Kissing The Face of God

Kissing The Face of God
Kissing the Face of God

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

The People God Puts in our Lives

I have certainly felt the calming touch of God, our Father this past few days as he as blessed us abundantly with people to help us wade through this bleak time period.

When I went to Mass last Sunday, I was late getting there and had to ask the usher to find me a seat. He led me to a section I rarely sit in and pointed next to a woman who had a bit of room beside her. As we were kneeling during Communion, my old RCIA sponsor walked by me, put her hand on my shoulder and said "I'm so sorry about your husband". The lady next to me overheard. She asked me "You aren't Kerry Wolf, are you?" I said yes, and she identified herself as the lady I had spoken to on the phone the day before. She leads the grief and bereavement group at our large parish and I had asked by phone if I could start coming even though I am not "bereaved" yet, but am indeed overwhelmed with grief.  She had assured me I was welcome.

Anyhow, what a "God thing" to be placed next to her!

Following that, I went over to the RCIA class where I still hang out sometimes after the service--I have lots of friends still in RCIA or who are sponsors and I just needed to be with someone. I told a friend there that I really wished I could speak to someone who had walked the same path and who was about my age, perhaps with kids still at home, when they lost their spouse. She said in fact there was a lady right there she could introduce me to who had lost her spouse to cancer 6 years ago when she had 3 teen boys still at home. We sat in a side room and talked for 2 hours, and she helped me greatly. She wept openly as she shared her own pain with me, and her loneliness.  She has been in contact with me daily since then, and wishes to walk this journey with me.

My beloved CRHP sisters have organized meals for me which have been a great relief as well, and sent beautiful cards, medals, listened to me cry, taken me out for coffee, and just generally been a blessing.  And my sweet husband has agreed to see our Deacon  to talk about the faith--he is coming over thursday night. Also he has agreed to talk to our priest, which is so wonderful! I just hope I don't say something dumb and mess it up now that he is interested.

Please keep us in your prayers and I promise to write about something more upbeat next time. This is just so overwhelming right now it's all I can think of. We see the oncologist next monday.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Boy Howdy What a Week!

And it hasn't been a good one. 

I am in desperate need of a break, Dear God, for just a day or two, from all the incoming bad news and devastating horror. 

My husband was removed from the transplant list. because the radiology specialists at the transplant facility felt that since he had small enlarged nodes near his lungs, that indicated probable metastasis and they won't transplant if there is cancer anywhere but the liver.  They referred him back to his liver doctor here in town for referral to an oncologist. 

So, on wednesday, we went to see the liver doctor here. He told my husband that these tumors that occur in diseased livers are of the same type always, are aggressive, and frequently get into the blood. He said it can be treated but that the treatment causes a very severe rash.  He also said that if it had truly metastasized to the lungs, they "might not be able to treat that" but that we would have to ask the oncologist.  He also opined that untreated he might have 6 to 12 months to live--treated he might have double that.  But again, ask the oncologist. 

This was so heartbreaking for us both. We had both been hoping for some hope. 

He also is referring us to a new transplant facility in Dallas for a second opinion. 

Right now I am flattened with exhaustion, terror and extreme anxiety--yet I have to keep everything going and start learning how to do all the things I have never done before.

Today, I had an appointment with my priest to talk. However, he for whatever reason was not there today.  I ended up going to sit in the Marian shrine near our church. There was another person there--a man who looked like he had been weeping.  I asked him if he was alright, and he told me his wife of 16 years had asked him out for coffee this morning and dumped divorce papers in his lap, totally unexpectedly. She told him she had found someone else and that he needed to get out.  He told me they had a 12 year old son at home. 

He said he was utterly broken inside and had no idea what to do. He was raised a Catholic but had been away from the Church for 25 years. Yet, he was driving past our church that day and felt drawn to come in. He had spent some time in the Tabernacle and then outside with Mary, where I often go when I need a good cry. He said he felt like putting a bullet through his head. 

I told him I was familiar with that feeling of utter despair and fear, and of being blindsided with something.  We were both reeling, and yet had both come to church instinctively. 

I think after we talked he was feeling a little bit better and was open to the idea of returning to the Church again. Please lift up a prayer for him as well.  And thank you for your continuing prayers for my family. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

7 Quick Takes Friday

Inspired by Jen over at Conversion Diary, I have decided to try this "7 quick takes friday" thing I see on so many blogs. How hard can it  be, right? Right?..........

