Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Our trip to Medugorje in Bosnia-Herzegovina

On our way home, we drove through Croatia, towards Dubrovnik, and enjoyed such beautiful views of mountains, irrigated lands, and then the Seacoast near the Adriatic Sea with higher class cities and the bluest waters and inviting beaches.   We toured the Old City of Dubrovnik, had a delightful dinner by the water’s edge and watched boats coming and going. 

Our time in Bosnia, visiting the Medugorje site of the apparent apparitions of Mary to some 6 children of the village (some 30 years ago, and still claiming to be continuing through the present moment),  could be more aptly called a 9 day retreat.   The day, from morning through night, in between some very good or not so good meals,   was filled with opportunities to pray.  The day began with Mass (Church filled with over 1,000 Pilgrims at each Mass with the overflow sitting or standing outside, the loudspeakers keeping us focused).  Crowds were waiting to burst through the doors as soon as the English people left the Church.  Masses were held in Italian and other languages. 

Trips to the Apparition Mountain   were highlights for everyone, climbing the very rocky slopes, with mysteries of the Rosary engraved in bronze by the sides of the path (hard to call the rocks a path) for people to meditate upon on their way up the mountain.  I enjoyed this climb and the peaceful setting and place of prayer at the top.  I found a little spot for solitude. There were throngs of visitors who were there with me.    

  FF   Meals


The streets of Medugorje were distastefully lined with souvenir shops, and the occasional coffee shop, and restaurants…but mostly souvenir shops.  The Church (built before the visions ever started) was the destination place of every Pilgrim every day.  The Confession lines were long and steady and for many people, myself included, a highlight of the trip.  Priests were there from all over the world, and yes, we were encouraged to go to a priest in our own language!  

Holy Hours in the Adoration Chapel, Benediction, Veneration of the Cross, Rosaries, the Croatian Mass  in the evening….these were some of the other happenings  each day.    The few days before the scheduled monthly apparition, there were around 10,000 people at Adoration…and at the Masses.  We did hear two presentations by two of the visionaries, a presentation by  Sister Emanuel  ( her lovely testimony of her conversion we had listened to before we went – my brother, Ralph, had interviewed her and had it taped)….we also heard a testimony of conversion by a very wealthy man who sold everything and moved his family here. 

So, Medugorje was very different from other tours and this was a relief to me.  I enjoyed staying  in one place and life being simple.  I enjoyed some lunches and coffee with a few younger women (younger now is mid-fifties) who were as skeptical as I was about the visionaries, but who were also inspiring, successful in their careers (but sadly, not their marriages), and lighthearted.   This friendship was important for the week that could have been very long.  A very special moment happened for me at the time of the Appartition….a very ,very deep moment of prayer… of conversation with Mary… of my petitions flying to her! I felt the connection physically as well as spiritually. 
  It is something I won’t ever forget. 
I wasn’t expecting this at all,
and maybe why it was so startling and beautiful for me.

Bob and I both came home fairly refreshed, and blessed by our trip.  I’ve made a few simple changes in my life…. (well they aren’t really changes until I carry them through)…. I want to go to monthly Confession (it really blessed me…the Priest was perfect for me), one decade of the rosary a day (My mother taught me that one hail Mary was enough if said well….so, this is a big jump for me), and actually going to daily Mass less often, but hopefully more meaningfully to me.)   Would I ever recommend anyone going to Medugorje?  No.  Would I ever discourage anyone from going?  No.   Would I go back?  I couldn’t say No. Regardless of the imperfect sides of things (as I see them… and you must realize, that I might be the one who is blinded), one couldn’t help but be touched by the faith of thousands of Pilgrims and the deeper call to prayer and union with God.  

I enjoyed using my new camera.                                                        Sharon





Sunday, September 1, 2013

A Higher Plane of Living

Yes,  Faith is a Gift.

But Faith comes from hearing.  I think about Holy Hours (a Catholic term for going to Church when it is very quiet...no services going on...and sitting before the presence of God and bearing your soul to Him and listening in the quietness of your soul for the words that He so much wants to speak to us) ...and sometimes I don't like the idea of going, but when ever I go, I don't really want to leave.

