Thursday, June 30, 2011

seeking wisdom

Hello! I have been blogging less frequently, I know. Several reasons, but one of the biggies is that I have been ....shhhhh....exercising....I am afraid if I say it too loudly I will again be pulled away by one thing or another. It's usually the first thing I do, after coffee, each day.  I am in my fourth week, and if I don't exactly see any big results, I sure do feel them. My back is the first thing to show improvement, followed by general increases in strength, energy and mood. My spare tire is still firmly attached. But I feel better about it.

 I have been also thinking about this and that, doing some reading and sunning, and trying to just do each day what seems to be given to me to do.

As usual, there is a lot going on in the life of my family. Two starting college in the fall, one going to live away, one at home. Another one living nearby, but suffering from mysterious seizures, and dealing with some heavy issues besides, requiring attention and assistance at times.  Eldest in Michigan, with lovely family, with which we want to coordinate a summer get together with my brother, (who isn't well), in North Carolina (see this post ). Many other family concerns on our minds, and to add icing to the cake, financial concerns. It all adds up to this-

or, if you like, this-

So, here comes the wisdom piece. And I do ask your prayers for this. Recently I have been reading, (among other things not nearly as spiritual, but not without merit),  is Ten Prayers God Always Says Yes To by Anthony DeStefano.  A very inspiring and thought provoking book.

One of the prayers is, "God, please give me wisdom."  And right now, I think I could use some. (well, of course, I always could), but for this juncture of the life of my family, I want to know what He wants of me.

Should I go back to work? Or should we just do a massive scale back in consumption? I know if I do go to work, I don't think I can handle the kind of job I typically get, full of plentiful human suffering for which I am grossly underpaid and grossly over worked and for which I am grossly over responsible. You get my take on the situation. But jobs being not the most plentiful or easily found, who knows whether I will be able to pick and choose? I am still battling small recurrences of Epstein-Barr, JUST getting back into some sort of exercise routine, and am relied on by some family members as well as the kids for transportation and general help.

But Gods ways are His own, so if He does indeed intend that I join in the fray to ease our financial burden, I have to trust He will guide me with the well being of us all in mind.

Here are a few passages from Father Jacques Philippe that resonate- the highlighted parts are the one that jumped out at me:

Every authentic vocation is a calling to live ever more fully. We should be wary of callings that may mask refusal to engage life, fear of love, flight from the body or feelings, or a lack of acceptance of human existence as it is. Accepting one’s calling should mean choosing a more intense, abundant way of life, not fear-driving flight, or a disguised choice of death, as can happen with some poorly discerned religious commitments.
Called to Life, pp.24-25

The spiritual life would be unlivable if negation and repression were the only legitimate responses to our desires. But the spiritual path is not a way of negation but an education of desire: progressively learning to leave superficial desires behind in order to let the deepest desire emerge, the one that carries the call addressed to us by God.
Called to Life, p.100 

Faithfulness to mental prayer is a school of freedom. It is a school of truth in love, because it teaches us, little by little, no longer to place our relationship with God on the shaky, unstable basis of our own impressions, moods, or feelings, but on the solid foundation of faith—God’s faithfulness, which is as firm as a rock. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and forever” (Heb 13:8), for “His mercy is from generation to generation” (Lk 1:50). If we persevere, our relationships with other people, which are likewise superficial and changeable, will become more stable, more faithful, deeper, and hence happier.
Time for God, p.32

“For you were called to freedom, brethren” (Gal 5:13). So says St. Paul in the letter to the Galatians. God calls us to freedom. But instead of being given to us instantaneously and in full measure, this freedom is built up progressively and patiently day by day, by being faithful to God’s calls.
Called to Life, p.1
 one can't really break apart Paul.

Well, friends, there is much to think about and ever more to pray about. Our family would appreciate your prayers.

