MIHI Hires its First Employee!!!!

MIHI is exceedingly thrilled to introduce to you its first employee!!! This is AWESOME!!!! After receiving half a dozen responses to her post regarding hiring a health care professional, Maura hired Catherine. Catherine will be available for phone counseling and has extensive experience with eating disorders and abuse. Catherine and Maura will also be co-authoring the first Catholic on-line recovery course for women in their journey to freedom from eating disorders. MIHI is so excited to welcome Catherine!! Maura thanks the Father for MIHI’s growth as an organization and says, oh the Father has great plans and this is just the beginning. 

Catherine DiNuzzo is a Licensed Professional Counselor, Licensed in the State of Colorado.  Catherine lives in Pennsylvania and performs telecounseling.

Catherine is the proud mother of four children, a devoted mother and wife, and a faithful Catholic. Catherine received her B.A. in Education with an emphasis in Psychology from Emporia State University in Emporia, Kansas.  She then went directly into a Master’s program where she received her M.A. in Counseling & Human Services from the University of Colorado – Colorado Springs (UCCS) in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Catherine has experience in both private and public schools, as well as in the private sector, including counseling youth, couples, and within the military population, including specific work with eating Disorders. Catherine has also attended additional training in the treatment of eating disorders.

Catherine is faithful to the Magisterium and counsels from a Catholic perspective.

At DiNuzzo Counseling & Educational Services, Catherine counsels from a cognitive behavioral approach, with a strong emphasis in systems counseling.

You can contact Catherine through her website www.dcesonline.com

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Men, and Virtue, and How to Attain It

By Dave DiNuzzo Sr.

Dave works for The King’s Men. The mission of TKM: Under Christ the King’s universal call to serve, we as men, pledge to unite and build up other men in the mold of leader, protector, and provider through education, formation, action, and healing.

Dave joined the King’s Men in September 2010. When he joined, TKM had 8 weekly formation and accountability groups in 3 dioceses. Now, there are 28 groups in 17 dioceses and this number will be outdated by the end of the month! There are an upward of 500 men meeting weekly around the country.

TKM fosters a culture of authentic manliness in our overly sexualized world and they do this mainly through formation and accountability, and by encouraging men to be involved regularly with the sacraments.  One of their main events is a retreat called Into the Wild, which nearly 1,000 men have participated in since 2009. The men are led into the wild to spend three days and four nights together, where they engage in the sacraments, daily Rosary and Perpetual Adoration. TKM empowers men by combining outdoor activities with the faith. For more on this, visit the retreat website www.IntoTheWildWeekend.com. These retreats challenge men to grow in virtue, as they gather the tools to be a virtuous man, through doing what men were naturally born to do: lead, protect, and provide.

Please pray for TKM, as they are actively engaged in spiritual warfare.  In the past 5 years, TKM has been responsible for shutting down 7 sexually oriented businesses.  In addition, they were sued by Adult World in Pennsylvania for their protesting. The case was taken to the Federal Court, but thankfully, the judge ruled in favor of TKM.

TKM is also hosting a Healing Retreat in November 2012 for any man who has suffered from various forms of abuse. For more information, please visit their website.

[Ladies, this post may seem as though it is only for men, but keep reading, there’s something in this for you too.]

I feel like I’m constantly either writing or talking about virtue, but nearly every day, I realize that we all need to hear about virtue more and more.  Virtue is vital to living a Christ-centered life.  What is virtue?  In short, virtue means manliness (from the Latin virtus).  Maybe that doesn’t make sense… how can Prudence, Justice, Fortitude and Temperance (the Cardinal Virtues) mean manliness?  They don’t – they mean what they mean.  It’s the exact opposite – manliness means possessing the virtues.  Does that mean that in order to be manly, a male must be virtuous?

Precisely!  Authentic manliness is living virtue!  Plain and simple.  Alright, so how do I know if I’m virtuous (or manly)?  The definition is a good place to start: “Virtue is the habitual and firm disposition to do the good.”  So, what do you think?  Are you virtuous?  Be careful, you can’t partially possess virtue – it’s all or none.  Either I have the “habitual and firm disposition” or I don’t.  The test?… do I perform the virtue as a habit while also doing it promptly, easily, consistently and with joy?  If not, you don’t have that particular virtue.  If so, then you do.  There’s no sliding scale, no gray area, no “sorta, kinda, sometimes”.  It’s all or none.

