Wednesday, May 24, 2017

beginning, and beginning again

“He who climbs never stops going from beginning to beginning, through beginnings that have no end. He never stops desiring what he already knows.” -St. Gregory of Nissa

“This is the very perfection of a man, to find out his own imperfections.” -St. Augustine
“To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often.” -Bl. John Henry Cardinal Newman

Well well, it seems I will come out of blog-retirement and throw some words at whomever would like to read them.  It has been roughly a year, and I could go all What I Did on my Summer Vacation on you, but don't worry. I don't have the strength.

What has motivated me is simply that I would like to share some of my spiritual journey. It has been quite a year in many respects, and have thought recently that some of my experiences might resonate with -someone- and so if even one person is encouraged, I will be completely happy with that.

I am not even going to attempt to go chronologically. I would drive myself and any reader crazy, and besides, since God exists outside of time, it's all good.

But really, first things first. In the post immediately preceding this one, you will see a precious newborn. Who happens to be my granddaughter. So, following Rule Number One in the Grandparent handbook, I must, under threat of losing my membership, show you updated pictures.

Image may contain: 1 person

Okay! A year in the life of a baby. Every day another milestone! I could go on.

But I mentioned some spiritual growth or some junk, so I will tell you about that.

I want to start with a period of fasting and prayer that I joined in with back in February. It is called Nineveh 90, which is a 90 day program of prayer and fasting. It is similar to a Lenten period, with prescribed prayers and disciplines. The round I joined in actually encompassed Lent and so was interesting to have Lent within a Lent.  The 90 days wrapped up on May 13, the 100th anniversary of the apparitions of Our Lady of Fatima. There were small groups that one could join online, which I did, and we met each week to check in and see how everyone was doing, what was a struggle, and shared prayer intentions. I got to know some lovely people, and we hope to keep up with each other online. If you follow the link you can read for quite a while on the Nineveh 90 website, there are many articles and prayers.

Those are the nuts and bolts, but it's what comes about on a personal level that is the real point. These sort of groups have many scores of people praying, which is in itself a wonderful thing. But the idea that I am but a cog in a larger movement of prayer, saying prayers here in my South Philadelphia row home; effecting change in the world for the salvation of souls for eternity--that alone gives me a sense of humble awe--and hope for all the many issues of our day and for poor souls. It appeals to my sense of wanting to DO SOMETHING for all the needs in my world and the larger world, that I otherwise would be powerless to address.( I was born on the feast of St. Martha, so--).

This period also helped me in my ability to grow in self-discipline. Out of the prayers, dietary guidelines, fasting days, exercise, limit of internet and TV for entertainment, and regular adoration and confession, I would say that incorporating prayer into my day was the best benefit. I pray at regular times throughout the day, short prayers, and say the Rosary daily, along with some other prayers I say at night. I try to examine my conscience every night, though I have fallen off of that a bit. It does make for a much better confession. Sometimes, especially in the beginning, the prayers did not_feel_very spiritual, as I had to read them until I got them memorized, but as I persevered, I began to see that simply the offering of my time and devotion was producing something in my life. Even if I didn't immediately have pious emotions, my prayers were doing the work in which they were intended. Which, honestly, is not ever to make me feel holy, but to go towards the greater will of God, which I only know but a crumb. My life, my world, my reality, while real, is not the ultimate reality that God sees. but he allows us to participate in his plan anyway. And he makes each person important to the whole, and somehow, every small act contributes, whether for good or for ill. That  is something I want to share with you in a future post.

I also want to tell more about my journey to come to know Mary better. As a convert, I did not always think of her first when I would go looking for an intercessor. Now, I try to give everything to her first. That will be a post unto itself.

Until then, I leave you ,Clementine:

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Holy Week is upon us, Lent has been a bear, and, a baby.

I trust you have been having a blessed and holy Lent. I seem to remember last year as not needing a lot of additional disciplines, as they came pre-packaged. Well, this year was no different. Maybe it was just God's way of consolidating all my spiritual growth into one Lenten package, all tied up with a pretty purple bow.

I will not share all the ins and outs.  Suffice it to say the challenges have been coming fast and furious. Kind of like a treadmill that makes you keep running or you'll go flying. But don't let me give you the impression it's been all bad; far from it!  I've had many many lovely blessings. My daughter, son-in-law and grandson came from Michigan for a visit; the occasion being another daughter's baby shower.

Annnnnnd, the amazing, sweet, adorable, yet natural, outcome of that-------drum roll----

                                                                         Ta Da!

                                      Clementine Willow Corrine, born March 4, 6 lbs. 15 oz.

Of course we are all completely smitten.

Yet, all of life continues, much as we wish it would just pause long enough for us to sit and rock her seventeen hours a day.

Back to Lent.

I came across the book, Abandonment to Divine Providence, by Jean-Pierre de Caussade, while re-reading The Way of Serenity, by Father Jonathan Morris. He referenced it somewhere along the way, and I became curious and went and found it.

It has become truly a book full of Things I Needed To Hear Right Now. Ironically, following with the book's theme, God brought it along when I needed it most. The idea that God is present in every moment, and our job is to be abandoned to his will, trusting that He has got our life handled in a way we never could, is not a new one, in fact I am sure one could quote scripture to say the same thing. But de Caussade does sort of a Francis de Sales with the language and examples he uses, making the whole idea of the Christian life absurdly simple, and still highly profound.

The simple part I really need right now. Haha.  Just remembering to look to God in every circumstance, instantly changes the entire baseline reality of that moment.

When I am driving to work in the morning on the expressway (total misnomer. there is nothing express about it), I like to start with a Rosary. It helps quiet down my racing mind and focus on hearing Jesus. One day while praying the sorrowful mysteries, I got to "Jesus carries His Cross" and remembered how he allowed Simon to help him. I mean, Simon didn't even want to. He had to be forced! But also, Jesus chose to stay within the limits of his beaten, torn, human body. Nothing was done to Him on Good Friday that He didn't allow. And he wanted a reluctant human person to help him on His darkest day. When I, in my human limitations, am having a dark day, do I allow people to help me? Do I turn to Jesus and ask his help? Conversely, Jesus wants our help. He wants  us to pray for one another. He wants us to just talk to Him, to get to know Him for who he really is.

I was able to ponder all that because I made myself available to listen and pay attention.

It's kind of a limitless possibility idea, and I like it. It gives us the chance to tap into God as He is in every moment, and get to know Him as the living Father that he truly is.

Since I am experiencing challenges, I now  have daily, even hourly conversations with God that offer opportunities to see all my situations through His eyes. He reminds me that my freaking out accomplishes nothing, and I can remain serene and docile to His work in my life, knowing He has it all handled.

My prayer is that you can experience God in your daily life, abandoning yourself to Him and knowing His peace.

Have a blessed Holy Week~


Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Lent 2016, the gauntlet

Well, here we are at the doorstep of yet another Lent. I remember last year's Lent and that it was hard or something, and for general forgetfulness, I am truly thankful.

I am fully on board with the saying, " Lent is not a diet." In some ways, I think that just omitting certain foods is a cop out from putting real thought into the furthering of our spiritual life.Just being hungry is not enough, though it has its merits. I personally need something that will point me toward God in a more conscious way. Many days, okay, most days, I get all caught up in the events of that day and go merrily on without Him.

So I want to have a multi-point approach this year. A little of this and a little of that.

The Plan.

1. Ransom some time back by going off of Facebook. I may blog here and there, and throw the post up on Facebook, (and try really hard not to chase after the piled up notifications).  I do this every year, and find I am looking forward to it more and more.

2. Generalized good eating but no specific dietary restricting. Except Fridays, of course, and just keeping things modest.  We have several celebrations throughout Lent, and this year, the birth of our second grandchild, so there will be some appropriate times to indulge a little. I have heard that NOT participating in someone's joyful celebration, (when possible), would in itself be, if not sinful, at least sort of ungenerous.

3. Reading. I began Rediscover Jesus by Matthew Kelly, and want to continue that. I also have lots of great spiritual books lying about. Unplugging to some extent and watching less TV will clear some space.

4. Going to daily mass, adoration, stations of the cross, and  more frequent confession. I am not going to say this day or that day, because my life just doesn't support that. I do want to say a daily Rosary.

