New York In a Minute

Leslie, Helen, Larry, me, Willie, and Mike at Rue 57

Luke 12:10 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

10 “Everyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but the one who blasphemes against the holy Spirit will not be forgiven.

Poor Planning

We frequent New York about every other year. Each time we try to catch a Broadway play. Through the suggestions of FB friend’s postings, the Book of Mormon was the play to see. It won nine Tony awards, and one of those included best musical. Even if we would have read the reviews about this musical, it never have mentioned how offensive it was. So in haste I made the call to see this raunchy play. When we arrived at the theater our seats had a survey taped to the cushion. I love to participate in surveys and offer my two cents. The survey asked quite a few question about “South Park.” This is when I came to the realization that the creators of South Park were the writers of this play. The last question of the survey was in regards to whether you felt this play was appropriate for children. I could not answer that question because I had no idea if it was suitable for children.

Broadway

When you make it to Broadway, in the eyes of the world, “you’ve arrived.” This group of gifted singers and dancers were part of this echelon. We have seen many Broadway plays that leave you with a feeling of being well entertained. I marvel at the talent bestowed on these actors, and, whether they realize it or not, this a gift from God.

The Play

The lively musical started with an upbeat doorbell-ringing number but, as the play progressed, the darkness of a blasphemous song created a huge black cloud over the cast. I was no longer engaged in any affirmation for the entertainers. The dark cloud spread to the audience and seemed to hover over me when the scene switched to a song that irreverently mocked God. After this, the ensemble cursed God, and using their middle finger, to make the song seem more credible, I wanted to leave. Then came the skit about having sex with a baby; the audience laughed.  There is no shock here because the world has become desensitized to these profane acts. I wanted nothing to do with this.

James 4:17 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

17 So for one who knows the right thing to do and does not do it, it is a sin.

The Exodus

We were a group of six but our seats were not together, so during the intermission we were texting each other. Mike got up and I followed him to let him know that I was leaving, Mike tried to calm me down, but I was too upset to be talked into anything other than leaving. At this point I created so much confusion that no one really knew what we were doing. Through miscommunication, Willie and Leslie stayed because they thought that we were staying. Larry, Helen, Mike and I left the theater. When we opened the doors to the exit, I felt the cool night air calm my rattled nerves. We decided to walk to St. Patrick’s Cathedral. As we walked into the magnificent church, the organ was playing, we lit a few candles and prayed our petitions. The piercing sound of the organ touched my heart and, even with hundreds of tourist onlookers, I still felt the presence of God. The organ continued to play and we were all blessed to witness a beautiful wedding, but we decided to leave after the bride took the long walk to the altar. We met up with Willie and Leslie at a local restaurant. I asked Leslie, “Did the play redeem itself?”  “No, it got worse” Leslie answered. I was so grateful and thanked God that we did not have to witness any more of this mental abuse.

 

From Larry and Helen’s back yard
Beautiful colors of fall in Connecticut

Connecticut

I have always wanted to experience the foliage and see with my own eyes the peek of all the vibrant colors of fall, but Mother Nature had other plans. She caused heavy rain to follow us all the way to Westbrook, Connecticut. I watched from the back window the SUV as the yellow, orange, and red leaves made their final exit to the soaked ground. The rain is different here; back home we get intermittent rain but here the rain is relentless. Other than the cat-and-dog weather we enjoyed the company of good friends for one day of rest, and home cooked meals courtesy of Vita Pasta, a local favorite that provided the best Italian food.

Conclusion

I will never make this type of mistake again. Without prayer there is no discernment, and we all paid a hefty price, monetarily and mentally. I have never liked the sick satire of South Park and I should have been more conscientious about the decision to choose this play. To answer the last question on the survey: I would never take a child or any human being to see this play!

Mike, Willie, me, Leslie, Helen, and Larry at Nordstrom

On the upside side Nordstom opened the most beautiful store in Manhattan, but it was a bit overwhelming, way too much to take in, and a lot bigger than the usual Marshall’s I shop at.

