Saturday, May 26, 2018

Will and Lina Novels On Sale Starting Today!

Just a quick post to let y'all know that both of the Will and Lina books are on sale starting today. I usually have them on sale twice a year (May and December) to correspond with their release dates. I've been so preoccupied with a bunch of stuff that I missed the anniversary sale at the beginning of this month so now you're getting it for my birthday.

Will and Lina: When Two Worlds Collide (1st book) will be on sale from today through May 30th on Amazon through this link only (there are two separate listings for it):

Will and Lina: London Calling (sequel) will be on sale from May 30th through June 5th through this link:

Just a couple more details about the sale:

  • They will be on sale for 99 cents during their promotional dates. After that, they'll go back up to $3.99.
  • The sales end at 8 a.m. PST on the last day listed.
  • The sale is for the eBooks only
  • You don't need a Kindle to read them; you can read them on your laptop, phone, tablet, etc. as long as you download the Kindle app from Amazon.
  • For the first novel, use that link only. When people search for it, they get the results for the version that Amazon botched up and not the one that I fixed.
Okay, that's it. 

Oh! Wait... disclaimer: my audience is young Catholic women between the ages of 17 and 24 but (thus far) none of the male readers have grumbled too much about them (lol!). I wrote these books in my early to mid-late 20s so don't read them with high expectations; I've grown a lot of a writer since then. You've been warned.

Maybe this sale will be my motivation to finish the third novel before my self-imposed June 20th publication date. Stay tuned. ;)

I hope y'all have a lovely (long) weekend!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Seeing God in the Middle of Two Crazy Weeks

Welcome to this week's edition of Miss Emmy's Wild Ride because, truly, it's been a crazy two weeks since I've last written. Where to start?

Last week took the cake for the craziest week I've had in, golly, over a year, maybe? It started with food poisoning last Monday. That led to a last-minute doctor appointment on Friday morning because there was concern that I was dehydrated. Then on Sunday, I ended up in the Emergency Room because I had a bad reaction to something I had eaten (which only aggravated a stomach virus I've just recently gotten over). It was a very intense week -- and this is just the health stuff. Thankfully, this seems to have been the worst of it... and good came of it.

The blood work ordered at the ER shows that I was as healthy as could be. Sure, my platelets are still on the lower side of normal but they've actually gone up 10k from April. My white blood count was also a bit low but I'm still getting over an apparent virus so that's expected. My follow-up appointment this past Tuesday brought more good news. The doctor who saw me (new to me) was very patient and very thorough with his explanations. There is nothing of concern; not even with the low platelets. In fact, they consider me to be very healthy.

The fatigue and dizziness I've been experiencing lately? The only explanation they can come up with is the constant stress I've been under. I've lost a lot of weight and, although my insomnia ended also two weeks ago, I've been oversleeping again but they're chalking it up to stress because, well, it's been there for months. It's all good news... even with the punk dizziness being a pain and keeping me from driving some days.

Somewhere in the middle of all that craziness, I was able to not only go to confession for the first time in about 8 weeks, I also received the Anointing of the Sick which I was not expecting. It all started when I was feeling a bit recovered from the food poisoning so I drove out to our local Trader Joe's so stock up on food for me. However, I wasn't as recovered as I had thoughts and I felt like passing out while I was driving so I made a detour to a local parish on my route to TJs.

I wasn't even the person to suggest the detour. My mother, who was with me (it was her day off), suggested we stop by since it was on the way. We were originally only going to stop by to pray but something in me said, "Go into the parish office and ask to talk to a priest." It was a strong pull so I went ahead and went to the office. No priest was available but I was informed that a priest had recently returned from a trip and had no appointments. I left my number and hoped for the best.

The following day, the priest (we'll call him Fr. R) called me and asked if I wanted to go in for confession. I jumped at the chance and drove out there. I had a long, general confession. He asked me if I had been sick for a while. I told him I had been (this was prior to my finding out I'm healthier than I seem). He said he wanted to administer the Anointing of the Sick because my spirits were low (depression has been threatening for months) and I've been struggling with other things that the Sacrament could help alleviate.

I cried the second the oil was anointed on my forehead and even more when it was placed on my palms. The anger, fear, and depression that had been threatening and/or plaguing me for months were replaced with an overwhelming sense of peace, joy, and love. I still feel a lot more patience, grateful, hopeful, and happy nearly a week after it. I've also found myself feeling more like myself, not the gloomy, defeated version that had been around since last October.

