We Are One Body

Art credit: Jeff Acton

God gave me a special gift of praying for others.

On Saturday I texted my friend Maria to solicit some aid for another friend, Gina,  who is going to Arizona to do ministry work. Maria quickly responded with a positive reply, but ended the text by informing me that a mutual friend of ours needed prayer. I will call him John. John has cancer, an aggressive type of this dreaded disease.


In my heart, John is a member of my family; hearing this news brought me to tears. I met John when I started attending daily Mass. He was the sacristan for the 6:30 a.m. service. I knew that he also had the gift of interceding for others. A few years ago, my heart was aching for a family member and I needed prayer to keep from succumbing to defeat in order to focus on the miracles of God.

Spiritual Brother

When I approached John I was in tears, pleading my petition for his care. In that instance, he became my spiritual brother. He would pray for me and I would pray for his wife who was at that time going through cancer treatment. I prayed for her on a daily basis. John would update me on her condition and if the report was negative, I’d go deeper into prayer. Then COVID hit.


COVID did us all a great disservice.  When our church closed its doors we were left without the Eucharist. This unhealthy mandate from our governor caused me great grief.  I not only lost the freedom to attend daily Mass, I lost contact with all the early 6:30 a.m. Mass attendees, which included John. As I mentioned,  John’s wife was going through cancer treatments; when COVID came because of her compromised health condition they stayed home.

The Word of God states that we are one body; therefore when someone is hurting, we feel their pain. A perfect example is  if I wake up with a sore back, the rest of my body will be affected. My mind, my mood, my thinking will all join in this pain. But if I concentrate on prayer, it will definitely change the circumstances. The pain may still be there, but my mind is redirected. We cannot allow self-pity to take over because this will cause you to become self-absorbed.  I know my friend John is trusting God through this horrific trial.

My Health Trials

In  no way could I ever compare my small trial to what my friend John is going through.  What I will convey is that all of our body parts are like the Church of Christ. If John reads this I want to bring humor to his weary heart.

I love to walk, but I don’t particularly  like walking alone. I need a partner when I hit the pavement, so sometimes my husband Mike joins me on a walk. It is inevitable that as we age our bodies will change. The first indication of my deteriorating body started with the toe on my right foot.

Our 2015 pilgrimage group: Fr. Leonard Mary, Carlos (tour guide) me, Natalie, Cathryn, Jim, Joanne, Robert, Linda and Carol

This health issue reared its ugly head several years ago. So when I finally made an appointment with a podiatrist I was diagnosed with hammer toe. Hammer toe is a sneaky disorder, manifesting itself with unusual symptoms; but when it takes hold, it controls how you  walk. As the worn-out toe compensates for dexterity, it curls up and causes imbalance. Many times I’d trip and sometimes I’d fall. I knew I had to correct this health issue, but I waited until I returned from a pilgrimage.


In 2015 our missionary group planned a trip. This was a special trip, and I was committed because I had already paid for it.  I did not have time to plan a surgery and allow for six weeks of recovery. We were on a pilgrimage to visit holy sites where our Blessed Mother had appeared. First we went to France and then on to Spain. You can read about this journey in the Blog titled: The Marian Journey. I never mentioned my toe because so many more important things were taking place, like my wallet being stolen on the second day of the 14- day pilgrimage.

As much as I enjoyed the trip, my toe reminded me daily of how vulnerable I was. Every night I prayed, anointed my foot with holy oil, and doused it with holy water from Lourdes, but nothing was helping. To make matters worse, instead of going to a shoe store that specializes in comfortable footwear, I did the unthinkable. I purchased the most beautiful, fashionable, blue suede loafers. Those stupid shoes started to hurt me from the moment I put them on.

The French Pharmacist 

With the little time in between our visits, I ran into a pharmacy. Using my hands and pointing to my feet I desperately attempted to explain my toe dilemma. “Ahh, yes, I show you,” said the petite pharmacist. The quick cure was a corn cover and the relief lasted maybe five minutes. So the moral of this story is that my entire body was overwhelmed  by this pain.

We truly are one body. We need each other when we are going through trials because sometimes we are too weak, too tired or have simply given up because of our situation. This is when the rest of the body of Christ comes to petition and to intercede which allows us to rest.  Those who you trust will carry the prayer to the throne of God. I will be doing that for John.


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The Valentine Pendant

Sonja and me sporting our heart pendants, and the man with the biggest heart

Mike and I have always worked together and, because we owned our business, part of my perks were the special hours I set for myself. I was in charge of Human Resources, so hiring, employee reviews, meeting with Workers’ Compensation insurance agents, etc. were part of my job responsibilities. Some days I was busier than others and because I worked part-time I needed to complete the task in a timely manner. It was Sonja’s eighteenth birthday in 1994, so Mike and I wanted to do something special for her.

