Are You Asking God, “Why?” or “Why Me?”

man-857502__340For some time, I’ve been watching a person I love struggle with unanswered prayer that involves both financial and emotional hardships. I’ve tried to offer encouragement and advice, but there is absolutely no evidence that I’ve helped in any way whatsoever. Perhaps I am too close to the situation to discern the nuances involved. Or more likely, I offered too much advice too readily. When those we love have problems, we ‘Helpful Henrys’ should back off and just pray.

But his trials have brought to my mind the times in my own life when I was in the same boat. And I can testify with great certainty that the whole experience is incredibly painful. It seems to go on forever – until you are so discouraged, you can no longer even daydream about what life will be like after the prayer is answered. Finally, the solution sneaks in like Carl Sandburg’s fog “on little cat feet” and you can almost miss it.

There are a few things I’ve learned the hard way by living through the misery of various difficulties that I want to share in case someone else should ever benefit from my experiences.

  1. Keep your thoughts, words, and prayers as positive as you possibly can. Yes, I know your primary desire is to go to bed and sleep it off. You just want someone to “Wake you up when it’s over.” But thus avoiding reality only makes it worse, as I have learned the hard way.

As difficult as it might be, just get out of bed every morning. Just do it! I can remember many times whining to God, because no one else would listen to me anymore, that I was sick and tired of being plucky.

The complicated truth is that wallowing in pain only prolongs it. So gird up your loins and be positively, confidently, and absolutely plucky. In reality, there is no other rational choice, no matter what your emotions tell you.

  1. Be grateful! So you’re in dire need of X (a.k.a. job, phone call, car, money, etc.) And you’re not being indulgent or extravagant in your request. It’s just something you do really need, but don’t have. What on earth can you be grateful for?

  • You woke up on the right side of the grass

  • The bus came on time today

  • Your supervisor actually smiled for a change

  • You noticed a daffodil blooming

  • You got to hear a fabulous recording of Beethoven’s “Ode to Joy.”

  • There’s enough shampoo in the bottle to last until payday if you’re careful

  • It didn’t start raining until after you got inside

Make gratitude a habit by keeping a gratitude journal every single day, especially if you’re not the journal type. Remember, you’re in a desperate situation and you must take your medicine whether you relish it or not. It’s the effect of the medicine you’re after, not the joy of the journal itself. Each entry is concrete proof that God really does love you and is concerned with all the little details of your life.  Also read a previous entry on this blog, “If this virtue were a drug . . .” written on August 10, 2016 for more reasons to be grateful.

  1. Do at least one thing every single day to make you feel proud of yourself, especially if it’s avoiding or correcting a bad habit. Ninety-nine percent of the people I know go through life fighting one or more bad habits. So, pretend it’s Lent and work on your habit(s). After all, God has arranged this special, personal “Lenten” season just to help you; so take advantage of His School for Disciples. Every day that you avoid that particular habit or actually do that good thing you ought to do, you will like yourself better. And you’re the one you most need to impress other than the good Lord Himself. On top of that, other people will like you even better when you learn to love yourself.

  1. As a corollary to previous suggestions, begin to seek God’s will for your life with great seriousness. We all have blind spots about our own faults, which is why they’re called blind spots. That’s the main reason we hate to receive advice – because we’re absolutely positive that it doesn’t quite apply to us. However, it is entirely possible that God may be trying to get our attention about something we’re carefully keeping out of our consciousness at the moment. That something we’re avoiding might be the key to our future success and happiness. Be willing, even eager, to change your actions and/or attitudes as needed.

Get down on your knees, fast, pray, and beg God to tell you exactly what you need to change in your life in order to fit in with His plans for you. Then obey whatever He says. If you’re not sure after prayer and fasting, ask a spiritual director, your priest, or some wise person you trust to help you discern the truth.

Neither good times nor bad times last forever and neither do the trials that test our faith. Occasionally, the cavalry will ride into the situation, guns blazing, and get rid of the bad guys. Occasionally, the answer is so dramatic, we tell the story of resolving our predicament to anyone who will listen for weeks, months, or years afterward. Most often, for me, the situation changes as imperceptibly as the earth rotates around sun. At some point, I discover I don’t really need or, perhaps, even want whatever I had asked for. Instead I am in another place altogether.