Later today, I have my first spiritual direction meeting in 2.5 years. For those of you who have been reading the blog that long, you know that bad car accident on the anniversary of the Miracle of the Sun (which happened during the 3 o'clock hour following my penultimate SD meeting; coincidence, right?) triggered the end of my meetings then. Not only because my car was basically totaled but because my former SD kicked me out of his office the following month; my last SD meeting.

I felt rejected by my former SD... and, in a way, rejected by God. I'm inclined to believe it was unintentional but he made me feel like I had no business being Catholic; like I was wasting my time because I was a hopeless cause. My health tanked. I found a parish community I liked and then I felt rejected by them (this was a little over a year ago). I struggled to keep my faith intact during that time. To have a priest I once respected make me feel like dirt (again, I'm going to say it probably wasn't his intention) and then have those whom I reached out for friendship within a community I liked also do the same was hard for me. I almost left the Church last year... and I just started to get back into my "Catholic groove" in recent months.

I'm happy to say that in the middle of the past two (crazy) weeks, I've been able to see God and to rely more on His plans for me... even if I don't understand any of it. I saw Him in the kind priest that offered the Anointing of the Sick and heard my confession. I saw him in the concerned Uber driver who drove me to the E.R. at 4 in the morning. I saw Him in the doctors that saw me in the past week. I felt His presence even when the nurse at the ER was rude to me and made me feel like a burden on them. (side note: she made me wait almost an hour to use the restroom and kept asking me to repeat myself because I apparently don't know how to speak.) The fact that I was able to pray the Rosary, do my morning prayers, and everything else on 2-3 hours of sleep, at the ER, and not focus on myself or what I was experiencing proved it.

I trusted Him... and still do. I'm sure that all the trials I've gone through are either purgative or they're preparing me for something amazing that He has in store for me. I know that the health scares, the dizziness, the feeling rejected, the financial struggles, the car problems, having my heart broken (yes, I recently had my heart broken though only 2-3 people knew about it)... it will all bring me closer to God. I endure it all and take comfort in knowing that His plans are always much greater than mine.

One more thing before I wrap up this post... my third novel has been delayed because of all I've gone through. The oversleeping, undersleeping, oversleeping, viruses, etc -- it all delayed things. I hope to finish it soon and have it published before the official start of the summer. Please say a prayer for me as every time I work on it, I get a massive thwack. Every. Single. Time. The last time I worked on it (prior to yesterday) was on Sunday, shortly before I ended up in the ER. I worked it on it last night and the fatigue is overwhelming today. Yep. Coincidences, right?

I hope to blog again Saturday because my novel eBooks will be going on sale for 99 cents to celebrate my upcoming birthday (the big 33 on the 30th!) and one of them has a specific link for the sale. I'll share those links on Saturday (God willing).

Alright, I need to get ready for my spiritual direction meeting. I've felt super fatigued and lightheaded today but, thankfully, it's less than a mile away and I can take side streets and/or walk (not too dizzy to walk) if needed. :)

I hope you're all having a lovely week thus far. Thank you all for your continued prayers!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Friday, May 11, 2018

When the Obstacles Seem Insurmountable...

Lately, my life has been one long journey through a dark, stormy abyss. Think of Atreyu's journey in The Neverending Story. Instead of letting the Swamp of Sadness swallow me whole (R.I.P. Artax the horse), I've been doing what I can to keep myself afloat but it hasn't been easy.

As your regular blog readers know, it's been a hard time for my family. Between financial difficulties, health issues, and a number of other problems (across the board; not just limited to Mom and me), it's been a long string of stresses. I wouldn't be surprised if my recent struggles with insomnia have been a result of this stress.

I'm the one who keeps the household budget (I'm good with numbers and puzzles/conundrums) so I know the most about how bad our situation is. I try to cut out unnecessary expenses and try to figure out where we can save and where we simply cannot skimp. With random things popping up (e.g. unexpected car repairs), I'm constantly trying to figure out where we can come up with the money and what needs to wait until next month. It's a gigantic headache (sometimes literal) that I deal with at least twice a week.

Having no car has meant no confession or Mass. Add insomnia (and, thus, an erratic sleeping schedule; I will nap whenever I can manage to fall asleep), lightheadedness, dizziness, stomach issues, and, well, basically zero money for transportation, it becomes hard to try to make it to Mass. The nearest parish doesn't have Saturday confession and -- when it does offer confession -- it's too late in the day to safely walk to and from it so that makes going to confession hard as well.

