Friday, December 30, 2011

Seven quick Between- Christmas- and -New Years- takes

1. Here are a few moments of our Christmas day. 

Morning--fortunately we do not get up ultra early. We go to midnight mass and this year didn't hit the sack till an eye-watering 3:30 AM. But we still had to rouse ourselves because we had some visiting to do in the afternoon. We do gift opening one person at a time so we can all admire and properly enjoy the effort each person took in choosing each gift to give. Or in Rachael's case--making each gift . Hers were spectacular. Many of our photos turned out blurry (see the bedtime above), so I probably can't do her work justice. I will only post a few of the pics in which you can make out human forms.

 Malaika's new coat.

Ben's China cymbal. That's his ecstatic look. Really!

                                       This is also Corrie's pleased reaction. As well as Justin.

Then we went to my friend Marie's for the afternoon and evening.

I like this photo. It has nice composition. And just the right touch of silliness.

 Melissa really liked that juice.

 Marie and I have been friends since we were old enough to realize we were alive. That's a long time. No reference to age here...except that the cropping did me big favors....she still looks good in the uncropped part. I am frequently mistaken for Elizabeth...

Our family really had a lovely Christmas together. It was a couple days filled with a real closeness, bonhomie,  peace and good will toward men and all that stuff.

  2.  A few nights ago, I dreamed I was a member of Congress, and people wanted to know my thoughts about all things political.The funny part was that I wasn't entirely sure if I was a member of the Senate or the House--lol. And yet--I was addressing a group about the current GOP race, and they still listened, even though I was obviously pretty dumb.

3+4-(cause it's not that quick) We recently had some dear friends over to dinner and had a lovely evening. We discussed all sorts of things. Both our families have been and are going through some rough stuff, and the topic would make it's way back to some of the weightier issues, especially how it all fit into the light of faith. The next morning, I was thinking on it all, and a phrase I heard Elisabeth Elliot say once, (years ago when I would listen to family radio while baking my own bread, etc..) came to mind. "Do the next thing." I have so often thought of this over the years when I was overwhelmed by life and paralyzed into inactivity. I always took it to mean to keep moving forward-- by inches, if necessary. There always seemed to be at least one small thing I could do in response to whatever problem I was facing. A lot of times I would just clean the house like mad, which has a way of helping me clear my mind. I could make a phone call, try to find resources to help with said problem, and of course, pray. Not just vague prayer here, but specific requests. Like--"Lord, we do not have money for heating oil, please send help"--or, "or, Lord, I have no groceries or money until I start my new job in two weeks, please send help!" Both these specific requests were answered. One pretty miraculously, the other in a more roundabout way, but my needs were always met. The Next Thing, sometimes is a Thing that we do not want to do, or face. Sometimes we positively dread it, but know in our heart of hearts that it must be. Sometimes it involves suffering. There are so many instances in life that cause us to suffer, and within those times are the many "next things" in which God is very present in love, compassion and mercy. When we look back, we can scarcely believe the graces He heaped upon us, but yet, if possible, we avoid those times. We just are not cut out, in our natural selves, for trust. Especially that nuts and bolts kind of trust that causes us to have to rely on him for our next step, or our next breath.
Anyways--I would ask  your prayers for this dear family, our friends, who are in one of those dire seasons.

5. The March for Life is approaching really quickly. I don't think I have yet warmed up completely from last year. (high temp. of 21 degrees...). But I have a stunning red hat to wear this year.

So, I've got the really important part covered, right?

6. New Year's makes me want to clean and do house projects. Does it affect anyone else this way? It really kicks in when I take down the tree and Christmas decorations. Which is roughly around Valentines Day. If I can get away with it.

7. I probably mentioned the Jesus Retreat in my last post--so excited for a couple reasons. One is that Bob and I will get away for the first time since our quasi-honeymoon. There is a tiny chance we will not be able to go---so pray for us and for my poor mother in law, who is in terrible pain from severe arthritis. I'll be fine if we have to miss, but if at all possible, I would rather go!

In case I don't get to post again before  I am back pounding away on my steno machine for school, and we are all back to the grind, here's wishing and praying for all (both?) of you, my dear readers.

Peace, Joy, and General Goodwill!



