Tuesday, December 31, 2013

In which I ruminate. A bit.

As a bit of a follow-up to yesterday's "Why-I'm-Not-Posting-post," I would like to add this tidbit:

If I was observing my life and my reaction to it with some objectivity, I would have to say that although I am having moments, hours, yes, even days of overwhelming anxiety, this state is not controlling me. I am somehow able to acknowledge these feelings and still carry on. Still laugh, clean the house, entertain, play Candy Crush, bake Christmas cookies, and shop. Definitely shop. But that's another story. Still, there are things I am having trouble doing, and things I cannot do. My brain, some days, is as functional as scrambled eggs. Still, I notice a difference from the Rough Days of the past and those of the present.

I can only give credit to God's grace
, and to my family, for being understanding and supportive. It is quite touching, really. Part of it, I think is just age and experience. And an understanding that anxiety, itself, has a tendency to amplify and distort a situation that will likely change on its own, without any help from me. It is helpful to remember Ecclesiastes, that there is "nothing new under the sun."

 Adding to my distress, is the responsibility I bear for it. Which I recently took to confession, and rightly or wrongly, was basically told I did not make a good confession. That's what I get for going to a different confessor, I guess. My usual one has context. Oh well. I received grace, whether or not I made a textbook confession, my intention was good.

Lastly, in this rambling gathering of words on a page, is that Bob and I are blessed to be going to the Jesus Retreat again this year. Any inclined to do so, please keep us in your prayers, that we come away with more of Him and less of us.

God Bless you, and best wishes for a happy, healthy new year!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Dear Blog,

I have not abandoned you. Nor am I on vacation. Just going through a bit of a rough time. Be back soon. I do miss you.

AMFL, Kelly

Saturday, November 30, 2013

7 quick thankful takes; a photo-palooza

Well, it was all worth it! We enjoyed every minute.

1. As soon as they arrived, Kaden sat right down and took out his toys.

2. Monday evening we had a mini-surprise-birthday-party for Kaden. I made my somewhat famous chili for dinner. Afterward, Meghann took Kaden to the upstairs bathroom. (Cause what little boy doesn't have to go)? while we got things ready. The kitty decided to play his Under-the-Door-Swatting-at-Whatever-is-There game with them. Which seemed like a fun way to keep Kaden busy while we lit the candles on his cake -- except that Kaden's finger was the thing that got swatted. And scratched. Then he wanted Meghann to "tell on" Tumnus (the kitty) to Nonnie, (me). By the time he came downstairs he had indignant tears in his eyes, waiting for his mama to tattle. Instead, we all jumped out and yelled, "surprise!"

*--we are having trouble getting the pictures and video of this part from Malaika's phone--I will update ASAP--*

 But later, his surprise party, my favorite from scratch chocolate cake, and a few gifts, turned out to be one of the things he was thankful for.

3. After that, Kaden hung out playing games and putting together his new Legos with Uncle Ben, while Bob and I, Jeff and Meghann went out.

This one is a little blurry--but Uncle Ben became a quick favorite.

First, we went to Paddy's Pub. The show, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, a favorite of Jeff and Meghann, and is based on this bar. Not fancy, but we had fun.

Then, four cold and windy blocks to The Plough and the Stars. We walked because I did not want to lose my parking space. We passed several along the way...whoops.

The place was gorgeous! We sat right by the (real) fireplace, and ordered hot cocktails. Delicious.

4. Tuesday, we went by Love park. They were setting up the Christmas village, but they got some nice shots. Here is one-

On the way to Macy's to see the decorations and visit Poppie at his office (same building), we saw this store I had never seen before.

Funny how you see things with new eyes. How did I ever miss the Funk-O-Mart?

Then we went in Macy's. We got to hear and see the organ, and look around at the decorations. The light show didn't begin till Friday, but we looked up at the big tree and I told Kaden how I used to take his mama to see the light show. 

