Friday, November 18, 2016

The Further Adventures of...Me!

Last week, I made another journey to my home state:  Kansas.  I grew up in the southwest corner of the state, where the horizon is farmland, the people are friendly, and life moves at a slower pace (well, mostly!).  

While I was visiting, the weather was unseasonably warm--record-breaking, actually--and mild.  (The northwest corner of the state has had snow since then!)  I didn't do anything "exciting" by most people's standards.  But I spent quality time with my parents, two of my sisters, and a few of my nieces and my nephew.  I reconnected with friends and church family from my formative years.  I breathed fresh Kansas air and saw AMAZING views of the harvest moon over the cornfields.  I saw cotton fields for the first time in my life. Yeah, it was a great trip.

On my journey west, I experienced one of the best Veteran's Days ever.  At every point of my journey, we were applauding the veterans in our midst.  The airline (Delta--giving credit where credit is due) handed out blue and red wrapped chocolates at the end of each flight to honor the veterans.  A group of young sailors, who were about to board their flight, were surrounded by well-wishers and words of thanks for their willingness to serve.  My lunch at Popeye's was shared with a Vietnam Vet from Arkansas.  It was awesome!

I also witnessed the kindness of Americans toward one another.  A young mom was traveling with her 8 month old son to visit relatives.  As she was navigating the first airport, she realized she had forgotten her son's pacifier.  A complete stranger, who happened to have a brand-new one in her diaper bag, offered it to this young woman.  The gentleman sitting next to her on our flight took over the role of "grandpa" so she could attend to her son's needs.  Every time the pacifier hit the floor, the stewardesses were there in a moment to rinse it.  Then someone on the flight produced a lanyard.  Three adults (including myself) figured out a way to hook it to the pacifier, so that mommy wouldn't have to keep searching the floor for it.  There was applause for successful moments and laughter at the sweet little guy's antics.  We became a family on that flight.  When we began to disembark, all those seated near her were helping to gather blankets, etc.  People of every size, shape, and color united to keep a baby happy for 1 1/2 hours.  It was beautiful!

On my next flight, I sat next to a gentleman from New Jersey, who was on his way to join in the beginning of pheasant season in Kansas.  "I'm going to a place called 'Greensburg'.  Have you ever heard of it?"  I laughed.  "Yes!  That's where I'm going, too!"  He peppered me with questions, and entertained me and our seatmate with his hunting stories.  I hope he had fun.  It was a hoot!

On my return yesterday, I had a brand new experience. I met a family of immigrants.  In the interest of their safety and privacy, I cannot tell you their names, their country of origin, or their destination.  What I can tell you is that I was drawn to them.  Imagine for a moment needing to uproot your entire family from the only home they have ever known, and having to trust complete strangers for safe passage to a new country...only to be surrounded by people whose language you cannot understand and whose customs are totally other than anything you have ever known.  A busy airport.  Tired children.  I did my best to converse with them (thank you, Google Translate!) and express American hospitality to these newcomers.  I hope I was successful.  My prayers are with them as they begin their new life here and that the adjustments to our country will be aided by loving, caring people.  It was life-changing for me!

My heart is full.

Tuesday, November 08, 2016

That "One Thing"

So now that it is Election Day in the United States of America, I am finally posting about this several months' long experience we call "the process."  (If you're like me, you may feel as if you've been put through a food processor!  We're put in, a little at a time, and then the large "whirrrrrrr" and we're chopped, processed, and totally mixed up!)

I have friends on both sides of the political spectrum, as well as a few in the middle.  I consider myself conservative, but have been known to cast a few ballots for "the other side" in my day.

Some people wonder what is the big deal, anyway?  After all, as long as we have someone in the White House who will take charge and keep things running along, it will all pan out, right?

Others have asked me why so many conservative Christians seem to focus on a one-issue paradigm.  Thus, this article.

Because honestly, it really is a one-issue election for me.  I can sum it up in one word:  LIFE.

Then come the accusations of only caring for babies, and not being concerned about women, and so many other issues, such as social justice; equal rights for all genders, races, belief systems, etc.; immigration policies; the death penalty; reproductive rights; health care; international affairs; and the list goes on.


I offer this to you, though.  If we do not base our vote on LIFE, how do the other issues matter?  If a child is not given the chance to live, then the story is over.  No need for social justice, because he/she is dead.  No need for equal rights, because their life has ended.  If we do not care about LIFE, then no other position has any credence.  If we do not care about helping someone live the end of their life in a loving, caring environment, anything else we have done throughout their life is senseless.  If people only have value when they are contributing to society, then why bother with health care?  If we do not place importance on caring for those with physical disabilities or mental issues, what good are equal rights?  Are those rights only for the "elite, acceptable" people in our population?

If we begin with LIFE, then all the other issues will flow out of that.

