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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

He is speaking, this is real, now it's up to me to listen

For me, stress leads to worry, which leads to fear, which leads to anxiety,  which leads to a panic attack, which leads to a manic episode.        I have heard all the advice, offered by well-meaning people about how to handle my anxiety and stress:  deep breath, exercise, eat right, don’t sweat the small stuff, and the ultimate favorite of “earth people”…..let go and let God!     The difficulty I have is no matter how stress-free my life appears, my mind does not shut off and what’s worse is I continually evaluate and discern if my stress, worries, and fears are real or imagined.      

To give you an example of how my mind works, I have been concerned about the future of our nation.   I wrote in my last blog entry about how our country’s moral compass has been turned  “upside down” and that what was once considered right is now wrong and what was wrong is now considered right.    I have been filled with anxiety over this issue.     To complicate matters, I have been reading some of the religious prophecies regarding upheaval and strife that our world may face in the next year.   Most of the writings I have read predict a significant change in our government and society as a whole at the end of November of 2016, but they see a great miracle occurring in November of 2017 which causes a mass conversion to Christianity and a unification of all religions.    Now I’m no stranger to false prophets and crackpot predictions, but for some reason I can’t stop obsessing about the possibility of these prophesies becoming truth.    Could they be right?   My husband wants to plan a vacation for some time in the fall, and I find myself thinking “We can’t go, we need to prepare for the worst so we can survive to witness the miracle!”    Now the difference between medicated and non-medicated bipolar thinking is that being medicated  I recognize that my stress and anxiety is not logical.    If I were unmedicated I would do one of two things, either go completely off the rails morally, spend all my money and in the iconic words of our dearly departed Prince “Party like it’s 1999”,  or I would put all my money into a bomb shelter, stock up on army rations, and hone my “Naked and Afraid” survival skills.    

So to avoid a major mental meltdown, I have reached into my bipolar episode prevention toolbox and pulled out the best weapon I know….my rosary.     While praying the rosary, I’ve asked Mother Mary to intercede to our Lord, on my behalf, to relieve my anxiety and help me to distinguish between what is imagined and what is real.   Last week, during prayer I was drawn to visit a Marian Shrine in Burton, Ohio, Our Lady of Mariapoch.     The following is a link to this shrine so you can read about the history and miracles associated with her weeping icon,  The prayer related to this shrine is as follows: 

O most Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Mercy, adorned with miracles, whose icon shed tears at the place of your mercy in Mariapoch, we who honor you humbly beseech your motherly care.  Save our country from all its enemies; protect the church, and join all in one faith that, at last, the words of Christ may be fulfilled.  “There shall be one fold and one shepherd.”  Do not deny us your intercession, and obtain for us peaceful times, health for our bodies and peace for our souls.  Obtain the grace for us that our last hour finds us in the Christian faith and in a state of grace so that we may be enabled to gain eternal salvation.  Amen.   

I was shocked when I read the history of Our Lady of Mariapoch and the prayer associated with her icon.       The words of this prayer expressed what I was feeling and reaffirmed what I have been reading.    I saw this as a sign to pray and give my worries to the Lord.    I have no control over our government.   I have no control over future events.     My only defense is prayer.    So I have been visiting the shine as much as possible, lighting a candle, reciting this prayer and then sitting quietly in the presence of our Lord.   

My soul continues to pray, but my mind continues to worry; a classic symptom of bipolar disorder.     Last Wednesday, I was reading my daily reflection and the Gospel Reading for that day was Matthew 6:24-34 

“Therefore, I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?  Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.   Are you not of more value than they?  And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?   And why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.  But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?  Therefor do not worry saying, “What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or “what will we wear?’  For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things, and indeed, your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.  But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.  “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.”

After I read this passage I laughed, looked up to heaven and said “Really?     Take one day at a time!   This is your advice!”     So my prayers to our heavenly Father are being heard, but I need to listen and heed his words.   Why is this so difficult?     Why do I find it so hard to place my problems at the feet of our Lord and walk away?    I always think God is too busy to take care of my little problems, paranoia or craziness, so I have this tendency to leave my problems at His feet and then sneak back when I think He's not looking and take them back.    I need to remember that He is all knowing and all loving....He's got my back!        I've cried out to God to alleviate my anxiety, and he has answered me through scripture and prayer.   He is speaking, this is real, now it's up to me to listen!

Monday, June 13, 2016

Are We Really Free?

Freedom!   There is much talk today about freedom;  freedom of choice,  freedom to marry,  freedom to choose gender,  freedom to die, freedom to bear arms, freedom of speech,  and the list goes on, and on, and on!  We have so much “freedom” that we have deceived ourselves into thinking that we have the right to live without consequences.   We have tricked ourselves into believing what is right is wrong and what is wrong is right.     When did our world become so upside down?