I hope to get my car back later today... and that the financial strain isn't too bad. We had to put off getting it repaired for a month (I've basically been stuck at home since mid-April) because we simply had no spare money that wasn't put aside for necessities. I got it towed to our mechanic's garage on Tuesday and I'm expecting a call at some point today to let me know the extent of the damage to our meager monthly savings. Please say a prayer it doesn't go over the halfway point of the triple digits because we won't be able to afford that.

Sometimes I wonder how on earth I'm going to make it through x, y, z (because things happen in multiples, not one at a time) with my sanity intact. Worries on top of worries on top of worries. It's like an endless cycle with no light at the end of the tunnel.

Sometimes all of these things also affect my spiritual life. If I'm not careful, the devil knows exactly how and when to attack. Not having been able to go to Mass and confession these past 6 (going on 7) weeks has only added to the hardships. I don't know why but I have a feeling that going to confession and receiving the Eucharist will somehow help with my insomnia. Just call it a hunch, especially since I tend to wake up/stay awake around the 3 a.m. hour. I'm not being superstitious; it's just a gut feeling that I have.

Thankfully, the consecration preparation, holy water, and my prayer life have helped... big time.

Every morning I do the Consecration to Mary prayer ("My queen, my mother, I give myself entirely to thee..."), which was recommended by one of our local FSSP priests when he came over to pray for me the day after my car accident a couple of years ago. Then I read the daily Mass readings, use the reflections sent to my inbox by Bishop Robert Barron and Blessed Is She. Then I pray the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary. During my consecration preparation, I've added the daily reflections in the 33 Days to Morning Glory book to this routine.

I also pray a variety of novenas, prayers, and/or the Rosary and the Rosary confraternity prayer throughout the day but, more often than not, I do them at night with my nighttime routine. Again, I use the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin Mary and examine my conscience before I call it a night. If there is something I missed doing in the morning (e.g. consecration preparation or daily Mass readings), I will also do it at this time.

I make use of the holy water we were given by one of our local FSSP priests (when he's been over to the house to bless it for Epiphany) throughout the day. In the morning, before I leave the house (especially if I have to drive), when I'm feeling worse than normal, at night... if I feel like I need it, I will use it.

I think I'm so used to my routine -- used to trying to cling to my faith during these times of chaos -- that if I miss something at some point, I feel more vulnerable in a way. Not to the point of superstition, scrupulosity, or anything like that. I just tend to notice any deviation from my routine... and it's this routine that helps remind me that I shouldn't be egocentric.

It's so easy to get caught up in your worries. I've personally found myself being pulled more into my own thoughts, my own feelings, my own hardships. I don't like that I think more about myself and what is going on with me than about others and/or about God... but it's hard. And, okay, I know some of my good friends are currently ready to file a formal protest for having said that -- I've even had priests tell me I'm too hard on myself -- but I truly feel selfish during these times and I don't like it. I think that's why I hold onto my prayer routine very closely; it's a good reminder that whatever I'm going through is not up to me to "fix."

Sometimes these obstacles seem insurmountable. That's when I have to remember that God is ultimately in charge of everything, not me. Never have the words "Jesus, I Trust In You" been uttered as much as they have in this household before. Never has putting my money where my mouth is been as important as it has been in recent weeks/month. Never have I have challenged in every way as I have lately.

1 Peter 5:7-10 has resonated so much as it has during these trials... especially when I was asked to wait to become a Benedictine oblate; to "revisit this in a couple of months to make sure this is what (I) really want." The evil one knows that this is what I most wanted lately and I won't let the small obstacle get and keep me down.

Yes, life is hard. Yes, it feels like the walls are caving in around me. Yes, it oftentimes feels like things will never get better; that this is just what my life is going to be like from now on -- one bad thing after another. Yet, Scripture (and the saints) says otherwise. The only thing I can do is trust that God will get me through it and that He will give me the courage, the strength, and whatever graces are necessary to get through this time.

I don't see an end to all I've been enduring lately but I think about the heavenly reward that awaits if only I would get my act straight and that's enough to keep me going; to keep me fighting against temptations. It's hard. Depression keeps wanting to attack me, as do occasional anxiety attacks. Some days are easier and more bearable than others. Some days I just feel like laying in bed and sleeping or simply not moving. I can't let that happen. I won't let that happen. Most importantly, I know that God has my back and that's worth everything.