                                             



15 “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the Lord your God[a] which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his ordinances, then you shall live and multiply, and the Lord your God will bless you in the land which you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you this day, that you shall perish; you shall not live long in the land which you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse; therefore choose life, that you and your descendants may live, 20 loving the Lord your God, obeying his voice, and cleaving to him; for that means life to you and length of days, that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
                                                                        Deuteronomy 30:15-20

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

A Summer Summary (or, "A Summery Summary")

On this last day of August, it occurs to me that summer is winding down, and fall will soon be upon us.  Gasp.  (Have you heard the forecast for winter?  Let's not talk about that.)  It may just be my age, but it seems every summer zooms by a bit more quickly than the last.  (But let's not talk about my age, either.  Thanks.)

Our family's summer was neatly planned back in the late months of winter.  This being my husband's Jubilee Year (yes, he turned 50 in December), he wanted to spend the year celebrating, not bemoaning the progression of the hands of time.  Every vacation day and personal day were arranged for optimal memory-making.  Our family was going to visit the sites of Keith's life--Detroit, Chicago, Springfield (Missouri), and...others.  And then...

On a fateful day at the beginning of June, his job ended.  Suddenly, all our well-laid plans had to be set aside in deference to the sudden lack of income.  It was a blow, but not the final count.

Within days, friends were dropping off food and other necessities.  Surprise cards in the mail containing monetary gifts.  Gift cards to the local grocery store.  If I had the words, I would describe that feeling of amazed gratitude and awe at how good God is, and how incredible it is to be blessed by His people.  I cried so many tears of thanksgiving. 

One of those unexpected gifts was a check that arrived with a note, telling us to take our previously-planned-then-cancelled trip to Kansas to visit my family.  The check covered our expenses, and then some.  Wow.  Our trip had been postponed, but was quickly rescheduled!

God provided some summer employment for me that was "just in time" as well.  

Some of our other plans have had to be set aside, as Keith has begun a new job.   I teach piano, so the school year is my busy time for lessons.  Our oldest son has returned to college for his junior year.  Our younger son is in his senior year of high school.  Keith is back to his formation classes for his final year, in preparation (God willing) to be ordained a deacon in May.  

Not as WE had planned, but certainly not outside God's plans.

If you're reading this, and things are super tough right now, please don't misunderstand this post.  Our family has gone through some financial trials in the past when no money came in the mail, no groceries were dropped at our door, and there seemed no way out.  But God has always provided.  Not in the ways we may have prayed He would, but always in a way that helped us remember His goodness and faithfulness.  We've done without a lot of things the world thinks are "necessities."  That's really okay.  It has taught us to rely on Him and not on "things."  God is good in ways that go beyond the material and stretch us in our faith...to see how good a Father He really is to each of us.

The struggle doesn't mean we're not in God's will.  It just means we're struggling, you know?

God bless.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

A little self-promo :)

I also write (occasionally) for a website called Catholic365.  If you're interested in more of my articles, or want to peruse their site for articles on every area of the faith...here's the link!

http://www.catholic365.com/

My newest article can be found at:  "What's In a Name?"

Thursday, August 18, 2016

LIF - Lyrics I'm Feeling

In the midst of unprecedented persecution of Christians, racial hostilities, terrorist attacks, fires, floods, and the craziest presidential election in U.S. history...I offer you this song.  Because if we ever needed God...the time is now.





Sunday, April 17, 2016

The Journey Is a Roller Coaster

I miss posting on this blog, but often do not because I have TOO many good ideas!  I can't pick just one, so don't post anything.  I haven't heard any complaints, though.  Ha!

The past couple of weeks have been such an emotional roller coaster.

A very wonderful man from our church and community passed away, leaving behind a legacy of leadership, faith, and love for our town, parish, and city.  Tom was such a gift to all who knew him.  His battle with cancer was heroic, and we are all better for having known him.

A dear friend of mine had a sudden death in her family.  It has rocked their world.  No one ever expects to lose a younger sibling who is so energetic and seemingly healthy.  I didn't know Jody, but I know her older sister, and it breaks my heart to see her work through the loss.

Our community and my husband's work place have seen juveniles go missing.  Some by their own choice; some, due to the cruel decision of others.  As a parent, I groan within, not being able to grasp the anguish their families must be experiencing.

Ahh, but the joy...!

New babies coming into the world.  A new home, and a fresh start, for friends who have walked through indescribable pain--joy in the morning, after their long night of sorrow.  New friends.  Faithful men who will soon be ordained deacons and priests.  Sweet little friends who will soon receive their first communion.  Good friends who have become dearer.

And in the midst of it all, this song rings ever true:

"Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord unto me."

Have a blessed Sunday!





Saturday, January 23, 2016

Lessons Learned

If you've been reading this blog for any time at all, you know the purpose is to share my journey--life in general, and, more specifically, my faith.  This post is going to be a bit more on the mixed up side of things.  This is about a literal journey to a literal destination, with the lessons learned along the way.