Let me clarify… it is possible to have glimpses of virtuous behavior and not possess the virtue, so don’t get all hot and bothered thinking that what I’m writing means that you’re not a good guy.  I’m simply relaying what St. Thomas Aquinas spent much of his life working on.  For more clarity, let’s concentrate on the virtue of courage, otherwise known as fortitude.  Men want to be courageous, right?  When a man possesses courage, he “ensures firmness in difficulty, has constancy in the pursuit of good, and the resolve to resist temptations.”  When a man possesses courage, these characteristics are always present, without wavering.  What happens, then, when a male isn’t courageous?  What can he do about it?

If you want to grow in virtue, it takes two things: 1. Grace and 2. Practice.  The grace part isn’t up to you, but the practice part is.  If you want to grow in virtue, practice makes perfect!  Ask God for opportunities to practice each virtue.  If you ask (sincerely), He’ll give you the opportunity.  Try it, you’ll see.  I recommend that you think long and hard about which virtue you need/want to work on the most (and soon!) and ask God for it.

So, then does that mean that women can’t be virtuous, or shouldn’t even try to be?  No, not at all.  And it doesn’t mean that a woman who is virtuous is manly.  In the case of women, they should also be striving for virtue.  Women grow in virtue the same way men do, through grace and practice, but the natural inclinations of men and women are different.  Men and women are complementary (not complimentary, like “hey, that color looks nice on you”, but complement like two things that go well together) and our natures work really, really well together!  God intended it that way.  We are of equal dignity, but different in nature.  Men are all called to lead, protect, and provide.  “Women are called to trust, surrender, and to be receptive.

Some women hear this and become squeamish, as if this is some sort of oppressive mandate to hold them down.  Not at all!  This is intended to allow men to hold you up!  When both men and women are living virtuously, our natures are working properly and are the perfect complement!  To think that working against nature would somehow be oppressive is pretty ridiculous.  Think about it, have you ever heard a woman say, “I would hate it if a man treated me with respect, if he honored and cherished me and if he made me a better woman!”  Never!  Clearly, this is a little extreme, but it begs the point… why are these natures complementary and why are men called to live the virtues?  The answer is simple.  To be more Christ-like!  All men should all be attempting to emulate Christ Jesus, the perfect model of virtue, the perfect model of masculinity.

There’s plenty more to be said on the topic of virtue, but for a more concise explanation, check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 1803-1845.

“The goal of a virtuous life is to become like God.” – St. Gregory of Nyssa.

Just Hold Me

One of the greatest gifts we can offer another human being is hope. Everyone suffers. But what will set you apart from others is your ability to see the beauty in your cross, despite the circumstances and to encourage others to persevere and arouse a spirit of hope in all you encounter.

It’s okay to be afraid and to feel countless other emotions associated with suffering. But do not allow yourself to despair, choose instead to seek beauty amidst the ambiguity of life. Rise from the ashes, inspire others with hope, show mercy and kindness, radiate joy and love as the Father has loved and continues to love you.

Let His love radiate through you, so that when others see you, they see and feel the love of the Father.

And if tonight you should feel alone, isolated from those you love or frustrated because you feel as if no one understand your pain – turn to your Heavenly Father and tell Him your feelings, for He does understand, and sees all things. He is waiting for you to come to Him so He can protect you.

When I was recovering from the ramifications that abuse produces, I printed this picture and hung it in a frame, eye level to my bed. When the pain made me numb, when I doubted if I was lovable and when the tears wouldn’t subside I looked at it. I imagined myself in God’s arms, just like the little girl in the picture. It brought me great peace and comfort to imagine the Father holding me. But don’t take my word for it…try it yourself.

And This is Why…

I love what I do.

The other day someone asked me, Maura, tell me about some of the trials of starting a non-profit? Well, I’ve spent my whole savings on MIHI and I have no salary. It’s a tremendous amount of work to get a non-profit off the ground and it’s even harder when it’s just you. Some people really discourage me, which I’m always working on not taking personal, but it can still be frustrating. 

Then He asked, Can you tell me some of the joys? 

