Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Prayer





That moment when you say a silent prayer, one filled with despair and confusion, and you feel as if God is remaining silent and far too distant. So you call Him, beg Him to make His ways clear to your minuscule understanding. Beg Him to show you a way out of your fears, and still all you receive is silence. You go to bed feeling alone, wondering why you can’t feel His presence. 


The next day someone seeks you out and the conversations goes a little like this… “I feel like God is telling me that I need to do something for you…” and then they unknowingly repeat the prayer you said when you were alone, and show you a way out from your fears. They give you an answer you already knew deep within, but was too caught up in despair to focus on. And now you know, really, truly know, that God heard your pleas. It’s difficult to explain, because how does one describe seeing God’s reflection in someone else’s eyes? 


I didn’t win the lottery, money was not raining down on me from Heaven. There's no new car, home, or anything tangible I can take a picture of and post on Facebook. It was much more profound than anything materialistic. It was communication with the Great I Am, Alpha and Omega, El-Shaddai, Yahweh, the Holiest of Holy. He believed that I mattered, that I was important enough to patiently listen to my complaints, and that I was dear enough to comfort. When I couldn’t hear Him, He sent someone who would make sure I listened. I am truly blessed. More than having my prayer answered, He confirmed how much I am adored by Him. How much He needs me, and I Him.


I almost didn't post this, it was too personal, too... much.What if it offended? No one wants to hear about God. God has become politically incorrect (or maybe He always was). Doubt kept me from clicking the publish button. But it didn't feel right to keep it to myself, as if my Father in Heaven was a guilty secret. Let the world know that this woman, one out of millions upon millions of people on earth, this insignificant human being, loves and is loved by the Lord.

“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine”


Isaiah 43:1

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Entertaining Angels on the Red Line

The best thing about commuting in Chicago is that you don’t have to worry about the traffic. You just get on the train, bus, etc. and relax until your stop. You can unwind and release the work life before you enter into your home life. 

This was exactly my plan one day. I get off work and go to the L station and realized that it was packed. The only seat left was next to a homeless man. Now, I’m no snob, but I didn’t want to sit next to this old man. The homeless can be erratic, and erratic can mean dangerous or at the very least incredibly annoying to someone who just wants to tune out the world. They can also smell awful, enough so that you actually get a headache. Even typing this out I feel like a snob, but I’m the least snob-like person you’ll every meet! LOL.

Anyway, because I’m not a snob, I went ahead and sat next to this dirty, unkempt old man and hoped he wouldn’t start yelling and screaming about anything. I prayed that he didn’t smell, because holding your breath for forty minutes is impossible. The first thing that happened when I sat next to this homeless man is that he began leaning toward me. Crowding me in. If anyone knows me, I’m a stickler for personal space. I don’t like being touched in any way unless I’m really comfortable with the person or the situation.

So this old man, who thank God didn’t stink, is leaning toward me. To say that I gave him my steely eyed “please stop” glare is an understatement. The old man pretended not to understand and didn’t move. I sighed as I realized this was going to be a very long ride home. To keep my mind occupied I opened Facebook on my phone and began scrolling through my news feeds. Maybe the old man would get the hint and give me a little privacy, a little personal space. Is that asking for much?

Well, he didn’t. “Is that your child?” he asked, when he saw a picture of Mieah. The man in the seat across from me snickered. This man obviously understood that the old, homeless man was annoying the crap out of me. “No,” I said. “That’s my granddaughter.”

“Hmm,” he said. “She has your big forehead.”

I laughed. He broke the ice. I decided what could it hurt if the old man looked at my pictures? So for forty minutes the old man looked at my pictures with me, commenting here and there. Talking to me as if he knew me, as if he were a family member of mine and then a verse came to me. “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (Hebrews 13:2). 

A part of me was completely ashamed. I had judged this man like everyone else on the train. All he wanted was a little conversation. A little contact with another human being. That was it, that was his desire. But there was another part of me that was so very glad that I had overcome my own desire (for rest and relaxation) to give this old man a part of myself. I could have easily forgotten what my Father has taught me about his people, about His ways, but at the very last moment I listened and in listening I really do think I had entertained an angel. I hope that this old man continues to find other busy people and make them stop for a moment to realize that we are all family.


Please support: The Catholic Charities Homelessness Service


Please support: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless


Sunday, August 9, 2015

Are You Nyah Garza

Someone recently asked me, “Are you Nyah Garza?” 

Nyah Garza is the main character in The Pull series. She's a tough no-nonsense, take it or leave it type of woman.

At first I wasn’t certain how to respond (and believe me when I say, this girl is hardly ever at a loss of words!) How can Nyah NOT be Marissa Pedroza? I created her. Her character came alive as I lay in bed one night (another bout of insomnia) and all I could think was, “Would you risk your life for someone else’s child?” I mean really risk it. Not just, hey there’s a child playing in the street kind of thing, but when you have to get dirty, completely involved, when you have to sacrifice every part of who you are as a human being… would you still put yourself and maybe even your loved ones in harms way to save a stranger’s child? If the answer is yes, why? Why would you risk so much for a stranger, with no promise of a payoff?

