Sunday, May 19, 2019

Forever a Friend


"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you. Until we meet again."

I have never lost anyone so close to me as my uncle. The relation of a niece may seem like a distant relative to some, but not to me. An uncle for me was always that person in your life who made you laugh, who gave you hugs, who met your eye and gave you that twinkle of teasing, who did things not because he had to but because he loved you. That was my uncle to me.

My heart became so united with his by sitting at his bedside for the last eight months, watching a disease slowly steal him away. Not once did he forget who I was. I showed him pictures of my dog, my home, my shop. I said I love you and he said I love you too. He welcomed my kisses, he listened to my stories, he held my hand. One thing I'll never forget is meeting his gaze the week before he left this earth. I gave him a stuffed animal turtle (fondly known ever after as Mr. Turtle) from my trip to the beach. I swallowed hard at that gaze because I knew he was thanking me, even though he couldn't voice it.

I feel him in my moments of Adoration, I see him in the rainbows, I hear him in the sound of laughter, I taste him in chocolate brownies, I smell him in cutting the grass, I hug him in Mr. Turtle. I look for him in my everyday moments and let a tear fall when I feel his absence. But then I remember...

"Goodbyes are not forever. Goodbyes are not the end. They simply mean I'll miss you. Until we meet again." Until we meet again, I will always love you...

Sunday, May 12, 2019

Only One Chance


This past week has taught me there are not always second chances in life. That may sound like a depressing thought, but to me it means for the one chance we may have, we have to be all in.

I had never seen someone die before two days ago when I lost my beloved uncle. Somehow that whole week I had a feeling I would be there, which gave me this oxymoron of an uneasy calm. That morning something (or someone) wouldn't let me sleep, a nagging, nagging, nagging thought woke me up and brought me to my uncle's bedside. It was his final moments.

My aunt, cousin, and dear friend/aide were there...my cousin made it within two minutes to say goodbye to her father. The last thing I remember saying to my uncle is that my mother (his sister) was on the phone and said she loved him. I have never seen anything so peaceful, so grace-filled, so remarkably connected to up above.

I watched my family tirelessly care for him in his illness; emotionally, by making his room always a happy place; physically, by medical care down to the nitty gritty of spoon feeding and giving drinks with a syringe; spiritually, by providing him with Holy Communion weekly and the Last Rites; mentally, by keeping him engaged with the family and playing his favorite cop shows, and above all socially by maintaining a constant presence in his life.

This dedicated care and those final moments taught me that you can't go back, you can't turn back the clock, you can't waste time... Sometimes we do only get that one chance not to miss what's truly important. I thank God for every minute I had with my uncle and long to hold his hand once more.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

A Mystery is Coming

The long awaited third entry into the Amanda Case Files Series is on its way! The hoped for release date is July 26th, the feast of St Anne as the book is dedicated to my sister. After two years since the last installment, this novel is long overdue!

Liz Henley is back once again as Amanda Case to solve once and for all the murder of her beloved parents. She goes undercover at the inn where her parents were investigating and follows clue after clue to uncover the killer. This mysterious bed and breakfast near a lighthouse in Maine quickly proves to be its own puzzle.

Who can Liz trust in this case, when suspects begin to point closer and closer to those she loves? A double agent is in her midst and seems to be tracking her every move. When her uncle, who shared the most vital clue, is kidnapped, Amanda Case must discover long unanswered questions before its too late.

Will Officer Fred McNally, who joins her on this mission, figure out the enigma of the key in the watch? Will her brother Sam, who can't stay uninvolved, wind up as the cook at the inn? Will life long family friend Captain Walker betray her?

Find out in two months!!

Sunday, April 28, 2019

The Solitary Envoy


The Solitary Envoy follows an independent young woman named Erica Langston on a journey as a merchant in revolutionary times in both America and England. She is dealt a tough hand early in life to defend her family's good name and must stand strong amidst powerful adversaries. An enemy in her eyes, Major Powers, falls in love with the intelligent Erica, and seeks to win her affections. Will love triumph in Erica's life or will it be justice?