St. Rita, come to my aid!
Faithful, loving wife and mother,
Humble, prayerful widow and nun,
Because of my need, answer my call. St. Rita, come to my aid!
Beautiful rose born
from the Savior's thorns,
Lead me far from anger and hate;
Guide my heart on peaceful paths
with charity to all.
     St. Rita, come to my aid!
     Helper, healer, holy friend
     Hear my petition (make request).
     To Christ take this prayer,
     For He is my Lord, my God, my All,      My hope in despair,
     My strength when afraid.
     St. Rita, come to my aid!
     St. Rita, answer my call.  Amen.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

pride and humility

I have been mulling this over for quite some time.
Yes even before the present issue that this calls to mind. I have in fact, been wrestling with the definition of humility, and how it pertains to the way we think about ourselves on a daily basis. It sinks pretty deep, all the way down to my motivations for anything and everything I do.

Bob and I were talking about it. He has been facilitating some of the meetings of The King's Men and the topic of humility was one of their discussion points.  He brought up false humility. He used the example of how sometimes, after we played music at a mass, people occasionally would come up to us and say complimentary things. If we knew we had done a decent job of it, put in many practice hours, carefully chosen appropriate selections, and still said, "no, it wasn't good", that would be false humility. It wouldn't be true. I have been taught that true humility is simply telling the truth about ourselves. We don't think we are the greatest, but yes, we like to know that we haven't assaulted ears while doing what we love. We also know Who gave us any ability to begin with. We think of what we do as a vocation.

And the more I thought about it,the more it kept bringing me back to vocation. And also the personal, Father/daughter relationship with my Lord. My vocation is as a wife and mother. I am not the greatest of either, but I keep trying, and there has been fruit. I acknowledge that all the fruit is because of His grace. I added in my 2% of willingness, and some effort, but even getting that far was motivated by not wanting to visit my past mistakes upon my family. Now that is the truth.
 I have told a bit about a  few of the more personal encounters I have had with Jesus. One of the themes common to those times was that there was an overwhelming sense of being loved and accepted. Most of those occurred during times of my life that could easily be defined with terms such as; wayward, lost, confused, or just depressed. For clarity, I wasn't obviously deserving of God's approval. However, his being God and all, He knew what I needed. He was the quintessential father, doing what fathers do best. Loving and accepting. That love and acceptance freed me enough to be able to move forward again. It gave me enough confidence to believe I could get out of the rut, even with all the many hurdles I knew I would have to clear. Even though He knew all my actions were not "kosher" yet, and wouldn't be for years, He assured me of His love.

Back to humility/pride. God made us all very different from one another. In one of my recent posts, I included a quote of Father Jacques Philippe--

For God, each person is absolutely unique. Holiness is not the realization of a given model of perfection that is identical for everyone. It is the emergence of an absolutely unique reality that God alone knows, and that he alone brings to fruition. No individual knows what his own holiness consists of. Holiness is only revealed to us by degrees, as we journey on, and it is often something very different from what we imagine, so much so that the greatest obstacle on the path to holiness may be to cling too closely to the image we have of our own perfection.  

For me, part of my journey has been being able to feel confident about myself, and comfortable carrying out the different aspects of my vocation. Even just being myself. Sound decidedly un-humble yet? But here's the thing. God made me with certain personality traits, talents and attributes. I lived for a goodly number of years in an environment in which every single thing I did was criticized. Even things I did well. When there was laughter, it was not with me, it was at me. I still look upon so much of what I do and even who I am with a critical eye. This is different from examining my conscience. It is more like assaulting my conscience. It allows for very little peace of heart.
 I believe the Lord is not going for this kind of self hatred when He teaches about humility.

The best definition of humility I've ever heard is this: "Humility is not denying the power you have but admitting that the power comes through you and not from you." If you deny the power you've been given, you lie. If you have a fine voice, to depreciate it is to show a lack of appreciation for it. If you've been given a talent for making money (and I believe it is a talent), then use it and be the trustee of it. If your talent is administration, then help things to happen. I don't believe that God is giving any talent for irresponsibility, and that is what we are showing when we fail to recognize, appreciate, and use the talent that we have been given.
-Fred Smith

Part of who He has made me to be is: 1. a leader;  2. something of an analyst; 3. a musician; 4. an advocate; 5. someone who desires to transmit His love and mercy, and 6. someone who likes to make numbered lists. Just to name a few. But if I am afraid to lead, or second guess myself into oblivion, wondering if it is too strong or forceful looking; or if I am too timid when I go to sing, and don't do as well as I am able, for fear of looking too diva-esque, is that somehow more glorifying to Him?

