm; with love and patience.

Yes, I still yell on occasion. Yes, I still let my little ones get the best of me every now and again. Yet, in my simple moments of prayer, I have realized something important: It is precisely in the ugliest, messiest part of my life that God wants to give me His grace. I came across a Scripture passage that I have memorized since and often repeat to myself in the most challenging moments: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Cor. 12:9). Prayer begins like a tiny little flame and the more we pray, the more that flame grows. Soon the fire turns into a burning desire to give God your all. This fire will change us from within if we allow it. Heck, it can even transform this hulk into a loving, tender mommy. Give it a try. You won’t regret it.

Originally published by Aleteia online on 12/12/2017. Original article here.
Photos from

Friday, January 17, 2020

Not enough time!

How is it that the older you get, the less time you have. Boredom is a luxury over here. Time seems to go by faster and faster and your "things to do list" just gets longer and longer. It's like some cruel joke. Notwithstanding, perhaps this is God's way of telling us to slow down! 

I find myself making so many lists throughout my week that I lose some of them. Although organization is an obsession of mine, I don't think I have quite mastered the skill, just yet. With three small children, 7 and under, a massive project in the works and a house to keep, well, organized, it seems like the tasks and to do's never end.

But here are a few suggestions that I have found have kept me sane and not curling up like a baby on my bed and forgetting it all:

1. Block schedule it! Yes, that is right, exactly what you did in high school and college, do the same for yourself and your sanity. During your 2 or 3-hour block schedule you assign different tasks to do and you stick to them. Once your time is up, you move on to your next set of tasks. Just like in high school when you focused on Science in the morning and then went to Math after lunch, your time is dedicated to what you set it for. Not finished? No problem! Take care of it tomorrow. I discovered this system through an amazing blogger Jordan Page. Click here to see her concept of block scheduling your life. Try it out yourself and let me know what you think. Just a bit of a warning about her: she's like an organization and frugal living guru on steroids. She's funny and she's got some of the most practical ideas for moms. Check her out.

2. Speed clean. I have to say that I have always been one to time myself doing certain tasks so that I can then say to myself, "you see, cleaning the floor is not so bad, it only takes me all but 5 minutes." Literally, I know how long it takes me to clean a toilet! Well, seems like Mrs. Jordan Page runs on the same wavelength as me. We are both type A's! She has some tips for speed cleaning. It's what keeps my house tidy on most days. So if someone stops by unannounced, I don't pretend I am not home.

3. Don't do laundry every single day. Assign days to do your laundry, that way you are not constantly seeing a flow of dirty and clean clothes in and out of your laundry area. I personally hate, I mean hate to fold laundry! My kids would have told me right now, "you're not supposed to say hate!" So because I loathe folding laundry so, my husband and I have come to an agreement. I wash and dry the clothes and he folds! Ta-da! He's happy. I'm happy. We are all happy and the clothes look good in the drawers.

4. Assign chores. Let's face it, no mother on this green earth can do it all. Even those who seem like supermoms. Not only that, but your children need to realize that being a part of a family means pitching in and helping to keep the house clean and tidy. Assign chores to each child. What has worked best for us is giving each child a daily checklist. Each day they have to mark off all of their chores and to do's from "making their bed" to "set the table" and so on. The older they are, the more difficult the chore. Oh and do not go behind them and fix what they have done wrong or what is not to your liking. Teach them and they will get better at it.  We do not pay for regular chores. Their "payment" so to speak are their privileges. Once they finish their chores they get their privileges of game night, movie night and other things we plan for the weekend. Above and beyond regular chores, they can ask to do "paid chores". These are extra chores like raking leaves, cleaning the car, etc. Chores help children to learn responsibility and the fact that living in a community requires work and cooperation.

5. Go to bed early. I know this seems like it doesn't make sense, given that we always feel like there are not enough hours in the day, but trust me on this. The better and more regularly you sleep, the more productive you are. Someone once told me, "rest is a part of work" and nothing can be truer. If we are not well-rested, we either do not want to do what we must do and therefore will not have time for the things we want to do and, we are cranky-pants. We go to bed around 9:30 or 10:00 p.m. on most nights. I really feel that I don't even have to push myself. I am so exhausted at that point that it's all I want. Of course, our day begins at 5:30 a.m. so it's a no brainer. I need at least 7-8 hours of sleep. Sleep is not only important but it's essential to dealing with small children. Remember the newborn days? Enough said!

Well, I hope you enjoyed these very simple but practical tips to keeping your sanity and getting things done in what seems like shorter and shorter days.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash