Many of you may have heard of Madonna Badger, but for those who haven’t let me give you a brief synopsis. She is a woman with three children living in Connecticut preparing Christmas Eve festivities with her parents. Her mother just finished baking her award-winning apple pie.
2 Her three girls finished decorating the Christmas tree.

3 They all went to bed in anticipation of the best Christmas ever.

1Then in the middle of the night their house caught on fire, and everyone died but Madonna. As you can imagine, she lost herself in grief and because there are no grief rehabs they committed her into numerous mental institutes. She became so depressed it was a huge victory just to get out of bed to eat. 6One day she cried so hard and deep that it felt like she was bleeding. 4Of course, she wanted to die which is why they placed her in confinement, I mean wouldn’t you? Finally, she found one Dr., who was able to explain to her in terms that she could understand and was able to help her. He said, “you’re not crazy your just really sad and they don’t have rehab for grief.” He told her that because she was a mother she was spiritually connected to her children, and he explained it in scientific terms and used terminology that I’m having trouble recalling. He asked her to picture herself with an invisible cord coming from her womb to her children and another one behind her attached to her mom and dad. The cords got prematurely severed, and the connection is so strong that she still feels connected. The separation has left her as an open wound raw and bare. Most people that have gone through what she has fill that emptiness with addictions, like alcohol, drugs, sexual misconduct, smoking etc., but what that does is keep the wound raw and prevent it from healing. He advised her to sit in that rawness and experience it.

Over time, she was able to form a skin over her raw wound, and her words of wisdom are this,

* When she is full of love and happy memories she can feel the presence of her children and parents. She can hear them speak to her, and she can again feel connected and healed. If she allows anger and resentment to take control of her emotions, she loses the spiritual connection and presence of them. Love is the bond that keeps them together.

* She suggests that we don’t stress over the small stuff with our children. She recalls arguing with her kids to eat organic, missing recitals for work, fighting over homework. She would give anything to have those moments back. She reflects back asking herself, was it that important? Yes, she wanted them to eat healthy and organic, but enough to spend moments in strife? How she wishes she let those moments go and had more happy moments with them. Don’t live in regret make changes now.

* She believes we are all spiritual beings having human experiences that makes us all connected and for that we need to let others love us. It was through the compassionate love of strangers and her embracing that love is what ultimately healed her.


For her, the greatest lesson she learned through this horrific experience is we need to be there for each other when things grow dark. Being that light of Christ shining their way out of the storm. We need to allow others to love us and let go. She has recently remarried a man she calls her rock of strength. She has known him since she was nineteen years old and they are beginning a new life together. Perhaps you have words of wisdom from your experiences with grief that you can add to this list. Feel free to share in the comments below.


Jesus says in Matthew 22: 37-40

“You shall love the Lord, your God,
with all your heart,
with all your soul,
and with all your mind.
This is the greatest and the first commandment.
The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
The whole law and the prophets depend on these two commandments.”

This scripture passage sure got me thinking. Especially after hearing about a saint (not St. Francis) that overcomes his fear of lepers and devotes the remainder of his life to serving them. Although I see this act of charity commendable, I don’t think it is precisely the kind of love Jesus was referring to. My reasoning is this, when we see people who are less fortunate than ourselves it is much easier to love them. If we choose to deny them, I refer you to this scripture from James 2:14-17

What use is it, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but he has no works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and be filled,” and yet you do not give them what is necessary for their body, what use is that? Even so faith, if it has no works, is dead, being by itself.

The challenge I pose to you today following this scripture is this, “can you love the neighbor who knows exactly what to say to get under your skin?” You know who I’m talking about, the person in your circle of friends or in your family where every time you’re around that person you feel friction. You may even feel friction upon their name being mentioned. They know just how to provoke you or push your buttons. They may insult you, provoke you, consistently want something from you or just call you out on everything you try to do or say. Can you love them with the same compassion as you would the leper?

That my friend is “the challenge” and it is not easy. I call these people our sandpaper people, because it hurts to be close to them, but they smooth our interior rough spots so we can slide easier into heaven. (If you click on this word  “SANDPAPER PEOPLE” you will find my blog where I expand more on them.) I bring this up, because the Holidays are quickly approaching, and you are bound to be around at least one love challenge and we don’t want to resort to such tactics like this,


I once heard that if the generous act you do does not put you out in some way then it isn’t a true act of charity for it only solidifies the scripture in James. I can recall most vividly a time when I experienced this to be true. Periodically I would have prayer meetings at my house and this one particular time two of my neighbors came. Both women were very involved in the church; one was in her early 70’s and lived one block to my left. The other was in her upper 70’s and lived one block to my right. The older one had just suffered some serious health issues, was frail and needed help up my stairs. We had a great gathering, praying, singing and sharing our faith together. When the meeting was over, I noticed the two ladies were leaving at the same time. When I saw the one struggling to get down the stairs, I had asked the other to please help her and would she walk her to her home to be sure she arrived safely. Her response totally floored me and enraged me when she responded, “NO! She is going that way, and she pointed to her right and I am going that way and she pointed to her left. I was so stunned I could not believe what I was hearing. For crying out loud, we just got done praying and praising Jesus, is this what He would do?

