Thanksgiving Tales from the Crypt

As I am about to close another Thanksgiving in the books, I smile in utter amazement at how easy and low-key this holiday is compared to the many off-color Thanksgiving dinners from my past.  But…since I have a flair for the dramatic, I’ll indulge by sharing some stories from the crypt.

My mother loved Thanksgiving.  She loved the Macy’s parade and the food and the company and the drink.  She also loved the preparation and production.  The preparation spanned over a two-day period of time and included linens, place settings, centerpieces, silver, china, crystal, and, of course, the food.   The production was really an illusion that I only began to realize when I got sober.  Things really do appear to go a lot more smoothly with a few bottles of wine…per person, of course.

The non-alcoholic version of Chelsea would have to mentally prepare as I drove up the turnpike to my parent’s house on Thanksgiving Day.   I would hold my breath and say a prayer as soon as I pulled into the driveway.  “Lord, thank you for my family.  Please help me love them, today.  Help me to not argue with my dad’s inaccurate ‘facts’ and help me to not make my mother cry, this year.  Thank you.  I love you.  Amen.”

Then, as I would crack open the door I would be knocked back by the smell of dog hair, mystery cooking, and barf — masked by a Glade warmer, of course.  Expecting to get mauled by the two most unruly and undisciplined sheepdogs on earth, I always looked both ways before entering.  If the coast was clear, I entered at my own risk because it would only be a matter of seconds before the dogs would jump all over me and bark anytime I tried to carry on conversation with anyone. 

My dad would usually be wearing sweatpants with a golf shirt.  Jerry Seinfeld once said, “Wearing sweatpants is like telling the world, ‘I give up!” but in this case, it was a step up from flannel man-jammie-pants with holes.  He would always assign chores to any of the males in the house.   Fix the computer.  Take something out of the attic.  Make fun of the women.  Listen to boring stories about track and field coaching.

As my mother aged and her alcohol consumption increased, it became very important to keep an eye on her in the kitchen.  One time, I watched my mother attempt to make some kind of something…I don’t know…it had apples, cheese crackers, and mayonnaise.  Apparently, she misplaced all the spoons, because she was using her hands to mix everything together.  I turned away from her so I wouldn’t get too grossed out, but that was a mistake.  While I wasn’t looking, like a ninja, she added something to make it yellow and something that looked like cat food – which I found out later were some old furry-looking walnuts.   She kept licking her fingers and sticking them back in the disgusting concoction to mix it up.  Woof…or maybe I should say, meow?  P.S.  I never found out what made the yellow tint.

Just as we thought we were about to sit down to eat, my mother would dramatically leave the room to change clothes.  No visit to my parents would be complete without my mom making at least one costume change. Then, something magical would happen. As we all filed into the dining room, the food would be in place, my mother would reappear (for her second act), and we would all take our seats for the feast.  Candles lit, quiet music, and joined hands, my mother would say a blessing she memorized from a Hallmark card she bought in the 1960s.  This was my favorite part of this holiday. 

Everyone has a full plate when my mother would start passing around the annual “mystery casserole/salad.”  This thing was always interesting.  As I stated earlier, if we didn’t keep an eye on her, she would manufacture something from anything she had in the kitchen.  I often noticed it was full of things I would find expiring in the pantry with some old crackers crunched up on top.  One year, I swear I saw a gummy bear and M&Ms in it.  No joke.  My mother would push this dish off on everyone like a drug dealer.  If you didn’t take some, she would pout.  Therefore, everyone learned the art of taking a spoonful and pushing it around on the plate to make it look like you were eating it. 

At some point during dinner, my dad would talk about his rejected childhood, calling his mother a whore and telling all of our guests how she died of venereal disease.  This was only a distraction from my mother nodding off with her manicured fingernails stuck in her mashed potatoes.  By the time dinner was finished, everyone was so willing to get the hell out of there that clean-up was an all-hands-on-deck event. 

