Taking pains to set things right

It's ok; I'm fine, really. A little ice will take care of that.
Well, that title is a bit of an idiom for my life.

I found out this week that I have lupus. I was kinda-sorta surprised. I thought it was rheumatoid arthritis (and it still may be, as I found out that some doctors treat "rhupus"). My dad had lupus, so it wasn't too big a surprise.

Dad had the kind that affects only the skin, however. I have the "bad" kind (because I'm bad to the bone!): the kind that affects joints/organs. Lupus is an autoimmune disease and basically what happens is that the antibodies that fight off infections and diseases get confused (maybe it's old age on my part) and start attacking things you need, like your knees and your stomach.

While it's always good to have a diagnosis, no one wants to hear that they have a chronic and painful illness. Yet, God is good, and we know that our suffering here on Earth can be joined with Christ's suffering on the Cross and that all things work together for the good. (That's my inner poster child speaking. On the whole, I'd rather be able to walk without groaning.)

Then, there was this: a gentleman-journalist called me this week. He was doing a story re' my former employer, and ran across an email written by the former city attorney for Grand Rapids, MI to a private citizen while the attorney was still in office. The email, which was supposed to be about a tax issue, was instead about my daughter. Faithful readers will remember that my daughter was the victim of human trafficking a few years ago. We filed a lawsuit against the city for not pursuing the case.

The city attorney had this to say, in part:

“The young woman did not run away from home to become a crack and heroin whore because of anything by the City of Grand Rapids or the GRPD (police). We did not raise her and did not influence her life choices in this regard. The hypocrisy of the Acton Institute and its employees is simply amazing. Beware that you are dealing with hypocrites, sir.”

I do not have many tools at my disposal, but I've got this blog. If you are dismayed that a city official could a) release this type of information to a private citizen and b) be so blatantly offensive, please do me a favor. Write to the local Grand Rapids' media and ask them to investigate. This attorney is now in private practice, but clearly the city of Grand Rapids should know that the woman they were paying to be the voice of the victim has a dim view of victims.

Fox 17
WoodTV
WZZM
MLive-Grand Rapids

Please include the link to the story referencing the email: http://www.michigancapitolconfidential.com/22382

Driving Me Crazy

When I took a new job at the beginning of the year, my commute got a bit longer. (It's still not bad at all, especially when you compare it to places like Chicago or Boston.)

I actually enjoy the commute time. I listen to music, sing, pray and I annoy no one.

This morning, I had Dark-haired daughter with me. She has an appointment later, so I dropped her off at her cousin's house for the day and I'll pick her up later.

She is not quiet. Not contemplative. Not serene.

I told her a couple of times, "I really just need quiet." I woke up in a great deal of pain. I just wanted to focus on the drive and the music. "Please, just be quiet."

She agreed. Until...

"Just one question. How many babies can fit in a uterus?"

"Can you be 50 or 40 and have a baby?"

"When you have the baby, what happens to the water that's around the baby?"

My morning commute went from "me time" to a review of the female anatomy, the birth process, and the aftermath of birth. Having never been pregnant, I tried to be as accurate as possible.

Dark-haired daughter is often like a very young child. She asks question after question after question. She's curious. She likes to know how things and people work. Once she's met you, you are fair game for her curiosity. She is never intentionally rude, but sometimes she needs a gentle (or not so gentle) reminder that there is a personal line you shouldn't cross.

Yes, she drives me crazy. But I find her curiosity refreshing and sweet. She is a great companion for an adventure, because she loves new things and new people.

Yes, she drives me crazy. She is the best co-pilot, anytime, anywhere. I'll take the crazy.

Mercy, Mercy, Mercy

artist Stephen B. Whatley
Dear Husband and I had the opportunity to make a one-day retreat yesterday. The priest, Fr. O., was delightful and succinct.

Fr. O. spent the afternoon talking to us about mercy. Did you know "mercy" (in one form or another) is used 400 times in Scripture? Seems as if God is trying to tell us something.

I have to say that I've been struggling with mercy and forgiveness. There are wounds from my former job that still cause me pain. When I think of them, I try to remember to pray words of mercy over the situation and people involved. But it still hurts.

Soon, I am going to have to sit across a table from some of the people who are responsible for the abduction and assault on Dark-haired Daughter. I'd like to say that I am preparing myself for mercy, but that would be a lie. I feel like I'm preparing myself for battle.

Mercy, for us mere mortals, is a work in progress - always. Thankfully, for God, it is not. God is always ready to forgive, embrace, caress, love. We have to fight for that readiness, that ability to see the person and not the sin and hurt. God IS mercy, and we are mere sinners.

Fr. O. gave me a lot to ponder yesterday, and for that I am thankful. Today, I'm going to pray mercy over those situations in my life that remain painful, tender, sore, stinging.

Mercy. 400 times in the Bible. We can't use it enough.

A Terrible Beauty


Dear Husband and I are home from 10 days in Ireland. It was amazing. We saw the most beautiful land, managed not to hit any sheep, and ate a lot of great food (and drink!)

We had the opportunity to attend Mass twice. The first time was rather sad. It was a small village church, and the Sunday morning Mass. While it was well-attended by people of all ages, it was perfunctory at best. Thirty minutes start to finish, no music. The responses were said so fast we couldn't keep up. It was as if everyone was there to put in there time, not to worship. How very sad for a place where we Catholics fought so hard for our Faith.

Our next experience was the Sunday Vigil Mass at St. Mary's Pro-Cathedral in Dublin. The setting could not have been more beautiful. The cantor was spectacular, and a treasure of a pipe organ provided beautiful accompaniment. The priest gave a solid homily, and while the congregation tended to the elderly, it was worshipful and much more inspiring.

The Pro-Cathedral also played a role in the Easter Uprising of 1916. As Dublin burned and the streets were filled with battle, the priests held open the doors of the church as a place of refuge and for care of the wounded and dying. It was feared that the church would burn, but it did not, and the priests were able to feed the hungry, shelter those who'd lost their homes and tend to those fighting - regardless of which side they were on.

Cherish your church - both your parish and the Universal Church. When you travel, don't hesitate to attend Mass. Wherever you find yourself, you are at home in the Catholic Church. Give your children the gift of history and culture and prayer wherever you find yourselves. It is always good to be in the familiar, but it is a treasure to pray with strangers and sojourners, wherever we may be.

Always Faithful

We went to Mass last night, and had an older priest. In his homily, he exhorted us to "semper paratus:" Be prepared. The Gospel,...