I think that we are allowed, nay even expected, to be the best of who He has made us. He knows we will do life imperfectly. But if we have our motivations and vocation in mind, our mistakes will be more failures than outright sins.

I am trying to allow room for a certain comfort and happiness in my life. By this, I do not mean narcissism or license.  But rather an appropriate expression of whatever He has given me, with all thankfulness. I don't think He intends that our quest for holiness become a constant drag and heaviness, clouding all we do with uncertainty.

I believe it is possible to move forward with confidence. We know where our power comes from, we know that if  "Jesus I trust in You" is the prayer of our hearts, then we won't go too far off course.

There is a difference between meekness and weakness. Not every person was created to be shy and retiring.

Mother Angelica went up against some high ups in the Church --- was famous, on TV, had a "following", didn't mince words, and fought against what she saw going wrong in the Church.

 God has endowed us each with a unique part in the advancement of His kingdom. He did not use any cookie cutters.

Monday, June 20, 2011

One Bishop's insight on Father Corapi



Great Pyrenees Sheep Dog Guarding the Flock

The fact that he has chosen the nom de plume of The Black Sheep Dog is revealing:  he cares for the flock of sheep he has been ministering to all these years, sheep that he well knows are of the Lord’s flock, not his.
As a suspended priest he cannot function publicly as a priest, but he can continue to evangelize as long as he does not present himself to the public as a priest.
Every baptized person is given the obligation of being a witness to the truth, of being an evangelizer.  In Father Corapi’s case, the obligation is all the greater in view of the gift of the sacramental priesthood he has been given.  Prevented (hopefully only temporarily) from exercising that priesthood in a public manner during his suspension, he is aware of his obligation to be a witness to the truth and to continue to evangelize.  He evidently intends to do so until his suspension is lifted not as Father John Corapi but as The Black Sheep Dog.
As a good sheep dog he will continue to try to protect the flock from the dangers of heresy, heterodoxy, and all other forms of untruth.
I think it is a stroke of genius that he chose the image of the sheep dog’s eyes for his blog’s masthead.  I have a ranch.  I have sheep.  I have two wonderful sheep dogs, one a Great Pyrenees and the other an Anatolian Shepherd.  I know that they are constantly on the alert for dangers threatening the sheep.  They look with one eye for coyotes  (we do not have wolves in South Texas) and they constantly keep one eye on the sheep.  His avatar is perfect for the role he intends to perform as a shepherd.
Now, until his suspension is lifted, he is free from the Church’s prohibition on clerics participating in the political life of the nation.  Given his past outspoken criticism of the current slide of our government to become more and more like the socialist governments of Europe, I think that we can expect to hear The Black Sheep Dog speak out more openly on the burning issues we will face in the election year of 2012.  I know from my own experience that God sometimes “writes straight with crooked lines” as the Portuguese put it, and so perhaps God is using this new (unwanted) freedom from ecclesiastical restraint to permit The Black Sheep Dog to say some important things in the next 16 months on those burning issues.
I believe that he is justified in not seeking to clear his name through a canonical process; at the present time such processes are very flawed in most dioceses.  Rather I would like to believe that he intends to try to clear his name through the civil courts.  Since I believe that his accuser is a former manager of his media company who he terminated with some kind termination agreement, and since she has evidently sought revenge for her termination by writing to the Bishop of Corpus Christi denouncing Father John, I believe that it is possible for him to do so and I wish him every success in such an endeavor.  The basis for his lawsuit would probably be defamation of character, libel, extortion, breech of contract, or whatever.
Reading some of the comments on his blog I am appalled at the viciousness of some of them.  It is obvious that there is very little if any love in the hearts of some of the writers.  It is almost as though some of those writers are filled with hatred for the Catholic Church and/or its priests.  It is possible to disagree about almost anything without resorting to ad hominem personal attacks.
What many of these hostile commentators seem to be unaware of is the fact that Father John Corapi does not belong to a religious order or congregation.  He belongs to a Society of Apostolic Life.  He is not a priest of the Diocese of Corpus Christi, he is incardinated in the Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity,  a diocesan Society of Apostolic life that I established in the Diocese of Corpus Christi when I was the Ordinary of the Diocese.  He has never held an assignment in the Diocese nor has he ever worked in the Diocese.   Following his ordination in Rome in 1991 by Blessed Pope John Paul II he has ministered in many places, but not in the Diocese of Corpus Christi.  With the permission of his superiors he established his media company in Montana and has lived there ever since.  As a member of that Society (The Society of Our Lady of the Most Holy Trinity) Father John is not bound by a vow of poverty.  He is bound by a promise of obedience to his superior, the General Priest Servant of the Society.
These are just a few thoughts on Father John Corapi’s announcement yesterday.