For many of you that know me you know that I challenged her to change her mind. She chose not to and for that I will never forget this lesson. If you aren’t being stretched or inconvenienced in some way with your charity, you need to check your motives and why you are doing what you are doing. True love is sacrificing if you don’t believe me just look at the cross.

Guardian Angels

Originally posted on Dawn's Faith Connection:


Yesterday was the feast of Guardian Angels, and it reminded me, of all the times I felt the presence of angels in my life, and the countless stories I’ve heard from others. The belief that God sends Guardian Angels to watch over us and that they carry our prayers to Him was common long before Christianity. You will find many references to angels in the scriptures. I will reference a few in the Old Testament see the book of Tobit, Genesis, Ezekiel 9, Psalm 91:1 and New Testament Matthew 19:10 or Luke. I recently posted on our facebook page about a fourteen-year-old girl, who was in the hospital suffering from pneumonia, and she claimed to have been being visited by an angel and miraculous healed. Part of this incredible miracle is the surveillance camera at the hospital recorded the encounter. Click on this link and judge for yourselves.


View original 738 more words



I am so impressed with this ten-year-old Entrepreneur check her out


She has some innovative and creative ideas and It’s good to see so many young girls and women given opportunities in the workplace, however; with more opportunities comes more personal decisions to make. For instance, do I balance a career while raising a family or do I work solely at my career and have children later in life? According to NBC, both Apple and Facebook will begin to cover the cost of freezing their female employees eggs up to $20,000. This “benefit”, gives women an incentive to work in place of having children and it may seem generous and begin to trend with other companies, but is this a good idea? I mean, “would some woman see this as a sign that the company they work for thinks that working there, and pregnancy are incompatible?”Could this so called “benefit” be a disguised attack on women and families? I mean it sounds good, but is it really?

Let’s look at this more closely. There is a risk involved in later in life pregnancy, even with younger eggs. The same holds true if your eggs are young and your mate’s sperm is old. From a Catholic moral standpoint, I give you Dignitas Personae

Theoretically, freezing human eggs is not intrinsically evil, since one can conceive of some clinical settings in which a woman might benefit from such technique (say, for example, to evaluate some aspect of her fertility that is otherwise impossible to ascertain). That is why, in making its moral evaluation, DP focuses on the intention for freezing a human egg. If the purpose is for in vitro fertilization (IVF), then the procedure is morally tainted. In the words of DP, “In this regard it needs to be stated that cryopreservation of oocytes for the purpose of being used in artificial procreation is to be considered morally unacceptable.” (No. 20, emphasis in the original)

In addition, there are serious risks involved to the woman seeking to freeze her eggs: ovarian hyperstimulation and egg retrieval are dangerous―and at times even fatal. They can only be justified for extremely grave reasons. There is also the danger that women will be exploited for their eggs through financial incentives.

In a normal IVF procedure, typically three to four embryos (blastocysts) are inserted into the woman’s uterus; on average, only one implants. The other two or three are discarded by her body. There are times, however, when two, three, four or even more of the embryos implant. As the woman or couple only wanted one child, they are offered the choice to terminate the “excess” embryos. In order to make an informed choice, the embryos or fetuses in her womb are tested for genetic defects and for gender. She can then select to abort the ones that might be carrying some genetic defect or are the the ‘wrong’ gender.

To intentionally kill a human being ―no matter how early in development―is a grave moral evil. When this is done on the basis of the intentional selection of inheritable traits, this is called eugenics, and has serious consequences for all of society. In the words of DP, “From the ethical point of view, embryo reduction is an intentional selective abortion. It is in fact the deliberate and direct elimination of one or more innocent human beings in the initial phase of their existence and as such it always constitutes a grave moral disorder.” (DP No. 21, emphasis in the original)

Although our culture is changing the age of what is considered child bearing years? I’ve noticed that since I entered my fifth decade of life my patience has run thin, my energy is lower, and my desires have shifted. When my grandchild leaves after a visit, I am exhausted and when she sleeps over I usually don’t sleep much. Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but I believe this is the natural cycle of life. I wonder are there any statistic on women who have saved their eggs and then felt the aging process and changed their minds about having children? Are there statistics on what may be the emotional affects from remorse and guilt of choosing a career over having children? And what then happens to their frozen eggs? It’s recommended to save at least 20 eggs, and statistics shows an increase of women freezing their eggs. Women are having “egg freezing parties”; that’s a lot of eggs.