God loves me more than I love myself.  He wants only the best for me. So I can rest in His care and trust Him to provide answers.  Just as loving parents insist their children learn to eat vegetables and meat, not just candy bars, so God insists that even if life becomes uncomfortable, we mature emotionally and spiritually through a type of boot camp. And He personally provides a precise program that enlarges  and enriches us to whatever extent that we cooperate with Him. Some of us give up and fall away early, some of us complete a type of basic boot camp, some go on to graduate the officers’ training program, and some, the saints, finish the equivalent of Seal training.

Reporting for duty, Sir!


Guest Post: Boundaries


This is a guest post from Miranda Kate Mixon, a beautiful young  millennial who blogs at First Class Act: Bringing Classy Back. Share it with all the young women in your circle.


The most important commitment

you’ll ever make

Today we hear a lot about young adults and our fear of commitment. As a generation, millennials tend to switch jobs more often, wait longer to get married and to buy a home. Various sources list different reasons for this. Some say it’s because we value lifestyle over economic stability (i.e. we’d rather be able to have a job that allows us more flexibility than get paid more), others say that we simply can’t afford to get married, or buy a car or a home (potentially due to our emphasis on flexibility > pay). And then there’s those who say it all comes down to our fear of commitment itself.

As a millennial who knows a lot of other millennials, I would say that each of these reasons may factor in to an extent. And while the fact that we may have a fear of committing- especially to other people- is slightly concerning, there is another commitment I’ve come to learn is actually more important.

Commitment to ourselves.

Ooooohhh, what’s that?

I’ll tell you.

As an avid reader myself, one of my favorite online publications is called Verily Magazine. All about lifestyle, relationships & health. I love how the contributors offer refreshing perspectives on today’s various issues and challenges and how we can face them with grace and a good attitude.

A few months ago, I emailed one of the Verily contributors named Zach Brittle. For a while I read Zach’s column called “Intentional Marriage.” I love his style and the great advice he offers as a marriage counselor. Even though I am not married, I  have always found relationships fascinating and love learning about what makes for a healthy marriage (#goals, amiright).

I decided to email Zach because I had recently entered into my first relationship and had a question that  I felt required a more experienced perspective. My question was this:
How can I be more selfish?

I know that may seem like an odd question – it kind of is – but it is also one that I feel is highly relevant and valid. When we start dating someone, I think a lot of us have a tendency to make the other person a priority over pretty much everything else…including ourselves. Family, friends, extra-curricular activities and self-care take the backseat as we focus on this new person who we want to learn more about – which requires a fair amount of time and energy.

The thing is, you can’t expect to enter into a relationship with someone and not expect your life to change. So where do you draw the line? How do you ensure you’re being fair to the other person and your relationship while also staying true to who you are and what you need. We can’t expect to be fulfilled by the other person; to do so would be a) not possible and b) unfair to the other person – so essentially incredibly unhealthy and a recipe for disaster.

Zach’s response was both very wise and very generous- not to mention super helpful. His main point was this:
Before you can commit to someone else, you have to be committed to yourself.

What does this mean?

In his words: ‘Crafting a plan for how to take care of your mind, your body, your heart, your soul.’

Genius, right?

How are you committing to yourself? What is your plan to challenge yourself intellectually, your plan to take care of yourself physically, emotionally and spiritually? A plan that you make and stick to. A commitment you make to and for yourself- not for anyone else.

Zach emphasized that really my question was about self-care, which is NOT selfish because it allows us to love the other person without any strings attached. 

You’re no longer looking to the other person to feel confident or to make you happy (again, not possible), but rather appreciating them simply for who they are. After all, isn’t that what we want, too?

We don’t want to be needed, we want to be wanted.

This topic is supremely important to me and a challenge I’ve decided to accept whole-heartedly. I hope you’ll consider doing the same, as your future (or current) s/o will thank you. I may even post this plan at a later date- please feel free to share any commitments you make for yourself! I’d love to hear about it.

Yes, our generation may face a fear of commitment, but that won’t end until we learn to commit to ourselves first.

Thanks, Zach.



In this way, we can put Pope John’s hope for every Christian into practice: “Every believer in this world must be a spark of light, a core of love, life-giving leaven in the mass: and the more he is so, the more he will live, in his innermost depths, in communion with God.”

1. Only for today, I will seek to live the livelong day positively without wishing to solve the problems of my life all at once.

2. Only for today: I will take the greatest care of my appearance: I will dress modestly;  I will not criticize anyone; I will not claim to improve or to discipline anyone except myself.