5. Doing this.

6. Give alms wherever an opportunity arises. Sometimes this happens with giving someone time rather than money.

7. Little sacrifices. Doing something someone else wants rather than what I want. Praying while driving instead of listening to music. Doing something extra for someone that is not expected.
Offering up all difficulties of the day. Hurt feelings, bad drivers, crowded stores, disappointments, heartaches. You get the gist.

8. This may seem counter intuitive, but be joyful! Laugh. Find the humor in things. Smile at someone. Don't indulge in grumpiness or irritability. Hug someone. (be appropriate! haha). Give good vibes away.  Jesus said,  “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love; just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you so that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:10-11.

That all may seem like a lot, but really, it's more of a mindset.  Setting the mind on Jesus. That's the goal, right?

Here's to a joyful and holy Lent!

Friday, January 8, 2016

What is stopping you?

   As a parent, I always want my kids to tell me if they need something. It makes me unhappy to know that any one of them has suffered in silence because their shoes got too small or they were down to one pair of jeans, or they fell behind in algebra; or they wanted to sign up for a sport/club/class, but weren't sure they could handle it. Anything. It's fine if it's just a material thing, or help over an academic or social hurdle. Or something more. I truly wish they knew my heart for them never changes, and that I always want their best, highest good. It is painful when they don't seem to know that there is nothing that can change my heart toward them.

   God is our Father, and we can understand the quality of that love because of the love we have for our own. But do we ask Him for all our needs?  How many times do we suffer in silence, flounder around in our difficulties, surrender to our wounds, get stuck in a rut, or become paralyzed with fear? I would venture to say, we all do it in some way every day, simply as a part of being human. How much must the Father's heart hurt when we don't ask him for what we need? When He reaches out to us in a hundred different ways every day, and just gets brushed off because we are not open to the idea that it is He that is offering us His love, tenderness and assistance? When He only wants our highest good, and that we know that His heart for us never changes?

I think that we can't see it because we haven't asked Him for what we need. And maybe that is why we are stuck.

Where are you stuck?

A long time ago, I heard this teaching:

If you have an area in which you are struggling, identify the goal, and then isolate every step of what you need to reach it. I am approaching this as a spiritual process, but it can apply to anything.

A Scenario.

Fred has been away from the Church. He is questioning his faith, but is also feeling an emptiness in his life that he has not been able to fill by pursuing his own ideas.  What does he need? Faith? A connection with God? If he starts right where he is, he can ask God for the strength and courage to take the first step. He can say one Hail Mary a day, and ask that God reach out to him with a path. If he has a hard time praying at all, he can ask for the ability to pray. Just that one request. He can keep backing up until he reaches the point where he can begin. If he is open, he will recognize it when that person talks to him about faith, or that book comes across his path.

What is a goal you have not been reaching for because the path to you seems blocked? Write down that goal and work back, asking God for the ability to go forward. Be clear about the steps, and what is stopping you from doing them.

I have been working out now, consistently, at least for a little over two years. results have been slow, and there were a lot of roadblocks along the way. Scheduling, health concerns, injury, depression. But, one by one, I was able to ask for the thing I needed to go forward, even if I had to start with asking for the desire to do it. Sometimes, even the desire to be open to doing it. Or the desire to have the desire! I wanted the goal, but felt blocked. So I needed enough desire to take the first step to getting unblocked. God sent many little concrete steps for me to follow. An at-home, free, online exercise program with a huge array of workouts, in all styles, time frames and intensity levels. No having to leave the house, no fancy wardrobe, no special equipment, no AUDIENCE, especially in the very beginning. I could do ten or fifteen minutes if that was all I could manage. I would even workout in whatever I had worn to bed. But now, I do have the desire. The inertia has been overcome. I want to feel that sweaty burn. Even when it hurts, I like it, because I see and feel the results and the benefit goes far beyond the physical. I look forward to having days I can do longer workouts, but doing five days of  30 intense minutes is just fine. God provided everything I needed.

