Big Boys Cry Out to God

Eli, Norma, me, and Freddie

Years ago I had a prophetic dream so vivid that I never forgot its details. The dream was about my nephew Freddie. At the time he was trying to find his place in the world. At a young age Freddie made poor choices in life that led to self-deception. Sometime boys outgrow these behaviors, but Freddie continued to force his way into the world by believing a lie.

The Dream

Mike and I were in our green Suburban. We knew Freddie was in trouble and we were on our way to pick him up. We found him, but we could not get him to fit into the back seat of the Suburban. We opened the door to the back of the vehicle, but again, he did not fit. I could see the red hospital sign from a distance. “We just need to get you to the hospital!” I said, pointing to the sign. I was not going to give up that easy, so I flagged down a taxi. Freddie tried to get into the back seat of the cab, but to no avail; he was too big. We tried several different ways, but it was impossible. Again I looked up and saw the red hospital sign but there was nothing we could do to help.

The Prayers

My sister Norma is like St. Monica. Norma never gave up on praying for Freddie. Like St. Monica she believed God for the impossible for her son. For years he had lived a life of debauchery. Not only was he steeped in sin, he welcomed and enjoyed it. He knew exactly when he was sinning, but he did not stop because he crossed over to the dark side. His mother St. Monica, never stopped praying for her playboy son. For thirty years she prayed.

From St. Augustine’s Confessions: “How presumptuous it was of me to say that You were silent, my God, when I drifted farther and farther away from You! Can it be true that You said nothing to me at the time? Surely the words which rang in my ears, spoken by your faithful servant, my mother, could have come from none but You? Yet none of them sank into my heart to make me do as You said. I well remember what her wishes were and how she most earnestly warned me not to commit fornication and above all not to seduce any man’s wife. Yet the words were Yours, though I did not know it. I thought that You were silent and that she was speaking, but all the while You were speaking to me through her.”

The Saints

Until we study the lives of the saints, we cannot be made aware of all their sufferings. St. Monica not only had a wayward son, her husband was abusive; and she had to deal with her mean spirited mother-in-law as well. Even with all these obstacles, she continued to remain steadfast. A year before her husband died, he became a Christian; then her mother-in-law followed in her son’s footsteps. But it was St. Augustine who occupied her time with God. The Lord must have revealed to her part of the big plan He had for her son St. Augustine. Many of the saints were content in their sufferings. I know of no saints who did not have to travail for what was in store for them or for those whom they were called to pray for. The Lord used them. He trusted them because they were being trained in the Army of God. The battle of today’s army is being fought with the mighty saints in heaven by our sides. Each of these saints had already paid a hefty price on earth. After St. Augustine was received into the Catholic Church, he went on to become the Bishop of Hippo. His calling was great, and he left us with rich writings to teach us a thing or two about the sins that he was so accustomed to committing. His mother, St. Monica, died nine days after he became a Christian. These were her words to her son St. Augustine, “Son, nothing in this world now afford me delight. I do not know what there is now left for me to do or why I am still here, all my hopes in this world being now fulfilled.”

 

Freddie, Victory Outreach San Diego


Victory Outreach

Have you heard of this powerful ministry? They are not for the faint of heart, but they got ahold of Freddie’s heart. In the dream mentioned earlier, Freddie was not ready to give his life to God. He was St. Augustine, sinning and running with the wrong crowd. God cannot do anything with us until we have the will to change. Freddie needed a ministry that understood his life; he needed to surround himself with people who lived in the same type of sin. Victory Outreach is  for everyone, but especially for Freddie. They understand how a hardened heart can be changed. They open men’s homes all over the world to win souls over to Christ. Before his conversion Freddie was a scary dude; his tattooed  body did not help his image either. Nine years ago our late mother told Norma, “God is not done with him yet.” Freddie has only been with Victory outreach for six months, so to some this great news may come across as premature; but to us, it’s long overdue.

