By: Erick Erickson - Fox News
I remember it so clearly — a memory you can only remember so clearly when it is from sadness. You can’t let it go.
I was sitting in the mud by the rear passenger side tire of my old Acura cradling my one-year-old in the steady, driving rain. I was sobbing, doing my best not to fall apart in front of my little girl.But the tears ran. My throat hurt as I tried to suppress the guttural cries I wanted to cry there in the mud.
RedState, which got up and running in 2004, was out of money. No one wanted to put ads on a conservative site after the Democrats had just delivered an absolute shellacking to the GOP. We were out of money. Christmas was a week away. I was out of a job.
I had just left the hospital, where I had the task of telling my wife she was dying and there was nothing anybody could do. But that was insignificant compared to where I’d been that day. I’d just left the hospital where I had the task of telling my wife she was dying and there was nothing anybody could do.
Then there I was, one week before Christmas in 2006 sitting in mud, leaning up against a tire covering me in black, holding a one-year-old too young to know what was going on, and sobbing in the rain. Too shell-shocked to even try to pray. Too overwhelmed to even think. Out of money, soon to be a single dad, no job, a one-year-old, and I was very overwhelmed.
Let not your heart be troubled is not just something Sean Hannity came up with on his radio show. It is not just some trite expression people use to superficially aid and comfort others. It is a phrase spoken by Jesus Christ found in the first verse of John 14. “Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me.”
My wife and I got married in 2000. Within three months, she had a double mastectomy not because she had cancer, but because we knew she would get it. We waited five years to have our first child. We figured it would be smooth sailing after that.
The Thursday before Labor Day 2006, my wife called me from her office. She said she was dying. She sounded like she was dying. We got her to the doctor who, based on her symptoms, diagnosed her as having either a pulmonary embolism or a gall bladder attack. He had me take her to the ER with orders to check her for an embolism, knowing if it was not, that it would be her gall bladder.
The scan came back clear. It was her gall bladder. “Oh by the way,” they seemed to say almost in passing. “We found some spots on her lungs.” We went to the beach. Within twenty-four hours of arrival my wife was in the Emergency Room at the beach preparing for surgery. She had a blockage in her bile duct. She was in agony. She spent a week at the beach recovering while I took care of our one-year-old.
When we got home we found a message on our answering machine from the local hospital we’d been to before our trip. They had discovered a blockage in her bile duct and it was vitally important we call them to schedule immediate surgery. Ahhh...timing.
We finally got around to her going back to the doctor about the spots on her lungs the week before Christmas. I remember she came home with a scared looked on her face. Yes, the spots were still there, but they’d found a blood clot in her jugular vein. She had to be admitted to the hospital for treatment. While there, the doctors got worried about the clots plus the spots. They decided to biopsy. That’s when they told me she was dying. There was nothing they could do. That night, after cleaning up and getting some help for the one-year-old, I went back to the hospital.
My wife and I talked as you talk when you know you might not have much longer to talk. In the course of the conversation the surgeon came in, told us everyone had now reviewed the biopsy, and they were sure it was not cancer, she was not going to die, and they’d send off the biopsy for more study. Turns out she has a relatively benign condition. Within a day or so, Eagle Publishing, Inc. called and offered to buy RedState. They’d keep me on as an employee. I had my wife and my job.
Fast forward four years. I had not had a pay raise, we were dependent on two incomes to make ends meet, and my wife, given everything she’d been through, wanted to stay home with the kids. We knew it was the right thing to do. We just did not know how to make up the loss of income. We took a leap of faith and my wife left her job. Literally the next day, and I use literally intentionally as it was literally the next day, my boss called and told me I was finally getting a pay raise. It was identical — dollar for dollar identical to what my wife would be giving up. A week later CNN came calling. I would never have been able to do my job at CNN without my wife staying home.
A year later, Cox Media Group asked me to be on the radio. My life is not all roses. But I write this whole story and highlight the ups, not the downs, because I do not believe in coincidences. I do not believe in luck.
I believe in an active Creator.