from this blog--

Saturday, June 18, 2011

John Corapi~no longer Father~ Happy Father's Day indeed.

 Fath..uh, John Corapi's blog is here. I am one of many who are saddened. And shocked. At least he is not in prison, like Father McRae (These Stone Walls) is, (and has been for seventeen years). Whose case would be easily proved, if tried, OR who could leave prison if he pled guilty.
So, it does go on. Fault? Don't know. But if a human being has the right to make an accusation, than a priest, also a human being, should at least be able to have the right to a defense. But keeping it all in the dark really stinks.

Friday, June 17, 2011

The Graduates

As much as I know better than to define success in worldly terms alone, having just celebrated the graduations of two daughters, it does seem appropriate to be proud of their accomplishments. not only in school, but in life. They both had their own obstacles to overcome, and by all accounts, did so with flying colors. They are no more the same than any other two people on the planet, but they share the commitment to hard work and excellence in whatever they put their hands to.

 Melissa graduated from a program called Gateway to College. They didn't have a formal Valedictorian, but if they had, I'm pretty sure she was it.. (I think she was kind of relieved not to have to give a speech). She was accepted into West Chester University as a  junior, with a major in pre med.

Her road was and is tough. You would never know by looking at this beautiful girl, what kind of struggle it was for her to get where she is. But if she is not a hard worker,  you can paint me red and call me Shirley. The work for her was on every front imaginable. From within and from without. We certainly did what we could, and prayed, prayed, prayed! Her patron Saint is Padre Pio. I can't think of a better one. She has his strength of spirit! More than once, he was called upon for help. and help he did.

So if we are proud of her, than so be it. She is going to be a force in the world wherever she goes and whatever she does.

Rachael graduated from Girard Academic Music Program, (GAMP).  It is exactly what it sounds like. A school with rigorous academics that has music as its core. Not all or even many, go on to have music as their career, but the foundation is there, and proves what has been said, that music enhances overall learning. At the graduation ceremony, we were informed that over 3 million dollars in scholarships were offered to the sixty students that make up the class of 2011. That's a staggering number, and that's how sought after these kids are by the time they finish up at GAMP.

 Rachael is an excellent student,  She had different challenges than her sister, and had to do battle to maintain her footing over the years. Struggles within our family and within herself added to the already high demands of school, which she met with as much aplomb as any girl her age could muster. All the while she offered her help and support to the family. I think this experience helped mold her into the lovely, mature, talented, sweet young woman she is today. Adversity may be a hard school, but it readies us for the tests of life.

Rachael is going to attend Moore College of Art and Design, for which she received about eighteen thousand dollars a year in scholarships. She plans to major in illustration. This year, she was asked to do several large paintings that will hang at GAMP, which she did.  I saw the largest one in process, but was away when she finished it and took it in, so I don't yet have a photo.

It is a sports themed painting, for the gym. Not usually her choice of theme, but it is excellent, nonetheless.

 Here is a little sample of her work, from her college portfolio.