God is good and still sits on the throne, one day the rest of world will recognize this.

  Chapel of the Milk Grotto, Bethlehem "Kind words can be
Jacob and Lucas extending the olive branch, forgiveness comes before peace
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The Art of Suffering

1 Peter 4:12-13 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Turmeric chews, and ginger root remedies

12 Beloved, do not be surprised that a trial by fire is occurring among you, as if something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings of Christ, so that when his glory is revealed you may also rejoice exultantly.

The Disorder

Holy water from Lourdes and anointing oil from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher

I have lichen plantus, an autoimmune disorder; my condition was confirmed by a biopsy. It has been an uphill battle, and sometimes I feel like a hopeless case. Last week after giving me over 40 shots of steroids on the lesions of my arms, the dermatologist has referred my case to a skin specialist at UCI (University of California Irvine). The doctor also stopped the light treatments that I was receiving because they triggered itching.  For the last seven months, the condition has not improved;  there is no pain, just excessive itching and unsightly lesions. My daughter’s dog, Paco, suffered from fleas this past summer and, until they got the right treatment, the poor dog would scratch and cry at the same time. This is the only comparison I can make with my condition. I feel like a dog infested with fleas, but, unfortunately for me there is no relief.

The Treatments

Hand calluses developed from scratching

From the beginning of the journey I have tried many home remedies. “You need to eat aloe vera!” This will help cure you, one friend said. The next morning after Mass, she brought me a large prickly branch of the homeopathic plant. As I cut the branch into smaller portions, the sap was slimy and made me gag. I did what I was told; I swallowed two fingers’ worth of the aloe vera while jumping up and down, screaming “I can do this! I can do this!” This caught the attention of my grandson who came running to the kitchen to investigate the matter. “Grandma, what is that?” Lucas pointed to the clear, jelly-like substance. I answered the first thing that came to my mind, “it’s elephant snot.”  I could not continue to swallow the slimy jelly. I felt like I had ingested a slug, so I put the aloe vera into a smoothie instead. Another well-meaning friend gave me liquid CBD. “Just put a few drops under your tongue before you go to bed. I did a lot of research on this, and I know it will work,” he said. It did not. I purchased some ginger root, cut it up and placed it on the lesions that I could reach, but that did not work either. I had holy water from  Lourdes, France and thought for sure that this would do it because I had received a healing in the past. But, sadly, I had no relief.  “You need to take a warm saltwater bath and this will do the trick!” said another friend. This just triggered more itching! I received a package from another friend in Colorado, who is in the CBD business. The package included some medicinal ointment and a slew of chocolate laced with CBD’s. There were no instructions with the candy, so I ate some, thinking it was part of the medicine. It made me feel a little drowsy and I fell asleep. When I woke up from my slumber my teeth were filled with cannabis seeds. I’ve tried turmeric in a soft chew, but to no avail. “You need to bathe in guava leaves, but you must first boil the leaves .” said another friend. With this suggestion I just got a visual of me boiling the leaves and carrying the water upstairs to the tub. I saw “accident” written all over it, so didn’t even attempt it. Then I had an epiphany: I remembered the holy oil that from the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. This holy oil is almost impossible to come by because it is produced from the oil lamps in the tomb of Jesus. Only the Greek Orthodox have access to this oil. We were at the church  and as soon as I saw a man exit the private door of the Greek chapel, I ran to him and asked for the oil. He gave me a blank look and continued to walk away. I told the ladies I was with that we needed to wait. Sure enough, he came back and when I asked him again, he replied “How many?” We did not want to come across as greedy so we asked for seven bottles. I prayed for a miracle before lathering myself with the holy oil, but when I woke up all my lesions were still visible.