If you squint just right, you can see the organ to the left of the tree. It is like a gated-in room, but you can watch the organist on a screen. Behind the tree is where the light show takes place.
 We didn't take any pictures in Bob's office. By then, Kaden was hungry and wanted to try out one of the city's hot dog carts. Turned out to be a good choice! Yummy.

5. Then--getting ready for The Day. We were having our feast on Wednesday, as they had to be back for poor Jeff to work on Black Friday. Here are some shots of the preparations:

 Here is Corrie working on one of our appetizers, and I had just asked Jeff to go out back and get the turkey out of the brine, with a semi-lengthy explanation of how.  I sent him out with an aluminum pan, which he then brought in, empty. I just looked at him with kind of an alarmed expression. He said, "Oh, did you want the turkey?"

 There was also a Jenga tournament happening in the living room.

Here is Kaden making a turkey craft.

nothing like kid-crafts


Always so nice to see Daniel!

Loved having everyone here.
6. The meal.

Every year, I forget something. Chiefly, the rolls. Since they are put in last while we get everything to the table, they have been forgotten until someone smelled the burning. This year, we remarked on how smoothly things went.  The stuffing was not dry, nor the turkey, the mashed potatoes were perfect thanks to Rachael, and the roasted veggies all got done. Dessert was lovely, the custard set, the pumpkin pie delicious, even though I forgot the butter, and Daniel brought two yummy pies. Then,  Melissa went to work on the dishes. I came into the kitchen to find her doubled over, hands on her knees, making funny sounds. Like she couldn't catch her breath. She seemed to be pointing towards the oven.

Then I looked. The rolls. Again! Arrgh. I am roll-impaired! The only reason they didn't burn was that I had turned off the oven.

Funnier than anything.

After dinner, we played Scattergories and Apples to Apples, and tried out the chocolate wine.

Word to the wise. Don't. Or at least chill it to death.

All partied out.

7. The next day--Meghann and Jeff have to leave--:(

 Kaden putting on a brave face, but he was pretty sad. (we all were!) The plane ride helped him have a fun thing to focus on.
                  He's becoming a pro at traveling.

Pretzel in the airport.

When the dishes were all washed and stacked on the dining room table, I decided to take one more picture. See the cute, vegetable-shaped dishes Meghann gave us? Also, the hand made pottery my mother collected, and we only bring out for Thanksgiving.

Ahh, what a serene scene full of lovely memories.


                                                  But wait-- what is that shadow?

                           Always, and I mean always, right in the middle of whatever we are doing.

 Hope everyone had a happy and healthy Thanksgiving, and that you were as blessed as we were to spend it with the people we love the most.

Next--Advent! Now where is that wreath? And I need candles!

Friday, November 15, 2013

4 cleaning takes + 2 cat takes + 1 super serious take = 7 quick This-is-what-lives-inside-my-head takes

1.  I have not been posting here because, insanity.  All for a good cause, namely; Thanksgiving with ALL the kids and family here. So excited! So much to do! So many lists!

2. I think I am a clean-house-person until someone is coming for a visit and is going to see every inch of my house. Then I realized I am a sloth who lives in squalor.

3. Anybody else out there wake up on the day you have invited guests over and see your house with a completely new set of eyes? And wonder how you never saw it before? 

4.  If I actually had prizes to give, I would post a contest for you to guess how many layers of slime accumulate on a kitchen ceiling fan in a year. It took me a number of neck-twisting, arm-aching hours to find out. While perched on a ladder.

5. The cat now loves the ladder.

6. I am hoping our dear feline adolescent does not intend to perform any of his teenage gross out stunts while my guests are here. Eating.

As in:

Using the BRAND NEW living room rug with its simultaneously soft and yet scrubby texture to do the butt wipe shuffle.

Using his litter box at all. It is in our dining room.

