Tuesday, September 28, 2010

salvation history part four- -from then till now

The aftermath of the abortion, though it never really is completely over with, is definitely a part of my conversion story. Why, you ask? Well, go get a cup of coffee, or tea if you prefer; or if it is late, perhaps some warm milk, or if it is chilly, some hot cocoa....oh, right. The story.

The many twists and turns, missteps and outright disastrous choices that followed are too numerous and convoluted to spell out here.  I know this because I tried last night- I had it almost all written out, and got so bogged down I left it for this morning. Rereading it with a cup of coffee (yes, it made all the difference), my somewhat fresher mind saw right away that the point was lost. So I tell you now, that; 1. I wanted to escape the place in which I put myself by having the abortion. I fled repeatedly--fled the places, the people, and jumped into relationships I thought would start me fresh, so I could remake my life into what I wanted and thought it should be; and,  2. The only problem was --me. I couldn't seem to see the danger signs soon enough and would then be caught in difficult, even dangerous situations that I would then try to make work.

 I believe now that I was fearful of not ever having that family base I so desperately wanted. Ever since the abortion, I saw myself differently. Gone was any sense I ever had of being a person of worth, who could know with any certainty that someone else of worth would want to make his life with me. That experience, of being rejected and then rejecting the life within me, had somehow gotten inside me, like a tapeworm, and eaten up any healthy self image I may have had. So whenever anyone would show any interest in me at all, I would just set my mind to that relationship becoming "the one". I got myself into heaps of trouble with that theory.

Over those years, though, my Christian faith grew. I came to know and love the Lord, and have an intimate relationship with Him. The churches went from Mennonite (a charismatic version), to several non-denom's, (also charismatic).  The piece that was missing was the ability to have the strength to confront some of my more foundational demons and overcome them. Even during my longer (13 year) second marriage, I couldn't stand up to the abuses for fear of compounding my past failures. I also now had six kids. After that marriage literally imploded, I went through a real crisis of faith and became truly, clinically depressed. I spent  a few years floundering for real. I did not attend any church, was ashamed to even pray.  I knew I was living a life in opposition to God, but lacked the courage and strength to confront it. During this time I had my seventh child. Even when I wasn't living right, I knew better than to get another abortion. At least that lesson sunk in!  I got some treatment for my depression which helped a little. But somebody must have been praying for me because one day--and this is literal--a light bulb just went on. I saw the situation I was in for the dead end it was, and suddenly just had the fortitude and resolve to confront it and move on, damn the consequences. There was so much cancer in myself and my kids that had been allowed to fester over that time-about four to five years-that really we all are still healing, but it was a new beginning.

That decision brought me to the area I now live. I started going to a charismatic Catholic prayer group and became their song leader--even before I became Catholic! Which then led me to attend Mass. Of course I couldn't resist getting into one last bad relationship--which I did and paid heavily--but as far as God went, I felt a grounding I had not ever known in all my years of knowing Him.  I joined RCIA and converted in 2002.

What was the difference? I recognized the Lord in the Eucharist.Long before I was able to receive Him, I drew His love and strength just from being in His presence. After all those years of charismatic worship, I recognized the Holy Spirit when I saw Him! Another gift from the Church was that I was allowed to attend and absorb the presence of the Lord, and hear the Church's teaching without being micromanaged, as some of the other churches had done. (Sister, do you have sin in your life? Well, yes, I still did, as a matter of fact). But the Church gave me the time to work things through with God, to get to know my Lord on a new and deeper level. He gave me the strength and tools I needed  to finally overcome all the stumbling blocks that I couldn't conquer myself, especially once I could receive Him.  After submitting myself to the annulment process for my past two marriages (this I can also talk about with anyone wanting to know--it was a long, arduous process, but also a very uplifting one), I married a Catholic man and we now fight this good fight together. We play music for masses and do pro life work as well as giving our lives to the kids and each other. And yes we are still fighting our own battles with the world, the flesh, and the devil, which will continue until we die. God never gives up on our growth, so we are continually challenged and stretched. Thanks be to God that we have, in the Church, everything we need for life and godliness. ( His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. 2 Peter 1:3)

