Monday, November 17, 2014

A Special Prayer Request- Update

I know this is blurry, I took it on a silent retreat a few years ago, at a nearby Carmelite Monastery.

Today, I ask that you would stop and take a few minutes from your day to say a prayers for some dear friends. They are dealing with the grave illness of the husband that may have taken a downturn that would place him in hospice.

I am so sad that I cannot be there to make soup, clean up, or otherwise lighten their load, so instead I will have to place my trust in Him who is everywhere all the time to carry them and to shower them with His grace.

Know that you are in my heart and my thoughts. 

I love you.

My dear friend Marie lost her husband Bill suddenly on November 29th. I ask your continued prayers for his soul and for her and their 14 year old twin boys.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

giving Him our time and relinquishing control

I have written about my conversion to Catholicism before. I am very aware of my perspective as a convert, and sometimes I feel the need to share some thoughts on being that ex-prot/non-denom/evangelical. Now is one of those times.

I may have mentioned that just being raised non-Catholic, I was taught either directly or indirectly, negative things about Catholics. Whether it was my mother, who went to Catholic school ( I don't really know if she also was baptized or raised Catholic) talked about having to switch her writing hand from left to right, or make remarks about the Catholic families on our street; or if it was other things said by bitter lapsed Catholics I have known, I managed to unconsciously collect some misinformation along the way. All the usuals; statues being false gods, "working their way into heaven", the "worship"of Mary. and of course, the old, "they are followers of man made rules instead of followers of Jesus" thing. I did notice that most who would say that last one had found themselves on the wrong side of one of those rules and were unwilling to consider the Church's remedy. But anyways.
 The few Church rules or teachings I have been thinking about recently are, the Sunday Mass obligation and the Rosary.

Sunday Mass.

 Some have wondered why this is required and is a mortal sin if missed  *unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. " (~from the Catechism)

 What makes sense to me about this, is that God knows our human weakness and tendency to be lazy. He knows how important it is for us to be in His presence, how much we need to be taught His Word and fed by His body and blood. How much grace we receive for our daily lives just by being at Holy Mass at least once a week.

It has been purposely made easy for us. There are multiple masses at any Catholic church in the world, offered beginning on Saturday evening going until Sunday evening. Most will only spend less than an hour at church. We have enjoyed, while traveling, masses in different places. It always amazes me, the true universality of the mass, and the brotherhood of Catholics.

So, the Church requires that we give God at least this small sacrifice of our time. That we prioritize and set aside some time for Him each week. He loves us, died for us, redeemed us, and we owe Him this act of love and respect in return. In short, He asks for some of our TIME. Time spent on on Him now that deposits His grace to live in a way that we might spend all time and eternity in heaven.

As much sense as this makes to me, I also realize that the gift of faith plays a part. the gift of gaining a perspective other than my own. Or at least be willing to do so. To not have to have all things be my way or bend to my own will. To be obedient, humble, docile to the Lord. Or at least, be willing to be made so.

The Rosary.

It is not required that we pray the Rosary. It is an optional practice.

 I have heard it compared to the "meaningless repetition" referenced in Matthew 6:7. Critics often state that it is not heartfelt nor original to the individual, therefore, less authentic.

My criticism of the criticism is this:

1. The words of the rosary are taken from the Gospels. Unless you are ready to put the words of the Gospels in the "meaningless"category, I suggest further consideration.

2. Repetition. Yes, we do repeat the prayers. While doing so, we meditate on the Mysteries, which are all about the life of Jesus. By doing this we are doing two things, spending some TIME in prayer, and going beyond our own thoughts. Gaining a perspective that is not our own. Generally, five decades of the Rosary takes about 15 minutes. So, I give to God this fifteen minutes talking to His Mother, asking for her intercession.
 If left to myself,  a few minutes in prayer and I would be distracted, my focus on Jesus difficult to maintain. The wisdom of the Church in offering a fifteen minute prayer, gives a us a framework to spend this time with God. Jesus, on His part, longs for us and we have this beautiful opportunity to give Him fifteen minutes in which He has our focus. Again, TIME.

 I once heard someone say that praying the Rosary daily changed his life. I took that as a challenge. Now, I can't tell you how many times I have arrived at the end of a Rosary with some clear thought or direction, or some peace about a problem. I have not achieved perfection in the daily praying, but I never stop working towards it.

3. Being original is not all it's cracked up to be, and almost 100% of the time, what we think is original to us, is not. Check in with Ecclesiastes sometime.
I once wrote about this idea here. Just so I am consistent! (tongue is in cheek).

4. As far as being heartfelt, that is something that can wax and wane. Some days, a person can approach prayer with true passion and emotion, and others, not so much. The beauty of praying the Rosary, indeed, taking the TIME to do so, is that we offer ourselves in prayer whether or not we feel like it. If we allowed our feelings to dictate when and how we prayed, I fear prayer would become nothing more than a vent session with God.

5. Vent sessions with God are also fine. And needed. And if I can speak for God, welcome. Spontaneous prayer, ie;, just talking to God all throughout the day is a wonderful thing. Precious. Indispensable. I know this because God is a father, and as a parent, I know that we want to hear the heartfelt thoughts of our children. Their fears, hopes, requests. everything.

But, I submit to you, that praying the Rosary, and any of the prayers offered by the Church, (such as the Divine Mercy Chaplet), help to put us in a better frame of mind, to gain that heavenly perspective outside ourselves, with which to approach Him all the rest of the day.

So, I challenge you. Pray the Rosary and see your life change.

Also, consider giving Him some of your time. Make Mass a priority, Know that it will involve sacrifice, however small. See what comes of it. Trust God, and trust the wisdom of the Church.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

the seasons of life

Being a woman of a certain age, and also a lover of the fall season, I was pondering the correlation between the two.

However you may break them up in your own mind, our lives do go through the same seasons as the earth. Beginning with Spring, our earliest growing and blooming; Summer, when we enjoy warmth and vigor, but don't give much thought to the future seasons. Fall, when colors blaze, temperatures cool and we can't deny the onset of Winter any longer;  and then Winter, with its bareness and cold, but also its singular beauty. Not surprising that it bears the title Old Man Winter.

I feel that I am very autumnal in my age and also my perspective. I haven't quite lost my color yet, but the signs are there. Some days, I am refreshed and energetic, and in some, I feel the oncoming aging. But mostly, I see the beauty that is everywhere. I feel comfortable with myself, as the cooling temperatures also are comfortable. Things I might have missed in the hurtling around of earlier times. The slowing that I must succumb to allows more time for reflection. I can see better the benefit and blessings of the trials and tribulations, and conversely, the  comparative emptiness of many of my youthful pursuits. I notice the slowing of my inner motor that pushes me to strive at things instead of accepting and appreciating where God has me today.

And yet, I still feel quite young in my heart, and I look forward to the days to come. I can just glimpse the oncoming horizon, and I am thankful I can prepare myself and still have time, God willing, to adjust to the idea that my Winter will arrive. I pray that I can live every day, whether with physical vigor or not, to the full, and accept the place where God has me. I hope to continue growing until the last, and to experience His grace always.

Everything is grace

~ St. Theresa of Lisieux

Thursday, September 18, 2014

7 quick takes to demonstrate that I am still breathing

Yes I am still breathing air.

1. The update:

 It has been a challenging couple months. Many things are happening in and around our family. My Mother-in-Law has been bouncing back and forth between the hospital and nursing home since July 4. Currently, she is in a stabilizing trend and has been able to stay at the nursing home for several weeks. Your prayers for her would be appreciated!
 We are hosting a Chinese girl who is attending a Catholic high school in Northeast Philadelphia. Unfortunately. she will be moving to a new host home this weekend, because her school is out of range for bus transportation. So, every day, we have been crossing the city with all its regular rush hour traffic, not to mention the ongoing construction on 95. It's my new hangout. Can one have an address that's also a major interstate? (And here I thought the local Acme was my home away from home. Now that it carries beer, it is at least still a good friend).

Anyway. we are supposed to get another girl in January that will go to the same school as my daughter. Until that actually occurs, I am going back to my old job at Women of Hope, as a mental health worker. (Which ultimately will mean my own mental heath may take a hit).
My own physical and emotional health actually already have been kind of rough. I have this lovely recurring virus-depression /anxiety loop that, when it flares up, is hard to break out of. I _think_ I am on the upswing, but it's been a tough couple months. I think my stubborn refusal to become its long term victim has been one of my more effective tools.
 And as families will do, my own is providing me with some large challenges. I just have to keep reminding myself that God is on His throne and He is not overwhelmed. And sometimes reminding Him that I am. Overwhelmed, that is. I don't even have a throne.

2.  The Revelation:

Well, it's only a Revelation with a capital R if you care. But anyways.
I have been attending a Nar Anon group for about a year now. I just got my first coin. What took me there and what is keeping me there are different things. Well, they overlap. I first went because of concern for someone I love who may have a substance addiction. My concern is still there, but the principles of the group have become almost universally applicable to my entire life. If you are familiar at all with the 12 steps, those are what I am referring to. Yes, all of it -- the slogans, the Serenity Prayer, the Hi, I'm Kelly..."hi, Kelly!"...
I find I am most comfortable with the program because it reinforces my faith in God and gives a platform for listening and talking with others who struggle in similar ways. It humbles, challenges, comforts, exhorts and reassures. I have met some truly heroic people.
I hope to share more of my thoughts on this in future posts.

3. The Observation:

However obvious.

The anticipation of a thing dreaded is so many times, so far off from the actual thing. Every time this happens, I say to myself, "now see? you could have saved all that worry and anxiety energy and done something else with it! Like paint the house or lift a car! you dummy! don't do that again!" and I answer myself, " okay. good idea!" Then a different thing looms that I either know or think I won't handle well, or even one of the same things, annnnd. Back to the coda.

Here is a partial list of things that cause me to experience heart palpitations:

driving on a busy highway that has no shoulder
driving on a busy highway that has no shoulder and concrete cattle chutes
driving on a busy highway that has no shoulder, concrete cattle chutes and aggressive truck drivers blowing by or hemming me in
(I sense a theme)
doing any of the above in the rain

please note -- I just spent many week of the summer driving hundreds of miles through all kinds of places *without trouble. I get home in late July and BAM. I am now trembling my way up and down 95. so. no sense.
*  "without trouble" does not include the incredibly steep, unpaved drive at the top of my brother's mountain home in the Appalachians. I mean. c'mon.

the dentist
the dentist when I am having any problem
having to get a root canal, which I have never had, but think it will happen every time I have any pain in my teeth.


*I just started back at my old job where to avoid confrontation is a good thing with the residents, but rears its head nevertheless

Speaking the Truth in Love, which is the Christian version of Confrontation. 

anything I hear on the news

So, yeah, a little window into my mind, Scary, isn't it?

4, The dreaded  Insights about my own sins:

Ugh. Has to happen. Needs to happen. Not a pretty picture. 

Thanks be to God.

5. The other spiritual insight take:

Which is also completely mundane and unoriginal, but to me this one always seems like a fresh revelation straight from God:

Everything can be a prayer. Hanging out the laundry. Washing the kitchen floor.  Scooping the litter box. Enduring difficult people. Enduring myself. Eating peanut butter. 

It all can be offered to Our Lady for whatever she sees in the world as the most pressing need. Because she kind of has a better perspective up there on top of the world with her foot on the head of the serpent.