More of the graduation. This is just the girls half --they sang several selections, including the national anthem, and we all stood for the Pledge of Allegiance. A nice thing, in the present climate, especially in a public school setting. Yeah, I choked up a bit...:)

    The beautiful Rachael.

 We went out to the local diner to celebrate. There were lots of other GAMP grads there as well :) It's the place to go in South Philly.  Two more on the road to adulthood! Adam, pictured here to the left of Bob, (yes, your left), Melissa's fiance, will also be graduating this week from the Police Academy. We are proud of him, and know he is going to serve us all very well as a police officer.

Ben and Malaika are next. Ben will be a junior, also at GAMP, and Malaika begins sixth grade in the fall at Saint Monica School.  Ben is a very good student and accomplished drummer. Malaika is thinking she may want to be a veterinarian.

We know we will never be "done" being parents. But it is exciting to see them all growing up and moving into the world to make their marks. We will be wearing out our knees as they do this!

Father Corapi Update

Go here to read about it!

Monday, June 13, 2011

The School of the Holy Spirit

picture source:

For God, each person is absolutely unique. Holiness is not the realization of a given model of perfection that is identical for everyone. It is the emergence of an absolutely unique reality that God alone knows, and that he alone brings to fruition. No individual knows what his own holiness consists of. Holiness is only revealed to us by degrees, as we journey on, and it is often something very different from what we imagine, so much so that the greatest obstacle on the path to holiness may be to cling too closely to the image we have of our own perfection.
— In the School of the Holy Spirit, p.18 Fr.Jacques Philippe

This is kind of a relief to hear. It is difficult not to always look upon our life in the light of comparison. To other people, the saints, Jesus Himself (WWJD?), and even our own ideas of ourselves and how holiness should look on us. I wonder how many times I have totally missed the helping hand God offered, because I was toiling away at something I thought I needed to do, sweat on my brow and trembling with effort. If I just was listening for Him, for all I know He was right there, saying, hey! Here I am! I want to give you some grace! Yoo hoo! But because I had my head down, singularly focused on my own efforts, I missed Him.

Moreover, one small act of obedience to God can sometimes cause us to make more progress spiritually than years of effort according to our own plans. Fidelity to small graces draws down bigger ones.
—In the School of the Holy Spirit, p.59

When I read this, I think of something that happened to me about 26 years ago. It is something I can look back on and practically see the big ole hand of God coming down, Monty Python-like, in a certain moment of my life.

I was living in a very sparse apartment in Manayunk (a section of Philadelphia), next to a pizza shop. (*note-If you like rodents busting into your house whenever they feel like it, some the size of cats, live next to a pizza shop in the city). Anyway, it was just me and my four year old daughter. We were really quite poor. In lieu of a table, I put up an ironing board to set things on. We ate a lot of beans and bread. Before you feel too sorry, know that I brought much of it on by my own foolishness. But there we were. I had been singing at night, mostly at hotel lounges, but was starting to suspect it wasn't something God wanted of me. So, I quit. I also suspected that becoming a welfare mom was not something God wanted of me. (No offense to anyone receiving welfare, I have gotten plenty of help over the years). But it did beg the question; now what? I realized I had not actually asked Him that exact question. I thought perhaps now would be a good time to do so. Here is how it went.

Me: God, why do I keep getting involved in these bad situations with men that are not good for me?

God: Because you don't ask for My help, input or even My opinion.

Me: (after recovering from the mild heart attack at having my question answered)
So, um, now what? I'm kind of in a bind here. No job, no money, not much food. How do we get on the road to something better?

God: silence

Me. Uh oh, I knew I was pushing my luck with that multiple question, question. Oh well. I guess I'll put on the radio.

On comes a show I liked on Christian radio, called "Curious about Christ", it was a minister and his wife, and they spoke about all things Christian, but in a warm and friendly way. During the show, a commercial played for Merry Maids, and gave a number to call for employment---a little light bulb came on-and I thought, mayyybe I should I did. Who answered the phone, but the same minister from the radio show. Whoa.