Bible Study with Freddie

Recently I spent one night at my sister’s home while Freddie was staying with her, he was recuperating from major surgery. I decided to have a Bible study. For several months I have been studying Wisdom, a book in the Catholic Bible. Protestants do not have these seven Deuterocanonical  books because Martin Luther, the renegade Catholic priest who started the Protestant Reformation removed them from the Bible. I knew that Freddie has  really been studying the Word of God for the last six months; but I also realized the the book of Wisdom was not one of them. For three hours Freddie listened to the Word; he was respectful, and did not dispute the books not included in his Bible. To me this is a sign of someone who wants to know the One True God. Though he is on a Daniel fast, Freddie devoured the Word of God as if he were having the meatiest steak.  When we went to lunch, Freddie asked if we were going to pray over our meal. Imagine that! Please join our family as we pray that Freddie continues on the right path and that he, like St. Augustine, will make a difference in others’ lives.

Ben Sira 17:25-26 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

25 Turn back to the Lord and give up your sins,
    pray before him and make your offenses few.
26 Turn again to the Most High and away from iniquity,
    and hate intensely what he loathes.

 

 

 

 

 

Will, Mikos, Maddie, and Jenny Hebrews 3:4 New American Bible (Revised
The Nativity scene at my parish St. Norbert My Christmas Employment
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The Samson Effect

All my hair devices courtesy of my daughter Sonja

An ordinary story for the first week of ordinary times.

My Mane

I have always had a good head of hair, so much hair that when I was younger, it took forever to dry. I grew up in the 60’s, and I cannot remember going to a salon to get my hair cut. Our mother was way too busy raising seven kids to worry about what our hair looked like. She would always cut my bangs so short that it would take months to grow again. I was never that girl who fussed over her hair either. In grammar school two mean girls would always gang up on me to find something wrong to make fun of. I had already developed thick skin by being bullied on a daily basis by three older brothers, so these girls never got the best of me. I would give them an odd look and walk away. One day I decided to comb my hair up in a bun. They came up to me and said, “Who combed your hair?” I remember giving the question a long thought; I wanted to be sure my answer was acceptable. If I said that I combed my hair, they would certainly make fun of me, but if I said that my mother combed my hair, they would be at a loss for words. These were mean little girls. I always thought that they resembled frogs, walking frogs, I was a cute kid. So after a long pause I finally answered the toads, “My mother combed my hair.” “It looks like it!” They ran away laughing. Man, I was so mad at myself; from that day on I understood trick questions.

My sister Norma and I have the same problem with our hair. I’ve always been observant when my hair was being styled so I felt that I could cut Norma’s hair. What a disaster! Norma had holes on the side of her head for months. In God’s justice, my payback came quickly. We had a wedding to attend and it was one those last minute things that I always get caught up in. While getting a pedicure, I  decided to get my hair trimmed at the same time. I suffered the worst hair cut ever! I honestly believe that this Asian woman had a fake license to cut hair.

Angela Davis
Me trying to look like Angela Davis
The Scare Crow look

My hair continued to be a labor of loathing. I went through my teens with a shag haircut, then came the ridiculous perms. Once I was trying to save money but I really wanted to look like the rest of the world, so I went to the other side of town for a cheap perm. I knew I was in trouble when I discovered that no one in the salon spoke English. Even the chemicals that was used on my hair smelled a lot stronger. I was told to place my head back while the stylist worked on someone else. She took so long, that my neck was completely kinked and the tight curlers made an almost permanent indentation on my scalp. But that was just the beginning of the nightmare. When the hair stylist returned, my neck was so stiff that I could barely move. One at a time I saw my hair kink up as she removed the curlers. Remember Angela Davis? My hair looked bigger than her ‘fro. Oh, but I did save a lot of money. Sonja was a little girl, and she had to witness this terrible episode of my life. I drove around and passed my house several times because I was afraid that Mike would not recognize me or that he might divorce me. You would think that I learned from my mistakes, but oh no! Not me! I hated the perm and took matters into my own hands. Prior to this perm, when we lived in the San Fernando Valley I suffered the same fate. I had one of my neighbors use lye to reverse the perm. Again I purchased the lye, but this time my hair was so damaged that I resembled a scarecrow for several months. This was my last perm!