There is a higher plane of living, but it is a Gift...and so often we choose the lower plane of living, which is still mostly a good place to be, but awfully lacking.   But that higher plane, that place of encountering God, hearing His Voice, seeing His face spiritually, there is something so beyond the normal, that how we ever choose the other, is beyond me...and yet I do that over and over. 
"To say that 'prayer changes things' is not as close to the truth as saying, Prayer changes me and then I change things.'  God has established things so that prayer, on the basis of redemption, changes the way a person looks at things.  Prayer is not a matter of changing things externally, but one of working miracles in a person's inner nature." (Oswald Chambers).    

# 5 in short series A Break from Life .... or Addiction.


#5 in the series, A Break From Life... or Addiction?
  'Simply and Beautifully Woman'
Newsletter  #  5 in Series
   drug addiction chocolate candy overeating
A Break from Life....
Or Addiction 

July 22, 2013
Freedom from alcoholism, overeating, drugs, pornography... is a beautiful thing. It is another chance at life
It is an opportunity to experience God's love for who we are, and not who we are needing " to cover up".  It is an opportunity to walk with dignity and discover the joy of life, right within our circumstances. It is an opportunity to make a path for our life, and not allow our addiction to make a path for us. It is the opportunity to give back to others what we have stolen from them while we were in our addiction. It is an opportunity to make ourselves and our world a better place.
Freedom is a journey from shame to self knowledge and acceptance
It is a beautiful abandonment to The Someone who is greater than ourselves and who is so absolutely in love with us. 
It is a journey that sees our fears subside, as
truth replaces the lies we believe about ourselves, and as courage keeps us
walking the walk of a Free man/woman.
Our mother's story concludes below,
 and as we all can imagine, her journey will continue throughout her life, as it does ours.  Let's remember our new friend and lift a prayerful thought for her now and then.
While Freedom from addiction is a journey, and a very unique path for each person, i
t is a journey often walked with others for support.
Thank you Mom! ... for having the courage to share your story with all of us!




"A second round of rehab followed.  Fear and resentment still won out, and so here I was on round three.  But this time it was different.  I felt different.  I was willing After being so beat up, emotionally, physically, physiologically and spiritually, I was ready to let go of the fear - to live without resentment.  I was finally ready to try letting God take charge of my life.  I stared up at the ceiling and through tears and sobs I begged God ,for the first time, to
'please' help me'. 
By this time, the nurse came back in.  "Time for group", she said encouragingly.  The sun broke through the clouds and a ray of light shined warm upon my face.  I got out of bed and prepared for the day,happy for the first time to
"go to group"!
That day was the first day of my real recovery effort from my disease of addiction. It began my journey, the process of recognizing that many of the horrible things I did were the result of being a SICK person... not a BAD person. 
 I've had my share of struggles and setbacks, and I wasn't successful right away, but now it has been more than 2 years since I've been drunk.  In these two years I have attempted to move from victim to victor, from self-hater to self-forgiver.  My new found ability to forgive myself has mad me better instead of bitter, and able to forgive others
The model that Christ gives me of forgiving me when I am at my very worst, and forgiving me to the point of giving His life for me, gives me reassurance. 
 I find a bit of healing in my soul every time I forgive.
  I now have faith that God is always with me, actively guiding me and directing me to live and to do the right thing.  
  • Life for me now? 
  • I attend recovery meetings regularly.
  • I try to have daily contact with God through prayer and meditation.
  • I like sharing about the recovery gift I received.  It keeps me grounded and it humbles me to think that my experience, strength and hope can help others - that God can work through me.
 Christ said, "I have come to give life, life more abundant", and I feel that abundance every day.  I am no longer anchored down by fear and resentment.  I have finally been set free by allowing myself to be truly forgiven.
"This is my story.  I hope that it has blessed you in some small way. If you have any questions that you want to ask me, just respond to this note and Sharon will make sure that I get them."