(Let me explain. He is a very hunter-y kitty. Which is excellent. Until he finds ANY unrecognizable object. Which he proceeds to sniff (nose must make contact).[I mean ANY object. Not excluding the lip of your drinking glass]. And then, if he deems that further research is needed on the object, he eats it. So putting his box in the basement, where most cat owners place theirs, is out of the question. You would need to see our basement, but then you would nod your head and say, "Oh, I see.")

I will provide pictures of the kitty (being cute, not the other stuff) and of our Epic Thanksgiving.

7. And now, for the serious portion of this post.  While all the nutty stuff happening here in our country grabs headline after headline; including the crack-using Canadian mayor; Christians are being slaughtered overseas. You may have seen that on November 3rd, Kim Jung Un brutally executed 80 people, reportedly for owning Bibles and watching South Korean TV dramas. I only saw this news mentioned online. It may have been reported in other places, but it wasn't a headline.
Here is just one article about the killing of Christians in the Middle East.

A fellow blogger recently took it upon himself to write to Cardinal Dolan and express his outrage and concern over the lack of attention and action these killings have received. You can read it here.

Please pray for these poor people. There have been a MILLION martyred in the first years of the twenty first century. They are our brothers and sisters. I ask those who have already paid the price of martyrdom to pray for this world and those who face religious persecution.

 Thank you


Friday, October 25, 2013

7 quick Mary-from-a-convert's-POV takes

 This past week, a lovely lady in Mexico happened upon this blog and read ALL my posts, and commented on a good number. In one comment, she said, "...He's been struggling with reaching out to Mary (it's the "problem of Mary" thing with us converts) and I've been asking her to bridge the gap. She is so faithful!"

I can understand the feeling of foreign-ness associated with the veneration of the Blessed Mother for those of us who were taught that Mary was important, but not so much as to overshadow or compete with Jesus for our affections. And definitely taught to fear how Catholics "worshipped" her and other saints. Even going so far as to make idols in the form of statues. Okay.

I could copy and paste passages from the Catechism. But anyone could go and look that up as easily as I could. Instead, I am going to give you my experience and thoughts about embracing Mary from my perspective as a convert.

1. Newsflash for those thinking of going to RCIA. You will not learn enough to sustain your faith forever. It is just a jumping off point; a place to get the nuts and bolts, and ask your questions. The Catholic faith is a deep well of which no human ever gets to the bottom. We are talking about God here, and our minds can only comprehend so much of Him. Though really, it is a matter of the heart.  Knowing, loving, and serving God does not require a PHD, just a willing heart. But having TOO little teaching, or even worse, BAD teaching, will do a big injustice to you in your life as a Catholic. At worst, you may give up altogether. That can potentially have the most dire consequences there are.

So here are a few great sources for converts, besides the Catechism:

--Scott Hahn. A convert himself, and Bible Scholar. He words things in a way people that were not raised Catholic can understand. Sometimes, Catholics don't know they are speaking Catholic-speak.
One good one is Rome Sweet Home, but there are scores of works.

--Father Corapi. Yes I know the controversy. But I also know His teaching was as solid as anything out there. If you can get hold of any of his books or recordings about the catechism or the Rosary, He explains Mary in a way that dispels all doubt. One thing I remember Fr. Corapi frequently said  was, "If she is good enough for Jesus, she is good enough for me."

2. Logic. Here is the way I thought about accepting the Church's teaching:

A.  Do I ask people here on earth to pray for me?
B. Do I usually pick the ones I know pray a lot and love God?
C. Do I believe that Christians who die (eventually) go to heaven? (Not doing Purgatory here, that is for another post).
D. Are they still alive there?
E. Do I think Mary was a Christian believer?
F. Do I think she went to heaven?

If I believe all of the above, why then, would I have any reservation in asking her to pray for me? Because that is ALL we are doing. We are asking her to intercede for us. Something we have no trouble asking of another imperfect human, we can ask the Mother of Our Lord. Why would anyone not want to do this?