I have experienced too much in my life to lead me to think this is all atoms and physics and chemistry and coincidence. I have experienced pain and misfortune and sadness, but as much as those things too define me it is the joys of life I dwell on.
There is a man upstairs. He has a plan. And while I do not know the mind of the Creator, I know this all works for the good of those who are called according to His purpose. I do not know His plan, but I have experienced enough in my life to know I should trust Him and that His plan, however confounding it may seem, is a good plan that will work out in the end for the best.
So I raise my head these last few days and see liberals salivating at the idea that it might be a right wing tea partier who blew up Boston while conservatives are convinced it is a Middle Eastern terrorist. I see the wailing and gnashing of teeth over gun control, the evil of Kermit Gosnell, and the politicization of everything. Then there is the destruction in Waco, the dead and injured — it is enough to make you want to sit in the mud while holding your child close and cry.
It should be hard to be optimistic, but I, a natural pessimist, I am optimistic. I have hope. I know that there is a higher purpose to it all. I know that there is not just the rudimentary day to day existence in which we live, but there is a master plan to it all. I know some of you do not believe that and you are entitled to reject that. But I have experienced too much in my life and see clearly in hindsight an active presence who leads me somewhere down a path I did not choose, but on which I walk. Choosing to let your heart not be troubled is not easy. It is often hard.
We see bombings in Boston, planes flying into tall buildings, random explosions killing many at one time in Texas, politicians and citizens at each others throats and it seems the whole world has gone mad. But the world has always been mad. We are just more aware of it these days with bold events that shock the conscience.
We are on a blue marble circling a giant ball of plasma that if we draw too close to we burn up as we and it hurtle around a black hole at the center of a galaxy scientists believe will one day collide with another galaxy.
The world is a crappy, hostile place in a colder than ice dangerous expanse of vacuum, radiation, and sweet meteors of death. The thought that we exist as we do at all borders on absurdity.
And yet there is a one-year-old who, though she knows not why her father cries in the rain and mud, pats his face to tell him it is okay. There are strangers who, instead of running from the blast, turn to it to help those who have fallen. There is a president some of us care little for who chooses his words carefully to bind the wounds of dark days for all of us regardless of our votes. The world is not meant to be fair. It is a maddening place filled with bad and evil. But the good shines through. The right overwhelms the wrong. The very real good slays the very real evil. The smiles break through the tears.
You do not have to be mad in a maddening world. You can choose to be happy. You can choose to be optimistic. You can choose to let not your heart be troubled. I am a man who had to tell my wife she was going to die. By God’s grace she did not die, but is with me still.
I can tell you confidently it is no easy thing to let your heart not be troubled. But I can tell you in a world where so many politicize everything, we yell at each other, and every hill is a hill on which to die, whether you choose to believe or not there is good and there is evil and there is a man upstairs who has a plan that while we may not know it we can be assured that all things, even in the pit of the various hells on this present earth, yes all things do work for the good of those called according to his purpose. He brings forth water from rocks and bread from heaven and you and me from the dust of the earth, stitching us together in our mothers’ wombs.
So let not your heart be troubled. The sun still shines. The smiles are still there. The good graces between neighbors still exist. Bad things will always and have always happened. But love and good and right prevail even in the madness of the present age.
By: Stephanie Guyla
I never have enough time in the day to get all my work done. I never have enough money to live comfortably and not worry about it. I never have enough food (although at the moment that one can be contributed to the fact that I am six months pregnant). I never have enough...
It is never warm enough in the winter or cool enough in the summer. The knowledge I have is never enough to answer everyone's questions. The degree I have is not enough to get me the job I want. I am never strong enough to face my enemies head on.
I cannot tell you the number of times I find myself complaining about not having enough. At the moment, not having enough money is the big one on my mind. I also often find that these little complaints slip into bigger issues. I end up turning this in on myself. I think that my gifts are not enough, that my efforts are not enough... That I am not enough. It really is a deadly spiral when we start thinking about that one little word.
The question of having enough or being enough ultimately comes down to our relationship with the Father. It comes down to trust. Can we trust that our Father will provide for us? Can we trust in His Love and His promises more than we trust in our salary or in the food we eat? Is our trust in God or in the things of man?