Friday, December 16, 2011

7 Quick Advent Takes, or, I'm free!

1. I am "off"(in a way)--from school until after Jan 1st. Hooray! Well, except that I have to turn in a grammar test. Oh, and learn two chapters of theory. Oh, yes, and practice enough to stay up to speed. And actually get up to speed. Oh well. At least I don't have any school for two weeks...(?)

2. By some miracle I have been able to do most of my shopping, get some decorating done, and make several batches of cookie dough put in the freezer. Rachael was a big help with most of that list. But I think knowing I wasn't going to have much time due to school and other responsibilities forced me to think about things a little more thoroughly than usual. So I guess that saying that says something about asking a busy person if you want something done really is true. Especially a busy person that has a hard time saying no. And Super Especially a busy person that thinks it's always possible to squeeze in One More Thing. Here is my grandson. He apparently is a hard core cookie maker and requires stripping to the waist to really get into it. Rest assured in our house, we are not as progressive as he. A comforting thought for all our friends and fam.

3. My husband plays piano, (if you haven't read here before)--and recently made a You Tube recording of Rhapsody In Blue. With it, he entered a contest sponsored by Music Minus One. He could win $1000, if chosen. To be in the running for the prize, he has to be voted into the top ten by the public. So, public, if you don't mind too much, please vote for him! Besides--he actually is good! Listen--

--you can give him as many as three votes!--go here-- and type Seppy in the search box.

4. Hope everyone is having a Blessed Advent! We got out our Advent wreath, but didn't manage to buy the candles for it until the second week. And then forgot to light them each Sunday. And I couldn't find where I had put the prayers. (what was that I was saying about the busy person thing?) Then, when my eldest son whom we rarely see, came for a visit, I lit three, because they are pretty, and it WAS Gaudete Sunday...
I think Malaika took her Advent calendar with the daily chocolate in her room to avoid anyone stealing from it for a snack--who knows she may be reading it daily on the appropriate day--or SHE may be randomly snacking on it...

Anyways, haphazard as it may be, I am looking forward to His coming, and thankful for all He is doing in our lives.

5. As a Christmas present to me, my husband is giving me a weekend at The Jesus Retreat! I just became aware of it, and it is happening the first weekend of the New Year (Jan 6, 7 &8). Of course he is going too, and we are stoked! It's held at the beautiful Black Rock Retreat Center in Quarryville, Pa. I think the registration is closing soon, but take a look.

6.We still have many prayer needs in the fam. My Corrie is facing lots and lots of challenges, from within and without. She is being evicted from her present apartment if they don't settle their delinquency by the 31st.  Melissa has housing issues as well, and also some spiritual issues going on.  Daniel (the son mentioned above) has so many responsibilities for a young man of  24, some foisted upon him. I bear some of the responsibility for it, though I don't understand the entirety of why he remains there, now that he has the ability to change it, I still ask your prayers for him. All seven need prayers for one thing or another, Meghann and her little fam., Daniel, Corrie, (and boyfriend Justin), Melissa, (and I'm not sure of his status-Adam) , Rachael, Ben and Malaika--also Bob and I.  I am so grateful for any of you who include us in your prayers. My overarching prayer is that we all end up with the Lord in heaven. Though it would be nice to live lives on earth that include and glorify Him.

7. It is nice to be able to listen to music with words! While I practice on my steno machine, I play music, but it can't interfere with my thinking, so it has to be instrumental.(okay, well yes it is true that it doesn't take much to interfere with my thinking)  So as I write this here is what I'm listening to--

Bob, Rachael, Justin, Steve (our newest member, a bass) and I hope to include this in our music for January's Pro life mass at Saint John's in Center City Philadelphia. We are told our new Archbishop, Charles Chaput, may be there! How exciting!

While not making any promises, I hope to blog a bit more in the coming days. But the meantime, have a  wonderful remainder of the beautiful latter days of Advent.

Peace and Joy!


Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Lowness and Mercy

I have a few minutes before class today and no ambition to clean or practice or do any of the many things I ought. So you're stuck with me!

