“I am the clown”

I know that this doesn’t just apply to nurses, but this was told to me in the setting of a hospital. I realized how appropriate it was in my profession, and in other aspects of my life. I know there are many who can relate to this, so this is my way of saying, you’re not alone. I am the clown too.

I am a nurse. Anyone who is a nurse, knows a nurse, or in general deals with difficult humans will know the kind of day I was having. So basically everyone. It was a struggle day. One of several weeks in a row of struggling. 

A patient’s family member told me a joke. I had been talking on and off with this man, problem solving, and in general giving emotional support to him the majority of my shift. Answering the unanswerable questions: “When will they get better? Is this permanent? Why haven’t the medications started helping yet? How did this happen?” Just the usual myriad of questions that one can never answer with anything but a long drawn out, around the bush, down the street, and across the pond way of saying “I don’t know.”  It only happens several times a day. 

So I am coming back from eating dinner, and I stop to talk to the family member about him coordinating with the friends and family who are calling wanting to be told about the patient’s condition. Night shift told me they thought the patient didn’t have any family. Well I had friends and family coming out of my ears that day. All with questions I wasn’t allowed to answer without permission from someone who couldn’t give it. 

So the family member and I are talking, and we were laughing a little bit about the different things you find humor in a random conversation. And he says “Hang on one joke before we go: A man goes to a doctor and says ‘Hey doc I’m really sad and depressed. What can I do about it?’ The doctor says ‘Ya know what, you should go downtown. There’s this clown that could make anybody laugh. He’ll cheer you up, and make you smile, and you’ll feel better in no time.’ The guy says to the doctor, ‘Doc, I am the clown.’”

I must admit, I fake laughed at that joke. Mostly I was confused as to why it was funny, or even an appropriate joke for the conversation we were having. But I also realized it was too accurate. How many of us out there wear a smile all the time and are hurting so much inside. It’s ludicrous really, scary, like a clown to have a smile painted on when there so much hurting inside. 

Let me clarify something. I smile all the time. And yes, more often than not, I am not even aware that the smile is still stuck on my face. I prefer it that way. There is nothing worse than seeing a person with resting-female-dog-face when you, or your family member, are in the hospital sick. I’m there to make people feel better, and nothing works as well as a smile. So I try to keep my smile on.

However, sometimes I find people don’t know about my dark side. The one that is anxious all the time that I’ll mess up and accidentally kill someone. The side of me who just wants to find somewhere to put down roots. The part of me who realizes I crave routine because I have none. The part of me that is perpetually lonely.The part of me that as soon as I get home will put on something mind numbing. No one ever suspects that of me. Not very often anyway.

So as a nurse that perpetually tells people who are hurt to seek care, I had to realize that I needed to take my own advice. I needed to wash off the smile and take a hard look in the mirror. I had to realize my actual source of joy and spend long hours with Him. Because after all, clowns are scary, and does anybody actually like them? So find out why you’re smiling. Make it into a real smile. Because the world needs more real smiles.

The Fight


Science can easily tell you how the moment of fertilization is the starting point of the growth of a unique human being. There is no other starting point of our lives. That is the moment I started, and the moment you started. My DNA was distinct and different from my mother’s at that moment. An organized growth of cells that formed my fingernails, my appendix (that science finally figured out its purpose!), and my heart, that shall beat until my soul leaves. It all started from that moment. Science can tell you exactly how it happened. Just ask youtube.

But the fight against abortion is not actually about scientific facts. It’s about people.


I’m going to tell you about the day my zeal for the pro-life cause died. Not because I became pro-abortion, but because I realized it had very little to do with telling people about science, about rights, or about changing laws. I realized it had everything to do with hope.

It happened when I was in nursing school. It was my second degree. My first was in political science. With my BA in political science, I was going to be the person who worked for the one non-profit that was going to end abortion. Abortion was my fight to be won. Senior year of college, God told me to go into healthcare (through someone else’s mouth, no I don’t hear voices), it rang true in my soul. To healthcare I would go, and then after that use healthcare as another weapon against abortion. Swing around my RN license and my BA like an ax “I declare as a medical professional and as a political science major that abortion is wrong! Be gone!” These were my grandiose thoughts. If I still thought that would work, I would do it today. But it won’t.