Right now, my husband and I are in the middle of figuring out how and when to move so that he can begin his new job. We prayed and prayed for months for him to find work. It was definitely not easy, but we have grown so much through it all. I kept thinking that all will be well once he finds a job, then we won't have to worry about anything. But, of course, being the fallen human that I am, now that he has the job, I have found something else to worry about instead. I had somehow convinced myself that the job would be enough. Now I worry about having enough money.
On my drive to school the other morning I realized how often I think and use the word enough with regards to worldly possessions. And what The Lord told me in prayer was that I am relying on money, on earthly things, to provide security in my life. In thinking that money will make us feel safe, I am trusting more in the numbers on my bank account screen than in the God of the universe who sent His only Son to live and die for me. That realization definitely put me in my place...
The truth of the matter is that we will always need more of something on this earth and if we think that money or possessions will make us happy then we are going to live a miserable life. It is the nature of the beast. The more money we accumulate, the higher the amount we need to feel secure. First it's a thousand dollars in the bank and then two, three, four, five thousand... Worrying about money consumes so much of our lives. We waste precious time thinking about something that will not last, rather than contemplating the only constant in life: the love of God.
Learning to trust in God above all else, to have faith that the Father always provides for His children, has been one of the scariest and most fruitful lessons of my short life. Everything but His love is subject to change. And in reality, I have no real control over the things that do change in life. Worrying about having enough is a waste of time. God is enough. His love is enough. And very existence is enough for Him to want to share this Love in abundance.
I am most definitely scared beyond belief to give up my faith in money or other earthly goods, but for some of us, especially those of us who are of a more stubborn nature, this is the only way... It is His Way.Call to Action:
We all face situations in life where we have to trust that God’s providence is enough. This is just one story from my life. I would love to hear how the Lord is asking you to trust Him in your life. If you look below this post you will see a comments section. If you feel moved by the insights above, share with us your story about the Father providing for you. There is nothing more uplifting than hearing how God provides for others. And if you are struggling with a situation right now, leave a comment about that—as women, we especially need community!
May God be praised!Note from the author:
Hey all! Steph, here! Just wanted to say "Hi" personally since this is my first post on the site. Kristin was kind enough to allow me to be on the team here at Young Catholic Women and I am excited to be able to share my writing with you! If you want to reach me, my personal blog is The Catholic Woman, www.songofsongs610.com
, or you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
Image courtesy of jscreationzs. FreeDigitalPhotos.net
By: LCYouth Productions - discovered by Gabby S.
But the Earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the Lord's glory, just as the water covers the sea.
Jennifer Lopez at Glamour's 2011 Awards
When our Women of the Year winners get up there in front of thousands at Carnegie Hall, they let the inspiration fly. Listen in:
"Have the courage of your convictions. Learn to say no, but have no fear in saying yes. And you don't need to conform, because rebellion creates character." -Nicole Kidman, 2008
"Behind ever great woman, there is a great... woman!" -Stella McCartney, 2009
"There are people who will tell you that you can't do something or you're not good enough or you're not pretty enough, but you just have to say to those people, 'I am good enough, I am bright enough, I am smart enough, and I can do whatever it is that I want to.'" -Chelsea Handler, 2011
"Support other women. Your girls are the most loyal people in your life. They will always be there. Those are my greatest loves." -Jennifer Lopez, 2011
"If you have a dream and you have a goal, and you knock on that front door and they won't allow you in, go through the ack door. If the back door is locked, go through the cellar. If that's all boarded up, climb your butt through the window, but get in!" -Tyra Banks, 2008
How much is enough?
The American investment banker was at the pier of a small coastal Mexican village when a small boat of just one fisherman docked. Inside the small boat were several large fin tuna. The American complimented the Mexican on the quality of his fish and asked how long it took to catch them.
The Mexican replied, only a little while.
The American then asked why didn't he stay out longer and catch more fish?
The Mexican said he had enough to support his family's immediate needs.