Anyway, these are just my thoughts lately. I was originally going to post this a couple of days ago but the stress has finally caught up to me, physically, and between insomnia and anxiety, my stomach has had started having major problems that will occasionally physically debilitate me. I still feel tired and weak (especially since I'm trying to get my sleeping schedule back on track; read: no naps) but I'm going to keep trying to go forward. :)

I hope you all had a lovely week and that you have a great weekend as well!

As always, thanks for reading and God bless! :D

Monday, May 7, 2018

My Consecration Journey Begins Today

Today is the day I've waited for years. 

I've been wanting to do a total consecration to Jesus through Mary using both the True Devotion to Mary by St. Louis de Montfort and 33-Days to Morning Glory by Fr. Michael Gaitley books for years. I was able to borrow the former from the library and the latter was a gift from a good friend so I am set... and I can barely contain my excitement!

I thought long and hard on what feast day I wanted to do the consecration. In earlier years, it had been on the feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel because I wear the brown scapular and have dear friends who are Carmelites. Then I considered doing it on the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe since I'm Mexican-American. It eventually came down to choosing between the feast of the Visitation and the feast of the Immaculate Heart of Mary.

When people found out that my birthday is on the day before the feast of the Visitation (and I was nearly born on the feast day since I was born on the night of the 30th), pretty much everyone tried to persuade me to consecrate myself on that day. It would be a good way to start my 33rd year; my "Jesus Year." However, I ended up choosing the feast of the Immaculate Heart because of my devotion to her.

My devotion to the Immaculate Heart started years ago. There's something about the thought of her Immaculate Heart -- so beautiful, so pure, so loving, even in sorrow -- that has always held a special place in my own heart. I've even had a picture of her (first over my bed and now over my desk in my office) since I was a child. It's now old and faded but I love looking at it.

Whenever I have any "heart matters" (relationship matters), I do a novena to the Immaculate Heart. Her intercession has never failed to keep me from getting my own heart broken and has kept my (otherwise) hopeless romantic tendencies in check. If any of my friends wonder why potential suitors don't last very long, there's your answer. Their true intentions are revealed and/or they disappear before the novena even ends. Again, it's saved me from heartache. 

I've recently developed an interest in learning more about the Sacred Heart so it seems entirely appropriate that the last day of preparation ends of the feast day of the Sacred Heart. I'm currently doing a novena for a private intention to the Sacred Heart and, boy, it's been amazing how things change during it. I'm going to look into doing the enthronement of the Sacred Heart done this year because we (my family and I) could really use it after the intense year we've had thus far.

Despite my small worries about what might pop up during the preparation for the consecration (I've heard horror stories), I'm going to place all my trust in God and go forward with it. This is something I've wanted for literal years and it's something that I feel I need in my life. :)

Have any of you used both books for your consecration or renewal? If so, I'd love to hear about your experiences!

Before I wrap up this post, I just wanted to say a massive "thank you" to those of you who've prayed for me in recent days. Between my insane insomnia (which we seemed to have figured the root cause of; thanks, terrible acid reflux!) and a family crisis we've been experiencing, your prayers have been what have kept me from spiraling down into a hole of gloom and despair. I (and my family) have been tested in ways I would've never foreseen so your prayers have been lifesavers. May God reward you all!

I hope you all had a lovely weekend and that you have a great week!

As always, thank you for reading and God bless! :D

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

I'm Gladly Suffering and in Pain

I tweeted out two things a little while ago:

I'm suffering. 

I'm in pain. 

Financially, I can't seem to stop hemorrhaging from the pockets. It doesn't matter how many things I cut, new things pop up that require money I can't come up with. It forces me to make decisions about what's truly important and what isn't. I'm being forced to cut out things I believe were essential. For example, my car broke down... again. It's the distributor this time around. It's going to take another $400 to fix the latest thing, and that includes a discount on labor from our mechanic. We literally had to choose between getting the car fix and having enough money to eat until the next paycheck. We chose to eat.

I'm fighting depression. I know it's due to a combination of financial stress, health stress, emotional stress, mental stress, and a bunch of other things going wrong in my life. It's all happened at the same time; I was not expecting any of it. Nothing could've really prepared me for it. I feel like I've been hit from all sides and every single minute of the day is a struggle to stay afloat a bottomless sea.

Every single night I've experienced either insomnia or nightmares... or both. From 11 p.m. last night until noon this morning, I slept in a weird 2-hours away/2-hours asleep pattern. The time I spent sleeping was also spent fighting nightmares. I would wake up with my heart racing or covered in sweat. I've never had this happen to me. I don't like it.

Anxiety has returned and has gotten uncomfortably familiar in my life once again. I'm not surprised considering the amount of stress I'm under. Still, it will wake me up with panic attacks... which feeds into insomnia and the poor sleeping patterns.