Wisdom 16:12 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

12 For indeed, neither herb nor application cured them,
    but your all-healing word, O Lord!

The Torment

Last week for the first time in months, I cried. I told Mike, “I can’t take this anymore! The itching is too much!”  He was making dinner, and looked at me with great compassion. He said, “It’s going to get better, you’ll see.”  “When? I yelled!” “Soon,” he softly answered.” At that point I did not care about my disorder; I was ashamed of my selfish behavior. I walked out of the kitchen and into our family room. I sat on the couch and thanked God for Mike, then  lifted my top and scratched my back.

Trusting God

The God that I serve will neither leave me nor forsake me. I am being tested, not only to trust God, but to develop patience. God knows how I suffer from impatience. Another lesson the Lord is teaching me is to offer up my suffering for others. My condition is not contagious, or life-threatening, and for that I am grateful. During the seven months with this disorder I had forgotten to invoke the army of saints to intercede on my behalf. I am calling on St. Rita of Cascia, the saint of lost causes or impossible cases;  St. Jude, saint of desperate situations; and St. Anthony, saint of skin diseases, to plead on my behalf. I am learning to suffer in silence and to offer up the discomfort for those who are experiencing life threatening trials. In the end the battle belongs to the Lord. Please pray for me.

James 1:2-4 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

 The Value of Trials and Temptation

Perseverance in Trial. Consider it all joy, my brothers, when you encounter various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. And let perseverance be perfect, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

  Chapel of the Milk Grotto, Bethlehem "Kind words can be
Jacob and Lucas extending the olive branch, forgiveness comes before peace
Leslie, Helen, Larry, me, Willie, and Mike at Rue 57 Luke
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Godly Friendships

Ben Sira 6:14 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

14 Faithful friends are a sturdy shelter; whoever finds one finds a treasure.

Finding True Friends

Mike and I were both in our thirties  when we met our best friends, Larry and Helen.  Mike and Larry were in the tortilla industry; they were competitors, but destiny would change all that. TIA (tortilla industry association) is an organization that brings tortilla manufacturers together, and that’s when we met Larry and Helen. TIA was having a semi-formal event, and, of course, I had nothing to wear.  I was in an awkward fashion stage; my choice of designers was between Gunny Sack and Laura Ashely. I heard that Gunny Sack had opened an outlet in Montclair, a city about 45 minutes from my home.  I drove to the shop in Montclair,  and I will never forget the black glittery dress with a full tulle bottom that I purchased from Gunny Sack. It was an ugly dress from the beginning, but I did not realize it until the day of the event. The dress was so tight that I had to get a girdle, and this undergarment fastened with the old-school hook and eye. Needless to say, this was going make for an interesting evening.  Honestly I have never been so fashionably uncomfortable in my life. My new shoes were too tight as well.  When I was introduced to Helen, I was tugging at my dress and felt that this stupid undergarment was partly unhooked.  Helen was wearing a beautiful suit, her heels matched perfectly, her hair and make-up looked like a professional had just put her together. After our greeting, I mentioned how very uncomfortable I was. Helen gave me an empathetic look, and turned to talk to Larry; that was our first encounter. My first impression of Helen was that of a sophisticated woman who wore feathered, heeled slippers around the house.  You can guess what her first impression of me was.

Proverbs 20:6 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Mike and Larry, under the Tuscan clouds

Many say, “My loyal friend,” but who can find someone worthy of trust?

Mike and Larry

As fate would have it, Mike and Larry were forming a strong bond. Though they were competitors fighting for their tortillas to have the best real- estate on the shelves at the supermarkets, they put all business aside and became great friends. They planned many dinner engagements and attended the same conventions without bringing  any strife into their relationship. While other competitors were out to cut your throat, Mike and Larry never displayed this type of behavior; instead they looked out for each other. Larry is gifted with ingenuity, and  Mike is a great thinker who will never make a decision without putting it to paper. These two great minds make for a wonderful alliance. Mike and Larry kept personal business to themselves, but always shared advice.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

11 Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.

