Sunday, January 24, 2016

St. Valentine's Day

Ever wonder why we call February 14th Valentine's day?  I never knew the reason until just the last 10 years or so.  I just thought it was like other holidays, got it's name somewhere in the distant past.  I never thought about why it was named Valentine's Day!

There were actually three Valentine's in the Catholic Church in the third and fourth century.  It is widely held that St. Valentine was a priest that lived in the Roman Empire during the reign of the Emperor Claudius II in the third century A.D.  During that time, it was illegal in the Roman Empire for couples to marry in the Church.

St. Valentine's married couples in secret, without the permission of the Emperor of Rome.  For this he was jailed.  While he was in jailed, it is said, he found favor with the Emperor, and attempted to convert him to Christianity.  This angered the Emperor and he ordered Valentine condemned to death.  He was executed outside the Flaminian Gate in Rome on February 14th, 269 A.D.

His feast day was first established by Pope Gelasius I in 496 A.D.

It wasn't until Chaucer wrote "Parliament of Foules" in 1381 that St. Valentine was associated with a day for lovers.

Since then, it has evolved into a day that celebrates love.

May you have a St. Valentine's Day full of love, and remembrance for a saintly priest who gave his life for the Christian faith.

Until next time.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Faith, Grief and Love, part Three


This time, I just wanted to share some ideas I have about love.  Especially love in the context of grief and faith.  It is, I think, essential for everyday life.  Not that everyone has to have a significant other, but that everyone requires love, given and received from family or friends, or husband or wife, or significant other.


Yes, it is.  As scientists find out more and more about this quantum field we live in, they are spreading the word that love is eternal.  Everything is sent out into the quantum field, including your very thoughts, as energy.  And there it lives for eternity.  My love for Tom and his love for me will never die.  It will outlast us.  It’s a very comforting thought.


Ok, another loaded word!   Love is so unpredictable.  There one day, seemingly gone the next.  Many women who have been in an abusive relationship, or just a bad relationship, may not feel grief (which I believe is part of love),  the same as women who were deeply in love with their husbands.  But I believe that even in those situations, there is a connection.  They have come into our lives and changed us, for the bad, or for the good.  Does the soul connect in a realm we cannot see?  Perhaps, even then, our souls recognize the image of God in the other.


Especially in the case of those who were deeply in love with their spouses, or had a great relationship with their parents, or their children.  That love is totally enveloping.  It enfolds us, wraps us up in emotions so great, that sometimes they overwhelm our faith.  And sometimes they only enrich our faith.  But no one can deny the enveloping nature of Love.

So these are a few of the things I have come to realize through my journey of Faith, Grief and Love.  It takes some time, but we finally work through some of the grief.  

I see clearly now that God was giving me time.  And like most of us, I wanted to rush through all that and win that race I like to call “I Have Survived All of This and My Life is Back to Normal!”

I tell you all this to make a point that might help you through the same thing.  With grief, you have to plow right through the middle of it.

Don't cover it up.

Don't deny it.

If you need to cry, cry.

If you need to yell, yell.
If you need to talk to someone, call someone who loves you and will listen without judging.

There is only one way to get through that tunnel, and that is to walk through.  You will feel so much better when you come out into the daylight on the other side.

So to answer the question, in the first part of these three, "Do I believe there is a God?"  Yes, I do.    He's big enough to handle our questions and doubt.  And he gives us wonderful answers about faith, grief and love.

Until next time.

Faith, Grief and Love, Part Two


So, yesterday I shared a few of the realizations I had been given on Faith, especially in relation to Grief and Love.   Today, I'd like to share a few I've been given on Grief.  Most of us try to avoid talking about grief.  Life is easier that way.

Grief is something every human will experience at one point in our lives, unless that life is cut short at a very young age.  Many books have been written about it.  Many songs have been penned.  It's full of angst and heartache and is still necessary for the human experience.  It's the one thing we do not like to talk about.  For those who haven't been touched by grief, I hope you can take something away from this to help you in a future time.  For those who have experienced it, I hope you can see this and realize that you are not alone.