I have gained the foundation and the stability I so desperately sought. The difference is; even with what good teaching I did receive over my years as an Evangelical, I lacked the power to make it stick. Now I am able to fight the good fight; face the demons, (some that I helped along in the past); do what I can to rectify things for my children, which sometimes is to pray, sometimes to work and pray. I have green scapulars for all of them, plus the boyfriends. To convert so far are: Melissa, Meghann (who married a fantastic fellow who happened to be Catholic and Kaden is baptized), and Adam, (Melissa's boyfriend). Rachael attend masses and often sings with us. Ben attends mass, Malaika is being raised Catholic; and Justin, Corrie's boyfriend, is also Catholic. I still pray the green scapular prayer for all of them, for  continuing strength, protection, and growth in their faith.

If there is one thing I can say I now know with certainty, it is that God can be trusted. This trust does include  "faith-work" on our part, but not arm twisting kind of work, but rather,  a prayer- and- living kind of work. The kind of work that is an overflow of the love  and joy that He imparts.

Friday, September 24, 2010

salvation history part three, or, "here's what happened"

Today, I think I am on the downhill side of my cold, so as long as I am considering it as "on it's way out", I am good to go. Just goes to show the power of the mindset-I also am burning an apple cider scented candle, because it is autumn now, even if the Philadelphia weather refuses to reflect it. I for one, am ready for fall- it's my favorite season. As seasons of life go, I think I am in the fall of my own life now, and I am happy to be here, even with all the "falling" going on in my own body. My mind is still operative(mostly), and my heart and spirit, though weathered, are strong.     

In the order of things that happened on my spiritual journey, I cannot leave out one thing, that while not consciously spiritual, shaped much of what came after.

Here is the copy of a speech I gave at a board of directors meeting. It was a group of hospital administrators from the Main Line area of Philadelphia. They open one meeting a year to the public, and the prolife group that invited me  to speak had been there before, and were known to this board of directors. I actually only got to give a portion of this speech-as minutes before we began, we were informed that we only had about three minutes each to speak. (I prepared for a ten minute talk). So I had to mentally skim and slash and decide on the spot how to trim it into something cohesive. Well, it wasn't cohesive or anything else, but I did manage to convey my point, however clumsily.

I will let you read this-it is somewhat graphic, in the sense that I tell you about a few of the more grisly aspects, but I don't think it is any more or less that what needs to be told. It tells my story and also some facts about abortion and PAS, or post-abortive syndrome. Not a made up thing, as detractors would like to claim.  In my next post, I will tell you a little about what twists and turns that resulted from this, and how The Lord led me thorough.

I am here today to tell you the truth about a topic that not too many are willing to hear about or discuss--at least not in a way that removes the candy coating. But there are many mothers, fathers and especially tiny boys and girls that depend upon us doing just that.
 Before we dive in, allow me to provide a little background about myself. I am a wife, the mother of seven living children and the grandmother of one. This alone tells you what I do with most of my time! 
  I am a trained musician, and also work part time at a residence for  homeless women.
  The reason I am here speaking with you today is because of something I did when I was eighteen years old, now a full 30 years ago-that took the life of my first child and shaped the years from then until now.