That was Nyah’s birth. I got up and simply began writing. I discovered that Nyah Garza was not me at all. She was hard where I was soft. She was decisive where I’d contemplate for days. She knew what she wanted and did not question her lack of abilities. And yet, there were characteristics that we shared: We both held the same code of honor, the same belief that the world is more "good" than it is bad, that we all have a part to play in something much larger than what is currently known - and we both had rough beginnings in life, and used those rough beginnings as a motivator to change the world around us.


So, to sum it up. I am not Nyah Garza, but I am her most ardent supporter.

Purchase The Pull:




Tuesday, August 4, 2015

DO NOT FEED THE ANIMALS

It always kills me a little inside when I see posts about people on food assistance. The posts generally make fun of these people and plays into the stereotype that people participating in the food assistance program are taking advantage of “free money”. They are lazy, unemployed nobodies taking from all of us; living high off the hog on the taxes we pay.

Well, let me tell you why these posts kill me. 
  1. If you’re going to make fun of “food stamps” then get with the times. There is  no such thing as food stamps. It’s SNAP benefits (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program). If you’re going to insult a whole group of people, then at least get the name of program right.
  2. There is nothing funny about poverty. I have yet to meet someone in poverty, and you have to be impoverished to be eligible for food assistance, who wouldn’t immediately trade places with those of us who are employed and make enough money to pay taxes. BTW, those exact numbers are: you have to be at or BELOW 130% of the Federal poverty level.
  3. Over 70% of SNAP benefits go to households with children. Let me say that again, these are children. They didn’t ask to be born to impoverished parents. They didn’t ask to be the butt of jokes, but they get to attempt to come up from that.

These Facebook post probably wouldn’t bother me as much if I had never been a Foster parent. I know first-hand the stories these children tell of missing meals. Of eating crackers and ketchup for supper when the benefits ran out. I’m not saying there aren’t people who find a way to take advantage of any situation. I’m just saying, if you’re going to be upset at where your tax dollars are going, here is a few situations we should be outraged about:

  1. How does 2.3 Trillion unaccounted dollars sound? That is not a typo. $2,300,000,000,000.00 lost by the Pentagon, announced by Donald Rumsfeld, forgotten after September 11th. What… crickets? $2.3 Trillion, I’m sure those poor kids eat that in a month. Let’s make another post about how awful they are.
  2. $2.21 billion hit from Energy Department Loans (2015). Green energy is supposed to save us money, but so far we are $2.21 billion in the hole. Yes, that’s our tax dollars.


There is so much waste, I could fill an epic tome, but I won’t. If it makes you feel better to mock the poor, then so be it, just don’t pretend it's because you really care about how your government spends your tax dollars. If that were the case, I'd see posts about governmental fiscal waste instead of a meme about poor people.

We all know that poor children and their families hold all the power in the world… which is why we blame all our woes on people on “food stamps”.


No racist slant here, right?
These poor kids are used for every tacky point ever made


Sunday, January 8, 2012

Why Write?

I remember writing before I could read. I would fill pages with crayon drawn pictures and then I would sit and tell whoever happened along, what the pictures represented.

As a poor child in the Philippines, books were not something that I was exposed to until I hit the shores of America. In these great states, I discovered something grand and beautiful. I felt like Dorothy walking through the gates of the Emerald City the first time I entered a library. The land of make-believe saved me from having to live in the hardship of my reality. A poor, unwanted, abused child growing up in the racially divided times of the early 70's. When my nose was between the pages of a book, I was not in the library anymore. I was no longer getting yelled at, or being bullied. I was in the land that the book had so graciously transported me to; and when I told stories, I found it was the first time that I had control of my world.

It became clear to me that the world I lived in was so small. As grim as my young world was, there were great things just beyond my reach (I knew this because I read it in a book).

I wrote because writing was a release for my inner demons. When I was writing, I wasn't hurting. When I wrote, I felt beautiful, smart and maybe could even pass for a super hero. However, when I stop writing, the world encroached upon my self-satisfaction and forced me to realize that I was just another wounded soul hoping that eventually the pain of life would ease up.

With time and healing, the pain became the foundation of emotional, mental and spiritual health. But now, where did I and my life long friend, Writing, stand? Did I need her any longer now that there was no need to release the past? It took a long time for me to come back to my old friend. I was more mature, a different woman in a different place. But, had my friend Writing gone the way of some of my school friends? Did writing belong in the world of pain, and it was now time to walk away from it? Did I want to risk being forced to live in a world of hurt just so I could continue this relationship with writing?

In the end, it wasn't my choice. Writing just would not let up, calling my name as if she were an abandoned child looking for her mother. So I went back to writing and found that my stories had more definition. My relationship with writing had never stopped growing, although I'd once thought maybe it was just a tool of survival for a broken little girl. I learned quickly that writing was so much more. It was in my blood, it was me and I was it. If no one ever reads one word that I write, I will continue to write because I love it so. It has never failed me, and so I will never fail it.