The players included in this melodramatic comedy usually included my family, in-laws, outlaws, friends-at-the-moment, and often random strangers who my parents would meet and invite on a whim.  People got drunk, food was consumed, drinks were spilled, and something always got broken (hearts included).  Every year, my dad would offend someone, my mother would cry, and no one got leftovers – but the memories make me laugh.  Dysfunctional?  You betcha.  I wouldn’t have it any other way because it’s gifted me with some really funny memories. 

Mom has been gone for nearly five years.  The last Thanksgiving that I spent with her was eerily quiet, yet speaks the loudest memory.  There were no guests, no mystery casserole/salad, no chaos.  She was so sick and my dad was so helpless.  I fixed our Thanksgiving meal that day and fed my mother.   Since then, I’ve worked to make my own traditions for my family.  A tradition I carry over in memory of my mother is watching the Macy’s parade.  We always said we would travel to NYC on Turkey Day to watch it in person – and in her memory, one day I will take my daughters and do just that for her. 

My dad spent the last two days with us for two different Thanksgiving meals.  He was so quiet.  He was so at peace.  It feels good to have him with me for a softer side of life.  Sometimes I feel like I lived two different lives and, in a way, I have.  I’m thankful for both because if it weren’t for “Life, Part 1,” I wouldn’t be so blessed to experience “Life, Part 2.”  I hope everyone is blessed with good humor to shape your memories.  Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Moving, Memories, and Mercy

Today, I packed up my dad and moved him out of his home of 45 years to a one-bedroom assisted living apartment in Owasso. I had a plan. I was organized. I was ready.

What I did not anticipate was being flooded by 40-plus years of memories in that home. As it all started to rush through me, I wiped my eyes and accepted this day wasn’t going to be easy.

The memories started when I walked up the driveway of my childhood home. I remembered riding my bike into the garage day-after-day and where I dismounted and parked it. When I walked into the kitchen, I remembered my parents working together every Thanksgiving to prepare the turkey and stuffing. I could almost smell the fresh herbs and everything in the oven. When I walked into the family room, I remembered where we put the Christmas tree and I could envision my mom and dad hanging ornaments while Christmas records from Barbra Streisand and Frank Sinatra played in the background.

When I walked down the hallway, I remembered where I watched my parent’s first dog, Magi collapse from a stroke right in front of my bedroom, and I remember how much my mom cried that night. When I walked toward the study, I remembered my dog, Lincoln. He was the sweetest companion and he would follow me everywhere.

When I walked into the bathroom, I remembered the ridiculous amount of time my mom spent in there. To say she primped is being kind. To say she was vain is accurate. This is the woman who reapplied her make-up every night before she went to bed “just in case” there was a fire.

When I walked to the front door, I remembered all of our friends who have passed through that door. When I walked to the backyard, I remembered the countless hours I spent out there practicing tumbling, ballet and cheer. When I walked into my bedroom, I remembered the quiet place where I could retreat, read, write, and dream. When I walked to the back door, I remembered watching my dad leave and return from work every day, walking across our backyard to the flower shop and greenhouse business he owned throughout my childhood.

And when all the furniture was packed, except for the living room couch, I looked at it and remembered how much I loved curling up next to my mom on it to watch TV…and then I remembered what she looked like the last time I saw her on that couch the Thanksgiving before she died.

Then, I walked into my parent’s bedroom. It looked the strangest of all the rooms in the house without furniture. I carefully removed the crucifix on the wall that hung above my parent’s bed. Now, it hangs over the same bed in my father’s new home.

One certainty in this human life is change but memories connect us back to those moments — good or bad — to remind us how we got where we are today and how to take another step forward.

Memories from my childhood are fraught with bad moments but last week I only wanted to remember the good ones.  Even when recalling bad memories, I couldn’t help but think about the humor I found in all the dysfunction and how much that humor saved me.

It has taken me nearly five years since I lost my mother to move my father to Owasso and it has not been easy. It is amazing he is still alive. There were times I felt like giving up; and how I did not give up on him through some really terrible situations can only be explained by God. I rejoiced in hope. I endured in affliction. I persevered in prayer. (Romans 12:12)

Gratefulness is demonstrating appreciation to others for what we have and how others have helped us.  I am grateful for every memory because it has brought us to this day.  I am grateful for the gift of surrendering my will every day to God, because I’m not strong enough to do any of this alone. 