 I was in the second semester of my freshman year at Philadelphia College of Performing Arts, having graduated high school with honors and awards; I had quite the bright future. I hoped to someday play in one of the country’s major orchestras, and I was getting a good start.
 It was a rough time, though. My father passed away that February, and just a few weeks after that, I found out I was pregnant. My boyfriend of about two years promptly resigned his post, seeing in the situation the ruination of HIS plans and career, so not knowing where to get any support; I went to a Planned Parenthood clinic.
  I came out with an appointment for an abortion. I was feeling pretty scared and alone. I don’t know what I said for myself at that point, but I do know I wasn’t ever offered any other alternatives. I was there, pregnant, scared….sooo, I must want an abortion, right? There wasn’t any discussion about my mental or emotional state, or if I was in the sort of state of mind to make such a life changing decision….Oh, yes...there was another topic of discussion. I was asked how I was going to pay for this?  Having no resources of my own, out came some forms to sign and presto!-problem solved. I guess the state of Pennsylvania picked up the tab, though, at the time, I didn’t know that.
  At that point, frankly, I felt numb. I was not a stupid girl, but this had reduced me to such a fearful state, that, with no information to the contrary, I just kept on with “the plan” I had set in motion. I did hope that afterwards, perhaps I would at least be returned to my previous life and that my mind would begin functioning well again.
 When the scheduled day arrived,  May 3rd, 1980, I was literally in a fog. I wasn’t at all prepared for what was about to happen. Oddly, there wasn’t anyone around in the waiting room. No friendly nurse or worker to ask questions of--or get a little reassurance. I just was called, given some Valium, put up on a table facing away from the door. When the doctor arrived (I never did see his face, so I was going on blind faith he actually WAS a doctor), the procedure began.  It was a suction abortion, which was standard for seven weeks gestation.  My son or daughter was about the size of a blueberry at this point, heart beating, just beginning to form arms and legs. I didn’t know any of that. The contents of my uterus were forcefully vacuumed out. There was a lot of blood. I did see that, it ended up in a jar near the foot of the table.  The sensations were, while not exactly physically painful, very disturbing and difficult to endure. To this day those exact sensations still leap into my memory unbidden. I went back to my apartment. Though I was still losing quite a bit of blood, to keep up appearances, I went home the next day on the train and went to church. Many people commented on how white I was.
   I was very fortunate to physically recover well. The rest of the recovery was not going to be easy. It came over the course of many years, and in stages of revelation. I never knew what was behind all the breakdown in my life. I did not finish college, I entered in to two failed marriages and a number of other harmful relationships. One of my marriages lasted thirteen years. And even though that time was fraught with abuse, by the year 1999, I had seven children.
  What I found out about abortion came through them. When I heard the sounds of their feet as they ran about the house, that very solid sound illustrated for me that the one I had aborted would have been running right there with them, his or her feet thumping along in rhythm. The smell of their freshly washed hair, or wiping the peanut butter from their faces, told me the truth of what I had done. There was a very real void. It woke me up to reality, and I am grateful to God, who preserved my life and still blessed me with the ability to have my children, despite everything. Incidentally, my children are all reasonably healthy, but there are some disabilities and disorders among them. I would not ever be able to imagine life without each one of them and would not wish them dead because of the extra help they may require in life. I have worked with people that are severely compromised, and even the most profoundly disabled person brings their own special spark into the world, and those of us privileged to know them would not wish that they never had a chance to live.

 Several years ago, I turned on the TV to see the March for Life in Washington DC. I saw women holding signs that said “I regret my abortion”. This struck a chord in me. It was such a bluntly true message, and so brave. Up until this point I had not talked about my abortion to very many people. I found out that they were part of a group called Silent No More Awareness, to which I now belong,  that gathers women who have had abortions to tell their stories, and do what I am doing here now—bring the truths of abortion and it’s effects on women out into the light. There are about 1000 testimonies that can be found on silentnomoreawareness.org. My story is not unique.
  Fortunately, there are organizations, the preeminent one being Rachael’s Vineyard, to assist in the healing of post abortive women.
   After all my many struggles in life, I have found out that post abortive women share many of the same ones. Here are some of them: Emotional deadening; increased tendency toward anger or rage; fear of others learning about the abortion, or a sense of fear for unknown reasons; loneliness or isolation; less self confidence; sexual dysfunction; insomnia or nightmares; difficulty gaining or maintaining relationships; suicidal feelings; increased or beginning use of drugs or alcohol; eating disorders;  and attempted suicide.  My opinion is that many of these symptoms can fall into a category of PTSD, and I can tell you I have and still do experience many of these.

One last point with which I would like to leave you . The key to understanding the truth about abortion is not to close our eyes to reality. The reality is simply this—no woman who has ever gotten pregnant in the history of the world has given birth to anything except a human baby. Don’t become entangled in the diversionary debate over whether or not we are talking about the killing of a human boy or girl. We are.  The single biggest tactic used to advance abortion is this-Keep it out of sight. There is no person in this room who, after witnessing an abortion, would come out in favor of it. Face the truths that more than 40 million human beings have been killed by abortion in this world so far—more than have died in all the wars and the holocaust combined.  And thus far, many of us have silently watched.
  It is so much easier to convince a mother to kill her child who is yet unseen by saying the words,  “tissue” or “part of her body”. While it is true she is the steward of her body and what is happening inside her, how many of the same women would “choose” to kill him or her once they are born and can be seen, felt, experienced?
   All of us in this room are blessed with at least fairly good health of mind and body. We are entrusted with the lives and health of those in need, in this case, pregnant women and their yet unborn sons and daughters. Let’s not continue to operate in half truths and shadowy, slippery language about abortion. Finding out the truth and acting on it is all of our responsibility, for which one day, we will all be held accountable.