Maybe, this seemingly wonderful optional benefit is not as beneficial as we may think. Could it be yet another disguised attack to potential families by appearing to increase them down the road when in reality decreasing them? I would rather see companies put that kind of financial backing into giving women in the workplace the best opportunities in child care. Educational bonuses into private schools for their children. Family vacation packages for more quality time and more opportunities to work from home.

What are your thoughts on the subject?



My husband and I had gone through the training process to adopt an older child from the foster care system. When I learned of the high statistics of children abused, I became frightened that a child would repeat that abuse to my children so I pulled our name from the list. A year later, I received a phone call from the agency. It was our caseworker that said, “We prayed then called everyone on our list; you were the only one to answer the phone. We have an emergency situation with a boy 8-years old. He was being abused in his pre-adoptive home, and we need to get him into a safe environment. Can you please take him temporary until we can find another adoptive home?” Well…how could we say no? I mean, after all it was only temporary. She replied, “Oh, thank you! We will be there in two hours.” Two hours??? OMG! A million thoughts raced through our minds. Panic started to set in.

When they pulled in the driveway, and we saw him being removed from a car seat at eight years old we thought it odd until, we saw how small and frail he was then my heart sank. I immediately felt so much love for him that all my fears subsided. It was the end of August, and although, this was a temporary situation I didn’t want him to suffer any more than he already had. I wanted him to start school with all the other children, heal from his abuses and to feel a part of our family however temporary it may be. I enrolled him in school, brought him to our pediatrician who took him off of all medications, because he did not need them. We went school clothes shopping, because his clothes were all worn out, and his shoes had holes exposing his socks.

I was able to get his birth certificate for registration and saw that his birthday was soon approaching. I decided to throw him a birthday party and invite his whole class. I thought it would help him to make new friends and adjust to his new school. In the coming weeks, he would ask me at least once a day “What is the date of my birthday?” and then, “oh, hmm.” I wondered why but decided it was just his excitement. That was, until the day of his birthday and then I understood.

On his birthday, one by one his classmates started to arrive with presents in hand. As each child handed him a present, I saw his face change to excitement and fear at the same time. My husband organized fun games for everyone to play while I prepared goodies inside. Suddenly, one of the kids came running inside screaming for me to hurry and go outside because something was wrong with the birthday boy. He was lying on the ground crying hysterically. No one was quite sure what had happened. As I bent down over him, he assured me that he did not get hurt. Everyone stared not knowing what to do. I carried him into the house and told everyone to continue the party. When I got him alone, I asked him what was wrong. He told me nothing was wrong everything was fine. I thought to myself, FINE??!! How can this be fine? Something is clearly wrong. Through sobs and tears he finally confided in me saying, “I never had a birthday party, I never even knew when my birthday was until you told me.” Aha, this explained the repeated questions of the date of his birthday and his emotional meltdown.

melt down

My heart sunk to the deepest part of myself. I never expected nor would I ever have thought this could be a reality for a child in America today. Something as simple as a birthday party that I have had my entire life and so have everyone that I knew. I took such things for granted. He opened my eyes to a poverty that exists in the world I had never known. I felt small and humbled by this little boy who put in perspective how blessed by the Grace of God I am.

I let him cry it out, and watched his little body sob until he asked me if he could watch the party through the window instead of being a part of it. I realized that he had no idea how to act or what to do in a situation like this. I agreed to let him watch the party from the window, and it was only then that the tears stopped and the smile came upon his face as he watched. Although, the kids at the party had no Idea why the birthday boy was not participating they all had a great time and left happy.2 window

When all the children left and we were alone as a family he opened each present slowly and through soft tears. When he unwrapped all of the gifts, he didn’t play with any of them he just stared at them. I asked him why he wasn’t playing with any of his new toys. He told me; he didn’t know how. I could not believe what I was hearing how could this be possible?

That night, before going to bed we said prayers and he told me that this was the best birthday he ever had. I thought to myself as I kissed his forehead goodnight, of course, it was; it was the only birthday he ever had (a truth I still have trouble wrapping myself around).kiss I share this story with you, for two reasons one, because every day is a gift that some people struggle to keep. We should never take it for granted; we are richer than we can ever imagine. Two, I was amazed to learn of how many beautiful children there are right here in America living in poverty. The children in the foster care system tend to move around frequently because their homes are only temporary until they find permanent ones. They never know where they are going and “if” it will be safe. The problem is there are more children in the system than those looking to adopt and most end up aging out of the system. They never give up hope for a forever family. To this day our son requests that we do not have birthday parties for him other than with immediate family, and we honor his wishes.