I am finding it heart-wrenching to bear the difficulties my children are encountering lately. I am praying, of course, and doing what little I can to help, but it is not enough to alleviate their suffering, at least in the present. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that God has come to my rescue when I was definitely not doing anything at all to warrant it. " But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us" Romans 5:8. So I guess I shouldn't be surprised at His assistance. But place that next to the law of sowing and reaping. Does the mindset of the sower, if ignorant, matter? Ah,well. All the same, in my lack of understanding, I pray and hope. And keep trying to help.

And there is this-

"Every Christian must be thoroughly convinced that his spiritual life can in no way be viewed as the quiet unfolding of an inconsequential life without any problems; rather it must be viewed as the scene of a constant and sometimes painful battle, which will not end until death - a struggle against evil, temptation and the sin that is in him. ... And this combat is, correctly viewed, the place of our purification, of our spiritual growth, where we learn to know ourselves in our weakness and to know God in His infinite mercy." Father Jacques Philippe

Friday, November 11, 2011

Rising Above


That's me calling out from the deep well of court reporting school. I am approaching the end of my first term which includes a research paper (haven't started yet) and a scary final. It will be all dictation that we have to write out on our steno writer--and have to get a 92% just to PASS. O-kay! I have been working hard, and will continue to do so--and time will tell if it was enough.

Tonight, Bob, Rachael, Justin and I will be providing music for a holy hour at St. Francis of Assisi in Springfield, Pa. Cause of course, I must have another project to balance on top of the swaying pile, right? Actually, this one will bless me more than anything else I do, or anything I may try to contribute. If you happen to be in the area, it starts at 8:00.

The other night, after pounding away on my machine until my eyes crossed, I crawled into bed, and since Chopped wasn't on, I put Parenthood on. It's "my show" and I watch it on On Demand every week. I won't go into the whys and wherefores of reasoning but a hint would be ( it's about a crazy family that reminds me of a certain other crazy family I may or may not be a part of) This week, there was a character who is in a situation he finds difficult and distasteful, and was counseled by his brother that he must "rise above."  His response--" I hate rising above."

That line just grabbed me--yes absolutely in the funny and identifiable way, but also it kind of resonated because--who doesn't get weary? Who doesn't want life to be easier?  One of my daughters, known for her hilarious yet relevant one liners, said, "everybody--stop freaking out!" I suggested she embroider it on a little pillow for the sofa.

I know that feeling of emotional exhaustion that goes with having a large family making our way in the world, some of us making our way out of some dark times. It requires fortitude that can't always be drummed up from our human frailty.  This is when my prayers start going like this, "Jesus, I need you. I cannot do this. You have to. Help!" Along those lines.

The crazy part? He does!

Hope you all are well, whoever is left of my dear readers. For as little blogging I do anymore I appreciate you stopping by!

The Lord's Peace~


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

late night steno

Steno homework is like no other homework I have ever encountered. I have to write more than 300 sentences, with no more than 5 errors on the whole assignment. An error could be something as minute as having a finger slip off a key and ruin a punctuation mark. I am on my third go round of this homework today. The part I am working on is not even all of it.

I am putzing around here on my blog because I have developed a method for not having to start all over each time I go over five errors--I save my work frequently--which sounds logical and not like much of a problem---but the program we do our writing in is extremely quirky, and will not let me back in to write in it right away, on the same file I was working in. So I have to close it out and give it a few minutes, then go back. With thirty groups of ten sentences x saving more and more frequently as I get nearer (ever so slowly) to the end--you may see why I am growing crosseyed and battier as the night progresses.

Yes, this is what I do all the time now. Thrilling, no? Currently I am writing this sentence:

Many bugs smell bad.

Together with the slow progress and late hour, it is all a bit surreal. I am on sentence number 18 of 30.  I am on my third attempt to get the bug sentence right. the letter "B" when written at the beginning of a sentence requires the depression of two keys at once. I keep getting the pressure a little off.

Now it is four times. Sorry bugs. I can't seem to get past you smelling bad. Not all of you, but many.

Many Court Reporting students are in need of therapy.

I finally made it past the bugs. If I could only get to the lard. (Those are the last ones. I can't wait to fill that big, red mug with lard. Oh happy day, or night as it may be).

I miss being involved with all of you--pray that I might emerge from this with a marketable skill and some shred of sanity left over.