Thursday, September 23, 2010


Well, I now have a cold. It is not at the top level of Things that Bring Suffering to Humanity; but up there in terms of Things that Annoy the Heck Out of Me. So I am using this reasoning to write just whatever comes to mind right now, as I am doubtful that my pounding head will think in an organized enough fashion to provide the next installment of Salvation History.

I have been technically awake since 6:30 AM. I think I started coming out of the fog around noon. At this rate, I should have both shoes on by dinnertime. I thought Day-Quil was non drowsy? I am doing a little better now, though; debating between trying to keep my exercise program going and taking a nap. Or reading a little more of The 33 Doctors of the Church. Which could possibly lead to that nap. No, I really am interested in the book!  I just tend to read in bed. Really!

Today, since I am having one of those not -getting- much- accomplished days, it has made me think again about what drives me and why. Really, I think I should be content, and even thrilled that I have the opportunity to do less and even nap if I want! But there is that inner gremlin that is not happy if I haven't been busy every minute and especially if there is no physical evidence that I have done anything. You are all witnesses that I have at least sat and typed this.

One of my inner longings is to be able to explore and pursue contemplative prayer. Given the paragraph above, it seems pretty funny!  Kind of like Moses with his speech impediment and all. Only I want to do this. Hopefully, I won't feel as though I have to clean the whole house before I can begin each time. I can see two possible outcomes; 1. I will give up, or 2. I will have a really clean house. It is terrible having the two drives...one to sit and pray and read and write; and the other- to be up and moving. Right now I am eyeing the floor that needs vacuuming and the dishes in the sink.

It's no coincidence that my birthday falls on the feast of Saint Martha. In my heart, I'm all with Mary, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and just being, listening and absorbing. But my outsides are Martha, itching to move and Do Stuff.  Unless we're talking about the hours after dinner! By then, both Martha and Mary have got up and gone home. I dislike having to go out of the house in the evenings. Any of the things that force me out at that time are met with considerable grumbling. Fun things, good things, spiritual things, doesn't matter. If  I have to, once I get wherever I am going, all is fine. It's just the comfortable evening time, the after dinner cup of coffee and promise of possible dessert, the waning of the sun and the pleasant evening air--all give me feet covered in glue if disturbed.

Crossword puzzle anyone?

Sunday, September 19, 2010

salvation history part two

As promised, here is the account of another attempted stumbling block on my journey for God.

I mentioned in the last post that I was baptized on my eighteenth birthday. Just a note- my father attended my baptism -pretty good considering he did not usually attend church. Little did we know he was going to pass away the coming February. I am glad he decided to be present.

Afterward, we had a gathering at my house, of baptism -goers and birthday party-ers. At that time, I was working a summer job between high school and college, and met a few new friends. A guy I worked with had been talking to me at work on breaks and at lunch. I was reading the Bible on lunch breaks--he was reading...the Book of Mormon. He suggested we do a joint Bible study. He was clearly proselytizing; he questioned the image of the crucifix, (even thought I was becoming Baptist, I guess he didn't know Baptists didn't use them), likening it to memorializing a friend shot to death by hanging up a machine gun. Even to my untrained ear, that sounded like learned propaganda. Still, he was nice and I thought it was harmless to be friends. I know my mother was kind of concerned about the friendship. I think we may have even gone out a time or two. So- back to the birthday/baptism party. I invited him, but instead of attending he dropped by for a very brief time and waited while I opened the gift he brought. Now-mind you I was freshly baptized, practically not dry yet. It was a Book of Mormon. Talk about a Hail Mary pass! Or whatever a Mormon would call that. Joseph Smith pass doesn't have the same ring. Perhaps Brigham Young? Anyways, I saw it for what it was and dismissed it. I do think I may have read little bits of it here and there out of curiosity, but if you think the Bible is outlandish in places--this book requires a real stretch of the imagination. I should add here that when I went on my merry Baptist way, his interest in me quickly faded.