3. Only for today, I will be happy in the certainty that I was created to be happy, not only in the other world but also in this one.

4. Only for today, I will adapt to circumstances, without requiring all circumstances to be adapted to my own wishes.

5. Only for today, I will devote 10 minutes of my time to some good reading, remembering that just as food is necessary to the life of the body, so good reading is necessary to the life of the soul.

6. Only for today, I will do one good deed and not tell anyone about it.

7. Only for today, I will do at least one thing I do not like doing; and if my feelings are hurt, I will make sure that no one notices.

8. Only for today, I will make a plan for myself: I may not follow it to the letter, but I will make it. And I will be on guard against two evils: hastiness and indecision.

9. Only for today, I will firmly believe, despite appearances, that the good Providence of God cares for me as no one else who exists in this world.

10. Only for today, I will have no fears. In particular, I will not be afraid to enjoy what is beautiful and to believe in goodness. Indeed, for 12 hours I can certainly do what might cause me consternation were I to believe I had to do it all my life.

To conclude: here is an all-embracing resolution:

“I want to be kind, today and always, to everyone.”


“If [this virtue] were a drug, it would be the world’s best-selling product with a health maintenance indication for every major organ system.” Dr. P Murali Doraiswamy


 Imagine the impact on your life if you just injected a drug every morning to enhance your health, both physically and mentally.  And then, imagine what life would be like if you injected the same drug into all of your family, friends, and even co-workers. No doubt life would be immeasurably better for all.

Doriaswamy, a professor at Duke University, is an internationally recognized expert in brain/mind health and successful aging. And the virtue to which he refers is thankfulness or gratitude. 1

The more frequently you practice it, the better off you are.2 For example, you will experience less anxiety, cope with stress more easily, and sleep better.3 The improvements in your body are measurable in several areas. For example:

  1. Mood neurotransmitters (serotonin and norepinephrine)

  2. Inflammatory and immune systems (cytokines)

  3. Reproductive hormones (testosterone)

  4. Stress hormones (cortisol)

  5. Social bonding hormones (oxytocin)

  6. Blood pressure and cardiac and EEG rhythms5

  7. Cognitive and pleasure related neurotransmitters (dopamine)

  8. Blood sugar

Another scientific expert on gratitude is Dr. Robert Emmons, a professor of psychology at UC Davis.6 He teaches that gratitude is good for at least four reasons:

  1. Gratitude allows people to actively celebrate the present moment

  2. Gratitude blocks negative emotions like envy or resentment and helps people function better

  3. Gratitude makes people more resistant to stress

  4. Gratitude strengthens social ties and self-worth

I applaud the researchers who are proving the wisdom of God in the Bible. And proving that the instructions found there are for our good and not to restrict us.


For some reason, Satan has tricked most of us into believing that obedience to God is painful and futile even though Jesus promised in John 10:10 (Amp): The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have and enjoy life, and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].

In other words, to have the abundant life one must have an attitude of gratitude.

Sources: 1.ABC News November 23, 2011 – 2.Huffington Post November 22, 2014 – 3. Psychology Today November 9, 2011 – 4.American Journal of Cardiology 1995 Nov. 15:76(14):1089-93 –

Answers to Prayer: A Follow-up to Why Pray?




Of course, there are times when we are shocked because our prayer ARE answered, sometimes in an unexpected way, sometimes when we least expect it. Not only is it always a good and joyful thing to praise the Lord, it encourages others to discover both big and little ways that God makes Himself known to us.

I am a cancer survivor of 25 years: breast cancer in 1991, metastasis to lung in 2006, colon cancer in 2005, and ocular melanoma in 2005. So in June I went to one of my oncologists because I had become much more of a stumblebum than usual, I had frequent headaches, I found a bony abnormality on a rib near where the original breast tumor had been, and I couldn’t get rid of a cough. And I could not walk a straight line (the kind of test they give on side of highway with DUI cases) in her examining room,  so she ordered a CT scan like I’d been having since 2005 and an MRI.

I left her office with the possibility of either Multiple Sclerosis or brain tumor hanging over my head while I waited for the results of the tests. With my history, I figured MS would be the best I could hope for.

I did attend a special healing service at my parish, which just “happened” to be scheduled a few days before the tests. But, because I no longer drive at night, I had to leave before the laying on of hands or individual prayers. As I walked out, I silently told God that I was ready for whatever He wanted in my life, but at that point, I didn’t expect much.