Friday, September 30, 2011

steno is my life

Yes, Folks, right now this little guy and I are best buds, joined at the hip, constant companions, you name it. I hope to blog once a week-ish, but by the time I sit down to write something, my mind is numb, eyes swimming, back is stiff, etc. A steno education is so intensive, it approaches marriage- like commitment. I certainly spend more time with it than I do Bob. (FYI-he is not jealous, because; 1. Steno writer is stubby and boxy and really not my type (get it?) and 2., Steno writer may one day become the source of a respectable income for our family. Seems like I ought to name it..

All (okay,most) kidding aside, I am doing this for our family. I hope this career will be as lucrative and flexible as it's reputation touts. Also-it's not totally torture, I do like it. It's just that the process of making new pathways in my already mid life ravaged brain is painful, in a smoke-coming-out of-the-ears kind of way. The little victories are sweet, though.

I do have an intention that I ask all who read this to pray for. It's pretty serious. Thank you!

Hope you have a nice weekend. I will be holed up with, uh, (Insert name here).




Friday, September 16, 2011

7 quick takes---revisiting seven moments---

Corrie and Melissa, about 1992


 May 13, 2006

October 10, 2009
          having fun at Bilbo's pizza with Meghann and Kaden, April or May, 2010

Kaden doing his thing, last year around Thanksgiving

Father's Day, 2011

Big Band concert--required Big Time concentration

              hiking in the North Carolina mountains-- a nice memory



Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Father Pavone--links that actually work!

Sorry folks for the broken link that I had up here yesterday. I liked it originally, because it contained many other links that one could click to keep up with the story as new information is released. Apparently, the blogger took it down, and I don't know if he or she will be putting it back up, so Here is a second statement from Father later yesterday, after he arrived in Amarillo--

and here,  a link to an article from Life News, pointing out that Father is still a priest in good standing.

Here is a blog that I like.For some reason, I could only link to the blog, not the specific post I wanted about Father Frank, but it should be easy to find.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

the battefront of the mind

This week has been a bit rough at my house. We are not yet settled into the kids school days routines, my own online school starts Monday. My daughter Corrie had another seizure at work, and my daughter Melissa is suffering. Her fiance suddenly called it quits, with no warning and apparently, little or no remorse. She is a college student, just getting settled in herself,or trying to. She has fought and overcome so much in her life already. One of my prayers for her is that God blesses her richly someday with a husband that loves her for exactly who she is.

Also, I have had some light bulb moments get past the noise in my brain. God is so impressive. When He wants to tell me something, He makes sure I get it. So much better than Fed Ex. But they're not bad.

Last evening, I drove out to pick up Melissa at her school. Her father also went to school there, and, at the time I met him, still lived near the campus. Whenever I would drive there, I remembered the directions by saying the name of the streets, in the order I took them. Yesterday, driving that route again, I saw them go by, and said to myself the names, the way I used to---High---Price.
Lesson learned.

Also, several days ago, while commenting on a friend's blog, I was telling about the time I was hospitalized for a  four month long headache. While writing, another one of those little lights popped on. Ah, the lessons taught by my friend, Hindsight.

During that time, I was; 1.a new convert; 2.In the process of extricating myself from yet another bad relationship; 3. Meeting resistance from said relationship-ee, resulting in being harassed and stalked at every turn; and 4; scraping to make a living for the three kids under my roof at the time, two in schools that required tuition. I will spare you the gory details. Cause they are. Gory.

The headache varied in intensity, but never went away. It was affecting my ability to work. After many doctor appointments, tests, and trials of medications, I saw the main doc of the headache clinic at Jefferson Hospital, a Russian woman, (and quite fabulous). She said I was suffering from a headache "cycle." That, basically, I was having the headache because I had the headache for so long. And that what I needed was to go into the hospital for three days, where I would be administered a cocktail of IV drugs that would "break the cycle." Again, I'll spare you the ins and outs, except to say that it didn't work right away, but within a few days, I felt a lot better, and though I did and do get headaches, it has never gotten that bad again. That is the human part of the story.

Here are my impressions of the supernatural part.

I was mired in a way of thinking for most of my adult life up to that point, and it was holding me back from being able to mature in my faith. The internal script-loop went something like this:

"I am tired and sad." (this was my depression mantra, not surprising, right?)

"I am not allowed to be happy."

" I got myself into this situation (enter the bad situation of the day here), so I am stuck with it."