And, yes, I know, Opus Dei and Brother Lawrence and all.

6. Just one more small spiritual thing:

It goes with the latter part of number 5.

After I receive the Eucharist, I like to offer this snippet of a prayer taken from DeMontfort's Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary:

"Amen, to all that you are doing in heaven,
Amen to all you did while on earth, and
Amen to all that you are doing in my soul."

There is a much longer and very beautiful prayer around this, but this is a good summation and also short enough for me to memorize.

7. I must revive my old format of ending my blog posts with a funny story. I now have cats, so watch out, you who do not find cats funny.

 But today, I am going to end with a note of thankfulness. All the external circumstances, all my wounds, weaknesses and sins, all things are overcome by God.

"I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." John 16:33

I can't begin to express how thankful I am that I do not have to reinvent the wheel when I go to prayer, when I go to God. He has given me His Church, where there is a steady rhythm, constant as a heartbeat, where I can go and immerse myself. I do not have to think about what I should do next, I have been given the liturgy, the saints, confession, adoration, the Eucharist. How blessed we are, that God has provided this anchor for us to hold on to in rough seas.  A wise priest once said that in our worst times to "let the rite carry you." Just to hold your rosary when you are unable to pray. Go and sit before the Blessed Sacrament. These things are such a comfort and consolation when I sometimes don't know how to go on in any given situation.

I pray that you all come to know this Jesus, who  himself is love and peace.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

No Matter What?

Even though I am not keeping up with my blog, I frequently get ideas and inspirations for posts. Today, while praying with Helper's of God's Precious Infants outside a PP in Philadelphia, I saw a young lady going in and out of the facility, apparently loading a car for some political rally. She was toting signs urging people to vote for a certain man running for Governor, who would support abortion rights and keep the funding rolling in to PP.

What caught my eye, though, was her t-shirt.

Yes, you are reading that right. It says, Act, NO MATTER WHAT.

Do you feel the implications of that? No matter what? 

Just throw yourselves into this cause ladies, don't think about any of the ramifications, and really, please just don't think.

1. No matter that it has been proven beyond the shadow of a doubt that what is growing inside a pregnant woman is a human being from the moment of conception. 

2. No matter that to abort this human whether through a chemical or surgical procedure is an act of murder.

3. No matter that doing this will cause harm to the mother. Physical, emotional, spiritual and if left unaddressed, lifelong.

4. No matter that this bloody campaign is the scourge of America, happening under the noses of so many who are deceived by the popular jargon being tossed around, such as choice, health care, bodily autonomy, women's rights. 

It just screamed at me, that the little humans being cut up and flushed away, simply ...



And THAT is what is being trumpeted and ACCEPTED and emblazoned on t-shirts! ON T-SHIRTS.

Oh America. How low we have sunk. There are women and children being bought and sold into slavery across the ocean. Where are the feminists? Where is NOW? Who is crying out for justice for those women?

*If you are thinking about abortion in any manner, please talk to someone who will not lie to you and tell you it will be quick and easy and you'll be rid of it and good as new. And all empowered-like. There are Pregnancy support centers everywhere. Go to this page for numbers if you need to. You can find help for all stages of pregnancy and even adoption.



Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Preparationpalooza, August -style

We are home from all our car trips, the latest being a nice visit with Meghann and fam in Kalamazoo. Now, we must get down to all the preparation for our Chinese student, who will be living with us for the school year. That and I just have to undertake refinishing our wood floors and doing a deep cleaning of the whole house. That's just how I do.

Also, since July 4th, my Mother-in-law has either been hospitalized or in rehab. Today, she is in the hospital, as the docs are having a hard time getting her stabilized. Bob had been heroically holding down the fort and keeping up with Mom till I got home a few days ago. Ben was the resident cook and cat companion.