I thoroughly enjoyed this historical novel, a refreshing read compared to most books written in our times. A truly Christian novel with themes of hope against all odds and perseverance in the worst of trials. The characters were dynamic and filled with depth, responding to critical plot points in the most human of ways. 

The idea I took away from this story was that life is a journey, a journey in which we can choose to take alone or rely on the friends God places in our life, even if we do not recognize them as such. There is no greater treasure in life than a true friend, and Erica must decide if that is the road she has the courage to take.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

364 Yesterdays


When a birthday comes around, I love to look back at the 364 yesterday's that were between the birthday last year and the birthday this year. It can be hard to look back at the struggles and trials and sufferings that made you a year older, but somehow those aren't the moments that stick out. When it comes down to it, the days that come readily to mind are the ones filled with triumphs, fun times, and happy memories.

Those moments fill your heart with gratitude. For all the gifts that God gives, the difficulties don't seem to matter anymore. I think that's what Heaven must be like, where there are no tears. Up there, one can only see the purpose those hard days had and they don't seem like a burden at all. 

My uncle is terminally ill, and on my birthday I get to attend Mass in his bedroom. I think that is the greatest gift I will ever receive. It's only happened a handful of times, and somehow this treasure landed on my birthday. He attended Mass twice a day for years and years, and his devotion to the Holy Eucharist was what made me love Adoration, Mass, and the Faith. 

When I look back next year at the days between birthdays, out of all 364 days, this memory I will treasure for the rest of my life. Here's to my uncle, who words cannot describe how he made my yesterdays special.

Sunday, April 14, 2019

What God Thinks


So here we are at the start of Holy Week and preparing for the solemn feast of Easter. Some of us may feel satisfied with how our Lent went and some of us may feel disappointed. I think that when we are on the disappointed side, we forget how God thinks. Because what He looks at is if we did our best in the moment. We have all heard the phrase "if you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans." Well it's the same as what our plans were for Lent. We make plans to accomplish certain resolutions, but life happens. 

Maybe we didn't get that extra penance or spiritual work in, but we persevered in our daily duties with a smile. Maybe we ate dessert when we gave that up, but it was to cheer up a friend with an ice cream. Maybe we weren't as patient as we wanted, but we were undergoing physical suffering that was offered to God that tried our patience. Whatever it may have been, what God thinks is the intention of our hearts. It doesn't matter what someone else thinks or what we even tell ourselves sometimes, but only what God sees.

I love these words of Mother Teresa, "People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies. Succeed anyway. If you are honest and sincere, people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today, will often be forgotten. Do good anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway."

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Our Tastes


Something I found interesting this Lent is how certain things are penances for one person but not for another. Do you think that means our tastes/preferences reflect our personality or something that is uniquely you? Are tangible aspects of ourselves rooted in our souls? I found this a thought provoking concept that I don't really know the answer to, but it makes one wonder.

For example, one thing I chose to do was give up ketchup. Many will laugh at this penance, but for those who don't know my food habits, ketchup will find itself on pretty much anything I am eating. I don't know why I like this condiment so much, but it if it is missing, my food experience is truly subpar. 

So this image of a hamburger with pickles and ranch dressing/dip may look like I am complaining by saying it was difficult to eat, but for some reason a hamburger without ketchup is a challenge for me. Does that seem petty? Well yes, yes it is when put in perspective, but I chose something that I would find difficult but not impossible so as to focus more on the love behind the sacrifice. 

Did I fail at times the last couple weeks? Yes, yes I did, but that made me realize I am too attached to things of this world and need to keep trying, which I think is also a valuable lesson. On the flip side, it also showed me that there is variety out there. I found myself trying/experimenting with other flavors I wouldn't have otherwise tried and it turned out I enjoyed! 

So what is my point about ketchup? I think our tastes show how truly unique each individual person is and the infinite value we are to God. And that should be a reminder as we approach Holy Week, that Christ gave His life for us and thought of you individually on the Cross.