 

The Etienne look

Beverly Hills

I have dragged Mike into my hair woes. My laments were so relentless that he arranged for me to get my hair cut at Vidal Sassoon Salon in Beverly Hills. My hairstylist’s name was Etienne. This was early 90’s, when gays were barely peeking their heads out of the closets. Etienne was gay, but back then it would have been considered a guessing game. I remember hearing one of my friends say that she had a gift for determining the sexual orientation of a person.  Etienne was Oriental (that was the correct term at that time) and though he was not flashy, his clothes looked very expensive.  He was wonderful and I always felt like a million bucks when I walked out of the salon. Etienne liked my hair short, so that meant frequent trips to Beverly Hills. Once the traffic on the 405 Freeway was so bad that I missed my appointment. I was small potatoes for Etienne as he sometimes boasted about famous clients he had, so he dumped me for being late. I moved on to his assistant, Brit, but the drive to Beverly Hills was taking a toll. Finally Brit opened a salon in Redondo Beach. For years I remained a loyal customer  to him and his then-wife Jazmina, but again the driving was too much, an hour up and back, plus the styling was a four- hour ordeal. So I was back to square one. Super Cuts; sometimes, other times just a walk in wherever.

If you’re wondering how I will make the connection to that of Samson in the Bible, it’s very simple. Samson’s hair was his superpower; this is where his strength came from. Women’s hair is pretty much the same. We are the consumers of billions of dollars to have great hair. We get tricked just like Samson did with the Philistines; and even with our eyes open  (his were cruelly  gouged out) we continue to purchase more and more hair products. I for one am pretty gray-haired and must color my hair every three weeks. I do this at home, and, much to my husband’s distain, I make a big mess (but I’m saving money).

Misty

Me, Misty, and Alyn

For the past five years Misty has been styling my hair. We joke about the hours she keeps; she is in fashion when late, not fashionably late. If you have a 10 a.m. appointment you may make it home in time for dinner. Misty is an artist who has to have a cup of iced Starbucks coffee before she starts her project. She colors and highlights my hair every four months. Misty always looks like she just had a makeover; she is trendy and, like Etienne, her garments look expensive.  I can never understand why there only seems to be a few strands of  hair on the floor when she is done. It doesn’t  matter because for one day my hair will look fabulous.

I did not take a Nazarite vow to never cut my hair like Samson, but I did take a vow to always serve the Lord. I pray you enjoy my stories. God Bless!

Judges 16:17 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

17 So he told her all that was in his heart and said to her, “A razor has never come on my head, for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I am shaved, then my strength will leave me and I will become weak and be like any other man.”

  San Francisco circa 1985, cousin Diana's wedding   Deuteronomy 1:11
The only picture taken from the boat from the not-so-calm sea
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The Master Puzzle Maker

Will, Mikos, Maddie, and Jenny

Hebrews 3:4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

  Every house is founded by someone, but the founder of all is God.

The Gift

The week started with a late lunch date with Mike. We had reservations at our favorite restaurant in Newport Beach. On our way there, Mikos, our son, texted us: “Are you at the restaurant yet?” I looked over at Mike and asked, “Should we invite him?” Mike answered with a quick ,”No!” “Why don’t you want him to join us?” I asked. Mike answered, “Can’t we just have a quiet lunch?” With that, I left the subject matter alone and texted Mikos a simple “Yes.” We were well into the meal when I noticed Mikos walking in. I looked over at Mikos while announcing, “Mikos is here.” Mike looked over and said “Hey, what are you doing here?” As usual Mikos eased into our conversation. The subject matter was marriage and how important it was for couples to stay together. Then Mike reached into his pocket and pulled out a small Christmas bag. “I need to give this special lady a gift,” he said, while handing me the bag. I was totally caught off guard and almost felt like looking around for “this special lady.” Our 48th wedding anniversary is not until the 25th of January. But it was Mikos who was even more surprised; the uninvited guest was confused. “Dad, did you have Mom’s rings polished? What is this?” I explained to our son that Mike had given me a new ring as an anniversary  gift. Poor Mike! He had to share the special moment with our son.