I've lost weight. I'm still within normal range for my height but I'm dangerously close to slipping back into being underweight. I can't eat enough because everything upsets my stomach. The acid reflux is also ever-present.

It's been 4 weeks since I've been to Mass... and several days since I've been able to wake up early enough to do any morning prayers. My spiritual life has taken a massive hit in a new way that is somehow worse than some of the spiritual dryness I've ever experienced before.

I cry easily. It's always been my default for when I'm happy, sad, angry... but I can tell the difference between the tears and these are tears I'm not used to.

Despite all of this... I gladly suffer and accept the "pain" this is coming with everything. Why? Because I've never been more sure of doing God's will than I am right now.

My health has forced me to slow down and work from home. I was getting the rest I've never been able to afford. I still can't afford it (financial issues are creating major family problems) but I'm trusting God to provide in ways we've yet to see. I'm confident in that. Other than insomnia (the opposite problem from the fatigue that debilitated me for months) and the weight loss/stomach problems, I'm getting better. It's the silver lining in this mess.

Work has been... slow. Writing pays peanuts. In fact, when I told a friend how much I actually make from my writing gig per month, he was shocked at how little it is. But it's enough for me to help contribute to 75% of our food budget. Food and shelter are covered, what else matters? I know God will provide with either health and/or another job when He can. In the meantime, I'm learning where my true priorities are and am growing in my trust of Him. I have my moments of feeling utterly useless and hopeless because so many things prevent me from going out and looking for a job I can do outside the house. Then I remind myself that there is a reason I'm going through everything and I use that to keep going and keep my confidence in God's divine providence.

I've been so physically weak and/or too dizzy to even walk in a straight line on Sundays (and only on Saturday afternoons through Sunday nights, curiously enough), that I haven't been able to attend to Mass. This past Sunday, I watched it on EWTN. I cried from the homily through the end of Mass because the priests' homily spoke to me in a way that made me open up my heart to God in a way I hadn't in several years. I realized I had a wall up that I wasn't letting anyone, not even God, get through it. I made the decision to bring that wall down. I let go. I let God in. Which brings me to...

I'm going through a sort of vocation crisis that involves having my heartbroken in some ways. Let's just say that it feels like I know what His will is for me but there are obstacles that I can't do anything about. I'm going to have to practice patience in ways I never dreamed I would ever be challenged. I cry frequently because it's such a frustrating time in my life. I thought I was a patient person but I've now seen that I'm quite impatient when I want something badly enough... and this is something I want so very much. It's constantly on my mind and I have to fight that as well. Between the tears and the supplications to God that my vocation is anything "but this path" (which I will admit that I've been actively fighting against it for much longer than I want to admit), there is an amazing serenity and peace that is coming with it. I have to stop fighting it. I have to trust Him. This is the hardest part of everything I'm going through at the moment. Yes, I've fought my vocation discernment for so long because it's the one thing that scared me the most... more than health issues, financial crisis, career decisions, etc.

I've broken down so many times and have asked God why I have to go through all of this. Today, I finally got an indescribable peace in my heart with the words "because it will make me become the woman God wants me to be" popped into my mind. Through all of this, I've been letting go of some of my worst habits. I'm learning to work on some of my weaknesses (e.g. my stubbornness, my impatience, and my temper -- yes, I have one).

Every time I remember how much my soul longs to sit or kneel in front of the Blessed Sacrament for hours (even days) at a time, I'm reminded of why I'm gladly suffering. I want nothing more than to do His will. I want nothing more to let go of the earthly things and only keep my eyes and mind on things that will help get me to heaven. I want nothing more than to love God so much that nothing else matters. If all the suffering, the pain (metaphorical and literal), and the obstacles get me to this place, I wouldn't want to trade it for anything in this world.

At the end of this tunnel, there is a light... the Light of the world. Through my brokenness, my weakness, the lowest of my lows, God is leading me closer to Him. It's that very thing that keeps me fighting... keeps me going... keeps me from completely drowning.

To quote St. Francis de Sales (my career patron): “Let us practice that holy resignation and pure love of our Lord that is never as perfect as it is amid suffering… We must pray for that holy resignation so that God can shape our hearts into a fitting place for him to dwell and reign in eternity… Seek help, but with the resignation that should his divine majesty wish the illness to conquer you, you will accept it, and if he wishes you to be healed, you will bless him.”

Your will be done, God. Not mine but Yours.