Posted in NaBloPoMo, NanoPoblano

Gifted

The NaBloPoMo prompt for today wasn’t one I could really respond to as it was about new fall TV.  I honestly haven’t seen but a couple of the new fall shows so it would have been really hard to write to. Instead, I’m going to write about a topic I’ve been wanting to dig into a little more.

A few years ago our church provided everyone with an opportunity to take a spiritual gifts assessment.  I found the results fascinating, and somewhat baffling.  What I thought God had gifted me with, barely even registered as a blip.  But, the more I thought about what the test told me, the more I realized how accurate it was.

If you are unfamiliar with the concept of Spiritual Gifts, don’t think you are alone.  Until our church did this, I had never even heard the term.  I found this phrase that I felt provides a great summary.

“…spiritual gifts are God-given graces (special abilities, offices, or manifestations) meant for works of service, to benefit and build up the body of Christ as a whole.”

The subject of spiritual gifts recently came up in our growth group at church and I found that many of the women had never taken a test.  I wanted to encourage them to do it and started looking online for a free test I could point them to.  I found the website GiftsTest.com.  I didn’t want to blindly point them to a test I didn’t try first, so I took the test myself.  Below is a graphical representation of my results.

spiritual-gifts-results

My first gift is mercy and it’s described like this: The gift of mercy is the divine strength or ability to feel empathy and to care for those who are hurting in any way.

Here’s how another website describes this gift: “Those with the motivational gift of mercy are the “heart” of the body. They easily sense the joy or distress in other people and are sensitive to feelings and needs. They are attracted to and patient with people in need, motivated by a desire to see people healed of hurts. They are truly meek in nature and avoid firmness.”

I wrote yesterday about how I had been feeling all the hurt and anger someone I don’t even know personally might be feeling.  I am an overly emotional person when MY emotions are the only ones I have to deal with.  Throw in my ability to feel others’ emotions and you have a recipe for huge bouts of depression.  Throughout my life I’ve always believed this character trait was more of a flaw than a gift.  I’ve heard news stories about tragedies and spent days crying for people I have never met. A friend can share an injustice that was done to them and I feel their pain as if it was happening to me. I’ve been known to cry in my bed for days for people I love if I know they are hurting.

Before I knew this was a gift, I’ve actually begged God to take this away from me. For years I had no idea what would happen to me in those times, or why I felt like I did.  I assumed for so long that something was wrong with me.  I really had no idea.

I’ve noticed over the years how I seem to have a knack for drawing truth and honesty from people.  People I love, random people, and people I barely know.  I’ve thought it was odd, but have always tried to give my attention and offer up advice when I can.  However, one of my biggest struggles is that I often cannot find the words I feel I need to say in order to make the confessing person feel better.  What I’m learning as I read more about this gift of mercy is that in most cases, my gift to give is just my presence and attention.  My gift is not to resolve or rectify the hurt of others, but to simply share in their pain, to provide compassion to them, and to just let them know they are not alone.

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I can’t even begin to express my joy when I found out this is not only a gift God has given to me, but it’s a gift I can use to help others. There are multiple places in the bible where the gift of mercy is discussed.  In Galatians 6:2, Paul wrote “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”  I can see now that my ability to help a friend carry a hurt is so much more than I ever thought. As a recipient of this gift, it is my responsibility to come alongside those who are hurting and help them carry the cross they bear. As daunting as that seems, I find comfort and strength in knowing that God is always beside me, lifting me up as I use my gift to lift others.


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Posted in My life in pictures, Post A Day Challenge

239/365 Happy Gotcha Day. Sorta.

Today is the day I celebrate my sweet Peppy’s Gotcha Day, even though I should be celebrating this in two more days.

Peppy came into my life on May 3, 2000. This just happens to be the same day we buried my father. Peppy was my father’s final gift to me.

I choose to celebrate my sweet boy’s Gotcha Day today, because for the 11th year now, it’s helped me be less sad on this day. This anniversary of the day that I lost my father.