Now this was the beginning of a string of things that happened in the space of about two weeks. One things was that 1. I did get the job; 2. there was a daycare right around the corner from it that was a Montessouri school, and who had a sliding payment scale based on your salary; 3. There was going to be a period of about two weeks before it all got started, (I forget why now) and was wondering how we were going to eat. One day, I was out somewhere, and got home to find a couple of bags in the entryway, full of food, and even a Candyland game for Meghann and I to play while we waited for our Better Life to start. Turns out a friend from a church I attended just felt that she should do this. hmmm.

You know of course I took many many wrong turns in life even after that, but I always remembered that exact moment when I chose to let God in, so He could straighten up the mess I was making.

Father Corapi has a way of saying this that I always appreciate. Loosely quoted, it went something like, If you need something, ask for it! Say you are afraid to go to confession; ask for the grace to not be afraid. Say you have a certain sin with which you struggle. Ask for the grace to stop. And if necessary, ask for the grace to WANT to stop. Just keep backing up until you get to the point where you are. That's where God can be found, anyway. Right at that place.

I was overwhelmed in a situation that I couldn't see my way out of. God reached in and led me through in steps. If I had know just how many steps lay ahead, and how difficult some of them would be, I may have faltered. He is faithful, though, if we just keep asking.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

98 degrees of perspiration

  picture source:

Today the weather is going to be a wee bit warm. (cough!)  It makes me so thankful to be able to have air conditioning in our home. I feel for the folks down south, who are enduring heat waves, terrible storms, flooding, you name it. My heart and prayers go out to them.

I recently mentioned in a comment to one of my blog friends how I have had to limit my TV watching, after noticing how my stress level was greatly reduced during Lent, at which time we didn't put the box on all that much. Now as we are kind of back to watching again, I am still finding that not watching too much news is helpful. I hear it, but just enough to get the gist. It can be distressing and overwhelming. I figure, I can pray whether I know all the gory details, and preserve some peace, however little it may be. Even the weather channel can be too much!

But it does give some perspective for thankfulness. Paradoxically, the hotter the day, the more likely I am to feel chilly, as I more often can sequester myself to the house/car/store/church; all places with a/c blasting away.

Somehow the heat doesn't feel as bad when you know you can escape from it. There were many days when I couldn't. Many days, we lived in a walk up apartment with small children and babies. We figured out ways to cool off, but it was draining. This summer reminds me of the summer of 1991, when I was pregnant with Melissa. That year, we had a scorching summer, it started in early June. If you have even been pregnant, especially in summer, you know that your internal temp. can feel really high. Yes, I guess carrying around a human being encased in water is naturally a warmish affair. Cooling off is a task. I ate a lot of ice and took many showers. She was born smack in the middle of August. I then began the pattern of having a baby every other summer for the next four years. I suppose that means I reached pro status.

Rachael was born in 1993, and we lived on a quaint, beautiful little farm. Also an hour removed from the hospital, so, Rachael thought about being born in the car. Ben was born in 1995. We then lived in the same quaint little area, but in a not-at-all quaint trailer. It did have four bedrooms, one was actually a built on room, in which we installed an air conditioner. Ben was born mid-July, on my mother's birthday. It was during a heat wave with temps around 100 degrees. Ben was also my largest baby, at ten pounds four ounces. (Those last four ounces! ouch!) Being my sixth child and born into an even more stressful time than we had previously  known, poverty-wise and crazy- bad- emotional- situation-brought-on -by-then-husband-wise, these factors helped me decide to have an epidural. I had five times under my belt without, but hey , I thought, lets treat myself!  Naturally,I fell into the three percent that have the dura of the spinal cord nicked by the needle, and
was "treated" to the lovely phenomenon known as the Spinal Headache. Headache Schmedache. This was not in that category. I was okay as long as I could lie flat, and of course, what mother of six with a two day old infant can't lie flat on her back all the time? My eldest was actually away, so that left Daniel, then about six, to watch over the others and help me as much as he could.  I remember he made me hot dogs in the microwave. He was sweet then and still is.
But I would eventually have to get up. And oh boy, I would have fireworks go off in my head. Or a nuclear bomb. You never saw anybody hop in and out of the bathroom so fast. Remember now, this was July...heat wave..100 degrees...mother with bombs going off in her let's add....ta da! A tornado! Yup.