So, as I sit writing this, with my week-old sunburn simultaneously itching and then hurting, I am gearing up for lots of Stuff. Malaika will become a high school student in mere weeks, and if you have had one or more of those, you know how busy and slightly stressful the run up can be. Uniforms, tryouts for sports, physicals and dental check ups, ID pictures, orientation, becoming a fledgling Septa rider, supplies... oh, and the ever lovely tuition and sundry expensive fees. And then when our student arrives, (whenever that will be), we get to run about getting her outfitted as well! I hope she gets here before the very last minute.

Here are a few pictures from Michigan. I fear I am not up to a very good narration. Everyone had a turn with a cold, and now is mine. I have been having a slow re-entry into post vacation life.

 We had frequent backyard bonfires in the evenings. Some nights, the fires were sluggish to get started. Yes, that is the dried out top of their Christmas tree. Smelled nice!

 Kaden's garden, and then a bunch of posed pics in front of all the pretty daisies by Meghann's shed.

And then the beach pics. I love going to Lake Michigan.
 Malaika, Kaden and Rachael building a sand castle.

 Kaden likes the warm sand, sans towel, after a swim.

Meghann takes ambush shots when I am not looking, You can see what a beautiful day it was. though. 

 Here we are at Bell's. There are tons of breweries in Kalamazoo. We were never lacking good beer!

Kaden and I at Olive Garden. You can see he got an owie by his eye. He ran into a gate latch a few days before this. He bore it bravely. Boys! :)
 Here is the Jesus-mobile we saw in downtown Kalamazoo one day. Giving Jesus a bad name...


I am still pondering the future of this blog. I may stop, but it kind of feels like a part of me. I have been at it for four years! Or I may narrow the focus. Whatever I finally decide, thanks for reading my thoughts.

Not that this is an aside in the realm of importance, but if you are a person of prayer, please pray for our unraveling world. And for everyone who is being persecuted or terrorized or mistreated. I wish I could say I am surprised, but it has all been building for some time now. Now would be a very good time for people to find, rediscover, build up, deepen, or otherwise pay attention to their faith. Teach your children now, while you still can. Openly at least. We are going to stand out from society in starker and starker relief, and it may not be an acceptable thing in the days to come.

Pray the Divine Mercy.

1. Begin with the Sign of the Cross, 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary and The Apostles Creed.
2. Then on the Our Father Beads say the following:
Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement for our sins and those of the whole world.
3. On the 10 Hail Mary Beads say the following:
For the sake of His sorrowful Passion, have mercy on us and on the whole world.
(Repeat step 2 and 3 for all five decades).
4. Conclude with (three times):
Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us and on the whole world.

In 1933, God gave Sister Faustina a striking vision of His Mercy,
Sister tells us:

"I saw a great light, with God the Father in the midst of it.
Between this light and the earth I saw Jesus nailed to the Cross
and in such a way that God, wanting to look upon the earth, had to
look through Our Lord's wounds and I understood that God blessed
the earth for the sake of Jesus."

Of another vision on Sept. 13, 1935, she writes:
"I saw an Angel, the executor of God's wrath... about to strike
the earth...I began to beg God earnestly for the world with words
which I heard interiorly. As I prayed in this way, I saw the
Angel's helplessness, and he could not carry out the just

The following day an inner voice taught her to say this prayer on
ordinary rosary beads:

"First say one 'Our Father', 'Hail Mary', and 'I believe'. Then on
the large beads say the following words:

'Eternal Father, I offer You the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity
of Your dearly beloved Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ, in atonement
for our sins and those of the whole world.'

On the smaller beads you are to say the following words:
'For the sake of His sorrowful Passion have mercy on us and on the
whole world.'

In conclusion you are to say these words three times:
'Holy God, Holy Mighty One, Holy Immortal One, have mercy on us
and on the whole world'.