The American then asked, "But what do you do with the rest of your time?"
The Mexican fisherman said, "I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, take a siesta with my wife, Maria, stroll into the village each evening where I sip wine and play guitar with my amigos, I have a full and busy life.
The American scoffed, "I am a Harvard MBA and could help you. You should spend more time fishing and with the proceeds buy a bigger boat, and with the proceeds from a bigger boat you could buy several boats. Eventually, you would have a fleet of fishing boats. Instead of selling your catch to a middleman you would sell directly to the processor, eventually opening your own cannery. You would control the product, processing, and distribution. You would need to leave this small coastal fishing village and move to Mexico City, then LA and eventually NYC where you will run your expanding enterprise.
The Mexican fisherman asked, "But, how long will all of this take?"
To which the American replied, "15-20 years."
"But what then?"
The American laughed and said that's the best part. "When the time is right you would announce an IPO and sell your company stock to the public and become very rich, you would make millions."
"Millions?" asked the fisherman, "Then what?"
The American said, "Then you would retire. Move to a small coastal fishing village where you would sleep late, fish a little, play with your kids, take a siesta with your wife, stroll into the village each evening, sip wine and play guitar with your amigos."
By: Teresa Manion
While trying to come up with a good reason as to why a number of my friends should join me for a run, I discovered that my identity as a runner and my identity as a Catholic have a lot in common…
I am a runner.
There are numerous reasons why on any given day I should not go for a run. The weather is one of the biggest reasons: it could be too hot, too cold, rainy, snowy, ect. I could be too tired from not getting enough sleep during any given week. I would have to take time to shower after. I may be sore after. I could be doing other things. The list really goes on and on.
Yet I run anyway. Why would I run after all of these reasons not too? I guess one of the biggest reasons is because I know that I love running. Despite the fact that some may consider me crazy for this, I truly do love the feeling of my legs moving beneath me as I just aimless run for place to place. I love the clarity that running provides as I can process what has been happening in my life. More than that, I know that running is good for me. It forces my heart to pump blood more quickly and efficiently throughout my body and encourages my lungs to cycle in air at a great rate. This allows me during rest of have a greater cardiovascular capacity and overall greater health.
I am a practicing Catholic.
There are countless reasons why on any day I should not practice my faith. Other people may think that I am crazy for going against cultural norms. Having sex and getting drunk is “fun” and a way to fit in with many of my peers. I may be too tired or have too many other things to do besides pray or go to Mass on a daily basis. The list goes on and on.
Yet I practice my faith anyway. Why would I practice my faith when society tells me not too? One of the biggest reasons is because I love my faith. Despite the fact that many would consider me crazy for this, I love the fact that I can receive my Lord and Savior in the most humble form of bread and wine on a daily basis. I love the fact that I know that I have a God of mercy who loved me so much that He sent His Son to die on a cross for me so that I might spend eternity in heaven. And that this mercy extends outward in the sacrament of confession. More than that, I know that living out my faith is good for me. I practice my faith on earth in the hope that I will spend eternity with God in heaven. Furthermore, I can see how practicing my faith has made me a better person. It gives me the grace to live charitably and see Christ in all of those that I come in contact with, even when it would have been much easier to walk away.
I am a runner. I am a practicing Catholic. I love being both even though the world may think I’m crazy because I know in the end that any temporary pain will be the cause of greater glory. For as Pope Benedict XVI says, “The world promises you comfort, but you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”
Another tasty turkey to make (or eat :-)
By: Kristin DeSutter
I was so surprised when I went to confession at the University of Illinois nearly two years ago this winter, as I received a completely different kind of penance than I ever had before. Rather than being absolved of my sins through prayer, the priest asked that I instead spend ten minutes making a list of the gifts God had given me.
But the priest didn't want me to just reflect in the moment of that one wintery afternoon; he wanted me to dive deeper and remember all the gifts I had been given since the day I was born. So once I had my pen and paper, I started scribbling. I instantly thought of my family and friends, the ones who have touched my life the most. Teachers and coaches too. Natural gifts along with material gifts. Places I had travelled and sports I was grateful to have the strength to play. But I remembered the challenges as well, for I now realize many of these trials have made me much stronger, more loving, and more understanding.
When the scribbles on my once-blank sheet practically resembled graffiti, I felt almost as disoriented as my page looked, for my mind was spinning with people, pets, toys, books, movies, and nearly-forgotten haunts I hadn't thought of in years. I was so overwhelmed, awed, and yet humbled by the countless ways God had cared for me.
So last week when I saw these recommendations for becoming more thankful, I immediately thought of how the effects of my unusual penance from the University of Illinois had lasted much longer than just ten minutes. I hope you find these ideas as useful as I do (or better yet, you've already mastered them), and happy month of thanks!5 Ways to live a more grateful life - By: Steve Givens
- Spend time at the end of each day praying over (or writing down) the good things that happened to you during the day, along with the gifted and gracious people who are part of your life
- Put prayers of thanksgiving at the top of your prayer time with God, before you get to your list of wants and needs
- Write more thank-you notes to the people who make a positive difference in your life. You may think they don't need or expect your thanks, but your note may be exactly what they need to get through a tough day.
- Don't forget to thank those closest to you, for they are the ones we most often take for granted
- Pay it forward. If you're thankful for something you've been given, find ways to pass on that blessing to others. Perform random acts of kindness.
1936 Pulitzer Prize photo
By: Marian Therese Horvat, Ph. D.
This mother of a large family wrote to tell me that her son had died shortly after birth. In her note, she expressed a beautiful Catholic response to what is truly one of the tragedies of life, the loss of a child. “This has been a difficult time,” she wrote, “but along with the suffering, God had also given our family many blessings and made us stronger in the Faith. We also know that we have our little saint in Heaven who is there for us to pray to and who is loving and helping us every day.”
This is the way a Catholic deals with tragedy and suffering, a topic poorly understood today because of the general tendency of modern man to flee all suffering, to seek a life without the Cross. At the university when we discussed St. Augustine and the question of evil, I remember students who used to question the goodness of a God who allows bad things to happen. There was even a book written on the topic, and in the end the modern Catholic author came to a very bad conclusion: Despite everything, God is good, but sometimes He makes mistakes by letting bad things happen to good people. Many of the students – even the Catholic ones – thought this was a very reasonable answer.
What the Church teaches is different, and the Faith makes us able to see much deeper than what is merely reasonable. The Faith reveals to me that Adam and Eve sinned, and that I inherited the fruit of their sin. My first parents sinned; I also have sinned. It is just that I humbly and contritely make expiation for my sins. It is just, therefore, that I should suffer in this life. I can even experience some joy in suffering: The joy of realizing I am receiving a fair punishment for my sins, the happiness of following the precepts of Our Lord, and a contentment in being united to Him by following in His footsteps and taking up my cross as He took up His.
Providence allows sufferings and pains that are so assorted and so different, yet so appropriate for the life of each person. For this man, it is a disappointing career; for another, an unfulfilled vocation. For this lady, a disillusion in marriage; for another, a single life and sense of not belonging anywhere. For one, a debilitating sickness; for another, the duty to nurse a sick parent or child. The list is as endless as the multiple trials, disillusions, and tragedies known to strike in the lives of great and small, rich and poor, old and young.
The Cross of Christ in our lives cannot be reduced to a stroke of bad luck. No, it is an integral part of our lives and our sanctification. The cross is not something extraordinary, a curse or “mistake” of God, but the truly Catholic mentality understands it as something normal and even indispensable. It transforms us and gives us real moral stature.
The modern false creed preaches that the best course to happiness is to avoid the crosses God gives us. Instead of facing them head on and going ahead, there are those who try to fight against one misfortune or another. Imagine if the noble Catholic lady who wrote me the letter I mentioned had become angry with God for allowing her baby to die. Or she could have nursed a resentment against every happy mother with her healthy newborn baby with the thought: “Why was she allowed this happiness while I was deprived of my child?”