Matthew 25:40

“And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’


I’ve been invited to write a piece for Joanne Guidoccio for a series on her website called “Second Acts.” I am grateful for the invitation, opportunity and excited to share it with you. Just click on this link “BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS.”



When given a great opportunity or task have you ever felt unworthy, not experienced enough or afraid you might mess it up? Do you have moments when you feel as though no one understands you? It’s the worst kind of feeling and deny it or not, we’ve all been there at one time or another. I often wondered if Jesus may have had moments like this too. I mean, He was human as much as He was Divine, wouldn’t he suffer the same human frailties at times? I know this is a very hard concept, but hypothetically speaking just image the possibility.

If we look at the scriptures, we learn that Jesus lived a fairly ordinary life until he turned 30 the legal age to begin ministry. At 30, we learn that John the Baptist baptized him in the water and the Holy Spirit giving him a special anointing in preparation for his new ministry. Could this new role that he was not familiar with yet, have been overwhelming for him if even just briefly? The scriptures then tell us that following the baptism the Spirit immediately led Him into the desert where he was alone and tempted by the devil. I wonder if during that time alone he wrestled with God over His human side. You know, the side that may have felt unworthy, not good enough or fearful that he may mess it up. Maybe, just maybe, God allowed the devil to tempt him to build his confidence because God knew he was ready to face the challenge ahead, and Jesus needed to know that he was ready.

I mean it happened again at the wedding feast of Cana when he told his mother “his time had not come yet.” She insisted it did and told the waiters to do whatever he said. He needed a little push of confidence. After Jesus desert experience, the angels spiritually restored him then he picked his disciples and began his ministry. Did you ever think that when you are struggling and feeling this way that God is showing you that you are ready? He is waiting for you to let go and trust him that he prepared you enough for what is coming next in your life? We tend to get weak in the knees because we have trouble believing that God doesn’t call the qualified he qualifies the called. He says you are worthy, good enough and able for He lives within you and loves you. Don’t let the devil tempt you to believe his lies, trust in the power of your Holy Spirit education and stand tall believing you can.

“He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire. He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along.”Psalm 40:2

“What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us?” Romans 8:31


In a commentary from The Word Among Us I read this paragraph and it reflected the same questions that I have been mulling over for a long time. It said,

Why is it that the invitation to pray “for vocations” is usually understood to mean pray only for certain vocations—namely, for more priests and religious? Why do Catholics who are single—widowed, divorced, or unmarried—often feel vocationless and in spiritual limbo? Why isn’t Christian marriage more generally seen as a high calling and not just a default option for people who can’t handle a consecrated celibate life?

These are tough questions and the rest of the commentary did explain the reasons why, but for me, the addition of these and lay leaders in the prayer of the faithful is important. Lay leaders and marriage, are vocations and need prayer. As a member of the Secular Franciscan Order, a lay vocation of professed members dedicated to living out the Gospels, we see our numbers dwindling and our fraternities having to merge as a result just like some religious. The vocation of marriage, well…..can you tell me honestly, that most of your friends and/or family who are married are not struggling to stay married? and at this point, do you know more people who are divorced or single than married? Prayer, prayer, prayer is needed.

The Government, last week released a statistic that 50.2% percent of all American’s are single. That’s right, today, we have more single people than married and 40% of all births in America are from unmarried women. Children are growing up with a new definition of family. These are startling statistics, that paint a very vivid picture of where we are and where we will be in the near future. Children in the next generation are growing up in a very different interpretation of family than we did. There has been a huge shift and we need to reassess how we are praying and approaching the subject.  Families today need support in order to thrive. They need help raising their children with faith, they need spiritual counseling as couples, they need financial assistance and mostly they need a community to stand with them through their ups and downs. Marriage is not a lesser vocation to the religious life, but where the seeds of religious life are formed, so I ask you, what are we doing and saying to our hurting communities as a body in the institutional church?  Pope Francis is saying plenty, he is challenging and stretching our comfort zones into unchartered territory. On the Feast of the Exaltation of the Cross he married 20 couples and many were unconventional couples. His example at the Vatican for the Roman Catholic church should set the tone for the Synod of families to meet next month. Check out these links to read more on 20 married couples and Philadelphia this month.