"I need to stay with my current choice of a man and prove to God and the world I can have a stable relationship and life." (never mind the fact that God gave me plenty of warning about how I made my choices, and let me know He was never invited to that particular party. Oh, I thought I had asked Him, but it was the kind of asking your kid does when they're already halfway out the door, coat on, friends waiting outside, "It's okay if I go out, right?" _not that my kids ever do that_)
* (I must qualify a teeny bit here and say I am not advocating everyone to abandon their marriages. All but one of the relationships I am referring to here were not the married kind. And the one that was, was 1.invalid, and 2. abusive)

There were other premises I worked around, but that gives you the idea. My point is, all that talk was occurring in my mind. In my head. My head was the battlefield .My thoughts were being held hostage, and God, seeing as how I converted and all, now had His proverbial foot in the door. So He went to work. It was kind of a labor and birth. The headache part was the pushing. (Gar, those poor newborns!) I think God was saying, "okay, I am intervening here, and taking back the territory of your mind (and heart) so you can finally move past this destructive pattern. And to top it all off, I am going to bring your future husband into the picture. Cause, girl, you can't do it yourself!" And He did. Somehow, once I addressed the headaches, the bad life-stuff started to unravel and get worked out. I still had plenty of work to do, but the results were starting to show.
*(another note. If you have not read the part of my conversion story in which I explain the power of the Eucharistic Lord,you can find it--here. Wow, I refer to that post a lot.)

Do I ever still think wrongly? Yes. But the difference is, I see it quicker that I used to, because it seems so out of place now. Do I still need lots and lots of work? Yes. Lots. But Praise God, it doesn't seem to involve headaches.But please do pray for my dear friend Joyce over at The Little Way. She suffers with monstrous ones.

Blessings and Peace


Saturday, September 10, 2011

September 11th Again--Written by a fellow blogger who lives in NYC

Autumn Again

The maple tree in front of my neighbor’s home
divides in two like Siamese Twins
bound at the hip.

Its leaves have turned early again,
crusted red like dried, crusted tomato sauce-
or is it blood– pinned to their stems,
nailed to the wood.

The summer air has ended and
the cool scent of autumn smacks you in the face.
Again. Enough to topple you over.

Neighbors go about their motions,
school has started,
baseball winds towards its Series,
talk of November elections cross the radio waves,
football has kicked off again,
all beneath a sky so blue it reminds you
of a little girl’s iris.

I enter my car, parked in front of my house,
ready to go to work.

A red leaf comes off the tree—
the first of the year, perhaps-
drifts down floats like a slip of paper while suddenly
two morning jays, blue and white tipped,
sweep across the street.
Their peevish caws proclaim the end of summer,
the end of little league and girls soccer,
reclaiming dog days for the approaching equinox.

Such demonstrates ballistic coefficients,
a floating leaf, a swooping bird.
I watch this liturgy as I hang from
turning the ignition.

There was a night I slept in the car
in some parking lot, chilled by the northern nip
unable to return home.
They barred the city shut.
I had a blanket in the trunk for such emergencies
and I took it out and threw it over me and
pitched the seat back almost to a bed and
listened to the fly buzz of radio static all night.
The sirens that had been blaring all day
finally stopped, and the crickets still alive
began their evening prayers,
unable to distinguish autumn air from crumbled dust
that floated and sooted all our homes,
all our clothes, all our lungs.

I turn the ignition, the motor crackles,
and I almost put the car in drive when another
leaf, this one still green but a frozen green,
like it had turned to stone, floats down and lays
beside the red one.

This is the kairotic moment,
when the curdled leaf falls with a plop to the ground,
the thump circling inside the cavity of my head.
I turn the ignition off and decide to walk around
the block.

I pass Mr. Sackman’s house.
His son lost his life a few years ago, and
loses it again at the end of every summer
rushing up a staircase to afflict a fire
started by a man no one around here ever heard of
and lived half a world away.

The leaves around the block
had also turned and the nails
that pinned them had been yanked or reaped,
obelisks in the mind giving way

leaves scorched red by zipping aero planes
which blasted into towers.