I shall never forget the woman who changed the fight forever. I don’t remember her name. I’m not sure I would recognize her on the street. But I’ll never forget she changed my whole viewpoint on abortion.

We were sent to a halfway house as part of our nursing clinicals. A place where people struggling with addiction spend time recovering before re-entering society. We went to an AA meeting and had lunch with people and overall felt like visitors to another world. Despite that feeling I never felt so close to my fellow broken humans. I had a huge sense of gratitude that my parents made all the choices they did. Also how easily my life could fall apart, but for the grace of God.

There was one woman who was very welcoming and friendly. Probably my own age.  Seemed to be doing well and strong on her journey away from addiction. But you never know what hides beneath the surface of a person.

She spent lunch in conversation with us. She told us she was going for an abortion on Monday. The floor left me. She told us she knew it was a baby, but she knew she wouldn’t be strong enough to carry the baby nine months, and then give him or her away in adoption. My rebuttals left me. She said it would be better to have an abortion than the baby be forced to live in her life.

Things come to mind now. Things I should have said. I don’t remember what I did say. I don’t remember what my one classmate said, (who, I didn’t know till that day, was pro-life.) But I will tell you what it did to me. It changed my fight against abortion.


I have always known abortion is death. I didn’t know fully how abortion is despair. I sent prayer requests to everyone I knew. I prayed so hard for that woman. God is good, and brought me a strange, but strong sense of peace after three days of praying. I will never know what happened to that mother and child. But I can hope.

There are plenty of people who will try to argue against the science til they are blue in the face. There are many people who have no moral code beyond what is legal, so will tell you it is permissible. There are people who will throw at you wild exceptions to the rule. That is not why abortion is still legal. That is not why you still find women going into their local Planned Parenthood facility.

When I came face to face with the woman about to have an abortion, I found despair. I was not prepared for that fight. That is my confession. I looked at the face of despair and I realized I brought a knife to a bomb fight. I thought we were fighting against abortion with intellectual reason and facts and all I had to do was spread them around. We aren’t. We are fighting for souls. We are fighting for hope.


Whether you are pro-life or pro-choice, fear is the cause of abortion. I could point to a thousand reasons why women fear pregnancy. Just think of the phrases “unsafe sex” or “use protection”. They aren’t just talking about STDs. They’re talking about babies. Abortion is the last resort. The choice when there is no other choice. The last way out. You wonder why abortion advocates are so fierce? You’re removing their last resort. They’re panicking. Abortion is the get out of jail free (except trauma) card. It’s the keep status quo card. “Unwanted” can be translated to “scared $#!+less of”, because women are taught to fear motherhood.

Even if you can convince someone to offer up the nine months of their life so that someone can adopt their child, you have to convince them that life is worth suffering for. But if you don’t have hope and faith, suffering has no redemption. Being alive is zero and any suffering puts you into negative numbers immediately. Especially for those mothers in the exception clause who are told that their child has a medical condition. People look at life and see pain. There is a sick sense of mercy by sparing the child from the pain of life, by killing them. This is the despair that leads to abortion. This is the fight.

Unless we can bring hope into the fight against abortion, we won’t convince anyone.


In our culture the mentality is that, “life is good if…” add to taste. If I can get what I want. If I can avoid suffering as much as possible.

We have completely lost the sense of life is good. Period. I know that phrase is framed on the pinterest-esque wall of your girlfriend’s living room. But I don’t mean “good” with a beach theme. I mean intrinsically good. I mean no frosting, no trimmings, no wrapping paper, alone life is good. Our culture does not have that mentality. It’s all about the trimmings. Just look at your instagram. According to our culture, life is only good if you have all the trimmings, and if that is not possible, end it.

Individual lives can be warped into terrible things by terrible choices. But life is intrinsically good because God made us. He gave us this gift, and He called His creation “good.” Even after we fell, He came down to make all things new.


So that’s a nice thought. But how?