1) Autoimmune disorders are frisky, pesky little critters! They have been struggling to diagnose mine for three years now, and so far all they can come up with is that it's one symptom short of being Lupus, and I have a weird, reoccurring rash that biopsies as "consistent with" Lichen et Sclerosa, which I am told is common in peeps with autoimmune disorders, and I have consistently high ESR (sed rate) levels and a high ANA (anti nuclear antibody) count, discovered during a pregnancy 13 years ago. But they can't seem to pin it down any further. SO, what on earth is it that causes all these aches and pains, rashes, etc? My sister in law Susie is going through something similar, and she and I both had eczema as children that went away when we began puberty, then these autoimmune disorder started plaguing us both big time when we hit peri-menopause. Perhaps it is hormonally related? Anyone know?

image of typical autoimmune weird rash

2) How is it that a whole generation of parents are now dependent on their children's help to operate their electronic devices or repair them when they go kablooey? When you get those annoying "Google Chrome has left the building and taken your Farmville with it, and will be holding it hostage until you remit a ransom fee to Geek Squad" messages, do you immediately cry out for little Brandon and Paisley to please come figure this crazy thing out for you, thereby giving them the chance to think back on all wrongs real and imaginary you have ever done to them? Or do you fork over the cash to the tech guys?

random child happily computing because he knows how by golly!

3) Do you have a favorite image of the Blessed Mother? Mine is the one at the top of my blog, entitles "Kissing the Face of God". I think it just invokes such a real sense of who Mary must have been at that time--a young Jewish girl in simple, modest clothing, cuddling her darling baby boy, overjoyed at both being a mother, and being the mother of the DIVINE SON--the mother of God.  I can just see her dancing around her simple home with him, her face wreathed in smiles. What is your favorite image of Mary?

4)  Our pastor is from Uganda, and is on a committee there to run and enlarge a catholic school. Right now they have a boy's dorm but not one for the girls, so they must stay in local villages if they do not live close by, with people they barely know, and it's just not safe for the young ladies.  So, Fr. Isidore is trying to raise money for a girl's dorm.  He showed us a beautiful video about the project just before Christmas, and the countryside there is just lovely. I would love to visit Africa one day. 

Our Dear Father Izzy speaking at an event

5)  Presenting.......our puppy dogs, Sukey and Max! Sukey is mine, but is occasionally a benedict arnold if someone offers her an extra walk. She's about 2 years old, a german shepherd-cattle dog mix.  Max is my middle son's dog, an australian cattle dog mix, and is the very soul of humility and deference--and is a major couch potato.  We lost our dear doggie Zenith about 18 months ago and I still grieve for her--she was a catahoula leopard dog, the smartest, most loyal dog ever.


6) I have always been fascinated by the story of the Donner party, that ill-fated group of emigrants who set out for California from the east back in 1845, just before the gold rush, in a wagon train of some 80+ people and got stranded in the Sierra Nevada mountains during the winter of 1845-46 at what is now Donner Lake during the worst winter the area has ever known.  Their food stores were already gone when they were trapped just three days ride from the Sacramento valley and civilization, and rescuers could not get through. By the time they were finally rescued in the late winter/early spring, cannibalism had occurred and the survivors were only 40 or so people. Only two families, the Reeds and the Breens, survived intact.  It's a fascinating story, best told (in my opinion) by George Stewart in "Ordeal by Hunger", written back in the thirties and still in print. If you haven't read it, you should give it a try--the man knows how to tell a story!

The fateful trail

Donner Pass in winter

7)  I think one of the best shows airing on tv today for the kiddos is "My Catholic Family" on EWTN.  I have learned so much from that show myself--each episode features a saint or blessed, with a modern catholic family of mom, dad, sis, brother and baby learning about them. It's quite well done for what it is, and they are still making new shows, unlike most of the other cartoons on the channel. They had a new one just last week on St. Clare!

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Living With Fear

Today, I took my husband to have his CT scan of his lungs, so they can better decide what the less than 1 cm "thing" they saw at the base of his right lung while doing a routine MRI of his abdomen is.  As you may recall in my post a few days ago, he is a pre liver transplant patient and has lived with hepatitis c and cirrhosis from the hep c for about ten years. This MRI of his abdomen was a routine one they do yearly to make sure cancer isn't developing. And, they found a lesion in his liver that is most likely cancer. If that were all, they said it is easily treatable and would bump him way up on the list. But, if there is cancer anywhere else, you are off the list.  You can still be treated of course, but you won't be getting a new liver. 

Tomorrow morning we will find out the results of the lung scan. He did have surgery in that lung 20 years ago--an extensive surgery to repair a stubborn collapsed lung--and Im hoping that is what they saw. His regular doc just did a chest xray for pneumonia last november and they saw nothing except pneumonia. Plus, they said that his alphafetoprotein level--a blood test that looks for cancer markers and is almost always elevated in cancer--was normal. 

However, I look at him and my heart just breaks. I want to weep all the time and I can barely seem to drive any of us to our destination without making 37 wrong turns and completely forgetting where we are headed or how to get there. My brain has gone on vacation.  Packed it's bags and said "I'm OUTTA HERE! Call me when it's over!". I can't seem to coax it back, either. 