Last year I wrote about this amazing gift and I would love for you to read it if you haven’t already.

Posted in My life in pictures

009/365 Who’s Your Buddy?

Announcer: Ladies and Gentlemen, the driving force behind Catholicism WOW, Cardinal Glick.
Cardinal Glick: Thank you, thank you, thank you. Now we all know how the majority and the media in this country view the Catholic church. They think of us as a passe, archaic institution. People find the Bible obtuse… even hokey. Now in an effort to disprove all that the church has appointed this year as a time of renewal… both of faith and of style. For example, the crucifix. While it has been a time honored symbol of our faith, Holy Mother Church has decided to retire this highly recognizable, yet wholly depressing image of our Lord crucified. Christ didn’t come to Earth to give us the willies… He came to help us out. He was a booster. And it is with that take on our Lord in mind that we’ve come up with a new, more inspiring sigil. So it is with great pleasure that I present you with the first of many revamps the “Catholicism WOW. ” campaign will unveil over the next year. I give you… The Buddy Christ. Now that’s not the sanctioned term we’re using for the symbol, just something we’ve been kicking around the office, but look at it. Doesn’t it… pop? Buddy Christ…

Gil surprised me with a gift today, and the fact that he ordered this for me does indeed confirm he really knows me. I squealed with joy when I saw the box sitting on my desk, and then proceeded to rip it open like a child on Christmas morning. I think it was 30 minutes later before I put my new Buddy Christ statue down.

One of my Top 5 favorite movies is the movie Dogma. Kevin Smith is a genius, pure and simple. He proved that with the casting of Alanis Morrissette as God. I understand Dogma may be very offensive to some, but as with anything, you have to take it for what it is. I choose to take it as a theatrical masterpiece. Ok, maybe not a masterpiece but it is damn funny. And, there’s the message that’s sometimes hard to see behind the foul language, nudity and blasphemy. But just ignore those things and watch it anyway. Then, watch it again. You will appreciate it much more once you aren’t pissed off anymore.

Here are some of my favorite quotes:

Rufus: He still digs humanity, but it bothers Him to see the shit that gets carried out in His name – wars, bigotry, televangelism. But especially the factioning of all the religions. He said humanity took a good idea and, like always, built a belief structure on it.
Bethany: Having beliefs isn’t good?
Rufus: I think it’s better to have ideas. You can change an idea. Changing a belief is trickier. Life should malleable and progressive; working from idea to idea permits that. Beliefs anchor you to certain points and limit growth; new ideas can’t generate. Life becomes stagnant.

Metatron: Human beings have neither the aural nor the psychological capacity to withstand the awesome power of God’s true voice. Were you to hear it, your mind would cave in and your heart would explode within your chest. We went through five Adams before we figured that one out.

Serendipity: I have issues with anyone who treats faith as a burden instead of a blessing. You people don’t celebrate your faith; you mourn it.

Serendipity: When are you people going to learn? It’s not about who’s right or wrong. No denomination’s nailed it yet, and they never will because they’re all too self-righteous to realize that it doesn’t matter what you have faith in, just that you have faith. Your hearts are in the right place, but your brains need to wake up.

Bartleby: The humans have besmirched everything bestowed on them. They were given Paradise, they threw it away. They were given this planet, they destroyed it. They were favored best among all His endeavors, and some of them don’t even believe He exists. And in spite of it all, He’s shown them infinite fucking patience at every turn.

And finally, the reason I will always say “bless you” after a sneeze:

[to the female board member]
Loki: You’re a pure soul… but you didn’t say “God bless you” when I sneezed.
[raises his gun to the female board member’s head]
Bartleby: Loki!
Loki: [angrily] You’re getting off light.
[as he leaves the board room]
Loki: You’re so lucky.

Posted in My Life

Happy Birthday, Daddy; and Thanks for the Parting Gift

Happy Birthday, Daddy!