My dad and I are closer – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – than we ever have been, whether we like it or not.  Today, my dad‘s new residence is a couple miles from my home and work. After I moved his belongings and decorated the apartment, I felt a sense of peace for me and my dad that I have never felt.  When my dad saw the apartment for the first time, he turned to me, expressing gratitude and said, “thank you.”

Ten Year Testimony

My name is Chelsea Levo Feary.  I am a recovering alcoholic.  On September 21, 2019, I am celebrating ten years of sobriety and this is my testimony.

Everyone’s story has a beginning and that is where I will start.  I was born on September 29, 1975, to Michele (Mickie) and Chuck Levo in Miami, OK.  I was their first and only child.  Before me or as I refer to it as “BC” – Before Chelsea – the two Southern California beach kids met during their college years while working at Disneyland.   My mother was born into a traditional Catholic family of two parents and four kids, while my dad was born into a broken home of a working father, an older brother, and sister, and a mother who left them and returned from time to time.  Both of my parents had their family baggage.

Some may say people aren’t born alcoholics, but I disagree.  My testimony supports this.  Alcoholism is largely a social and environmental disease but can be genetically passed along through families.  Mine is no different.  My parents loved to drink, then they had to drink, and then they were dying to drink.  When I look at my family tree, alcohol is the substance poisoning the roots.  On both sides of my family, most of my loved ones are either in the disease or recovering from it. 

Through a couple of career moves, my parents landed in Miami, OK in 1973. For reasons that are still unclear to me, they decided to stay in this small northeastern Oklahoma town and have a family. I grew up with a father who owned a small business and a mother who taught in elementary schools. My mother was a classic narcissist and my father was a classic victim. Actually, they were both victims and it was exacerbated when they drank. My parents went out a lot when I was young and I was often left with babysitters. I vividly remember my parents coming home late from the country club while I was in bed and they would fight. My parents fought fairly regularly as a result of their drinking. They often used me as ammunition against each other by threatening to leave the other and take me or leave me. I became the mediator who would stand between them to separate them before violence ensued.

My parents drank every day. They would sit over a pitcher of martinis every evening followed by wine or other cocktails. I usually got to eat the olive out of a martini or suck the sweet vermouth off of the ice. When my parents played tennis, I would get the first sip from their beers. Drinking wasn’t cosmopolitan in our house, it was systematic and non-optional. Since I was immersed in this behavior, it was the only culture I knew to exist.

When I became a teenager with the desire to grow up too fast, drinking became a regular past-time for me and my friends.  Pool parties, days at the lake, nights spent partying on dirt roads, and even house parties with my parents “social hosting” were all part of the social pressure and scene.  As a result of those pressures and my upbringing, I caved into an eating disorder.  My weight plummeted from a healthy 115 pounds at the age of 15 to 69 pounds when I checked myself into an 8-week inpatient recovery program at the age of 18.  This is when I first learned about the 12-Steps.

Next, I graduated high school and headed off to Oklahoma State University for four and a half years of partying, starving, and making terrible decisions. My neurotic rituals supporting my eating disorder shifted to mirror the college social life and manifest as alcoholism. I graduated…barely. Then, I moved to Oklahoma City for a job I had no business nor stability doing. This is when my drinking turned from a binge-drinking social thing into a daily thing.

Then, I made the next installment of poor decisions by marrying someone for all the wrong reasons.  Just because you both like to drink (a lot!), doesn’t mean you should get married, or even date for that matter.  The best thing about my first marriage was my step-daughter, who was initially not so happy to welcome me into her life.  We moved states away and I instantly became an Army wife.  The next four years would be tumultuous as we realized our incompatibility among a nation under attack.  My husband headed off to war.  It was then that I realized I was all alone, but more so when he was home.  There was abuse in our marriage and I was terrified.  My parents were no more than my “drinking buddies” and offered no solace.  I wanted a knight in shining armor to rescue me and thought I could find that in bottles of wine.