I'm so ashamed of y lack of faith, my doom and gloom outlook, and my self centered "what am I gonna do?!!" thoughts. The sure mark of someone new in the Faith, and having an anxiety disorder on top of it makes it much worse.  Shame on me--God please, give me strength to bear whatever comes.

Thanks to all who are praying for us--I truly do appreciate it!

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Christ Renews His Parish, AKA "CRHP"

Boy am I grateful tonight that I went through a CRHP (Christ Renews His Parish) retreat last April, and decided to join the formation for the team to give the next retreat which was last October. The retreat itself, something many catholic parishes offer for both men and women, was an amazing experience, and the formation experience, during which we met together weekly to hear each others' life stories and develop our faith as we prepared to give the next retreat, was even MORE amazing! I made friends there that are so invaluable to me now especially during this time of potential despair and fear. They come to my rescue whenever I need a hand, and are there to share a laugh or even cry with me. Even ladies who have been through CRHP on a different team than the one I served on, the minute they hear you are a fellow CRHP alumni, bing-bang-shazoom, you are their sister too!

The catholic church offers so many wonderful experiences for bonding and so many ways to serve the Lord by serving his people.  However, I'm here to say that if you are at a parish that offers it and you haven't been yet, I STRONGLY encourage you to go! It's just a beautiful experience. 

Sunday, January 13, 2013

A Mass for my Mother

Today the mass I had scheduled to be said for my mom's soul finally came up almost a year after requesting it (we have a large parish), and I was able to get my husband and youngest son to go with me, which was a delight.  We had a wonderful homily from our diocesan vocations director, Fr. Brian McMaster.

Father McMaster

What a gifted speaker he is! Made me wish I could rush off to sign up for the priesthood myself, lol! I certainly hope he gets through to our many young people. I pray that God will increase vocations to the priesthood and religious life, especially in our young people. There is nothing more beautiful that a committed young sister or priest or deacon or monk, etc, glowing with God's love.

Life is a hard thing a lot of the time and we have received a crushing blow a few days ago as I mentioned in my last post, but somehow we must carry on.  I just need to remember to stay wrapped in Mary's mantle, to lean on the everlasting arms of Jesus, and to call upon my guardian angel for his help as well. 

Friday, January 11, 2013

Please Pray

Dear friends, both old and new--I need your prayers please.  My dear husband has been on a liver transplant list for some time now--he has cirrhosis from hepatitis that he got from a blood transfusion back in the 80's.  They do annual MRI scans to make sure nothing is developing as far as cancer, etc and this time, they found a mass in his liver that they strongly suspect is cancer, as well as something in one lung that they are not sure what it is--they said it did not light up with the contrast dye like cancer usually does and may just be a nodule or something else (cyst, etc). They also said his blood work showed a normal alphafetoprotein level which is usually elevated in cancer of the liver, etc. However, the liver mass did light up with the contrast dye, indicating probable cancer. 

They said it IS treatable and that there are several ways to treat it, all outpatient, and right now he will be having a CT scan of the lungs next week to see what is going on there and then on the 22nd the transplant team will be meeting with a specialized radiologist to decide what is what and what treatment plan to choose. 

Please pray for this dear sweet man, and for my own sanity as well--I don't know how on earth I will bear it if I lose him. I love him so very very much. And we have a 13 year old son who adores him as well.  I ask your prayers please, tonight. 

God bless you.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Nuns--where have you been all my life?

I must admit that one of the main things that aroused my long-latent interest in the Catholic church several years ago was watching Audrey Hepburn in the old movie "The Nun's Story". Now technically, as I have since learned, Audrey was portraying a religious sister, with an active nursing apostolate, rather than a nun, who would be committed to a contemplative life of prayer and enclosure.  But, be that as it may, most people use the terms interchangeably, even many Catholics. 

At any rate, I recall thinking that the life of being dedicated to God's service, a peaceful life of prayer, structure, and spiritual growth, sounded right up my alley.  Had I only become a Catholic oh, say, thirty years earlier, I might have very well trod that path, though whether or not it would have worked for me in the long run, we shall never know.  

Now, please understand--I love my children and my husband very much, and am not looking to trade them in for a nice Dominican habit even if I could--though I do love the look of those habits! But I do at times wish for the peace and the Christ-centered existence of contemplative orders.  I wish we had more young ones with vocations--it seems that the orders that have retained some of the pre Vatican II ways--full habits, living in community, etc--are attracting more young people than those that have modernized.  What do you guys think?

Nashville Dominicans' class of postulants--a thriving, traditional order.