Still, not one to throw away books, it was stowed in a cubby in my room. Now I know I told you the story of the paper writing incident, that also occurred in my room. One piece of the bigger picture is that my eldest brother suffered from some type of schizophrenia. He had occupied this room in the past. He had been known to get himself involved in some outlandish things, some of them occult in nature. Some of that stuff happened in the bedroom I now occupied.

There was not a dramatic incident as before, but I do believe that I had taken a step by joining the Baptist church, certainly I was learning more about Christ, reading the Bible, and hearing good foundational teaching. Boy, I sure had a long ways to go yet, but as it is sometimes said, it was a good thing I could not see all I was yet to encounter in my walk with God. Sort of like when you have a baby, it is not helpful to think, I will change 487,353 diapers before this child is potty trained...something like that. And let's not go to the land of putting them through college...so!

I believe now my bedroom, that I spent much time in from age 13-17, was kind of a spiritual battle ground. After I learned more about the Christan faith and the realities of the spiritual world, I got rid of that book with no qualms, understanding at least, that to be too fast and loose with forces beyond my understanding was not wise. Especially when God specifically prohibits dabbling in such things. Now I do not think the book itself had any power unless I read and believed it, nor that the Mormons are evil people. I do understand that they are not considered Christian, as they do not believe in the Trinity, and do believe some things decidedly outside the boundaries of Christian theology. I think I underwent some challenges and even attacks in that bedroom, struggling in my adolescent mind to come to grips with God and how to best find and follow him. Many thanks to all who prayed for me, and of course to my guardian angel. There was another large hurdle yet to transpire, that I would weather partly in that room. This one was going to shape a large part of my adult life. I will tell you about next time.

Friday, September 17, 2010

salvation history part one

I have had another dear friend suggest I write about my conversion and how I met my husband. My organizational side likes to go chronologically.

I believe conversions begin way before the actual event. Maybe from birth. I won't do that to you, but I will give you some points along the way.

I was raised Presbyterian. It was a nice church, nice people, very good music and choir. I will always remember Theodore Kloos, the choir director. But in other ways, the church was a largely social experience. The teaching from the pulpit I remember as being light on Jesus and what He did for us, and heavy on , uh...? not sure. My first taste of Catholicism was there. We said the Apostles Creed. The part, "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church"... was explained to us that it didn't mean we were Catholic. I forget now what the rest of the explanation was.

In High School, I began to search for God and a place or group that would help me encounter Him. How I was to recognize Him, I wasn't sure. So, I went to a Quaker Meeting. "Meeting" is a funny term, because I never met anybody. We never spoke to one another. It was a silent gathering, and people would stand up and say things...I forget now what. Funny-either I have a particularly bad memory, or the sermons/talks in the two churches were particularly forgettable. But I stayed with it for some months, and in retrospect, I am sure God was leading me and speaking to me throughout. I just didn't know it.

Later in High School, I was asked to sing at a fledgling American Baptist church in a gymnasium of a local Elementary school. They were just starting out in our area and were grateful for music. But I latched on to the teaching, especially the parts about having a personal relationship with God. One Sunday, I said the sinner's prayer, and later joined the church. On my 18th birthday, I was baptized. Since I was singing and playing there, my mother and brother Jerry also came to hear me. They both ended up joining the church also. I am grateful that this happened, as they each passed away a few years later, and they died knowing Christ.

Interestingly, I had a few experiences that illustrate that there actually was a struggle going on for my soul. These are just the ones I know about.

During my "searching period", I had to read the book, The Stranger, by Albert Camus. This book, I felt, didn't have much I wanted to write about. If memory serves, it is about a man in jail, despairing of everything in life, and planning his suicide. I put off writing it until the last possible night, then finally decided to just get something on paper. As I was writing, I realized I was going in the direction of agreement with the premise, and although I knew I didn't agree, felt I just needed to finish the darn paper. Afterward I went to bed. I then had a dream about presenting the paper to my teacher. In the dream, I took her by the hand and led her from room to room, in a starkly white house; each room representing each point I made in my paper. Well, the "points" got uglier and uglier, until the final one, in which I opened a door to show her a bloody, hanging corpse. Against the whiteness of everything in the house, this scene stood out in extreme contrast, and at this point, I woke up.