Below is one of them. And just one of the hundreds of emails I have received. A young woman who is in one of MIHI’s accountability groups emailed me this today. All the glory and honor to the Father.

I want to share with you what happened just now. After I finished the last lesson, I went to the kitchen to make myself some lunch. I live in a house with two other house mates, one of them is really messy and leaves the bathroom and kitchen quite dirty. The kitchen sink was just so dirty with coffee that the water wouldn’t flow down. I recently get so frustrated and annoyed when they don’t clean up after themselves and I always have to run after them and tell them to clean.

So I made myself some lunch, but then couldn’t really do the washing up because of the sink and I feel so sick of cleaning up after them. So I felt such a strong urge to binge or at least overeat. I thought about what I could/wanted to have and I thought about ordering a pizza from Domino’s or making myself a huge plate of pasta and just hide in my room and eat it. I was aware that this was a moment of temptation and I remembered all the previous times when I had given in to temptation instead of ‘fighting against them with God’. So I told myself to at least try.

I walked away from the kitchen and went back to my room. I thought about what I should do to make this anger go away, reading the Bible or go to adoration..instead I decided to start a new lesson. And WOW. I started the lesson and instead of eating because I was angry, I now eat because I am hungry. I’m eating a few biscuits, not because I’m angry or frustrated, but because I feel that the lunch I had was not enough and I deserve this because I’m eating in a disciplined manner and in moderation. I’ve had maybe 5 small biscuits and I can truly feel I’m not physically hungry anymore so I’ve stopped eating them! This is the first time I’ve managed to fight temptation with God! I’m so excited about my ‘little victory’ and so thankful of God’s strength! Today’s really been a big step forward for me and I’m SO happy! Praise God 🙂 I feel invincible with Him! And by the way, how cool is it that this lesson is about temptation? As if God not only, helped me turn to Him instead of food by starting a new lesson instead of binging, but blessed me with another gift of learning about all this…

“My Love, My Cross, My Joy” – Marriage Following Abuse

One of my scariest thoughts about getting my book published is that the world can read about most everything I’m afraid of, as I am very vulnerable with whomever decides to pick up a copy. In the end of Choosing to See Beauty, I write about my hope to get married in the future. I know, as my doctor has told me on several occasions that it will be with a man whom God Himself has generously blessed with compassion, gentleness, patience and the ability to make me feel protected and safe. Having never been married, I asked this evenings special guest to address the topic of marriage following her abuse.

This evening, Made in His Image is very honored to welcome Faith Hakesley to its blog. Faith, a survivor of sexual abuse, wrote for the National Catholic Register about her experiences a few weeks ago and this evening Faith will address a very sensitive topic for survivors: Marriage Following Abuse.

As the founder and president of MIHI, I would like to sincerely thank Faith for her candor, courage and perseverance. Her faith, and choice to see beauty, despite her suffering is extraordinary. The things that most people complain about are unparalleled to what this woman has overcome, through the grace of God.

By Faith Hakesley

Following months of sexual abuse by a Catholic priest when I was fifteen, marriage and children were gifts I felt totally undeserving of. “Why would anyone want to marry me now?” were the words frequently haunting my traumatized mind. In our society, women who have been abused or raped are often seen as “damaged goods” and it takes a rare and special man to be willing to “deal with” and share the repercussions a survivor experiences. God blessed me with one of those rare and special men, however, and, even though it is not easy by any stretch, we have built a strong relationship of incredible love and unity.

“You are my love, you are my cross, you are my joy.” These were the words spoken by the officiant at my husband’s (Alex) and my wedding three and a half years ago. The priest held up a crucifix as he spoke these powerful words. Some people might just shrug these words off. To my husband and I, however, these are the words that we have learned to live by in our marriage. My crosses have become his crosses, my joys his joys, and my love his love (and vice versa).

The road is difficult and different for each family but it is possible to overcome trauma. I was fortunate enough to have come to terms with and gotten help for the traumas I had experienced before marrying. When Alex’s and my long-time friendship blossomed into something more, I was at a point in my own recovery that I was able to help him understand what I was going through, and he was able to support me in my recovery. With the help of therapy and the loving support of my family, Alex and I developed our own boundaries so that I could continue to heal without him feeling as though he could somehow fix it all. We have worked hard, both individually and as a couple, to create a relationship of honesty, communication, and complete faith and trust in God.