Cultivate hope. Point out beauty. Be kind. Bring joy with you everywhere you go. Convince people life can be good, by living a virtuous life. There are so many ways to fight, so many hearts we can touch even by small acts of kindness. Point to the beautiful things in life whenever possible. The beautiful things that we did not fashion for ourselves. The ones free of charge that are gifts of God. Blessings of being alive. There are far more people pointing out ugliness. That means in everyday conversations. Take a good look at the percentage of complaints versus praise in your daily conversation. Pray for hope.  

Hope is infectious. So is despair. I have to fight despair at work, in my family, in myself. It’s everywhere.  God gives me hope. Before I can start having a conversations about God, there’s got to be someone asking questions. If you have hope, you’ll have joy.Wear your joy on the outside. People are attracted to joy. They will eventually ask the question, “why?”.


So how do I fight despair? I am a nurse. I strive to be the best nurse I can be. To my coworkers and patients I am an enigma, “you’re always smiling Catherine!” I’ve heard it countless times. Well I’m here to tell you why I am smiling. God is good. So many horrid things happen in this life. I say that with conviction, having spent the last four years as a nurse on the frontlines of human pain. But God gives me hope. God gave me life, and that is good.

I got hit in the gut and I tapped out of the pro-life fight for a while, because I found the bigger problem. I found it wasn’t going to be one non-profit to save the world. I found all my facts and arguments weren’t going to help. Because I still had to find my own hope. I have to recognize that I too struggle with suffering being allowed in my life. I struggle with that everyday.

I know I need to get back to the front lines, in pregnancy centers, on the street praying. But I also know that abortion is the result of despair. So in my corner, I’m going to fight despair. I’m going to cultivate my hope. Because life is good. God said so. So preach it with every breath, do not be afraid, and fight. Then we will end abortion.

Look up

Something I wrote a while ago but still true…

I have been doing daily advent reflections with Dynamic Catholic. The theme they chose has given me so many revelations into my life that I must share. Dynamic Catholic chose hope as the focus of their stories and meditations that they send out daily to everyone. I had been following along, not everyday, but I catch up when I can. One day my cousin Mo, who introduced me to Dynamic Catholic, sent me the advent reflection for one particular day and said “I saw this and I thought of you.” I had not seen that day’s reflection yet and my cousin being the intuitive and wise person that she is, made me watch this video more carefully. She was right. I needed to hear every word said. The first time I watched it, like any other prideful human being, when someone says “you need to do this” there was automatically a barrier or wall that was up to make sure I couldn’t be caught off guard and be too effected by what was said. I could tell this was happening so I let it sink in. I chipped away at the wall and kept asking the question, does this need to change my life in a deeper way? It did change my life. These pages are the result.

The video was called, “A God of miracles”. It talked about the fact that we try to make God small. We try to fit Him into an idea of who we think He is, partly because we seek a relationship with Him, but in doing so we forget how big God is. He took on a human nature. But sometimes we forget that He is not a mere human, He is God. He is so much greater than our entire universe. We know so little about our own galaxy, never mind the universe. The cosmos is so great and yet nothing in comparison to God. It’s His creation.

So come back down to earth. It can be overwhelming travelling the stars thinking about God. So realize in fact He did walk our earth. He ate, He drank, He slept. He already knew about all of these things, but we were allowed to watch Him do all of these things, to witness Him endure our struggles.

Our God is a God of miracles. We are so like little children. In my day to day life I see myself struggling, pushing hard at the obstacle in my way and sometimes in frustration I will yell out “HELLLP!” mostly because I am at my own wits end and need God to help me. But I believe I have been looking to God only through my own narrow field of vision. I need help with this one tiny thing that is frustrating me and that is all.

Most times I think about my life, I doubt I can do anything special while I live this single life that God has allowed right now. I see others in relationships, starting families, growing something. Is this my path of “self discovery” and what does that even mean? I can only focus on me, me, me for so long before I get discouraged or bored. The fact is, the person I should be focusing on is God. Not just my personal relationship with God, because again, I tend to make Him smaller to fit into my vision. What happens when I look up?

Miracles are not hard for God. I say again, miracles are not hard for God. What is a miracle? Something inexplicable, outside of the natural realm occurring in nature? What kind of miracle are you praying for? Are they big miracles? Why not? Do you think God cannot do a big miracle? When was the last time you asked God to work a miracle in your heart? That one sin, that one habitual fault that you have and that you confess every time you go to Him, did you ask Him to cure you? Look at Mary Magdalene when He forgave her sins. Her life was never the same again. Do you think she changed her habits and her ways all by herself? Or was there huge amounts of grace given to her to aid her in changing her life forever. Is there still effort needed on your part? Of course. God will never infringe on your free will. But have you asked Him to heal you? Reach out and touch the hem of his cloak.  When you ask, remember how great and powerful is our God.

Ask for the big miracles. I have often struggled with the fact that I don’t have a voice. With all the noise on the internet and the 24 hour news cycle and everything that goes on in the world the chance of my making a change at all is so miniscule even if something I said was “liked” by a hundred people, what have I changed? There is where hope comes in.

I know I can speak to a Being who is so much more powerful than any internet. He can whisper to a person’s heart, He can create a galaxy, He can create life or destroy it. He can do anything. He oversees everything. He can wield His power or not. He can do all but force us to choose Him. But He can also do a lot of things to be quite convincing.

The fact is if we step back from our downwards plodding view of life, we can see His majesty. He is like the parent that if we reach out for him can lift us up and over that stumbling block that looks so huge from our view on the ground. Once we are in His arms we can see that stumbling block looks so much smaller from above. Stay in His arms for a moment. See your struggles from above for a moment. They look much smaller and easily moved. We can see ways around obstacles, or the road beyond once we go through those obstacles. It all seems much easier if we rest in His arms for a moment. But go higher.

Look up. The ruler of the universe can see your planet from above. He sees the ocean raging. The bombs exploding, the tiny child being killed in the womb. How could my voice reach that? Through God. If you come out of your own tunnel vision of the obstacles around you and look up, you can send your prayers, you can ask Him for a miracle. He does not find it hard. You can look upon a realm outside of time and beg Him for an intervention. No internet post can rival that. So be a prayer warrior. While you’re enduring the daily life struggles and cannot see the next day in front of you or where you are going, know that you can always stop and ask for help from a God that is above it all, but Who has also walked in human feet. Lift up your hearts to Him. Reach for Him when you are struggling against that wall in your life. Ask Him for a miracle. He will not act against free will, but you can ask Him to be more convincing. You can ask Him for just about anything. Like a good Father, He may, or may not remove that obstacle. He may let it remain. Take comfort in the fact that if you place your hope and trust in Him, He will do what is best for you.

This life can be frustrating and there will be a lot of times we wish He didn’t think it was necessary for us to endure these trials. But His imagination for creating good, is much greater than ours. So know that your voice may, or may not make a difference to the masses, but there is a Being who is always listening, and who is much more powerful than any internet article ever could be. Look up, have hope, and speak to Him.     

Wounds of the past

Confession is a blessing. Especially when you happen to go to a church you never been to, in a far away land, to a stranger priest you’ll never see again, and he ends up giving the best advice you’ve gotten in years. He was also from a foreign country, which was good because it gave me a real wake up call to how seriously we take ourselves in our first world country. In other countries people are worried about the next meal, or persecution.

I was confessing my struggle with forgiveness. He asked me what I was trying to forgive, “Wounds from the past.” His response, “But they are in the past? Why are you still thinking about them?” He then proceeded to give me a wake up call from the present moment and the possible future.

Yes, the past happened and wounded you but it could also have been instrumental in how you became the person you are today. More to the point, he said, “You are a young person in the prime of life, why aren’t you thinking of the future?”

He gave me a verbal slap on the wrist for wallowing. It might have seemed more vehement with his accent than he actually intended, but I needed the reprimand. Part of the trap of this life, especially in singlehood, is the temptation to waste time distracting ourselves i.e. Netflix (guilty). Another trap I had fallen into is spending time tracing the roots from different events in my past that made me into who I am. True it’s good to know how you got different habits, or who you got them from, but only insofar as it is helpful in acting to avoid the same mistakes. The future is what I should be thinking of, not how much damage I have sustained from the past.

Wallowing is actually not an easy habit to break. But wounds from the past are actually just that: wounds that hopefully have healed over because they are from a while ago and should be tough scar tissue by now. Real wounds are like that as well. Sorry if this gets a little graphic. If you keep itching and scratching a wound it will never heal properly. Leave it alone! More importantly if you keep picking at it and reopening it to explore how deep it goes it will just get infected and then you’ll be really sick. It’s true some serious and deep wounds don’t heal properly and you have to open it up and clean out underlying infection. But that should be done by a professional, best not done alone. After that, take measures to prevent the infection from spreading.

Medicine. It comes in different forms for different people. Some people need counseling, some people need a lifestyle change, or a location change. That’s not all you need. Nourishment. We cannot heal properly if we are not eating the proper nutrients necessary for reconstruction. What are we consuming on a daily basis? Is it helping the healing process? Some of us may need a lot of extra fuel to heal, spiritual reading, spiritual talks, silence and prayer. Perhaps even a retreat or a regular spiritual adviser.

The present and future should be my only concern. They are the only things I can change. I can make decisions now that impact the rest of my life. I cannot in any way change the past. Don’t be like Pumba, get your behind out of the past!

No matter how many times we look back, we are only heading in one direction. Forward.  Time is funny like that. So it’s best we keep our eyes up ahead. You don’t want to miss anything, and you should probably look where you are going.

My penance was to pray for the person who wounded me. To hold the person in my hand and offer him to God. He also told me to seek a spiritual adviser if I needed more help overcoming these wounds. He told me to hold on to the Person Who will not disappoint, Who will always act out of love. Hold on to Jesus. Don’t let go.

So easy to be disappointed

Some days the blues affect us. They got us. You can’t help being disappointed.  But that feeling will pass. Humans will ultimately show goodness. Show heart. Then you will realize that it is for you to decide how to act, given their behavior.

People will always do things to disappoint you. There is no such thing as a care free life. There’s no such thing as a life without pain. “Life is pain highness!” Dull it, you may say. But conscious or not, if a knife cuts you,  it will hurt you, and there will be a wound and if you’re lucky, a scar.

Ours I not to figure out why knife wounds were invented in the first place. At least that’s not the question we really want answered.  The question we want answered is “Why was I stabbed?!” That’s a personal question. Between God and man. “Why?” It’s not one to be answered lightly, and it won’t ever be answered the same way for each person. Possibly not answered at all in this life.

The question should be, “What do we do now?” Finding out the cause isn’t going to help heal the wound. Finding the next step. Finding the way forward with such a wound. That is our task. 

Life is a tapestry. We’ll never know what it looks like as we experience time now. But when we see it all finished, we shall marvel. Those of us who wish to dwell on why knife wounds happen, might just miss how to move past them. How to heal. Then the wounds never heal, and they won’t end up with scars. For better or worse,  scars are part of our tapestry. So move forward.

Old friends

I realized something recently. I am very blessed to have old friends when I am only in my late twenties. I always loved the idea of having old friends for nostalgia sake. Yes, those are the people who remember the good old days, but it’s more than that. Those are the friends who can tell you how far you’ve come. Those are the friends that know your best and worst tendencies, how many you have overcome, or developed, and how many you have not.

There will always be friends that you outgrow. The hope is that you both grow, simultaneously. Sometimes you grow in opposite directions. If you can find the friends who are both old friends, and those with whom you can grow together, that is the best.

If those friends are family members, mores the better. But beware of leaning on family for growth. Some family member inhibit your growth. You live in the same box in their mind, so you conform to the same box you grew up in.

Good old friends are those that have known you longest, loved you hardest, and helped you grow farthest. Those are the friends you need to surround yourself with. Those are the ones to get you to heaven.

It is much easier to go solo on this life adventure. Everything is new all the time. But that is not the way to true growth. You don’t pick a different wall as a kid to put a slash with the pencil where the top of your head reaches. You use the same spot, to show your progression through the years. It’s the same thing with friends. Every once in awhile you must go back and measure how far you’ve grown. Sometimes it will be difficult, you will feel lonely realizing you are nothing like the child you were a foot ago. Sometimes you realize again why you left the first time. But sometimes that is necessary for further growth. To take stock of your farm and realize which soil is depleted with no more growth possible, and which will make you bloom.

Talk to your oldest friend. If you are blessed, they can tell you how far you’ve come, and tell you to keep going.