After my husband returned from combat, he got out of the Army and we moved back to Oklahoma. Over the next five years, things would grow increasingly worse in our marriage. The abuse escalated, trust disappeared, and love was nowhere to be found. I was afraid of my husband, but I was scared to leave. I had no self-esteem or self-worth but somehow, I started talking to God.

In August of 2009, following a terrible fight at home, I was drunk and went for a walk. Through tears of helplessness, I asked God, “Please, Lord. Take my life. Take me up to be with you. I don’t want to be here, anymore. I know I will be much happier up there with you, than here in this hell on earth.” That night changed my life. God responded to me by letting me know it was time to get help. I was finally ready to get sober.

On September 21, 2009, I admitted I was powerless over alcohol and my life had become unmanageable. On that day, I surrendered my will to God. I met with my priest, employed a therapist, and with their guidance, I started working the steps. It was evident the hardest part of this journey would be facing my family living in alcoholism. My husband, my parents, and a couple of other family members were vocally unsupportive of my decision to get sober. I was ridiculed and shamed. This is when I learned that sick people don’t like it when other people get well. The only real and safe support came from my step-daughter, my Godmother, and an Uncle. Oh, and God…He’s actually the most important one.

At this point, it is necessary to point out that my relationship with God and the Catholic Church changed completely at this point. For the first time in my life, I started paying attention – to all of it. I started to hear God’s direction in my daily life and I couldn’t get through weekly Mass without crying. This relationship with Him and learning/re-learning so much of my faith was an awakening. For the first time – EVER – I knew I wasn’t alone! God let me know that this journey would be tough and that it would get worse before it got better. That was no joke.

As my marriage continued to crumble, I was able to face it sober. It did get worse. I think back to those days and wonder, in my infancy with sobriety and trusting God, how did I make it through that very dark time? With clarity and faith, I did what I could to repair whatever I could before declaring it irreparable. Two years after getting sober, I filed for divorce. A year later, I was single and about to embark on a brand-new life. I was sober, faithful, and finally figuring out who I wanted to be.

Over the next few years, I would live independently; repair and improve the relationship with my step-daughter; find John, my true love; sit with and comfort my mother as she left this earth; care for my sick, lonely, and addicted father; enter into Holy Matrimony with John; become a parent of two incredible bonus kiddos; deepen my faith and understanding of Catholicism and evangelization; study harder than I ever have to gain a professional certification; travel to places I have always wanted to see; grow in my profession; reconnect with family; deepen personal relationships; go back to school; and learn what love really means.

Living sober has brought me to face the harsh realities of the past.  I have done an inventory of all the hurt and destruction I have caused myself and others over the years.  I have attempted to make amends.  I have had to realize that just because I seek someone out to apologize for past wrongs, doesn’t mean that they will forgive me – and I have to be okay with that.  It sucks.  I wasn’t a good person for a long time.  I wasn’t kind, loving, humble, faithful, or charitable.  In fact, I was quite the opposite.  Swallowing my pride, admitting my wrongs, and accepting my faults and their consequences has been painful, humbling, and reconciling.  I still have amends to make and probably will for the rest of my life, but – I continue to pray God grants me the ability to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

If you have read this far, thank you. Ten years. Wow. To say I am “blessed” is trite. I am very fortunate to have been afforded a second chance in life. So many never get to the recovery side of alcoholism. My mother never did and my father can’t hold on to it. Alcoholism destroys all good things in life. If you or someone you know is imprisoned by addiction, please know that there is hope, faith, and love available. Please pray for people suffering from addiction and for those in recovery. We all need it.

Thank you to everyone who has supported, forgiven, and loved me through this.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit get the first shout out.

“Jesus looked at them and said, ‘For human beings this is impossible, but for God, all things are possible.’”

Matthew 19:26

John, Meredith, Ian, Emma, “Ant” Susan, Uncle Steve, Kristin, The Julie’s and Michele, Ms. Jim, Father Bradley, Father Matt, and Kay – I love you bigger than words can say. You have no idea the impact you have had on my life. You made a difference. You helped me realize that I matter. Thank you.

Current State of Things

Writing has always been something I enjoy. I dream about it. I think about what I should write when I’m running or driving or just daydreaming. I get all fired up about it and then the spark fizzles out before I write anything down. It’s a real creativity killer.

