As I reflect on this year, it has been a real journey with times of joy and gratitude for our family, friends, and community as well as difficult times.   Chuck and I have committed ourselves to live consciously, with grateful attitudes for everything in our lives.

This means All Things, good and not so good. We thank God many times during the day for all of our blessings, stopping to pray and, especially for peace in our homes and our world. This has not always been our way of being.

Before COVID-19, we were so busy being busy that we did not seem to have time to stop and reflect on life. Our work had us consulting and traveling throughout the state with different Native American tribes on how to prepare for various types of emergencies. Chuck and I both commit a good portion of our time to serving our church and helping our family and friends. The virus changed our way of life, particularly when we got sick and faced new challenges. Our company suffered without us being able to teach.  The time spent with church and friends became extremely limited or not possible at all. There has been a positive outcome though, life slowed down. Now we have time to stop and smell the roses… the good with the bad.

My prayer life has been challenged, I have come to understand that sometimes prayer changes things around me, and other times prayer changes me. I often think that prayer is verbalizing to God my concerns, my complaints, or making a request of God. I also have come to understand that God is delighted that I come to him often and always for all things.  Philippians 4 calls us to pray about everything! Philippians 4:6-7: “Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.”  This passage from The Message Bible is my chant.

I have been blessed with an incredible gift of faith. I am a cradle Catholic, born to Hispanic parents, went to Catholic school and high school. Church was our community. Our family was very involved in our parish, we lived our faith. I am incredibly grateful that my parents established this in our lives. I have never been lost in life, wondering where God is or thinking I was alone as I faced challenges. I always had this trust that Jesus “had me”.

When we got sick, our family came and surrounded us with prayers, love, and incredible care. Our grandchildren sent us uplifting texts full of love and prayers encouraging us to fight through this. What a gift they have been to us. With all that said, I did find myself alone when I was released from the hospital and Chuck had to stay. Suddenly my prayers were “Dear Jesus, hold me…. Now my actions needed to match my words. Okay, I surrender, I surrender, I surrender. You got this Lord. My prayers, music, family, friends, solace lifted me up.”

I believe that prayer is an amazing gift. Mother Teresa says. “I used to pray that God would feed the hungry, or do this or that, but now I pray that he will guide me to do whatever I’m supposed to do, what I can do. I used to pray for answers, but now I am praying for strength. I used to believe that prayer changes things, but now I know that prayer changes us, and we change things.”