The leaves around me, dozens now,
are falling like three thousand bodies
coming down again

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

a boy and his giraffe

My grandson has been going through an illness, and while being tested to find the cause, his symptoms are being treated with this. Kind of sad to see such a little guy having to do neb treatments! His mother, my daughter Meghann, is undoubtedly proving to be a great teacher in nebulizer technique, though, seeing as she spent a good deal of her childhood hooked up to one.

A couple weeks ago, the kids and I spent the day at Rehoboth Beach, where Malaika won an adorable stuffed giraffe. She chose it over other prizes, knowing how much Kaden loves them. So we sent it to him, in hopes of cheering him a bit.

That did occur. What we didn't forsee, was Meghann gaining another family member.

 His name is George.

                                                                         He may get a bit of store anxiety, considering his origins. He does look a bit nervous here.
       Bringing comfort when needed.


                                                                                       A bit of  head bumping or tail pulling just goes with the territory.

 Also neck exams.
                                                 I'll have whatever he's having...

Thursday, September 1, 2011

weathering our storms

This was our corner of the sky the day after Irene went through. It actually was quite a beautiful day. Very breezy/windy and very comfortable temps. Some, who were impacted with flooding were probably not able to enjoy such things. The street and neighborhood where I grew up had terrible flooding, in some cases, roof high. My condolences and prayers for them, and everyone struggling with Irene's aftermath.

 I am glad that storms do pass, eventually. All kinds.

I spent last Friday at Melissa's college, helping her get the last of her things moved in, attending orientation, and doing some of the obligatory line-waiting and the moving around of funds.

On my way home, it being Friday AND pre-Irene, there was lots of traffic. At one point it was at a standstill. Right in front of this house.
 This is the house the kids and I last lived in, up until 1998, when my 13 year marriage breathed its last. Five of my seven are from that marriage.

It was not boarded up then, or as overgrown, but it never was in great shape, as it was slated to be torn down, even when we lived there. It's kind of fitting that it has the dreaded "condemned" sign out front. That marriage was in trouble from the start, and hung by a thread for many years. Some awful times were had in this house, for me and for the kids. I experience much regret when I look at that place where some things went on that I should have put a stop to long before September 1998. For me, it was a mixture of hanging onto my vows and putting my faith in God; and having the boiled frog syndrome. You know--put him in the water and turn the heat up so slowly that he doesn't realize he's being cooked till it's too late. I knew things were bad, but I was so indoctrinated to the way things were in our house, I didn't really grasp how bad for a long time. Plus, I just wanted everything to get better.  I wrote about this time a little in the post entitled  Salvation History Part Four, from then till now.
 Sitting in front of the house, I felt compelled to call my eldest daughter Meghann. She lived through what may have been some of her toughest years here. I was looking at the front porch, recalling some vivid memories of my children in their much younger years, and some tougher ones too; when just to add to the strangeness of it all, Meghann (who was simultaneously caught in a traffic jam in Michigan), witnessed the immediate aftermath of a horrible accident in which she got a close up view of a driver slumped over his steering wheel, and by appearances, possibly dead. There were no rescue vehicles around, no people there,  just this poor man, alone, and possibly dying alone. She had her little boy with her, so she couldn't stop herself. We hung up and she tearfully called 911. She was able to see the rescue vehicles arriving since she was moving so slowly in traffic herself, so that was some comfort, but we both prayed for the poor man. (She later was able to find out that he is still alive, though in critical condition).

That's really what our life was when we lived in that house. A car wreck. And many of us were dealt life threatening blows. They just didn't show yet. Some of our family walked right up to deaths door in a very real way. Thank God that we all, in our own ways, are still recovering. If you think about us, please say a prayer. Some are still in the trenches.

But there is that blue sky, clouds being blown apart by the fresh wind. The Holy Spirit is often referred to as the "breath of God."  So, wherever we are right now,  we are all under that sky that He created, and His breath is upon us. The storm really can actually be in past tense. There can be a new chapter, fresh air and a fresh, clean outlook. Even though our memories can't be erased, we can put the car in drive and move on. The windows are boarded, and the place eventually will be razed.

 Here is my house now. I bought this african violet when it was in bad shape and just kept feeding, watering and pulling off the dead leaves. This is the first time it has bloomed in a couple years. The little glass Blessed Mother keeps watch over all the goings on in our kitchen.  She is a bit chipped from some rough times, too.