So, I purchased this blog site after toying around with a free version for years. I thought the purchase would motivate me…it hasn’t. Then, I purchased a URL. I thought that would motivate me further…it hasn’t…until today. You see, my gift of writing is a “calling” and I really need to let you know why. Quite frankly, I want to know why, too. I think I have direction for now, but only the Lord knows where this is suppose to go.

I thought I should start by introducing myself. My name is Chelsea Levo Feary. I am 43 years old and live in Owasso, OK. Where is Owasso? It’s the northern suburb of Tulsa. If you don’t know where Tulsa is, look it up. It you have never heard of Tulsa, I’ll pray for your education.

I am married to my husband John and we will celebrate our third anniversary in September. This is marriage #2 but I’ll talk more about that later. I have three children, but none of them are mine biologically. My nearly 24-year-old daughter, Meredith. is from marriage #1. My nearly 14-year-old daughter Emma and 15-year-old son Ian are my kiddos from my hubs, John. Although these kiddos are my “bonus” kiddos, I couldn’t be more grateful to have them in my life. I also want to give a shout-out to both of the mothers who have been so gracious to allow me to be such a special part of their children’s lives.

I have two fur-kids. Ellie, a Jack Russell Terrier is nearing 17 years old and Sterling, a fluffy grey and white cat is nearing 12 years old. Ellie is nearing the end of her life on earth, so lucky you! You’ll get to hear all about her geriatric oddities. Oh, and you’ll get to hear me grieve when she dies. That is going to SUCK, so get ready.

I’m a recovering alcoholic coming up on then years of sobriety on September 21 (THANKS BE TO GOD). I lost my mom in 2015 due to alcohol-related death and my dad’s been going down that horrible path with a death-grip on the vodka bottle, since. My father has been through a lot the past four years and has taken my family as collateral damage along for the ride, as alcoholics do. You’ll hear a lot about what it was like to grow up with alcoholic parents, become one, marry one, and then with the help of my faith, fight my way out of a very abusive and destructive way of life.

Speaking of faith…I’m a fiercely devoted Catholic. My faith, my church, my God is number one in my life. Everything revolves around my faith and the power of surrendering to it has given my more love and grace than I could have ever imagined. I’ve worked the past ten years to learn more about Catholicism, the Bible,Saints, Christianity, and other religions to be able to have educated conversations and debates about religion and faith. One day, I hope to be comfortable enough to call myself an Apologist, but until then, I’ll keep learning. So…you’ll hear a lot about that, too.

I am a public servant and an economic developer. I work for the city where I live and love every bit of it. Money has never been the goal in my work. I just want to make a difference. I enjoy interacting with businesses and citizens and if there is a way to connect someone to a resource to help them, I’m on it.

In my “free time,” I like to run. I also lift weights, practice yoga, garden, read, and write. I mess around with essential oils, decorating, and other crafty things from time to time. I’m currently pursuing a masters degree in Public Administration from the University of Oklahoma and I’m teaching myself to speak Spanish. Blah, blah, blah, who cares. I hate this paragraph.

Oh, and I am probably going to cuss. In fact, it’s almost a miracle I haven’t yet in this post. I’ll us a dash or an asterisk to substitute a letter or two to church it up a bit. I’m a raw storyteller, so I rarely mince words. I think our world needs more authenticity among the plastic, social media facade we display. You’ll get the real deal here, b*tches.

So, that’s a synopsis of my current state of things. I hope you’ll follow my writing and give me feedback, especially if you’ve experienced anything similar. Empathy and being able to relate to others is so powerful, which is why I write. Thanks, y’all. God bless you and please pray for each other.

The Pretender – My 2019 Lenten Journey

“Fake it ’til you make it.” This is a phrase I heard repeatedly from one of my coaches when I was younger. This phrase was yelled at us to remind us that even if we didn’t feel like the athlete they wanted us to be, we needed to “pull the lead out” (another fun phrase often yelled by my coaches) and at least start behaving like we were in the game.