The next night while we all were asleep in the one air conditioned room, I awoke to a shaking of the door and window. I had to all but cattle prod my husband awake to go and see what was going on. When he opened the door, I could feel the wind whip through, and see the other windows in the _trailer_ (yes, folks, the old Trailer in a Tornado Scenario) vibrating. Thank God, it passed quickly, and our little tin hovel stayed on the ground. But there was no power, and the heat did not break, storm or not. Here we were, in a super heated tin house, mom can't stand up, dad went to get gas, and drove around for hours trying to find some...ah! what fun. It was friends of ours,the Oylers, that came to the rescue. Took our entire family into their home, (their air conditioned home), fed us and treated us like royalty. Took all the kids to vacation bible school each day, got me to the hospital, where I got the nick repaired, and then nursed me for a few days. During this time, another dear lady, Martha Lair, went to our hot, incredibly messy trailer, cleaned it all up and did the laundry. All that, friends, was a huge blessing from God. Besides the situational crisis, my life then was a string of crises, as we were living something of a nightmare of emotional and sometimes physical abuse. The help of these dear friends was the breath of God in a barren wasteland.

So yes, these days I feel as privileged as a queen; jaunting about in our new car, coming home to our cool house, being able to write for you on our computer, traveling to see my daughter and her family~ so many things I would not have dreamed of in those rough years. A husband who loves me and all the kids, though he is not their biological father. Who retired from bachelorhood to help us and provide for us. Who lives what is many days the thankless life of a stepdad.  So thank you, honey. If you are not experiencing a ton of reward for all your efforts now, surely they will await you in heaven.

And, (okay now I feel like I am accepting an Academy Award),  I would like to thank God. Really! He has seen me through all manner of things; my guardian angel (thank you too!) must be exhausted and begging for retirement. The Lord has endured years of neglect, being snubbed, ignored, shunned, as well as fumbling attempts of faith and service. He was there from the beginning, preserving me in spite of myself, allowing the evil, but protecting me from its complete mastery and devastation. He has kept me, and my children, and is working miracles in us to this day. I am not thankful enough. I think I won't really be, until the next life.  I hope for myself, and all my family, to see Him, and really know all He did for us. And I hope, as I song I used to sing says, "that all our work be praise".

Sunday, June 5, 2011

a summer ramble

  The warm weather and approaching summer season always make me want to do certain things. Just like spring gives me the cleaning bug, summer still to me is about reading lots of books, preferably outside in the sun, and most preferably near a body of water. Right now, this amounts to sitting out on our back patio, roughly the size of a powder room, with the hose running over my feet. My flower bed and a few other potted flowers help the scenery out a bit, (the mint adding to a nice smell in the breeze), but really, my mind does most of the work in creating a little oasis. All it takes is; 1. the book and a towel or chair, 2. some nice smelling sun oil or lotion, 3. a cold drink, and of course, some water. I even enjoy smell of the water on the cement.

All of this takes me right to my backyard on Crescent Ave. It also reminds me of my mother, who, God rest her soul, had a routine she followed for summer that went something like this. 1. Always up by 7AM no matter what, washed, dressed, makeup on.  Mornings she would do housework, watch maybe a game show on tv, then mid morning, get her bathing suit on and go out to the pool. We got a 4 foot above ground pool when I was about seven years old. My mom was actually kind of afraid of water that was over her head or if she couldn't hold on to something, but loved water in general. We have a picture of her when she was somewhere in her 30's sitting on a raft in the ocean. The funny part of it, I was told, was that the water under her was about a foot deep.

Anyway, I associate my mother and those summer days with sun, water, and the smell of suntan lotion. We had a row of chairs down the side of the yard, and like you may have "your" chair in the living room, she sure did have hers out in the yard. A little side table for drinks and snacks. Definitely no umbrella! No sir. We were out there to get sun, not avoid it. Her skin turned a deep reddish brown every year. We have Native American ancestry, mixed in with the Irish and German from my dad's side. I get that color too, only not as dark as she. I would sit out too, with a book, or even float around the pool on a raft with said book. I only dropped them in once or twice in my Reading While Floating career.