The goals in the beginning seemed large, wide-ranging,  and unattainable. I was struggling with the effects of an under active thyroid, compounded with life events that felt overwhelming and a proclivity to depression and anxiety. I just wanted to trust God as I once had, and feel at peace. And have some energy. So, I asked Him for some beginning steps. Finding that workout program was a big one. It helped me improve my physical and mental health, it increased my energy levels and helped with sleep and made it easier to desire healthy eating. It also  has made it possible to see the way ahead more clearly and set further goals.

 Another help along the way was finding my NarAnon family group. This has truly been a larger piece of life-help than I first imagined. And has much more impact than solely in the arena of addiction, It is a support for ALL aspects of life.

I mentioned further goals. I have been limping along in my spiritual life, at least in my own estimation. I suspect God has been leading me down the Attainable Path all along, but I have always striven for certain goals and not been able to maintain the discipline. So with the help of the upcoming Lent, and asking God for a daily devotional habit that I can sustain after Lent and beyond, and most importantly, the desire for God to increase. I know this is a good request and that He will answer, indeed is already answering, and I will be looking for those answers.

I want to give sources to all the puzzle pieces I mentioned above:

1. The lovely young couple, Daniel and Kelli Segars and their online site, Fitness Blender.

2.  Matthew Kelly's outreach, that I first found as Best Advent Ever, but the whole shebang is called Dynamic Catholic. Best Lent Ever is going to be available as well, and I intend to take advantage of the daily emails! You may have seen his books, Rediscover Jesus, being given out at your parish. I highly recommend this program. Highly.

3. If you have a loved one or family member struggling with addiction, or suspect it, you can find a NarAnon or AlAnon in your area by searching NarAnon or AlAnon family group meetings.

And by all means, gladden God's heart by asking Him for what you need. Do it today. It is my prayer for you.



Sunday, November 29, 2015

Advent 2015 aka, trying again

Hello! And yes I am still alive! I thought advent would be a fitting time to rejoin all, er, both of you on the blogosphere once again.

Today's TLM was extra beautiful. We are blessed enough to always have confession available to us before mass, so I went. Perhaps this gave me an extra appreciation for the rest of the mass, since my heart was softer and more in tune than usual. I don't know, but I still say that Reconciliation is to me like a  good drink of cold water after a dry, dusty wait; or like the feeling after a workout when the  body feels stronger and the mind clearer, only spiritually. Okay, these are terrible analogies, I know. But I feel better. And ready to try again.

The scola was acapella today, and it was no sacrifice. we began with Creator of the Stars of Night, one of my absolute favorites. The motet they did Conditor Alme Siderum, by Charles H Griffen was breathtaking, but alas, I can't find a recording of it. It means "creator of the stars of night" but the music is different than the hymn in English. Gor.Jus.

All the prayers today were beautiful, here is just one:


To Thee have I lifted up my soul: in Thee, O my God,  I put my trust, let me not be ashamed: neither let my enemies laugh at me: for none of them that wait on Thee shall be confounded. Show me, O Lord, Thy ways: and teach me Thy paths.

I am receiving emails with daily Advent reflections from Dynamic Catholic. I read the first one today and really liked it. It also comes with a short video.
In case you would like to check it out:

And go here to sign up for the daily emails.

Happy Advent-ing everybody! Definitely share your Advent adventures with me, or even just what you had for breakfast. I'll take it.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The day of a lifetime

I had no intentions of going to the Papal anything, as crowds are Not My Thing, and Bob generally dislikes anything done outside, so we were pretty much in agreement.

But then, on Saturday morning, we started wondering if maybe we should go downtown and just wander about anyway. Something had stirred in us, but I hadn't been feeling well, so we were still very on the fence. We went to morning mass, where I proceeded to say a few uncomplimentary things about our new priest and his way of celebrating mass. Smallish things, but still.

After mass, we decided to "just go and see" if there were still any tickets at the rectory. We were told there were a few left for that day, for the events bridging the World Meeting of Families and the Pope's arrival. Father happened by outside the office door and said, "You looking for tickets? Hold on." To which, he disappeared for a few minutes, and came back with two tickets to the mass in his hand. He said he had done his Pope thing with John Paul II, had even appeared on TV with him when he came to Philly, and was glad to give them to us.