Several days later, I steeled myself as I heard the door knob turn and I knew Dr. Kramer was coming in to explain the lab, scan, and MRI reports to me.

But when the door opened, she danced into the room almost laughing as she said there were no problems. The scans showed no change in three years and the MRI revealed absolutely no problems. We talked and laughed and repeated ourselves for about 1o minutes. It was one of those occasions when the news is so overwhelming and so good that even educated, articulate people just babble happily with each other.

As I drove home, I thought about my score: Kaye, 4 and Cancer 0, even though two of those cancers were Stage 4. How can I possibly measure up to such an abundance of grace?

I invite any reader to continue this saga by reporting your own answers to prayer in the comments section. Please.

Why Pray?




If God knows everything about us, especially all the things we need, then why should we waste our time praying?

We pray because prayer benefits us like nothing else.

  • Prayer develops our relationship with God, just as all close relationships develop through communication.

  • Prayer opens our minds and hearts to understand God more fully, especially His expectations of us.

  • Prayer keeps us from being too self-centered

  • Prayer teaches us to appreciate other people in our lives and to understand how important they are to our well-being.

  • Prayer helps us understand more deeply how much God cares for us.

  • Prayer gives us direction about choices and changes we need to make.

  • Prayer coaches us as we grow in the virtues, which are necessary if we are to live a happy life.

  • Prayer enables us to love other people.

  • Prayer renews our spirits so we can face the challenges in our lives instead of running away from them.

  • Prayer provides calm in the middle of a crisis.

  • Prayer connects us with a powerful God who loves us and eagerly wants to help us

  • Prayer improves everything.



And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body;                 and be ye thankful. Colossians 3:15 KJV

Peace is just another five letter word unless you’ve struggled with anxiety, unless you’ve suddenly awakened in a panic wondering how you will be able to survive one more day in the mess you find yourself in, or unless you put on your glasses to search for the light at the end of the tunnel, but find only blackness no matter how hard you squint your eyes. It is a positive good, not just the absence of conflict. Indeed, real peace is possible in the midst of uncertainty and conflict.

Peace is a pearl of great price the we can only acquire from God Himself. We might acquire it when we have made the difficult, but good decision or done the truly loving deed. Once experienced, we long to live in that peace again and we joyfully let go of bad habits and preconceptions into order to feel it again.

The peace of God is the perfect high that all people pursue. Unfortunately, most of us seek it in the wrong places and in the wrong way, totally unaware that God hardwired us to seek it through Him. Although sexual fulfillment is a wonderful gift from God to all husbands and wives who wholly give themselves to each other, it is not the ultimate high. The peace of God is a greater, more lasting high that is readily available to all: married, single, old, young, educated, illiterate, rich, or poor.

Seeking the peace of God propelled Mother Teresa into the streets of Calcutta to joyfully care for the  abandoned ones, the untouchables. She herself said that she wouldn’t do it even for a million dollars, but she gladly did it for the love of God even when the rest of the world watched with disgust, curled lips, and disbelief. She and the many people who followed her into her ministry from all over the world were the happiest people one could ever find.

Perhaps we anxious ones could learn a lesson from her. . . .


ROMANS 15:13   May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing [through the experience of your faith] that by the power of the Holy Spirit you will abound in hope and overflow with confidence in His promises.

 I THESSALONIANS 5:23-24   Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you through and through [that is, separate you from profane and vulgar things, make you pure and whole and undamaged—consecrated to Him—set apart for His purpose]; and may your spirit and soul and body be kept complete and [be found] blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

 HEBREWS 13:20-21   Now may the God of peace [the source of serenity and spiritual well-being] who brought up from the dead our Lord Jesus, the great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood that sealed and ratified the eternal covenant, equip you with every good thing to carry out His will and strengthen you [making you complete and perfect as you ought to be], accomplishing in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen.

II PETER 1:2    Grace and peace [that special sense of spiritual well-being] be multiplied to you in the [true, intimate] knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord.

COLOSSIANS 3:15   Let the peace of Christ [the inner calm of one who walks daily with Him] be the controlling factor in your hearts [deciding and settling questions that arise]. To this peace indeed you were called as members in one body [of believers]. And be thankful [to God always].

The last group of  quotations are from The Amplified Bible.