When I got a little older, I took over the morning vacuuming  of the pool; balancing on the edge and walking around. Many days I would take an early swim. I eventually became a competitive swimmer, and still enjoy lap swimming whenever I can. (though the swimming I did in that pool was more like turning practice).

Funny, my parents never pushed me to get a summer job, though eventually I did, especially the summer before college. I still feel the need to slow the pace when the kids get out of school. We always frequent the library more and attempt to get to a pool whenever possible. The city pools are eh, so-so, but worth whatever unpleasantness if it gets us a swim.

It's nice to feel that connection to my mother and my growing up years, and I guess she instilled in me well the beauty of the summer outdoors. The fish part I think just developed. I also seem to need the quiet, the time alone, as much as the location and setting.

This, of course, is the ultimate in sun/book/chair therapy. Whenever it can be achieved, go for it.

But for now, this

plus this


Is just fine.

Friday, June 3, 2011

As promised!

Here are some photos of Rachael and Michael at her senior prom. Because of a time constraint, I cant do much editing or captioning. But if you know me at all, you know I won't be able to resist a few.

here are a few from the hairdresser.

Rachael has very long, heavy hair. The process behind even the subtle look she wanted was pretty extensive, in an attempt to get it to hold up for as long as possible before falling out.

The hairdresser even had her come back later so the curls could stay pinned until the last minute. She is right at the end of our block, and when she saw us out taking pictures later, come running down to see the full effect. She told Rachael she was ready for the red carpet. Ironically, outside the venue for the prom, there was an actual red carpet, and a photographer taking shots as they arrived!

(my apologies to the lady in the back waiting for her color to develop...)

 Michael arrives and they commenced flower pinning and I got lots of shots, of which here are a few. Don't you love her hair? Wait till you see the whole dress...

Beautiful flowers! okay so I 'm captioning like shoot me...

The dress! And Rachael's cute look.

Michael's sister and family came to take some pictures too.

 Their baby is adorable! Malaika didn't want to let her go.

on the way

...and most importantly, they had a good time.  

Oh my, my #5 is going to college. This must mean something about my age....not sure what....

Thursday, June 2, 2011

prelude to a prom

  Tonight is my daughter Rachael's senior prom. She has been thinking about and planning this for months and months. Which means~ I have also been thinking about this for months and months. She wanted a dress she saw online, and granted , it is beautiful, but having ordered my own wedding dress online (for the same reasons, but there were...problems), I know the pitfalls of this approach. Mainly size. Apparently, online companies use some special tape measures to plot their sizes than the rest of the world. In which one inch is the equivalent of about three. We are at their mercy until the dress actually arrives. But, as my husband stated, she has worked really hard all through school, and been an excellent student, and we want to give her this thing that is very important to her. I'll spare you the gruesome details, cause there were a lot of them, and skip to the *final* (ahem) arrival of the dress that alllllmost fit perfectly.

   We all know that a Good Mom can cook, clean, do triage, change a tire, rewire electronics and sew. Most of these can be done while talking on the phone. Somehow, while assigning genes, God must have also gotten an important call, and accidentally knocked the sewing one on the floor while doing mine.

   When I realized Rachael's dress was going to need a few small alterations, the cold sweat began.  Last Sunday evening, I got out my little tattered heart shaped cardboard sewing box, measuring tape and glasses, turned on every light in the house, and got to work. The parts that needed a bit of taking in were, forgivingly, all black; and conversely, all black+black thread=hard to see. But believe it or not, I finished it all that night, and I think it doesn't look too bad.

    Of course, I will post the actual pictures after tonight. The days' preparations start about noon for a leaving time of seven o clock. What royal wedding? I do get to drive them, something I like doing, (then at eleven thirty, a teeny bit less glad), and I will do my best to get some good pictures. ( My photography gene is working at about eighty percent, so, better odds).