As a teenager, I wanted to be like my mother.    I wanted to find a good man, fall in love, get married, have children and raise a family.   I wanted to be a "stay at home mom"  and raise my babies from the time they were born until they were grown.   I wanted to be a homeroom mother, bake cupcakes for elementary school parties and be a member of the PTA.     Sixty years ago, these were freedoms that women had and believe it or not, most women enjoyed their role as wife and mother, and lived happy and fulfilled lives.   But somewhere along the line my generation and those to follow were fed the lie that “all” women are oppressed,   "all" women need a career, "all" men dominate their wives and strive to suppress their creativity, wants and desires.    Women are told that we don’t need a man to have a child or raise a family.  We are now encouraged to delay marriage or not marry at all.   We are told that it is unnatural to control our sexual urges so we should just have sex with any man or woman we want.     In fact, in this day and age,  if you are still a virgin when your sixteen you are an oddity!   We are told that if we do become pregnant, we have the freedom to kill our unborn child.      I find myself asking "Have we really evolved?"   Where is a woman’s freedom now?    Are we as women truly free or must we conform to society or be chastised as being "old fashion", prudish or out of touch with reality? I know I’m upsetting a lot of women right now so let me make something perfectly clear, I’m not suggesting that a woman should be barefoot and pregnant, abused, or suppressed, but I am saying that all the things that come naturally to a woman and mother are now being taught to be unnatural. 

I was not diagnosed with bipolar disorder until I was thirty-nine so I had a good twenty years to make a mess of my life.       I am ashamed to say that I did just about everything wrong.     I lived with men before marriage, divorced, was sexually promiscuous, drank too much, was deceitful, and my list of sins could fill volumes, but in the back of my mind, I knew what I was doing was wrong because I was taught morals and boundaries.      Society labeled me as a "free" spirit, but looking back, I see only sin driven chaos.          The world whispered in my ear "You're an independent, modern, woman who can do whatever she wants!" But all this worldly "freedom" left me feeling empty, ashamed and downright dirty.            I wish I could go back in time and slap the woman I was across her face and say “Wake up!”    You see, the more “freedom” I thought I had, the more I eased God out of my life.   I had no boundaries…I had lost a sense of right and wrong thus rules or even laws, didn’t matter.    My worldly illusion of freedom became my private prison.    I was living life against my “nature”.     I wasn’t listening to the inner voice of God saying “Stop what you are doing, it’s dangerous…it’s wrong…you’re hurting yourself, your family, and your children!”

In the past, I believed,  God had to knock me down and break me apart before he could rebuild me, but in reality, God didn’t break me, I did the damage to myself.     But, like a good Father, He picked me up, nursed me back to health and welcomed me back into his house.    I believe what we are lacking in today’s society are morals.   We live in an era where anything goes.    If you are a woman and identify as a man… a man!    If you have a terminal illness and want to end your life….commit suicide!     If you become pregnant and, don’t want the child…kill it!   If you're married and see a man you want….take him.    In today’s society….anything goes, everything is okay, everything that is except God.  It is offensive to pray in the schools, at work or generally, in public.    Religion is wrong and if you practice your faith you are narrow-minded, rigid and an unenlightened bigot.     If you are married and have more than two children, you are thought to be irresponsible.    The old and poor are worthless and disposable.   Today, the life and welfare of an animal is more important than that of a child.  

I’m proud to be a United States Citizen, but I'm afraid for our nation.    We have two candidates for the presidency who, in my opinion, both suck!    I know the word "suck" lacks intelligence, but honestly, it’s the only adjective that fits the situation!    This is the first time in my adult life I don't want to vote because I don’t want to be responsible for electing either one of these people to lead our country.       Has my country become a prison of sin instead of the home of the free and the brave?

One of my hobbies is genealogy, and I'm proud to say that someone in my family has fought for our country since it was established.     My ancestors fought for "One nation under God", and "Liberty and justice for all!"   But, I truly believe that somewhere in the past sixty years our definition of liberty and justice have become twisted, and God has been removed from the equation altogether.     I have heard many people scream "There is no God!"  or "If there was a God, why does he let bad things happen to good people?"    "What kind of God allows disease, death, famine, child abuse, murder, rape?"        The way I see it, we as a society wanted it this way.       Like rebellious teenagers, we have basically given God the middle finger and said “We don’t need you!    We don’t need your guidance!  We don’t need your morality!  We are free to exercise this free will that you gave us!”    We have made the mess, not God.    In an effort to become like gods we have polluted our air and seas causing disease, death and famine.   In this "anything goes" society, we have destroyed the family and made the union between a man and woman an ancient practice.         In the name of advancement, we have substituted human contact and conversations with robotic customer service, text messages, and social media.  

  I have lost faith in our government and the man-made laws of society, but I   haven’t lost faith in God and His will for my life.     Nations will rise and fall, economies will collapse, wars will be won and lost, but our God remains faithful.   Our world is in utter chaos and completely out of my control.    In times like these, it is easy to give up, but as Mother Teresa said: "I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."     I personally cannot handle the stress and anxiety our government has created.  Just thinking about this year's election causes a panic attack!      For my own sanity,  I need to let God have the reigns, live as Jesus taught, allow the Holy Spirit to work through me and practice the Corporal and Spiritual works of mercy.     I have lost faith in our broken society, but I have confidence in the healing power of God.   I pray for the freedom that only our Lord can give.       My trust is in Him!