Welcome and welcome back, friends!
It is a very quiet Sunday afternoon at our house. PC is watching the Cincinnati Reds play the Washington Nationals on his computer. We had planned to walk up McKelligon Canyon this morning but I have been feeling very weird the last few days, very dizzy. I know in some respects I am the Queen of Dizzy or Ditzy but this week I have had this odd, tingly feeling in my head, trouble focusing (what’s new?) my eyes and vertigo that comes and goes. I have about decided that I must have a middle or inner ear infection. Will have to get things checked out this week.
For now, I am stretched out in bed with my Prince Charming beside me and Purrsnickitty and Purrsimmony lying at my feet. I want to try to write part II of my spiritual journey but not sure how well I am going to be able to type.
I started this blog post here. Never dreamed it would take a minimum of two posts to say what I want to say. I do realize I am wordy but since I am not at all an authority on religion or spirituality, I didn’t think I could talk this much about it. But apparently my verbosity knows no bounds.
When we moved to El Paso, I didn’t have any plans for finding a church. Our neighbors in the first apartment where we lived attended St. Patrick’s Cathedral, downtown and invited us to the christening of their baby there. It is a beautiful cathedral. The girls’ dad is (pretty much a non-practicing) Catholic. I love the tradition and ceremony of the Catholic church but never thought of trying on Catholicism myself.
The girls’ father and I separated then divorced just as our country entered Desert Storm. Their father was deployed to the Persian Gulf in early fall 1990. The girls and I were living in a dumpy little apartment that was stuck in a 1960’s time warp with aqua metal kitchen cabinets and gold shag carpeting. I bought a small black and white TV for the kitchen so I could watch the news without the girls’ seeing the images of war.
In October 1990, Brennyn, Lauren and I (and a few thousand faithful El Pasoans and Southern New Mexicans) made a pilgrimage up to Cristo Rey, a 29 foot tall limestone statue of Christ a top the Sierra de Cristo Rey (formerly known as the Cerro de los Muleros, Mule Drivers Mountain), in Sunland Park, New Mexico. [source] At the top, we prayed for the safety of their father and all of our soldiers. My poor baby girls. I had no idea how far the hike was or what the terrain was like – pretty much just jumped in the car and headed out. Had the girls somewhat dressed-up because this was a spiritual experience and wanted them to be respectfully dressed. We walked the almost five-mile, round-trip trek without water or even proper footwear.
The picture on the left is my own showing the zig-zag path up to the cross. This is the source for the picture on the right.
About that same time, I started taking the girls to the chapel at Beaumont Army Hospital on some Sunday mornings. I can’t really remember how we started going to the hospital chapel, seems like someone we knew invited us there. It was a nondenominational service, short and sweet. But then I think the service changed or perhaps the chaplain leading the service changed but for some reason we stopped going.
While this isn’t a picture of the chapel at Beaumont Army Medical Center, it looks very much like our chapel did. Loved the representation of different faiths at the altar.
I remember always feeling guilty about praying to God for help for myself. Of course, there were a few times I would pray specifically for myself, usually revolving around health concerns. But I never felt comfortable asking for guidance or comfort or support for myself. I felt like I had to try to figure out everything on my own. It wasn’t that I was too proud to ask for help but it was more that I didn’t feel worthy of help. That I needed to “fix” things myself because I was always making crazy messes (and marriages) that I shouldn’t have. I felt like my problems were my own doing, own creating so I couldn’t ask God to help me when I had messed things up myself.
The girls were in high school when my marriage to their step-father dissolved. He moved out of our house and into a relationship, then remarried not too long afterward. I struggled to keep our heads’ above water financially by working my full-time job as a librarian with an assortment of part-time jobs. I felt like the girls had lost so much and I didn’t want them to have to lose our house, their home.
We had two crazy pups at the time, Cici (an English sheep-dog/poodle look alike) and Cheyenne (golden retriever-wolf mix). I was very OCD about walking them at least once or twice everyday.
Many times the girls went with me to walk the pups, sometimes they walked Cici and Chey without me, but whenever I walked the dogs, I always looked for a penny. In fact, for years before that, I would look for a penny everywhere I went. I thought it was good luck, or a good sign or a sign from God that everything was going to be ok. Kind of like pennies from Heaven. And when I would find a penny, I would put it in my left shoe so for years I went around with at least one penny in my left shoe.
Sometimes I would be almost desperate to find a penny because I was so afraid if I didn’t, everything in my world was going to fall (further) apart. I was a single mom, working about as much as I could, trying to hang on to our home and our comfortable lifestyle on one income. I was trying hard to do on one income what had been difficult to do on two incomes before the girls’ step-father moved out.
Our country was attacked in September 2001, my nephew Andrew died of Wilm’s Tumor in November 2001, read more about his battle with cancer here and I filed for Chapter 13 bankruptcy late that fall. Although my bankruptcy counselor advised that my debts were too great for me to repay through Chapter 13, I managed to repay every penny over the next five years. My sweet daughters both started working as soon as they turned 16 in order to help me. Maybe that is another reason why pennies became so precious and important to me, to us. My daughters would both struggle with health issues as did I over the next few years resulting in several surgeries for my little family.
Our lives seemed to be getting more difficult.
I remember feeling at my wit’s end. Defeated. Not knowing where to turn for help. I felt so helpless.
One afternoon I took the pups out for a walk and started praying as we made our way around the block. I told God how very tired I was of trying to do “it” – LIFE – on my own, trying to fight the battles we were facing without help. At the same time, I felt weak and unworthy for having to ask for His help. After all, the issues I was battling were in some ways self-inflicted. Marrying the wrong men, living beyond my means. And while my problems felt monumental to me, they in no way compared to the pain my sister dealt with when Andrew died. No where near as serious or compromising as problems so many others I knew were facing.
I asked God to show me that He was there.
That He was listening.
That He existed.
I prayed that He would show me a penny on that walk.
Almost immediately, I found a penny.
And then another, and another.
Then a quarter, a nickel and a dime.
My life changed that day. I realized I didn’t have to do life alone, without help.
And with time and faith and God’s grace, my problems became less paralyzing. I felt like their weight had been lifted from my shoulders.
I have a bit more to share with you on my journey of faith but will save it for another Sunday. I hope that if you are struggling to deal with life on your own, that maybe you haven’t come to accept God in your life, you will consider doing so.
Hugs and kisses,