Trusting God Through COVID Trials

The daily hair loss

The other day while waiting to be seated at a restaurant I noticed a couple walk in. I was intrigued by the young woman because she had a wad of hair stuck to the back of her dress. I wanted to pull her aside to inform her, but couldn’t think of an opening statement. I practiced in my head, “Excuse me, but you have a nest of hair on the back of your dress.” Of course I did not say a word, but I wondered how and why this happened to her. That image never left me, and now I wonder if I’m being punished for being a busybody because my hair is not only falling out but it’s actually shedding.

Dr. Google

It started about two weeks ago. I noticed a lot of hair on the light-colored tile floor of my bathroom. When I brushed my hair after washing it, the brush was covered with so much hair! Immediately I made a virtual consultation with Dr. Google. Sure enough, this is COVID-related, so I’m suffering from an episode of telogen effluvium. It’s several months later, but I’m still being affected by  the aftermath of this virus.

COVID nails

When I color my hair at home I usually make a big mess. It’s inevitable that I get color on either my arms, under my right thumbnail or both. The last time I colored my hair, all of my nails had this dark pigment. I knew it was not the hair dye, so, again, I asked Dr. Google for help. Yep, now I’ve developed melanonychia. Turns out that this, too, is from COVID. Both of these side effects are not life-threatening. All will return to normal in six to nine months, and eventually all my hair will grow back.

Halitosis

The latest side effect  is offensive; I suffer from this strange smell living in my mouth. I know it’s there because when I brush my teeth, it seems to activate something and the stench is stronger. I asked Mike, “Have you noticed if I have bad breath?” He smiled at me and said, “Yes, I was going to say something, but I didn’t want to upset you.” The masks, which I loathe, are now my constant companions; and now I respect the six-feet of distancing requirement.  I’ve become a prisoner of my own bad breath. I’m still researching if this has anything to do with COVID. I suspect it has to do with something in my intestines, so I called my primary care physician to make an appointment with the gastroenterologist. Evidently, due to understaffing, the appointment is not until the end of November and that’s just for a consultation!

Chewing gum does work for bad breath, but it’s only for a few minutes. I’ve never been a fan of chewing gum because I don’t know what to do with the chewed-up gum. I would never discard it on the ground or spit it out while driving. So I wrap it into an old receipt and keep it in my purse until it ruins the bottom of my handbag. One of my biggest pet peeves is seeing gum on the sidewalks. Chewing gum is resilient and it develops a second life when the weather gets really hot. It finds its new home on the bottom of your shoes. You can’t get into your car with this adhesive on your shoes; it has to be cleaned off. For this reason Disneyland does not sell any sort of gum on its premises.

Remaining Faithful

On Tuesday I have an appointment to see how many antibodies I have left from the virus. I’m praying about which steps to take next. Despite these setbacks I have chosen to remain faithful; nothing is going to get me off track with serving God. All testings are designed to make us draw closer to Him. Even though I lament about this situation, I have no anger or blame for what I’m enduring. If God was with me during the worst part of COVID, He is with me through these minuscule problems. Something beautiful always comes from overcoming serious trials in our lives.

Drawing Closer To God

If you give up because you believe that you can’t take it any longer, you are missing the biggest blessings that God has in store for you. Blessings are part of the reward and you must learn to go through these everyday battles, knowing that you are being prepared for the war. As Christians we are going to experience persecution; in each battle we are being built up to fight whatever the Devil throws our way. With each victory comes the confidence to remain steadfast in your trust and to remain faithful. You can choose to crawl into a hole and wait for the storms to pass, or you can rise up and face the attacks. Job lost his family and all of his many possessions; he was in complete disarray. But one thing set him apart from the rest of us: he never cursed God. In his anguish he experienced so much emotional distress that his wife suggested that he should curse God and die.

Then his wife said to him, “Are you still holding to your innocence? Curse God and die!” 10 But he said to her, “You speak as foolish women do. We accept good things from God; should we not accept evil?” Through all this, Job did not sin in what he said.

Job had an ear to hear God; though he heard the negative voices, he shut them out because he remained faithful and trusted that God would see him through. We must take into account that Job was an extremely wealthy man, but because of his faithfulness he received twice as much has he had before.

10 The Lord also restored the prosperity of Job, after he had prayed for his friends; the Lord even gave to Job twice as much as he had before.
My Prayer
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank you for all of my blessings. I pray for all those who are truly suffering hair loss from chemotherapy cancer treatments. They are the true warriors; please heal them. Lord, continue to teach us how to fight our daily battles with grace. When we are in the midst of trials, strengthen us to move forth in victory. May we never give up! Amen.