The  Mistake

Mike and I were both at work when he announced that he was going to the jewelry mart in Los Angeles to pick out a gift for Sonja. I mentioned to Mike that I wanted to go with him, but my schedule would not permit it. I also believe that Mike did not want me at the jeweler’s for fear that I might see something that I had to have. He went without me, purchased a gift, then called me to tell me that he was going to meet Sonja for lunch. I was confused because we had agreed that whatever he purchased for our daughter would be presented by both of us.

From Los Angeles he drove to Orange County to meet with Sonja. I am not sure what exactly happened but they got into an argument, so Mike did not give her the gift.

When Mike returned he told me about the dispute, then went to his office. I followed him and told him, “That’s what you get for not including me!” Then I asked him to show me what he had purchased for Sonja. It was the most beautiful heart pendant. I was so upset that I told him that he needed to return the gift. He asked, “Why? What’s wrong with it?” I replied, “Do you see what I’m wearing?”  I was wearing a beautiful, solitaire diamond pendant but this heart pendant that he had purchased for Sonja was made with several baguette diamonds.  Mike and I got into a disagreement about his hasty choice. “What kind of message are you sending our daughter? We need to fix this!” I felt really bad when I overheard his telephone conversation with the jeweler, “You made it too big, and now my wife is really upset!”

There is a principle and an order in a family; the mother comes before the daughter because she’s the queen and the daughter is the princess. In real life and in fairy tales the queen’s tiara is always more beautiful than that of the princess.  If we as parents  do not honor the role of the matriarch and patriarch, then the children will not understand their proper roles. Purchasing this pendant for Sonja might indicate that she was more important than me. Any therapist would agree with me that to give this message to your daughter is a form of spoiling your child. In no sense of the word was I jealous,; I was indignant and I needed to prove my point.  Mike was innocent in this situation; he never intended to hurt me or to put our daughter before me. He was simply being the loving father that he has always been. The same goes for a mother-son-relationship; the husband should always be allowed to provide and protect while the mother nurtures.


Mike and me and my heart pendant

The next day Mike and I returned to the jewelry mart and  Mike  told me to go ahead and pick out some diamond earrings. “Who said I wanted earrings?” I asked. Mike looked puzzled when he asked me, ” Well, what do you want?” I replied, “I want a diamond heart pendant.” The heart pendant that I chose was different from Sonja’s; mine is a more traditional classic design.

Sonja got to keep her heart pendant, but lost it in the waters of the French Riviera when she was studying abroad. I still have mine. On Sonja’s twenty-first birthday we had the jeweler make her a duplicate heart pendant like the one she lost. Now she has a greater appreciation for the special heart pendant and wears it often.

Passing The Jewelry Torch

When Sonja graduated from college, Mike and I purchased what would be her last piece of jewelry from us. I declared that from this point on in her life, it would be the responsibility of her future husband to gift her with jewelry.

Every Christmas Russ takes Lucas and Jacob shopping for Sonja; the boys love to buy their mother jewelry.


When It comes to jewelry I am a minimalist, the older I get the less I desire worldly things like jewelry or high-end handbags. I would never purchase anything out of my budget because it’s ostentatious. I do love shoes, but I would never pay full price for footwear.  Besides when you reach the pearly gates all these shiny, fancy things will have no use.

The Heart Represents Love

Love is the answer to many of our worldly problems. Loving God and putting Him first in our lives will direct our path to peace. The love the Lord has for us can only be described as that He loved us so much that He gave His life for us. There is no greater love than that!

My Prayer

Dear Lord, pour Your love over all those who are lonely, despondent or feel unloved. Lord, heal the broken hearted, especially all those people who have lost so many loved ones with the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria. Lord, restore their faith and replenish their hope in You. Amen.

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My Dog life

Some of our dogs, Sonja’s dog Raymond, Reisa, and Mikos’s Big Mel

Dogs are mentioned in the Bible over 40 times, but most of the stories involving man’s best friend are unfavorable, being derogatory and depicting dogs in a bad light. This story is about the dogs in my life.

Childhood Dogs

Blackie, a short black Heinz 57 variety, was the first childhood dog that I remember; he was run over by a vehicle driven by a gas repair man. We put Blackie in an old shoe box, had a funeral, and buried him in a shallow grave.  Blackie never rested in peace because we were curious kids who morbidly checked on the dead dog by digging around him with sticks.