The first thing I noticed, aside from being scared to death, was that I was laying face down, diagonally across my bed. The covers were all over the place, the room was really hot, and...I felt as though someone was in the room watching me. I knew I was going to have to eventually move, so I said some sort of prayer, got up and ran downstairs. As I stood in the familiar dining room, hearing my fathers snores, I then felt foolish. I'm not sure how long it took, but I did go back up to my room, and took a look at it. It still was blazingly hot, so I went over to the space heater and noticed it had been turned all the way up! I knew I had not done that. I straightened out all the sheets and blankets that were all jumbled about, and decided to turn on my radio to help me calm down. When I did, all that came out was static. The dial had been turned all the way to the end, and I knew I had been listening to it right before bed and had just shut it off. I put it back to the station, lay down and went to sleep. Next thing I knew, I woke up and it was late! I always had my alarm set for 6AM, and it was something like 8:00. So I ran around getting ready, but stopped a minute to see why my alarm hadn't gone off. It had been shut off completely. Something else I never did.

After I had a chance to think about this, I came to two conclusions. On the practical, physical level, I believe that I was truly disturbed about having written this paper. In my dream, as I attempted to justify all my points, I think that as I was walking from room to room, explaining it to my teacher, I was actually walking around my room, doing things like, turning the radio dial, turning the heater dial, and turning off my alarm clock. But the other thing, the feeling of the presence in the room, I now believe was some evil force, or demon, or whatever, exerting it's influence over a person searching for God. Since my mind and heart at that time were very open, I think I was vulnerable. At least whatever teaching I did have up to that point gave me a foundation enough to know evil from good. And I sure felt the presence of evil that night. Of course I know now that I also had a guardian angel keeping me safe on my journey.

Oh and after going through all that, I only got a B on the paper.

I will continue my story next time, there was another attempted intervention on my quest for God.---so stay tuned!---lol.

Blessings and Peace,

Thursday, September 9, 2010

a fun project

Well, a new blogger friend encouraged me to try the open video post again, so here goes!

This was a gift to my brother Gary and Sister in law, Cyndi. We love you!

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

the team roster

I had a request yesterday! To list the "kids" (I say it that way because some are preparing to pass me) and their ages. So I thought I would do a bit more and give a little bio on each. I will try to respect their privacy and only tell you things that would totally embarrass them if you ever met. Oops, did I type that out loud?

Well, as you know my first was aborted. He would have been born somewhere around November of 1980. Later, I named him John, and asked his forgiveness, as well as the Lord's, of course.In the last few years I have begun to talk about this, in the hopes of being able to help others who are struggling with a past abortion, or considering one.

Meghann was born in 1982, she is now 28 and married to Jeff.  They have a son, Kaden, 2, who is pictured here_ frequently _. Meghann is a convert to Catholicism, one year this Easter! She is an amazing girl in every way. Her life and mine are very interconnected, even though they live in Michigan and I in Philadelphia. We sort of have parallel experiences. Maybe I will expound on that sometime. But she was the child of my youth, her dad and I married at 19 and 20. She and I kind of grew up together; she weathered a whole lot of stuff!  Some of it was my inexperience and immaturity, but not all, and some things we survived together. She is such a strong person, she had to do some real battle, and she surely came out on top. God is blessing her for her perseverance and faith. He literally saved her life shortly after she had her son. ~Jeff, now, is really the best son in law anyone could have. I trust him with his wife and son completely, his love and commitment to them is so solid. He also is a fantastical guitar player and is in a great band.

I could go on about Kaden for well, a really long time, in true Nonnie fashion. If you have read, or continue to follow me on here, you will hear lots about him. He is precious, loving, intelligent and an extreme individualist! Please remember his mother in your prayers. But he is so adorable and sweet, she is often as tickled as she is disconcerted with him.

I should add here that Meghann's father and I divorced when she was two, my own mother was in the last stages of lung, brain and liver cancer then also--AND I was 22 years old. It was kind of a rough time.