 

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The Upper Room

The Upper Room

The Upper Room In Jerusalem is entered through the Zion Gate. As you walk past the Jerusalem stone walls you are met by street vendors selling goods made of sesame, honey bars, and other products indigenous to the Holy Land. When the path splits into two, the walk continues toward the left until you reach a statue of David. The Jews frown upon this statue because they believe that it is an offense; Jewish culture does not venerate idols and considers this a graven image. Of the many times that I have visited, poor David has suffered amputated toes from the hands of Jews and, on several occasions, his nose has been broken.

King David’s statue

This area of the Upper Room is considered the Jewish section of the Old City. The Muslims consider this to be a mosque, but the Israelis believe the lower level of the old structure is the Tomb of David. As Christians we remain neutral; we visit both the Tomb of David but spend most of our visit in the Upper Room. This is one of my five favorites sites to visit in the Holy Land.

The Upper Room

The Upper Room, also referred to as the Cenacle, is located in the southern part of the Old City of Jerusalem. In this room many historic occurrences took place that changed the course of Christianity: the Last Supper, the post-Resurrection and Resurrection of the Risen Christ, Pentecost, and the introduction of the Holy Spirit.

The Last Supper

I’m sure many of you have a picture of the Last Supper in your homes. This image is etched in our hearts. The apostles were too spiritually immature to receive the powerful message that Jesus shared about His death. Their eyes were clouded with the inability to comprehend this mystical phenomenon. These chosen few were not stand out people; they would go unnoticed to the world. Yet they were hand picked by Jesus.

The Institution of the Eucharist

This also took place during the Last Supper. This is our true communion with God. The Eucharist is what brought me back to the Catholic Church. In the 15 years of wandering from one Protestant  church to another, nothing was more evident than the lack of Holy Communion. I had completed my religious journey by finding Christ in the Eucharist once again.

When I visit the Upper Room, I imagine Jesus holding up the bread and wine and consecrating it with His Holy Hands, I imagine the stillness in the room while our Lord spoke these words:

26 While they were eating, Jesus took bread, said the blessing, broke it, and giving it to his disciples said, “Take and eat; this is my body.” 27 Then he took a cup, gave thanks, and gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which will be shed on behalf of many for the forgiveness of sins.
This is the reason a Catholic priest consecrates the bread and wine; they are Jesus personified. This is the true body and blood of Christ. This is not ordinary bread with grape juice, it’s the TRUE body and blood of Christ! It’s appalling to me that many Catholics do not understand the holiness of this part of the Mass.

Our Upper Room

Our Upper Room is a time spent in communion with God. We seek to draw closer to Him from the same place where Jesus poured out His spirit.  Jesus chose this room. He wants us to go up and visit, to stay and experience what His disciples felt, to be in complete union with Him. As I make my way up the spiritual steps to the Upper Room, sometimes I feel like Thomas, doubting  yet  desiring this emotion for growth to rise up within me. I want this encounter that the  disciples experienced, the pure love of Christ. Jesus knows we are all human and fall short. He knew that Judas would betray Him. He knew that Peter would deny Him not once, but three times. Our Lord also knew that Thomas would doubt His Resurrection. We all suffer conflicting guilt for not serving the Lord as we should. Even though I’m in constant prayer throughout the day,  I always feel that I should go deeper into prayer. The distractions of the world bring me out of the Upper Room, so this makes the climbing more laborious as I make my way up again. My desire is to reach the Upper Room void of all my daily burdens.  I aspire to be in the presence of our Lord and receive what He has in store for me through contemplative prayer.

Contemplative Prayer

Contemplative prayer is the prayer of the quiet. You become one with God through emptying yourself so that the Holy Spirit can fill you. You rest in His holy presence by relaxing and breathing out all distractions. Your breathing must come naturally, not too slow, not too fast. Many times when I attempted to practice contemplative prayer in my home, my cat Prudie jumped on my belly. I can’t tell if she wants affection or if she wants to share this holy experience with me. It takes a lot of discipline to get into this spiritual zone. Believe me, many times I have attempted to reach this zenith but I failed miserably. I will not surrender to my shortcomings and will continue to attempt mastering this type of prayer.

Contemplation is a gaze of faith, fixed on Jesus. “I look at him and he looks at me”: this is what a certain peasant of Ars used to say to his holy cure about his prayer before the tabernacle…[Jesus’ gaze] …teaches us to see everything in the light of his truth and his compassion for all men [and women]  (Catechism of the Catholic Church No 2715)

The Holy Spirit

I mentioned earlier about the apostles not fully understanding Jesus’ powerful message in the Upper Room. Only after Jesus breathed the Holy Spirit on them were their eyes fully opened. This is considered the Sacrament of Holy Communion. This all took place after the Resurrection, in the Upper Room. After Jesus’ Ascension, the fire of the Holy Spirit fell upon them. From that day on, the apostles went forth  sharing the Good News with boldness. When we are filled with the fire of the Holy Spirit, we, too, can change the world by witnessing the love of Christ.