A male survivor of clergy sexual abuse gave my husband some great advice several years ago. “If she’s having a bad day, don’t assume that it’s because of memories of the abuse. She still has feelings and, if you want to help her, validate that she can feel human again and it’s okay for her to be upset about other things.” The abuse is a big part of my history & has certainly made me who I am today, but it’s not all I am. Guys can have a hard time reading women and (let’s face it) we can be mind-boggling puzzles sometimes!

I have learned to be open and honest with my husband about my feelings. I’ll say “I’m having bad memories today” referring to the sexual abuse or “I’m having a Matt day” if I’m missing my brother who passed away ten years ago. Sometimes it’s just, “I feel angry today but I don’t know why.” When I struggle with thoughts of, “I’m such a burden…,” Alex laughs, rolls his eyes and says, “Faith, I married you…I love you and I will always be here for you so get over it!”

My husband has created a safe place for me although he has had to embark on his own journey in order to better understand me and my experiences. He has attended some therapy with me in the past, done his own research on trauma, and has learned to ask questions. If he is ever struggling with a question or concern, he will discuss the issue with me but, if I just don’t have the emotional energy to talk about something, he will go to my parents. He has cried with me, screamed with me, thrown stuffed animals with me, and prayed with me. Alex carries me when I need to be carried but also pushes me when I need to be pushed. He is my “lion” and stands up for me when necessary. He even has stood up to me when I have criticized myself!

As someone who has struggled with an eating disorder in the past, I have a very skewed perception of my body. Although naturally frustrating for him at times, he is there to reassure me that I am beautiful. He supports me in prayer and during times when I don’t “feel” my faith. It takes a very special man being graced by God to be able to put his own emotions and needs aside in the moment and put you first! Yet, even if I experience a flashback in the midst of an intimate moment, Alex will hold me and say, “Faith, it’s okay…nothing can hurt you…I’m here with you and you’re safe. Come back to the present. Come back to me.” He has grown to be especially sensitive to my fears of intimacy and, in the past, has sometimes been hesitant to touch me for fear of upsetting me.

Alex has gone through his own struggles to accept the rape. I will never forget the conversation we had some years ago during which I told him all the details of the abuse. It was a difficult conversation, allowing myself to be vulnerable to a man once again but it was an important step in rebuilding the trust that I had lost when the abuse took place. Alex has never blamed me, but he did spend a lot of time being angry about “why” it happened. He went through many of the same struggles as I did – he blamed God, he blamed other people, and he looked for answers that just didn’t exist. Over time, I was able to help him as were my parents, my therapist, and the good God above I believe gave him the graces to move forward. We have both experienced resentment of having to “deal” with everything that has come our way, but we choose to let that anger make us stronger.

Our son, Matthew, (born last year) puts life into perspective for us both. I am fortunate enough to be a stay-at-home mom and sometimes long hours alone with an active and precocious toddler can play havoc on the mind. However, I work hard to prevent any negativity on my part to affect him. Over time, I’ve learned to put my thoughts into words through prayer, writing, exercise, or music and I call on these wonderful things everyday. For a long time, I was surviving for me, then for my husband and I, but now I survive for our son too!

If you have ever experienced abuse, don’t look for someone who’s going to carry you all the time. Rather, look for someone who can both carry you when you need carrying and who can push you when you need pushing! Choose someone who is willing to become a part of your journey and someone who is willing to take on a part of your burden. My husband chose to be a part of my life and that includes my past, present, and future experiences no matter how negative they may be. In the end, a strong relationship is based on hard work – the harder you work, the stronger you will both be! Our marriage is far from perfect, but as long as you both pursue healing and strive to move forward, God will be present amidst your joys and love and, when there are crosses, He will carry you both.

Stay with Me

To the beautiful women I help hold accountable,

I know it doesn’t always feel like it, but you are so incredibly precious in God the Father’s eyes. You are closest to Him in your struggles, so place your heart, in His tender and gentle Hands. May He show you the depth of your beauty, as His daughter, created in His image and likeness.

Thank you for your candor with me. Your courage is inspiring. And your faith radiates beauty. You are always on my heart, and in my prayers. Here is a prayer that I wrote when I was really struggling many years ago and I thought you might like it tonight.