So, yes, as usual for me, foot in mouth disease, though Father didn't know it, And now we had tickets to EVERYTHING. It was starting to feel kinda meant-to-be-ish.

We decided to go down right away, so as soon as we were ready, off we went. We only stopped for some hand sanitizer, having seen the pictures of endless rows of porta-potties as far as the eye could see.

It was very strange to see the Philly streets devoid of cars, but full of people biking, running, walking dogs, even one enterprising guy piloting a taxi-bike. Then we got to what I like to call The Pope Zone.

As my friend, Manny, posted on his day at the Madison Square Garden Papal Mass, we also had to wait in rather long and slow security line. During which people were told they may not take any fruit inside, so folks were either eating up all their fruit (there was a surprising amount of fruit-toters) or giving it away, I was the happy recipient of a lovely banana. But then! A little later, the Fruit Rule was revised to just no Round Fruit. No apples, plums, oranges. Bananas were now okay! The woman did ask for hers back, but it wasn't readily available. We all did speculate on the Round Fruit rule for a while. It passed the time. As Manny also experienced, as we got closer, folks started to cut the line. Nobody said anything. Spirit of the day and all.  Our whole line experience was an hour, maybe hour and a half-ish.

Then we were In. With the idea we might get within sighting distance of seeing Papa leave the Basilica, we went in that general direction, only to find that all the fences and cattle chutes kept us literally corralled into certain areas. We spotted a place right up against the fence a little ways from the Basilica and just parked ourselves there to figure out what we wanted to do. Here was our view:

This one tells better where we were standing, the above one shows the beauty of the Basilica. You can see how people are mostly all hemmed in by fences.

Turns out, we were too late for seeing the conclusion of the mass, so after much speculating, we decided to stay put and hope we were on the parade route, for when Papa would ride around after speaking at Independence Hall, and before the evening's festivities. All we knew about that was that there were going to be musical groups. Beyond that, we hadn't a clue.

Just to illustrate how clueless we really were;  later, a lovely young lady from Pittsburgh, Katie, who was studying at Drexel took up a spot near us. When we mentioned we had tickets, she said, "you know you're not in the ticketed area, right?" Well, no, we didn't, actually. We thought our tickets had been to get through the security line. Haha, and duh! But still, we decided to stay put, and gave her one of our tickets to see the evening part. I hope she got to make good use of it!

While we waited, we were joined by many, many other Papal parade speculators. We had looked up the parade route and thought our chances were good. The police, when asked about anything, always said they didn't know. There were state troopers from all over. The one in front of us was from, again, Pittsburgh. We saw NYPD also. They were good natured, but apparently as clueless as everyone else regarding the movements of the Holy Father.

Here was one lovely addition to our cluster of neighbors for a day:

Yes! A Pope Baby! There was another one that made headlines because the Pope stopped and blessed her, but we liked ours best. People on the other side of the divide would chant Ba-by!Ba-by! so her father would hold her up for pictures. And everyone would cheer. She remained entirely placid throughout the long day. Much more so than some of the adults...

                                   Her name is Daniela Francesca. She stole our hearts.

So, eventually, we heard the speech from Independence Hall begin and end. We were not in sight of any of the jumbotrons, so it was just kind of a blur. Music groups began to play nearby over the loudspeaker. A young girl named Jackie Evancho (13!) sang like an absolute angel. But we were all getting antsy for the arrival of the Holy Father. Time dragged. We spent some time sitting directly on the ground, some children were stretched out on blankets, asleep. But the crowds were really gathering now, and if you gave up and inch of space, it got filled. Soon, I was pressed up against the fence and Bob directly behind. I started feeling kind of claustrophobic and asked him to move back a little, I was sorry I did though, because a group of young (college age-ish I guess) girls wormed up beside us. One reached through and grabbed the railing, causing me to have her elbow planted in my ribs until I moved. I still didn't want to ruin the general bonhomie that was prevalent there by saying anything, but yeah, it bugged me. We had waited upwards of seven hours at that spot. They had just appeared and wiggled their way forward.