Blessings and Peace to all my dear readers. In Him we can weather all our storms. 


Saturday, August 27, 2011

blessings and peace during Irene

Just taking a little break from a few more preparations around the house, to say let's all pray for safety and peace during Irene. Do what you can, and then pray and ask for His peace. He still holds us all in the palm of His hand.

Monday, August 15, 2011

elusive tranquility?

I have so much to be thankful for. The state of the world and our nation are tenuous, no doubt. But somehow, I don't think God is pacing. He holds the keys to everything. I think all the roller-coastering has made me focus more on His lordship in my own life and continually ask the Holy Spirit and the Blessed Mother to be present to me. I just finished my third consecration to her, though poorly done, I stuck it out. She's working with me!

Here are some things that have been sources of delight, comfort, and evidences of His love.

We were blessed to have a dear friend who is also a priest, and his brother, who is also about to enter the seminary, over to dinner a few nights ago. They were delightful company. After dinner, Father agreed to play guitar for us and we had a sing along. To all of our astonishment and the delight of the kids, he and his brother knew many popular songs; some Beatles, Bare Naked Ladies, and Weezer! All the words. But we also did some worship songs, and Father is an amazing worship leader. We were all touched by their visit.

Our house project is progressing! The new white paint has made everything look crisp and clean~and although our fridge died as a result of sliding it gently out in order to paint the wall behind (on my birthday) resulting in the purchase of a new one~everything else has gone smoothly. Now I am working on the trim, which is proving to be slower. I will post the grand finale, even if it's not really grand but just kind of nice.

I have been grateful for a relief from the oppressive heat. Even the rainy days weren't bad. My garden looks fresh and vibrant again. I have heard that looking at green is good for the eyes. For me, it is good for the soul. I go out and sit by my little patch of greenery, or occasionally just peek out the back door for a refresher.

My daughter in Michigan faithfully sends pictures of her garden, some of which we planted together when I was visiting in May. And of course pictures of my grandson, that never fail to warm up my heart.

   he calls this his sun-brella.

 Music-wise, we have a couple nice things approaching this week, We had a man approach us at one of our pro life masses and offer his singing services, so this coming Saturday (August 20th, 7AM, St. John's at 13th and Market, roughly)  My daughter Rachael, myself, Justin, and our new member, Steve, will be quartet-ing away, doing Holst, Handel and Palestrina. If you're in the area, get up early, come pray for the unborn, and hear our little offering. We also plan to do a little you-tube-ing, (not at the mass) so if those go well, I may be able to post.

AND if that was not enough, I am also playing sax in a big band. It is a fund raiser for Christ Lutheran Church in Hellertown, Pa. Friday evening at 7PM.  I am still getting info about the specific place of the concert, but if by some chance anyone is interested, let me know. The tickets are $45, which includes a dinner beforehand. Breaking out the sax chops after this long is tough, but lots of fun. My face still hurts from the practice last night!

All of this mitigates the rough stuff.  Worries over 401k's, impending school for most of us, (three to college), but God has given so much blessing. Not that we ignore our difficulties, but to the other extreme, we shouldn't focus on them exclusively. Then we miss the larger perspective. God's perspective is the largest of all, and I believe He wants to share it with us. He wants us to know He has got all our circumstances within His grasp, and that He is still everlastingly joyful.

I regret having taken down my playlist, because now I can't seem to put it back! Maybe I will figure out how to put up another one. Anyway, here is a beautiful worship song, done by a group that calls themselves IHOP (International House of Prayer)-- try to take the few minutes and let it sink in. It's worth the investment.

Human beings are more than the sum of the good they can accomplish. They are children of God, whether they do good or cannot yet manage to do anything. Our Father in heaven does not love us because of the good we do. He loves us for ourselves, because he has adopted us as his children forever.

This is why humility, spiritual poverty, is so precious: it locates our identity securely in the one place where it will be safe from all harm. If our treasure is in God, no one can take it from us. Humility is truth. I am what I am in God’s eyes: a poor child who possesses absolutely nothing, who receives everything, infinitely loved and totally free. I have received everything in advance from the freely bestowed love of my Father, who said to me definitively: “All that is mine is yours.”