Monday, July 15, 2013

A Break From Life... or Addiction #4

In this issue...
#4 in the series, A Break From Life... or Addiction?
  'Simply and Beautifully Woman' Newsletter  #  4
   drug addictionchocolate candy
A Break from Life....
Or Addiction 
July 15th,  2013
Returned from San Diego after visiting my wonderful family out there.
Here is Andrew, my brother, with his brother-in-law, Ed enjoying Sea World! Andrew at Sea World
I returned to the "AKRON STORM" and to the news that one of the top stars from GLEE, Cory Monteith, died alone in his hotel room at such a young age on Saturday.  Many, many are mourning him. He was amazingly talented, but had a very troubled upbringing, including 16 schools in 16 years.  He became an ADDICT at age 12.  He has been "free of his addictions" and only recently his "demons seem to have come back" and he had another rehab stint.   cory monteith At the time of his death, he was healthy, happy and getting ready for an expected great new season.
Addiction at age 12.  What must it have been like for Cory? What pain was he hiding, covering up, escaping from? What is it like for any of our children that are experimenting with addictive drugs or other behaviors... or us as adults? Is there a way we can help?  Is there a way to find help?
Next week we will be finishing our mother's precious story, and a possible live interview with her the following week.
In subsequent newsletters in this series, we'll be telling you about some places that you can go for help, or to help others get help with addictions, as well as other "testimonies". 
Remember, what you have to share might be very influencial to others. 
My neighbor has invited me to attend a meeting at a local church that helps young and old alike with addictions of many kinds. If any of you would like to go, contact me and I will see if you can be invited as well.
The Young Wife and Mother's Story  continues below.
Until Next week,

The Continuing Story of a
Young Wife and Mother,
Written for the First Time, Especially for You. 
    woman crying
"My lifestyle quickly caught up with me, and I soon found myself in my first 28-day treatment program.  I was skeptical of how much I really needed it (those programs were for the Real alcoholics, not me). woman taking pictures  But I did leave with a bit of a renewed spiritual sense that I needed a Higher Power to help make sense of my life.  I was warned not to take on too much "stuff" during my first year of recovery, that people new to the program shouldn't even get house plants. house plant But that seemed too much like a rule, Rules
 and I knew it didn't apply to ME. 
During pregnancy, my obsession with alcohol was lifted, at least for a while.  I thought all I needed was to be pregnant, to have a family.  As a result, I didn't work the program and for a while, all was good.  During my last trimester, my cravings returned.  I wanted a drink.  I thought of calling my obstetrician to see if she could move up the date of my scheduled cesarean, so I could drink.pregnant woman  
The worldwind of my life and the lack of a real commitment to recovery soon overwhelmed me again.
With my newfound domestic lifestyle, new resentments formed daily.  In an effort to deny my obsession to drink, I began to project my feelings of self-hate toward others.  I resented those mothers who could drive their kids around sober without having to hide vodka vodka bottle in a kid's sippy-cups sippy- cup.
I resented wives who did not have to tape flasks to their legs to enjoy a simple date night with their husbands.  couple I resented the families who could enjoy one another without using their children as props in this everyday play that I felt I was starring in.  I resented the faithful and holy ones who seemed to have such a wonderful relationship with God.  All of that resentment turned to hate --I hated myself for all the things I wasn't.  The wife I couldn't be, the child of God who couldn't emancipate herself from the grip of alcoholism, the mother who drove her children while in a blackout time after time.
Till next week.... with the final segment from this young mother ...   
1.  Do you find yourself hiding your addiction from your loved one?  Maybe not in a sippy-cup but in other ways?
Do resentments build against someone else for intruding upon your privacy or challenging you in your addiction?
2 .Consider reviewing the series on bitterness
by going to archived newsletters in:   lettertowomen.blogspot.com,
You might be experiencing the same type of resentments that this mother has gone through, even if the addiction isn't yours. 
Some of us have lived small house with alcoholics and it still has lasting impressions on our life and how we relate to others.
Some of us might have been hurt by a family member or friend using pornography, or being addicted to eating,  and still we can't get over the deception and lying to us while they were trying to hide their addictions. 
We might be holding resentments due to an obsessive compulsive disorder; or just because of some other hurts in our life. ...or maybe you are dealing with the bitterness of someone who is in the midst of an addiction
 Review the series on bitterness and work toward your freedom that comes through a personal connection with God and an ability to move forward in courage through prayer and reflection and friends... or possibly through a 12 step program or professional counseling.  
Getting help is a good thing!  You will be on your way to freedom, despite what anyone has ever done to you, or you have done to them!