Today is a big day for me. It would be my daddy’s 67th birthday. It’s been 11 years since I’ve been able to wish him a happy birthday. Well, sort of.

The loss of my father was not unexpected. Years earlier he had battled cancer and won. Unfortunately, the damage the treatment for cancer does to a body is often as devastating as the disease itself. He was left with severe liver damage, and after a hard four year fight, God decided to call him home. I miss him terribly, but I find that I don’t cry much for the loss of my father. When he left us, he gave us one of the greatest gifts we could have ever asked for and I wrote about that earlier this year. Being witness to this amazing event was the greatest gift my father could have ever given me. But, days later, I would find that he had something else in store for me. It was something that would bring me a type of peace that I never expected.

On May 3, 2000, we buried my dad. It was a dreadful kind of day with the realization that I would never see him again. I would never feel his beautiful, caring, nurturing soul near me again. Or would I?

We were all filled with grief as we left the church and headed home. My mom and I got home and went about doing some mindless tasks. I can’t remember what I needed to go outside for, but I stepped out her back door and almost trampled right on top of the tiniest, most adorable kitten ever. Mama Kitty was just sitting there looking at me as if to say, “This is for you”. It took a few minutes to process what I was seeing. I knew the mama kitty because she had been a barn cat that had been around for years, and my parent had told me that she had been pregnant but they had not seen her in weeks. If you know barn cats, you know this is their MO. But, she was back and she apparently had a gift for me.

When I was a little girl, I had lots and lots of pets. Our home was a revolving door for dogs and cats. However, there was one constant cat in my youth and her name was Fuzz Buzz. (Don’t judge me) She was a beautiful long-haired orange and white tabby that purred so loudly you could hear her from across the room. I’ve always had an affinity for these orange beauties, but another never seemed to find its way into my life after Fuzz Buzz. In the years before Daddy died, I had often expressed an interest in getting another orange kitty. However, I’m not sure I ever made that declaration in front of my dad.

Sweet head-butt kisses

Once I processed what was happening, I began to believe this kitten was for me. As a matter of fact, I’m sure of it. I was crying and sad and then this little bundle of fur seemed to take that away. I was no longer focused on the loss of my dad. My focus was entirely on this tiny little kitten. I scooped him up and took him home with me, and that decision changed my life and the way I dealt with the loss of the most important man in my life. For the first few days I called him Papi, but that never seemed right so it soon morphed into Peppy, the Sunshine Kitty.

This furry, four-legged creature has been the one constant in my life for 11 years. He has loved me unconditionally. All it takes is for one teardrop to fall and he comes out of nowhere to lick it away. He has an uncanny ability to recognize when I’m sad and he will climb up on my chest, wrap his paws around my neck and somehow suck that sadness right out of me.  He has removed the hurt from physical and mental ailments. He protects me and calms me. He listens to my thoughts and knows exactly when to head butt me with his special form of kisses. He even lets me sing silly songs like “You Are My Sunshine” without running away in agony like most humans do. This cat’s love for me is not like a typical human/pet bond. There is something deeper and almost supernatural about the connection we share. Others have witnessed it and once they do, almost always agree that there is something extraordinary about this animal.

Helping to soothe my physical pain after my ankle sprain

I believe my Peppy is a blessing from God, a vessel in which my father’s spirit continues to grace and to soothe me in my most trying times. People find comfort in all sorts of things after the loss of a loved one. They may feel a rainbow is a sign that everything is okay, or they may sense a deceased loved one’s presence in the birth of a child. I believe that angels walk among us and I chose to believe my father sent a guardian angel to me in the most fitting form possible, the form of a cat.

Today is the 11th year that I’ve looked through the eyes of my sweet Peppy and into the soul of my father to say, “Happy Birthday Daddy”. It’s in those eyes that I find comfort, happiness, kindness and the kind of love only a father can give his little girl. Or in this case, the kind of love a father can give his little girl through a beautiful, golden-eyed, orange and white tabby ball of fluff and flab.