Albino, an all white mutt was our next dog, Bino for short. Bino lived a wonderful life until a neighbor shot him. Our yard had fences on both sides but not in front, Bino ran the neighborhood freely.  Bino fell in love with a designer dog down the street and was consummating their union when he was shot. This was no shotgun wedding; the bullet was meant for Bino’s death. I was in the front yard along with other neighborhood kids when a redneck woman with a huge shotgun shot my dog.   The bullet went right though Bino’s hip. My mother called the police but nothing ever came of this.  Suing was not an option; we just dealt with it. Our mother took Bino to the vet where he under went surgery. We never took Bino for a follow up visit and for the rest of his life he hopped on three legs.

Dogs In The 1960’s

All of our childhood dogs were outside pets; they rarely got shots or flea treatments, and for sure were never spayed or neutered. Our dogs ate scraps from the table and only if the dog food was on sale did they get canned  food. These dogs never experienced teeth cleaning and their real coats were there only clothing. We gave our dogs real bones and they really buried them in the back yard.

Our Newly Wed Dogs

When Mike and I were newlyweds, I got two useless dogs, Ella and Oso. They were ridiculous and we had to get rid of them due to a no-pets clause in our rental agreement.  Oso was given to a hippie that worked with us. Oso resented this betrayal, and when I would ran into him, the dog would completely ignore me.

Solo, the sweet crying dog


Solo, the cocker spaniel, was a sweet pet, who suffered abandonment issues. Solo was a big crybaby, who howled a lot. I took him to a specialist (dog trainer) in an attempt to correct this annoying behavior. “Put coins in an empty can and throw it out the window when he starts crying,” said the trainer, but nothing worked.

As Solo got older he started developing a body odor so bad that no one could be around him. When a tile man was installing new flooring in the kitchen, Solo hung out by the kitchen door. The man asked me to please put the dog in the garage so he could finish the job. The odor so bad that Solo had to be put on a special diet to control the stench. Solo was a flea bag too, and though he had regular treatments, the fleas loved him.

Towards the end of his life, Solo went blind and deaf, which posed an even greater problem, landing him in the pool. I would hear my son Mikos yell out from his room “Solo fell in the pool!” That was my signal to run from wherever I was to rescue the deaf and blind dog from drowning. With all the accidental falls in the pool, Solo developed chronic ear infections and he was finally laid to rest by Deanna, our babysitter.

Reisa Ciriza, the nicest of all dogs

Reisa Ciriza

Reisa Ciriza, was our golden retriever, her entire life ambition was to chase balls and swim. She was the nicest of all the dogs. Once I was so sad and upset about something that I let Reisa into the house and she licked up my tears; it was as if God used the dog to bring me peace. Reisa died at the hands of my nieces Leah and Maggie, who kept throwing the tennis ball to her until she could no longer take it.

Big Mel, strolling in from Ledbetter Beach

Big Mel

Big Mel was given to us by a neighbor and was a huge golden that suffered from narcissism. He intentionally knocked over small children, and had been through three families.  We were his last chance because he was going to be put down due to his bad behavior. We took him in, Big Mel was a Houdini and would always escape on trash day to knock over the neighbor’s trash bins. We could not handle him either, and shipped him to Santa Barbara with Mikos. They were inseparable, Mel finally experienced true love. While Mikos attended classes, Big Mel entertained himself at the beach, and everyone in the community knew him, including the police. Mikos remembers when a police car drove up with Big Mel in the back seat; the officer opened the door and Big Mel jumped out . Big Mel used his nose to let himself into the house.  We were all there the day he went to dog heaven. My son took Big Mel’s collar and buried it at Ledbetter Beach in Santa Barbara.

Shadrach Angelico, the swimmer
Shadrach Angelico

Shadrach Angelico Ciriza

Our last dog was Shadrach Angelico Ciriza. He suffered from ADD,ADHD and was just crazy. He chewed the dining table, the kitchen door, and several backyard hoses. He got ahold of the telephone repairman’s equipment and destroyed it. Shadrach loved to run the streets. Once he escaped, broke into my neighbor’s house and ate their dinner. He was a great swimmer and summer was his season. Swimming daily, he and I did laps together and he would always beat me. When he got on in years, he could no longer get out of the pool without help. My beautiful Shadrach suffered from a debilitating back problem. His last day was spent under the St. Francis water fountain in our backyard. St. Francis called him peacefully home.


Maddie, Rosie, and Paco

Mike and I decided to be dog free because we travel and did not want to be burdened with dog care. We now have two grand dogs that visit every time their families come. Paco spends his time barking at airplanes, lizards and anything that makes the slightest sound. Rosie, is a sweet mild mannered golden that thinks she is a small lap dog. Unlike her ancestors, she hates the pool.

“As a dog returns to his vomit, so a fool to his folly.” Proverbs 26:11

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