Throughout my life I have applied the “fake it ’til you make it” philosophy to various things such as love, friendship, and work and not always for the best reasons. I think there is a time when something doesn’t feel right that we need to look to the Lord for wisdom and discernment. However, the really tricky part is when reaching out to the Lord isn’t a natural response for someone.

Prayer has always been a part of my life. When I was young, I said prayers every night with my mom before I went to sleep. When I was older, prayer became a last resort as an act of desperation. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-thirties, when I returned to the Church, that my prayer life really opened up. Now, it is rare if a day goes by without at least saying “thanks” to the Lord.

However, my prayer life, just like many other things in life ebbs and flows. Sometimes, I feel Jesus’ presence beside me all day long. Other days, I neglect to acknowledge his presence with me. The fact is life happens and sometimes I have to “fake it ’til I make it” and almost force myself to pray first thing in the morning. Even if the day is off to a bad start and I’m rushed, my perspective changes when I pause for a moment to tell God, “thank you for this day, for my faith, for my sobriety, and for all the love you have given to me in my life.” The day may not completely shift the course, but it adds love and hope that wasn’t felt prior to the nod to God.

I love music. Weird segue, but I promise I’ll bring it back around. Anyway, music has a way of marking a time in my history so when a song plays again, it can take me back in time and make my emotions swirl. I love the impact music has on my soul. I have a wide range of music interests and a pretty extensive iTunes library. Often, I will be in the car and opt to shuffle all my songs. Let me say up front that I’m not a big Christian music fan. I have a couple of artists in my collection, but I’m more of a secular music kind of gal. I heard a priest say on a podcast recently that we can often find non-secular themes in secular music that can really draw us toward God and help us relate. I agree. Now, like I said in the beginning of this paragraph…I promise I’m bringing the original blog subject back around.

A couple weeks ago after Mass, I was driving home and shuffled my music. “The Pretender” by Jackson Brown began to play. I love Jackson Browne but some of his music reminds me of a dark time in my life and this song is no exception. I decided to apply the priest’s idea by seeking out a message, since I had such an emotional response to the song. As I sang, I cried and then it all hit home when I got to the lyrics:

In those things that money can buy
where true love could have been a contender
Are you there?
Say a prayer for the Pretender.
Who started out so young and strong
Only to surrender.

Say a prayer for the pretender

Are you there for the pretender?

And even though the real meaning behind Jackson Browne’s lyrics is different that how I interpreted them that evening after Mass, they spoke to me in a way that reminded me of my own story.

Sometimes we are so compromised by counterfeit gods that we don’t even know we are missing out on our true love contenders. Are you there?

Say a prayer for the pretenders. Say a prayer that we can all “fake it ’til we make it” in our dried up prayer lives, so we can get back on His path. Say a prayer that we can surrender and take time to give thanks to the Lord for all his gifts.

And get up and do it again.


Lyrics to “The Pretender” written by Jackson Browne

Making a Pathway for Prayer – My 2019 Lenten Journey

Hail Mary full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb Jesus. Holy Mary Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

Friday morning, I drove to Miami, OK to take my dad to a doctor’s appointment. On my drive to and from, I listened to some podcasts. One of them was the “Word on Fire Show: Episode 169, The Metaphysics of Prayer.” It could not have been more timely.

Over the last ten years of diving into my Catholic faith, I have learned there are different types of prayer. Traditional Catholic prayers fall into one of four types: Adoration, praising God; Contrition, asking for God’s forgiveness; Petition, asking God for a favor; and Thanksgiving, showing God gratitude. I’m heavy on Contrition and Thanksgiving, almost to a fault.

As Catholics, we have many many prayers to recite from, but I always wanted to pray spontaneously in a way that didn’t sound simple or selfish. When I was younger, I was in awe of all the Protestant kids who could rattle off a prayer at the dinner table that was both spiritual and personal. It was no wonder why they stopped asking me to say the blessing after the first time they heard “Bless us O Lord…”. It was as dry as the breakfast toast. The other kids would look at me like, “what’s a ‘bounty’?”