The Friendship Bond

During our physical and emotional trials, as friends we have always been there for each other. When I broke my leg, Helen took me to my doctor’s appointments. I reciprocated by taking her to her appointments when she needed surgery. We depend on each other for prayer, especially for our children. Our friendship has passed the test of time, and 29 years is proof of that. Love always prevails in a godly friendship because a good friend says the right words when you are hurting.

Proverbs 18:24 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

24 There are friends who bring ruin, but there are true friends more loyal than a brother.

Good Friends Make Bring Joy

Mike, me in my pajamas, Helen and Larry

A good friend makes you laugh, and by that I mean a good throw-your-head back laughter. Our first trip together was to San Francisco. While Helen and I shopped, Mike and Larry enjoyed Nordstrom’s wine tasting for $4 a glass. The wine was really an expensive brand, so Mike and Larry took advantage of the deal. We went to dinner at a popular Chinese restaurant and Larry ordered so many things from the menu (he still does this). I felt bad to leave so much food, so we had it packed up and gave it to some homeless people.

Larry, Helen, me, and Mike Battery Park, New York

We have traveled to New York with our friends for many years. I remember on one of our first trips, Larry wanted to go out for dinner, but it was already past 9:00 P.M. I told Mike I was too tired to go to dinner, but Larry insisted on us going. He came to our room and made us go. In protest, I told everyone that I was going to dinner in my pajamas. This is when Larry and I started bumping heads. After three days, the four of us know that Larry and I were going to have disagreements on what we planned to do. Larry always wins, but to this day I still stand my ground. My words, “Why do we always have to do what Larry wants?”

Helen and me, Madrid, Spain

On our first trip to Europe, I arranged accommodations for the hotels. I fell in love with the description of a boutique hotel in Florence, Italy. It was a converted monastery, but when we arrived  it was more like a gloomy Bates Hotel.  It was so noisy that we could not sleep. I told Mike to please go and complain to the front desk, but the noise got rowdier. Mike went to the room next door to tell them to keep it down. When Mike returned to the room, the countenance on his face had changed. “What in God’s name happened to you?” I asked. Mike could barely describe the trauma he had just experienced. He said that when he knocked on the door, a huge, naked Middle Eastern man answered. The man looked at Mike, and Mike took off running. Thank God Larry took charge, and the following morning we changed hotels and found a really swanky one.

Godparents 

Gianna, me, and Marcus

 

Helen,Marcus and me

We were having dinner at P.F. Chang’s in Newport Beach 23 years ago, when Helen announced that she had some great news for us. I sarcastically blurted out, “Oh my God, you’re pregnant!” Of course I was just kidding, but Helen was indeed with child. Larry and Helen welcomed their fifth child, Marcus, into the world. Mike and I were so excited to become Marcus’ Godparents. Marcus brought us all closer together. The dynamics of our travels changed and usually included baby Marcus. I had little patience for babies, but Marcus put my heart in the right place. Before Marcus was born, I would make ignorant remark like, “I don’t like babies.” I still am not the cuddly baby type of person.  We have participated in most of Marcus’ milestones,  and I can say that he is a fine young man. Larry and Helen baptized our granddaughter, Maddie, and Helen sponsored Sonja in her Sacrament of Confirmation.

Protect Your Friendships
For years I prayed for good friends. The Lord wants us to have friends, He speaks about this in the Bible. Friends keep us honest; they make us rethink our decisions. A good friend is hard to find, but when you find one, you must always protect the relationship. In this world of lost, lonely people, friends are extraordinary. I can say I have a hand full of good friends, people that I call on a regular basis for support and prayer. I cherish and protect these relationships because without my friends I would be a lonely soul.

 

 

 

 

 

  Chapel of the Milk Grotto, Bethlehem "Kind words can be
Jacob and Lucas extending the olive branch, forgiveness comes before peace
Leslie, Helen, Larry, me, Willie, and Mike at Rue 57 Luke
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