Jesus said later to Sister Faustina:
"Say unceasingly this chaplet that I have taught you. Anyone who
says it will receive great Mercy at the hour of death. Priests
will recommend it to sinners as the last hope. Even the most
hardened sinner, if he recites this Chaplet even once, will
receive grace from My Infinite Mercy. I want the whole world to
know My Infinite Mercy. I want to give unimaginable graces to
those who trust in My Mercy...."

"....When they say this Chaplet in the presence of the dying, I
will stand between My Father and the dying person not as the just
judge but as the Merciful Savior".

Read more:

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

the summer of the car

About ten days ago, we drove to see my brother for a long weekend. He lives in the Roan mountains in North Carolina. Remote, idyllic. My favorite kind of place. And so nice to spend some time with him.

morning sounds

This is me, my nephew Elijah, his wife Julie, Bob, Cindy (Gary's wife), and Ben.

As I write this, I am less than an hour from leaving for Michigan. It has been a fun spring and summer as far as traveling goes.

I would ask your prayers for my mother-in-law, as she has been admitted to hospital. She is improving, but at 86, it takes a bit longer to bounce back from illnesses. Her spirits are good, as usual, and she is charming her caregivers.

My minute readership may have noticed that I haven't been blogging much. Not sure if I am going to stop, but I am thinking and praying. Kind of wanting to take a kind of retreat from the online presence. We'll see! For now, I am headed to my daughter's in Michigan and the company of my grandson.

Hope everyone is as blessed as I and enjoying their summer!



Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Help a friend. Gain a Naked Mole Rat incentive.

There are many levels of contribution, include the "Naked Mole Rat Level." For that reason alone, you should go and check it out. Oh, and if you like coffee, there is a treat on the page.

I can't think of anybody the world needs an album from more than Father Kevin.

Go there. Now.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Through half closed eyes

Yes, I am still here, and even mostly alive!

We were away for about a week in May; my husband played in the Chicago International Amateur Piano Competition! It was his first big competition experience and he did wonderfully.

During his performance, from my seat. Not the greatest picture.

Here is Kaden sitting nicely, looking at the gorgeous hall, and that arm next to him is Malaika. In a dress. That is how much she wanted to support Bob.

While out there, we got lots of glorious time with Meghann, Jeff and Kaden. They put us up for the whole week minus the two Chicago days. Where, as you can see, Kaden accompanied us. He wanted to go to A-cago too! And so he did.

Here are a few shots from Kalamazoo. This is the Bog Trail,pictured at the top also: a floating pathway through, well, a bog. But it was a beautiful day, as you can see here, where Malaika is starting out.

                  ----- here, you may see the trail sinking a little. There were places where it sunk a LOT. At one point the adults were knee-deep in cold, dark, bog water. Meghann might have done some screaming. I have pictures, but I would like to continue to be on speaking terms with her. Fairly hilarious.

 these are from the Sky Deck in downtown Kalamazoo. Fun evening, as you can see.

Now, back home, All the Things are needing to be attended to and the people cared for, and the issues dealt with.

 God is good, and I believe we are all in His hands, even when it doesn't look like it, or feel like it.. His grace is sufficient. I am finding if I just try to do my little part, (aka,  change the things I can and accept those I can't), I live less in the world of the overwhelmed.

 I have been able to get to some daily masses, my beloved Latin Mass, and do some very humble fasts for prayer intentions. I have gotten back to working out. Again, be it ever so meager. Hanging out my laundry, planting flowers and sitting out back with a book ( I have recently discovered Flannery O'Connor)---all of this has been so helpful. And of course, all of you who have kept us in prayer, thank you so very much.

It has just been a time of-- it seems like a hundred transitions-- all happening at once. I have resigned as chief plate-spinner, realizing it wasn't my job anyway, and now am content as cook and bottle washer. And general servant. This works out much better. Yeah, I still have little moments of what-if? terror. But then I offer those too, and go on. I accept the smaller moments of beauty and peace as the gifts from God they are.

And, from where comes my help:

From Sunday's mass: