Meaningful Music: OVERCOMER by Mandisa

Sometimes life can just be overwhelming. While God constantly graces us with blessings, He also exposes us to challenges and times of struggle to help us grow and develop as faithful followers. We know that God does everything in our best interest but everyone can use a little extra support and encouragement when these hard times come our way. Mandisa, an award-winning Christian artist, provides such comfort through her music. Her song “Overcomer” has been on the top of Christian charts for over five years and it’s no question why! Her words of encouragement and truth for those undergoing hardship is enough to lighten anyone’s mood.

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Photo Credit 

The song’s verses speak to the universal feeling of being worn down and distraught by the challenges God places in our path:

Everybody’s been down

Hit the bottom, hit the ground

However, Mandisa reminds us that we are not called to overcome these challenges alone. God has promised each of us His help and intervention. He will never put us in a situation that we cannot handle:

Ooh, you’re not alone

Just take a breath, don’t forget

Hang on to his promises

He wants you to know

Whatever it is you may be going through

I know he’s not gonna let it get the best of you

Knowing that God is constantly on our side, our struggles, conflicts, and problems seem to shrink. God is gracious enough to give us the strength, power, and courage we need to accomplish anything. Mandisa sings of this power as she dubs us all “Overcomers”:

You’re an overcomer

Stay in the fight ’til the final round

You’re not going under

‘Cause God is holding you right now

You might be down for a moment

Feeling like it’s hopeless

That’s when he reminds you

That you’re an overcomer

You’re an overcomer

Next time you find yourself in a situation beyond your control, take a moment and re-center your focus on Christ. With His help you can do anything!

Listen to the full song here:

Want to hear more from Mandisa? Make sure to attend the FEST (a free and family-friendly event!) on August 5, 2018 to see Mandisa live! And don’t forget while you’re there to visit the Catholic Cemeteries Association booth to receive a free snow cone and complimentary family photo!

Post written by Katie Karpinski

Stella Walsh: A Local Olympian

Olympic athletes have always been celebrities in their own rite. Even in the recent Winter Olympics, it appeared that the whole world was captivated with the select group of individuals chosen to compete and represent their country. Seeing people who are so dedicated to their country and to their sport is enough to inspire anyone to pursue their passion and make a greater impact on their community. Stanisława Walasiewicz (more commonly known as Stella Walsh) was one such athlete. However, her story goes beyond her involvement in Olympic events. Keep reading to learn more about this remarkable woman.

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Stella Walsh during track and field competition

Born on April 3, 1911 in Poland, Stella only lived in the country for a few months before her parents immigrated to the United States. Eventually, the family settled in Cleveland where Stella’s father found work at a local steel mill. Enrolled in Cleveland public schools, it didn’t take long for Stella’s athletic ability to be noticed. At the young age of 16 she qualified for the American Olympic track team. But there was a problem. Being born in Poland, Stella was not an American citizen and was not yet old enough to apply for citizenship. But this didn’t stop Stella from pursuing her passions. Instead, she decided to join a local Polish sports organization. Through this organization, Stella was able to compete and would win several titles in 60, 100, 200, and 400 meter dash events. Stella was so spectacular that she was even asked to join the Polish national athletic team.

Throughout her teenage years, Stella continued to participate in Polish and American sporting events, all while working as a clerk in Cleveland. She won several international and local titles in track events. One of these competitions even won Stella a car! In 1930 at the young age of 19, Stella had gained both local and international fame which resulted in her being offered American and Polish citizenships. She accepted her Polish citizenship and was named the most popular athlete in Poland that same year.  While this already seems rather noteworthy, the pinnacle of Stella’s fame would come to fruition in the years following her Polish citizenship.

In 1932 Los Angeles, California was hosting the Summer Olympics. Stella was selected to participate, representing Poland. After competing in several events, Stella made history when she won the gold medal in the 100 meter dash, having completed the sprint in 11.9 seconds which equaled the current world record at the time. This Olympic win even heightened her celebrity more– so much so that Poland awarded her the Cross of Merit (typically given for humanitarian or public achievements). Over the next 4 years, Stella would maintain her title as most popular athlete in Poland.

As time came for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Stella began to in wane in popularity. She would compete again in the 100 meter dash, this time taking home the silver medal after losing the gold to American track athlete, Helen Stephens. After this loss, Stella decided to accept her American citizenship and remained in Cleveland permanently.  She would continue to compete in events throughout the country, and won her last title at the age of forty. In 1975 she was inducted in the Track and Field Hall of Fame.

Throughout her retirement, Stella stayed active in athletics and her Polish culture. She was heavily involved in several athletic organizations, particularly those aimed at younger athletes, and helped fund awards for Polish-American citizens. Stella would contribute to these organizations up until her untimely death.

On December 4, 1980 Stella was in a Cleveland parking lot, having just purchased ribbons for a visiting Polish team. She was a victim of an armed robbery and sadly did not survive.  Stella’s death, and subsequent autopsy, resulted in various rumors and controversy about Stella’s true gender. While this is a topic still discussed today, no one can argue Stella’s unique athletic talent and contribution to both Polish and American track history.

Stella is buried at Calvary Cemetery in Cleveland (Sec. 95 Lot. 2003)

Post written by Katie Karpinski

A Self-Care Guide for the Bereaved

When a death occurs, priorities shift. It’s easy to become overwhelmed with your emotions and the impeding tasks that follow the loss of a loved one. During this painful time, taking care of yourself may be the last thing on your mind. You may feel as if there are too many things to do, too many people to care for, and too little time to complete it all. Even after the initial flurry of activities following the death of your loved one, and into the subsequent years, you may still feel the heaviness and weight of grief albeit less frequently but just as draining upon your emotional and physical self. However, taking care of yourself during a time of grief is critical to truly healing and overcoming the obstacles associated with losing a loved one. Keep reading to learn about 3 steps you can take toward better self-care today.

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1. Take care of your body

The body and mind are very closely related. This is why, while grief may traditionally be known as an emotional pain, there is also an element of physical pain or unbalance that is experienced following the death of a loved one. Therefore, taking steps to improve your physical health can be beneficial not only for general wellness, but also in terms of working through your grief. Getting a full night’s sleep, eating healthy foods, and moderate exercise are all great steps toward physical wellness. In some cases, a visit to your doctor for a checkup may be good idea. It all depends on you and your body’s unique reaction to grief.

2. Be kind to yourself

While grieving, it’s important to treat yourself like your own best friend. It’s so easy to get caught up in everything that needs to be done, and you may even blame yourself if things aren’t being completed on time or don’t go as planned. Instead of discouraging yourself, remember that you are only human. Take some time to do things you enjoy. Give yourself breaks and learn to say no to events or obligations you simply don’t have time for. Learn how to pamper yourself, and find something to do that makes you happy. Maybe it’s reading a good book or watching your favorite movie. Perhaps taking a nice bath with aroma therapy soaps or mediation can help. Whatever the case may be, find what works for you. It’s important to mention that many people turn to being busy as a way to cope with their grief. However, all that does is push your grief to the side and distract you from the pain you need to work through. By taking breaks and avoiding the “busy trap”, you can actually learn to work through your grief instead of ignoring it, all while practicing better self-care along the way!

3. Reflect and connect

While slightly contradictory, one of the best ways to practice self-care involves turning your attention to others. First, while it may be tempting to push the painful feelings of loss to the side and try to go about a normal day, it’s important that you accept these feelings associated with loss. Reflecting on the life of your loved one is a great thing that can bring about healing and acceptance. Some common reflection exercises include writing down ten things you miss about them, or your favorite memories with them. Maybe it’s simply talking about your loved one with others, or creating some type of memorial for them. Whatever the case may be, allow yourself to enter into whatever it is you may be feeling. Finally, use this opportunity to connect with others, and to connect with Christ. Grief is not a journey that needs to be done alone. Reaching out to a trusted friend, family-member, church leader, or local support group are great ways to reconnect and provide yourself with a support system to assist you through your grief journey. Of course, constant prayer and communication with God is the best way to take care of yourself and your grief. God is a source of never-ending and never-failing love. He alone can truly heal you.

Interested in joining a grief support group? Visit our website for more information.

Post written by Katie Karpinski

 

One Nation Under God: Reflections on the 4th of July

The 4th of July, also known as Independence Day in the U.S. is arguably the most important day in this great country’s history. On this day we celebrate with fireworks, barbeques, parades, friends and family. We honor the bravest men and women who fought for our freedom over 240 years ago and those who are fighting to protect our freedom today. On the 4th of July one can’t help but enjoy the sound of rhythmic music, children playing, and the thunderous fireworks which light up the sky with contours and colors that compel us to stop what we are doing and be thankful for what we have.

While we stop to embrace everything we are thankful for it is ever so important that we also turn to the One who is most responsible for our freedom. God Almighty has granted us with true blessings of freedom both in heaven and on earth. In fact, John Adams, the primary author of the Declaration of Independence praises the Most High when he so elegantly wrote, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

John Adam’s faith in The Lord was made extremely evident here. He was one of the first of many to turn to God with thanks and praise when the newfound relief of freedom settled in over our great country. Celebrating 242 years of freedom by the signing of the Declaration of Independence, we remember and praise those who have bestowed this great amenity to our united nation. Lastly, thank you to all of our veterans and current servicemen and thanks be to The Lord! Let freedom ring!

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Prayer for America

Dear God, we thank you for the bountiful blessings you have bestowed on us. Guide us in being good stewards of these gifts. Let us care for all of your beautiful creation, from the redwood forests to the gulfstream waters. Make us instruments of your peace in order to put an end to rockets’ red glare and bombs bursting in air. Help us to love and care for all of our neighbors -locally and globally- so that we might be truly crowned with brotherhood from sea to shining sea. Amen.

Prayer source: https://www.pinterest.com/source/franciscanmissionservice.org/
Post written by: Antonio Vuyancih

Planning a Vacation While Grieving

For some, the idea of planning a trip may be incredibly overwhelming following the death of a loved one. However, taking a vacation, regardless of how grandiose or modest it may be, can be extremely beneficial for those struggling with grief. Traveling to new places provides a fresh perspective, and seeing the world on a larger scale can help fight feelings of isolation one may feel while grieving. It shows you that there is a world outside of your grief—one that is still full of new opportunities and joys! This is easier said than done, so keep reading to learn more about how you can make your vacations and travels a little less stressful and a little more enjoyable.

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Set realistic expectations

It’s easy to get carried away when planning a vacation. Brochures and commercials are filled with perfect images of smiling people and sunny weather. While vacations are certainly intended to be fun and exciting, after losing a loved one it’s important that you set realistic expectations. Don’t expect too much from yourself. Grief can drain a lot of your energy, so make sure you don’t plan too many energy-dependent activities. In most cases, a more relaxing vacation is most appropriate after a recent loss, such as a spa day, camping trip, or a quiet weekend at a bed and breakfast.

Be flexible

Grieving is a dynamic and unpredictable journey. No matter where you are on your personal journey, your emotions, mood, and energy can all change dramatically without warning. That’s why, when planning a vacation, it’s important to be patient and flexible with yourself. Don’t plan anything that can’t be easily cancelled or rescheduled, and it’s always a good idea to have a backup plan. In some cases, it may be good idea to plan a few different vacations, then see which fits best as the date gets closer. Having options takes some of the pressure off vacationing, and provides a more relaxed perspective on the whole process.

Communicate

Communication is undoubtedly one of the most important elements of journeying through grief, regardless of whether or not you choose to travel. However, if you do decide to vacation, communication becomes even more important. For those traveling with family, it’s important to be open and honest with each other. Everyone grieves differently. Certain activities or memories that may not be painful to you may be painful to someone else and vice versa. Therefore, talk about what you have planned for the trip and make sure everyone is comfortable. It may be helpful to plan activities specific to each family member to make sure everyone’s voice is heard. It’s always a good idea to communicate with God as well. Share your feelings, fears, and joys. He will be accompanying you on whatever journey you choose to go on.

The first vacation following the death of a loved will be the most difficult as the absence of the deceased person will be felt at its highest level. This pain will lessen with time, and just knowing this and anticipating the challenge will ease the current pain you feel and hopefully make it more tolerable. The pain is actually the love you feel for the absent person.  The stronger the love, the stronger the pain.  And everywhere love goes, grief goes too. So know that you will feel the absence even in another place, and be prepared to greet it and welcome it as part of the healing process.

Post written by Katie Karpinski