A Break From Life... or Addiction #3

Neighbor to Neighbor Woman Presents:
In this issue...
#3 in the series, A Break From Life... or Addiction?
  'Simply and Beautifully Woman' Newsletter  # 3
chocolate candy  drug addiction
A Break from Life....
Or Addiction 

July 7th,  2013
I'm writing from beautiful San Diego.  My younger brother with special needs will be spending two weeks with his sister's family in sunny California. I helped make sure that he arrived there safely. What a treat for me!  
On the way to our airplane on Friday, I stopped to buy some mints, mints and low and behold in Massive size print was a magazine cover that was announcing "Matthew Perry  (star from Friends)  
My Life as an Addict".  matthew perry
Perry says his writing about his story is to get the word out to help people that are suffering. 
" You have to want the help. 
You have to be willing to change." 
A few years ago he spoke at a 4,000 person drug-court convention.  At the convention a  young boy took the stage. He had written a statement, but was crying so hard boy crying he couldn't get it out.  The one thing he managed to say was, "Thank you, everybody, for giving my mom back to me."
Often our addictions affect those people closest to us. We don't "see it" because most of the time we think that we are hiding it well enough. Like this young boy, the addiction of his mother was not a secret from him.  It was a great heartache.  He "knew the difference" between her being well and not well... and he liked "well" a whole lot better!
Our young mother continues her story below.
Till next Sunday,
 Please email your wisdom, comments, concerns or stories at:  sharon7writes@gmail.com 


The Continuing Story of a
Young Wife and Mother,
Written for the First Time, Especially for You. 
    woman crying
Substance addiction.  "Physiological dependence occurs when the body has to adjust to the substance by incorporating the substance into its "normal" functioning. 
This young wife and mother is a regular reader of the "Simply and Beautifully Woman" newsletter.  


 "I was 14 years old, living alone away from home and scared to death
 It was during that time that I perfected the life skills I needed to cope, to survive, to protect myself.  But my isolation and fear made me continually feel to be apart from everything, instead of being a part of anything.  I began to lie when the truth would suffice.  I cheated when I knew the answers. I began to manipulate any way that I could and took shortcuts wherever possible.  I was actively forming my negative self-image, and even the one bright spot in my life couldn't shine enough light to brighten it.
As a youth I was a nationally ranked tennis player.   tennis player But winning didn't boost my self-confidence.  Instead, a sense of entitlement and ego barged their way into my everyday life. 
I began to live and act as if rules rules didn't apply to me.  I lived for instant short-term gratification, not caring who I hurt or what I had to do to get it.  I felt a void, and I wanted to fill it with anything that felt good:  alcohol, destructive relationships, gambling, overspending, drugs, whatever it took.  Alcohol became my God. It  continued to fuel my resentments toward people and God after I lost my scholarship and was kicked off my tennis team for alcohol.  My life was a seemingly hopeless state of mind, body and spirit and faith was elusive.
After graduation, I began a career as a flight attendant.  For an alcoholic, it was perfect!
airpline stewardess
Traveling to far-off cities with strangers meant I could drink how I wanted, when I wanted and with whom I wanted
What it turned into was drinking warm mini-bottles of vodka vodka while hiding in a dark hotel room. 
But deep down, I knew I couldn't hide from God
All the while I felt He was there,
waiting for me to ask Him for grace and guidance -
waiting for me to stop living in fear of what lay ahead. 
 And boy did He ever have plans for what lay ahead!
To be continued next Sunday
Are you living with someone who "thinks" he/she is hiding their addiction?  Hiding from God? Are you getting the help you need.... like that little boy who was crying so hard?
Matthew Perry was making $1,000,000 each episode on Friends.  Why in the world would he drink when he has "everything" ?
Addictions affect ALL walks of life in many degrees. Lawyers, homeless, stars, teachers, priests, mothers, daughters, and fathers. It's a disease that tries to convince us we 'don't have a problem'  Remember that Step one in getting on the road to recovery is  Admitting that you are powerless over your addiction and that your life has become a bit unmanageable because of it.........,.