The startling truth is, the definition of families in America has changed. I was speaking with a pastor from an affluent parish and he was meeting with a committee to discuss the challenges of his changing community. Getting advice on how to go about updating his registration form with sensitivity to the transgender and two gay couples with children in their parish. How many others are in the parish community keeping silent hoping to slip through the cracks unnoticed and not getting their needs met. This shift or change in the family dynamics affects how we are to be Church to a hurting world that needs us. Whatever their situation, right or wrong, good or bad they need us. This very notion of how much they need us reminds me of this quote, “church is not a museum of saints, but a hospital for sinners.”

As a cradle catholic raising children in the faith, I’ve come to realize that there is a natural disconnect in our children when they become young adults. They go through a stage called “judging”, when they realize that their parents do not know everything they thought they did and they view our raising them in the faith as our imposed belief on them. They begin to explore for themselves if this is what they believe for themselves. The problem we face is that the rest of the world is telling them that we are wrong too. This is why, when they want to get married and they come back to the catholic church and meet with the priest, clergy or laity in preparation, they should be very careful as to how welcoming, compassionate and full of love they are in the process of facing this challenge, because this opportunity has everything to do with whether or not they choose in their young adult life to come back. Then if we can figure out how to make make marriage in the catholic church more affordable for them as well, we may not lose so many of them to destination and protistan weddings.

Let us pray together for the upcoming Synod for the family October 5-19th, that it be fruitful and healing for the entire world and that the Holy Spirit is able to direct them on these very time sensitive issues.

Here is a worthwhile read on a former priest and annulments


These are two topics that are generally hard to understand fully, at least is has been for me. I’ve been to numerous workshops on the topics, read many books and articles and some contradict themselves making it even harder and I struggle with successfully integrating these concepts into my life.  I mean sometimes I think I get it, but then I don’t see consistent results. That was, until I heard this explanation from Jill Briscoe. She was able to put it into a context that I could understand by giving me a visual. I will share with you my interpretation of it.

Imagine that you have ten boxes and you wake up looking at those ten boxes and think that in order to have balance throughout the day you need to fill each box equally. This is a misconception and not balance. Instead, look at these ten boxes and discern which two or three boxes matter to God right now, today, in this season of your life. Fill those and let the others be empty. This is true balance.

Look at this picture as an example. Would you be able to balance if your focus were on too many of your body parts? No, you would need to focus on the one, two or possibly three points of your body to make it work. The rest would be a waste of time and a distraction.


Discernment is another challenge for us and determining what is most important to God for us in the present moment can be difficult. It’s important to remember that not every invitation to serve God is from God. We can get into trouble when we say yes to numerous invitation that are good. They may good, in fact, they may be very good, but they may not be good for us.

Even when a need exists and we are well qualified to meet it, we are not necessarily called to respond to it. Something may seem logical for us to do, but that does not mean that God calls us to do it…. Similarly, simply because a task or undertaking is good to do does not mean that we are called to do it or that we should continue doing it. To be doing what is good can be the greatest obstacle to doing something even better. ~ Suzanne Farnham et al
This is really good advice and to truly discern what God is asking of you, right now in this season of your life you must look within. You have to take time to sit in quiet, listening, praying, reading the scriptures and conversing with God. We often forget that the kingdom of God is within us and if we look for Jesus there we will find Him. We will also find wisdom, balance and happiness like never before. God’s plan is larger and better than anything you can possibly imagine for yourself. Let go of those extra boxes, be okay with them sitting there empty until a season that God says is right and let God direct your steps trusting that his plan is better.
Check out these resources below for further reading on discernment and if you have any to add please do in the comments below.









Join us on WEDNESDAYS for a 6-week Scripture Study


September 17, 24, October 1, 8, 15 & 22, 9:00am-10:30am at Sacred Heart Parish Hall Registration is $15 until Sept 10th after that the price is $20 for more info contact 732- 899-1398 or Make checks payable to Sacred Heart mail to Sacred Heart Scripture Study in care of Dawn Rusinko 751 Main Ave Bay Head 08742



Joanne Guidoccio

On the Road to Reinvention


if I were to blog my life, it'd go like this...

Marc and Angel Hack Life

blogger, writer, speaker

Saints 365

blogger, writer, speaker

Dawn's Faith Connection

blogger, writer, speaker

Neal Obstat Theological Opining

Theological thoughts on current happenings

Rhonda Gessner

Rhonda Gessner and Kangen Water

Dating God

Franciscan Spirituality for the 21st Century

Stop Running

Reflections from Rome...


Nutrition: a different outlook

Prego and the Loon

Pregnant and Dealing With Domestic Violence


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 98 other followers

%d bloggers like this: