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So the Story Goes: God’s Presence in My Life

**The opportunity to attend this retreat at the CRC has passed, but I would love to present it to your group! We can easily take this show on the road!**

Email: julie @ diennodemarest . com

Once again, we are offering the 1/2 day mini retreat “So the Story Goes: God’s Presence in My Life.”

I will be leading this powerful retreat with Heidi Clark at the Christian Renewal Center in Dickenson, TX, on Saturday October 12th, from 10am-4pm.

You are invited to attend! And please, share this invitation with anyone you think might benefit from our Story Retreat; it’s open to adults of all ages and stages of life!

Take the opportunity to reflect on the story of your life through the lens of faith.

  • We’ll begin by exploring and meditating on the Paschal Mystery.
  • We’ll prayerfully identify how God is present to us in our joys and sorrows, both in day-to-day “ordinary time” and in times of crisis.
  • We’ll expand the words we use to describe our experiences with techniques used in writers-workshops.
  • We’ll examine how the Book of Psalms teaches us to turn to God with openness and honesty as we speak the truth of our lives.

This 1/2 day retreat is could be tremendously helpful for anyone in a retreat program like ACTS or CRHP who might benefit from guidance on reflecting on their story from the lens of faith.

God wants access to all of us, but we often hold back the “ugly” parts of our life. Maybe we think that God couldn’t possibly be interested in all those ugly parts. So, alone we struggle with crisis, hurt, despair, and grief.

Come and PAUSE at this mini retreat. Come and reflect on daily life and experience the power of the soothing balm of God’s grace as seen through the lens of our faith. Look back on the joys and sorrows of your life with a Paschal Mystery spirituality. PAUSE and experience God’s work. Don’t get caught up in the chaos of life and miss the soothing comfort of God’s grace. PAUSE and be part of this mini retreat.

Handouts and writing paper will be provided, but it’s recommended that participants bring their journal.

We hope to see you there! Register at: https://retreatcentercrc.org/so-the-story-goes-day-retreat

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Article, Grace
1

Trauma and Grace

Friday morning, I drove from my parent’s beach vacation home to the RDU airport for my flight home. Ten minutes before I arrived at my best friend’s house for a brief visit, Peter called:

“Alex was burned with boiling water. We are headed to the emergency room.”

Peter was supposed to be in the car with me. The original plan was that he’d put the kids and their stuff into the vans and trailer for Boy Scout Camp and catch a flight to join me for a week at the beach in NC without kids. Instead he was at Boy Scout Camp with Alex (12) and Max (11) because the intended third adult leader was injured and an understudy was needed. With 5-days notice, Peter cancelled his kid-free beach vacation to chaperone a campout in Waco, TX. I was sad. Very sad. But completely understood.

“WAIT – WHAT?”

My sister was seriously burned by boiling water in 1991; I was 16 and she was 10. My actions saved her life. And I remember every detail vividly. Too vividly.

The Scouts were having an Iron Chef cooking competition. Alex, who has made pasta a gazillion times before, grabbed the pot with a towel. The handles were still too hot and scalded his hands. He dropped the pot of boiling water, which poured down his thighs.

He screamed.

There was an adult paramedic with the other Troop who shared his campsite who ran to the scene and began treatment immediately.

Max ran to get Peter, who had left the campsite momentarily to fetch salt. Because salt is the key to winning a cooking competition.

Max screamed.

Peter ran.

Paramedic-guy led the first-responder care; Peter got Alex (and a panicked Max) into the car; another Adult-Scout-Leader drove them to Scott-White hospital in Temple.

So me. I’m in NC. The phone call from Peter apparently lasted 57 seconds. And apparently I paused and thought and prayed [OH-GOD-OH-GOD-OH-GOD] for two minutes before calling my person, Heidi. I don’t just have one person. But this was THE PERSON for this job at this moment. I didn’t have enough intel to call my family; and what I needed immediately was prayer. And Heidi delivered BIG TIME, articulating every thought, hope, and need, in faith, to God. It lasted the entire 8-minute ride to my BFF April’s house.

April opened her door to a panicked momma and just opened her arms to my full-on UGLY-CRY, patiently awaiting explanation as she held me up.

My child was in immense pain, and I was not with him.

I called the Scoutmaster for more details on the incident, who delivered with clarity. April drove my rental to the drop-off, escorted me on to the bus, arranged with Southwest to escort me to the gate.

So Alex. At Baylor Scott-White in Temple, the ER docs immediately began making arrangements to transport Alex to one of the burn centers in Texas: Dallas, San Antonio, Austin, or Galveston.

Just as April was explaining the situation to Southwest Airlines, Peter called: to say an ambulance would be taking he and Alex to Shriners Hospital for Children in Galveston, arriving between 7pm-8pm.

“Can you ask your siblings if they can help get Max and my car from Waco?”

So April guided me to a place just past gate A5, where I made the phone calls with intermittent hugs and ugly cries. Though my parents were on their way to a B&B a few hours from their vacation home, my siblings were at home in Austin. My brother, Dennis, the First Responder, Firefighter, EMT and my sister, Laurie, a childhood burn victim and professional Safe Alliance advocate were entrusted to devise and carry through the plan while I prepare to board my SWA flight. Laurie and Dennis are less than an hour from Temple & Waco and proceeded with operation rescue.

Max was freaked out. He’s been the one with all the broken bones (both bones in the left forearm, 3-times in 11-months, two surgeries, plus two buckle fractures—one in each wrist at different times in the months following the second surgery)… but this time he’s the one who heard the scream. Laurie’s boss was on it, reminding her exactly what Max would need until he could get to me.

I got on the plane, trying to hold it together. Somehow, I calmly communicated my crisis situation to the most empathetic flight attendant and found myself sitting with a retired-marine [window] and a young nurse [center]. I introvert hard on planes and don’t talk to strangers. Except now. And these three strangers were angels from God. Kind, reassuring, compassionate, encouraging, patient, and understanding as I feverishly iMessaged via SWA wifi.

Heidi picked me up from Houston Hobby and drove me home. I repacked bags and headed to Galveston, arriving 20 min before the ambulance from Temple.

Friends from Church who had been tapped as prayer warriors began texting with specific offers for help – a mom-friend from Church and her med-school-student daughter (who just completed a rotation at Shriner’s the previous week) even dropped a bag of food and a blanket for me at the Security desk at Shriner’s. I missed their offer of in-person hugs while actually getting to see Alex.

Alex arrived to the Pediatric ICU at Shriners and was immediately escorted into a room while I hugged a smelly-week-of-unshowered-Scout-Camp-Peter in the waiting room. That is love, let me tell you.

The security staff, the nurses, and the doctors at Shriners were amazing. Children’s Hospitals just get it. They are firm, but completely compassionate and responsive to the panicked parent.

We were able to go to the PICU room to see him and give him love [read: excessive kisses and hair tousling] before they administered ketamine and debrided his burns.

We watched till his eyes twitched, they sent us out, and brought us back in about an hour later.

Alex has second degree burns primarily on his thighs and Shriner’s kept him overnight to watch for swelling. When I said I wanted to spend the night with him in the PICU, the nurses completely validated me by pointing out that one of two visitor chairs pulled out to a bed. Peter went home (with my blessing) to shower.

The nursing staff was amazing, training me to tend to the wounds between outpatient visits.

Alex is looking at a 2-3 week recovery process. Painful and uncomfortable, but complete and total.

As we prepared to be discharged less than 24 hours later on Saturday, Peter was joking with Alex about the “free” sticky-socks he got from the hospital:

“When the bill comes in, I’ll let you know how much those “free” socks are!”

Our dayshift nurse, Gerry replied,

“Oh, you won’t receive a bill. We are 100% charity. Whatever insurance doesn’t cover, our underwriters do.”

This was a really difficult two days completely surrounded by Grace – in every person who offered kindness, love, prayers, help, understanding, well-wishes, texts, and phone calls… and this hospital. Grace.

Every person, every instance, every circumstance in this story was infused with Grace, making a horrible accident a lot less horrible.

So many people have asked what they can do to help. To be honest, I’m swimming in love and gratitude, even as we face these next two weeks. And we don’t need a lot. As something comes up, I ask… and my Village responds like the Multiplication of Loaves and Fishes.

What I’d really like people to do is to BE THAT GRACE.

  • Be the stranger on the plane that shows empathy and patience.
  • Be the strangers who witnessed a complete breakdown with loud, detailed phone calls and silently understand and send light and love.
  • Be the friend who volunteers for the airport pickup at rush-hour.
  • Open your arms and hug an overwhelmed momma, giving love (not advice) and patience—all the patience.

Thank nurses and firefighters and EMTs and Paramedics and Security and every person whose job it is to help, who does it well, and occasionally (as I did with Gerry as we said goodbye and prepared to leave), ask them if you can hug them, hug tight, cry, and whisper THANK YOU.

And if you feel so inclined, consider donating to Shriner’s Hospitals for Children. Because they are amazing.

And please continue to pray for Alex’s healing. Thank you!