Dear Father in Heaven,
I desire to be free from these shackles which bind me so tightly. 
Stay with me. 
I’m scared. I’m scared of exposing my sin. I’m scared of what others may think. I’m scared of gaining weight. I’m scared of feeling full and gross. I’m scared of being alone. 
Stay with me. 
When I think of how others have hurt me, sometimes it suffocates me. The pain is everywhere. 
Stay with me.
Take my tears. Take my fear. Take my heart.
Stay with me. 
Hold my hand through the pain, through each meal and through each step of my recovery. 
Stay with me. 
I have sinned and hurt you deeply. Increase in my heart a Godly sorrow.
Stay with me. 
You see beauty in me. Let me see it to Father. 
Stay with me. 
I can’t do it without You. I ask for Your grace.
Stay with me. 
Let me feel Your loving embrace. 
Love, 
(and insert your name). 
text copyright c 2012, Maura Byrne
 

If you would like to hear more about MIHI’s accountability group, please contact Maura Byrne at ifightHimwithlove@gmail.com

From the Heart of a Young Entrepreneur

The other day someone told me that I didn’t look a day over eighteen, so I thought it would be okay if I referred to myself as young.

MIHI had an amazing week! Here are some of the highlights: I hired my first employee,  who is a Catholic Counselor. She is going to be helping me design the first Catholic online program for women struggling with eating disorders. I will have her information posted next week. She will also be available for phone counseling. I purchased a website for MIHI, which is www.madeinHisimage.org. Together with my accountant, we completed all of the paper work necessary by the IRS, for a non-profit. This was a huge accomplishment, and one that I’m thrilled about. MIHI is now a tax-deductible organization and I can now accept donations on-line! Today, I received my first on-line donation!

I want to share a story with you. Over the summer of 2011, I received some sorrowful news. A friend of mine had just been admitted into the Psychiatric unit of the hospital on suicide watch with an eating disorder. With a heavy heart I went to bed and tried to sleep, but couldn’t. Having myself recovered from an eating disorder, I could taste this young woman’s pain. I prayed the Rosary and begged our Blessed Mother to ask her Son for His healing Hands to touch this woman.

I wrote her a note, which she was able to read the following morning. She called me after. I called her back while on a break at work and asked about visiting hours at the hospital. She said they were allowed to see friends and family on Saturday afternoons. I asked for the afternoon off and went to see her.

With racing thoughts, I walked into the hospital and signed in. One of the nurses slid her hand firmly over the three Gerber Daisies I was holding, feeling for any sharp objects. Then she slid her ID to open the double doors which led back to the visitation room. We walked in silence down the long hallway. Upon opening the door, my eyes were instantaneously drawn to a young woman sitting behind my friend who weighed about eighty pounds. My heart was riddled with pain.

I sat down next to my friend and considered it a privilege that I wasn’t worthy of. Her courage was astounding. She talked for a while, and I listened. She asked me some questions, and I shared my story with her. We cried together.

I am alive today because of God. I desire to spend the rest of my time on earth giving back to Him and helping other women find the freedom He has given me. To do this, I believe it is vital that girls and women receive treatment at a center that is faith-based and will educate women about their dignity as daughter’s of God, God the Father’s love, mercy and forgiveness. Upon walking into this center, patients and visitors will be greeted by a statue of the Blessed Mother and Saint Maximilian Kolbe who is one of the patron saints of eating disorders. This center will be a place for immense healing, education and peace. It will be a place of beauty, as God’s daughter’s come together and learn about the depths of the Father’s love.

To build this medical center for women will require millions of dollars, which I will be applying for through grants. But in the mean time, I’m in dire need of your financial support to keep MIHI running. I have given my whole savings to this organization and have nothing more to give. There are countless things that I desire to do for these women which require your financial assistance. I would like to ask you to please consider giving to MIHI, perhaps tithing. Or maybe you know someone who is financially able to give: could you please reach out to them and tell them about MIHI. This work will save lives and I want you to be apart of it.

I’m confident that God will provide and I trust Him. I humbly ask you to please pray for the funding of MIHI. I’m so incredibly grateful for your generosity. I also gladly accept Trader Joe’s gift cards so I can buy food for myself 🙂