All of us have heard that old adage that time heals all wounds.  My father was the first person in my life who told me this.  I don't believe that's true now.  I believe that time gives us the essential ingredient to learn to live with grief instead of 'getting over' grief.  It's something you never get over.  But like a physical scrape, it scars over, and we are able to carry on, although forever changed.


Yes, we have to be very tenacious.  We have to have that stick to it-ness in us.  Many just do not.  My father-in-law did not have it.  He was a great guy, but when my mother-in -law died, he buried himself in a bottle and waited.  Basically, he waited to die so he could be with her.  Some of us are given more strength.  And we go on, even if we dont' want to.  And believe me there have been times, when I've thought maybe I didn't want to either.  But here I sit, typing away on my computer.


Yes, it is.  It changes everything about us.  Our entire lives are turned upside down.  Our purpose is forever changed.  Our future is gone, we have to rebuild a completely new future without our loved one.  Transformational?  Oh yes.  Sharing these experiences is something I would not have ever though I could do ten years ago.  But my grief made me a different creature.  I hope I can help one person navigate these lonely roads.

Those are my three for today.  They gave me many hours of structured thought while I was dealing with my grief.  They did help me on my journey, whether or not I was in the middle, or even at the beginning of grief, they helped me realize I was not alone.  Faith always comes first, but grief has given me many tools now to use to go forward in my life. 

Love is always there, in the background, sometimes it comes forward to play a starring role, sometimes just a supporting actress.  But it's there nonetheless and tomorrow I share my three top things I have learned about love, while in the midst of grief.

Until next time.

Faith, Grief and Love

Are you experiencing grief from the loss of a loved one? Do you feel like your faith is gone?  Does God, in fact, love us?  I had to ask myself, “Do I still believe there is a God?” many times in the weeks and months following the deaths of my father-in-law, my mother and my husband, Tom, all in one short year.

I’ve broken down some of the answers I was given in those hard times, to three main themes.  Faith, Grief, and Love.  First some background.

My father in law had been struggling with alcohol, but his death was sudden and completely unexpected, leaving us with a lot of questions.  My mother and husband both had long illnesses, leading to their deaths.  A week after my husband's death, I was in a doctor's office with my only sibling, getting the news that he had stage four cancer.

My faith was struggling.. Heck I was struggling.

All the hundreds of prayers for healing had gone unanswered, it seemed.  I know now that they were answered, just not in the way I wanted them to be.  But at the time, it felt like a deafening silence from heaven.

Like no one was home. 

I prayed written prayers.  I prayed spontaneous prayers.  I prayed the Scriptures.  I prayed pleading prayers, and I tried, really tried, to believe in miracles.  And I felt no comfort, no answers, no response.  I wanted that miracle for my Mom and especially for Tom, and it wasn't forthcoming. But as time slipped by, I was given a serious of what I call those “Ah, ha!” moments. 


Faith is a very fragile thing.  It has to be continually fed, through prayer, Scripture, and Will.  


The Bible is full of stories of women and men who persevered through hard times.  And although we like to think we could do the same, we seem changed fundamentally by the times we are in.   We have the never-ending theme of the 80’s “just do what feels good” playing in the background constantly. 


Without prayer, perseverance cannot be sustained and therefore, neither can faith.  Prayer is essential to the life of a believer today.  It’s time away from the madness of the crowd.  Time to ask for answers to life’s problems. Time to share with a higher being who loves us.


Ok, I know there are widows now saying, “hold on just a minute”!   Yes, sometimes when we are enmeshed in grief, purpose is the last thing we can find.  I know for months after I lost my husband, I asked myself hundreds of times, what exactly am I supposed to be doing now?  For as long as I could remember, my goals were simple.  I wanted to be a Mom.  I wanted to be a Wife.  Now my children were grown, and my husband had died.  Exactly WHAT was I supposed to be doing with my life?  But I’m asking you to keep looking.  Keep asking, and persevere in faith.  Your purpose will come to you.  It may take days, or weeks, or even years.  But like the sun rising in the East, it will happen.

In the next few days I will be posting the three main themes I have found with Grief and Love as well.  Stay tuned!

Until next time.