Interior Freedom p.124 
Jacques Philippe


Thursday, July 28, 2011

encouragement--going deeper

 I don't know about all of you, but this summer has begun to be a time of  weightiness, heaviness, bogged-down-i-ness, langour, lethargy, ennui, malaise, and any other swimming-through-molasses sort of word you may like to add. Couple the national news, (I won't even enumerate the stories here, lest I give up on this post here and now),  the oppressive weather---

  ----and in our house, the approach of three people starting college (myself included), financial pressures of said undertakings, house projects underway, vacations not underway, midlife exercise program kicking my butt around the get the gist! SO! All of that said, you may be wondering about the title...

I can't help but see the parallels between things, and today is no different. I am currently in about my eighth  week of a self induced exercise regimen. At my age (fifty, tomorrow...yikes!), it is quite a challenge to shed stubborn mid section poundage, and overcome aches and pains that arise after particularly grueling workouts. And if you then count in the emotional waves that wash over we mid-life-type women, well, it can get quite daunting to keep going. But I did make some headway, only to very quickly find myself at a plateau. Pushing through this has been tough going, but I see that on a spiritual level, one can get just as bogged down. We can take all the right steps; pray, go to mass, adoration, amend our lives, and actively place our trust in the hands of Christ, but yet seem to be slogging across the desert in our experiential life. Not wanting to give up making progress, what should we do?

If you have been reading here much , you know of my deep affinity for the writings of Father Jacques Phillipe. The book I have been reading, In the School of the Holy Spirit, has been a great inspiration in the time which I find myself. Well, it would be terrific in any time, really..but he provides some encouraging answers to the above question.

This is a fundamental spiritual principle, found in the Gospel. Jesus speaks these mysterious words: “I tell you, that to every one who has will more be given; but from him who has not, even what he has will be taken away” (Lk 19:26).

In this way he proclaims one of the most important laws of life. Someone filled with resentment and unhappiness, bitter that life is not as it should be, will be deeply disillusioned. On the other hand, people who are glad for what they have received, and thank God for what befalls them will receive still more, until finally being overwhelmed by God’s generosity.
Called to Life, p.87

Hope is a choice that often demands an effort. It is easier to worry, get discouraged, be afraid. Hoping means trusting. When we hope we are not passive: we are acting.

Love is also a decision. Sometimes it comes spontaneously, but very often loving people will mean choosing to love them. Otherwise love would be no more than emotion, even selfishness, and not something that engages our freedom.
Interior Freedom, p.9

Always back to Faith, Hope and Love. Those timeless anchors. There is a wonderful passage about how loving God is the key to real and true freedom,  It begins like this:

"...If we want the (apparent) contradiction between God's will and our freedom to be resolved, we ought to ask the Holy Spirit for the grace to love God more, and the problem will solve itself."...and later.."loving Him does not constrict our heart but enlarges it infinitely."
--In the School of the Holy Spirit, pp.89-90

Very often we feel restricted in our situation, our family, or our surroundings. But maybe the real problem lies elsewhere: in our hearts.
Interior Freedom, p.20

The very act of accepting where we are now, in all it's glory or lack thereof,  IS an action. It is trust, and if we can add "joyfully" to the "accepting" part, it is now an act of love. And as stated above, hope is also an act of the will. We all know that it is hard to remove ourselves emotionally from life difficulties. It is not pretending they are not happening, it is saying, to ourselves and to God, " I trust (have faith) that You have me right here for a reason that is for my good, not to harm me but to prosper me (Jeremiah 29:11) (prosperity of all kinds, not just material) and give me a hope and a future.

God wants us to accept His love and care for us and also give Him a chance to show it! If every outcome in our lives could be linked to our own efforts, how could we give God any credit? When we give gifts to our children, we don't want them to perform some task for them, then they are not gifts any more! Also, I appreciate when my kids ask me for something they want or need. We know God knows, but he also wants us to ask! Again, then we know where our help comes from!

Even though we know we need to pray, worship and make sacrifice; we should do this in pursuit of a greater love for God, and the gifts that flow from that, I suspect, will far exceed the gifts for which we were striving.

Peace, coolness, and Mercy for our country!


                         yes. I know these are not lilies

 “For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? “And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. “But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! “Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ “For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  ~ Matthew 6:25-33
Malaika's little friends, coming to visit at her handmade feeder.