But this was not the attitude she took. She practiced the natural virtue of resignation. She faced the situation and made a decision: “I will not make myself and everyone around me miserable because of my sorrow. I am grateful for the sympathy and goodness of my friends and family who are helping me to bear this difficult cross. With their help and the grace of God, I will carry this cross and go ahead. This will demand an effort, it does not diminish my natural grief, but I will be happier than if I am not conformed to my cross, not conformed to the will of God.”
A suffering seen and lived in this way becomes supportable for the person who practices even the natural virtue of resignation.
By: Teresa Manion
I love fall. The warm sweaters, hot chocolate, apple pie, just everything about fall. Without a doubt my favorite part of fall is the beauty of the trees as their leaves change from green to a multitude of shades of yellow, orange, and red. For example, take some time and simply look at the picture on the left. I took this picture outside of my residence hall a few weeks ago and upon looking at the picture it is easy to see the inherit beauty of the tree as its leaves slowly turn from green to orange. Just simply by being a tree and changing the color of its leaves the tree is a work of art.
I can imagine what you’re probably thinking right now. It might go something like this, “Okay Teresa, the tree is cool and all, but why are you gushing about how much you love it?” And that is a great question. I keep talking about this tree because I think it can show us two wonderful truths of our faith.
The first is that we are beautiful, loved, and taken care of by God. This may seem like a huge conclusion to jump to, but let me explain. The tree is beautiful simply because its leaves change color when the seasons change, and it’s just a tree! This is nothing compared to the beauty of women. Women are made in the image and likeness of God as the crown of creation. I know I struggle with realizing and even accepting this beauty, but it is important to remember that women are beautiful in the very essence of being. Beauty is not about a dress size or face shape. Instead, true beauty is inherit to every woman simply because she is a woman. How awesome is that!
Now about being loved and taken care of by God. Think about it, the tree has all of the sunlight, nutrients, and water it needs to flourish. If God loves the tree enough to provide all that it needs, think how much He wants to provide for us. Christ even tells us this in Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the sky; they do not sow or reap, they gather nothing in barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are not you more important than they?” By simply looking at how beautiful God has made the tree and how he cares for it, we can realize the depth of His love and care for all of us, His beautiful creations.
The second thing the tree teaches us is about the wonder of eternity. 2 Corinthians 4:18 states that “as we look not to what is seen but to what is unseen; for what is seen is transitory, but what is unseen is eternal.” This beauty of the tree is transitory (not only because the tree will die one day, but even because its leaves look different today than on the day the picture was taken). If what we can see is so beautiful, so great, and so wonderful to behold, imagine how much greater eternity will be. The greatness of what we can see demonstrates how much greater the unseen is.
I want to challenge you to find something that is truly beautiful to you. It could be something like this tree that you pass by every day or a place that you love to visit, anything that strikes your soul as beautiful. Think about how God created this beauty for you to behold in awe and remember this beauty is nothing when compared to your beauty as a daughter of God and the wonder of eternity.
An excerpt from The Rhythm of Life, by Matthew Kelly - page 145
During my time in Austria, each afternoon when my classes were finished, I would take a walk. Just beyond the boundaries of the monastery was a small park. In the middle of the park stood one very tall, strong tree.
Each day I would look at this tree and notice that despite its imperfect forms and crooked branches, it had a perfection of its own.
One night, there was a fierce storm. For two hours, I lay awake in my bed watching the lightning flash across the sky and feeling the thunder crash. The next day when I went walking, there was lots of debris everywhere. The trees around the monastery had lost lots of leaves, hugs branches had been torn from others, and some had even been uprooted and pulled from the ground. But in the middle of park, even though it stood alone, the great tree still stood tall, virtually unaffected by the storm. It had lost some leaves, but no major limbs, and the storm certainly hadn't uprooted it.
A tree with strong roots grows strong. A tree with strong roots bears much fruit. A tree with strong roots bears good fruit. A tree with strong roots can weather any storm. If a tree is uprooted and replanted often, it will not be able to sink its roots deep into the earth and therefore will not grow strong or be fruitful.
All of this is true for not only a tree, but also for a person.