The Dad’s Role

It was God’s plan for our son to witness this special moment. Mike is that guy who almost always does everything right. The Bible speaks about the role men are to play in a family. They are to be the spiritual leaders, protectors, and providers for the family. When men take their proper role, there is a balance in the family.

Maddie and Mike

Many times, it’s the women who have a stronger walk with the Lord. When the Lord called me to serve, it was not that easy. Mike was not that accommodating; he questioned my direction and at times made it difficult for me to grow as a Christian. One thing that Mike was consistent about was never stopping me from going on missionary trips. He understood that the work was for the Lord, and he would never get in the way of that. He has always supported my mission work financially as well as spiritually. Through the years, both Mike and I has grown to understand that our calling is different. We are equally yoked and respect the difference in our individual call.

Like Father, Like Son

The bear image
My power walks

We have traveled to Mammoth Lakes with Mikos and his family for the past three years. Mikos and his clan are skiers, as is Mike. Not me! I gave up the sport years ago because I never got past the beginner stages.

This year, the weather was perfect for long walks. The surrounding snow-covered mountains reminded me of God’s creation. Sometimes I’m overwhelmed with its beauty.  I enjoy the quiet walks and the sweet sound when a light breeze rustles the trees.  This is a place where the world is shut out for a fleeting moment. I may no longer ski, but I certainly enjoy these trips.

Mikos has followed in the footsteps of his father. Because of his demanding job with its long hours, he and his wife Jenny bring balance to their busy schedules. On these trips, every waking moment is about their family, and Mikos makes sure that they are all well cared for. With the way of the world and, especially all the challenges in public schools, parents must be a united front. He and Jenny are wonderful parents.

Proverbs 4:1-4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Hear, O children, a father’s instruction,  be attentive, that you may gain understanding Yes, excellent advice I give you; my teaching do not forsake.When I was my father’s child, tender, the darling of my mother,He taught me and said to me: “Let your heart hold fast my words: keep my commands, and live!

The puzzle makers: Maddie, Will, Jenny and Mikos
Every piece in place

The Puzzle

A 1,000-piece puzzle takes work, and just like the matters of life there is order. The first rule in the puzzler’s mind is to secure all the flat edges. Once all the borders are in place, you work with the rest of the pieces. Mikos, Jenny, Maddie and Will worked on putting the pieces together. This simple project brings this family closer together. The late-night talks and singing help achieve the goal of unplanned unity. The puzzle of life all comes into sync; once it’s put together, the puzzlers share in the accomplishment of a job completed. If every piece is accounted for, all is well.

The Master Puzzle Maker

In the same way, the Shepherd cannot rest until all His sheep are accounted for. We are all part of God’s puzzle, cut up in different shapes, with different colors and sizes. But when we are brought together, with every piece of the puzzle in place, you can no longer see the difference because every odd shape takes its place in the puzzle of life. No piece stands out more than any other. The Master Puzzle Maker sees that we are all accounted for.

Maddie, Jenny, and me
The photo shoot

John 10:14-15 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

14 I am the good shepherd, and I know mine and mine know me, 15 just as the Father knows me and I know the Father; and I will lay down my life for the sheep.

My Prayer: Dear Lord, always protect my children and grandchildren. I pray that they will serve You, and know that You will always be there to direct their paths. When they go astray, Lord, lead them back into the right direction. Guide them to make good choices and to be humble and loving. Amen

 

Eli, Norma, me, and Freddie Years ago I had a prophetic
The Nativity scene at my parish St. Norbert My Christmas Employment
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