My Prayer

May we all encounter You, Lord, in the Upper Room. Close all distractions, especially those of social media. Allow us in Your Holy Presence. Meet us on the way up, so that we can see Your beautiful, nail-scarred hands extended toward us. Jesus, touch our hearts to become more like You. Amen.

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For The Love Of God…Stop Worrying

God does not want us to worry about anything. If we can master this knowledge about worrying, our life would be free from stressful situations. Usually when we hear bad news about something that is out of our control, we panic and immediately want to take action. When I read about something in the news that is against my core beliefs, a spirit of  fear sets in; then after processing the negative narrative I calm down. My first reaction is always emotional, either anger or disbelief; but when the Spirit of God overtakes me, I’m reminded of Who is in control.  I have learned that when things are beyond my control, it does no good to dwell on them. If the bad news really affects me, I pray.

Worrying Makes You Sick

If your worrying is out of control, it can become so stressful that you can make yourself physically ill. Anxiety  is worrying on overload. It is a known fact that many chronic illnesses stem from stress. According to the Mayo Clinic, people who suffer from stress have a higher risk of heart attacks, high blood pressure, asthma, obesity, diabetes, headaches, depression and anxiety, gastrointestinal problems and Alzheimer’s disease.

When I was a young mother, my husband and I owned our company; I had to go to work while our children were in pre-school. Even though I worked part-time, I was obsessed with the fear of earthquakes, and worried about not being with my children during an earthquake. Praise God, I outgrew the fear of earthquakes as our children got older.

 

St. Therese of Lisieux incorruptible body Lisieux, France

The Blog

This Blog was given to me by the Lord.  After months of prayer, the Lord spoke to me in a dream. I was instructed as to what to name it, and what the logo should look like. I worried that no one would read the Blog, or that it was uninteresting. I worried that the name “My Catholic Roots are Showing” was too long. I worried that the title of my Blog would offend non Catholics. My worries were real and I was scared to take on this responsibility. But when I started to write the Blog, it became a labor of love. The words poured out naturally, but that did not stop the worrying. Every morning the first thing I would do was look at the stats to see how many hits I had. The first years were dreadful and I thought of giving up. My worries always put me in a state of doubt. “Why am I doing this if it doesn’t make a difference?” was my constant self-talk. Then I heard from the Lord again. This time He was telling me to trust Him and to continue with the writings. I no longer worry about who reads or doesn’t read the Blog. I know that I have touched  people from all over the world. The seeds that I am planting through this Blog are springing up hope for those who need a word of encouragement. God wants me to share His good news from a Catholic perspective. I’ve lived the life of a Protestant so I know how many of them feel about certain dogmas within our Catholic beliefs. The saints are our examples of holiness and Mary is undeniably the Mother of God. We know how we feel if someone speaks ill of our own mother; imagine how the Son of God feels when His mother is a subject of scrutiny.

 

“A soul in a state of grace has nothing to fear of demons who are cowards.” St. Therese of Lisieux

Lisieux, France home of St. Therese of Lisieux

Saints Who Suffered from Anxiety

St. Therese of Lisieux was a Carmelite nun. Her entire life’s mission was to serve God. She suffered from scrupulosity, in other words, obsessive compulsive disorder. This disorder was not abnormal among people of great faith. They believed that things that were not sin, were sin. These fears consumed their minds so much that they had to seek affirmation. In St. Therese’s case she would go to her sister, who was also a nun, or a priest for direction. But that affirmation did not last long and soon St. Therese would fall back into her anxiety. St. Therese finally overcame her scrupulosity by denying herself  from seeking affirmation. In her short life of twenty-three years, she was recognized for her wisdom and was declared as a Doctor of the Church. St. Therese is also known as the saint of little things. You can ask her intercession when suffering from anxiety. Catholics believe and benefit from the intercession of the saints even if they lived centuries ago.

.Hebrews 12:1  New American Bible (Revised Edition)

“Pray, hope, and don’t worry. God is merciful and will hear your prayer.” St. Padre Pio

Praying and Healing

In some cases it may take more than prayer to rid yourself of worry. Prayer will lead you to the right counselor or to a doctor who can help with anxiety. In no way am I attempting to minimize this condition; mental illness is real and should be treated professionally.

People who suffer from serious health conditions have a tendency to worry. Even if you have been given a certain amount of time to live, you can pray for a miracle. You can also be an example of grace to those who have no faith. With every breath you take, give God the glory. We touch so many souls when we are most vulnerable because we are in His hands of mercy.

My Prayer

Dear Lord, all the bad news of the world is in Your hands. I trust that You will guide all of us who suffer from worrying to a place of understanding. To those who have fear and doubt about the future, show them a sign of Your great love. Help us walk through this valley of darkness and shed Your holy light on us. Amen.

“The closer one approaches to God. The simpler one becomes.” St. Therese of Lisieux

 

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