It began getting dark, and rows of police-escorted vehicles started going around the circle, so we knew it had to be close. It was fully dark and fully 7:00 before the shouts began that preceded the Pope's procession coming towards us. Of course, both our phones were almost dead, and now Bob had been pushed back away from the fence, so his only view was over my head.

Nevertheless, we readied our phone cameras. He came FLYING by in the lit up Popemobile. Everyone erupted in screams.

Here is how my picture tuned out:

Tragic, isn't it? I don't even know if it is right side up. I like to call it, Flying, Picasso-ish Pope.

Well, thank God, Bob got a good shot. A video nonetheless! A miracle, I tell you!

And yes, the young lady to the right is my unwilling  "neighbor" whose hand and later, fist, appear in the video. And screams. In my ear. She inserted her entire body in a two inch space. So many ways to offer things up ...

But! All the logistics notwithstanding, we were in the same airspace as the POPE! He came within FEET of where we stood! I did offer the day for all my friends and family, and know those prayers and offering were well heard by God on this special day.

We did not hang around, for what turned out to be an incredible impromptu speech given by the Holy Father. Our feet and backs just couldn't do it.  We heard it live from home, though, and it felt as if we were still there. (I  hope Katie stayed!) We did not venture to the mass either, and I am told people waited up to four hours in the lines that day. I am sure it was well worth it, but we enjoyed it from home, still exhausted from the bit we did manage to do.

I still feel it was a divine appointment. I told you all the nuts and bolts, but in the end, this Pope managed to make each one of us feel he did everything for love of each and every one of us. He radiates so much love, and well, purity I think is the word that strikes me. He never looked bored, tired, or like he wished he were somewhere else. Well, except in this meme:

Haha. But really, Aretha, Nessun Dorma? Poor Puccini. My ears!

I think Pope Francis is exactly the right Pope for our time. We may not understand it yet. But this visit made me love him as much as I love Benedict and JPII. And I feel like I can trust him now better than before. I only was hearing about him. This time, we heard FROM him and saw what he did and the love with which he did it.

   If you were anywhere near him or even watched his events, you couldn't help but feel the love.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Under my Skin

Cranky. Edgy. Touchy. Cross. Prickly. Crotchety. Cantankerous. Grouchy. Over-sensitive. Quick -tempered.

All these are synonymous with irritable.

I don't see myself as a generally irritable person. But I have noticed that I do get irritated with certain things quite frequently. Usually small things. As I gave it some thought, I realized that being irritable over something is kind of indulging in a mini temper tantrum. Say, on the road when I encounter less than considerate drivers. (Inner city driving is a challenge unto itself, and I submit that the Philly and Jersey drivers are their own special breed. I'll leave it at that). (And if you take to the road on a Friday afternoon or evening, God help you). Anyways! You can see how my mind set might affect my outlook as I get behind the wheel. And how, just maybe, I think I that I know better and am, if not better, perhaps a more considerate driver than some.

So what I've got here is a way of thinking that assumes something.

Firstly, I am completely in my own head about what I am trying to accomplish, usually trying to get from Point A to Point B, and darn it, you are slowing me down. If you have stopped in the middle of the street to chat with someone you saw walking, especially if you did so right next to a parking spot the size of a football field, or if you shot out of one of the tiny side streets, causing me to slam on my brakes, only to immediately turn down another, I am either silently or out loud indulging in some Language. I am assuming you Do Not Care and are oblivious that anyone else exisits, and therefore my objective of Getting Somewhere is not on your radar. And really, how dare you. Now, on occasion, I have noticed that you are elderly, and have felt a little pang of guilt. If you are a young person, I have felt no such pang and have assumed you are an arrogant, spoiled little person who should have your allowance revoked.

Yes, these are some of the thoughts that go through my mind.

On a larger scale, being irritable kind of says, "hey, I am feeling a certain way right now, and I should not have to deal with X,Y, or especially Z." This ties in to my Red Carpet  theory. Ironically, in that post, I also used a "driving while in South Philly" example. I guess not much has changed, haha, and yikes.

But seriously, I have been trying to do a more frequent examination of conscience so that when I go to confession, I am not trying to remember everything from the last month or longer. Because I can't remember things from yesterday. So the quality of my confessions leave something to be desired. I can tell you I regularly confess a lack of discipline, especially in my spiritual life. I am working on it, pray for me!

