Happy Memorial Day!

I am very close with my older brother James. He is a tremendous blessing to me and a beautiful witness of how a man is suppose to treat a woman. James is a Captain in the United States Marine Corps.

In August of 2009 he returned from overseas. In September of 2009 his Commanding Officer (CO), said he was sending him back. This scheduled return was exceedingly unexpected seeing that he had just arrived back in the United States. Two days later I flew out to California to welcome him home and say goodbye again.

As I passed through security at the airport it really hit me that James was leaving again. I had two hours before my plane took off for California, so with a little Lady Antebellum playing in my  ipod I walked over to Starbucks to get a Cappuccino. I always travel with books to read and reached into my North Face book bag to pull out a book about Saint Padre Pio.

Right then it dawned on me that I should pray for a miracle that James wouldn’t be deployed through Saint Pio’s intercession, as he feast day was mere days away. Why hadn’t I thought of this before, I thought to myself. This was just the sort of thing that would delight Saint Pio. Saint Teresa of Avila once said, “We pay God a great favor by asking big things of Him.” So with faith and love in my heart I prayed for James. When I arrived in California my eyes welled with joyful tears as I saw him walk toward me wearing his favorite Rainbow flip flops (total California style).

The morning that I was going to say goodbye to James I got up early to go running down by the beach. The elevator was broken and there was a sign on it that said to use the stairs. As I approached the stairs I thought it odd that they elevator would be broken because it was an extremely upscale hotel where weddings were hosted. I opened the door to go down the stairs and couldn’t believe what I saw. The entire stair case was covered with roses!! I was in awe, because roses are a sign that Saint Pio is close to you. I knew Saint Pio was doing something, especially since this was the day before his feast day.

California mornings are usually slightly cloudy and that morning was no different. I ran 6 miles just as the sun was rising and the view was breathtaking. All of the surfers were just getting to the ocean, driving up in their jeeps with their surf boards on top and morning coffee in hand. It was gorgeous.

James told me to meet him at a cafe’ for breakfast. He called, said he was running late and to go ahead and order. I ordered belgium waffles, a cappuccino and a mimosa. James and I always drink mimosas in California and I ordered mine with a smile. About fifteen minutes later, just as my waffles were served, and the steam still rising from the plate James walks in. As the waiter pours the champagne and the bubbles fizzle James sits down. “You’re never gonna believe this, but I’m not going. My CO (commanding officer) just told me I’m not going.” I knew it was Padre!! James continued to say that out of 1,000 men and women that were being deployed he was the only one told he was staying. To this day no explanation has been given to him.

Blessed be God and Happy Memorial Day!

photo credit: Robert Wagner Photography

The Birth of Made in His Image

In April 2011 a friend recommended that I see the movie There be Dragons. Set during the Spanish Civil War, it tells the story of St. Josemaria Escriva and his childhood friend Manolo Torres. As the two lads grow up, Josemaria answers God’s call and becomes a Catholic priest and founds the movement called Opus Dei (work of God). After leaving the seminary himself, Manolo becomes a spy for the fascists.

As hatred, betrayal and jealousy climb throughout the movie for Manolo he becomes a slave to his anger. As a Catholic priest fighting for his life, Josemaria chooses to spread seeds of hope and forgiveness. On one particular occasion while Josemaria and his priests were hiding for their lives in a psychiatric hospital a beautiful red-headed woman approaches him and shows Josemaria the scars on her wrists where she had cut herself. One can see the fear in her eyes as she says, “I was raped and still sleep with the lights on. I lock my door at night and put a chair under the door handle.” Gentle tears rolled down my face as she continued to say, “I have accepted that God can be terrible. And now my prayers are deeper. I fight Him with love.”

My heart almost pounded out of my chest. Her courage was inspiring and her innocence radiated true beauty, as she said gently, yet firmly, “I fight Him with love.” This woman had suffered immensely, but her response to suffering was saintly. She was probably one of the most minor characters in the movie, yet her reply “I fight Him with love” the most compelling line I have ever heard from a movie.

With every fiber of my being I hope that my own echo to suffering can be the same as hers.

With tremendous joy and peace in my heart I am exceedingly excited to announce the main reason for my blog. I have had a strong desire for over a year to start my own non-profit for girls and women called Made in His Image. And I would like to use this site to help promote my efforts as I have begun the preliminary ground work for this endeavor.

Made in His Image will work to help girls and women alike who have been abused, raped, suffered from mental illnesses, eating disorders, the effects of addictions and self-esteem. Through sharing my own testimony I will use Made in His Image to educate women on God the Father’s unwavering love, mercy and healing Hands. It will teach women about the dignity we all possess being created in the image and likeness of God. This work will only be accomplished through the power of the Holy Spirit.

I have failed to show my appreciation countless times for the crosses God has asked me to carry. I want to use this non-profit to gather girls from around the country and ultimately the world to “fight Him with love.”

If you would like to donate to my work or know of anyone who would be interested please contact me and thank you for reading.