A few months ago, a great deal on plane tickets showed up in my email. I decided this was my opportunity to visit my sister and her family in Colorado.  Anyone who knows me at all knows trips are a major stressor for me.  And traveling in the winter?  Not me!  But this was a too-good-to-pass-up deal.  I made up my mind that I was going to do this!  Long story short is that I made the trip and had a wonderful time.  However, I learned some lessons that definitely translate to the bigger picture of life!

1.  If you have indigestion the night before your flight leaves to go back home, it may not be indigestion.

2.  If you have to have stomach "flu," have it at your sister's home rather than in an airplane or airport.

3.  Sisters are great nurses.



4.  If you have the opportunity to visit family--do it.  Don't put it off.  The memories far outweigh the stress.



5.  Colorado is just as beautiful in the winter as it is in the summer.



6.  Great nieces and nephews are just as much fun as nieces and nephews.


7.  Little-kid giggles never grow old.



8.  Watching your nieces raise their own kids is so cool.




9.  Sister time is waaay underrated.  (As is seeing them with their grandkids.)





10.  The imagination of young children is a wonderful thing.



11.  No matter how old you are, if a 1 yr. old offers you invisible food in a pot, and tells you it is "hot," you will blow on it, just to see the joy on his face.



12.  "Bump and Jumps" are a great invention.

13.  Gelato may have been made in Italy, but it was invented in heaven.



14.  A Colorado mug full of chocolate candy is always a great birthday gift!



15.  Americans are some of the most rude people on the planet.

16.  Americans are some of the most kind, generous, and helpful people on the planet.

17.  America's landscape is amazing.



18.  Free pretzels from an airline may get tiresome after a few hours, but at least it's food!

19.  Auntie Anne's across the hall from your flight's gate is a definite gift from God when you've only had free soda and juice for several hours.



21.  Racing across an airport in record time, only to discover the doors are closed and you have to wait two hours for the next flight...is sometimes a blessing.  You have time to eat a pretzel.  :)

22.  People on moving walkways and in terminal hallways should not text/talk on said walkways or in the middle of said hallways, just in case someone is racing across the airport in record time.

23.  A monorail train can hold a lot of people, especially if several flights have gate changes.

24.  A pink hoodie can be a great reward for a weary traveler.  (Especially when it's on sale!)



25.  Just because a sandwich costs $10.00 and has a fancy name, doesn't necessarily mean it is tasty or delicious.

26.  Being away from your husband and sons for a week is tough!

27.  Being greeted at the airport when you've been gone a week is WONDERFUL.



28.  Missing a major snowstorm is a great idea.  I definitely recommend it.

29.  People-watching is either the greatest or most agonizing thing ever.  I haven't reached a conclusion.

20.  I'd do it all again in a heartbeat.



Happy weekend, everyone!



Thursday, December 31, 2015

Out of the Silence

During this year's Advent season, I decided to take a break from posting on Blogger, as well as penning new articles for Catholic365.  It wasn't so much that I had no ideas, as it seems I constantly have new ideas running a race around the track of my mind.  No, it was more that I felt this deep need for silence.

The season began with a hectic rush of "go here, run there, do this, fix that" in a crazy pace of non-stop action.  I came down with a painful, energy-robbing sinus infection.  Advent was not starting off well.

The second Sunday of Advent, though, brought me to the silence.  We attended the annual evening of "Lessons and Carols" at our diocesan seminary.  It was deep, beautiful nourishment for my soul.  In the midst of the words of Scripture--promising our Lord's birth--and the lyrics and melodies of the carols and instrumental harmonies...God brought a sweet, holy silence into my heart.  The night began in quiet darkness.  Then, slowly but methodically, the candles in the room were lit.  The prophecy of Isaiah 9, being fulfilled in Matthew 4, came to my mind:


"that what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:


'The land of Zeb′ulun and the land of Naph′tali,
toward the sea, across the Jordan,
Galilee of the Gentiles—
 
the people who sat in darkness
have seen a great light,
and for those who sat in the region and shadow of death
light has dawned.' ”  Matthew 4:14-16

I couldn't shake the feeling that these concepts were meant to be the theme of my own Advent meditations:  silence, darkness, and then, the great Light.

Imagine that quiet night on the hillsides outside Bethlehem.  It seemed a night like every other:  shepherds watching sheep, taking turns guarding the flock, and preparing for the next day's task of herding.  The silence suddenly exploding with light and sound, as angels appeared and announced the birth of the long-awaited Messiah.  

Though a night filled with the noisy sounds of a busy town (overcrowded with pilgrims due to the census), a stable filled with the silence, with only the occasional bleating of a sheep, the lowing of a cow, the crunch of an animal chewing its late-night meal...then the cries of a young mother-to-be in the throes of labor.  The voice of a newborn trying out His new lungs.  A true Light in the quiet of a darkened barn.

As we walk into the new year, may the moments that changed history on that night so long ago, change your history as well.  Let the silence reign, then listen to the voice of the Child, crying out and making the darkness a new place of light.