When I went off to college and was seeking God through some very tough times in my life, I started to talk to Jesus like he was a buddy. I thought it would connect me with Him in a more personal way, but frankly I wasn’t ready for it, yet.

I wasn’t on the wrong track. Bishop Barron says we can visualize ourselves with Jesus kneeling/sitting with his arm around us, praying to the Father through the Holy Spirit. That visualization isn’t too far off from how I’ve been picturing it. However, I’ve always wondered how to tie the Holy Spirit into the whole prayer-trinity mix. The Good Bishop laid that out well.

Listening to that podcast on my way to see my dad, as I said was appropriate. *Confession alert!* I have a hard time praying for my dad, sometimes. Long story for another blog…or two…or a whole book, but it’s been tough taking care of my dad. I needed the long drive to honestly talk to the Father about how I was feeling about my father. The Blessed Mother got me through the death of my mother, so it seems fitting that the Father guides me along this path with my dad.

As I make more room for prayer in my life, I imagine it gets easier to pray and the words come more naturally. Sometimes, I have to say to God, “Look, you know how I’m feeling. That. That is what I want to talk to you about.” And I think He is okay with that. I believe He knows I’m trying. Thanks be to God.

Love and Marriage – My 2019 Lenten Journey

Another successful day of checking off the boxes of my Lenten promises. Yesterday, I talked about returning to a 5 AM wake up that allows me to start my day off with prayer and exercise, and gets me to work on time.

The next Lenten promise on my list was a 10 PM bedtime. This goes hand-in-hand with the wake up time because my ability to process information and be nice to others diminishes with each minute under seven hours of sleep.

My evenings are often occupied with work, volunteer activities, or school. It seems as if I only have one or two nights a week when I can actually sit down and chill out for a minute. I don’t mind the busyness. I grew up with a mother who never sat down until she went to bed…except on Friday’s when “Dallas” was on. I think most people who know me would tell you I am an active person, and possibly a bit ADHD. When I am fortunate to be home in the evenings, I am usually busy playing catch-up on house work or prepping things for the week to come.

The one thing I miss when I’m not home at night or I am home and busy running around, is spending quality time with my husband. My husband is my favorite person on this earth. No doubt. When I am heading home, I am pretty excited to walk in the door and hear him say, “Snazzle!” (That’s my nickname. And for future reference, my nickname for him is “Sparky.”) I love spending time with my husband, even if it’s just being in the same room with him while doing other things.

This Lenten commitment has made me see the last couple days that if I am going to shorten my day even more in order to wake up earlier, I am going to have to make sure I spend some quality time with my husband. Quality time can be as simple as watching an episode of “The Office” together, folding laundry in the same room while he watches some “Die Hard Lethal Terminator Predator ” movie, or just going to bed early together so we can drift off to sleep in each other’s arms.

Love never fails. ~ 1 Cor 13: 8

We are living out the sacrament of Holy Matrimony, which means there is more than just me and him in this equation. A marriage is three parts: Husband, Wife, and God. We need all three to make it work and anyone who is married knows that it comes with challenges. I think when we let the outside world take God’s place in our marriage equation is when we let those challenges get in the way of what God truly is — LOVE.

So, while a 10 PM bedtime is a good thing to set my sleep/body clock, it is also a reminder. The reminder is that time is precious, so when the evenings are short, make the best use of time by spending it with my favorite person on this earth — my Sparky, my love.

I’ll conclude this evening by asking you to pray for your spouse and ask God to renew the love that seals your marriage covenant. If you aren’t married, say this prayer for a married couple close to you. Good night and God bless you all.

On their wedding night Tobiah arose from bed and said to his wife,
“Sister, get up. Let us pray and beg our Lord
To have mercy on us and grant us deliverance.”
Sarah got up, and they started to pray
and beg that deliverance might be theirs.
They began with these words:
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers;
praised be your name forever and ever.
Let the heavens and all your creation
Praise you forever.
You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve
to be his help and support;
and from these two the human race descended.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
Let us make him a partner like himself.’
Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine
Not because of lust,
but for a noble purpose.
Call down your mercy on me and on her,
and allow us to live together to a happy old age.”
They said together, “Amen, amen.”