I married again in 1986, we separated in 1998, divorced in 2000. We had five children.

Daniel is next. He was born in 1987, and is now 22. He lives with his dad, and I often am almost overcome with sadness that I have missed a great deal of his life, and have to honestly say that I don't know him well. The last time he lived with me was 1998, when he was 11. I homeschooled him up until a year before that, and he had a memory that astounded me. He memorized a poem by Ogden Nash, called, The Tale of Custard the Dragon. He was about nine, and it is quite a long poem. He did it with great panache, too.

He is a great drummer, and extreme biker, a hard worker; he is still sweet to me, and I love and miss him.

I had a miscarriage next, in 1989. It was difficult and physically painful, and scary. My eldest brother, Jerry, was nearing the end of his life at that time, so it all is kind of a blur to me now. I never did get to name that child, who lived to 7 weeks in utero, but I didn't lose her till 14 weeks.

Corrie came along in 1990. She was the elf baby, born very close to, but not on, St. Patricks day, and boy, did she look it. Crystal blue eyes and a way about her that made every single thing she did be cute. Hmm, maybe that's the same gene Kaden got....anyways, she was and is very intelligent, (really all of them are), but this one was able to outsmart me before age 2. Still beautiful and still cute today, she is 20. I am blessed to have her living with me for the past year, and getting to know her again. She is working through some tough stuff, and we are all just loving her and praying her whole. Her boyfriend, Justin, is pictured in our slideshow. He is an accomplished musician, singing with, among many other things, the Opera Company of Philadelphia.                                                                                       

                    He also is a magician. Here he is entertaining Corrie.

                                                                                                                                                                    Now, Melissa,born in 1991,  who has been known as "the little mother", "the bee"(taken from the meaning of her name), and more recently Mimi, Mooshka, and Moose (shortened from Mooshka --even a nickname gets cut?) those obtained at the Mexican/Japanese cafe that she has worked at for three years. She is so capable and hard working-she has been left to run the place while the owner is out of the country, at age 18. Now she is nineteen.
She is closing in on an associates degree at Community College,where she has been at the top of her class with regularity,  and then it's off to another college next fall. She plans to become a psychiatrist. She is an excellent writer (see the post called cleaning house for a little more about her), an avid runner, yogi, and outdoors lover. She kayaked this summer. She can cook and bake; she cleans in maniacal bursts. Her boyfriend, Adam, is in our slideshow as well as the previous post. He plans to enter the police academy this fall. Both Melissa and Adam are converts, Melissa when she was 13, and Adam this past Easter!  She loves marshmallows and gummy candy. She also often hears strange versions of what we say, for instance of someone says "pass the mustard", she hears, "whose *ss ruptured?!" and things of that nature.

In July of 1993, I brought Rachael home on my birthday. She is now 17, a senior in high school. Both she AND Melissa will be off to some college next fall. Yikes. Rachael is our singer, though I love to sing and often do, I still consider her The Singer. I love when she joins Bob and I when we play for masses, (which she almost always graciously does). She is also an excellent student, well loved by her friends and teachers. She is affectionate and fun to be with. She can be moody, but we wait her out, knowing she will be back. Art is her first love, and she plans to apply to some good art schools. She is in the midst of choosing which ones and will be applying very soon.We will hopefully be off to visit some of them later this fall!

Ben was born on my mother's birthday in July, in 1995. He was my roughest pregnancy/delivery, for one reason because it was a very hot summer, and for another, he was almost as big as I was. He weighed in at ten pounds, four ounces, and was no butterball. Think angles, like a Tonka truck. I rightly predicted he would grow up and pass everybody, and he obliged me. He is fifteen and 6'2". He is a thoughtful, quiet, intelligent person. But he also has a riotous sense of humor. He had everyone laughing so hard in the van on our way home from North Carolina that I thought I was going to have to pull over. He is also a drummer. Our basement vibrates for an hour or two each day. I think the neighbors appreciate the fact that he is good. No one has called the police yet.