Audrey Hepburn in The Nun's Story

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Patron Saints

I have had the best time learning all about our wonderful family of Catholic saints in Heaven since joining the fold.  I can never do anything halfway, so I have a gi-normous stack of catholic books,  a lovely album full of holy cards both new and vintage I have been collecting....

my holy card album

a lovely St Therese tote bag I received as a Christmas gift from my poor befuddled non-practicing Jewish hubby, whom I carefully took to the local Catholic Store, helpfully "suggested" a few things, and turned him loose......

Cute, huh?

And what I can clearly see is going to be my new obsession, an ETSY website devoted to the sale of the most adorable felt handmade saint dolls you ever saw!

This lady has EVERY saint doll you can imagine and then some.  I can't wait to order my patron, St Dymphna, and St Francis will be right behind her. 

I love the idea of having a family in Heaven as well as here on earth, that is holding us up in prayer and helping us in our faith. 

Anyone care to share who their favorite/patron saints are and why?

Tuesday, January 8, 2013


I am truly blessed indeed to attend a church with an adoration chapel--one that has gone over the past 9 months or so from being nonexistent to being almost perpetual!--at my beloved St Thomas More.  Our associate priest and the team he put together have done great things, and now we can adore the Lord just about any time we feel the call. What a blessing! (I know, I said that already--but it really IS!).

For those of you who do make the practice of a regular holy hour, what types of things do you do during your time with God? Prayer? Spiritual reading? Meditation? Rosaries? How do you keep your mind focused on God? And above all--how do you listen to God? 

Monday, January 7, 2013

A Place to Pray

I am wondering how many bloggers out there in the Catholic blogosphere have set aside places in their home to devote to prayer, whether as a family or by yourself?  I think having a prayer corner is a lovely idea and one that can inspire greater devotion to prayer life and to God. 

For myself, since I am currently the only practicing Catholic in my home (still working on and praying about that!), I have a bookshelf that has a drop-down desk panel. In this area, I keep: candles, both real and electric; a picture of Our Lady of Guadalupe, framed; a matted photo of St Therese; A novena booklet and set of beads for my patron saint, St Dymphna; my Bibles (both a Catholic version and "The Message", an easy to read translation), an angel statue; another framed photo of the Blessed Mother; a book that describes each day's saint; the Pope's prayer intentions for each month; a list of local seminarians to pray for; and my rosary.

Making time to pray can be difficult, but by golly, if mom's with 7 kids and more can make time to do so, so can I.  Anything less is just wrong--how can we possibly say to our creator, "I have no time for you"?
My prayer corner in  the light.....

and in candlelight.

SO--when do you pray? Do you follow a set pattern? Do you have a special prayer place, and what do you keep in it?

Saturday, January 5, 2013

Worrying--always worrying.

Worried about fellow Catholic blogger Jen Fulweiler over at , in the hospital with bilateral pulmonary emboli, while 24 weeks pregnant with her 6th little one.  May the Blessed Mother intercede for her before the throne of God--please pray for her and her baby boy!

Speaking of medical stuff, I should mention that since going into that lovely season of a woman's life, perimenopause, I have become a much bigger worrywart than I normally am regarding health related worries and have become downright hypochondriacal.  For several years now, I have struggled with what seems to be some type of autoimmune system disorder they can't really pin down and various other ailments that almost always convince me I have something fatal--usually cancer--and send me into paroxysms of panic.  If that's not going on, I worry about my sweet hubby who is awaiting a liver transplant, or my youngest son who has Asperger's syndrome.  I wish so much that I could rest in the peace of the Lord like so many I know are able to do, fearing not and knowing that He has it all under control, but so far I am still struggling, still praying, still worrying.  Le sigh. 

Friday, January 4, 2013

Brand New Blog!

Opening Blog Post

January 4th, 2013

Just a beginning post to introduce myself to the blogger community! I have long admired many of the lovely blogs in the blogosphere of Catholic ladies, such as Conversion Diary, Shower of Roses, etc, and so, with the help of my youngest boy the computer whiz, I have decided to give it a shot.  

I am 48, live in central Texas (though I long to move somewhere cool, green and forested)with my dear husband, a retired repairman and ham radio afficionado, and two of my three sons, Daniel age 13 and Tanner age 21. The oldest, Shepherd, is 29 and engaged to be married this spring. 

We also have two doggies, Max, a border collie/cattle dog mix, and Sukey, a german shepherd/cattle dog mix.  

I recently became a Catholic, having been confirmed in June of 2012, and love learning more and more about this rich and beautiful faith! I was raised nominally protestant, but seldom attended church, and became a bit of an agnostic as I aged, growing more and more skeptical about the existence of God. However, just after Christmas in 2010, I wandered into our nearby catholic church, St Thomas More, and was received with open arms and much love.  My mind opened up to new possibilities, and learning more about the original church of Jesus Christ opened my eyes to the love of God.  And here I am. 

I hope to post regularly as I learn more about the technicalities of having a blog, linking to things, etc and any helpful hints are more than welcomed!