                                                                               Our Lady of Czestochowa

                                  Queen of Heaven

3. The Doctrine of Mary is a large topic. She has scores of Titles. Queen of Peace. Mother of Perpetual Help, Our Lady of Good Counsel (pictured on my sidebar), Mother of Mercy, Theotokos (God-Bearer). Hundreds of Titles. All highlighting a different aspect. I could never accurately teach anyone the entirety of what there is to know about her. I only know a thimbleful myself. But I do know that Church teaching about her is backed up in history and scripture. The archangel Gabriel would not be ABLE to spout heresy. But he said to her, "Hail, full of grace (a title),"and "blessed are you among women."

4. The Rosary. Again, not an exhaustive treatise about the Rosary here. Just a few observations.

-- A quote from Father Corapi; "To pray the Rosary is to pray the Gospel." Think about that. The Mysteries walk us through the life of Jesus. The life of who? Mary? No. Jesus. Mary always points us to Jesus. One of her few recorded quotes is "Listen to Him."

The text of the Rosary is taken from the prayer Jesus gave us, the Our Father. The Hail Mary prayer is taken directly from the words of scripture. Gabriel's words; "Hail, Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed Art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus." And then a plea for her intercession. Holy Mary, Mother of God (Jesus=God. Christians should not have a problem with this?) pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death.

Years back, I heard a speaker at a (gasp) Charismatic conference say this-"Praying the Rosary changed my life." That statement alone was so powerful that I wanted to try it. I was a new Catholic then, and not in the habit of praying the Rosary. By the way, another speaker at that conference was Father Raniero Cantalamessa preacher to the Papal household. Even Papa Benedict XVI.

 Anyway, the praying of the Rosary contains great power. But! you may say, I pray right to Jesus, in my own words, from my heart!  Yes! By all means. But if you are thinking that the Rosary falls under the "empty repetition"  category, please refer to number 3. No emptiness there. The repetition keeps us meditating on the life of Jesus for more than two seconds, slows us down enough that we might give God a chance to bless our ever-wandering-and-rushing-about selves. I don't know if that is the reason for the number of Hail Marys but it makes sense to me.

5.A really big reason for praying the Rosary. Humility. Heck a really big reason for believing in Jesus at all. We understand that we humans are the created, not the Creator. We don't make the sun come up in the morning. Some of us can hardly make ourselves get up in the morning!

Archbishop Fulton Sheen said, "The rosary is the book of the blind, where souls see and there enact the greatest drama of love the world has ever known; it is the book of the simple, which initiates them into mysteries and knowledge more satisfying than the education of other men; it is the book of the aged, whose eyes close upon the shadow of this world, and open on the substance of the next. The power of the rosary is beyond description."

To have any obedience to Jesus in His Church at all, we first have to get off the throne of our life. Some things may not make sense to us at first. Some teachings may really make us upset. BUT. If we understand that it is we whose minds and hearts are fallen and deficient, and we who don't understand, we can trust God and be docile to the Church and ultimately, to God. So many seem to want God and the Church to jump through all THEIR hoops, and to conform to their own ideas. That, sadly, is much of what makes it to the headlines. I am pretty certain Jesus doesn't put much stock in headlines.

6. I still pray directly to Jesus. But I now love to talk with Mary, and pour out my hopes, fears, worries and day to day struggles. She understands from a woman's and a mother's standpoint, which to me, is huge. My own mother passed away when I was 23. When I married, I chose a ring that has sapphires.  Because, as I told my husband, "if I can't have my earthly mother at our wedding, at least I can have the Blessed Mother." (blue stones=Mary, just in case...)

7. My humble suggestion. Pray the Rosary. Every day. If you cannot get through five decades, do one at first. Say yes to God as Mary did. She didn't demand to know everything beforehand. She trusted God. And if you really want to get to know Mary-- go through the Consecration. There is a link up on my sidebar. I try to do this three times a year or so. There is another version, called, 33 Days to Morning Glory, which I also really like. The original one is a bit more formal, but both are life-changing.