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Screenshot 2019-02-04 12.19.55
Action, Article, Calling, Scripture, Service
0

Here I am, send me!

A 5th grade girl asked a simple question. A frequent visitor to nursing homes (while her Mom works as a nurse practitioner), Ruby asked a resident why she was looking outside so intently.  The woman paid a pet-sitter $12 to bring her dog of 12 years to visit; she watched as the dog left, not knowing when she’d see her beloved pet again. With tremendous empathy, Ruby saw that what brought this woman so much sadness had a simple answer. More, she started to wonder what other simple requests residents might have. So she simply asked: asked residents “if I could bring you 3 things in the whole world, what would those be?”  CNN reports Ruby found that rather than asking for a new car or a million dollars, the requests were simple things: pants that fit, a phone, pet food, fresh fruit. With the help of her mom, they set up a Facebook page “Three Wishes for Ruby’s Residents” and a GoFundMe account, raising more than $93,000 for residents in five nursing homes in Arkansas.

It’s so simple: See a need and respond with love.

On the path of discipleship, this is what God asks of us: to love one another as we are loved (John 13:34). To see and respond to the needs of the least of our brothers and sisters (Matthew 25:40).

Say to the Lord: “Here I am, send me!”

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying,
“Whom shall I send?  Who will go for us?”
“Here I am,” I said; “send me!”

Isaiah 6:8

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Screenshot 2019-01-16 09.26.38
Article, Faith, Human Dignity, Joy, Life, Passion
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“I cared about her more as a human being than as an athlete.”

After the video of UCLA gymnast Katelyn Ohashi’s “perfect 10” floor routine went viral, NPR interviewed her head coach, Valerie Kondos Field about her character and skill.

Katelyn had almost given up on the sport. “The elite level came at a price. Not just the injuries, but the body-shaming and the cut-throat competition that left her questioning her self-worth” (NPR’s Morning Edition).

Coach Val became a catalyst for change in Katelyn, who had stopped loving the sport at age 11. How? At the 1:40 mark in the two-minute interview, Coach Val utters the sentence that says it all:

“I cared about her more as a human being than as an athlete.”

And that was everything.

Caring more about a person’s humanity than about the role they play, regardless of the context, is the essence of respect for human dignity.

Want to know how to live your faith in the secular workplace? Care about people more as human beings than as coworkers and employees.

How does every single faculty and staff member live out the Catholic Identity of the school? Care about people more as human beings than as students and colleagues.

It really is that easy.

Care for a person’s well-being more than the function they provide.

Stop using people as objects. Stop objectifying the body for the sake of athletic or advertising success. Stop shaming. Stop the competition that leaves people questioning their self-worth.

We don’t have to choose between people and profit, between personal well-being and excellence, between compassion and success.

In fact, look at the results: not only does Katelyn’s routine earn a “perfect 10,” not only has the video of her performance gone viral, but in the words of Coach Val, “She just exudes goodness and love and joy.”

Be a catalyst: care about a person more as a human being than anything they can do.

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O Root of Jesse
Advent, Article, Prayer
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December 19 – O Root of Jesse

December 19
O Root of Jesse’s stem,
sign of God’s love for all his people:
come to save us without delay!

19 O-Root-of-Jesse

O Radix Jesse: O Flower of Jesse’s stem, you have been raised up as a sign for all peoples; kings stand silent in your presence; the nations bow down in worship before you. Come, let nothing keep you from coming to our aid. Isaiah had prophesied, But a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom. (Isaiah 11:1), and A On that day, the root of Jesse, set up as a signal for the nations, the Gentiles shall seek out, for his dwelling shall be glorious. (Isaiah 11:10). Remember also that Jesse was the father of King David, and Micah had prophesied that the Messiah would be of the house and lineage of David and be born in Davids city, Bethlehem (Micah 5:1).  (From Catholic Resource Education Center)

In case you missed, December 17 begins the O Antiphons, with  O Wisdom. While working on a project for St. Mary’s Press, I came across artwork by the Benedictine Sisters of Turvey Abbey that captures the vibrant and joyful anticipation of Advent in the O Antiphons.  These images and reflections from the Catholic Resource Education Center are so beautiful, I needed to share!

The O Antiphons are seven brief sentences that highlight a title for the Messiah and a prophecy of Isaiah about the coming of the Messiah.  Part of the liturgical tradition since the very early Church, these beautiful theological statements are prayed in Vespers, or evening prayer, during the last days of Advent, from December 17-23. For more information about the artwork, visit the McCrimmons, a UK  Publishing Company.

 

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