Tobit 8:4-8

Ash Wednesday – My 2019 Lenten Journey

This is my “Holy” face.

Day 1 of Lent 2019 is in the books. I actually got up and out of bed at 5 AM this morning and went for a brisk (and when I say “brisk,” I mean 19 frigging degrees) run. I felt good. For the first time in a long time, I didn’t start my morning at a deficit.

I used to be faithful to the 5 AM wake up/workout. Used to be. Then, life happened and I started going to bed later, then waking up later, then pushing everything else in my day behind. It really bothered me and I started to notice how I was showing up to work late everyday stressed out with high anxiety. It is a horrible way to start a day. Consequently, I was pushing all my work back often times scrambling to find times on future dates to get things done. Plus, I was missing workouts, which fuels my engine. Sure, I would sometimes workout at lunch or after work, but, it wasn’t the same.

The most impactful thing I was skipping was my prayer time. I realized that on the days I was finding time to pray in the morning, it pointed my inner compass in the right direction for the day. I was also extra emotional when I had that time with God. I would sit down with some green tea before I would start to get ready for the day, read the daily readings for the day, and cry throughout my prayer to God. I would cry because I realized how much I missed Him, how much I needed Him, and how much He needed to hear from me. This alone was enough for me to make the 5 AM commitment for Lent this year. Out of everything I mentioned above, this one is the most important and most fulfilling.

So, the results of Day 1 are good. I woke up, went for a run (in the Tundra), prayed, and started my day. I fasted the traditional Ash Wednesday fast with a couple of small meals and didn’t get too cranky. And I wrapped up a busy day with an evening Mass with ashes and the Sacrament. Any day is a good day with the Sacrament. (For all the non-Catholics, the Sacrament is the Eucharist, a.k.a. Holy Communion, a.k.a. The Body of Christ, a.k.a. awesomeness.)

Now, on to turning in to make Day 2 another good day. Say a prayer, right now, for all those in need. Good night and may God bless you all!

My 2019 Lenten Journey

I’ve had this blog account set up for a few years and have failed to add any content.  I figured Lent was a good reason to push me toward making my blogging dreams come to life.  Although, I’m not sure a 40-day series about suffering is going to be so exciting it will attract many readers; however, I want to assure everyone up front that I promise to make fasting, prayer, and almsgiving as entertaining as possible.

Today was Mardi Gras, a.k.a. Fat Tuesday and I missed out on celebrating.  I woke up with a terrible tummy ache which made me feel like I was going to poop my pants or barf with any sudden movement.  So, no Kings Cake for me, this year.  And if you’re Catholic and follow the traditional rules of fasting on Ash Wednesday, you know how brutal that can be.  Normally, I feel fairly secure about going into that day of starvation because I’m sick from all the “Gras” in my “Mardi” the day before.  Umm, not this year.  Yikes.  All I could stomach today was some  tea, water, and a bland turkey sandwich, so I’m headed into tomorrow at a deficit.  Prepare the masses for a very cranky Chelsea.

What is Lent in a nutshell? Lent is a 40-day journey of prayer, fasting, and almsgiving.  People who aren’t Catholic typically assume we (Catholics) give something up during that time, but it’s so much more than that.  It’s about taking things on, like extra prayer; giving more, like feeding the needy; and sacrificing something of comfort to remind us of Christ’s sufferings as he prepared for his crucifixion.

So, here is what I am doing this year for Lent:

  • Going to bed at 10 PM every night
  • Waking up at 5 AM every morning
  • 10 minute morning prayer time
  • 10 minute bedtime prayer time
  • Journal (blog) about my Lenten journey
  • Giving a dollar for every cuss word I say to the poor (Poverty Pennies for the Poor — explained in a future blog post)

That’s it.  It all starts at 5 AM tomorrow morning.  I’m stoked…and when I say “stoked” I mean totally not stoked.  But, it’s been a while since I really sacrificed some things for Lent and it’s time to enrich my experience for this period of time and reconnect with Christ.

Pray for me over the next 40 days that I may connect more deeply with God and I will pray for you to do the same.  Good night and God bless you!