My frequent bouts of irritability are telling of my thought patterns, and those are what I am trying to pay better attention to. Those thoughts that assign me the Higher Plane of Living Award, if you get my drift. You may occasionally have them if you ever think, "I shouldn't have to deal with this, or do this menial thing, or deal with so and so's faults, or have to rouse myself from this well deserved rest to (gasp) do something for someone else." I could go on.

What I really want is to be able to see people the way that God sees them. To see people the way that Mother Teresa saw them. To be able to use these tiny moments of service to humanity as offerings for my sins. To offer them for the souls of others. To get myself off that all fired throne.

I realize this may never happen, at least in any large way in my lifetime, and I am not beating myself up over it. But I do wish to live with this intention a little closer to the surface, again for which I ask your prayers.

Have you ever met a person that so shined with the love of Christ that you felt it? Who was so free of self absorption that they made you feel as though you were the only person on earth at that moment? Whose mind and heart were so clear of clutter that it shone right out of their eyes, who could look straight at you with no self consciousness at all? This is what I hope to be a fraction of before I leave this earth. I told this to my spiritual director when he asked what was my goal in spiritual direction. Yeah, we definitely did not achieve that, but, hey Father, if you're reading, we definitely did make progress.

So , as everyone knows, one should never talk about problems without talking about solution, right?

Here are some of mine, what I refer to as the Master Plan. (haha, the irony).

1.  Daily Mass.
I can't begin to tell you the benefit this is to my life, Once again, the Church provides structure for me to plug in to and do the work of prayer for my family that I just can't do nearly as well on my own. Add to that the rewards that go with attending Mass. I truly believe some of the blessings we have experienced as a family have stemmed from the prayers and attendance of mass done by us and others for us.
I have a new job that begins in October, If you have seen the TV ads, you may have heard of Visiting Angels. It is a company that provides home care for the elderly or home bound. One of the reasons I left my other job was to free up weekends to be with my family, and also because this new job will be part time, allowing me to go to daily mass again. I believe this is part of my work as a wife, mother, and grandmother and friend, so I am trying to arrange my life to make it possible.

2. Exercise.
                  some of these were birthday presents. I outgrew some of the lighter ones

I have been working out regularly for over two years, at least in this incarnation of working out. Back when I was suffering from depression and agoraphobia, I was told that to help combat some of it, that I should get regular exercise. These days, depression only lurks, but I do have to manage some anxiety and some of the wonderful effects of being a Woman of a Certain Age. Regular working out has truly been my medicine. I sleep better, eat mostly better, have much more strength and energy, am _somewhat_better balanced emotionally (just being realistic here)  and my clothes fit more comfortably. I use a free You Tube Channel called Fitness Blender, hosted by an adorable young couple from the Northwest. I never have to leave my house, I can work out any time I want, and there are so many workouts to choose from, of all different difficulty levels, types and lengths, I am never bored. I highly recommend them.

3. the Twelve Steps.

 Still twelve stepping along! I have mentioned before that I attend a NarAnon group. It has strengthened my faith and given me tools for life. I have also, and still do recommend the book, The Way of Serenity, by Father Jonathan Morris. A while back, I posted a song that I later learned and sang for my group, because I just thought it spoke so well about God's heart for us. I also recorded it and shared it with them, at their request. I will share it with you here with a huge disclaimer that I just whipped it off quickly, with no time to make it perfect or even better than I could do it that day in only one take. With allergies that made me stuffy. But it is such a nice song. And so I will leave you with this. Also with a request that you pray for my family, as we are walking through many challenges.

Here are the lyrics:

Top of Form
 All the Way, by Kat Edmundson

Bottom of Form
Don't feel bad, I'm so glad that you are here tonight.

Sometimes we lose our way.

Take a ride with me, and forget yesterday.

Way up high, and way down low. Most things we can't control.

But you don't walk alone. Wherever I may be, there you'll have a home.

If you forget the wonder that you are I will remind you.

And if you lose yourself, don't worry darling, I'll know where to find you.

I'm right behind you, all the way.

Da dada da, da dada da