Malaika is our youngest. She is ten (almost eleven!-she would not want me to leave that out). She is lively and energetic--except when she is angry or upset--then she adopts a Frankenstein walk with stiff arms and develops a hunchback. I can see it now; when she has kids of her own, they will say, "oh oh, Mom's doing her walk again, we better run for it". She is being schooled in many things by a houseful of teenagers and young adults, which translates to; 1.having a large vocabulary and knowing how to use it, and related to but not the same; 2.Being able to verbally spar with Extreme sarcasm. Once we were talking about using a less crass word rather than fart, and I said that when the kids were little, we used to say "bunny". Her response? "Well, that just besmirched the name of Bunny". Besmirched? Who says that?  She does have some very lovely qualities; she is generous with her possessions and her love, her favorite saint is Saint Francis, and rightly so, because she loves animals and all creatures.
Here she is with Rusty, my brother's dog, at his home in North Carolina. Malaika left Rusty her little travel pillow. She placed it on his bed, didn't say a word to anybody, and we came home. My brother called  to tell us she had done this, and asked if we wanted it sent back. I said no, Malaika wants him to have it. Gary said Rusty likes it, he misses her and it has her scent on it.                                                                                                                 

Well, this is the lineup! We hope to soon have everyone together, something we have not been able to accomplish, as Meghann, Jeff and Kaden plan to come for Thanksgiving. If we can snag Daniel for that day, as last year, maybe we can pull it off. And if I don't harm the camera by then, we will take loads of pictures!

Well, this page contains the pieces of my heart. Thanks to the friend that requested it, it was a very worthwhile exercise in love and remembrance.

 I gave each one a green scapular--I say the prayer each day,along with my other prayers for them--

Here is a bit about what it is used for--it is not everything--it's main focus is on conversion. Who of us doesn't need continual conversion?

Favors obtained by invoking Our Lady under this title have been truly remarkable. The Society of the Green Scapular was formed specifically because of the incredible miracles obtained from Our Heavenly Mother during a brief six-month period. There were miracles of health, peace and conversion. At a major national medical center in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., two people were cured of fatal diseases, just a few days from death! Others were on the verge of suicide. Through the Green Scapular devotion they were given the wisdom to understand why they were so miserable, and the strength to make the changes necessary to bring happiness and hope into their lives. Most importantly, there were truly wonderful graces bringing people in various circumstances to reconcile themselves to Jesus in the fullness of His Truth and grace. Family and friends, who had fallen away from the Catholic Faith, and even those who never had faith, came to embrace the Sacraments (sometimes after being away a lifetime). People involved in dangerous relationships saw their bad companions change for the better or leave the relationship. Work environments witnessed an increase of purity in speech, modesty in dress and charity in behavior.

God Bless you!

Sunday, September 5, 2010


Well! We have just returned from a whirlwind trip to visit my brother Gary and his wife Cindy, in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. It is located so far off the beaten path that Mapquest underestimated the duration by three hours! Those last three hours were grueling. I kept saying, "we're almost there!". I think the kids will never believe anything I say again.

But, oh how worth it! Everywhere we looked was another breathtaking scene. I never got "used" to it, in the four days we spent there. Cindy took us on a mountain hike, that, 1.was exhilarating; and, 2.proved to us we can do more than we think we can.

So now I can't help thinking, "what else am I not doing because I don't think I can? What other possibilities are there that I have discounted? What may God have for me, that because of my own fears and limited thinking, am I unnecessarily ruling out ?"

Before we left on the trip, Justin and Corrie gave us this.

How appropriate. Our entire trip really was an act of faith, and we were so blessed and rewarded for that small step. Hopefully, my brother and his wife feel the same! They seemed to truly enjoy having us with them. A friend of theirs, Kelen, was there part of the time, and deeply appreciated and enjoyed our kids. It made me see what we have even more. Our family may have its problems and we have had some really rough times, still do; but we have a treasure in our very imperfect and rustic vessels. The Lord has been so faithful to us, how can we ever doubt him?

Look what He has given us.

We have so many reasons to thank Him and praise Him. Not so many for being fretful or fearful. While there are many things happening in the world that produce in us worry, the Bible says that the joy of the Lord is our strength. (Neh.8:10) He is always joyful, and we can draw on that joy at all times, because He is never tired, or discouraged, or fearful, or downtrodden.

May the peace and joy of the Lord be always with you.